Thursday, March 29, 2018

DAY 110: ROBOCOP





I was lucky enough to experience my pre-teen years in the halcyon days of the 1970s and early 1980s. This was a time free of the shackles of smartphones and social media, and reality wasn’t found on television. It was a time of Hardy Boys and bionic men, talking cars and galactic battlestars, and you couldn’t help but smile every time somebody whistled Sweet Georgia Brown. But it wasn’t all Farah Fawcett on rollerskates.

Society had barely time to reconcile their relief and anger as the Vietnam War came to a close before having to stress about the second Cold War that was heating up and the omnipresent threat of annihilation from Nuclear Armageddon that was all too real. Paradoxes abounded. A recession was followed immediately by a financial boom, and the sexual revolution was curtailed by the AIDS crisis. On the radio classic rock was just rock (and was awesome) and disco was staying alive. In reaction to both genres, and the state of the world, counter culture punk came out kicking and screaming and new wave leapt of its shoulders, and we saw the emergence of metal and rap. It all existed at once, and it was ours baby. It was a schizophrenic time. For every excess there was a cautionary tale just around the corner. It was all very confusing and chaotic and completely awesome. It was bat-shit crazy.


Kids were allowed to be kids but given adult responsibilities and independence. 10 year olds could operate gas-powered whirling-bladed lawn mowers and get up at 5am to deliver newspapers so they could earn a wage to waste on kidstuff like comic books, Wacky packages, and Atomic Fireballs.

Children were to be seen and not heard but not really seen as you were out of the house before your parents awoke with a hangover and not back in until the streetlights came on. The waking hours that you were home you were relegated to the basement rec-room, or banished to the bedroom due to acts of mischief or maleficence.

If you ran afoul of Stranger Danger (who apparently had a predilection for white vans) a child could seek refuge behind the closed doors of a complete stranger’s house because they had taped a piece of paper in the window that proclaimed them a “Block Parent”.

Navigating this landscape of contradictions wasn’t easy, but we had some guidance from the Saturday morning gurus.


I learned that robots could put their arms back on but I could not from Astro. I learned not to drown my food from The Bod Squad. I knew exactly what conjunctions function was, and that Lolly's was the place to get your adverbs. Being a champ not a chump was One To Grow On. The responsibility of knowing that only I could prevent forest fires weighed heavy on me. It wasn’t until my difficult teen years that I discovered that knowing was only half the battle.


But not all lessons were easily come by. Even disciplinary measures were subject to the discordant and incongruous climate. Parents executed a form of discipline/education called Tough Love. This was an authoritative form of parenting that put principles before popularity. Parents were not desperately vying to be your “friend”, they were too busy being your parent. This meant that they were doing their job to better prepare you for the real world, to make you autonomous. This was accomplished by meting out punishment, or teaching life lessons, in an overtly harsh or stern manner. A contrarient style of being cruel to be kind. Children were made to take responsibility for their actions and learn through failure, mistakes, and pain. And my mother was a master at it, a third degree black belt.

Get caught smoking, no problem, mom would sit you down and make you smoke as many back to back cigarettes in one sitting until you turned green and puked.

Want to know if the curling iron really was hot because it didn’t look that hot, she’d encourage you to not just touch it but to grab hold of it. By the metal.

Leave your GI Joe’s out after being told to put them away? Well the questionable solution was to pack them up and donate those American soldiers to the Vietnamese family the church sponsored.

Harsh? Perhaps. Forgettable? Not a chance. You only made these mistakes once.

What made my mother a master is that she never just taught a simple lesson; she taught lessons that were multilayered and compounded. To obtain information and confessions she played the roles of both Good and Bad Cop, switching between the two seamlessly. She was adept at police interrogation techniques like Entrapment, Emotional Blackmail, Manipulation and Brutality.

Allow me to illustrate.

My older brother and I had been fighting, likely over the fact that I existed. For the devout reader this is old news, for the newer converts or those just now coming to their senses, stay awhile, bask, and I'll give you the Cliffs Notes version. My brother and I didn't get along, we were brothers in name only. He was 4 years older, 75 pounds and a foot larger than me, and used his considerable weight against me to work out his anger over the same familial dysfunctions that I was subject to. The only time I looked up to him was in the literal sense, when he would pin me down and dangle a string of spittle over my face and suck it back up at the last minute. Or not.


After enduring a particular humiliating session of bestial torment at his meaty hands including but not limited to Charlie Horses, Indian Rug Burns, Pillow Smothering, and General Pummeling, I felt a stinging need for Justice. For Vengeance. He had me as an outlet for his rage. I had nothing, no avenues of recourse, opportunities for revenge presented themselves infrequently at best.

I quickly assessed the situation.  Fisticuffs had already proven futile, and my homemade nunchucks had been confiscated earlier in the week, so physical retribution was a non-starter. He owned nothing readily available that he cherished that I could destroy. There was only one thing left to do, the secret weapon of last resort avaialbe to younger siblings across the globe. One foot planted on the stairs leading up to the Adult Realm, I looked defiantly into the weasel eyes embedded in his fat churlish face and invoked The Ancient Incantation:


“I’m telling mom”


Then promptly hauled ass to the first landing of the stairwell.

There was no pursuit. Instead, his softly spoken words wafted up to me and stopped me in my tracks. "Mom doesn't care. It's my right".

A chill went up my spine as I realized 2 things about his statement. 1) The smug look on his face told me he believed the latter statement, and 2) he may be right about the former.

Anger at this possibility welled up inside of me. I brought out The Big Guns.

"I'm telling her...that you...swore", my words were measured, as though being spoken by Michael Caine.

He recoiled as though slapped. Swearing was tantamount to kicking baby Jesus in his baby nards while pouring sugar into the gas-tank of the Pope-mobile in our household, and subject to extreme punishment. Yet another puzzling precept to understand as my father's propensity for expletives was legendary; this fell under the 70's axiom of "Do as I say, not as I do". My brother's lip curled upward in contempt. "I didn't swear. Gaylord isn't a swear. I did not swear".

"Mom doesn't know that" I levelled back. And with that I sought out The Matriarch.

I found my mother in the kitchen preparing dinner. It was 11 o'clock in the morning. I gently tugged on her Galloping Gourmet apron, "Mama?"

Deeply focussed, she curtly dismissed me with the warning "Do NOT ask what is for dinner because you know what the answer will be." I did indeed know what my mother's reply to that simple query always was: Horse shit and tram tickets. On the once a year my father transformed animal flesh into a fossil fuel his response to the same question was "You'll get nothing and like it!".

"I know mama. I need to tell you something", I feigned demureness.
"Well out with it lad" she said, having not yet turned to acknowledge me.
"It's bad" I was building anticipation. She wasn't biting, and continued her elaborate preparations. I tried again, "Like really REALLY bad".
"I don't have time for shenanigans boy". My mother never had time for shenanigans.
Ok, to hell with the hors d'ouerves, lets get to the main course. "Your other son swore".
Attention was gained. My mother put down the clarified butter, slowly put the lid on the tub-o-lard, and finally turned to look at me, her face betraying no emotion, "What do you mean 'he swore'?"
"Yeah, he like, swore".
"What did he say?" she coolly asked.
"You know, he said a bad word", I sounded dumb even to my ears.
"I understand that, but what EXACTLY did he say?" her eyes unblinking never left mine, analyzing, scrutinizing. I suddenly started to feel a little nervous.
"Um, you know, a bad word, a...um...a swear word". I hadn't thought this through.
She smiled gently. "Tell me what word he used son". No longer a question, a direction.
Oh man oh man...I really hadn't thought this through. An image of my brothers fat smug face flashed in my mind at that very moment and I had my answer. Might as well go for broke. Deep breath, "The F word". I feigned a pained look of innocence and dismay. Inwardly I was laughing maniacally thinking of the whupping my brother was going to receive. Vive La Retribution!
My mothers smile became tighter. It was a wan and strangely disturbing expression. "Tell me exactly what he said".
"Like I said, the 'F'..." she cut me off.
"Stop. Again: tell me what he said, tell me the exact words he said".
Oh I did not like this at all and began to regret this tack, but I was pot committed. "Um, he um, he told me to 'F' off".
"No son, the words. I need you to say all the words so I can make sure I understand". My stomach knotted and I felt a brick in my bowels.
My inner voice sounding like an exasperated Charles Nelson Reilly screamed 'What's there to understand? FUCK! F-U-C-K. I'm telling you he fucking said Fuck!', but what I said quietly was "I don't want to mama. I want to go now". I was now so worked up that I didn't realize I had started to cry.
My mother's face softened and she hunkered down to my level. She produced a tissue out of thin air as all mothers have the ability to do and tenderly brushed my tears away. "Sh-sh-sh-shhhh. There there now, what's all this about now? There's no need for tears. Just tell mama what your brother said and you can go. We'll put this silly nonsense behind us." She smiled a smile that was Love and Warmth and Protector and Toasted Cheese Sandwiches. Everything would be ok.
Wiping the snot from my running nose with the back of my hand I very quietly said, a whisper at most, "He told me to 'Fuck Off'".
"I couldn't hear you son, speak up" she cooed.
I very much wanted this to be over, so I took a deep breath, and projecting from my diaphragm, repeated "He told me...to...FUCK OFF".
Well that was liberating.
The elation I felt at having uttered THE taboo word to an adult was short-lived and replaced by a searing pain as I my mothers fingers clamped around my ear, twisted, and lifted me up off my feet. What the fuck? What fresh hell was this?! My bare feet (wearing shoes in the house was also obviously a punishable offense) were only making occasional contact with the shag carpeted floor as I was hauled by my burning lobe to the washroom where I was roughly shoved onto the also shag carpeted toilet seat. I was hysterical at this point, one part due to pain, one part due to confusion, and one thousand parts due to fear at what I knew was coming next.
"What did I do mama, what did I doooooo?" I pleaded through an expanding bubble of snot. I knew the answer to this as surely as I knew the answer to the dinner menu query.
"You swore. Twice. We do not use profanity in this house" she calmly explained as she reached for her implements. "We are going to cleanse that foul mouth of yours" she continued as she held the bar of Ivory soap under the warm running water of the tap, sounding remarkably like Carrie White's mother.


What happened next was all kinds of god fucking wondrous awful.


Washing a child's mouth out with soap for swearing was common practice back then, but my mother took it to the next level. She didn't just make me hold the soap in my mouth, she scoured my mouth. With a nail brush.
Yes indeed, she scrubbed my teeth, tongue and gums (especially the gums, the domain of those hard to clean words) with a fingernail brush that had been under actual filthy fingernails, lathered with a bar of soap that had been used on every single body part of every single member of my family.
A lesson not soon forgotten taught by the Master. You certainly got your money's worth. In the hands of a lesser disciplinarian the lesson would have been as pedestrian as "Swearing is bad". I took away so much more than that. Not immediately though, these were slow release lessons that I didn't realize stemmed from my mother's constabulary parenting style until I was a neurotic teen, such as but not limited to:


Swearing actually is bad. Swearing causes pain.
When you tattle on someone you are only telling tales on yourself, and no one likes a tattletale. Tattling also causes pain.
Fight your own battles. Don't outsource your dirty-work, outsourcing hurts everyone.
You can't fool your parents, trying to may cause injury.
Don't trust your parents. Actually, Trust no one. Broken trust stings like a bitch.
No one wins in a fight. Fighting can cause grievous bodily harm.
Karma's a bitch. A soapy painful bitch.
Lies will come back and bite you in the ass, lies hurt. So do nail brushes.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. I'd buy that for a dollar.


William Makepeace Thackeray said Mother is the name for god in the lips and hearts of little children. Apparently Ivory is the taste of betrayal on their lips and gums. Did my mother give me these lessons out of love? Tough Love? Like I said it was all very confusing and chaotic. 

Or maybe she was just bat-shit crazy.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

DAY 109: BOB ROSS




In this world where the majority have opted to make their private life public and yet still seem justified in acting surprised and indignant when their opinions are challenged or their nudie pics are stolen from The Cloud or The Matrix or Bespin or wherever the fuck, honesty seems as rare as an uneaten Ho-Ho in Kevin Smith’s cupboard. By putting their lives on display people have become a product that they market, and like a trailer for a movie showing only the best scenes they market a shiny happy edited cut, presenting an idealized version. A fa├žade, a plastic facsimile of reality: The perfect untouched meal arranged on the perfect china plate in the perfect lighting balanced by the artistically just out of focus and wiki-researched perfect complimentary bottle of wine “Before”, but not the wine-stained tablecloth, sink-full-of-dishes, droopy red-eyed, hand-down-the-pants,farty, sleeping on the sofa in a display of drunken resentment “After”. Harrison Bergeron tried to warn us about the dystopian hollow perfection these masks create, and we all know happened to him, right?
No? Then I recommend reading a book you illiterate maroon.


That’s not reality. Life is not all Norman Rockwell. It’s messy. More like a Jackson Pollock.


I’d like to share something with you, something different, something refreshing: Reality. For a change of pace, instead of reveling in my all-encompassing awesome, I invite you to wallow in my humiliation. You should feel honored; very few know of this embarrassing slice of shame-filled pie.

The night before had been a cracking exercise in excess, rife with debauchery and ultra-violence. The entire sordid affair is described in detail on Day 108, so do yourself a favor and peruse that anecdote. The short version for those of you that move their lips when they read: a trip to a city an hour away, a stupidly gratuitous amount of bourbon and recycled beer, convulsive cake-shaking, and a trite misunderstanding with the a club's security detail that lead to my hasty and heavy handed ejection from the premises followed by a Royal Rumble of such ferocity that the Titans themselves shuddered in awe. I may or may not have had my ass handed to me.  My judgement impaired by alcohol and a possible concussion, an executive decision was made to keep the abuse rolling by gorging on fast-food and passing out on a friends decrepit couch that was covered in stains of questionable origin.

I awoke abruptly, sore and disoriented, my face and hair soaking wet. Panic set in. Was I on fire again?
Was I drowning?
In a toilet?
Did I flush?!
My eyes half focused and I saw my amigo Jimi standing over me, an empty pint glass in his hand. "Aren't you supposed to be at work in an hour?" he asked.
My wrist was bare. I'd lost my Batman timepiece in the skirmish with the no-neck Neanderthals! (For the younger readers, before the world became enslaved by the Apple Overlords, civilized folk wore miniature clocks secured around our wrists that enabled them to tell time, set an alarm, signal Superman for help, and talk to Tess Trueheart).
"Shit shit shit", I sat up and winced. My hematomas had hematomas. "Dude, why'd you pour water on me? I'm soaked!" I asked as I struggled to lace up my boots.
"You puked in my shoes" he responded.
Not stopping the complicated procedure of playing Cat's Cradle with my laces I briefly glanced over to where Jimi's shoes lay under a canopy of viscous un-chewed food. They had most certainly been befouled.
"That's not mine you dick. I had taco's. Your left shoe has pepperoni on the toe. Carl had the pizza. Your right shoe is overflowing with Alphaghetti, and you sir, are the only Alphaghetti Gobbler I know".
"Oh".
"Dick" I reiterated, putting the issue to bed in a way only boys and men can.
Half a cold meat-ish filled taco clamped between my teeth I forfeited my Battle of the Boots and raced out the door into the crisp December morn, a blur of obsidian starkly contrasting against the crisp white canvas of rapidly falling snow that blanketed the world. It registered briefly that I was stranding the friends I had chauffeured here, but you know how the old proverb goes: "Fuck 'em".
I felt...off. My skin was sensitive and I was slightly feverish, and my insides seemed to twitch. I assumed it was my injuries from the night before competing for attention, those both self inflicted and sustained by the steroid monkeys. I ached all over from bruising. My liver screamed. I tenderly folded myself into Castle Greyskull looking very much like a dog fucking whiskey bottle, and headed for work. 

It became apparent almost immediately that I was not going to be on time for work, or anything anytime soon for that matter. The snow storm had rapidly upgraded to bonafide blizzard conditions; visibility was non-existent, and I could feel mighty Greyskull's tires sliding on the un-plowed highway. I was crawling. And I was really not feeling very well. Hoping that the city streets might be plowed, or at least provide me safer passage, I abandoned the motorway for the city streets.

Big mistake.

Apparently the suddenness and volume of precipitation caught the locals who experienced this phenomenon Every Single Winter completely off guard, notably the husk of the SUV that was strewn across the fast lane, and the transport truck on its side across the other 2 lanes. It was a pallet of crimson brake-lights from a hundred other vehicles, more now piling up behind me, hemming me in. There was nowhere to go, no way to turn around, trapped. I was six shades of fucked.

Turns out my detour on a road to nowhere was not my first mistake. Apparently multiple pitchers of recycled beer chased with seven late night taco's that were constructed using caulking guns and drowning in hot sauce had that particular honor.

Without warning my colon painfully cramped as if it was on the receiving end of an Indian rug burn (get off your Cultural Insensitivity soapbox before you fall and hurt yourself Sally...that's what it was called and that's what it felt like). My guts were roiling like a sack of agitated asps. My skin was on fire, it hurt to be wearing clothes and I started to shake all over. I was perspiring profusely, a cold, shiver inducing sweat. I was very unwell indeed. There was sudden movement in my intestines. I looked around in a panic at the sea of unmoving cars, willing them to part like the Red Sea.

Oh I was most definitely in a tight spot, the proverbial pickle.

Another seismic cramp seized my insides, accompanied by audible movement.

Oh god oh god I wasn't going to make it! 


I clenched.


In a flash, I flung open the heavy door of Castle Greyskull and bolted from my car into the middle of the stationary bumper to bumper traffic. This wasn't so much a conscious decision as it was a necessary but involuntary action. My hands already fumbling with the pentagram buckle of my belt I made a tight-cheeked shuffle through the metal gridlock and climbed the snow-bank on the far side of the crowded road. Painfully aware of the hundred plus pair of eyes now raptly watching me through their windshields, pants now around my ankles, I squatted.

Even in this devastating moment of urgency concern for my reputation crowded my thoughts. If I faced the traffic my face would be on display. If I turned my back to them what was on display would be far more graphic. I opted for the not ideal compromise of my profile.

I violently voided my bowels in front of the multitude of horrified spectators,  relief washing over me in an awesome wave. 

As I wallowed in my own molten putrescence I inadvertently made eye contact with the aghast motorist directly next to me, her mouth agape in an O of shock and disgust. No turning back now, any shred of dignity lay steaming behind me, I scooped up a pile of snow and cleaned myself up as best I could. She kept staring. I didn't know what else to do, so I winked at her. I don't know why I did, but as god as my witness I fucking winked at her.

She was either going to have years of therapy bills, or one hell of a story to tell of the man in black in the snowstorm who was Jackson Pollocking all over the place. 

This was not a happy little accident. No sir, not at all.



Thursday, March 1, 2018

DAY 108: WHAT IS BEST IN LIFE?




 




In one of the winters of my mid-twenties discontent a series of unexpected events along with some hedonistic decisions and a skewed sense of what is hilarious resulted in the single most ignominious moment of my life. They say we only die once. I disagree. We die countless deaths on the way to the last one: of despair, embarrassment, humiliation. Come now and join me in a tale of one of those petite morts. A messy one at that.

 
On this particular night the goal was simple if not routine at this point of our misspent youth: Crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and to hear the lamentations of their women. The reality of which translated into: consume copious amounts of cheap recycled beer, cavort with nubile young ladies with low standards whom have hopefully also consumed copious amounts of cheap recycled beer, and avoid getting into any type of trouble that may result in grievous bodily harm being inflicted upon our fragile persons.

The best laid plans of mice and men and all that flowery Robbie Burns stuff. Let’s just rip this bandage off and roll around in the salt a while.

 

On a chill winter’s night many moons ago, five of us piled into Castle Greyskull, my bench-seated behemoth of a K-Car, and set a course for the University located several cities away where some of our more scholarly comrades endeavoured to increase their intellect through the alcohol induced culling of slower brain cells, addition through subtraction. The atmosphere in Greyskull was light and jovial, the banter what you’d expect from guys who have let you sleep in their bathtub so as not to get vomit on their carpet: proclamations of ill-gotten shotgun privileges, boasts of the bevy of buxom babes that would be bedded, and accusations directed at those who smelled that which most certainly had been dealt. There was an incessant cacophony of complaints regarding the soundtrack I selected for our sojourn: non-stop Goth (not to be confused with Emo, which is puerile and utter shite). I was a stalwart supporter of the Doom & Gloom Movement, and attired myself accordingly: All black, all the time...black shitkicker boots, black pants (since we’re talking shame I’ll admit that I had on occasion worn leather pants, this, however, was not one of them), and black t-shirts advertising my adoration of bands that made you want to either drink a quart of bleach or stand at the edge of the vertiginous abyss in the pouring rain and scream in rage until the veins in your neck pop like a gamma radiated Henry Rollins. My darker musical and fashion tastes were a source of bemusement and harassment from my friends who were rockin’ their Dockers to the likes of U2 at the time, but my car, my rules, my tunes, so shut yer cakehole!

Upon entering our less than studious amigos’ hovel our olfactory senses were assaulted by the not unfamiliar yet strangely comforting aroma that was equal parts stale beer and fast food, and the by-products of both. Pleasantries such us “What’s up Gaylord?” and “Suck it, douchetard” dispensed, we set out on foot for the nearest watering hole.  As I look back in the retelling I’m envisioning us confidently strutting through the city streets in Tarantino-esque slow motion set to a soundtrack of some obscure yet totally badass 70s song, and I encourage you to do the same. In reality we were a clumsy staggering gaggle of awkward and unkempt 20-somethings tripping over our Docs and desert boots and own self-importance. We engaged in the act of Priming--the time-honored ritual of chugging as much cheap straight liquor as possible prior to hitting the bar, maximizing our limited financial resources and minimizing both our inhibitions and ability for critical thinking. Our destination was an underground club that catered to idealistic destitute students who still believed that the world was their oyster and that they had invented thought. When I say “underground club”, I don’t mean that it was some elitist enclave that only the select Chosen had access to; I mean it was literally 20 feet underground, a rickety flight of stairs leading to a windowless filthy shithole, but it suited our purposes:  no cover charge, cheap recycled beer, and lots of young ladies going through a period of self-discovery and experimentation as a means of working through their low self-esteem.


Of its many flaws and infractions this firetrap's most unforgivable crime was the music. Music is, was, and forever shall be an intrinsic and inseparable part of my life, but by the very nature of this being a university club DJ’d by university students, the soundtrack to our evening sucked balls. In a futile attempt to educate the denizens of this earthbound Mos Eisley I implored the DJ to play anything by Bauhaus, Joy Division, Skinny Puppy, Sisters of Mercy....for all that is good and holy I'd even settle for a little Alien Sex Fiend! I was met with looks that vacillated between confusion and alarm. In a desperate bid to abate the harassment the now frightened maestro suggested a one-time only set of Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine, and Ministry. I could work with that. I magnanimously and drunkenly conceded and hit the sticky dance-floor. I flopped around like an angry epileptic octopus on amphetamines, creating a frightened berth around me. The only thing that I can attribute such commitment to this ugly piece of performance art would be a cathartic release of familial resentment and Catholic repression. Or the consumption of a legendary amount of alcohol. I say this because then, as now, I find dancing to be the most ridiculous of endeavours for a man to engage in even if you have the hips of Adrian Zmed and the moves of Deney Terrio combined. Which I did. In spades. But I digress.

My spasmolytic congress with the danceteria had left me overheated and drenched in perspiration, not all of it my own. One of my Docker rocking comrades commented that my face was red like a rose in a thorn bush, like all the colors of a royal flush. Beer and bourbon seeped from my pores, and my black uniform clung to me uncomfortably. The world began to tilt unnaturally. I needed to cool down, I needed fresh air. I headed to the base of the stairs, the only outlet for oxygen in this dungeon, and collapsed against the wall, one foot up, arms folded across my chest, unlit cigarette dangling from my mouth like a sullen James Dean, the embodiment of angst. I had just redesigned cool.

As I gulped in what little air wafted through the entrance a gaggle of obviously first-year students reinventing themselves shambled in and cued up in an orderly line bristling with hormones and idealism in front of me. The head of the line, all adam's apple and acne, silently extended his drivers licence to me. Without pause I accepted it, squinted in affected scrutiny, handed it back and blandly declared "$2 cover tonight". The group unquestionably reached into their chained wallets and Hello Kitty purses and produced the cover charge which I promptly collected and pocketed, even making change for the future hipster in the oversized Dinosaur Jr tee. I remained staked out at the foot of the stairs repeating this ruse for the next 25 minutes, accepting ID and lucre until I had amassed $76.

I knew my entrepreneurial venture was about to come to an abrupt and violent end when I spied four BOUSes (Bouncers Of Unusual Size)advancing towards me like a herd of ornery pachyderms and I was a wayward ivory poacher asking for directions. To their credit these knuckle-draggers were alarmingly fast for brutes lacking necks. I received several cursory sedating blows before I could attempt to explain I was just holding the money for a friend. Sausage like fingers closed around my Billy Idolesque coiffed 'do and dragged me up the flight of stairs, patrons calmly stepping aside as I was unceremoniously deposited onto the icy concrete of the parking lot. I'd danced this particular tango before and knew that retaliation was a fool's gambit. I opted to turtle, protecting my angelic punam, and feign death, patiently suffering the powerhouse kicks and punches that rained down upon my ribs, kidneys, spine and legs. The cro-mags eventually lost interest and lumbered off, celebrating another successful no-contest group assault.

I waited until I could no longer hear the sound of them breathing through their mouths before (for the benefit of those who had witnessed this biblical smackdown) gingerly picking myself up and casually dusting myself off as if I had merely stopped to take a short nap on the pavement. I could taste my spleen.

Clutching my hard earned doorman money in my bleeding fist and cursing my friends that were oblivious to my impromptu exodus I limped towards the nearest fast-food establishment.

No enemies had been crushed. No nubile women lamented or cavorted. Trouble that resulted in bodily harm was most decidedly not avoided.

However, copious amounts of cheap beer was consumed. One out of three ain’t bad. And I was up 76 bucks! I'd call that a win!

The best part? I haven't even gotten to the embarrassing part yet.

To Be Continued


Monday, May 4, 2015

DAY 107: VADER & LUKE


Word of advice, whenever somebody who trusts and looks up to you asks what happened to your closest friend and prodigious progeny that you just happened to have hacked up, completely severing 3 of his 4 major appendages during a lightsaber duel of epic proportions, and left them to die slowly in molten magma that agonizingly seared what remaining flesh they had, always always ALWAYS blame it on somebody else. 


Lying: The Way of the Jedi


MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

DAY 106: LIVE LONG & PROSPER



Leonard Nimoy passed away.

I'm not going to try to up my geek cred and tell you I'm not upset because I have attained Kolinahr. 
Nor am I going to make reference to the Genesis planet.
And if anyone makes a "Beam me up Scotty" joke I may just go amok time on their ass.

I'm also not going to suggest the world lost a great actor, but instead perhaps an iconic one, and what was lost was what he represented to me.

I guess what I'm saying is Spock is dead.
And with him went part of my childhood.

Noted psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, who was disappointingly in no way the viking warrior his name suggests, put forth that who we become is shaped during our formative years between the ages of 0 and 11. We learn during this time about who we are and how we view the world, about guilt, and purpose, and identity. 
I am swinging swaggering adult proof of this. Sure I evolve and sort of mature, but the core concepts, the things that make me ME, haven't changed since I was a swinging swaggering kid with feathered hair and hand-me-down bellbottoms.

I still actively engage in the same neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie pursuits now that I did when I was but a knee high to a grasshopper nerdling, the foundation of which being science-fiction.

I firmly believe that many of us, The Chosen Ones, are born with a predilection for fantastical fanaticism, but if stifled it will wither and die like an unwatered Triffid. 

My obsession with all things outer-spacery was far from malnourished. It was encouraged and nurtured by my father. This is likely due to the fact he had no one else to enjoy his own obsession with sci-fi. My mother by virtue of being my mother was a girl, and therefore had no interest or time for silly space operas. She preferred the reality-based shenanigans of Coronation Street. She couldn't get behind the concepts of alien races, sentient robots, or space exploration, yet had no problem swallowing the walk-on-water pill washed down with a tumbler of raise-the-dead. And my brother, The First Born, stayed in his room studying all day, scarfing down Jos Louis, and devising new ways to make my life a living hell.

So The Fat Man and I escaped our tormentors by submersing ourselves into the farscapes of science-fiction and fantasy.
We didn't see eye to eye on, well, anything really, except sci-fi. It was the one thing we actually did together. Our relationship outside of these moments was that of Lawgiver and Law-Breaker. We'd watch anything sci-fi from Buck Rogers and The Six Million Dollar Man (Bigfoot, baby!)to The Man From Atlantis and Quark. But our main staple, what we truly bonded over, were the exploits of Captain Kirk and the gallant crew of the USS Enterprise. It seemed to be on almost everyday in the 1970s, and we watched faithfully. Together. Side by side. My dad favored womanizing problem-solving-through-violence Kirk because he fancied himself somewhat of a lothario himself. I was a fan of that green blooded hobgoblin Spock, as he straddled the lines of sci-fi and fantasy, and let logic prevail instead of letting surrounding negativity get him down. The ears and the nerve pinch were pretty sweet too.

Leonard Nimoy kept popping up in in these 22 to 45 minute geek excursions into escapism my father and I took together during my childhood years. Nimoy didn't just bring us Spock, oh no.

He brought us Paris in Mission Impossible.
He brought us the new age self help guru David Kibner in one of my all-time favourite movies, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
He brought us In Search Of...(Bigfoot, baby!)
He unabashedly brought us his vocal stylings to the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.
Nimoy brought the world all of these things, but most important to me he brought my father and I closer together, he brought us common ground.

When I heard the news of Nimoy's passing I immediately wanted to talk to my father. I was 4 digits into dialing his number when I remembered he too had also passed on recently. He had boldly gone...wherever. 

"I guess he can tell him himself" I said aloud to no one, but the idea of that meeting made me smile.

Live long and prosper indeed.




Friday, February 13, 2015

DAY 105: FRIDAY THE 13TH




By now I'm sure you've cottoned on to my love of horror movies. (If not, go back and read Days 2, 28, 61, 62, and 88....go ahead, I'll wait). I've been asked time and again "Why?", and "What is wrong with you?". I don't really have a nice convenient answer to either of those. Part of the answer lies in the childhood empathy I felt for the classic monsters that were persecuted for being different. Another reason is the addictive rush that comes with fear. I think the most succinct and honest answer is, in the words of that sagacious seafarer, "I am what I am". I wish it was more poetic or complicated. I know a lot of people don't get it, but I don't get a lot of people. I also don't get how Adam Sandler and Tatum Channing have careers that lasted more than one movie. Or how no one else seems to notice that Penelope Cruz is a giant Praying Mantis.

I'm not that creepy kid anymore but I'm still drawn to the horror scene, if there is a thing. I think its just habit now. I watched so many creature features in my formative years that I forever have an association with them. They are an indelible part of me and my youth. Going back to that slime covered well where unnameable things slither and flop is like going back to my childhood.

Leaving childhood in the first place is not something I ever felt was mandatory. I know I have to get older, but I made a conscious decision early on that I wasn't going to grow up. The things I took delight in as a child still entertain me today. Why would I ever stop reading comics, or enjoying science-fiction, or grin ear to ear watching Harryhausen's Centaur thoroughly kick the Griffin's ass? Why would anyone actively choose to invest in work over these things after already wasting so much of their life there!

In the summer of 1983 I think the fear and anxiety of leaving behind childhood and by default longheld childhood friendships preyed heavily upon the collective psyche of my tightknit consortium of fellow outcasts. It was our last summer together before going away to separate highschools. And we knew it.

After 9 years in the trenches together it was time to break up the band, whether we wanted to or not. 2 Pauls, 2 Johns, a Ted, a Mark, and me. On the surface we made assurances to each other that we would remain eternal brothers, bonds that can’t be broken, but part of us knew that things would not be the same. We were moving forward, gonna meet new people, make new friends. Hopefully many of them girls. That was a secret sanctum I wanted access to in a big way. I’d seen enough movies to know that teenage girls gathered together in their bedrooms clad only in their undergarments to talk about boys and have spontaneous pillow fights. They had no reservations about going topless in front of each other as well. Oh, and third base, that was something else I was keen to explore. I wasn't entirely sure what it entailed but I was pretty damn sure I wanted it. I was fairly convinced that 2nd base involved boobage, and I'd already tried my hand at that, literally. I had furtively copped a 3 second feel on Julie Hubert at our grade 8 graduation dance. It felt in my hand how I'm pretty sure my cheekbone felt in hers when she clobbered me. I was the resident expert on 2nd base amongst my peers.

As the first day of our Great Secondary School Adventure loomed ever nearer one of our numbers, Mark, propounded that we gather as a group that Saturday evening in his rumpus room for a movie marathon. We'd order pizza, gorge on Nacho Doritos and Penny Candy (which was actually a nickel) like Big Foot, Bottle Caps, and Red Hots, and over stimulate on Swamp Water, an unearthly concoction of every available soda in the house. We all agreed that that sounded A-O-fuckin-K, Cool Beans.

"You guys can all stay over too!" he excitedly blurted. And then his eyes widened and his mouth clamped shut. He hadn't realized what he had said until the words had left his mouth.

Whoa.

Stop right there.

"Whataya mean 'stay over'? Like a sleepover?" the word veritably dripped with contempt from one of the Paul's lips.
"Whaaaat? No! No no no. All I meant was we are gonna party all night and its gonna be late so if you want, you can just like...crash...or something". Years of Dungeon Mastering had made Mark a most nimble master of improvisation.

Crashing. Crashing was something we could get behind. It was not at all like a juvenile kiddy sleepover. So we all went home and asked our moms if we could crash at Mark's on Saturday.

We arrived at Mark's at 7pm, the plan was to watch 3 movies back to back until midnight. I was responsible for providing the pirated VHS movies (obviously). I had selected releases from the previous year, with a Killer Inbred Mountain Man theme, a classic and oft overlooked sub-genre I am still fond of to this day.

The primer was the little seen Canadian gem Humongous, a personal favourite, but the weakest of the offerings. This acted mostly as background noise as we tore into the pizza like starved vultures feeding on carrion, pepperoni and pizza sauce dangling from our maws like dripping viscera.

Our bellies distended, clothes smeared with grease, we communicated through belches and monosyllabic grunts, life imitating art as the credits rolled on Mutant Hillbilly movie # 1. We were not boys, we were all that is man.

As I slammed the 2nd mutant masterpiece into the top loader, another unheralded tour de force, Just Before Dawn, Mark's older brother Gerry kicked open the door and made us all jump, our collective prepubescent screams sounding very much like girls. Gerry was a lot like Chet from Weird Science, except with man-boob bitch-tits; if you haven't seen John Hughes' magnum opus I'm not sure why we're even talking. Gerry was universally disliked, even by his parents, and he knew it, and used his considerable weight to facilitate the venting of his resentment. He wanted desperately to be accepted, even by us kids, but was incapable of being a human being, and all attempts at coolness manifested as extreme douchiness. He had also been caught masturbating in the boys room and had to change highschools mid-semester.

By way of greeting he flicked Mark's ears and said "Hey gaylords, you been playing spin the bottle with each other all night?". No one made eye contact. Direct eye contact is seen as a sign of aggression in the animal world, inviting challenge.
"Leave us alone Gerry" mumbled Mark, his face taking on a crimson blush, embarrassment for sharing this DNA quickly turning to rage.
"Or what, Dickweed?" Gerry sneered, looking for an audience that had found interest in the frayed edges of blankets and the address on the empty grease spotted pizza box.
Mark's eyes flashed. As a younger brother myself I knew that reckless look. "Or I'll make damn sure your new school finds out you transferred there for playing a little 5-on-1...JERK OFF!".
We wanted to laugh but knew it wasn't safe. Prudence, boys, prudence.
Gerry's eyes narrowed to two fiery slits, his mouth a tight white line. He wasn't breathing. The carotid artery visibly throbbing. His eventual exhalation carried a warning that sounded more like the hiss of an agitated cobra than human speech, "When you least expect it, expect it". And he left, deflated. A silent cheer went up around the world from all younger siblings.

We broke the heavy silence with whooping guffaws, John # 2 braying like a wounded donkey, and each took turns high-fiving Mark, He Who Had Won The Day. This small victory had really lifted our joviality and camaraderie to a new level. We watched Just Before Dawn with gusto, laughing at the decapitations and cheering on the deformed hillbilly psychopaths as they hacked through the disposable 30 year old teenagers.

On to the main event, the coup de grace, the one we'd all been waiting for: Friday the 13th Part 3!!! In 3-D, except it wasn't, but Ted insisted on wearing 3-D glasses anyway because that's just who Ted was. We were excited and a little bit nervous because we had all watched Part 2 the year before and it had scared the living bejeezus outta us, including me. I still get a little creeped out whenever a dude approaches me wearing a pillowcase over his head, carrying a pitchfork.

Corded remote in hand, I reached up from my throne of privilege in the recliner to turn the lights off.

And that's when Mark's sister Robin bounced into the room, "Hi guys" she beamed. We all knew Robin from when she went to our school; she was a couple of years older than us and was already in highschool. She was alright, never gave us the gears like Gerry did, but none of us except Mark had seen her since she left our school 2 years ago. It was apparently a very productive 2 years because now she was alright!

As she stood under the plastic shield of the panel lighting, her blonde feathered hair full of luster and bounce, her Jordache jeans snuggly hugging an ass that wouldn't quit and legs that went all the way up, and breasts actual breasts as god as my witness that forced Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons to opposite ends of her three-quarter KISS concert tee, I fell in love.

"What are you guys watching" she cooed.
"Scary stuff" was Mark's curt attempt at dissuasion.
"Ooooh, I love getting spooked. Mind if I watch?". She loved getting spooked. My heart skipped a beat.
"Seriously, its really gory stuff", Mark rebuked.
"Just let her watch man" I interjected. Robin smiled the most beautiful smile, and then I swear she kind of gave me an appraising look. Mark just gave me a funny look. "Come on man, its Jason!" I said by way of non-explanation of my actions. I could see Mark's internal struggle, he was teetering. I resorted to an old standby "Seriously man, no ticky no washy", this always made Mark laugh, and none of us new why, including Mark. He grinned "Hit play gwai lo! Ja-son! Ja-son! Ja-son!".

I turned off the lights and Robin rested her world class derriere on the arm of my chair. She was practically sitting on top of me!

At the opening Ch-ch-ch-kill-kill-kills Robin squeezed my shoulder. My pants became suddenly two sizes too small. With each appearance of Jason, trading in his linens for the now iconic hockey mask for the 1st time, her arms wrapped tighter around mine, and she slid farther down the arm of the chair until she was actually sitting in the recliner with me. None of the guys noticed because they were glued to the screen and freaking right the fuck out. Her nails were digging into me and it hurt like hell, and I was extremely twisted and uncomfortable, squeezed into the arm of the chair. This. Was. Awesome.

I never wanted this movie or night to end. If only Jason could cut a swath of nubile young flesh forever and ever. But alas, the movie had climaxed and I wasn't far off. The lights came on and Robin disentangled herself from me and stood up with a demur "Sorry" as I rubbed my numb arm. I just grinned goofily up at her, at a loss of words, for the first time in my life. "Thanks guys, goodnight", and just like that she was gone. It was over.

As we settled in for the night we discussed our favourite parts, the consensus being a tie between one of the victims having their head crushed and his eye flying at us in startling 2-D, and the dude getting sliced in half with a machete while walking on his hands . Even though we had just finished watching the movie minutes ago, most of the discussion started with the phrase "Remember the part when...?". Then we got to talking about what WE would do if confronted with a horribly disfigured backwoods maniac, but my mind kept drifting back to Robin. Had she checked me out, or had I imagined that?

It was after midnight and we were all pretty tired, but with the lights out, in the basement of an unfamiliar house, we were all pretty freaked out. I'm sure we all wanted to suggest turning a light on at some point, but there was no way any of us would be the 1st to speak up; we were heading to highschool in a few weeks, we were gonna be TEENAGERS, not scared little kids leaving the safety and comfort of childhood behind for chrissakes!

The only reason I know that we fell asleep is because we were unceremoniously awoken when the door was kicked open. There, framed by wood-paneling, artistically lit from the hallway light behind, stood a hulking figure in a hockey mask. John # 1 screamed "JASON!" in a piercing castrato. John # 2 pissed his pants but denies it to this day, insisting he fumbled in the dark and spilled Swamp Water in his crotch. Ted put on his 3-D glasses.

While everyone else froze, or urinated, or experienced the world in red and green, I heard a serpentine voice in the back of my head repeat a threat from only a few hours ago "When you least expect it, expect it"....Gerry the Masturbator!

Mark had already earned his hero status for the day, it was my turn. My plan was simple: I was going to throw something at Gerry that he'd have to duck, then charge him and tackle him, ripping off the hockey mask in a Scooby Doo reveal. When Mark and the other fellas realized it was Gerry they'd all pile on and kick his fat ass.

I sprang into action.

I launched a half full 2 litre bottle of RC Cola and began to run at our would be tormentor. And then things went sideways. He didn't duck, the plastic bottle had gained considerable momentum and hit him square between the eyes of the goalie mask. As he started to fall backwards my socked feet hit the polished wood of the hallway and I lost all control, spastically colliding with my target mid descent. My flailing hands pressed into his chest as he hit the ground and the wind rushed out of him with a resounding "Oooof!". My hands still pressed into his fleshy chest and I squeezed and twisted his man boobs with all my might. The Mega Purple Nurple. He screamed like a girl. A banshee-like wail. It was...upsetting.

He slapped my hands away, bucked me off, and ripped off the hockey mask in one fluid angry motion. Beneath the mask was not the disfigured undead son of Pamela Vorhees. Nor was it Gerry of the five knuckle shuffle. I only had a second to register it was Robin before she slammed the hard plastic mask into my face and called me a fucking asshole.

And so ended my first love before it really began. At least I was still the resident expert on 2nd base, and then some.