Thursday, February 26, 2009

THE RECKONING

I knew the day would finally come when I couldn’t wear clothes anymore.

It was on a Monday. Like today.

I got out of the shower, as I always do, and went over to the dresser, and paused for a moment at the underwear drawer before walking downstairs and fixing myself a bowl of corn flakes with a thinly sliced banana and two teaspoons of sugar after I had already poured a small amount of milk on the corn flakes (so that the sugar wouldn’t get lost in the milk.)

I ate the bowl of corn flakes with no clothes on. Usually I read the paper when I eat breakfast, but I decided that it would be a better idea to spend my time making a list of all the things that I would have to do differently since I wasn’t wearing clothes anymore. I really wanted to read the newspaper because I wanted to know what was going on. Here’s the things that I was interested in:

Nothing. Frankly, I can’t think of a single thing.

Here is the list of things that I couldn’t do because I was naked:

• Answer the door (unless it was a good friend calling and I could see them through the peephole.)

• Get the morning paper (which I didn’t read today because I was working on my thoughts about being naked.)

• Water the crabapple tree (Spring is here and I should do this, I feel bad if I don’t but I am naked so there’s not much chance of me doing this I don’t think.)

• Prune the crabapple tree (Who am I kidding? If I am not watering the crabapple tree because I am naked, then I am certainly not pruning the crabapple tree when I am naked.)

• Wash the car (it’s an old car anyway so I don’t think that it would really matter to anyone, unless clean cars run better than dirty cars, and if they do, I imagine that the difference is rather marginal and certainly not enough to make me want to put clothes on.)

• Buy a new car at the new car store.


Here is the list of things that I can do even though I am naked:

• Answer the telephone (I can even use a French accent as a kind of joke.)

• Answer my email (any and all email)

• Look at the crabapple tree through the window (as long as I am an appropriate distance from the window.)

• Do some ironing (the steam feels good on my naked skin but I try to avoid spraying my groin area with spray starch because I read an article that said that this can be very painful and you should be careful not to do it by accident.)

• Dance to my Frank Sinatra records (but not near the window. Of course it doesn’t have to be Frank Sinatra. )

• Watch television by myself with the lights out (What else is new?)

• Get drunk and throw up into the kitchen sink (if I have taken too many anti-anxiety pills and drunk something highly acidic, like freshly squeezed orange juice.)

• Take a long, hot, soapy shower and wash my hair with shampoo that smells like cloves and hazelnuts. (To relax from a long day and a new outlook on life which can be both invigorating and anxiety provoking.)

Just as I was writing ‘hazelnuts’ and 'anxiety-provoking' and thinking about how delicious hazelnuts are and how soothing anti-anxiety pills can be, and I was just beginning to realize that there were so many things that I could do naked and so relatively few things that I couldn’t do because I was naked that being naked definitely won hands down and I couldn’t see any compelling reason to ever wear clothes again.

But then, suddenly, just when I was feeling so good about everything about being naked forever, the doorbell rang.

I remembered that my first rule of being naked was that I could no longer answer the doorbell, although I could look through the peephole, just to satisfy my curiosity. And so I looked through the peephole and said DRAT very loudly. Right there on the other side of my door, looking in through the peephole so that her face was distored and funny looking, was the girl of my dreams. HELLO HANDSOME! She said at the peephole, and my mind began to race. The girl I knew I was born to spend the rest of my life with was right there, and I felt as though I had known her all my life and maybe for all eternity and there she was just outside my door finally and she was waiting for me to answer it and tell me that she felt the same way and that we would be together forever for the rest of eternity! WHAT'S UP? she asked. And as I gazed at her visage, which was, truly, a very beautiful visage, I thought two things:

1) I know her face doesn’t look funny like it does through the peephole, that this was just some sort of optical illusion, and

2) I knew in my heart, as I had always known, that the most important thing in the world is to stick to your guns,

and so I stuck to my guns, my very naked guns, and walked very very quietly up the stairs so that you could barely hear me moving as I went from the stairs and into the shower and turned on the water until it was deliciously hot and I could almost smell the cloves and hazelnuts of regret drowning like tiny little rats in the steamy shower of my bathroom and also of my desire. Being naked was the first day of the rest of my life, and I was OK with that. And as I listened to the sound of the fleshy part of her fist knocking on the door again and again, I wondered what kind of life this new life would be. It would be a life that I knew could be anything, anything at all, maybe even nothing at all, but no matter what, it would absolutely and positively be one thing and that’s for sure: it would be naked, I thought to myself, naked, I said aloud, and then JUST A MINUTE, as loud as I could, over the sound of the hot, steamy shower and the water running furiously down my legs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

CREAMSICLES AND STUFF

LAST NIGHT I WOKE UP WITH A START. At the foot of my bed was a large, sinister, phantasmagorical creature–a banshee I think–dressed in a dark grey robe that covered his form almost completely. As my eyes drew into focus I could see that he was extending his hand towards me, and fiery red stars exploded from his fingertips, illuminating the room, with a sickly, carmine glow.

"Tonight," he said in a dark, almost inconceivably low register, "tonight is the night that you will DIE!"

I shivered beneath my fleecy, warm, ecru-colored duvet. I was frightened almost to death right there! But then I remembered that I had promised Janet that we would go roller skating the next morning, as long as it was sunny, because the roller skating rink was outdoors and when the weather was nice it was fun to skate there and there were refreshments served at the snack bar, including ice cream and all sorts of popsicles and creamsicles.

"Wait," I said. "I need my rest tonight. I promised a friend that I would go roller skating tomorrow."

"TOMORROW!" The Banshee hissed. "Do you really think that you will still be...uhh...that you will be...that you..."

The Banshee paused for a moment. His grey hood slipped backwards just enough that I could see his colorless forehead as he wrinkled his brow, which was also colorless, and of course a little pale looking but not in an attractive way.

"Roller skating?" The Banshee asked.

"Uh huh. Roller skating."

"You mean with real roller skates? The old fashioned kind?"

"Yeah."

"Not roller blades?"

"Nope."

"Little wooden wheels?"

"Yep."

"Do they play music while you skate?"

"They do. All kinds of music. Lots of oldies. Like 'Snoopy and the Red Baron' and stuff like that. And they sell creamsicles and hot dogs and stuff."

"You going with a girl?"

"Uh huh."

"That sounds nice," the Banshee sighed. "Real nice. Roller skating and music. Snoopy," he said quietly to himself. "Creamsicles," he said, in almost a whisper. "A girl."

For a moment that Banshee sat down on the foot of the bed and said nothing. I thought maybe he was waiting for me to die, but then I realized that he wasn’t really noticing if I was dead or not and he didn't seem very interested in dying. I was about to ask him if he could move a little bit so that I could move my feet because they were starting to get tingly and they were about to go asleep when suddenly he said

"Enough’s enough! Basta! I’ve had it! Like this I need! God!" the Banshee shouted to no one in particular, "Just forget it. I don’t care anymore."

And then, without a word, the disheartened creature wrapped his grey coat around him, said "Creamsicles" once more, burped quietly, said "Excuse me" laid down on the floor, said, "A girl" and then "Jesus" and then died.

The Banshee and the robe dissolved in a wisp of smoke, but you could smell that burpy smell for a while longer. I could still smell it when I finally went to sleep.

The next morning I woke up and the burpy smell was gone. I went downstairs and had a nice, hearty breakfast and Janet and I rode our bicycles to the roller rink and went roller skating. We must have been there for hours! We ate three creamsicles a piece, and we hooted and hollered and laughed so hard that we almost cried. We fell down constantly, and held hands during the 'Couples Round.' By the end, we had eaten so many hot dogs and creamsicles that we practically threw up. It was so much fun! Later that night, I was so tuckered out that I pulled my duvet up around my chin, wrapped up real snuggly, and fell asleep like a baby.

Moments later, the detached head of a Japanese Nukekubi flew in through my bedroom window, screaming and shrieking and making a racket and before I could even rub the sleep out of my eyes, devored my head in one clean chomp, clear down to my shoulders and POW! That was that, away he went.

It was terrible, and I was really upset and I didn't want to go, but I was glad at least that I got the chance to go roller skating with Janet, which is something that I had wanted to do for a long time. It was even more fun than I thought it would be. I hope someday we will do it again.

MAKE IT LONG & WAVY SAYS HEY!

In order to celebrate the fact that Fats Waller's FAT & GREASY is playing on the victrola (or maybe it's just an unsettling serendipity) I am pleased to announce the girthy arrival of the third in the Wavy trilogy: MAKE IT LONG & WAVY.

From the intro:

This bad boy clocks in at a mighty 224 pages – a mach 1 of no uncertain g force–at least for me. It is uncontestably the longest Wavy know to man–long and luxurious, though seldom silky smooth. There are slight fairy tales told, loads of food and tender feelings and thoughts as well as interviews. That's right! An interview! And with a farmer! Just one, though.

Available, as usual, from the Lulu Boys, over there, to your right.

COWBOY DIARY (1995), from MAKE IT LONG & WAVY

COWBOY DIARY

i

A little boy walked up to me and said: sometimes I feel like I’m wearing a beret, even when I’m not. You don’t understand, I told him, I am a cowboy.

ii

The sky was clear and open. The boy clearly appeared to be a drifter, perhaps from Nueces River or even further east. I wonder, as I write this, if I were a cowboy, if I would say “clearly appeared” or even “further east.”

iii

I wonder if I am a cowboy

iv

Sometimes a man’s only shade is the brim of his hat. Cowboys don’t wear berets. Either of these observations can be considered adages, truisms, metaphors, ugly truths, or, a hundred years from now, bumper stickers, I told the boy, firmly.

v

“Boy” I said to the boy, “You are a boy, aren’t you?”

vi

Firmly is what I do. Everything I do, I do that way. I talk firmly. I kiss firmly. I say my prayers firmly. I say ‘say your prayers’ firmly.


vii

How could I have ever have doubted that I was a cowboy?

viii

One day, every boy grows up, and holds a lariat in his hand. One day, every boy grows up, and holds a branding iron in his hand. One day, every boy grows up, and looks at a herd of cattle, and knows what he’s got to do, in order to be a man, or, in this case, a cowboy. He will understand, and he will appreciate.

ix

Spell ‘lariat’! the boy cried. I cannot, I replied. And there ain’t a cowboy alive who can, I added, firmly, never doubting that I am (was) a cowboy.

x

BONE DRY ON THE TRAIL. BIG SKY AND NO SHELTER. There’s a dozen ways to say a man’s without a woman, in the language of the cowboy, and not one of them are fit for a boy to hear.

xi

You really a boy? I asked the boy, again.

xii

Years from now, a man will come to you, and he will not wear a sombrero: he will wear a beret. He will be a Spanish man, and he will not be a cowboy. Yet you must revere him as you would a cowboy. He will be called Picasso, and when you hear his name, think of me, for I am a cowboy. You will understand when this day comes. As will he. And do not look for a sombrero, for he will not wear one.
xiii

Are you God? the boy asked. no. I told the boy. I am a cowboy.

xiv

Imagine, if you will, five hundred miles east of the Rockies, lying in the sky-blue buffalo grass in the spring.

xv

How can someone make religious art one day, and something else the next? Picasso would ask.

xvi

The life of a cowboy is lonely, and beautiful, and full of good work. The works of Picasso will appreciate, and make excellent investments.

xvii

Black rubber, pearl, or ivory will be the handles of your colt.

xviii

No footwear combines utility and comfort like the cowboy boot, located beneath your colt.

xix

Your colt

My colt

Our colt

xx

My house is made of cottonwood logs and chinked with mud and moss with a roof of dirt and branches. Someday it will be filled with paintings.

xxi

Would you like to buy my beret? the boy asked.

xxii

Sombrero, I told the boy, sombrero.

xxiii

Picasso?

xxiv

Investment
xxv

Their colts! Always keep your back to the wall, and

xxvi

You’re old enough to know, I told the boy. we castrate these cattle. It’s the law of the land, and part of a cowboy’s job on the frontier. It ain’t easy. and once you’ve done it, you’ll know what you’ve done.

xxvii

You have an idea of what you should do, Picasso said, but it should be a vague idea.

xxviii

Picasso?

xxix

Investment!

xxx

Sombrero?

xxxi

Beret! Beret! Beret!

xxxii

They were bold men, courageous men, aware that death was real and that over the next swell of prairie might wait the untamed Comanche, or that a sudden sound might send one herd stampeding, death in every hoof, so that not every cowboy who rode away that morning was guaranteed safe passage til the next.

xxxiii

They were, I told the boy, with a kiss that was not chaste, Picasso.

(1995)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

ONE PLAY IN FOUR SHORT ACTS

ACT I:

two gentlemen, at a bar

A: I took the liberty of ordering you a Cointreau.

B: That was very kind of you.

A: I wonder something ...

B: What?

A: I wonder, perhaps, if you know how to spell ‘Cointreau’?

B: ...

A: ...as I suspected

B: I wish you would be hit by a truck and die.


exeunt



ACT II

two gentlemen somewhere–their names are unknown


A: James?

B: Yes?

A: Is that you?

B: Why do you think I said ‘Yes’?

A: Honestly, I do not know.


exeunt




ACT III

two men, one of whom hasn’t seen the other since Brazil


A: Henri – I haven’t seen you since Brazil!

B: Sí.

A: Do you remember the little mustachioed bus driver with the tiny little mustache?

B: The one who drove the bus down the ravine and the flames licked the bus until they reached the gasoline and the entire bus exploded?

A: Yes

B: Ah.

A: That was a long time ago.

B: It certain was.

B: Ah, yes.

A: How long ago, exactly, was it?

B: It was, approximately, 80 years ago.

A: I imagine then, the bus driver is dead by now.

B: I believe so. I believe that he died at the time.

A: The flames and gasoline?

B: Yes.

A: Hmmm.

B: Then why are we still alive?

A: I don't know. Let’s write letters to our friends.

B: Would that be appropriate under the circumstances?

A: Good question.

B: ?

A: Perhaps we could write letters to our imaginary friends.

B: OK.

exeunt


ACT IV

two gentlemen, perhaps three, and a photograph of a palm tree

A: I found a picture of you hugging a palm tree.

B: Do you love me?

A: You were hugging it real tight like!

B: Do you love me?

A: Ask me again.

B: Do you love me?

A: Pardon me?

B: Love me?

A: Let me tell you some of the things that I love:

I love palm trees.

I love hugging.

Look at you in that picture!

C: What about him?

B: Who is that??

A: That’s C. Hi ya, C!

C: Hello.

A: Can you stand very still and pretend that you are hugging a palm tree?

C: That I can.

A) I do love this life!

B: I believe that I do not love this life.

exeunt omni

Monday, February 16, 2009

XIPO IS HERE

–And it's always had a special place in my heart. And it is as close as I have ever gotten to writing a story since, well, 1976. I know what you are thinking: no, I didn't write a story about the bicentennial ships. I mean, I could have, but I didn't.

More importantly, I like XIPO. It's a story without a ship. But it does have a date in it, and candles, and many laments and a little bit of Burl Ives. That's the good news.

The bad news is that I'm sorry that I stole the ink work. Not terribly sorry, though–I think it found a good, and a new, home.

NOT A SHOWER THOUGHT

I suddenly realized–I think this happened when I was on my bicycle near UNC Chapel Hill where the traffic can be rather frisky–that there is a mathematical component to love, specifically, the odds of love's success, just as with chocolate and love there is the chemical component through the dear ol' phenylethylamine phenomenon.*

The mathematical, or perhaps I should say statistical or probability aspect of love is less fun than the chemical one. Here it is:

The probability of falling in love with someone as you grow older are inversely proportional to your age.

Why? Well, in order to fall in love truly, a couple must learn to intuit one another's feelings, and become intimate with their experiences, emotions, histories, life stories, quirks, patterns, and all of that stuff. How many of all such do you have at, say, 18? Well, fewer than you have, once could argue, than when you are, say for the sake of argument, 70.

Falling in love at 18 can therefore be what we call a quick study: a conversation, perhaps two, and bingo! Love is there just like when that guy yells BINGO and you win something that you think that you want. And the couple can sit about and stay in love and watch those little tulips of experience and family and quirks and whatnot grow quite slowly over time, although I am not sure if tulips grow slowly.

In any event, and to take the discussion away from tulips, we can safely say that immersing one's self with someone else at 18 allows a relaxed and patient period of inquiry–say–60 or 70 years. One does not get the bends that way. Or at least it would be a challenge to get the bends that way. And you know when I say 'bends' I don't really mean 'bends' but you know what I mean. Onward:

Let's say that you are 70. I am not, and quite frankly, the idea makes me jittery, but still, well, it certainly does look real to me, and that might be the cause of the jitttery. Let's forget about me and tulips both for a second. Anyway,

Let's say that you are 70. You go on a date, probably at the community center. You meet someone very special. You sit down and talk, and find that you can talk so easily and openly that the time just flies by. Now of course when you are 70 the times flies by anyway, and many other horrible and depressing things happen that don't happen when you are 18 but we'll talk about that later. In any event, for time that just flies by normally, not it is downright rocket shippy flying by. Of course, by 70 in our era, you have seen quite a number of rocket ships, and they scare you very much.

But in many ways, love at 70 is no different than at 18 – you still have to share everything. You simply must. The problem is, there is an awful lot to share, and the sound of the clock on the wall is so loud that sometimes you think somebody is shooting a gun in the kitchen, and at you, a terrible thing to do, and almost as bad to think. Guns scare you very much, too. After all, you are 70. Lots of guns by 70 and you know exactly what they do and that they aren't kidding.

But love scares you no more than it did at 18. Nor does it excite you any less. Or maybe, it's the same amount. And so there you are, at the community center, talking freely and openly and sweetly with someone who just might be the love of your life. And you tell your new love everything – your foibles, your dreams, your loves, your fears, your family, your worries, your passions, your amores, your food preferences, your shoe size, your doctor's home telephone number, your prescriptions, your aching back, your frequency and content of urination, your mother problems from 1942, your poetry.

Everything.

Now if you were 18 you could do all of this and look up at the clock and say "Look at the time – it's already midnight! How quickly it passes when I am with you."

But at 70, after all of this, you would look up at the clock and say, "My God. We are 97 years old. How quickly the time passes when I am with you."

My God. My God.

My God.

Of course the best case scenario is that you would look up at the clock at 97.

Of course, there are alternate possibilities:

They might not have clocks by the time you are 97; you might not care for clocks at 97; you might have forgotten your glasses in the first place; you might still be talking and not aware of the time at 97; you might never have been taught how to read time; it might be a small, unobtrusive, barely perceptible digital clock on the wall with weak batteries; you might have stopped talking by 97 and might be making furious 97 year old love on that little green ping pong table at the community center, and then, other possibilities which I will leave alone for the time being.

Simply put, fall in love early. Before you are 97. I think it's a good idea. It's hard to argue against it. In fact, I cannot think of a single argument against it. Just think of the alternatives to not falling in love.

Yes: do it now. Or, if that is not possible, try to do it before you get your wisdom teeth, or thereabouts. That seems about right.



*phenylethylamine phenomenon: if you gorge yourself on chocolate, you no longer need to fall in love with someone, because you will simply fall in love, via body chemistry simulation via said phenylethylamine, dopamine, norepinephrine, etc. Keep gorging, though, and you will jolly well die in love, and with no one. Still, as ends go ...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

BUDDY

IT'S SO HARD TO WRITE A STORY. Especially when you are trying to be and think and do everything as someone else. That's why I have decided to write a story from the standpoint of a cymbal. It might be more difficult than writing a story from the viewpoint of someone, say, for example, Joey, a Joey with heart and feelings and foibles and complex emotions, but I think that most people will permit a writer a greater latitude when it comes to a character that is made of tin and copper. I mean, bronze. Especially if I can delve into his heart and feelings and foibles and complex emotions. Being naturally insecure, I have always felt that anything is better than nothing. And I enjoy raising the bar a little so that, even if I do not succeed fully, people will see me as daring and valiant. Also, my skin is sometimes bronze.

A FEW PRE-WRITING QUESTIONS TO ANSWER REGARDING THE PROTAGONIST:

1) WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE WHEN HE IS IN A ROOM ALL BY HIMSELF AND THE LIGHTS ARE TURNED OFF? Answer: he is probably very scared. Reason: the lights never come on unless someone is going to walk up to him and beat the svenshine out of him with two sticks. Two wooden sticks that are hard. From out of the darkness and you are asleep and having dreams and the next thing you know it's terrible.

2) DOES HE PREFER ONE PERSON TO BEAT HIM WITH STICK TO ANOTHER? Answer: Yes. Reason: cymbals are no different from anybody else, or anything else. Everyone has people that they prefer to hit them with sticks. For you it might be someone named, for example again, Joey. For a cymbal, it would probably be somebody named Ringo.

3) WHY NOT BUDDY RICH? Answer: No please. Reason: just look at him. You have answered your own question by just looking at him. If you can't find a picture of him, you will answer your own question just by looking at him once you find a picture of him unless you forget about it, in which case music is not one of your guiding passions. Nor photography. Which isn't bad–we can't all be passionate about music and photography and things like that. In a way, thank God we aren't, don't you think? You might be interested in something else. I am thinking, now, whale kebabs. Whale kebabs like the ones that you can find in Reykjavík. Reykjavík is in Iceland. I like the idea of eating one someday in Iceland. Wouldn't that be fun? We should do it sometime. I'm sorry, we haven't been properly introduced. My name is Skarphéðinn Guðríður.

4) WHEN THE LIGHTS COME ON, AND HE HEARS FOOTSTEPS, WHAT DOES HE SAY? Good question. Answer: it could be one of many things. Possible responses include: "Mommy," or "Uh oh" or, possibly, "Ringo?" or "Skarphéðinn Guðríður, is that you? I am so hungry" or "Is it morning already? Can you see the fjords in the light of this winter dawn?" And last but not least, there is always: "My God! Buddy???" and then, again, "Mommy."

Sunday, February 08, 2009

AS THOUGH WEED WEREN'T ENOUGH, HERE COMES FRED

FRED, which is beloved by me and comes from way back yonder say 1998, is available here and now and ready to be acquired. The "Fred" to whom this is dedicated is neither a Fred by name or temperament; tellingly, though, he has yet to purchase a copy of FRED himself. Perhaps even more tellingly, I am not about to send him a copy. No way. For this and many reasons, I do adore my FRED.

Friday, February 06, 2009

WEED and STUFF

WEED is available for purchase. It's right over there in the right column. Yes, that's him all right, no kidding. No, he really doesn't have anything to do with WEED, and yet, paradoxically, he is all over WEED. Actually, this drawing is all over WEED. Well, truthfully, this drawing in black & white is all over WEED. It's interesting when you remember a movie as being in black & white and then you see it and actually it was in color all the time. It's odd because it can be disappointing. HOUDINI, for example, with Tony Curtis. Be forewarned: WEED can disappoint. WEED is a skimpy little book, and it is for the faint of heart. You might want to wait and buy XIPO, I like that even better than WEED. And Tony Curtis dies at the end of Houdini and it's in color.

all artwork, including handsome monsters but not crinkly devilish types,
® mr. crispy flotilla, 2008
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