Archive for February, 2011

Non-Depressing Thursday Mental Chex Mix (fortified with PICTURES!)

Posted in mental chex mix on February 25, 2011 by tom
  • I was having a bad tom morning.  The stabby-feet meds were making me really groggy.  I woke up, popped two Vivarin, and slept another half-hour.  Even then, it was excruciating trying to get moving.  My hair hurt, for crying out loud. 
  • Anyway, I managed to drag-ass down to the USS Nimitz, fire up the engine, and begin grousing my way to work.
  • The radio saved me today. 
  • My mood improved 2500% between my home and The Job.  First was Sly & the Family Stone, “Dance to the Music.” I love this song. It’s a dumb oldie, but by God, anything with a Hammond B-3 and a horn section makes me smile.  After that, the station played Jimmy Buffet’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.”
  • Ohhhh, yeah.
  • It’s not even that I especially like that song, but it reminded me of an interesting period in my life.
  • Back during the day, I used to frequent a little beer & wine pub called Gamble’s.  I’ve mentioned it a few times, once when I eulogized my buddy Tom B, who owned it.  Some nights, I’d go down there after work–maybe 5pm or so–then close the place down at 2am.  That’s a lot of beer.  By the end of the night, it was less intoxication than weariness that overtook us bar denizens.  Gamble’s’ jukebox had Jimmy Buffet’s Greatest Hits.  At some point, usually in the 1am hour, somebody would play “A Pirate Looks at 40” and/or “Why Don’t We Get Drunk (and Screw)”.  Both of these songs were just perfect for that dark, lonely, bloated time of the night.
  • The point wasn’t that I was thinking, “Gosh! I want to get sick-drunk on draft beer, and risk catching anthrax from some drunk bar skank as desperate as I am,” but “Thank the LORD, that’s not me anymore.”
  • By the time I got to work, I felt okay. 
  • Probably the Vivarin kicking in.
  • Anyway, my Canadian recruitment is underway. 
  • First off, my dear Vox friend, Arbed, sent me a beaver a couple years ago after the Boston Squee Party:


  • I was scolded into hiding my beaver in the workplace, but I can still play with my beaver when nobody’s watching.
  • Also, my friend Emily has been trying to recruit me into Canadianism by filling me with love for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  While I haven’t watched any actual Leafs games, I love following them vicariously through her Tweets (ie, “FUCK YEAH LEAFS!!!”).  I have learned to distrust any Habs fans (Habs=Montreal Canadiens), and even to fly my Leafs colors proudly:

  • Laurie from that self-same Toronto is threatening to come to Tom County to watch Spring Training Baseball. We’ll see if that happens.
  • All I know is that a country with a giant central bacon depository is a country I could love.
  • As long as it’s not cold.  😉
  • I feel bad sometimes that I don’t share a lot of my important life things.  Yeah, I’ve talked about almost dying a few times, and stuff, but I don’t share important things.  Like my desk art:

  • Yes, that’s a printed out Natalie Dee cartoon, with blue Mardi Gras beads.  The caption is “I’m not a malcontent, I’m just perfectly happy hating everything.”
  • OH! My Work Wife and Work Daughter:

  • Kristin the work daughter is on the left; Christina the work wife is on the right.
  • There’s inside joke comedy involved in the glasses they’re wearing.  Y’all won’t get it, but it’s hilarious.
  • OH! And Ashley and T-Bone!
  • First, though, I need to point out a couple things.  I turned Ashley on to the wonders of ERDA Studios Winter Relief Emergency Hand Cream.
  • These are Ashley’s hands now, framing the lovely, still baking T-Bone:

  • Before ERDA Studios Hand Cream? Basher’s hands looked like this:

  • Well, they were a little dryer.  And a little less “rock & roll hall-of-fame/Keef-like”
  • Basher does have beautiful hands, though, like a hand model.
  • By “Basher,” I mean “Ashley,” not 80’s Rockabilly Revivalist Nick Lowe.
  • Ashley is one of my favorite coworkers, and she needed a nickname.  I was going to use “Smashley,” but I had a Vox friend named Smashley.  Then, all of a sudden, it dawned on me to call her “Basher,” since A) it has the “Ash” like “Ashley, and B) Ashley is feisty.
  • Plus, Basher & T-Bone sounds like a rock radio morning show.
  • Oh.  I apologize if I replied to your comment twice on “I Can’t Handle the Truth.”  For some reason, WP had my replies listed as “spam.”
  • I love Spam, but I can’t imagine lower-case-spamming myself.
  • At least not at my desk (if I can’t even display my beaver!) 😉
  • Anyway, I hope you have a great weekend! I’m doing a bunch of overtime, but it’s okay, because A) the Oscars are on Sunday night; B) I’m no longer a depressing character from a Jimmy Buffet song, and C) the Leafs beat the Habs tonight.
  • (Pardon my language, but I’m studying for my Canadianism test)

I Can’t Handle the Truth

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23, 2011 by tom

“Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You?” (Col. Nathan Jessup in Aaron Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men”)

Not me.  Not by the longest shot.

Last night, David Scott Crawford was doing his job, patrolling the streets of my city. Somebody reported a prowler in their home. Officer Crawford and his partner investigated, and a 16 year-old piece of absolute shit shot him in the chest at point-blank range.

This came four weeks after another piece of absolute shit killed two police officers and seriously injured a U.S. Marshall here in my city.

These officers knew what they were risking. Law enforcement is a dangerous job, far moreso than, say, any job my wuss ass would ever hold.  They get paid a decent salary and have good benefits. But every day they report for duty, there’s a chance some piece of absolute shit could shoot them. 

The kid arrested for killing Officer Crawford last night just turned 16. He can’t legally see an R-rated film, but he fucked up so badly last night that he’ll never take another step as a free human.

One of the local news stations reported that he “showed remorse,” and that “his parents have been cooperative.” To me, this sounds like a case where he’ll plead guilty in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

Sixteen years old. Life without parole. He could live 80 years in prison for being stupid for one moment.

Oh, this piece of shit was stupid before then. It wasn’t just one moment. He was carrying a loaded gun while invading somebody’s home. Great goshamighty, it’s not like he was walking home from church choir practice or a National Honor Society meeting.  He already had a criminal record, “mostly for property crimes.”

Oh! Well that’s okay, then!

I was talking with my friend Amy, and I mentioned that you don’t see a lot of cop-killers standing trial.  She asked why, and I explained that cops often end up killing cop killers.  Not necessarily that they are gunned down to avenge for having murdered a law enforcement officer, but that once you’ve killed a cop, you don’t usually come quietly.

I used the example of when a piece of absolute shit killed a Polk County Sherrif’s Deputy and his K-9 dog.  (Polk County is maybe 30 miles from here) This guy shot the dog first, then shot the deputy six times. The deputy was immobilized. The piece of absolute shit went up and shot him twice in the head.

When the Polk County Sherrif’s Office SWAT Team found the piece of shit, said piece of shit raised a hand with a gun in it.

Of the 110 bullets they fired, 68 hit the piece of shit. When asked why his officers shot the piece of shit 68 times, Sherrif Grady Judd said, “That’s all the bullets we had.”

I’m not a big fan of the death penalty. I think it’s unconscionable that the state kills someone innocent, and there’s always that chance, so I’m against it.

But when some piece of absolute shit kills one of the people who have the guts to be “on that wall” protecting me? I confess that I have a difficult time mourning the dead murderer. 

The sad truth in the Polk County case, my first thought was, “Why did those other 42 bullets miss?”

As sad as it is that a 16 year-old kid will be in jail for the rest of his life, sadder still is that a wife is widowed, that a 24 year-old daughter will never see her daddy again, and that two little kids lost their grandpa.  It’s sad that a community that just went through this last month is facing it again.

And that the TV news will once again show the solemn graveside service, as the dispatcher’s voice calls out the dead officer’s badge number, then says he’s “ten-seven for the duration.”

10-7. Out of service.

It’s a sad day in my town.  Again. 

Week of Scary Changes

Posted in Uncategorized on February 21, 2011 by tom

I hate change. Really. Loathe it.

This past week has involved a lot of changes.

I don’t understand how people can go through pets like magazines. One week they have a Persian cat, the next week a dachshund.  Once a cat adopts me, I don’t want to change.  When I entered service in the Court of HRH Ana-Sofia Vargas, I was perfectly happy to devote myself to her for the duration. When circumstance caused Wind to join HRH’s court as valet, I accepted that he’s here for good, too (unless ASV fires him).

Watching “Alice in Wonderland,” I swear I caught ASV watching the Red Queen scornfully. “Pah. Amateur.”

So I was here in my cave with my cats. If I needed cat fuel or other supplies, The Infernal Store is right around the corner. I had the DorkFone 9500 XLT, which was equipped with lots of apps, including one we’ll call “TwitterDum.”

I’ve been on Twitter for about a year. I like it, and TwitterDum has been a lovely interface. We’re not talking about running the Cassini Mission, just getting words from my fingers to their intended destination, and TwitterDum had done so admirably.

Then I awoke Friday to find that TwitterDum had been banned from the Twittersphere! GAH! Why? What did they do??

Well, turns out “TwitterDum is banned fo hwsud wsunv agggfwv kckoo sglkkllo asghdswsh!”

I know, right? Shocking!

I read the explanation somewhere, and that’s about what it looked like to me.  I have a limited capacity to give a shit about technology. 

For example, I love ATM’s, and I am quite adroit in their use…to a point. I can suck $20 bills out of ATM’s like it’s nothing. Swipe, beep, beep, done.  But I don’t know how to transfer funds on an ATM. Make a deposit? No reason to. For all I know, you can take out mortgages or order mob hits on an ATM, and I could live forever in blissful ignorance.

So the explanation of TwitterDum’s banishment meant only one thing: I needed a new Twitter widget. The search took me a total of 4 minutes, from “Search” to “Download” to “Install.” The difference is that my screen is a different color, and there’s a bird on the logo instead of a Space Invaders guy.

So then, with this new Twitter thing, suddenly I asked out this redhead. She brought her baby. Not only did I not run screaming at the sight of the baby, I actually enjoyed watching and playing with it.

Her. The baby is a “her.” I went so far as to HOLD the baby. It smiled at me!

She. She smiled at me.

So after dinner, I packed date and baby in their car, and sent them on their way. I needed to stop at The Infernal Store™ for a few things.

Well, guess what. The new Twitter widget (henceforth known as “Twidget”) pointed out that Estela’s, where we’d dined, is right next door to The Nice Store™, the store I never frequent.  How different could it be? Bravely, I walked through the door.

Holy crap. I didn’t know where anything was, but it didn’t matter. First off, there were clearly marked signs above every aisle.  But I wouldn’t need them. A lovely young Maori woman came up to me as soon as I entered. “Welcome to The Nice Store™, Tom. My name is Jessamine, and I will be your shopping guide this evening.” Um. 

She looked down at my giant purple and white Nike’s. “Size 15,” she said, and another young woman brought a pair of slippers. Once my feet were comfortably shod, she gently took my elbow and guided me down the main aisle. “Anything in particular you need this evening, Tom?”

“Oh. Microwave popcorn, some soda, cat litter, and a book.” She led me to a recliner, and bade me to sit. She spoke gently into the orchid corsage at her wrist. “Microwave popcorn.”

At once, I heard a low, quiet sound, as two tall, beautifully muscular women wheeled the entire popcorn shelf to me. Jessamine pointed out the virtues of each choice, before we settled on Pop Secret Jumbo Pop Butter.” Next, the women wheeled the enormous drink aisle to me.  I mentioned that I was looking for a diet cola. Jessamine popped open eleven different bottles, offering me sips of each, allowing me to smell bottle caps, and then I settled on a robust yet friendly The Nice Store™ brand diet cola. Next, the two big girls wheeled over the cat litter shelf. Before I knew what was happening, Jessamine brought out a bunch of empty litter pans and ten cats.

“No! No demonstrations are necessary! Tidy Cat will be fine.”

Jessamine brought a booklist with 9000 titles. I selected a nice Peter Straub. Jessamine calculated my total, including state and county taxes, and I gave her a $20. She made change from a small pocket in her sari. The girl who’d taken my shoes returned. She gently removed the slippers, then helped me into my big hightops.  She tied the laces in a neat bow, and adjusted the velcro power strap to the perfect tightness. My shoes had been polished to blinding white-and-purpleness. I tried to tip the girl a five, but she bowed, saying it was her honor to serve me.

By this time, Jessamine had wrapped my packages in paper, and she helped me out of the chair. She took my elbow and guided me back outside, where the shoe girl had fetched my truck. Jessamine set the packages in the back seat, kissed me softly on both cheeks, then waved as I drove off into the gorgeous night. I couldn’t help noticing that my gas tank had been filled, and my windows all cleaned.

I came home, just glowing from my first experience with The Nice Store™. I’d had a wonderful meal with a lovely redhead, actually enjoyed my encounter with a baby, then found out how luxurious grocery shopping can truly be.

And i’d have continued living my life in shameful ignorance, if only–if ONLY–TwitterDum hadn’t gotten themselves banned.  I am truly grateful to inhabit a world where a giant Cracker can discover wonderful new worlds on his sandbar, all because somewhere in the Twitterverse, some idiot had to go and wsunv agggfwv kckoo sglkkllo asghdswsh.

Happy Monday.

Valentine’s Day in the Pain Clinic

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14, 2011 by tom

First off, I’m not here for me, so don’t worry.  A friend has bad pain issues, and I’m her driver.

The only problem is, I had to pick her up at noon, or as I call it, “the middle of my night.” Soooo…


A pit stop at the 7-Eleven later, and I’m good to go.


The Pain Clinic has a great waiting room. There’s good money in pain, apparently.  I’m sitting on a lovely leather sofa. There’s a fountain to my left, an aquarium filled with exotic tropical fish. Best of all, there’s a 42″ LED 1080p 120Hz TV playing a BBC documentary about Tibet.

I am not currently on any narcotics. In this room, I’m likely the only one who isn’t.

A Tibetan fox just nabbed a cute little groundhogesque creature.  My fellow waiting room denizens went, “whooaaah!”

To be clear, by “Tibetan fox,” I’m talking about a long-haired vulpine animal, not the hot Tibetan girl who was playing the Tibetan horn.

By “playing the Tibetan horn,” I’m speaking literally, not euphemistically. (Even though it’s Valentine’s Day, and “playing the Tibetan horn” would be a most excellent euphemism for Valentine’s Day activities 😉 ).

The Tibetan horn is ginormous, like 10 feet long. It’s sound is reminiscent only of flatulence.

Cute girl, though.

The documentary showed a market where colorfully dressed people were selling worms. Yes, worms. Worms which they showed being harvested and individually scrubbed to vermicious perfection.

My narcotically assisted brethren and sistren were awed by the worms.

In Tibet, there are some awesome religious practices. Compared to the rather beige Presbyterian building in which I was churched as a lad, I’m amazed by the colorful prayer flags, percussion-playing monks, fun prayer wheels, and the tradition of writing prayers on colorful bits of paper and throwing them up in the air, rather like spiritual lottery tickets.

The best, though, is the wonderful synergy between exotic creatures, brightly costumed exotic Chinese people, red-crested herons eating frogs, people in chronic pain, and powerful narcotics.

Pain sucks.

(Pass six hours)
My friend got her meds. She feels human again. It was a long day of driving and traffic, of me having to be waaaay more grown-up and stronger than is comfortable for me.

Maybe it’s good that I’m not married, that I never had kids. There’s some part of me that’s still sick, even after nearly six years. A big part of me would love to stay in my zipcode forever, maybe drive to my parents’ house once or twice a year, but otherwise, stay right the hell home. If it’s further away than The Infernal Store™, the diner, the Mexican place, or JoJo the 7-Elesbian’s 24/7 soda and snack emporium, I can live without it. 

I’m punkinless tonight, but that’s okay. I’m home safely. I’m lying on my bed, reading a book, Ana-Sofia Vargas and Wind curled up beside me.  My stabby-feet meds have eased my own pain, and at the moment, I’m alone, but I’m not lonely.

Later tonight, I’ll probably zap some lasagna, crack open a bottle of Diet Sun Drop (the love-child of Fresca and Diet Mountain Dew), and celebrate Valentine’s Day watching “Love, Actually” and “Casablanca.” Through them, I can see love exist, blossom, and thrive.

And I can see, too, that at the end of “Casablanca,” Bogie is as punkinless as I am.

Here’s lookin’ at you, kids.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday Night Mental Chex Mix (Now available in Shrimp Flavor)

Posted in mental chex mix on February 9, 2011 by tom

*- First off, kudos to the good folks who make Cat’s Pride Cat Litter.  I just changed the litter box. A bit later, Ana-Sofia Vargas began howling till I came running. She raised her left paw, and pointed to a tightly clumped glob of cat waste. Then she bowed.

*- Truly, she was proud. 

*- I’m amazed sometimes when I realize how much unsolicited information I have.

*- I went to The Infernal Store™ earlier, and I was shocked with how familiar I am with the place. I know where everything is. I know Barbara, one of the managers. I even have certain cashiers I like, and some I loathe.

*- Okay, loathe is a bit strong, but if I have the choice between being second in Kayla’s aisle or first in Tiffany’s…

*- I’ll be first in Tiffany’s. My goal is to get out of there with my provisions, and return to my command hut.

*- Still, Kayla is very nice. She occasionally has coupons hidden that she’ll use for me. She’s also tiny and freckled, and she could pass for 14, even though she’s 24, married, and just had her second child.

*- Also, with my Infernal Store™ Bonus Club swipey card, I have saved nearly $500!

*- That’s over 260 gallons of Diet Infernal Cola, or a couple thousand packs of Infernal Ramen™ (now available in shrimp flavor!)

*- All I can think of when I see shrimp flavored ramen is that they just dump Sea Monkey eggs into the MSG packet.

*- Poor Sea Monkeys. 😦


*- Back in the Old Days, kids magazines sold Sea Monkeys. The picture showed little arms and legs, and faces, smiling at the gullible cartoon kids. It looked like not just hours, but perhaps years of fun. Your little sea monkey friend would be there all through your childhood and adolescence. He’d be there to console you through your first crush. He’d be your rock as your body suddenly sprouted hair in revolutionary new places.  Your sea monkey would help you with your homework, demurely avert his eyes when you masturbate, and share your hopes and dreams. When it came time for you to graduate, your mom could carry him in a baby food jar. His teary cheers would join in with “Pomp and Circumstance” to speed you on your way.  Then, one sad day, you’d be called home from college. Your sea monkey would be sprawled on his sea monkey bed, an IV in his tiny arm. You’d profess your love for each other, and the sea monkey would go gentle into that good night, his soul off to join smiling Sea Monkey Jesus and all the Sea Monkey Saints in Sea Monkey Heaven. And years later, when it’s your time, your Sea Monkey would be there waiting for you, when you cross the bar.

*- Um, yeah. They’re brine shrimp. They won’t smile and wave and have cocktail parties. They’ll just float through their days, until you get bored and flush them down the toilet.

*- Or add them to your ramen noodles.

*- I’m happy that I’ve saved $466.26 with my swipey card thing.  I’d be more impressed if they’d hand me $466.25 (they can keep the penny) next time I pop in for supplies.

*- Or if Kayla would come to my house and cook me dinner, or let me cook while she cleans the cat box.

*- Sea Monkeys were one way life teaches you lessons by beating you down. You send in your money order, and you wait 6 to 8 weeks for delivery, dreaming of how bad-ass it will be, how you’ll be like Poseidon over the Monkey People, and Tony Marachino will stop bullying you, and even Timmy the Retard will admire you.

*- They’re brine shrimp. Tony Marachino will still give you atomic wedgies, and Timmy will judge you “a loser” from behind his thick glasses.

*- Even Timmy knows they’re brine shrimp, and he sticks crayons up his nose. Jeez.

*- It’s like the star naming thing. “Name a star for your loved one. We’ll send you a certificate, put it in a book, and more.”

*- Send me $100, and I’ll name a whole damn constellation for you, and write you into a bad pulp fiction novella to boot. For an extra $50, I’ll let you use Kelly Vision’s jet (if she’s working in her lair)

*- What if that expanded? If we allowed history to be sponsored? “The Tostito’s Roman Empire,” or “The Black Plague, sponsored by NyQuil.”

*- With digital editing, how hard would it be to add a Coors logo to Allied B-17’s?

*- Or we could have adversarial sponsorship. How much would it be worth to Reebok and Puma to have all Hitlerian swastikas changed to Nike swooshes?

*- Oh, well. Enough about dashed hopes and false expectations.  It’s a cold night in Gomorrah. If nothing else, I know my Burt’s Bees lip balm is made with real beeswax.

*- and my hand creme is made from real hands. 😉

*- I better run. Ana-Sofia Vargas and her valet, Wind, have sculpted a cat poo Sphinx they’re very proud of. 

*- For $50, I’ll let you name it. 😛

*- Stay warm, and happy Wednesday.

30 Minute Post: It Was a Cold and Stormy Night

Posted in Uncategorized on February 7, 2011 by tom

It’s cold and rainy tonight here in Gomorrah.  (Not like New England cold, but cool for my sandbar) It brought to mind another cold, rainy night…

It was December 1984.  I was a Freshman at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.  Greenville was known as “the buckle of the Bible Belt,” and not the most exciting place to attend college.  My buddy-ro, Steve, and I decided to go to Lenox Mall in Atlanta, just to do a little Christmas Shopping.  So, we piled into his 300-ZX Turbo, fired up the radar detector, and hauled ass down I-85. 

While in Atlanta, I called my dear friend, Cassie.  She and I had graduated from high school just a few months before, and her family promptly moved to Georgia.  Steve and I did a little shopping, then stopped by and picked up Cass.  In an amazing bit of foreshadowing, we went to a Bennigan’s. 


Here we were, 18 year olds, being served alcohol in a bar.  We were stoked.  We drank a goodly number of Tanqueray and tonics, beers, and Lord only knows what else.  We drank and laughed and smoked, just being naughty teens.  It was an amazingly fun night.

As time passed, and our bartab increased, it became abundantly clear that Steve and I would not be wise to drive back to Greenville that night.  Steve called a friend of his, and arranged a place to sleep.  Cass invited me to stay at her house. 

It was cold and rainy, though, like Georgia is through so much of the winter.  Cass’s parents and brother were all asleep.  She and I sat up talking for hours.  We talked about missing certain things about highschool, about sex and drinking and drugs, about where we hoped our futures would lead. 

When I went to bed, in my lovely downstairs guestroom, I opened a window, treasuring the peaceful sound of rain and the damp cold, such a novelty to a Florida Cracker like me.  On a bookshelf, I saw Cassie’s high school yearbook.  She’d edited the yearbook; I think I had some function on it as well.  Oddly, for as close as she and I had always been, I had never signed her yearbook.  I did that night. 

I can’t remember what I wrote, but I’m sure it was wholly heartfelt, and probably very lame.  I set the yearbook on the nightstand, turned off the light, and nestled in beneath a bunch of blankets.  It was a wonderful, snug, safe feeling, full of–

HOLY CRAP, her cat, Pandora, totally jumped on my chest unannounced, scaring me half to death. 

I can’t remember ever sleeping so well.  Pandora was still there when I woke up.  Cassie’s mom put on a lovely Sunday brunch, and it eased the gurgling in my stomach.  Steve showed-up at 11.  He had a leftover bottle of Jack Daniel’s from his post-Bennigan’s revelry.  He drove us back to Greenville.  I had a sore throat, and sipped JD from the bottle, chasing it with Diet 7-Up.  Steve asked about Cassie and me, if we were an item.  I told him the truth, that she and I loved each other to pieces, but not like that.  We were bonded from six shared years of gifted school, tempered by the world’s longest bus ride. 

I remember we got back to Furman in the early afternoon.   I went to my room, crawled into my bed, and slept till dinner, feeling sure I’d never forget that night. 

It was still raining.  And no, I’ve never forgotten.  (time!)

Thursday Night in the Fog

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4, 2011 by tom


This winter has been colder than normal here on my sandbar, but it’s also produced some lovely fog.  I like fog.  It’s like the earth is under a blanket. Everything seems quieter, although there’s a faint tinge of menace, like it’s calm, only there’s a serial killer hiding in the murk somewhere, waiting to attack me as I eat my Pastellfiskar.

On this side of the pond, we call them “Swedish Fish.”

In addition to being the the rare Swedish word without any umlauts, “pastellfiskar” means “pastel fish.” If you’re eating candy fish in Sweden, I guess the “Swedish” is a given.  Then again, visit the dairy aisle in The Infernal Store™, and you’ll see all manner of explicitly identified American Cheese. (The United Nations of Cheese probably insisted on it)

I wonder how American cheese came to be.  The Swiss have has millenia to perfect their holey, holy, wholly awesome cheese.  For the United States, being a political science lab project nobody thought would survive this long, I imagine a committee designed our national cheese. They tried to make it innocuous enough not to offend anybody, but in doing so, made it bland and uninteresting. It melts easily–great for grilled cheese sandwiches–and its plastic-wrapped tastelessness makes it awesome for little kids.

Back during my “corn abuse” days, I spent a year or two drinking Henry McKenna Bourbon, which was inexpensive and really quite good.  Its label proclaims it “Kentucky’s Finest Table Whiskey.” I loved that image! I could imagine going into any old Kentucky home, from rarified Louisville mansions to coal miners’ shotgun shacks, and there, right smack in the middle of the kitchen table, you’d find a jug of Bourbon.

I missed work last night (stabby feet/meds haze), and I watched “Casablanca.” Every time I watch that film, I feel like I was born in the wrong era. In “Casablanca,” everybody smoked and drank copiously. A couple times, characters lit a fresh cigarette off their nearly finished one. I can imagine going to these people’s houses. They’d have crystal decanters filled with table whiskey, and cigarette boxes, giant ashtrays, and table lighters throughout their sitting rooms.

In “Casablanca,” this random hot girl Rick had been mounting gets all weepy and clingy. Rick doesn’t tell her to sober up or go to an AA meeting. He just tells Sasha not to serve her anymore drinks, and to take her home in a cab. “You’ve had a little too much to drink.”

I look at that age–smoky gin joints with big bands–and I can only see the coolness.  Douglas Coupland had a great image in his book “Life After God.” He’s describing how this blonde friend of his would embody how future anthropologists would romanticize late 20th Century life: they’d see her with a suntan and blonde hair, driving a convertible down a coastal highway, eating a birth control pill, on her way to buy real estate. 

That image misses so much of what that girl’s real life was, same as I miss what life was really like in the 40’s.  The world was at war; people were dying, not only from bullets and bombs, but from polio and smallpox and crap we’ve largely eradicated today. 

Oh. And lung cancer and cirrhosis.

One thing they weren’t consuming is Swedish Fish, which weren’t discovered until 1959.  The Vichy French, Nazi Germans, and assorted other Casablancan ne’er do wells could ease their hangovers with Gummibärchen, aka Gummi Bears, which–like Hitler–began their early rise to power in post WW1 Germany.

It’s foggy tonight here in Gomorrah, same as it was that night Victor Laszlo and Ilsa flew off together.  She had to choose between possibly the all-time coolest earthling–Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine–and the bland, unamusing Victor Laszlo.  (Rick had his own bar and piano player, ffs. Laszlo just had a giant, self-righteous stick up his ass).  She wanted Rick, but Rick knew the bore would be better for her, so he cut her loose.  

Victor Laszlo doesn’t deserve Ilsa, and Lord knows she deserves better than him.  Maybe it’s fitting that they use the letters of transit to go to America, where he’ll resemble our boring namesake processed cheese food. Give Ilsa a year with Mr Excitement, and she’ll be hopping the first plane back to Bogie faster than you can say “Would it KILL you to smile??” She’d light a cigarette, take a big slug of whiskey. “And pass me the frakken Gummibärchen, you sanctimonious bore.”

Happy Friday.

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