Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Gets more complicated by the day.

Friday, May 27, 2005


(Sorry, couldn't resist...)
Update: YAY AFRICA!!


Don't smuggle nine pounds of marijuana into Bali.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Editor, Times-Union:

This is in response to all or most of Matt Perry's letters to the editor ... what are you doing? You live in San Diego where the majority of people are liberal. Why on earth are you writing back to your years-ago hometown newspaper? Talk to your friends in big-time California. They'll get all fired up with you!

I think you sound hilarious when you try to show off your extensive vocabulary... it's actually quite entertaining. You must be so bored ... so, so bored.

Erin Drudge Love
Mastodon City

Wednesday, May 25, 2005



Morals are important. They should be adhered to at all times. Except when you might die. Then, you are allowed to find new ones. Ones that will keep you alive.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Monday, May 23, 2005


When I was younger and more mischevious, I did things that I wouldn't do now that I'm a full-grown man, unless perhaps I were fall-down drunk. And if I had already fallen down, then I wouldn't really be able to do anything at all, now would I? And that's what you call a quandry.

The things I speak of are things that many of us did, I'm sure, at one time or another - teepeeing the cute girl's house, egging some asshole's car, and listening to the Beastie Boys. I used to listen to the Beastie Boys because all of my friends that played soccer listened to them. Growing up, I always thought it was a soccer thing. But then I got older and realized that everyone listened to the Beastie Boys. Not that there's anything wrong with the Beastie Boys, it's just, well, if we're in the business of picking a band that's universally liked, I think we can do better than the Beastie Boys. Can't we? What about Luna? Everyone that I know who knows Luna likes Luna. So why can't everyone know them, and everyone like them? The world is a strange place.

Anyway, do you remember that one Beastie Boys song where they go, "If it's gonna be that kind of party, I'm gonna stick my dick in the mashed potatoes"? Well, I was thinking this weekend, and you know what? I don't think I've ever been to a party where I thought that it was appropriate to stick my dick in the mashed potatoes. Not because I haven't been drunk and reckless and partially nude at a party before, but because those parties typically don't have bowls of mashed potatoes lying around, waiting for someone to thrust their penis in it. In fact, most of the parties that I attend where an ample supply of mashed potatoes can be found are family events. And never once has a family gathering escalated to the point where I felt like I had no recourse but to stick my dick in the mashed potatoes since, as they say, "it's gonna be that kind of party."

Now, I know what some of you are saying. "What?" you exclaim. "I don't do anything but go to parties where there is a high level of debauchery and many bowls of mashed potatoes. You need to get out more, Mastodon."

This may be true. I won't argue with anyone who says that I have to get out more. It's just that I'm sitting here at my desk trying to think of what kind of party could combine excessive tomfoolery and sexual provocation with bowls of mashed potatoes, and I'm coming up empty. Total bupkis. Nothing.

Zip. Zilch.

Friday, May 20, 2005


Those of you who know me well know that I want, more than anything in the world, to be Kris Kristofferson - to have lived his life, to have lost what he lost, loved what he loved, and thought what he thought.

Today I crafted a Metafilter post about him, so take a peek over there and then come back here and tell me what I already know - that Kris Kristofferson is the Greatest Man that Ever Lived.

Kris Kristofferson, above, is fucking Sweet Sweetstofferson


In fact, many of us have often wondered how this:

so quickly turned into this:

There are no easy answers.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


There is no point in my telling this story. It is simply something that happened to me once, though as you will soon see, I can't help but ponder the possibility that it was my own tempting and massacring of the beauty that is Nature that led me down such an overgrown and mysterious forested path - a path that took me, for a brief moment of my life, to the end of an odd, but oddly whole - circular, like great tragedy - experience. Also, I tell this story because I bet it will totally creep some of you out, and drive you further from me, which is what I intend to do at all times, always.

During my last year of college, I made a film about a young boy who worked in a grain elevator. One night, after being denied the precious pollen he sought from his young love, the one bright flower in an otherwise bleak garden that was his life, he returned to his work at the mill and promptly, though accidentally, chopped his arm off in a Great Big Machine. A year later he is back home eating breakfast with his mother. He decides to take a drive to the old quarry he is so fond of, though not before stopping by the house of his former unrequited, where he picks her up and takes her somewhere to talk. In the middle of an empty cornfield, he interrogates her - as it turns out, she has Biblically been with another boy in his absence and he is aware of it. He then has a vision of a phantom deer grazing in the field and attempts to convince the girl that his masculinity still remains, that it has not lost its potency - "I only have one arm," he says to the girl, to himself, "but I can still kill that deer."

As you might guess, that line had 'em rolling in the aisles.

The film continues thus: the boy has a Vision - one of those Visions that the Indians once had - that is animated and fantastical, in which he stalks the deer. Then the denouement, in which we see the young man approach the girl's house with a black plastic garbage bag. He leaves the contents of the bag on the doorstep and drives away, off to the quarry where he carves something Symbolic into the earthen wall. If you correctly guessed what lay in the bag - that being the severed head of deer - then you'd be a fine student of The American Mastodon's Aesthetic Sensibilities.

It was some months later that I began dating the young girl I had cast in my film. (Was the film itself, the whole process, a severed deer's head to her? What does that mean, cutting off the head of a deer? What does that convey?) She was wonderful and we had a wonderful time, but ultimately, as she was a few years my junior (spare me the older, lecherous man assails) the time came for me to graduate and set out, unprepared, into the real world, and for her to enroll in high school.

I KEED, People!! She was totally almost done with high school.

It was early May, the end of the semester, and I was driving her to the Greyhound bus station in the Big City, where she was about to take the overnight ride back to her hometown. On the way there we tried not to speak too bluntly of the fact that we were not going to see each other for a very long time. Possibly never, but certainly no time soon. What does one say in a circumstance like that? Besides keeping the conversation at a soft bubbly fizz, what can be reconciled, what can be agreed upon, summed up, forged together in understanding that has not already been covered? No, our fate was set and we were following it. We were now the actors in our own film, playing the roles already defined for us. We were also, it must be said, listening to the classic rock station.

And then, from the side of the road, emerging from the high grass of the shallow ditch, a blurry brown object. There was no time to put on the brakes. A full-grown deer, sprinting directly in front of us, a suicide mission. As my car plowed through it - a direct hit - the deer literally disintegrated before our eyes. I can still see, in slow motion, the fragments of bone and tissue splintering off into hundreds of directions.

Then nothing, quiet. The two of us still barreling down the highway, peering through a blood-splattered windshield and crumpled hood. Of course the classic rock. "Well," I remember thinking. "That was interesting." I drove her to the bus station and then returned back to campus. My roommates expressed shock at the state of my car - tufts of fur still stuck in the grill, the burnt smell of deer flesh from the heat of the engine. How have I come to this place? I thought. I have taken life tonight. I have ceased the beating of a heart. And still no amount of reflection would stop this one concrete truth - that even as we try to stop and gather ourselves and pull up our britches and take stock, this great malady called life plods effortlessly along, a piano slowly losing its tune, a planet circling its sun, spinning, rays of light splintered and fractured and turning orange. Oh glorious, splendid, ephemeral life!!


So why, you ask yourself, did the AM tell this story? And how, you continue, did he acquire a severed deer's head? The latter question I am, naturally, reluctant to answer. Let it be known that it was not my hand that held the blade that removed the creature's top from its torso. Nor did the act of desecrating the being's body end its life on this earth - that had already occurred days before by a person with a fate similar (though at the time, how was I to know?) to mine. In fact, could it not be that all people who struck and killed deer along that stretch of road have other, similar sins to atone for? That the striking down of these deer - these physical manifestations of our transgressions - harken back to some great Mayan ritual? This animal, becoming then my offering to that force beyond our control, call it God if you must, whatever great unrevealed spirit holds all this mess together and keeps it from crumbling through our fingers?

Eh, probably not.

But to those of you who question my motives in telling this story, let me say that this hour spent writing this recollection - in between placing calls and sending faxes - is cheaper and, I hope, more effective than therapy. In addition, I find it nice to have some sort of written record. For what the kids sometimes refer to as "posterity's sake". Finally, besides the obvious sorting out of what this incident means to me on a purely mythic and legendary scale, writing this quick memoir has achieved, hopefully, another goal: the realization in all of your minds that I am a sensitive man, tuned in to the great cosmic symphony of chance, love, and pain that surrounds us always; that I am also a dangerous man, willing to take great risks for my Art and at the risk of hurting those that I love for a greater understanding of Truth; and finally, that it is not possible to completely know me, for I am too complicated an instrument of God's Divinity to ever fully comprehend, being, as I am, an endless riddle of motivations and desires; the perfectly designed, narrowing interior of a nautilus shell, flowing along with the soft push of a warm current and spinning endlessly through the sea's beautiful fields of kelp and coral.


Anti-Semitic stereotypes also were noted. Focus group members saw the United States and Israel as synonymous and estimated the proportion of Jews in the U.S. population at up to 85 percent; it is 2 percent.

What's funny about this statistic is that most, if not all, of the American Jews I know (I don't really know any Jewish Jewy Jews from Jewland) are educated, sensible, liberal, and care much more about grubbing money (sorry, couldn't resist) than invading Muslim countries or perpetuating the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Because honestly, if it were me, and it's not, but if it were, if I were making three dollars a day living under the thumb of some godforsaken Arab Monarchy ruled by thieving patriarchs who spend their days sunbathing by their pineapple-shaped pool, smoking their cinnamon flavored tobacco and sewing up their ladies' clitorides, while I spend my days digging graves for the unlucky bastard who tried to smuggle a flask of rum through the border, only to get his head lopped off in the city square, then you know what? Personally, and again, this is just me, but if it were me, I'd probably be a little more worried about the straight-laced Dad-of-Jesus-God-fearing Aryans from Kaintuck and Bama, itching to see Gee Dub drop the A-Bomb on Baghdad, Damascus, Pyongyang and Tehran while singing "That Old Rugged Cross" and praying for the misbegotten souls of the slowly dying barbarians to be elevated to the soothing stratus of a cottony heaven than I would about the writing staff of "The King of Queens."

But, you know, if you want to worry about the Jews in America, then yeah, that's probably going to work out really well for you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


For some reason, the high school that I attended is not on this list.

I remember meeting with my guidance counselor during the process of applying to colleges. She looked through the list of schools to which I had submitted an application and said, "Goodness, I've never even heard of these colleges! Are they good?" Needless to say, one was an Ivy League school and another was one of the best private schools in the South.

It's about expectations, people. Somehow, with great effort, I surpassed the bar set by the caring staff of Mastodon High.


For the simple reason that I don't want to embarass you all with my incredible wealth of knowledge in the areas of world history, international affairs, stock market fluctuations connected to oil productivity, and the growing concern over agricultural subsidies, I tend not to discuss politics here. But sometimes I like to break a piece off. When I do, I tend to let it sit and fester on the floor until it gets moldy and stinky. Then I sweep it away and who knows what becomes of it; it lies waiting for some gleaner to pick through piles of trash to find it, not knowing what it is when it is found, taking a bite and even, perhaps, grimacing, throwing it over his shoulder, and returning to find his fortune in the large pile of rubbish.

If you'd like to know the general flavor of my political views, I direct you to The Bull Moose. Not only do I enjoy reading his site, I also highly agree with his ethos: a return to the principles of the Bull Moose Party, founded at the turn of last century by Teddy Roosevelt. A not so accurate list of what the Bull Moose Party believes in: gun rights, environmentalism, social progressivism (including a progressive tax), woman's right to choose, letting the gays get gay-married, a strong military with a hint of isolationism, lots of nature hikes, smoking from a pipe, leaving well enough alone, doing what you want, punishing the bad guys, fighting for the little guy, and so on. Call it the Common Sense Party. A dash of conservatism, a sprinkle of liberalism, and the continued effort to check ridiculousness from both sides at the door.

Another fellow whose opinion I enjoy reading is a Mr. Christopher Hitchens. Though I disagree with his continued assertion that the War in Iraq was an absolute necessity, I can't help but be at the least marginally convinced of many of his arguments. Now that we are in the position we are in in Iraq, it makes no sense to parse words and hesitate to denounce the absolute evil that is showing its face in that country, day after day. And I do think that people that have any sympathy whatsoever for these assfaces that are blowing up cars in markets and taking hostages and executing Iraqi soldiers in the back of the head are complete imbeciles. I personally have no interest in going to fight some war in Iraq - I'd rather not come back maimed and mute with shrapnel in my neck - and though I did not completely support the initial invasion of Iraq, it does rile me up to read and hear this muddling of history and facts. America is the Great Satan because it is presumed a soldier consecrated the Quran at Guantanamo Bay? Sure. But when the "insurgents" blow up a mosque in Baghdad, they're making a statement against the evil that is America. Brilliant.

This article by Hitchens is great not only because it oozes anger and righteousness, but because of it's clarity - Christopher Hitchens = the new William of Occam?



Monday, May 16, 2005


It is noon in the age of bigwheels and bright orange flags. Steven lives next door. He got a bike yesterday. He's older than the rest of us. On the fourth of July we have races. The whole neighborhood comes out. I have an A-Team bigwheel. Last year I came in second. I cried once when Jeremy shot a bottle rocket at the bullfrog in the pond at the end of the street. It exploded all over us and I just wanted to get it off me.


I lie in bed all day with my eyes open. The humidity presses down gently like a lover who would let go if I asked. I listen to the lawnmowers buzz and sputter. At night I drink whiskey sours with Linda and talk about the men at church. Linda likes Warren, in the choir, but he doesn't pay her much attention. When our conversation goes silent we can hear the bugs and moths getting zapped. Zip zip zap. Zap. Zip zap. My life is quiet and lonely since Gene died. The kids all moved away a few years ago. I think about getting a job but I don't know who on earth would hire me, or for what.


Those motherfuckers are going to pay. I got a right to have that dog. He stays on my property. This is my goddamned house and I can keep what I want in it. Land of the free my ass. Calling the cops just because he got away once. Fucker shot out through my hands when I opened the door. Not my fault that bitch was jogging by. All those reflectors on her shoes and that bright bandana in her hair. Dogs do what they're programmed to do. People don't seem to get that. All these assholes. Want to control everything, make everything all safe and warm. None of them know a damned thing about real life. Giving me shit for doing what I want. They'll fucking pay someday. They will.


It's almost like swimming, this parting of the cornstalks, like we're lost in a sea of brittle brown husks. I reach behind me and grab her hand and pull her closer to me. For a second I think about next month - she far away in a big city by the sea and me still here. Maybe after she leaves I'll be bringing a different girl here. Maybe I'll wait a year or two. Maybe I'll never bring anyone to this spot again. I see a hawk swoop down overhead and splash into the sea of swaying tassles. We emerge from the field and walk into the woods. There is an abandoned quarry down this path and when I was younger I used to go there and catch little lizards and frogs and put them in glass bowls until they smelled up the house and I had to let them go. I squeeze her hand and keep walking. I want to take her to the quarry and just let her go. If I told her that she'd say I was being weird. Sometimes she'll say, "you're so weird." I want to take her to the quarry and walk away and never see her again. I'd like to think that she'd thank me for it, that she'd turn around and nod and say "thank you" and then just keep walking away.


This year's NHL lockout hasn't really affected my life in any recognizable way.

This empty net is a pictoral symbol of how little I care about professional hockey.


I got sick this weekend and spent most of yesterday sweating in my bed, writhing around and trying to fall asleep. To stop myself from thinking about what I could have possibly eaten to make me feel so ill, I tried to stay positive. "What, if anything," I said to myself, "good comes from falling ill?". I thought for a bit. I threw up. I thought some more.

Losing weight? Nah, I'm already skinny. Curling up in a ball and rocking back and forth in bed? Nah, that happens every week after "Karl" ravages me then tosses a few dollar bills on the nightstand. Stepping over and back across that line of alertness and awareness and dreaming that comes from falling only slightly asleep? Aha!

I love the dreams I have when I nap during the day. You don't fall far enough asleep to lose that intense REM you experience when you're close to waking up. The dreams are more bizarre and seem closer to real life. When you're sick, it's even better, because it's not possible to get to that deep and dreamless state of sleep. And then, when you wake up, you don't get out of bed and try to do something, you just try to go back to sleep, because you're sick. It's like a really bad trip, only for free! In summation, this is the best thing that results from being sick. Everything else sucks.

In other news, I'm starting a new segment. It's going to be called, simply:


Friday, May 13, 2005


From time to time, I've been known to tussle with the big dogs. In fact, it was only last week that I delivered a little bit of that old-fashioned fury and wrath to the doorstep of a Mr. Thomas Friedman, columnist for The New York Times. Watch yoself, Tom!! It was like I was God and he was Job. The only difference was that God finally relented in His punishment, while I pressed on without mercy. Also, whereas Job was aware of God's provocations, Tom Friedman probably isn't one of the nine people who reads this blog. Presumably, the man has much better things to do with his time (at least I hope so).

With that said, the Friedman I know and love (the most unflichingly optimistic, gullible, apologetic, understanding, patient, and senseless journalist I know) writes a fantastic column in today's Times that not only completely validates every point about Friedman I was trying to (perhaps unsuccessfully) parody in my previous post but is also about, you guessed it, how the Indians and Chinee are going to steal all of our jobs. His point hinges on the fact that Americans are getting lazy. Specifically, he worries students here in the states aren't getting quality educations in math and science. In the man's own words:

Earlier this week, a special report on the Indiana University High School Survey of Student Engagement, which covered 90,000 high school students in 26 states, was published. The study noted that 18 percent of college-track seniors did not take a math course in their last year in high school - and that "more than a fifth (22 percent) of first-year college students require remediation in math." Just 56 percent of the students surveyed said they put a great deal of effort into schoolwork; only 43 percent said they worked harder than they had expected.

Tom, Tom, Tom. I hate to point out the obvious, but as is so often the case with your columns, I feel as though it's necessary. To be blunt, math is fucking lame. Well, maybe not the idea of math. But certainly math-related jobs are. Let me break it down for you, Tom. It's been awhile since I dropped some serious knowledge, and damn if it don't feel good to get back into the groove. Holla.

See, TF, we're a rich country. And when you're rich, you do what you want. Have you ever seen a CEO's son enroll at Devry to get his electrical engineering degree? Didn't think so. He's off getting a double major in music theory and sociology at Florida State. He's also getting his pole smooched on a weekly basis. You think the Chinese guy at Devry with the Huffy bike is getting his pole smooched? Puh-leaze. Rich people do cool stuff. Poor people who work too hard for too little credit go to Devry. This is the crux of your column. The only thing is, you're not satisfied until you've guilt-tripped us all into thinking that our economy is doomed because we'd rather do something cool than chill with our Texas Instruments all day.

And Tom, believe me, I've got room to talk. As a matter of fact, I'd go toe to toe with any one of you assholes when it comes to pure natural mathematical ability. And guess what? I've squandered it all completely. I've actively and completely atrophied that half of my brain into a raisin-sized nugget of improperly calculated geometric proofs and senseless algorithms. Why? Cause fuck math. That's why. Maybe you don't understand that, Tom, but there it is. Fuck math. Fuck you, fuck Devry, fuck sin waves, and fuck math. You really think the kids of today are going to choose to study math when they could possibly get an internship at Comedy Central or work as a lackey in advertising? Tom, you're more out of touch than I thought.

At all costs, under all circumstances, and in every rest stop bathroom in America, our youngsters have said repeatedly: fuck math. Until you get it through your head that America is completely satisfied farming its math homework out to the hardworking but smelly Asian kids at the end of the block, your points aren't going to mean a damn thing.

"So," you may ask yourself, "if it's not math that is awesome and totally sweet, then what is it, oh oracle of the internet, oh wise and truthful soothesayer, oh prophet divine? Tell us, what deserves our attention? What pleasures may I indulge myself in this weekend that will not only make me more rad but also potentially get my pole smooched?" Dear readers, please see below:

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is coming out this weekend on DVD. Buy it. It's not the best movie ever made, but if you don't like this movie, there's something wrong with you. Oh, I know what it is. It's that you're an asshole.

Kicking and Screaming is in theaters tonight. I like pretensious German New Wave films from the 70's as much or (actually, I'm sure of it) more than the next guy, but do you know what else I like? Laughter. Can't get enough of it. This movie has big-time promise in that department.

Crack open your dusty old CD case and put on that old Spain CD. Goddamn. Seriously. Goddamn. If in the presence of a lady, pole-smooching is guaranteed.

Read something this weekend longer than a blog post. Something...I don't know. Like a book. Won't kill ya. I'm reading Judy Budnitz's collection of short stories and they are titties McGee. Also, I just finished Tobias Wolff's newest novel, Old School. Grade-A stuff again, Toby. I still owe you a beer. Highly recommend picking up any of his stuff.

That's all for now, loves. Keep in touch. Also, stay sweet; never change.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Editor, Times-Union:

I'd like to post this letter to all of the seniors from this year's graduating class of Mastodon Valley High School, class of 05'.

First of all, congratulations for reaching a great milestone in your life by graduating from high school and venturing out into the real world. I applaud you. I also wish you the best of luck. Trials, hurdles, and moments will come, but they to will pass so stick to your values and they will lead you far.

I would like to ask a question, though, to the senior body. I read that your class motto was: "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

I have to admit, this troubles me. I've spent the last few days trying to decipher this phrase as it was hopefully meant. I've tried to come to the conclusion that I've misread it, but alas I always seem to feel it means the same. Now I hope I'm wrong, and I beg your forgiveness if I am, but the motto seems to say "I'll do what I want, say what I want, and if you don't agree, screw you."

Now again, please forgive me if I've taken it out of context. I hope I have and you can show me my error. If I am right, I'm greatly saddened. I'm going to wait to get up on my soapbox until I've heard the ideas and thoughts of some of the senior class. I've always said that getting your facts right before your sermon is the most important part, so I'll live by that now too. I wish you a great day and a safe one besides.

Duane Herendeen
Mastdon City


That none of my friends ever told me how great Clem Snide is.


He spoke of this girl he knew. She had lived in one city then moved to another and then to another. Finally she found herself in a strange place where she had no friends. At night she would go to bars with people she knew from work. They drank all night and that kept her from feeling lonely. When things became too much for her to handle, she took her pills. She was promoted at her job. That gave her satisfaction. She was very career-oriented.

One night as she walked back to her apartment, she saw a pack of wolves chasing a small boy. She followed them. They cornered the boy and he was scared. He cried. They snapped their teeth at him, but the girl realized that they were just playing. The girl said, "Stop that!" and the wolves stopped snarling and turned to face her. They came over and walked around her legs. She stuck her hand out and they smelled it.

The girl started hanging out with the wolves every night. Her old work friends, the ones that helped her get acquainted with the city, were sad that she didn't go to the bars with them anymore. But the truth was that the girl understood the wolves better than people. She liked stalking the neighborhoods late at night with them, rooting through trash, sleeping together in a pile. When her work friends asked her what she did at night, she told them they wouldn't understand. They were just people. She didn't have time for people anymore.

The wolfpack started coming to work with the girl. She didn't think anyone would notice, but people were intrigued, and a photographer took some pictures. He submitted them to a magazine and the girl became famous for living with the wolves. But she didn't want to be thought of as a savage so she made an excuse for why she hung out with the wolves. She said that she found them in the city and they were helpless and she cared for them but they were too unruly to live around people. She recommended they take the wolves away to a zoo or something. The girl had a habit of using things up and then throwing them away. She had always gotten away with it.

Everyone thought she was such a charitable girl for raising the wolves by herself. Her friends at work knew she was lying. They felt sorry for her that she couldn't just admit that she loved living like a wolf. When the animal control men closed the back of the van, the wolves looked out through the window. They didn't know where they were going. They didn't realize they had been deceived. But when they arrived, two days later, in the middle of the park, they had already forgotten about the girl.

The girl thought about the wolves every night. She wondered if they were mad at her for what she had done. She wondered what her work friends thought of her for lying.

The wolves danced at night in the park under the stars. They played around and nipped at each other's ears. At night, to keep warm, they slept in piles.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


If pressed, I'd say that the the television show "Wonder Woman" most directly shaped my sexual tastes.

Amazingly - and I know I probably dodged a bullet here - what I mean is that Linda Carter helped shape my taste in women and not, as some of you might imagine after that first sentence, that I became gay.

I also was really attracted to - and this period I look back on inquisitively - Tracey Gold from "Growing Pains".

I hope this information gives you a better understanding of my life and my ambitions.


Wow. It doesn't really occur to you that the father would kill his own daughter and her friend until it occurs to you. And then, when you think about it, it makes some sense. But not nearly enough.

Zion, along Lake Michigan, was founded in 1901 by a religious faith healer. It has about 22,000 residents but retains a quiet — at times, rural — feel despite being on the edge of both the Chicago and Milwaukee metropolitan areas.

I'd like to make a statement. That statement is this: rural fucked-up-ness is way more interesting than urban fucked-up-ness. There seems always to be some element of religion in the Midwest outposts where these horrible events occur, combined with the despair of not knowing a world besides hard work, trailer homes, prison, potholes, vacant buildings, and church. Add a dash of psychosis that can assume one of two faces - religious fervor or physical and sexual violence (and at times a face that assumes both) - and you get a pretty boozy cocktail of Lynchian proportions.

This story reminds me of the amazing documentary Paradise Lost: Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (as well as its sequel, Revelations). If you haven't seen these films, get off your lily white ass and rent them. Or Netflix them - whatever you internet-savvy assholes are into nowadays. Another documentary that I believe really gets down to the gloomy existence of the sick and twisted and depraved and pathetic and unknown to the world-at-large life of the rural poor (and mentally ill) is Stevie. Just see it, you assheads. And know that though my life in Indiana was never like that, I did know people whose lives were not too disimilar from Stevie's life and his family's.

Ultimately, that's why the underbelly and depravity of the criminal and poverty-stricken rural underclass is more interesting. Because in the big city, nobody cares. It's too big. It's expected. Big cities are where horrible things happen, or at the least where we expect them to happen. But in little towns, these problems are our problems. There aren't welfare offices, there are church basements. When someone's down on their luck, someone tries to find them a job. And when someone molests a little girl and shoots a sheriff, it may be one of the girls you teach in your P.E. class or the deputy that lives down the block from you.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I have no idea what I'm trying to say. But I do like films that are dark and twisted and are about the Midwest and crazy people and crazy things. I don't like when it happens in real life. But I will watch the documentary.


This morning as I read this New York Times article, I realized how very little I know about the world:

Here and in a number of nearby nations including Zambia and Kenya, a husband's funeral has long concluded with a final ritual: sex between the widow and one of her husband's relatives, to break the bond with his spirit and, it is said, save her and the rest of the village from insanity or disease. Widows have long tolerated it, and traditional leaders have endorsed it, as an unchallenged tradition of rural African life.

And how sometimes that is a good thing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Yesterday, as I was conversing with a good friend, I felt obliged to describe to her a small incident that occured during my lunch break. I tell it to you now:

Usually I spend my midday break grabbing a quick bite then scouring the neighboring outdoor mall, foodcourt, or basement cafeteria for hot tail. Yesterday was no exception. Since it was a relatively dreary and rainy day, I decided to get a hamburger in our building's basement, grab a corner table, and stare at the sweet heinies passing by. I finished my burger and began to crack the book I had brought when I noticed a young professionaless sitting down at a table about three away from mine. Our eyes locked and, slack-jawed, I stared at her without breaking away until she smiled and sat down. For the next ten minutes, I acted like I was actually reading my book, often glancing from the page to see if she was looking at me. In between bites of her chicken salad sandwich, she was doing the same. Oh, and what a deliciously fine minx she was.

This, of course, is the perfect set-up to a story where I walk over, talk to the young woman, and charm her back to my office's broomcloset for a truly Penthouse Confessionals lunch break. However, as I am perpetually and horribly frightened of women, I decided instead to close my book and return to work. The excuse I told myself was that she was probably stupid or crazy. As I stood to go, I looked over at her one more time and saw that she was looking at me. She put her head down and sort of giggled, and it certainly seemed like she was expecting me to come over and talk to her, so I figured "what the hell" and decided to approach her. Somewhere in the process of standing, closing my book, turning, looking, deciding not to go back to work but to instead talk to the girl, and pivoting on my foot, I found my ankle caught twisted in the leg of the chair and capitulated forward, spilling my tray. There was a pause. A few seconds of silence. I picked up the trash from my meal, placed it on the tray, walked to the trashcan and threw it all away, then retreated to work.

What? What? I thought it was charming.

Of course, that story led to another story that is, I can say with assurance, both more embarrasing and more charming, I'm sure. This is the story that was previously requested by Guiseppe Alfonse Funnsylvania on an earlier post. Well, Senor Guapo Diener, here you are:

Back when I worked for Satan, or as they are known in Los Angeles, a "talent manager", I was often asked to go to the corner Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Wednesday afternoons to get drinks for our weekly meetings. Now, this next part doesn't really have anything to do with the rest of the story, but I would like to state at this point that I worked with five women and four gay men. Nobody else. It was like walking into an estrogen schvitz every day. Ok, back to the topic at hand. It was a Wednesday in late October and I gathered everyone's orders ("Double Chino Mocha Male Pheromones, please!"), then walked to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at the corner. I placed my order and moved to the side of the store, waiting for the baristas to froth up the already incredibly sugary confections when I noticed, standing in line to place her order, a smoking hot young lady.

She wore nice sunglasses and a tattered thrift store tee, with a pair of tight-fitting Diesel jeans. All in all, a well put together young woman, and certainly, physically speaking, a real knockout. I glanced at her and she glanced at me. I grabbed a stirring straw from the condiments table and began twirling it, twisting it, nervously wondering if after she ordered she would come over and wait for her drink next to where I was standing. Should I say something? Maybe ask her a question about her coffee. Right, that's original. Maybe just stand here looking coy? Yes, that would be great! So I stood there, waiting for the beverages, occassionally glancing up to catch her eyes. She was definitely looking my way. But was she looking at me? Was she looking at something behind me? She definitely seemed to be staring pretty intently at something in my direction. Also, was she really standing in line for coffee? It seemed as though the person in line behind her just sidestepped her and moved to the cash register. Is there a menu behind me or something? Maybe she's just trying to figure out what she's going to order. But man, she sure is cute. Not fake and too done up like most Los Angeles girls. Earthy, natural beauty. Just the kind of girl that I fall for. Just the kind of girl that I dream of.

And it was then that the middle-aged woman with the fanny pack walked into the store, out of breath, frantic, searching. "Marissa! There you are! Oh my God, we lost you, we didn't know where you went! Oh, thank God. Don't - don't - don't ever get away from the group like that again," she said, grabbed the young woman's hand, and began carting her off. The lovely beauty, now discovered, began throwing a tantrum, though unfortunately her words were indecipherable as she was, I regret to inform, totally retarded.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Gay Men Respond Differently to Pheromones; Also Said to Enjoy the Sight and Feel of Penises

WASHINGTON - Gay men's brains respond differently from those of heterosexual males when exposed to a sexual stimulus, researchers have found. The homosexual men's brains responded more like those of women when the men sniffed a chemical from the male hormone testosterone. Researchers also found that homosexual men enjoy engaging in anal sex with other homosexual men. Final conclusions from the results are still outstanding.


Hey, you know those online personals they have on all those websites? You know how lame they always are? (i.e., "What are you currently reading?" "Kafka, Camus, Joyce and the Bible.")

Well, today, the featured profile was of this girl and she was pretty cute, I guess, and her response to the phrase "Why you should get to know me" was:

After a rainstorm, I pick up every earthworm I see that has gotten lost on the pavement, and place it back in the grass.

And, you know, it's been sort of a long day, and I'm kind of tired, and I thought that that was a really cute answer. But also, it's funny, because I'm suspicious of anyone saying something that's halfway sincere, so right after thinking that she was cute, I figured she also had to be pretty crazy.

Cubs game in a half hour. That'll help wrap up the day.


I don't write music reviews for Rolling Stone, but if someone asked me to, I think I'd do a pretty good job.

For instance, if my editor gave me a CD to review and I didn't know who the band was, I'd probably give them three stars. If the artwork on the album was really interesting, I might give them three and a half stars. If the artwork was really cheezy or if they look like they're just trying to rip off some other, more popular band, I'd give them two and a half stars.

If my editor asked me to review a reissued album, or an album by an older band that is coming out with their first CD in a few years, I'd give them four stars.

This is why I think I'd do a pretty good job as a music reviewer for Rolling Stone.

Friday, May 06, 2005


After my recent...ah, hmmm, instructional post this morning describing, in some detail, the wonders of the female form and the appropriate clothing decisions that should accompany various mammotypes, I received from a friend a request to print, what she loosely termed, her "more lady-centric view" regarding the topic of breasts and bras and nakedness and the summer breeze and, uh...Lord...oh my, let me just cross my legs here for a second, ahem, yes, that'll do. Ok, so the following are not my words but rather the words of a friend and reader who would like to dazzle the AM-reading few with this totally estrogenic addendum to my earlier post. Keep in mind that this is not going to become a habit, me posting others' words, but when a hot chick writes "for many of us, the single most pleasurable event during foreplay is the removal of this hated, singularly feminine device," I have no option but to post those words to my blog for all to see. Cause that's how I do. Read on:


Although I am not, unfortunately, the small-breasted girl to whom the American Mastodon so lovingly directed his last post, I am in possession of a rather gorgeous set of full, perfectly-shaped 32Bs, and I do also enjoy the state AM calls "au natural," or what us more plainspoken folks refer to as going braless (particularly in the short and sticky summer months unique to parts of Indiana and neighboring states).

At any rate, having read AM's elegantly crafted plea – I think we can all agree that it approached the sublime – I thought it would behoove our tusked friend to learn a bit from the female persuasion. In short, I thought I would share a secret: small-breasted women love going braless – we just don't know it yet.

To explain, I could describe for you my first forays into bra-shopping (humiliating), the daily sting of an elastic band snapping against one’s birdlike shoulder-bones in eighth grade (a pain felt, of course, most deeply in a figurative sense), the stone in my eleven-year-old stomach upon hearing my mother utter, somewhat dourly: "you’re going to have to start wearing a bra."

And I thought I was fully clothed, in a stylish and sensible cotton pink top.

I won't bore you, friends, with such painful memories. It suffices to say that underwire bras are just as comfortable as they look – that is to say, not comfortable at all – and the constant slippage of a silky strap (first one shoulder, than the other) is just as annoying as you might imagine, and we know, just as you do, how ridiculous those foam cups from Victoria’s Secret look and feel.

In fact, for many of us, the single most pleasurable event during foreplay is the removal of this hated, singularly feminine device. But I must emphasize that – listen closely, Mastodons and related species – to get close to a sweetly small-breasted woman, one should refrain from using certain euphemisms, freely applied in an otherwise illuminating post (funbags, boobies, and the plainly odd "Russel Stovers," of course one can think of others, but you get the idea).

At other times, sure. While walking the dog, tossing a frisbee, eating duck pate at Le Sardine with your coworkers – why not. But it isn’t difficult, for this reader, anyway, to imagine that during the most exquisite, purgatorial state – neither in, nor out, but somewhere between – having one’s breasts referred to as "funbags" might result in a rather reflexive knee to the groin area of one's supposed lover. Having spent some time this afternoon examining my own sexual history (admittedly, rather exotic and varied) I was relieved, albeit somewhat surprised, that I have yet to enjoy the company of one who would employ such banal witticisms during the Act of Love.

I certainly am not interested in denigrating what is, once again, a particularly effective call-to-arms by our friend the American Mastodon. I merely wish to add my own two cents, as little, and perfectly shaped, as they are, in the hopes that other members of the fairer sex – members who are also frequent readers of AM's site, and there must be at least two of you now – will join AM's fine and commendable crusade.


Huzzah!! Huzzah to the perfect little braless funbags revolution!! Viva la Russell Stovers!!


HOUSE interviews a SEXY FEMALE APPLICANT for the open fellowship position. WILSON sits next to the SFA, looking on meekly as HOUSE grills her with prodding questions.

H: Are you Jewish?
SFA: Yes.
H: Is it true what they say about Jewish foreplay?
SFA: Two hours of begging.
H: I thought it was four.
SFA: I'm half Jewish.

Say waddup one time. One time, Kyle, can you kick it?


I knew this girl. She was wonderful, she made me happy, and she liked me. For those transgressions, I never forgave her. She was a bright girl and should have known better, and such foolishness in showing affection was not looked upon favorably. Once, she asked me my opinion of women who wore shirts with no bra underneath them - specifically, if they looked sexy. At the time, I was young to this world and, having grown up in a relatively rural area of Indiana, could think only of chain-smoking grandmothers in muumuus, dirty hippies at Aldo, and that fat retarded girl whose locker was about four down from mine in high school. Being thus a product of my sheltered and backward environment, I answered, demonstrably, "no".

Friends, we have not all said such foolish things.

She then acted surprised and wondered, appropriately, instinctively, if I had in mind what she had in mind. Which was, "But what about a girl like me, young and nubile and possessing of perky breasts, or those quite like me, whose similarly small but firm funbags are not in need of a bra and, in fact, when flaunted nakedly underneath a thin and tight tee are easily recognized as being laid bare?" Such wonderful points this girl made.

After that conversation, clouds parted and a chorus of cherubs sang a sonata; flowers bloomed beneath my feet and a huddle of puppies came rushing to my warm and open embrace. It was the dawning of a new day, a new era; it was, simply, the beginning of the rest of my life. What a thrill to see a young lass wearing nothing but a low-strung summer top, alert nipples pushing lightly against the fabric, signalling to the world, "here we are, we represent smallness but also confidence; we stand proudly with the knowledge that minimalism is the natural compliment to significance, and we do not need support."

The trick, of course, to pulling off the braless breasts is a woman's awareness of her Russel Stovers' size and shape, for disastrous results can befall the woman whose breasts are either too small (thus not giving shape to the shirt and hanging like a dishtowel over a boyishly-flat chest) or much too large (see above re: chain-smoking grandmothers and retards). Only women with perfectly smallish but shapely breasts can get away with it, and when they do, it's like God has made His presence felt once again; be still and you may feel His hand upon your shoulder as you stare at His wondrous creation. Whoever among us says that He is not a partisan creator has not seen the sights I have seen at the frequently visited Los Angeles outdoor mall "The Grove".

But lest you think I myself am partisan, let me point out now that this post is not to decree any personal value judgements regarding the shape, sizes, smells, demarcations, or consistencies of breasts. I'm actually a bit of a dilletante when it comes to the breasts of the fairer sex; I prefer those in column A as much as I prefer those in column B. Sure, larger breasts look better, they seem better when you're staring at them lecherously in the fruit section at Ralph's, but we all know that looks can be deceiving. Sometimes that which appeals to our sights doesn't appeal to our touch, and vice versa.

It sure is a crazy, mixed-up world we live in, huh?

This morning as I left my local Starbucks with my "half-caff" in hand, I climbed into my masculine and intimidating vehicle and noticed, walking past my sweet ride, a quite large-breasted woman wearing nothing but a thin t-shirt, her boobies entirely unsupported and flashing the high beams to all who caught sight of them. Ladies, do not do this. It is tacky. Leave that move to the women who can and should pull it off. You have your large breasts and men love you for that. That won't change, nor should it. Large breasts are utterly fantastic (I couldn't help myself!!), but as such valuable commodities, they should not go forth into this dangerous world unprotected - cover them and tuck them in goodnight and, if chance should allow it, let us wake them from their slumber and pull the blanket from their resting state ourselves.

Be kind and understanding, ye ladies of large and amazing boobies, and let the smaller-breasted women have their time in the glorious, glorious sun. Time spent a little more free, a little less covered, and way freakin' hot. I thank you; the enlightened men of America thank you. And to those of you ladies out there who have the goods and have thought about going au natural but weren't sure if you could pull it off, I implore you: just give it a shot. I swear I won't stare at you like I did at that one girl at the mall the other day, but seriously, those were some really awesome boobs, they were completely rad.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


First of all, thanks to Wonkette for sending more visitors to this site than I had yesterday. Which was about 8.

But for my faithful followers, enough talk of other blogs. Let's talk about the best blog in the world: this one. It's pretty awesome, isn't it? And, you know, since I have a larger audience today, I just want to backtrack a second and make sure everyone saw these, because they're brilliant and deserve your attention:


Lover not crazy
Thrill me then go away say
Hey hit the highway


Sometimes love hurt good
Don't feel like should you make it
Come on make it hey

Lil' ditty 'bout two
Kids suckin' on chili dogs
Oh yeah life goes on


I have a bit of a routine in the morning, as I'm sure most of you do. Mine involves showering, shaving, robing, eating, Metamucilling, driving, Starbucksing, daily constitutioning, desk-settling and, finally, New York Times editorials-reading. I don't read them because they inform me of what's happening in the world - I read them because they humor me. If you've read them consistently for as long as I have (which is to say maybe two or three years), you don't really notice the interesting points that the columnists are making; rather, something happens during your long acquaintance whereby you become aware only of the individual writers' faults, their huge lapses of logic, and their increasing belief in their own infallibility. Of course, these deficiences aren't unique to the columnists at the New York Times - to be an editorialist of any kind requires a certain section of your mind to be either intentionally ignored or surgically removed; otherwise you would make sense and that would be boring.

After some time, you begin to expect certain things from the columnists: when reading Maureen Dowd, I expect to be condescended to, and I expect it to be in the form of some sort of odd satire. When reading Nicholas Kristof, I expect the cockles of my heart to be touched, I expect my sympathy to be elicited, and I expect it to be about some world disaster I haven't yet heard about and wish I never had. When reading David Brooks, I expect to be told how liberals view a current issue, how conservatives view it differently, how both are sort of right and both are sort of wrong, and then I expect to be told why Brooks is right above all. When reading Bob Herbert...well, let's be honest. I can't read Bob Herbert. The guy brings me the fuck down. He's such a buzzkill. Everything is fucking doomsday with him. Now, when I read Thomas Friedman - and here I've got to be honest, I love Thomas Friedman - I expect to be uplifted, invigorated, refreshed, and made to see the world anew. Thomas Friedman has got to be the most unflichingly optimistic, gullible, apologetic, understanding, patient, and senseless journalist out there. He also muddles every one of his points with mislaid metaphors and overconvoluted comparisons. When I read Friedman, I expect an awful situation to be viewed through the magic prism of his "everything's all right" eye, I expect world leaders to be given a pass, and finally I expect him to state that the Indians (dots not feathers) and the Chinee work harder than Americans and in five years will have taken all of our jobs.

But why should I write such an excessively long introduction to what is, below, the true meat of my post? Because friends, as luck would have it, last night as I perused the microfiche at my local library (don't ask - I'll only say that I'm in the process of solving one of the country's great cold cases from the 19th century), I ran across one of Friedman's earliest columns, written back when he was a young writer for his high school's weekly publication, "The Garfield High Gazette". This is a miraculous find and I doubt you'll find it elsewhere on the internet. It is reprinted in full.


By Thomas Friedman, Class of '68

There was an explosion, a crashing of silver on tile, an upturned tray and a splattering of applesauce, followed by a cold silence that was as heavy as a stormcloud before a great downpour. Only today there would be no rain. Instead, today was just another day of terror and despair inside the cafeteria of Garfield Hall, where jocks and preps continue to harass and beleaguer hippies, stoners, and geeks.

The future of the integrity and cohesiveness of our beloved school depends upon open communication between both the quarterback of the football team and the captain of the Mathletes. If the two don't speak to each other, our school edges closer to the precipice of total cliquedom. If, on the other hand, they manage to engage in open conversation and resolve their differences, basketball players could soon be toking up with the Deadheads, and the debate team could argue the finer points of a great backfield pass. Why won't this happen? Because it's too hard to let go of our long-held stereotypes and see others for who they really are: people just like us.

With this thought in mind, I headed to Principal Stern's office to see how different groups of students have approached and interacted with each other throughout the history of Garfield High. "At a time in a person's life when they are adapting to the world, it is only natural to work through certain insecurities by assembling in homogenous groups," he said. "Those groups that have members of greater strength, popularity, and wealth tend to pick on and intimidate students who are not as unfortunate. It's not fair and it's not right, but it is how the real world operates and I think that's important to note."

So what Principal Stern was saying is that there is a precedent for such action. But doesn't it state in our country's Bill of Rights that all men are created equally? How can we temper our natural urge to form cliques and subgroups with our responsibility to strive for an egalitarian society?

Later that day I got to thinking about ways in which different cliques can interact better within the hallowed halls of Garfield High. Our student body leaders have made decisions that have led to an increasing level of divisiveness at our school, like choosing to install the new soda drink machine by the gymnasium and lockers, thus favoring the jocks, and not in a centrally located area like the school's performance auditorium or library. Also, we see them often asking boosters for money to help fund athletic causes or to help build the floats for the homecoming parade, but rarely does the student council get involved in academic causes. The student council should work harder on being the rubber band that holds this school together, and not the rubber ball that bounces things off of it.

Would it be too difficult to hold a pep-rally for our marching band's upcoming performance at the state competition? Or perhaps a "Vegetable and Bake Sale" day in which our school's farmers could not only show the other students the "fruits" of their and their families' labors, but make a few dimes and quarters on top of that?

One only has to look as far as Roosevelt High in neighboring Elkins County to see the benifits of having a forward-thinking student council. Not only do they have school-sponsored days recognizing future engineers ("Math Makes Things Work Day"), they also organize large groups of students to attend away wrestling matches and pick-up games of softball on the school's large recreational diamond.

Riding the bus into school this morning, I wondered to myself: What if the student council and the administration begin actively promoting "cross-pollination" of student groups - like asking the basketball team to watch the battle of the bands, or encouraging the Bible Quiz kids to challenge the track team to a game of chess (officiated by our school's excellent Chess Team)? At the very least, these sorts of measures could help our school become more unified and less hostile. We'd see less upturned trays in the cafeteria and more school spirit - a lot more school spirit.

So what do you say, Principal Stern? What do you think, elected student representatives? If we don't start thinking about these problems today, Garfield High won't be able to progress athletically or academically - and all those scholarships to U of M and Carleton will be going to the supportive and cohesive students of Roosevelt, not Garfield.

I encourage everyone to let the storm clouds pass, to be a rubber band and not a rubber ball, and hopefully we won't get wet from the rainstorm that is fast approaching.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Whether or not they've done it?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


This is a great article/interview with Richard Dawkins, noted evolutionary biologist and despiser of religion. (Salon.com, so you need to click on "day pass" to see the whole article)

I thought this was a great, though disingenuous and pie-in-the skyish, answer:

How would we be better off without religion?

We'd all be freed to concentrate on the only life we are ever going to have. We'd be free to exult in the privilege -- the remarkable good fortune -- that each one of us enjoys through having been being born. An astronomically overwhelming majority of the people who could be born never will be. You are one of the tiny minority whose number came up. Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one. The world would be a better place if we all had this positive attitude to life. It would also be a better place if morality was all about doing good to others and refraining from hurting them, rather than religion's morbid obsession with private sin and the evils of sexual enjoyment.

Not a bad idea, but call me when people the world over are ready to give up religion to make the most of this world. The following answer of his, in response to why there couldn't be a Divine Creator, taps into the same trouble I have with the idea:

Believing in God is like believing in a teapot orbiting Mars?

Yes. For a long time it seemed clear to just about everybody that the beauty and elegance of the world seemed to be prima facie evidence for a divine creator. But the philosopher David Hume already realized three centuries ago that this was a bad argument. It leads to an infinite regression. You can't statistically explain improbable things like living creatures by saying that they must have been designed because you're still left to explain the designer, who must be, if anything, an even more statistically improbable and elegant thing. Design can never be an ultimate explanation for anything. It can only be a proximate explanation. A plane or a car is explained by a designer but that's because the designer himself, the engineer, is explained by natural selection.

Which raises the question, "If natural selection is the designer, could it not continue to design more and more complicated forms of life, thus giving genesis to an ultimate 'designer'?" You're still left with describing how things started billions of years ago, why the laws of science and physics are the way they are, and what the hell we're doing here.

In the legendary words of Albert Bitterling in Vernon, Florida:

My neighbor told me once that he didn't belive in God. So I asked him how he thought we got here. He looked at me and shrugged his shoulders and said, "It just happened." It just happened. "Well," I said, "Let's take what you call 'it just happened' and give it a name. Let's call it God." So you know, what you're gonna call 'It just happened,' I'm gonna call 'God.'

Monday, May 02, 2005


Editor, Times-Union:

Am I missing something or not?

We went to work at 6 a.m. and worked to 3 p.m. That way we had time after work to fish or work the yard. Now they work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and want to turn the clock up an hour so they can have more daylight time.

The sign at the grocery store said: pork and beans 15 cents - lard 10 cents a pound - milk 25 cents a gallon, now it says - gasoline $2.39 - smokes $3.40 a pack - beer $26 for 18. Jesse Bradway owned a grocery store and had a 50-gallon drum of fuel oil in the back room. The Health Board made him take out the oil. If you touched food and the oil pump everyone in town would be sick.

Back then everyone ate in the kitchen and the toilets were outside. Now they moved the toilets inside so it is big time to eat outside.

When we were young, car drivers knew not to turn right on a red street light, now Indiana passed a law that you could turn right on a red light. They spent much money on cute little signs that say "no right turn on red."

We had three numbers on our telephone and never received a wrong number. Now we have eleven numbers and receive a wrong number daily. I hear that China is taking out all of the phones. They ring to many wongs.

Harold A. Garber


His grandmother will pick him up soon. He fidgets with his watch. It has a too-long strap, so he slides it back and forth over the bone of his wrist. Hunched over on the bus-stop bench, he peers down Fort Wayne street. Her car is dark red and long and has cracks in the windshield, and when he gets in he pinches his nose because he doesn't like the smell. She leaves her Burger King bag in the car and it stinks it all up.

When he gets home he goes into the room he shares with his two sisters. He keeps a pack of Kools under his mattress, even though it smashes the cigarettes flat. Casey said that that's how you're supposed to do it to not get caught. He walks outside and past his grandmother, who is still sitting in the car. She's wheezing and is bent over. He lights a cigarette and heads toward the fairgrounds, where he can walk next to the creekbank and watch fish swimming.

There is a tear in the cigarette near the filter so even though he sucks on it, all the smoke spills out sideways. He gets to the edge of the creek and tries to spot a fish. Sometimes it's hard to tell because the sunlight sparkles on the water and the flashes could either be a reflection of the sun or the back of a passing bluegill. He drops the cigarette in the water and watches it drift away. It gets stuck in some sticks at a bend.