Sunday, January 27, 2002Muthafuckaaaaaaaaaah!!
Why god, why?
Goddamn Blogger. Okay, Larry went from "working" to "not working" all of a fucking sudden. Checking the properties of the Larry file in my browser says blogger has added the "notes" directory to the link somehow. So, I put a Larry directory in the notes directory, pointed the script/link to it, and the fucking thing still won't work!
Grrrrr, goddamnit! I give up...for now. It's getting too late/early to fix this shit right now. I am so frustrated. Anyway, sorry for lacking the promised content.
posted by taiwan_on 'round 4:34 AM#
"How Do You Spell Relief?"
I spell it L-A-R-R-Y
I've been surrounded by drama lately. My co-workers and certain fucked-in-the-head extended family members seem to have abandoned all reason. Is it some planetary alignment? A side-effect of seasonal affective disorder? Boredom? Or, possibly in the case of those extended family members, too much money and not enough compassion or humanity?
I don't know and I don't care. I'm wading through it as best I can; keeping an objective distance and inserting humor where appropriate. I'm not sure why everyone feels it necessary to make everything so complicated and unpleasant, especially when they have me, a bastian of calm detatchment, to look to as an example. *smarmy grin*
No, seriously; would everyone just chill, please? The scene at work is like something straight outta' high school. I've been rather affectionately referring to it as "Drugco 90210", and whenever anyone "acts up" in my presence, I'm known to utter; "Tonight, on a very special episode of "My So-Called Job"..." But it's getting harder and harder to pretend to be amused, especially bearing in mind that this Monday I begin my new daytime schedule. The daytime crew seems to be where all the histrionics take place, and I've been lucky up until now, working the night shift, which is when all of the therapy from the day's drama seems to be worked out. Monday, however, it looks like I'm going to be stumbling, all sleep-deprived, right into a viper's nest.
As if just having to get out of bed before noon doesn't suck enough.
I'm hoping to keep my current position on the whole thing as "Switzerland", but that isn't easy when everyone's looking to you to pick a side. I take no sides because the whole situation means absolutely nothing to me. When I punch out, I leave that shit there, and anyone who doesn't is asking for hypertension.
Anyway, it wasn't my intention to get into a description of the ongoing soap opera that is Drugco, what I'm actually here to tell you about is my chosen response to all of the bullshit everyone else seems so preoccupied with...
Meet "Larry - The Retro Coffee-Drinking Tourettes Guy". You'll see him over on the left-hand side of this page underneath my site links. Now, concieving Larry and fleshing him out was the easy part. Shit, I have a whole crazy myth attached to him and everything, which I will be providing a link to in the very near future. (This is after I stop doing the victory dance I've been doing for the past hour because I finally got the fucker to work here. Blogger eats Java, and shits it out as something completely incomprehensible, I've noticed.) It was my intention to make Larry "adoptable", because he is also a reaction to my huge dissappointment in "Tina the Troubled Teen". For those of you who didn't notice Tina's short stint in Larry's place of honor, Tina was a little gothic girl graphic that was supposed to erupt with a new negative comment each day. Sadly, Tina's "handlers" have stopped updating her, and she's been stuck on the "I need more tragic memories" quip for, well, ages I would guess.
So, enter Larry, drummed-up one night when I had had too much coffee and general aggravation. Seeing as I cannot shriek "Shut the fuck up!" whenever I feel like it at work, which is always, Larry will be acting in the capacity of mouthpiece for me. I gave him Tourette's Syndrome so that I could fill him up with outbursts that make absolutely no sense, which, hopefully, will ensure that he has an endless well of material to draw from. Also, I don't want you to think Larry is simply reacting to my work situation, Larry is intended to represent a much more universal frustration, which is why I wanted to make him "adoptable", therefore, available to everyone.
Unfortunately, this is where my script-coding ignorance ruins everything. I couldn't find any GCI, Java, or Perl scripts that would give me exactly what I wanted, which was the ability to draw randomly from a directory of .gif images over a 24-hour period. That would have meant that Larry would have a new, fucked-up, nonsensical thing to say every day and I would have to "interfere" as little as possible, simply adding new Larry graphics to the directory where they would be used automatically by the script. Also, I wanted to be able to put a little snippet of code somewhere so that you could play the home version of the game, so to speak, and add him to your site. Sadly, all of the free webhosts I'm using (don't you think I'd get a damn dot com addy if I could afford it right now?) are sorely limited, either totally lacking CGI, having weird-ass CGI that only runs on-site, therefore making the whole thing impossible to link to, or just having some asenine policy about hosting images where any offsite link to it simply comes up with some lame "this image hosted by..." substitute .jpg.
After much frustration and "yo, what the fuck"-ing, I finally settled on the simplest script and then fought with the Blogger template editor to just deal with its new resident Java. I'm not totally happy, obviously, but it's a good-enough solution for now, so that you and I can finally see Larry in action. However, I'm not about to turn away any coding-knights-in-shining-armor, so if you know of a script that can do the following, please e-mail me with a link, I am desperate. Here are my compulsive specifications:
1.) The script must be able to draw, at random, from a directory of .gif files. I will make sure that they are all the same dimensions, but I want to avoid having to change the filenames to some kind of sequential or numerical listing, as I would like to be surprised also by which one he comes up with next. (yes, there will eventually be enough of them to be consistently new and surprising.)
2.) I don't want to have a lot of contact with this script: my coding skills are limited and I don't want the bother of having to edit into the script each new image I upload. I want a "wildcard" kind of effect.
3.) I'd much rather have this thing running on a 24-hour timeline, as in the image changes to a new one at say, midnight, and stays there until the next day. As it is, this is just a random script that loads a new one every time you refresh and that takes all the fun out of it. (for me)
4.) I'd like a nice little code-snippet that I can provide so that users can copy and paste the same code into their page and "adopt" Larry, and all the adopted Larrys will update as well. A link to a script, rather than an image extension (i.e. larry.gif) would allow for much more flexibility.
5.) I'd like to be able to make the Larry-of-the-day graphic itself a link to the adoption page where you can get the abovementioned code. (I've already got that page written & waiting, sans code, of course.)
6.) Can I get it to work on a lame free web host?
7.) Can I get that with a side-order of curly cheese fries? Extra cheddar-dip, please.
Now, these didn't seem like impossible demands when I concieved the idea, but do you think I could find a script that would accomodate my needs? Hell no. Not for under $50.00 at least, and not one that would work on one of my free websites. I must have scoured every damn script library out there, but there was always some limitation to thwart me. There must be something out there. If you know of one, please tell me about it. Please?
Okay, that's it for now; I still have some Larrys to upload and accompanying text files to edit that will launch them. How boring. But it'll be worth it in the end, I promise. That is, if you find a retro graphic hopped-up on coffee and screaming obscenities amusing, and really who doesn't? Until next time, people, relax, enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I hope you all love Larry as much as I do.
posted by taiwan_on 'round 2:48 AM#
Friday, January 18, 2002"My Subconscious is One Big, Inside Joke"
but then, I guess everyone's is...
I had a string of amazingly articulate dreams last night. As of now, I can only recall the last one, but the clarity and detail were remarkable. Quite a dilligent film crew I've got working in this cluttered skull of mine.
This dream consisted of watching a "Saturday Night Live" sketch based on the film "Velvet Goldmine". Now, I know this is only a product of my randomly firing neurons & synapses, but, damn that Jimmy Fallon makes a killer Brian Slade. I mean, he looked exactly like him! He was doing part of the opening sequence of the film, when Brian Slade (played, in reality, by Jonathan Rhys Meyers), is singing "Hot One" in a white room, intercut with a few random, tres gay scenes. Now, the funny part is, in the film, Brian Slade is prancing down the street and stops to swoop in on a sailor standing on the sidewalk and give him a kiss. But, in the dream, Jimmy Fallon is doing the same thing, only the sailor he ends up kissing is played by Will Farrell, who ends up clinging to & humping Fallon's leg long after he's "discarded" him.
I realize that this obscure reference would only be amusing to such a small percentage of people that it would never actually be an SNL skit. Just think of all the great, limited release features that have never been "sent up" by mainstream comedy shows. You're as unlikely to see a "Velvet Goldmine" sketch on SNL as you would be to see one on, say, "Memento", which, IMHO, was enough of a breakthrough film to be recognized by most people. Or "Ghost Dog", maybe. But no; it'll always be flicks like "Titanic" or "Moulin Rouge" that get parodied, because, sadly, more people have seen them. Even the comedic potential of something like "Eyes Wide Shut" was never fully exploited, which is a shame, because there's a movie begging to laughed at. (all due respect to the mighty Stanley Kubrick, of course. *bowing*)
In any case, I rarely get to see cultural references that really mean something to me in a context like that, so I thought it was really cool that my subconscious provided me with such arcane shits and giggles. I love you, you wacky brain, you!
I also dreamed that I was gleefully tearing open a package of "Barbie Dark Mascots", which is another cool thing I'll never get to play with in reality. I had found it next to a rack of "Gothic Fetish Barbies", where a very un-traditional Barbie stood grinning from her traditional pink Barbie box, but she was wearing this cool, shiny, black PVC micro minidress with a dog collar, cuffs, black elbow-length gloves, and super high, slick, stiletto boots that rose about mid-thigh. She was also wearing glossy black lipstick, black cat's-eye eyeliner, and the tips of her blonde hair were dyed black. She looked so cool! I remember staring at her in the dream and thinking; "Man, if Barbie was this cool when I was a kid, I might have actually played with her!"
Well, okay, so that's not entirely accurate; I did occasionally play with Barbie when I was a kid, but it was "playing" in its most bizarre, warped sense. I must have deeply hated Barbie, because I remember staging weird orgy scenes in her bubbling pink jaccuzzi. I had only one Ken, but a few different Barbies. There was kissing Barbie, who had this weird, spring-loaded neck so that when you pushed a button on her back, her head would jerk forward in an obscene parody of a kiss. There was even a tube of "lipstick", which was basically a tiny pink marker that you dabbed her lips with so that she could leave lip prints on everything. Seems I had one or two of those Kissing Barbies, because after she left a few lip prints on Ken's shiny, sexless crotch, her spring would snap and there'd be no more hot, smooching action. She still gave pretty good head though. Then, of course, there was Malibu Barbie, the one with the tanlines. She always looked more obscene when she was naked, due to the tanlines. I can still see her white butt bobbing up from the depths of the jaccuzzi as she rode Ken. She was a "woman on top" kind of gal. Then there was Perm Barbie, who had this huge, insane Christina Agulera afro that you could torture by mixing up included "perm solution" in a squeeze bottle to tighten those curls. She was a total prude when it came to hot, jaccuzzi action. She was so worried about her 'do, that she'd always end up sitting on one of the jaccuzzi jets and acting in a more voyeuristic capacity. What a bore. But a good moaner, to her credit. In any case, that Ken was one lucky sumbitch, huh?
But I digress, back to the dream. So I have this package of "Dark Barbie Mascots", which is essentially a bubble pack of four fuzzy, flocked, plastic pets. Unconventional ones; one was a raven that you could clip onto Barbie's arm, one was an albino ferret with pink jewel eyes, one was a flexible python you could drape around Gothic Fetish Barbie's neck, and the fourth was a little black bat. I bought them because I thought they'd look cool scattered across the top of my computer desk, but for the life of me I don't know why I didn't buy the Gothic Fetish Barbie too! She rocked! (I wonder if she had a "Barbie Dream Dungeon" or something) But, what the hell; in the dream, the odd pets were enough.
Now, if I was inclined to analyse those dreams, which I try not to do because analysing dreams can take a lot of the fun out of them, what in the hell are they trying to symbolize?! I mean, really, where do you even start with dream imagery that wiggidy-whack? Is there a metaphor in there? Some kind of message? What the frig? Perhaps this is what The Bard meant by; "Dreams are like the ravings of a lunatic; full of sound and fury, but meaning nothing." (or something like that; I suck at quoting Shakespeare.)
Either way; it's time for me to slip into my favorite non-reality now. Take care, y'all. Enjoy your weekend, which is looming big and bright on the horizon! Dream a little dream, while your at it; make it a weird one! Feel free to drop me a line and share it with me!
posted by taiwan_on 'round 2:02 AM#
"Naked, Shower-Cap-Wearing, Motorcycle Dudes"
and other things that make you go; "What the fuck!?"
Who says my job isn't interesting?! Oh yeah, that's right; it's me, usually. Well, anyway I take it all back. Retail can be fun sometimes. When it isn't kicking me in the metaphorical nuts and leaving me for dead, I mean.
Today was an action-packed example of a day worth punching in for at my job for a corporate retail entity I'm fond of calling "Drugco" (for both legal reasons and all the amusing implications inherent in such a title). At Drugco, I process charming suburban photos in under an hour and fill any idle time wandering around the retail area trying to look busy so management doesn't force some crazy task on me. Rarely are there events at Drugco worth noting.
Today, however, just as I was getting ready to close down my department for lack of anything else to do, someone dropped off a roll of film. I set the roll to develop, busying myself with other meaningless tasks until I could print it, at which point, I was free to sneak away and have a smoke. Now, other than taking the film from one place and putting it in another, the entire procedure involved in photoprocessing is automated, so I'm just a few button-punches away from being superfluous. The only thing I'm required to do after that is cut the negatives into 3 frame strips and check the orders into the computer. Well, just as I meander back to my post to cut the negatives, I noticed 3 frames in an otherwise unremarkable roll that might or might not have involved nudity. Naturally, I duly rifled through the prints to find them.
Sure enough, there amidst 21 frames of the usual boring, inanimate, shit, are 3 shots of a man in his 40's, (not hard to look at, I might say) coming out of the shower, stark raving naked, with nipple rings, tattoos and a pink fuckin' shower cap. Now, to his credit, he did have his hands (both hands, for you interested parties) covering his naughty bits, but... am I the only one who sees something wrong with this?... a pink shower cap!? Good god, man, what the hell were you thinking?! I mean, even a black shower cap printed with a Harley Davidson logo would have been a sexy fashion faux pas, but pink? Pink?! With little lacy ruffles 'round the elasticized edge? To this I say; NO!
So please, take heed; while I wholeheartedly encourage each and every one of you out there to sneak a couple of nudes into your next roll of film to upset the monotony of your local photoprocessor's day, please take the most basic of aesthetics into consideration. No socks, no sunglasses, and, for chrissakes, no showercaps. Please. Consider this a public service announcement.
It really got me thinking; what an amazing leap of faith to put your nudity in a total stranger's hands. I could have just as easily made a copy for myself, scanned it, and put it on my website for anyone and everyone to see. I also had this poor, unsuspecting soul's phone numbers (work & home), mailing address and any other vital information needed to take a shot like that and make a person's life unliveable. Naturally, I didn't. I didn't even flag down my coworkers and have a round-table giggle-fest, even though the desire was there. Nope, I just chuckled appreciatively and shuffled them back into the pile, sealing them into the envelope for only his eyes to see next. And, of course, I thanked him inwardly with a little "cheers, man." Because, really, I'd be in a lot better mood if more people did that.
Anyway, the cheap thrills don't stop there! Ooooh, no. I also got a chance to personally put the kybosh on one of our local scam-artists. Now, I don't know what's sadder; the fact that this guy has gotten away with this scam for so long that he doesn't even bother to vary his script, or the fact that I got more enjoyment from busting his cajones than I did from getting a glimpse of an appealing stranger in the buff.
We've taken to calling this ass-clown "the toothbrush guy" because he always pilfers 3-pack packages of electric toothbrush replacement heads, each pack valued at about $20.00, then tries to return them, naturally without a reciept. (Last I checked, there was no such thing as a "shoplifting receipt".) Now, because of this, our store has recently instated a "no reciept, no cash" policy, offering instead an exchange for items of equal value. I won't go into the retarded logic of such a policy, for obvious reasons. In any case, when dipshit fails to obtain cash, he goes and picks out his equal value items, in the process getting an exchange reciept, which he then takes to another store to trade in for cash. Did I mention he pulls this shit very close to closing time? Every time. Pretty clever for a mongoloid, if you ask me. Now, this guy is famous around our parts, because not only does he consistently return the same stolen item (it's easily pocketed, pricey, and for some odd reason, doesn't have an alarm sticker.), but he even exchanges for the same items time and time again; family-style videos. He also runs his mouth like a speed freak, filling the air with the world's most annoying shit-chat. Oh, and he also uses the same story with only the slightest variations, because, as we all know, morons are not known for their florid imaginations. Tonight the story went a little something like this.
Assface: "Hi, I won these at an office grab and I'd like to return them."
Me: (giving him a dubious look) "Okay, hang on a second while I get a manager."
Now... I'm thinking; "what kind of office grab includes a $60.00 gift that, basically, is useless unless the person that bought it is sure that everyone in the office owns the exact model and brand name of electric toothbrushes this goes to?" Plus, because this guy is notorious, he's pulled this before on my shift. He looks a little different because he's shaved and his huge, melon-like head is buzzed down to nothing, but I get a funny feeling it's him. I drop into the office and explain to the manager, who is female and rather diminutive in size, that I think it's our culprit, and she should expect a battle, because this guy is also known for being a total prick.
After dickhead rattles the same, lame story to my manager, she explains the no reciept no cash policy he get's that gimpy look on his face and says: "What's that got to do with me?"
*ding ding ding* We have a weiner! See, I'll admit that I wasn't 100% sure it was him, because he's completely nondescript, but that exact phrase and his belligerent tone sealed it for me. He doesn't change his m.o. at all, which is an insult to any thinking criminal, even if those thoughtfully considered crimes were only ever perpetrated in fantasy. I have to grit my teeth to keep from slapping the 3 packages out of his hands and screaming; "Bitch, please!"
Manager: "Sorry sir, that's policy. You're welcome to choose an item of equal value in exchange."
Tard-Ass: (Storms off in a huff & goes straight for the video section. Like always.)
My manager turns to me, I smile and say; "That's him; that's the toothbrush guy. Don't let him walk outta' here with shit." She nods and heads for the office again, because we both know he won't go anywhere without a reciept he can exchange for cash. We flop down in the chairs and consider dragging our feet, just to bust his balls a little more. My manager then calls the store manager at home to let him know fuckhead is here and to ask how we should handle it. After about 5 minutes, the head cashier buzzes us to let us know that the "customer" (har, har) is getting antsy. We roll our eyes and head out, she asking me to act as a witness of sorts if he gets out of hand. (which he is known for.)
Manager: "Sorry sir, we've had an unusual number of returns on this item and I've been advised by the store manager to halt this transaction. I cannot offer you an exchange or a refund. You'll have to take this up with the store manager sometime tomorrow."
Dipshit: "What's that got to do with me?!"
Me: (thinking: "don't make me state the obvious, asshole.")
Manager: "He's here all day until 5:00, you can take it up with him."
Dumbass: "I can't be bothered to come back in the morning; I work 'till 6:00." (<----unfuckinglikely)
Manager: (shrugs) "You're welcome to call him, he'll take your name, and, if he sees fit, leave a note at the desk for an exchange check. You can then exchange at any time."
Fucknut: (face getting red with rage) "But what are you going to do for me right now? You're supposed to serve the customer."
Manager: "We do serve our customers. And then these are your options."
Me: (thinking: "Nicely implied! Bravo! But it's lost on a skull that thick; too subtle.")
Asswipe: (naturally doesn't get it, tries to look menacing, ends up looking befuddled, storms out. Unfortunately with the spurious toothbrush heads.)
The manager and I then race like giddy schoolgirls back into the office to use the 2 phones to speed-dial every single other store within about an 80 mile radius to warn them that he's on his way, and not to give him a fucking thing, which they all gleefully agreed. They, of course, are familliar with Captain No-Dick as well.
The degree of delight I took in being the catalyst that fucked this guy up good and proper is almost ponographic. But ya' know what? I'm okay with that. I may be a bitch at heart for this, but I'm a bitch fighting the forces of evil, and more importantly, stupidity. If there's one thing I cannot tolerate, it's an idiot that thinks everyone has fallen off the same short bus as him. It's not 1/2 as offensive that this guy is stealing, thus driving up the prices of everything for honest consumers such as myself. No, the thing that really gets my goat is someone that dumb putting me in the same special-ed class as him. I don't think so. To be honest, I'm looking forward to my next encounter with the Brainless Wonder. I know he'll be back to amuse me with his antics, because stupid people never learn. Fortunately, the rest of us do.
And on that note: behave yourselves out there, take care and enjoy. May visions of pink shower capped, naked, tattooed, pierced, biker dudes dance in your heads!
posted by taiwan_on 'round 12:39 AM#
Saturday, January 05, 2002"Mission to Save Humanity..."
I meant to mention this in my big "Vampire Kiss-Off" post, as it had happened the night before, but frankly I was too damn spent after that post to bother. This is a little tale about how I failed as a compassionate human being. I think. Either that or I deflected an obscene phone call. What do you think?
It was creeping toward four a.m. and I was getting ready to take the dog out for his last walk of the day before I settled in to enjoy a movie. I was just shutting down my computer when all of a sudden the phone rang. Four in the morning, the phone is ringing, naturally two distinctly disturbing possibilities crossed my mind in exactly this order:
1.) Who died?
2.) Which of my exes has decided to "drunk dial" me tonight and more importantly, how did they get this number?
The phone had barely completed its ring before I snatched it off the cradle. "Hello?" I asked a little breathlessly.
"Hi" a voice answered, with saccharine softness that sounded like either tears or lust, I couldn't tell which.
For one heart-stopping second, I mean literally heart-stopping; my heart seized up and lodged like a bad oyster in my throat, the voice in question sounded exactly like a particular ex of mine, whom we shall call "Boy".
Boy...of the fragile, clever hands and orphan-huge, pleading, blue eyes. Boy of the beat-poems scribbled on Tootsie Pop wrappers smoothed flat with spindly, graphite dirtied fingers. Boy of rapid, sensual sketches; portraits that looked like some soft amalgamation of both of our faces. Boy of dark, California dreams and endless, hallucinagenic nights. Boy of long limbs and platinum dyed hair and stories that just got stranger and stranger as the hours wore on. Boy of the delicious, swan-like neck that felt like a bolt of raw silk between my teeth and lips like over-ripe plums against mine. Boy; the last great love of my life. The last to make me feel like a real, live, breathing, hurting, weeping, irrational human. Boy of the lost 72 hours and the sudden goodbye that left me crazy with speculations and without a single answer. Boy; who vanished from my life six years ago and did it so completely that I'd think he was a product of my imagination if it weren't for the utterly fathomless heartbreak he left behind. Yeah. That one.
Anyway, I thought it was him and I'm still ashamed of how I felt for that instant; something like terror and glee and a sickeningly intense mix of emotions too entangled to separate and name. Something awful and wonderful at the same time. I broke out in a cold sweat and tried to sound as dignified and detatched as possible as I said again;
A question, of course, because the possibility that it was in fact Boy on the other end was just too unlikely. Like getting hit by lightning five times in a row while holding a winning lottery ticket.
I lowered myself back onto my chair with shaky legs and waited for something more concrete to work with before I utterly spun the fuck out.
"Hi" came the mysterious voice again, and then a wet sniffle. Tears it is then. "How's it going?"
How's it going?
The unlikely possibility became even more unlikely, because if it was truly Boy on the other end of that line, he'd have wasted no time unleashing a dizzying torrent of words that would have left me confused, powerless and elated. That was one of Boy's many otherworldly super-powers.
"Fine," I answered as my rotten oyster heart liquefied, drizzled back behind the Kevlar plate in my chest that comes as a factory-installed option after any really rightgeous heartbreak, and resumed its usual arrythmic beating. "Fine. How are you?"
"Okay. *sniffle* I just really needed someone to talk to."
Alright, here's the thing; now I'm dumb with a whole new onslaught of emotions; relief and disappointment being the greatest, but also a heady dose of self-loathing for harboring any desire to speak to Boy at all. Let alone a desire so intense that I'm pretty sure it instantaneously snatched at least 4 years off my life. I know because I can feel that all that spent adreneline and other wasted biochemistry forming a massive tumor with the all frightening speed that a team of latte-fortified contractors can erect a Starbucks. Also, I'm thinking; 'which ex is this?' because only an ex-boyfriend of mine would have the kind of audacity necessary to call my ass up at this unholy hour knowing I'd be up.
"Y'know?" he asked, jarring me out of my 'Name that voice' game after a too-long silence on my end.
"Uhh..okay. What's up?" I ask, not wanting to admit defeat and inquire; 'who the fuck is this?' Well, at least not right away.
"I just...*sniff* was laying here and I just really needed someone to talk to, y'know? *sniffle* Do you ever feel like that?"
"Sure." I lie, "Are you alright?"
"*Sniff* I guess. I just really needed someone to talk to."
Yeah, we've established that. And don't ask me if I mind or anything, asshole. I'm starting to feel a little invaded by all this, so I finally ask; "I'm sorry, but... who is this?"
"Michael. *sniffle* Who's this?"
Well, seeing as the voice doesn't fit any of the Michaels in my past, I assume the obvious; "I'm sorry, but I think you have the wrong number."
"No...I just...see, I was laying here and...*sniff*...and I just really needed someone to talk to and...well, you sound nice and---"
"--So you just randomly dialed a number?"
"At four o'clock in the morning!?" I ask, incredulous.
I wait a few beats for some kind of an apology that most certainly better be forthcoming. Nothing happens and I feel a cold wire of unease weaving its way up my spine. Now, any sane, rational human being would have slammed the phone down at this point, most likely after spitting a random selection of expletives, but clearly my definition of "normal" must have deteriorated somewhere along the line. I find myself, brow furrowed, wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do now. Fortunately Michael stops that train of thought.
"I just was laying here thinking about how nice it would be to just lay with someone and talk. *sniffle snort* I just needed someone to talk to."
Now, at this point, I don't know which is stronger; my irritation or my compassion. I'm heartily fucking annoyed that some total stranger would do this to me, at this or any hour, but fighting for dominance is that stupid feeling that I am now responsible for easing this person's suffering. I don't know if that's a woman thing or just a me thing, but either way, it's fucking idiotic and I shouldn't have given in to it. But I did, for a few minutes at least. Oh, and before you go thinking I'm Motherfucking Theresa, the compassion I felt for this person I felt rather begrudgingly, so, really, I wasn't doing either one of us any favors, was I?
"Do you ever feel like that? *sniffle* Like you'd like to just lie there and talk with someone?"
Ground already covered, I think. "Yeah, sure. I imagine everybody does at some point."
"Did you ever have anyone that you could be like that with? *sniff*"
"Uh, yeah. I think everyone has at some point." That's right, keep the answers general and nobody gets weirded out. "What specifically has got you so down?"
"Uh, I dunno. I just needed someone--"
--"Yeah, to talk to, right?"
"*sniffle* Yeah. Did it feel nice, having someone like that?"
"Huh? Yeah, swell, but what...specifically, I mean, has got you feeling so bad tonight? Why would you call a total stranger? Didn't you think of calling a friend?"
"Yeah, but, I can't really talk to them like that."
"But you can talk to me like that? Me? I'm a complete stranger."
"Well, then what's your name?"
Now I'm really starting to get annoyed, not to mention, creeped-out because this all seems like an elaborate ruse of some kind. If this guy really needed to talk about something with someone, logic would have it that this guy would actually have something to talk about, right? Here's where common sense starts punching my compassion in the neck and calling it a stupid bitch.
"No." I snap. "Look, this isn't a party line. I don't pick up the phone to meet guys, you called me. Now, you sound like you're in a bad way, so, if there's something you think I can do for you specifically, then you're going to have to give me something to work with here. Are you lonely or something? Having a relationship problem or troubles at work or something?..."
Well, as far as his answer goes, just go ahead and re-read any one of his previous answers because the only thing more aggravating than hearing the same thing over and over again is typing it over and over again, but it was what he said next, or, more specifically, the way he said it that clarified things for me.
"So, like, *sniff* was it nice? Just being with someone like that?" Now read the following in a simpering, wheedling, invasively sugary tone; "Did it feel good? Did it feel nice?"
I was silent for a second, trying to hear if this guy was jerking off or something. Even though this had so far been the most unsexy, not to mention pathetic exchange I've ever had with anyone, I got the distinct feeling that this was gearing up into something ugly. Maybe I'm cynical, but I figure, it's after the holidays and really, who has the $5.99 a minute to dole out on legitimate phone sex when random-dialing in your own area code at insane hours is just so much more cost effective? I sigh loudly and tell him to hold on.
I set the phone down and stand there in the middle of my room, at a loss, thinking; how can I get rid of this guy and satisfy my guilt reflex enough so that I can sleep tonight? Not to mention I'm gazing longingly at my chosen "movie du jour" knowing that if I fuck around much longer I'm going to end up falling asleep in the middle of it and missing the end because I've worked all night and I'm tired as hell. Why I feel it's necessary to be nice to this guy at all is a mystery even to me at this point, because, really, if I could get my hands on him right now I'd slap him to death.
I get a bright idea, snatch my wallet off the shelf and start rifling through the collection of business cards in there. A friend of mine who works at a rehab facility also volunteers manning the phone at a 24-hour crisis hotline. Even though I know he's probably not there right now, I know someone is. Because, frankly, not only is this soooooo not my problem, but if this guy is really serious about needing someone to talk to, if he's really in trouble, well, then a fuck-up like me is hardly equiped to do him any real justice, right? Right. When I find the business card, I am elated. I feel absolved. I pick the phone up and say;
"Listen, have you got a pen and paper?"
"Huh?" he says "Why?"
"Because I have this friend; he's a great guy and I think he could really help you out. Are you ready?"
Sounding distinctly nonplussed "Yeah, go ahead."
So, I rattle off the number a little at a time to give him a chance to write it down, but I notice after every series of numbers, the "yep" at the other end is sounding more and more clipped. When I'm finished, just to be a pisser I say; "Okay, now what was the number? Read it back to me."
To which misty-eyed Michael, a moment ago sounding so fragile and beaten replies in a harsh, bitter tone; "Thanks anyway....*click*"
So, I wish I could say that was that, because as decidedly un-tragic as that phonecall started to sound toward the end, as creepy as he managed to make the last few seemingly innocent phrases sound, I still worried. That stupid, bleeding heart retard in me that wants to save the whole world wept loud enough for me to hear it, which is amazing because I have been trying to starve that useless motherfucker for years and it just won't die. I've even tried feeding it the poisons of cynicism and rightgeous indignation, pointing out every asshole on the street and saying; "See? Fuck 'em! How could you possibly give a shit?!" But it does.
I mean, I do. Because try as I may, my compassion always wins out. Even above common sense.
When I was in high school, there was this girl whose last name sounded enough like "useless" for that to be an apt nickname. Now, this wasn't simply a nickname given to her because it rhymed, this was a nickname she earned. And I'm allowed to say that because I know it's true. There once was a time that she broke my heart; she was awkward, teased, and completely lacked even the most basic social skills, but she wasn't a bad person, by any stretch. I got to small-talking with her one day in the cafeteria because some people were talking shit nearby and I didn't want her to hear them. By some miracle I actually made her laugh, and this stupidly made me feel good. She never laughed, she was famous for being unamused. It didn't take her long for her to admit to me how alone she felt, how alienated, which I already knew of course. Even the most sensitive of my friends had used her as fodder for their amusement at some point. In any case, I gave her my number and told her to call me "if things ever got weird".
This turned out to be one of the dumbest things I've ever done.
I barely got in the door that day before the phone was ringing. I picked it up and was greeted with Useless' teary voice saying; "I'm gonna' kill myself."
A three hour phone conversation ensued which consisted entirely of me telling her how smart she was, how above all that social bullshit she was, how "life" was not going to be high school forever, and yes, of course I was her friend. Over and over I extolled the many virtues of Useless but always with the same frustrating results. She would just continually insist that life was meaningless, not worth living, and she was going to kill herself and there was nothing I or anyone could do about it. We never once had what I would consider a "meaningful" conversation; we never discussed art or books or movies or politics or spirituality or anything other than how miserable her life was.
This went on night after night for a long, long, long time. It wasn't just limited to after school hours either. She'd frequently corner me in the ladies room crying and keep me pinned there long enough to miss all the good jokes at our lunch table, or sometimes, lunch entirely. Gradually, and really, it took way too long for it to happen, but my patience was worn paper-thin until it no longer existed at all. I looked at the way she never bothered to do anything to improve her situation, just bitched about it all the time, and I just got fed up. You cannot do anything for people like that, no matter how kind your intentions may be. Soon, I began screening my phone calls and avoiding her at school, and you know what? Useless lived all the way through to graduation, at least, and I'm sure she lives still. I suspect she now has an office mate or whatever that she calls hourly in much the same manner.
Since then I've had a million people like Useless pass in and out of my life. People in general seem to be comfortable telling me their innermost secrets, their darkest fears, their most embarrassing stories and for the most part, I'm incredibly grateful for that because it must mean that I'm not such a bad gal after all and I can consistently be trusted with a confidence. But every time a Useless pops up, they make me a little bit sorry that I'm not capable of being a little more of a hard-hearted asshole. People like that not only suck a little bit of me away with each exhausting interaction, but they make it a little more difficult for me to differentiate between the "good people in a bad place" and the soulless, vitality-sucking, oxygen-wasting, whiny, infectious-human-waste zombies that cannot be saved with all the patient listening in the world.
So, Michael, if you're out there, don't play me like that. If you were really in pain and I failed you, then I'm sorry. But if all you wanted was a phone-fuck, then, Jesus, at least have the courage to come at me with the dignity of a real obscene phone caller and ask me if my pussy's wet as soon as I pick up. At least then I know what I'm dealing with.
And on that note; it's time for me to call it a night. I think I'll take the phone off the hook. In the meantime folks; have a good one and remember... save yourselves.
posted by taiwan_on 'round 4:24 AM#
Thursday, January 03, 2002"Sleep All Day, Party All Night, Never Grow Old, Never Die..."
It's Fun To Be A Vampire.
For all of you who just got a vague tickle of nostalgia, but were unable to place it, that was the tagline to the 1987 Joel Schumacher film "The Lost Boys".
I used to have the official movie poster hanging proudly in my room throughout my adolescent years. I finally got ahold of it after seeing the movie no less than 9 times at my local movie house, Park Cinema. The manager sold it to me for five bucks because I think he got sick of watching me wander out of the auditorium after the movie all starry-eyed, and moon over it until my bus came.
I loved that place; another one of those musty, run-down, leviathan single-screen cinemas that are fast becoming mere memories the way drive-in movies have been for years. I had the great fortune of being in love with it before it was gutted and tortured into a crappy furniture store. I think that love was due in part to "The Lost Boys", in fact, because the lobby, with its faded red flocked wallpaper and gilt mouldings and massive, dust-skinned chandellier, reminded me a lot of the sunken hotel where the vampires made their home. All that ruined decadence. All that abandoned granduer.
I was completely nutty about "The Lost Boys", as all my friends will attest. I scrawled the spindly logo all over my notebooks, wrote stories making myself the new vampire inductee, played the soundtrack incessantly, and dreamed of running away to Santa Cruz California in the hopes that I too would be claimed by a gang of motorcycle-riding nosferatu. (or at the very least spend ever damn day at that cool boardwalk amusement park.)
I saw "The Lost Boys" the summer before I started high school, and it became the glue that cemented my first Freshman year friendships. People came up to me, introduced themselves, and I immediately asked them if they had seen it. So, pretty much the 2 people I didn't totally frighten and alienate with that question, or at least, the fervor I asked it, became my best friends. I dragged one, the other, or all of them along for every viewing after the first, which I took my grade school friend, Christine to. She was also nutty about the movie, and I'm pretty sure attended 7 out of 9 of the screenings.
We all fell in love with different actors in it; Christine loved Keifer Sutherland as David, Nancy loved Corey Haim as Sam (I think. Oh God help her, I'm sorry Nanc!), Lynne loved Jason Patric as Michael, and I...well, I loved pretty much all of them but Alex Winter as Marco was my very favorite. He was so sexy in the fingerless driving gloves and the tapestry jacket and the ripped up tee shirt with just a peek of fine, tanned abs showing. And those huge, heavy-lidded eyes. Grrr.
Of course, no one loved the Frog Brothers. (That's Corey Feldman & some other unknown kid who were the rednecky, militant vampire-slayers running the comic book store on the Boardwalk.) We all agreed that we hated those fuckers.
Not only did we see the movie 9 times for $2.50 at the Park Cinema, but we made it our job to know every meaningless piece of trivia connected to it; how nearly all the actors caught pneumonia from sneaking midnight swims in the pool of the hotel where they were put up throughout shooting, how Jamie Gertz felt so alienated being the only young female in the cast while all the guys would play foozball between takes, how the vampire-eye contacts caused incredible pain, how Keifer Sutherland sprained his wrist hot-dogging on his motorcycle, just a million asenine tidbits like that. We called each other, squealing, every time one of the cast was interviewd on MTV, which seemed almost hourly. We made a collective effort to amass as many media clippings as possible, culled from magazines like Tiger Beat, (even though we were betraying an unspoken belief that Tiger Beat was a magazine for dorks) and then pasting together our own makeshift "Lost Boys" scrapbook. We passed the companion "Lost Boys" novel around until the thing was a dog-eared tattered shred. And when it hit cable, we taped that motherfucker and watched it at every slumber party we had for at least a year until long after the copy was a grainy, wretched, nearly un-watchable mess. We were obsessed.
For the life of me, I cannot remember what the hell movie ever came along and usurped "The Lost Boys" position in my mind as THE GREATEST FILM OF ALL TIME, I only remember that after a long stretch of watching it and being able to quote the whole entire film verbatim, I just moved on. We all did. But it still occupies a special place in my heart as one of the top four greatest vampire films ever. ("The Hunger", "Near Dark" and "Nosferatu" the other contenders, respectively.) And I know that for years after, any carnival or fair we attended was judged by strict "Lost Boy" coolness standards. We would stare, specifically, at the merry-go-round, and declare "That's a cool carousel...like the one in the Lost Boys." I'm also willing to rather shamefacedly admit that guys were judged by the "Lost Boys" method; a well-dressed, brooding, edgy guy was either "so Marco" or "so David", et al.
Anyway, I picked up "The Lost Boys" on DVD a couple of months ago, because a movie that formative deserves a place on the shelf, and watched it again. Now, of course it didn't fill me with the same painful longing to run off to Santa Cruz (called Santa Carla in the movie), the beachfront motorcycle races didn't hit the same pitch of rabid excitement, and the idea of living in a hotel sunken in the San Andreas fault line was no longer quite so romantic as it seemed in highschool. All I kept thinking was; "Where are the bathrooms? How do they shower? Ick, look all all that dust!" But, I'm happy to report that it retained the same campy fun it did in memory.
And yes, after all these years, I could still quote it verbatim.
Well, talk about taking the long way, but I was actually going somewhere with this. You see, back then, there was nothing cooler than being a vampire in my mind. Endless sex appeal, frozen forever in the perfection of youth, superhuman power, eternal life, a lifestyle outside the mundane bounds of your average human experience, and, of course, a completely noctournal existence.
Those last two still get to me.
After all, who the hell in their right mind would want to live forever? Granted I firmly believe, especially if I was somehow able to maintain my current age and fitness level, that I could easily keep myself entertained for a few millenia. But as for watching the world steadily get stupider and more violent, or, best case scenario, maintain it's currently inexhaustable level of violent stupidity, well, that shit's for the birds. Not to mention the fact that I've already witnessed too many loved ones put in the ground to want to hang around and watch a whole bunch more pass on. Nah, I'm one of those "bury me facedown so I don't have to come back" types. I'm not saying I look forward to death, I'm just saying that I'm glad life is finite. Y'know?
And don't even get me started on the whole blood-drinking thing; I like variety in my diet.
But I digress. Living in an unconventional pattern and keeping odd hours are still concepts near and dear to my heart. While I don't long to be a vampire anymore, I enjoy a relatively noctournal existence as some of my posts' timestamps will attest. I'm not, nor have I ever been, a morning person. School used to piss me off tremendously with the ungodly hour it began, and after graduation, a 9 to 5 job only served to reinforce my loathing of mornings. Don't get me wrong, I love a good sunrise; I'd just rather be seeing it after being up all night and then knowing I can draw the curtains and go to bed. In any case, about 5 or 6 years ago, I gave up trying to fit into that mold and I've been happy and content ever since. I began waking at noon, working night jobs, and then puttering around "doing my thing" through all the insane hours until the sun came up. I felt good; healthy, strong, well-rested.
I love the noctournal life; I see hours and events and movies everyone else sleeps through. I've listened to the best D.J.s this city has to offer, spinning the shifts where they're free to do what they want, which is genius. I watch bustling boulevards and expressways fall silent and still. While other people are scrambling to commute, I am dreaming the first dreams of initial REM sleep knowing that when I leave for work, it will be smooth, easy sailing for me. I have a tree outside my window, and every morning as I'm starting to get drowsy, a little bird, The First Bird of the Day, as I like to call him, lands on my tree, sings cheerfully at my window as if to greet me, and then flutters off perfectly triggering the songs of all the other birds. I feel completely, comfortably alone in the world at these hours. Not lonely...just alone. Peaceful, contemplative, able to immerse myself in my imagination amidst all of this beautiful silence. I have a funny, smug little feeling that I am "outside society" somehow, living like this.
Well, it's all over now. God help me, it's all over. I was offered a better position at work, one that requires me to be there at 9:00 A.M. as opposed to 3:30 PM. While at first I balked figuring; "Don't fix it if it ain't broke", I finally caved in knowing that this is the practical, mature thing to do; to advance myself, no matter how trivial that advancement seems right now. After all, with hours like these, job options are limited at best, rarely pay well, and the ones that do are either immoral, unethical, or illegal. It's time for this Lost Girl to crawl out of "Neither Neitherland" (as I like to call it), leathery wings folded, and return dazed and cranky to the world of the early risers.
This is not going to be pretty.
As it stands now, I crash at 6:00 AM, rise at 1:00 PM, work 'till 10:30 or so, and my time after that is my own in every sense of the word. Imagine my horror at the prospect of going to bed at 1:00 AM and rising at 7:00 AM to the saccharine noise of the Today Show and the squint of a sleep-deficit headache.
In a way I'm also saying goodbye to my own incidental vampirism. By stallng my maturity, I've unwittingly preserved my youth. By leaving my impractical, but romantic night shift behind, I have no choice but to continue to grow up from here. I know it's unavoidable, but it still makes me sad.
So what do you do when for 6 years you've been living with your circadian rythms cranked the complete opposite way? Well, after my shift tonight I armed myself with a huge bottle of 3mg Melatonin tablets, considered a bottle of Kava Kava capsules, but decided that was overkill. (I always have NyQuil if things get really scary.) Besides, I still have a still undetermined length of time to kiss the night goodbye. It will be a long, hedonistic, passionate kiss, too.
In the meantime, I'll chronicle the struggle between darkness and light in a slightly less metaphorical sense, for a change. You might see me someday, stumbling around with bed-head, wearing a bathrobe over my work-clothes, clutching a coffee for dear life and looking distinctly pissed-off and disoriented. Until then, I'll be perched quietly here, like a little gargoyle, watching you sleep.
posted by taiwan_on 'round 4:00 AM#
Tuesday, January 01, 2002Should Old Acquaintence Be Forgot...
huh? what? where am I?
I missed the New Year's countdown because I was assembling a cardboard four-drawer storage unit. I looked up at the clock exactly 3 minutes after midnight. And oh yeah, I was sober.
So, for all of those who think I don't know how to party, stick that in your big, green, plastic 2002 party horn and blow it. ;-p
(Hell, I'm just glad I didn't have to watch anything but fireworks exploding on the news.)
Happy New Year, ya freaks!
posted by taiwan_on 'round 1:26 AM#