bellobitesback

No Woman No Lie

There is a common thread that binds us all.  You, me, even that weirdo you know who keeps eating and doesn’t pause to wipe his mouth when a ton of food builds up in the corner crevice of his lips. Like, an entire piece of cheese is just sitting right there on the precipice of his foodhole for minutes on end, and he just keeps eating more. Don’t you know? Don’t you feel it? Are you saving it for later? Are you an alien wearing a skinsuit, doing your best to mimic a human eating, and this is a tiny detail that you overlooked? Cuz it’s gross man.

Whoops, my bad. Topic for another day.

What we all have in common is bearing witness to that person who consistently sings song lyrics wrong. We’ve all been there. It could be your mom, your sister, your daughter, your girlfriend, your wife,  in rare cases a guy – but it’s always the same.

  • They know the lyrics and boy, they “know” ’em so well, they’re gonna sing ’em!
  • In private? Irrelevant! In public? Irrelevant and embarrassing!
  • Attempts at correction, be they made, whether earnest or joking, are most often met with laughter…and a continued merciless mutilation of said lyrics

But wait, I don’t want a bloodbath on my hands. Let’s be roboticly neutral and put sex, gender, age, and pretty much all other identifying factors of the culprits aside. Let’s think forward. Let’s identify the source of the problem and most importantly, let’s focus on how to fix it, because if we don’t work together then goddamnit, we all suffer.

The next time you’re at a bar, a work function, a get together, a freaking BBQ, do you really want to be subjected to some lipsinker performing open-heart surgery on your favorite lyric with all the precision of a blindfolded left shark holding a rusty chainsaw? If you took a second to think about that, there’s a reason you just winced.

not-feeling-left-shark

Honestly I really shouldn’t have to point this out, but that’s the dumb one on the left

Let’s take us through an example. You hear the lyrical abomination and a little light probably flicks on in your brain. If you’re normal, it feels something like “Hmmm, interesting”.

You

6qitsuo

Yaaayyy good for you, you have a rational handle on problem scope! Congratulations! Now here’s a peek at what’s going on inside me:

298490_v1

My poor brain is assaulted by the affront. What’s going on? How? How can I make it stop?! Not only are lyrics not subject to clever argument sidestepping tropes like “debate” or “opinion”, they’re not even dynamic!

The lyrics to a song simply are the lyrics to that song. It’s not a Picasso; there’s no room for cute words like “interpretation”. The words are the same as they’ve ever been or ever will be. You are violating Truth, my on and off again mistress, and you must be stopped.

But lo, I have room for forgiveness. I’m a person, not a monster. Maybe you’re over 30 (like me), and you’re not used to googling every/anything you don’t fully understand immediately. Maybe you thought this is what those lyrics always were; and as such you’ve been committing this atrocity for a long time. You made a mistake, sure, but it was an honest one – that’s the best kind of mistake! It’s not like you were looking at your brother’s side of the Battleship board 18ish years ago when he was out of the room but he came back early and caught you redhanded and he remembers forever now and brings it up in a random blog post, Peter. 

battleship_board_game

Never forget.

My point is that while some things can’t be forgiven, I have it within me to forgive lipsinking, because I am a person who understands empathy, if only at a basic level. But, lipsinker, if you want my forgiveness IT TAKES TWO.

(My basic [see: free] WordPress plan does not allow me to embed videos directly, but if I could, this is where Seduction’s timeless classic “It Takes Two” would be.)

Now we’re in full agreement that hearing an innocent song lyric get distorted is like watching some shitty tourist scribble all over a timeless work of art in a museum, and that’s tops. But if dumbtourist.jpg really, legitimately never knew that it’s wrong to doodle on the Mona Lisa in the first place, it actually isn’t okay to lambast them about it, even if it would feel satisfying. As a Guardian of Truth, you must first do your part. You must treat the lipsinker as an equal.

“HEY! NO! No goddamnit! It’s not “No Woman No Lie!”, Jesus! Think about that for a second! It doesn’t even make sense! Why would he even be singing about women lying all the time?!”

Excellent job! Now that you’ve officially done your part, the onus is on the lipsinker. At this point, the offender has several options which might make sense to them:

  • “Oh wow, I never realized that! I guess I never thought about the lyric’s meaning! Thanks!”
  • -hangs head in silent shame-
  • -listens to lyrics for real, for the first time ever- “Wow, you’re right!”
  • “Hmmm I dunno, I’ll google it.”
  • “Uhhh I thought maybe it’s because he was sick of women lying. Women lie, you know.”

While any of the first four bullets are acceptable to me, that last one is not. This is usage of the Noun known as Denial, which dictionary.com classifies thusly:

1. an assertion that something said, believed, alleged, etc., is false:
2. refusal to believe a doctrine, theory, or the like.
3. disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.
4. blah blah blah the list literally goes up to 7.

So here I am, trying to defend Truth and my own ears, and in doing so trying to help you, and in doing so trying to avoid feeling embarrassed, and your response is denial. Well, that makes my remaining options rather limited…

possible-response

I hope those of you who get this reference appreciate it’s accuracy.

Bello, the Far from Faultless.
I am far from faultless. Further, hear me and hear me well: I HAVE LIPSUNK. Yes, I. I, this Guardian of Truth whose rant you now read. I’m just a man and as such, am flawed. You can’t guard a thing until you understand it, and the paths I take towards enlightenment in a given topic are usually a little…rocky. What I’m saying is, I’ve butchered a song lyric or two in my time.

So what now? We get that this can happen to anyone. As you’re reading this at your desk with your headphones on, listening to Pandora for songs that you’ll want to add to your “Sing Along” Spotify Playlist, know that you could be lipsinking right now. And I’m cool with that. I’m cool with it mostly because I cannot hear you, but that point can be moot until you’re within range. But if anyone can be guilty of this sin at any time, why does it bother me? Why do I bother? There will always be lipsinkers.

Because a cause doesn’t stop being worthy when it becomes difficult to achieve.

This is a worthy cause. With every lipsinker corrected, think of the many ears that are saved from future abuse. There will always be lipsinkers yes, but know too that there will always be people like me. Guardians of Truth.

I won’t be rude. I won’t be all in your face about it. I won’t jeer or point. I may not even say anything; I may just be like this internally 298490_v1.

I may also do it myself and if I do, please tell me, because I’d rather sing truth than lies.

It boils down to this: People who care about honoring the artist’s intent will research the correct lyric, will alter the way that they’ve been singing the song in the future. People who care will change, people who don’t care won’t, and bringing that choice to the forefront of someone’s mind is about as much as I can do.

In the end, if ever we are faced with this decision, we must all choose.

Guard Truth? Or knowingly butcher it?

Are you a Lipsinker?

 

Crab Cakes

Today I’m going to share some of last night’s dream with you (all).

You guys ready? Got your oneirologist hats on? Because that up there is essentially what we’re up against.

Last night, the second half of my dream featured an evil killer robotic crab.

I had somehow gotten my hands on this old broken down killer robot crab, which everyone knew was involved in a bunch of murders a few years ago, but it was completely inoperational (which apparently isn’t a word, but should be). It was all burnt and blasted; it looked like it had been exploded because all that was left of it was basically just the body [combat chassis] with a single claw still attached.

Anyway I had found the blueprints to complete a piece that would plug into the arm of the claw and make it (and just it) operational. I knew it was risky but I was super curious and dumb, so I constructed the crabclaw component. I kept trying to fit it into the slot in the arm, but it wouldn’t fit. I tried jamming and squeezing and changing angles, but nothing worked. Then I sort of gave up and just set the piece on top of the crab’s arm where it should fit, and that section of the arm opened up all by itself and eased the component into the slot, and then it *clicked* in and voila! It was in there.

That should have been the exact point where I said “Nope” and resmashed the robot to back to robot Hell, but instead I said “Sweet!” and I went to sleep.

When I woke up (still in my dream) I in Vanessa’s bed (score) and the crab was gone (fuck). I looked under the bed and there it was (whew)…eeeexcept now it had all its legs back.

It reconstructed itself while I was sleeping because of course it did, it’s an evil killer robot crab, remember? I was lucky it didn’t slice my neck up while I was sleeping. It was just sitting there perfectly still, so I reached under to grab it. It came alive! GAWWW I dropped it and it scuttled away, so fast!

Vanessa’s still sleeping in the bed that the killer robot crab is under right now, so now I have to wake her up, and somehow calmly explain that A. There’s a killer robot crab on the loose and B. THAT IT’S RIGHT UNDER YOU RIGHT NOW. I tactifully omitted that C. It’s my fault.

So I wake her up and tell her and she doesn’t believe me, and then all of the sudden I’m not next to her in bed anymore, I’m across the room (it’s a dream), and I reach under the bed to try and grab the crab but it flexes all its gross little robot legs and I sort of fling it away and Vanessa screams and the crab scurries down the hall to the bathroom. Mission accomplished!

I’m in the bathroom now, I can see the crab behind the radiator, so real quick I grab it by its butt. To anyone who doesn’t know, that’s the safe spot where you can grab a crab; their little crab claws can’t reach all the way around back.

But a robot crab’s claws can.

So it’s flailing around with all its legs and then WHIRRR the big claws reach around completely backwards and nip me! So I drop it again and then there’s this cat that just wants to investigate/play, but I know the killer crab will kill it just as soon as look at it, so I push the cat away and say GET OUTTA HERE and the cat looks like its feelings are hurt, but it leaves.

Then just the crab and I are in the basement. The crab is crawling all around and over these rusty old pipes with its little metal legs tink tink tink tink tink just like at the end of Arachnophobia.

I keep reaching for the crab but it either avoids me or gives me little nips whenever I come close to getting a solid hold on it. That might not sound like much but trust me, the whole ordeal was super scary. So finally I figure out how to catch it, and because it’s a dream, all of the sudden this giant pile of red string is in my hands. The next time the killer crab is running down a pipe, I toss the entire pile of string on it!

It tries to run away, but gets hopelessly tangled up instead. I lift the whole squirming package up by some of the string and hold it away from me. The crab is going apeshit but I can see it can’t get out anytime soon. I’m about to start swinging it around over my head and then SMASH it on the floor but just before I do, it starts trying to bargain with me!

It talks at me with the voice of James Spader (and a sincere thanks Age of Ultron for having him voice-act a robot; such a solid fit). It says “Wait don’t smash me, instead, hook me up to the internet.”

Obviously I knew this was a terrible, terrible idea so I said no, and then it was like “Why don’t you have a bite of the cake I made you?”

And I looked and I saw that, in addition to mostly reconstructing itself over night, it also made me this fresh yellow crab cake which was sitting right there (which if you think about it, is like a terminator making a cake out of people).

Even though I was dreaming and even though I had already made some really dumb decisions so far, thankfully I wasn’t that dumb.

“Uhhhh no way, we both know what will happen if I eat that cake.”

And you know what killer robot crab James Spader answered me back with, without even missing a beat, and in a disgustingly smug voice?

“I don’t know what will happen.”

I knew he was totally goading me on but for a second I thought to myself, “Man, I should take a bite and see.” but then I realized it was exactly what he wanted, so I decided to smash him on the ground.

But then I woke up.

That means that a killer robot crab voiced by James Spader is still out there in my subconscious, prowling around, scurrying God knows where, reassembling himself, plugging himself into the internet, and almost certainly baking more deadly crab cakes.

I can only hope I am wiser the next time I face him.

Do You Understand Life?

You might think you understand life, but until you witness Johhny Wiseau’s beautiful disaster The Room for yourself, I’m here to say you don’t understand shit. Witness.

spray

Recap

In my last post, I made my intentions quite clear:

  • A few friends and I would gather
  • We would make merry
  • We would watch The Room
  • We would explore boundaries and definitions: What is funny? What is awful?
  • Where does Tommy Wiseau ‘the director’ end and his character ‘Johnny’ begin?
  • Lastly, why did nobody fucking try to stop me when I made these intentions clear?

tumblr_mlq5reapr61r9jwg3o5_400

So here we all are, weeks later. We saw The Room and we lived. We all still exist. The TV room is clean again, quiet. Still. That stillness an act of passive betrayal to the truth. Because the sins that I saw right here, in this room – they were real. The pizza’s long gone; the drinks consumed. The Room is back in its dvd case where it fucking belongs, locked away for all time, calm, so deceptively calm. It will remain there, imprisoned forever like some foul mummy, until such time that I deem myself ready for penultimate punishment, second only to…

No, not death.

The ultimate punishment, I now know, could only be another viewing of…The Room. I will try not to reference too much from the movie, but in this I will fail. I’ve already failed. I understand life. The internet’s already ripe with reviews of Tommy’s work, and to add more low hanging fruit to an orchard of failure will only yield rotten results. My will may be strong, my goal may be pure, but still I will fail.

I will fail because in order for you to truly understand my story, I need you, the reader who has presumably not seen The Room, to relate to my mindset during my own viewing. And I’m fully aware that you likely will never see The Room. In fact, don’t see it. Don’t. There are entire infinities of reasons to not see it. Save yourself, save your time, save your money, save your current perspective on life, which has gotten you this far. I want you to witness without interacting, which I know may be impossible from a scientific standpoint. I want you to witness without me having to relive, but I know that’s impossible too, so I’ll soldier on for the good of all. I’m doing this for you.

I’ve already failed. I’m just a man and like all men, am flawed. Accept me, accept my failures. Love me for them. Witness.

spray

I begin.

It began like many other group hangouts have, where the goal is to journey together into a scary dark cave of terrible cinema: We started with drinks, of course. We could have simply poured shots, but I thought we needed something with more kick. Enter the Vino Kicker.

If you think that sounds like a shot of vodka dropped into a glass of wine which you then chug, then it’s exactly what it sounds like. Originally dubbed the “Word Merger” by yours truly, my radical and lovely girlfriend Vanessa suggested Vino Kicker, and it stuck. There are no pics of us actually kicking them back (Mmmm yess, let the hate flow through you) because all our hands were full and selfie sticks are for people whose priorities need immediate, aggressive reconditioning. But rest assured, they certainly…packed…a..Ohhh I’m gonna do it…kick. Alright that’s enough.

We took ‘before’ pictures, which I will rely on in the event that I need to prove we were of sound mind. Here we are, still looking respectable:

IMG_20160206_171929323

IMG_20160206_171951754

Okay, ready?

We then entered…The Room.

We entered with high hopes of witnessing cinematic abnormalities, and readers, know that we were not disappointed. I’m an organized person, so I’m making a real effort to not simply make a bullet point list of all the many, many oddities that we saw, but fyi I might relapse later on. I want you to feel it, like an experience from a past life that you can’t quite put your finger on, like Winona Ryder being such a ho in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

I can definitely relay how I personally feel, now that I’ve seen The Room. I feel like I want to excise the chunk of my brain tissue that remembers this movie and wring it out like a wet sponge, then collect the juice and weaponize it as a form of intellect and emotion eroding spray, like mace that makes you cruder instead of blinder. Think of the very end of American Psycho where Patrick Bateman not only refuses to repent for his crimes, (real or imagined), but laments only that he possesses no faculty to infect the rest of the world with his own dark insanity. Is this what The Room has done to me? Did I even watch it? Was this all just a fever dream?

Oh no, I definitely watched it. I couldn’t have imagined it. I’ve got creative juice, but it’d have to be blended with lead and boiled down to a noxious sludge in order for me to produce the same ideas that rose to the top of  the stew that makes up Tommy Wiseau’s frothy, salty version of reality. I’ve backed myself into a corner, I have no choice now. I have to try and explain the movie. Watch, as I fail.

I can’t tell you what the plot is, because it isn’t. I know that sentence isn’t grammatically correct, but I can’t really do anything about that. The plot isn’t. It isn’t. Instead, I can tell you what I think it was supposed to be.

Johhny (Tommy) is a man’s man with a heart of gold. He works in the “computer business”. He is good and pure and innocent, and head over heels in love with his girlfriend Lisa. But alas, Lisa has become bored with, and perhaps even resentful towards good Johnny, for reasons unknown. One day, on a whim and using minimal effort, she seduces Johnny’s best friend, Mark. There are at least three sex scenes which I will never mention again, ever. Then, Mark and Johnny essentially spend the rest of the movie grappling with the situation (Mark with his betrayal and Johnny with the discovery of said betrayal) in a way that makes you feel embarrassed for being alive and having seen something so awkward and not yelling STOP! at the top of your lungs, or at least smashing your TV.

But wait, there’s more!

  • There’s Lisa’s mother, whose character comes the closest to what this movie has to offer as an actual person. Also, it becomes offhandedly revealed that she has cancer, but this is never mentioned again in any form.
  • There’s some weird neighborhood kid whose name I forget who is for some reason good friends with Johnny, who comes and goes in Johnny’s apartment as he pleases, and who for some reason thinks nothing of literally jumping into a bed that already has two adults laying in it, under the covers. I’m not sure, it could be his hair, but every scene he’s in makes me feel weird.
  • If memory serves there’s contention involving drugs.
  • There’s also gun violence. The attitude here seems to be hey, why not.

In Memoriam of My Mind

I’m a pretty punctilious person (thanks Kingpin!) and I’ve got a decent imagination. I know how to explain abstract ideas and complicated concepts in plain language; it was my job for almost five years. And honestly, my vocabulary should be sufficient to accomplish this task. I’ve got all the tools I need, and I know how to use them.

But that description above is about as much as I can do.

Again: Don’t watch this movie. It’ll push you into this weird zone that you’ve hopefully never been to before, where you find yourself shushing your own girlfriend during the movie so that you can more clearly hear dialogue and plot ‘developments’ that cause throbbing, visible tumors to grow out of your neck right then and there. It makes you feel like an asshole, and then you sit there and think to yourself “Man, I feel like an asshole” and you know what, you’re fucking right.

I don’t want to give away the ending in case you ignore all of my advice, also all of the mental warning lights that you have SHOULD* be blaring in your brain right now, but in case you do watch this piece of shit anyway I’ll just say that you’ll be happy to know that the suffering, in a general sense, finally ends.

I know I’ve given nothing away, because the truth of that last statement is a universal constant that’s been proven in the CERN laboratory in Switzerland. The leading scientists there have informed me that regardless of how the movie ends, in order for my statement to remain true and accurate, all that need happen is that the movie actually, mercifully, end.

*If you’ve read this post and alarms aren’t blaring in your head as a result, then hey, you clearly have no survival instinct at all and I think you should watch The Room. Yeah, go ahead and watch it, and furthermore I think you deserve whatever happens to you, in the same way that I think people who shoot themselves in the face while cleaning out their loaded shotgun in their living room, while tragic, maybe have no one to blame but themselves. Nature, God, the Universe or whoever, they all roll a lot of dice when they make life, and not all of them turn out to be high rolls. The lower rolls used to get weeded out naturally – “Hey Throgg, let’s go poke sabertooth bear with stick, ha ha!” – but in today’s society with auto-everything, lots of them survive. They thrive even. They explore, and can sometimes wind up doing things like producing/acting in movies called The Room, or writing this blog post.

If you want to get drunk and watch shitty movies with your buds and laugh, more power to you. Invite me over, because I love that. I mean, they’re making a Sharknado 4, can you even believe that? Uhm wait, of course you can, because drinking and watching shitty movies with your friends has been a fun part of life since goddamned 2006, and there’s been an actual market devoted specifically to that concept for some time now, and I think that’s rad. But this isn’t that, do you hear me? I can’t tell, because I’m not sitting right next to you as you read this. This is not that.

Do you understand? Do you understand me?

I ask again: Do you understand life?

My Room

The Room

Friends, lovers, pizza delivery folk, disturbed downstairs neighbors, the Asian woman hiding in my attic, the Mothman who seems to have set up shop in my garage, Future Bello and most importantly the Watertown coroner – I call you to attention.

I ask for your guidance, your patience, your time and your strength, and in the Asian woman’s case for you to please flush after you’re done in the bathroom while I’m out of the apartment during the day. Let’s at least please maintain the illusion of your parasitism.

I ask these things because this weekend I will be hosting a viewing* of The Room, and if any of the reviews that I’ve encountered of this production are even partially accurate, I will need each and every one of them before the day is done.

If you know me and you’re reading this, you may think to yourself, “He’s just going to get drunk, order pizza and watch a shitty movie with his friends while the Mothman spies through the window and a foreign vagabond sleeps in his attic!” and you, sir or madam, are entitled to that. You’re not entirely wrong either, at least not in a technical sense. But truly you’ve missed out on the big picture, like ‘famous’ rapper B.o.B contesting that the Earth is flat, or an ant drone unaware of the existence of colonies other than her own. The Universe exists in a simultaneous myriad of colors and states, and like it or not, The Room is just another beautiful part of it that I’m going to explore.

I imagine the journey into The Room to be not a clumsy evaluation of a flawless cinematic and artistic failure, but rather as a sojourn into the self. If you don’t understand; if these words – and more importantly this concept – impress no value upon you whatsoever, then by all means turn back. At best, you’ll learn nothing from this post; at worst you’ll hurt your little mind. Carry on heeding the commands of your Queen back in the lonely anthill of your world as you complete your sentence of perpetual, servitudinal existence on this flat and meaningless Earth.

But there’s more to life, isn’t there? It’s out there waiting. Don’t you want to seek it?

would you like to know more

Of course you would.

Was Starship Troopers just a movie about killing giant bugs? Or would you define it by that one pretty sweet shower scene? Was it created and enjoyed for the purpose watching some really intense, impressive and graphically violent scenes? You could say “Yes” and once more you could be correct, at least technically. But what you’d be leaving out is the loads of political and social commentary that were prominently displayed in virtually every scene. And until my consciousness is processed, recorded by The Federation, edited for content and streamed “All Net, All Channels”, I will do my best to relay my unfiltered opinions to you, the people, right here on BelloBitesBack.

In watching The Room I take a trip not just into myself, but into those who choose to accompany me on this venture as well. And as such things go, so too do they journey into me. Metaphorically, I mean. Put that away.

We companions will bond in a rare way as together, we explore such concepts as the very meaning of what it is to be terrible.

For example, if seeing this movie makes the artery in my neck throb due to excessive frustration, is that what makes it terrible? Or is the more terrible part the fact that it exists in the first place? Or is this an example of some perverted cosmic humor? Is God laughing at The Room?

What even is ‘funny’ anyway? Is it more funny that Director/Writer/Star Tommy Wiseau clearly suffers from one or many undiagnosed mental disorder(s)? Or will my predicted outburst of laughter at the internet infamous line “You are tearing me apart, Lisa!” drown out the protests of my moral quandary?

tommy wiseau

“Tommy please, it’s rude to stare. Tommy, for the last time close your mouth. Tommy, goddamnit, now you’re doing both. Oh fuck this, I quit.” -Tommy’s handler, if he had one.

And wherein lies the true essence of failure? Is this movie a ‘failure’? This, the weird fruit of Tommy’s jilted artistic vision (barely avoiding a cheap joke about his equally weird eyes, whoops, I just failed a little too!), or is it something more personal? Following this thought process I find myself asking: Are those shitty paintings that orangutans create to be counted as ‘failures’ as well? Motherfuckers barely even have thumbs! It’s amazing to me that they’ve figured out what a painting is in the first place, which is why whatever they produce is so impressive regardless of what a piece of shit it ends up looking like. To what standard are we measuring poor Tommy against, I ask? Where we expecting the next Inception? Can a person who pursues his own vision so unapologetically and fails in such a spectacular fashion truly be said to have ‘failed’? I mean, he followed the hell out of his vision didn’t he? That’s more than tons of people do! So what, yeah, maybe writing, directing, acting, acting normal, maintaining random snippets of logic or even maintaining even one unbroken line of coherent thought in a 99 minute story just happen to not be the areas where Mr. Wiseau excels. Excuse me, Picasso! How quick we are to judge! If you call a fish a failure for its inability to climb a tree…I dunno Chuck, but maybe you’re the failure.

Then again, this is said to have been the worst movie of all time. How will we react?

Though I have a good idea of how the gathering will go, I can’t foresee all the possible moral mutations we might stumble through in our quest for Truth. But I can guess!

Is attacking the concept of what art should be a crime? Should it be? What are the limits of my liquor consumption? When does the pizza arrive? How much abuse can be simultaneously shoveled onto all angles of my soul before it collapses under the black weight of hopelessness? How can I take from Tommy that which I expect his movie to take from me? What’s wrong with me? How did I get this way?

Is this what that bastard wanted all along?

Maybe The Room isn’t about delving through an artistic abomination in the hopes of finding a sliver of humor. Maybe it’s not even about getting some of my closest friends in one place so that we can set our differences aside for 99 minutes and point and laugh at the same thing. Perhaps The Room was set up in such a fashion so as to inspire the viewer to seek their own definition of its existence and purpose. Just as to some, Starship Troopers is merely a movie with pretty good boobs and some awesome battles, to me it is a political and social commentary that happens to be in movie form, which also happens to incorporate pretty good boobs and some awesome battles. If I’m right, well then, I guess we all have our own ‘Rooms’ to explore and define don’t we? And what does this say about My Room?

Mine is achieving the goal of a shared experience of self exploration, (the mental, PG kind), and it is a noble, if lofty goal. Yes of course, we’ll drink. Yes we (or at least I) will mock Tommy for his physical, mental and artistic shortcomings.  And yes, yes, FOR THE LAST TIME YES, I promise I’ll never subject any of you to this movie ever, ever again.

But through the mental anguish and incredulity, through the blurred vision, past the possible fistfights which will ensue when I refuse to change the channel and notwithstanding the banging on my floor from an irate downstairs neighbor, (just kidding, she’s nice), we comrades will have found something valuable and true in ourselves – and in one another. In each of us exploring and defining our own Rooms, we will have found something eternal.

h7bmtca

I doubt anyone’s ever said this, but Tommy, for “The Room“…I thank you.

*Follow Up to the viewing of The Room to be posted shortly.

Game Over

The Comment:
Here is an idea: have an Avatar from a video game come to life and you spend the day with him/her

Finally, an entire Saturday all to myself.

Already did my laundry and worked out a little bit, the fridge is fully stocked and I’ve got no obligations for the next 24 hours. The weather’s even a little bit crappy out! If there was any remaining doubt it is now gone; I am justified.

Time to strap in for a video game marathon. Dis gon’ be goooood!

It took me a little bit of searching, but I finally found and dusted off my old first generation Playstation…and holy shit, it still works!!

Ohhhh mama, where should I start?! Maybe a fighting game to get going…then when I get tired of that I can switch to something more relaxed like FFVII. It’s gaming done right. Let’s see…

IMG_20150805_214123874

Yes!

My afternoon had begun…but little did I know that my greatest (or at least, my most insane) adventure was just hours ahead of me. I resolved to beat the MK Trilogy on Easy difficulty once with each character; this should take somewhere in the neighborhood of two hours. The first hour flew.

“Shao Kahn, get the FUCK out of my house with that shit! That’s right, walk right into my uppercut you idiot! Maybe next time I’ll play you on Medium so that I actually have to use two hands! What’s that? You want another uppercut? Well come get one! TOOOASTYYYYY!!!

TOASTYYYY!!

I was really getting into it.

“Man, this is awesome. Alright let’s see, that’s Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Raiden, Baraka, Liu Kang, Reptile, Kung Lao…Ugh, I guess I’ll have to use Johnny ‘I’m an asshole’ Cage sooner or later. Alright, let’s do this…”

As I selected my least favorite kombatant I grew bored of the load screen, and I’m not quite sure how to explain what happened next. Maybe something from the section of my old school video game subconscious kicked into gear. Maybe deep down I was testing reality itself, challenging it, daring it to wow me. Maybe I was just bored.

I knew that it wouldn’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t do anything, but my hands diddled that ancient video game secret right into the Playstation controller anyway. And what happened next changed history.

Up, Up   my eyes widened

Down, Down   my toes tapped

Left, Right, Left, Right   I adjusted my pants

B, A, B, A*    sweat dripped from my brow

Select,Start!!!   OW!! I accidentally bit my tongue!

“Ahhh, FUCK!” I yelled, tossing the controller onto the couch next to me to hold my face.

“Hey bro. Watch where you’re throwing stuff.”

WHAT?!? 

Ugh

Johnny Cage was sitting next to me on my couch chugging my beer. My controller had hit him in the lap.

Whathefuckisgoingon?!?!

“Relax bro, buurrrrp! You summoned me here to Earthrealm with the Contra code – pretty sweet right? We get to spend an entire day together now! You got any Bud heavies?”

“…Johnny…Cage??”

“Yeah. Well? I’m thirsty bro. They don’t have beer in Outworld.”

I rolled with it.

“Of…course not. I don’t have any of that shit! Bud heavy is disgusting.”

What did you just say? You insult my favorite beer bro?”

“Dude, it’s gross.” I stood up over him. I knew from playing the MK games that Johnny Cage could be sort of an asshole. True, he may be Johnny Cage but this was my house. If I didn’t assert myself right off the bat there was a great chance I’d end up carting his ass to the store to purchase disgusting Budweiser for him. Man, why couldn’t I have summoned Kitana instead?

versus_full

“Is that so?” he said, standing up as well. Yikes. In the game he was one of the less intimidating characters but standing in front of me in my living room it was a different story. He was easily a foot taller and 50 pounds of solid muscle heavier than me. A handgun was holstered at his hip. I flinched.

He saw it.

“How about we take a trip to the liquor store before I shadow kick your ass through the wall?”

Stupid shadow kick

“Okay, but can you at least leave the gun so we don’t get arrested? What are you even doing with that – you don’t even get a gun until MK X.”

“I’m the essence of all things Johnny Cage, broseph. All his mannerisms, all his outfits, all his moves…and all his fatalities. Wanna see one?”

The car ride to the liquor store was mostly quiet. Even though I’d just made history and was driving around with a video game avatar come alive in the real world, I couldn’t help but feel a little frustrated. Of all the characters out there, why’d I have to get Johnny Cage? Why not Scorpion – well, he’d probably just kill me on sight – but why not Mega Man or Sonic the Hedgehog? Rictor Belmont the vampire slayer or Alucard, son of Dracula? Bayonetta? Samus? Freaking anyone but Johnny Cage!

He shifted in his seat and farted, breaking the silence in the worst possible way.

“Beeeef. Dude – seriously?”

“You know it brosama!”

Even though I offered to jump into the packy and grab a 30 of Bud myself, Johnny refused to wait in the car. “I don’t want you pussing out on me” he said. Charming.

I slammed the 30 rack onto the counter and reached for my wallet.

“IDs.”

Ohhhhh shit

Johnny Cage was a video game character. He wouldn’t have been coded to have a wallet, much less a license.

“Nah, I don’t need one bro.”

“Johnny, cool it. Let’s just go somewhere else and you can wait in the car.”

“No fuckin’ way. We’re getting these beers and we’re getting them now.” His voice was rising. “And what are you gonna do about it, guy??” He jabbed a finger at the man behind the counter, then backed up a step and crossed his arms over his chest like the defiant, cocky douchebag that he was coded to be. He smirked.

“Get out of here right now!” the man had his phone in his hand. “Or I call the cops!”

“Johnny, for the love of Christ can we please just-”

“Make us, fat man!” God, he was such a fucking child.

That must have hit a nerve, because the clerk slid over the counter with surprising agility, (he was a little hefty), but not before he reached behind the counter and produced a wooden Louisville Slugger. Johnny just stood there with his arms crossed, arrogant smirk and all.

The man ran in, winding up to take a swing; Johnny held his pose for the last possible second, and then

SPLAT

The bat dropped to the floor with a clunk as the man bent low, cradling his blasted balls. “YYYyyyooooouuuu sonofa-” he began, his voice barely more than a pathetic whimper, but then he crumpled face first to the floor and writhed. Johnny was already back on his feet after performing his nut-punch-split. It was his favorite move. Figures.

“C’mon bro.” He hoisted the 30 rack of Bud heavy up onto his shoulder like a frat boy, stepping around the shopkeeper who was still embracing his crotch with both hands. “Let’s…split.”

“You are such an ass.”

The second we got back to my apartment we began drinking Bud heavies ferociously. Me to try and alleviate the constant stress that accompanied accompanying Johnny Cage anywhere, and Johnny Cage because they didn’t have beer on Outworld and also because he was an uncultured swine. We didn’t talk much; I had nothing to say to the man. I knew his backstory from the games and truthfully it wasn’t that impressive. He was a movie star/stunt double who knew how to fight. I’d have been more interested in literally any other character from Mortal Kombat. In real life he was just as abrasive as his character was in the game, if not more so.

“So uh, when do you like, have to go back to Outworld?”

“I get to spend a whole day here bro, unless I get a Game Over. But let’s be real, that ain’t gonna happen! Beer me!”

Just then, an idea sliced its way right through my brain like a plasma sword. Oh. My. Christ. It was beautiful, poetic even. It was perfect.

“Sure thing Johnny.”

I just needed to distract him for five minutes, maybe less. He was a tool but not a complete idiot; if he saw what I was up to he’d probably hand me a shadow uppercut. I would need backup.

“Hey bro!” I yelled. I would get on his good side. “Hey man, you want me to call some friends over? We could throw a party!”

“What, they wanna meet the legend? Sure! You know any bitches?”

He was repulsive.

I picked up the phone and got to work; I didn’t even have to embellish. “Yes, the Johnny Cage. The video game character. Yes!! No I’m not insane. No! Yes. I – I don’t fucking know how, ask him!! Well to be honest he’s exactly the same as he is in the video ga-”

“You mean fuckin’ awesome?!”

“That’s exactly what I was about to say, Johnny.”

“Right on.”

Within an hour my apartment was brimming with friends and acquaintances. The cocky son of a bitch was reveling in it all, rocking the beer pong table and handing out autographs left and right.

There were lots of questions about how he ended up here in Earthrealm but he mostly just brushed them off. “Ask the Outworlders man, they made the rules. Yo, who’s up next?!

After the initial amazement wore off it didn’t take long for tensions to mount and for everyone to basically realize that they were drinking with a manchild. I went into the kitchen just for a second and heard yelling, followed by another crash. Ugh, what was that stupid son of a bitch up to now.

Then I heard some squealing.

Goddamnit Johnny.

I came storming out of the kitchen to find one of my closest friends crouched over on the ground, clutching his crotch.

“Johnny you asshole! You can’t just punch people in the dick anytime you feel like it! This is Earthrealm, there are rules here!”

“Sure I can bro.” He was still maintaining his signature split on the floor, having  just punched my friend in the penis. “I’m Johnny Cage” he grinned. “What are you gonna do, call the police?”

I didn’t know it until about 20 minutes later, but someone already had. By that point everyone had cleared out and it was just me and Cage; he was shotgunning a Budweiser in my kitchen, spilling everywhere when the doorbell rang. I went to get it and Johnny followed me down the steps. “Want me to fireball his ass?”

“Dude, you’ll get shot.”

I opened the door slowly.

“What seems to be the problem officer?” I recited. This was not part of my plan.

“I’ve received a noise complaint and also a report of assault; apparently one of your guests was punched in the uhm…crotch…by a man…”

“Get lost guy, we were just having a good time.”

I stammered “Uhhhh” as the officer pushed the door open a bit wider. He got a clear view of Johnny Cage and his eyes widened, recognizing the person who so perfectly fit the description in his report.

“Sir, I’m gonna need you to step outside.”

“I told you man, beat it. Unless you want an uppercut.”

“That’s assault sir. Outside. Now.” The officer took a step back, his hand on his gun.

I backed away quietly. This was not part of the plan.

“You want me to come outside? Here I come.”

A green blur buzzed by me as Johnny Cage shadow kicked the police officer in the chest, sending him flying. He sauntered outside and cracked his knuckles. “Finally! Believe it or not I was actually gettin’ tired of punchin’ junk!”

The officer drew, but Johnny lobbed one of his stupid green fireballs at him, knocking the gun from his hands. Then he closed the distance with another shadow kick and commenced an epic beat down. This was getting ugly. I ran inside, the ugly sounds of the fantastical fist fight on my front lawn following me up the stairs.

If the cop was any good, I’d have maybe three minutes tops.

I ran to the Playstation, frantic. Where was it where was it, it had to be here somewh – YES!

I ripped MK Trilogy out of the Playstation and threw my new game in. C’mon, load, load you bastard. I looked out the window; the poor cop was on his last legs.

Bruised and bloodied, he stood there in a daze, knees weak and arms flailing. He was just a normal man; simply no match for the superhuman video game avatar, the very essence of the shittiest Mortal Kombat kombatant, Johnny fucking Cage.

Johnny wound up and I knew what was coming.

“HEEEEERRRRREEEE’S JOHNNY!!” He yelled.

To this day I still can’t explain why the cop was wearing Scorpion’s yellow ninja outfit. Just roll with it.

Oh God he’s a murderer and an asshole, please load please load please load – finally!!

I booted up Tekken 3 and finger-sprinted through the menus. Campaign mode, 1 player – ah! Character select!

I heard Johnny’s dumb footsteps coming up the stairs slowly; he was in no rush. “Hey where’d you go bro?! Did you see my sweet fatality out there? Talk about ripping a new one!!”

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, B, A, Select, START!

Yabu yabu yabu yabu yabu!!

Yoshimitsu_(T3)

Yoshimitsu came spinning into being like a tornado of awesomeness, his green energy sword humming and sparkling.

3594472-2337346967-streeJohnny stood at the top of the steps, dumbfounded. He looked at me.

Really bro?”

“Yoshimitsu! Cut that guy in half!”

He didn’t need to be told twice. Maybe there was some sort of ancient rivalry between Tekken and Mortal Kombat characters that I didn’t know about. Maybe Yoshimitsu had literally just met Johnny Cage for the first time and already hated him. It could be that he was honor-bound to follow my commands without question; I’ll never know. Whatever the case Yoshimitsu wasted no time.

Johnny Cage saw Yoshimitsu winding up with his sword for his super thrust, and he held block. I grinned. Yoshimitsu was my favorite; I knew this move was unblockable.

Sure enough the plasma sword dove right through the block and through Johnny as well. There was no blood. He looked up and yelled “Game ooooooverrrrrr….” and then just sort of disintegrated into bits which reverted into code and then disappeared, like Agent Smith getting blown apart at the end of the first Matrix (spoiler!)

Yoshimitsu spun his sword in a celebratory figure eight pattern in front of him, cutting chunks out of my walls in the process. I was so elated I didn’t even care.

“Yoshimitsu, oh my god, thank you! That guy was such a fucking tool, you have no idea.”

The cyborg space pirate samurai bowed low; I returned the bow. Then he sat down and began meditating.

yoshimitsu_desktop_background_by_razkurdt-d50cyrp“You’re a strange bird, Yoshimitsu. Wanna chill out with me for a little bit, maybe play some video games?”

Yabuuuu.

“Sweet. Now let’s play something safe, like Dead Island.”

zombie

Art by Peter Nohrbacher

FOOTER
*Author’s Note: I substituted X and O, as PS controllers have neither A nor B

That’s all for now folks, but you know the drill – give me another weekly writing assignment by Commenting on this post!

The Transition

Hi Readers!

About a week ago, I published a sweet post about my turning over a new leaf. In it I implored you, the public, to dump suggestions for writing topics on me. The rules are highlighted in that post – check ’em out if you’re interested!

I’ll cage these beastly entries in the newly created You Tell Me Category of my blog – this will be the first!

The Comment:
“I’m not sure how the hell I ended up here… Let’s hear your thoughts on leaving the country, becoming a mexican and sneaking back over the border.”

Art by Christopher Rush

Art by Christopher Rush

It had been a long time since Mike had eaten a good taco.

He used to love tacos, but that was the last thing on his mind as he prepared himself for yet another dull day in the office. He sighed and farted, feeling old, hearing his knees groan as he bent down to lace up his shiny black Oxfords. “Another day another…” he began, then, realizing what he was saying he stopped, suddenly disgusted with himself. “Ugh, fuck that“.

Standing back up, he straightened his posture with some effort and his tie subconsciously. The knot was perfect as usual but for once, it wasn’t what caught his attention in the mirror today. It had also been a long time since Mike had really looked in the mirror with anything more than a passing glance. But now for some reason, he focused that same intensive gaze that he normally held over his clothes and external appearance to just himself. His actual self.

Slowly and intentionally, Mike started with his feet and worked his way up. He applied the same scrutiny usually reserved for his outer appearance to his actual being.

The gaze was unforgiving.

As he looked, he gradually came to see, and then to understand, how little of his appearance was actually a reflection of anything that he’d ever truly wanted for himself. His shiny black shoes and tailored, relaxed-waist tan dockers. The black Italian leather belt, entirely for show. His crisp Armani shirt, a perfect fit, and the sleek indigo tie, knotted into a perfect Balthus classic. Well put together. Professional and very impressive. But was all this really Mike?

He hesitated for a moment, summoning his nerve. Then, feeling braver than he’d ever felt before, he directed his stare directly at the mirror in front of him. Mike looked dead on, straight into his own eyes…and he saw himself.

He saw the reasons why he’d become who he was – what he was – over time. Then he saw the direction that he was headed in. The face in the mirror crinkled in repugnance but he was so lost, staring so deeply into his own eyes, that he didn’t notice. Finally, finally, Mike saw the person who he really was, underneath the facade that he had spent years building up around himself. He spoke without thinking.

“No bueno.”

He wasn’t who he wanted to be. He wasn’t what he wanted to be. In a near trance, Mike had a beautiful vision. It was as though a clear, incontestable path was being laid out in front of him, brick by golden brick – and he himself was the brick layer. It was then that Mike knew what he had to do.

He would quit his job, sell his belongings and travel to Mexico; it was there he would fulfill his new dream and begin his new life as a Mexican.

mexico flag map

It didn’t cross Mike’s mind that shifting from one race to another wasn’t possible at a physical, genetic, social or even cultural level, or that merely broaching this topic with most other people could likely only lead to contentious outcomes.

It didn’t matter to him that his primary language was of course, English, and that whatever Spanish he’d learned in school had been buried under decades of mental neglect. Nor did it occur to Mike that he knew little, if any, actual Mexican culture or history. He remembered the Alamo and he loved tacos; that was about it.

But, guided by his random, undiagnosed and utterly complete mental breakdown, these largely irrelevant details would prove to be more than enough to ensure that his transition became a reality, to him if to no one else.

By the time he should have been in the office indulging in his second cup of coffee, Mike had confounded his bosses by severing ties with his company with no explanation beyond “I quit – no me gusta!!” followed by a stream of random, broken Spanish. He set some clothes aside – some old polo shirts, undershirts, socks and undergarments, some solid work boots and a pair of Dickies from when he’d gone to a Halloween party as a construction worker – and heaped the rest of his expensive suits, ties and shoes into the back of his 2013 BMW. They barely fit.

Powered by righteous mania he sped to the nearest used car dealership, offering the entire bundle for $15,000 but with the stipulation that the dealer pay in cash. Paydays like this didn’t come often; the owner practically tripped over himself power walking to the petty cash safe.

Had he still been employed at his company the 15k would have constituted about two months’ salary, but Mike had never felt richer holding the three stacks of cash, 50 $100 bills apiece. He jammed the cash into his pockets and caught a bus home, his mind racing.

Once there, he collected his passport and a few other personal belongings, tossing those items and his remaining clothes into an old sturdy backpack he’d found in the back of his closet from his backpacking days.

And so began Mike’s trek to Guadaloupe.

It was largely uneventful, consisting mostly of bus and train rides with the odd hitchhiking segment here and there. Mike tried to limit himself to speaking only in Spanish for the trip, but found this to be more difficult than he’d anticipated. Unperturbed, he resorted to pointing and grunting when verbal communication failed. He felt more Mexican already.

Getting through customs was much easier than he had anticipated, and in a few short hours, Mike had arrived in his new home.

His smartphone indicated that the cheapest hotel rate in the area could be found at HOTEL LE-GAR, so he hailed a cab. Thankfully the driver knew of the hotel already and further communication wasn’t needed. Approaching the main lobby, Mike did some quick math. He’d need a month or two, he reasoned, in order to fully acclimate himself to the local customs, experience the local diet, become fluent in the language and change his outlook on life. In other words – in order to become Mexican.

Mike casually peeled 22 $100 bills off a stack and laid them out on the counter. “Dos meses, por favor”. The clerk’s eyes widened, clearly confused. “Sir” he began, but Mike would hear no part of it and reiterated. “Dose meses. POR. FAVOR.”

With a shrug the clerk scooped up the cash, not bothering with the standard paperwork. “Your key, sir. Room 213. Take the stairs to the second floor, make a left, and you’ll see it.”

“Gracias.”

The clerk shuddered at the terrible pronunciation as the man, who had so clearly understood his perfect English but had chosen not to reply for some reason, turned and walked away.

Mike settled into his new digs quickly. He still had a little over $11k left over and was feeling pretty invincible. He was doing it, he was actually doing it!! Soon he’d be Mexican – he had no doubt – but first he had to finalize this stage of his metamorphosis. So late that night, he left the hotel and walked until he found a dumpster in a quiet alley. There, Mike torched his passport, driver’s license and credit cards. At last, he was free.

The next six weeks were rough.

The hotel room was reasonably well furnished with a sink and microwave, but there was no stove. Mike sought to quicken his transition by eating as much ‘Mexican’ food as he could, but since he had no knowledge whatsoever as to what constituted actual traditional or contemporary Mexican fare, he had to trust in his gut. And despite getting larger, it was often very wrong.

He tried supplementing his diet of canned beans and frozen chalupas at local eateries [surely this must be authentic!] but, while delicious, this approach was starting to get expensive.

His difficulties weren’t limited to food. After over a month’s worth of attempts Mike had netted just a single day of employment; menial physical labor at a construction site, all under the table of course. His broken, incomplete Spanish was immediately noticeable and acted as a natural repellent to recruiters. This also prevented him from creating, much less maintaining, any sort of interpersonal relationship with anyone else.

Days passed as Mike sat alone in his hotel room. He was virtually surrounded by empty cans of beans and futbol en vivo blared on the tv in the background. Cases’ worth of spent Corona bottles had collected flies, now dust, and though tequila had always disgusted him he pulled his head back for yet another shot. Another shot of medicine, he told himself. One more shot, one more medicinal step closer.

He persisted, but his thoughts kept nagging him: He was trying everything he could think of; why was this taking so long? Why wasn’t he Mexican yet?

What was it to be Mexican? Fluency in a language? A particular diet, or set of religious beliefs? A general outlook on life? Was it his skin color? What was wrong, could it be his DNA? He slammed another tequila shot as he scoured his brain for the hidden essence of cultural identity, his frustration mounting. He could feel himself getting noticeably drunker but was too angry to process his thoughts.

Mike stumbled to the bathroom to peer into the room’s only mirror, half-stumbling, half barging through the refuse which was scattered about the room. He arrived at the portal to his inner self and summoned his courage once more. What was he doing wrong? 

“Que pasa, MIKE?!?!” But this time, the mirror yielded no answers.

Suddenly furious he slammed his fist into the wall, accidentally dislodging the ornate metal frame which bordered the bathroom mirror. It fell away from the wall, bashing Mike’s temple. Black, red and white lights splashed through his vision as he fell backwards, cracking the back of his head against the porcelain bathroom tub on his way down. By the time he hit the ground he was unconscious.

He came to nine hours later, sitting on the toilet and cradling his aching head in his hands. Where was he?

What was he doing here?

Mike searched his surroundings, not understanding. Was this a hotel room? Cans of beans? Tequila? Corona? Mike muted Telemundo. He hated soccer.

trashedhotelroom

He opened the drapes and looked outside; there were store signs visible from his window but they were all in Spanish. Was he in…Mexico?

His phone yielded no clues whatsoever. He searched the room and found just a single backpack and a few pairs of his worst clothes, most of which were filthy. Mike felt horror pass through him as he realized that both his driver’s license and passport were nowhere to be found. A small pile of US dollars and pesos were the only currency Mike could find, about $50.

Uh oh.

What had come over him – what had he done?? Then he glanced at the bathroom mirror again and it hit his brain like a double chili cheese burrito to the colon. He remembered everything. Getting ready for work, his vision quest in the mirror, hawking his belongings, burning his identification. He’d done this to himself, to change, to liberate himself from his job and from his old life. And to become Mexican.

What the fuck had he been thinking?

He had to get back to the U.S., but how? He’d have to figure that out later, but first things first. He bought the next available bus ticket to the nearest border town, packed up his few possessions and headed back to the border.

The clerk watched him sprint out the lobby but made no attempt to stop him, technically the room was still his for over another week. “Adios.”

Mike arrived at the border within a few hours, where he promptly engaged in a shouting match with the nearest member of the U.S. Border Patrol.

“But I’m a U.S. citizen!!” he yelled, but the border patrol guard wasn’t convinced, or even concerned.

“Sir, you’ll need to go to the embassy to re-apply for a new passport. Just bring your driver’s license or some other form of-”

“But I told you already, I burned them!!”

“Sir, you’ll need to resolve this there. Without the proper documentation I just simply can’t let you pass.”

“But I don’t have enough bus money to-”

“Sir! There’s nothing more I can do for you here. Please move along.”

“You won’t let me in?”

“I can’t let you in. I’m losing my patience, now move along.”

Mike stepped out of line, flabbergasted, confused, broke and most of all, afraid. He had to get back home, but how? He walked down the block, searching for a bar. He had to think.

Eight Coronas later he knew exactly what to do. It was so simple. He’d have to pull some strings and call in some major favors, but it was just crazy enough to work. He grabbed his phone and got to work, drunken dialing like he’d never drunk dialed before.

The sleek black helicopter touched down at midnight in the designated location, the middle of a deserted patch of open land a few miles deep into Mexico. Laying on his stomach concealed beneath some shrubbery, Mike watched it land, then made a break for it.

blackhelicopter

The door slid open and he hurled his backpack and body inside, frantic. Once he pulled himself in he was surprised to find that the chopper was empty save for the pilot.

“Quick, let’s get the fuck outta here!”

“Relax junior! There’s no way they’ll be able to detect us, not with their inferior radar! This helicopter is state of the art!”

With that they touched off, slowly hovering up and away. Out of Mexico and back towards the good ol’ US of A. Mike watched as the border fence disappeared behind them, feeling his fears shrink proportionately. At last his sphincters loosened and he allowed himself to breathe out, relaxing a little bit.

It was over, his nightmare was over.

He’d need months of therapy to recover from the existential shock of dipping into, then snapping out of a weeks-long state of delusion, he knew that much for certain. Then there was the matter of getting his job back and getting new identification and credit cards. Maybe he’d explore whatever areas of his psyche were responsible for his hilariously limited views on cultural and racial identity.

He’d definitely stay away from mirrors from the time being.

But his plan had worked after all, which was evidence that things were looking good on the job front at least. He’d been an outstanding campaign manager, after all.

“Hey, pilot! Thank you man, you saved me! I gotta say though, I sort of can’t believe that your boss went for this!”

“What do you mean?” the pilot shot back immediately. His visor was down and his voice was muffled, but commanding. It reeked of authority. Mike could have sworn he knew it from somewhere…but he couldn’t place it.

“Well it’s just that for the past few months, sure, I’ve raised millions of dollars for his campaign, and always privately, just like he asked! I’ve exceeded all the goals that he set for my branch, so I can see why he sprung the money to have you pick me up out here…but still, I was worried he might be too much of a cheapskate! I mean hasn’t the guy ever struck you as a greedy asshat?”

The pilot didn’t reply, but Mike thought he noticed the gloved hands tighten on the controls.

“I mean I’m grateful and all, but between me and you I never wanted him to win! I mean seriously, can you imagine him as president? The guy may be rich but he’s a fucking moron!”

The door next to Mike slid open silently, automatically, and then the pilot stood up, backing away from the controls.

“H-hhey, what the hell are you doing?! We’ll crash!”

“No we won’t junior. I told you, it’s the best money can buy. My money.”

With that he took a step closer; Mike had to move back in order to maintain his personal space. Then the pilot reached up and, like the Predator, slowly removed his helmet.

As absurd orange hair exploded into Mike’s vision he felt his knees weaken. Oh, shit.

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 28:  Chairman and President of the Trump Organization Donald Trump yells 'you're fired' after speaking to several GOP women's group at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino April 28, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Trump has been testing the waters with stops across the nation in recent weeks and has created media waves by questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States.  (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

The Donald glared at Mike through beady eyes, then suddenly jumped forward and shoved him hard, in both shoulders. Mike felt himself flying back back back, past the point where he should have collided with the closed helicopter door.

But the door wasn’t there. Mike was flying down down down, down to the ground hundreds of feet below him, the air whistling past his head.

He looked upward as he plummeted; The Donald was looming above him in the open doorway of the chopper, glaring at him through those intense little eyes. The image got smaller and smaller, but somehow Mike managed to hear him yell over the sound of the wind.

You’re fired!

A week later, a member of Texas border patrol was munching on the most delicious taco while he walked his route. He noticed a group of coyotes and vultures in the distance, and gulped down the last bite as he picked up his pace to a jog. Ugh, probably another illegal fence-jumper who succumbed to the elements, he thought.

Dreadful as it was finding bodies in this region of desert wasn’t terribly uncommon, and he radioed it in. No identification of any kind, just another undocumented immigrant.

FOOTER
To submit a writing suggestion of your own, just Comment on this Post!! I’ll take the one I like the best and submit something within a week.

If you’re apprehensive about having your actual, pristine online identity sullied by having it appear next to your ridiculous writing suggestion, just register your name as like, TimmyTheCat or Hannibal or something. Comment from behind the comfortable curtain of internet anonymity, if it so pleases you.

A New Leaf

So check it.

Based on your collective literal years of silence I could tell that you all were just sitting, waiting, practically aching for my return to the blogosphere. Waiting for the return of a semisane segment of the internet where you can unwind for a bit. Waiting for so long…

For unedited fun.

For one-sided jokes and witty banter.

For the occasional serious-ish usually rant-inspired political commentary.

For heartfelt, trustworthy advice about what to do whenever you form an opinion about something but aren’t sure what to do with it:

Unwrap your opinion

Heh, see?? See what we’ve been missing out on?! All this time we’ve been growing in our own separate ways when we could’ve been growing together. You don’t really wanna grow solo, do you?

Don’t answer that.

Ah, I got sidetracked. Back to me. Here’s my idea:

You tell me what to write

Publicly comment on this post – not on my facebook – and give me a topic to write about. Could be anything!

Basically, I’m asking y’all for a writing assignment. Maybe a fantastical situation like how an elf might break into a castle using magic. A serious question about serious shit, like say guns or flags or other things that get people riled up on facebook currently. How about living on a deserted island with only a spoon? What’s it like to be a stone gargoyle who just woke up for the first time in 600 years in modern day Germany? Is it okay to scare someone if they laugh about it after? Should we forget that CRISPR-Cas9 even exists, or should we start cranking out humans that we stat out like a character in the newest Fallout game? And if we do, how much do we charge to hold the controller?

Why is it still okay for people to refer to hamburger as “hamburg”???

If you really live on the edge ask me to write about what I eat in a single day. My point is, there’s lots of topics out there and my writing’s gotten rusty. Friends, anonymous folk and internet strangers…Help me sharpen me up?

Ugh – so, the rules. Gotta say ’em, but they’re super easy.

  1. I’ll pick one topic to write about per week.
  2. A week might go by and I might not pick a topic if I don’t like any of ’em. Incentivize me – and everyone – with fun suggestions! Blow my mind!
  3. If your topic/suggestion is super weird, super gross or super offensive (for this blog haha) I just won’t publish it. That way no one will know but you and I, (and I won’t tell anyone), so I guess like, shoot for the stars! Worst case scenario is it remains private.

Sound fun right?

No, you don’t think so?

That’s okay, I can help with that. First, unwrap your opinion…

the most amazing idea

I just got the most amazing idea. I’ll share it with you all soon. In the meantime, I’m re-releasing some old favorites back into the wild…

By Carl Critchlow from Mtg’s “Overrun”

A Kernel of Enlightenment

Today I found my Spirit Animal.

The elusive being that best encapsulates, best incorporates the truest representation of my deepest inner energy. The closest possible physical manifestation of my eternal soul. My dreams, my aspirations, my passions and the culmination of my most important goals personified in their rawest form.

Gaze into the sun, if ye dare.

washington-state-fan-popcorn

Full Video Here. Please watch it.

Glimpse perfection.

Witness nirvana.

Enter the infinite with me.

Some liken the energy that comprises their innermost selves to a ‘noble’ animal; an eagle, a bear. A wolf perhaps. But in my heart of hearts, I am a man. Behold a man.

This is a man who truly cares about nothing. The literal definition provides complete clarification:

nirvana

Once more:
“a place or state characterized by freedom from or oblivion to pain, worry, and the external world.”

Does a better example of such exist? Please, I implore my readers. Don’t reach this conclusion simply because I feel strongly. Use your own reasoning. Observe the facts.

Analyze this man’s physical appearance. Spend a minute to really notice his fucking outfit. The sneakers. The sweatpants. He has no qualms appearing in public this way. He has no qualms about anything.

Note that it is in fact raining on this man; note his posture and lack of umbrella. Complete and utter relaxation radiates from his person. Not a care in the world.

Of course it is possible that he’s drunk – but observe – there’s no beer to be seen.

Allow your eyes to drift to his upper torso. What is he barely holding onto in his left hand? Whatever it is, does anyone honestly believe he would pick it up if he dropped it?

Look at his fucking jacket; it’s clear he’s been at this for awhile. For most people, accumulating that amount of popcorn kernels about their face, neck and chest without brushing them clear would be an act of sheer willpower. We don’t see things like this often, because many people simply don’t have that amount of willpower.

Does it look to anyone like this man is exerting any willpower?

The way he chews, the head tilted back.

What in this world could possibly worry this man?

The foot waggle. Pure serenity.

The way that he comes up for air at the end of his feeding – it can’t be faked. In the modern world, a petty place of lies, deception, false advertising and double-talk, this man is a beacon of absolute truth.

He’s not fighting for what he believes in. He’s not oppressing or opposing oppression. He does not condemn and does not mind if others condemn him. He is absent from worry, free from concern. He has achieved everything he could ever want. He understands that every second of life is a gift, a gift that he graciously, shamelessly, utterly accepts.

This man is the master of his destiny. He simply is.

The metaphysical state that this man has reached exemplifies everything I’ve ever wanted. I’m so far behind him that I can’t even begin to fathom how he must view the world that the rest of us live in. Me with my worries and concerns, my meetings, my frozen windshield wiper fluid, my heating bills. My worn socks, my shirts that have frayed elbows. My finances, the next snowstorm, the progression of my training. My career, my relationships, my entire life. A thousand anvils of weight pressing down on my shoulders.

And then I rewatch the clip. I watch his shoulders. I notice the rain. I absorb his posture. I see how he comes up for air for the express purpose of not suffocating to death on all the popcorn he just poured down his face.

And I know that I am witnessing my Spirit Animal. Oblivious to stress, pain. Completely wild, unapologetic, ferociously fucking free. Never stop.

We’ll eat popcorn at the top.

Awash

Sam didn’t realize just how weakened the stern floorboards had become until one of them snapped beneath his feet. The boat rocked atop the rage of the ocean and the storm was a real bitch, fierce and without mercy. Sam’s old rubber boots were slippery on the deck and his weight was displaced. He skidded futilely and slammed against the guardrail just as the prow shuddered from a sidelong swell. Furious but helpless, Sam screamed a curse as he went over the side into the cold, black ocean. 

Icy, salty water jolted every bone; the fight for air invigorated muscle. Tossed about in the current like a plaything, Sam remembered life and kicked and clawed his way to the surface for it.

He surfaced in a panic. As he sputtered for air he vomited ocean; frantic eyes squinted and sought the familiar light and shape of his vessel, The Spero. Her light was the only thing to be seen for miles in every direction, and Sam homed in on it quickly. He sprinted as fast as he could.

It only took 30 seconds until he had to stop from exhaustion. How could Spero have gotten so far? No stranger to the ocean and even slightly embarrassed for his flub, Sam shed his boots beneath the waves.

‘Let them sink’, he thought. ‘I have to get there.’

Renewed for the moment and barefoot in the ocean, Sam set out through the storm once again for the glimmering lights of The Spero, which by now were a little bit dimmer.

After another two minutes he relinquished his baggy yellow rubber pants; ten seconds later he abandoned his trademark yellow jacket. They slowed him down tremendously and he’d be faster without them. Already, his feet and arms were numb.

Almost naked, Sam choked up water and felt the warmth dribble down his chin. The Spero was further now, fainter. Sam caught himself wondering about the headline that would be in the paper when she was eventually found, captainless, crewless and adrift. Then he snapped out of it.

NO!!!

The heat of Sam’s fury and adrenaline surged through his limbs and actually fought against the chill that was spreading through his body. He’d been a strong swimmer in his youth and was no stranger to the ocean; he’d even been overboard once before. Sam disregarded it all and swam with all of his energy. Sam swam for his very life.

He stopped only when he was completely drained. His arms and shoulders were on fire and his legs felt like lead weights. Sam was out of shape and he hadn’t taxed his body this way for years; already he was beginning to cramp. As he struggled just to tread water and stay afloat, Sam realized that The Spero was no closer. No, it couldn’t be. The waves were relentless and the storm hadn’t slowed at all. He grasped the reality of the situation and felt his heart jolt into his back. He would die here, he thought.

He started to thrash and curse in denial and a wave smashed over his head, muting him, defeating him. He rubbed the salt water from his eyes and spat out another mouthful of the sea; it was all he could do to keep from drowning right then and there. He would die here, he knew. Cold and alone.

He suddenly missed The Spero more intensely than any feeling he had ever felt before. The unique and uneven waterline of her bow, the warm homeyness of her cabin, the rusty chains and anchor, everything – even down to the creaky old stern floorboards which had finally broken and spelled his own doom.

Then, Sam experienced a rare moment of clarity.

This was his fault.

There’d been so many warning signs he had seen with his own eyes and ignored. He’d been directly in charge of so many factors that had lead to this outcome. He saw the past few years of his life for what it was; a series of actions and decisions bound together, calculated for the sole purpose of keeping his self neglect intact.

Why was it that Sam had never gotten around to addressing any of the replacements or repairs that The Spero so obviously needed? He remembered the day when the radio had snapped free from its mounted fixture, and how he’d haphazardly screwed it to the inside of the cabin wall that afternoon. “That’ll do.”

He remembered the first time he’d had real trouble with the motor out on the open sea, and how he’d given himself such credit for fixing the problem with duct tape. He hadn’t looked at the motor since. “Great job, Sam.”

The Spero had lost the ability to turn full starboard when the rudder had become stuck one especially cold winter. He’d been fully aware of this, and had compensated his steering to accommodate it for years. “Good problem solving.”

Why hadn’t he replaced or maintained the rusty chains and ancient anchor? Why was his gear so comically outdated? Why was he so out of shape? Why hadn’t he upgraded his tech? He concentrated and remembered where his life beacon was – unopened in a dusty drawer in the same box that it had come in, beneath a pile of old receipts in the cabin.

Sam remembered the first day that the stern floorboards had groaned in protest as he’d walked over them. “I should probably get those looked at” he’d thought. But over time he’d gotten used to the creaks and the groans, to the objections and various compensations he had to make for The Spero and for himself, in order to avoid change. He had always seen it as ‘keeping an even keel’; he had even defended this logic to others who had expressed their concerns.

Sam saw that the lights of The Spero were distant, just a flicker by now, and his rage abandoned him. He wept. He wept for the realization that his life would soon be over. He wept for everything he hadn’t gotten to do and everything he’d never be able to try. He wept for all the time he had spent walking over and navigating past his problems, but not fixing them. Sam wept most deeply because he knew he’d never get the chance to make any of it right.

If he had one more chance he knew he would. If only he had one more chance! He’d keep his passion for sailing and renew it with a fresh, brand new start. He would buy all new gear, make repairs, hire a crew – he’d had enough money for years now. He’d fix and address every problem with The Spero and he would finally start taking care of himself again like he used to. There would be no more problems resolved by duct tape or rusty screws, no more nights that end with a crossword and a whiskey, because Sam would love himself again.

And that had been the true problem the entire time, the single note which had spawned his self neglect and lead to his self defeating spiral. Deep down, with nothing to hide from witnesses who were not present, naked, freezing and alone, at last Sam acknowledged the truth. It could only have ever ended this way; he had seen to that. It wasn’t The Spero’s fault or the storm’s fault; he had done this to himself. Inch by inch, in each neglected rip and tear and crack and groan, Sam had ensured that his worst fear would come true.

Unwilling victim of his own insidious trap, Sam resigned himself to his fate. He was out of chances to turn this around, out of chances to love himself. If only he had more time! – but he didn’t and he never would.

The Spero was nowhere to be seen, perhaps she was over the crest of the next wave in the far distance, perhaps not. Sam looked around. Giant waves continued to roil and smash in the dark, the freezing wind howled in his ears, numbing his skull and stinging his eyes, but Sam didn’t mind anymore.

Out of chances, void of love, without hope, Sam exhaled and closed his eyes. Then he let himself sink, down into the cold black sea.

As he sank into the depths he looked up and surrendered his final breath. Sam watched the last of his air bubble up towards the surface, to become part of the world that he had abandoned long ago. He belonged here.

Post Navigation