Thursday, March 24, 2011

There's Something Fishy Going On Here ...

A friend of mine bought a house recently, and has been doing all of the things that one does upon buying a new house, like ripping out walls and tearing out ceilings while giggling maniacally, knowing full well that there’s no uptight landlord who’s going to hold back your deposit simply because you’ve compromised the structural integrity of the building. Stupid uptight landlords.

I was visiting her the other day, doing what friends of people who have recently bought houses do, which is drink their beer and make helpful comments using terms like “load-bearing” and “three-phase 220 volt” while having absolutely no idea what they mean, and just generally getting in the way. This may surprise you, but I’m quite proficient at those sorts of things.

One of the projects that’s going on is the planting of a garden. This is something about which I know very little (I will not last a month in the post-apocolyptic corner grocery store-less world), but apparently there are certain protocols involving "soil preparation" and "seeds" and whatnot, and, as I’ve recently learned, there is a tradition of burying a fish head to bring luck and ensure a bountiful harvest. Or for fertilizer. Or something. Anyway, my friend showed me the fish head that her girlyfriend* had procured for this purpose, at which point I thought to myself “Golly, Dead Acorn … a fish head could certainly play a role in some type of practical joke! You should take it with you when you leave!” (Lest you think I’m some sort of fish head thief, I asked my friend if I could take it, and she said “sure,” not realizing the solemnity and importance of the burial tradition.)

As it turns out, my actions were akin to salting the earth, or defiling the mummified remains of Laura Croft, or some such thing, as evidenced by the reaction of the gardener, who purportedly said something along the lines of “Would you please inform The Dead Acorn that I would be oh-so-grateful were he to return my fish head?” only I’m told there were words like “dickhead” and “goddamned fish-stealin’ no-account not-knowin’-what-load-bearing-means” used, spoken in a manner that would require the use of allcaps were I to type them.

I needed a fish head real quick-like.

Luckily, there’s a wholesale seafood place across the street from where I “work,” and though they were a little confused by my request, they were kind enough to save one for me to pick up the next day, and my return to the good graces of the gardener was underway (*whew*). I should mention that the original fish head was from a little baby fish (maybe a very large guppy), perhaps the size of the circle that a pitcher’s thumb and index finger make when throwing a circle changeup. This is what I got from the good people at Ocean Beauty:

Above: Likely caught on the good ship Pequod. And yes, the rest of the kitchen, and, in fact, the whole house, is as neat and orderly as that section of kitchen counter. The beer can is there for comparitive sizing; I have no idea why there's a ruler in my kitchen.

I know even less about fish than I do about gardening, and I certainly wasn’t aware that they are distant relatives of chickens, who can continue to function without heads for up to 18 months. I guess it’s the opposite with fish, and I screamed like a little girl when this one “twitched” just a bit as I was taking the pictures:

Above: An angry disembodied fish head doesn’t care who actually netted him, he’s just pissed at people in general and will exact his revenge on anyone stupid enough to get close to his razor-like teeth.

Finally, after all that trauma, the head has been delivered and buried, and I suspect we’ll see 50 ft stalks of corn towering over the neighborhood by mid-June. My one remaining concern is that I can’t seem to find the original fish head, and I think it may be in the Zuke Of Earle under a seat somewhere rotting away.

It takes a special breed of practical joker to pull one on himself.

* The term "girlyfriend" is used on this blog disirregardless of sexual orientation, so don't be gettin' all up in my grill thinking I'm using it in a derogatory fashion.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Time To Bowl!

“It’s time to bowl.”

Though she spoke the words quite softly, they hung heavily in the air, and the stunned customers at the bar stopped their conversations mid-sentence. Tommy stood behind the taps in shocked disbelief, unblinking, even as the glass he had been pouring shattered at his feet. From down on the corner stool, Janelle let out a faint whimper, then burst into tears. A dog howled off in the distance.

The night at the bowling alley had been over a year ago, but still I lie awake most evenings, drenched in cold sweat, fearing sleep and the inevitable dreams, dreams with images so vivid, so real, it’s as though it happened yesterday.

“I … I’m not ready. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready ...” I managed to stammer.

I thought back to that night, to the pitchers of stale beer sloshing on the wobbling bar tables, to the teenage painted jezebels with the already fading tramp-stamps on lane 19, to the awkward first date unfolding on lane 8, to the madman on lane 2 drunkenly pontificating about how the holes in the bowling balls represented love, fear, and sin. I remember the words she whispered, words from her lips but spoken with a demon’s tongue, words not of our language, yet clearly conveying sordid tales of terrible horrors beyond our world, and I remember pins flying like gangland bullets and the strobe lights of Disco Bowling and the Ouzo, my god, the Ouzo flowing as she picked up one 7-10 split after another, and Peggy Lee singing “Fever” on an endless loop on the jukebox, and then she was dancing, swaying slowly, and suddenly there was no one but us in the alley, no one but us in the universe, and I remember just wanting it to end and to go on forever …

I remember waking up in the zoo, but I have no recollection of the night beyond what I’ve described. There’s an oddly shaped scar on my chest that seems to change color with the phase of the moon, and I haven’t seen any squirrels in my yard since. I thank God for the mercy shown by keeping those dark hours from my consciousness.

She put her hand on mine and leaned toward me, her mouth so close I could feel the heat of her soft breath. She whispered the words again.

“It’s time to bowl.”

I could feel the tears starting to well up as she stood and led me from the bar. The somber faces of the other patrons weighed upon me, and I wondered with each step how I would find the strength for the next. Billie Ann was sobbing uncontrollably and screaming at her “Why? Why does he have to bowl? Why can’t you leave him alone?” Tommy was able to mutter “be strong, dude …”, but it was without real conviction. He knew.

She led me to the door and out toward the street, continuing to whisper, almost chanting the words.

“It’s time to bowl.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Surely He Means CHICK Magnet ...

Apparently I’m something of a “crazy magnet,” or at least I’ve been labeled as such.

I went to see a musical concert last week which featured Teh Rock And Teh Roll as performed by The Drive-By Truckers (with opening band The Heartless Bastards). A friend (I’ll call him Don, because that’s his name) and I were given Very Important Person tickets by another friend of ours, which allowed us access to a private balcony overlooking the stage, and which afforded us the opportunity to feel pretentious and smug, condescedingly looking down upon the unwashed mass of commoners as they fought for air and struggled to find a server to bring them lukewarm domestic light beer, while our delightful private attendant, the lovely and ebullient Skyla, ensured that our champagne flutes were never empty, an opportunity that we declined, as Don and I are jes’ plain folk.

We arrived well ahead of showtime, and were among the first in the VIP lounge. We struck up a conversation with Milo, who was there by himself and who explained that he was a life-long Truckers fan but that never before had he seen them perform live. Milo was very excited! He sat down with us on the balcony, and it became evident fairly quickly that Milo was one strange cat. Within a few minutes, he had explained how he was from Northeastern California (I’m pretty sure that’s commonly referred to as “Nevada”), how he had once owned a 1952 Les Paul Fender Stratocaster Flying V Limited Edition 7-string Guitar (or something like that … Don knew what he was referring to), how he had once, in high school, punched a guy and broken his eye socket, and how he had a custom hot-rod Volkswagon Rabbit that could go 150 mph (241.401 kph).


Milo stuck around for about half of the show, then wandered down to the main floor to get the full concert experience, I guess. A new crowd of people moved forward next to us, and within two minutes (2.53 centihours), I had been informed that Stan was from Ashton, Idaho, had been married twice, had a set of twins with the first Mrs. Stan and two others with the second (and current) Mrs. Stan. I tried to communicate to Stan that as happy as I was that his life seemed to be going well, I was a bit more interested in the band at that particular moment by not looking at him, and instead staring intently at the stage. Stan was a talker.

There were a couple of other encounters with "interesting” strangers throughout the evening, causing Don to make the observation that “we’re like magnets for teh crazy!” I concurred, and we both had a fine chuckle at that, and our night turned out be one of superb music, interesting people, and an awkward but politely rebuffed attempt at wooing the lovely and ebullient Skyla.

So get this: I’m recounting the evening a couple of days later to the friend who had so generously supplied the tickets, and he mentions that “yeah, Don told me that 'The Dead Acorn is a fucking CRAZY magnet!'”

Not “we were fucking CRAZY magnets.” Nosirreebob. Apparently it’s all me.

You know, I’m not quite sure what to make of that. I’ve been called far worse, and not without cause, but I’m pretty sure Don’s got some crazy magnet going on as well. He tends bar at the pub, and I’m in there every night, so I have a pretty good sense of the whack-a-noodle nutjobs that frequent THAT place.

Crazy magnet indeed.

[Note to denizens of the Emerald Isle and other exotic non-US places]: The Truckers make some dang fine music, and they’ll be in Kilkenny on May 1st, Dublin on May 7th, and various other locales in your neck of the globe around that time. The tour schedule is here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Broke

The Live Acorn and I were on the freeway the other day, engaged in some light banter about her views on the developments in Libya, and she posed the following question:

“Dad, what are you doing for Spring Break?”

A pall was cast over the car* (the Zuke Of Earle’s first pall! Woohoo!), and, as a tear rolled slowly down my cheek, I said, in a quivering voice, “Li … Live Acorn … I don’t get a Spring Break.”

“Oh, right. Bummer.”

Why would she ask that? Why would she summon to consciousness the knowledge that my carefree days of childlike exuberance were long past, a knowledge that I prefer to be kept stowed away in the dark recesses of my psyche? Why would she remind me that gone forever are the irresponsible debaucheries that came with the annual respite from the burdens of classwork during my 6 ½ years of undergraduate study? Why would she force upon me the recognition and acknowledgement that I am but an old man, worn by the years, no longer party to the trappings of youth, no longer marking time in terms of holidays and vacations and breaks, but instead trudging onward, week by identical week, toward a nondescript and likely unregarded end? Why?

I’ll tell you why, dadgummit. It’s one of two things: either 1) she really didn’t realize (or simply forgot momentarily) that the grown-up worker bees don’t get spring break, indicating an innocent and even endearing lack of knowledge about what it’s like to be an adult, which is, to be honest, something of an enviable way of thinking, or 2) she knew exactly what she was asking, and asked simply to be mean, to drive home my sad lot in life, to cut my heart out with her rapier-like words and revel in the misery of her own father.

I’m pretty sure it’s the first one. I can certainly understand how she could have inherited the personality type that would account for the former from me, as I have been known at times to be blissfully unaware of what the hell is going on in the world around me. If it’s the second, well, that doesn’t reflect very keenly on her mot …

Ok, you know what? This is getting a little long-winded, and I need to get back to whatever I was doing, so just, ummm, nevermind.

* I leave it to you, dear reader, to come up with your own “car-pall tunnel syndrome” joke.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Look Who's Stalking Now!

I think I’m going to take up stalking. (If a certain auburn-haired Treasure Valley pharmacist’s assistant feels an urge to comment on that, keep in mind that I was acquitted (technicality or not, I was acquitted) and that any public statements you might make about me may be viewed as defamatory. And call me!)

I’m considering this due to a realization that I had yesterday: I’m running out of clothes. This epiphany occurred after I had stopped in for a tasty beverage after work yesterday, and, while perching myself atop my barstool, happened to notice a certain “wardrobe malfunction,” as they say. I didn't think too much of it; being … less than socially adroit, let’s say … I’ve experienced far more embarrasing moments than realizing that my zipper was undone. Far more.

WAY far more.

I stood up (with the bar providing cover for my maneuver), and, as nonchalantly as I possibly could, so as not to draw the attention of the comely server, who already seems to have an abundance of reasons to laugh at me, reached down to rectify the situation.

“Uh oh …” I thought myself, as I realized that the problem was not one merely of undonnage, but of breakage. “And on the one day I decide to go commando! I thought UN approval was needed for a no-fly zone! Ha ha!” Fortunately, I had a jacket with me, and a strategic placement of it afforded me the opportunity to drink my draughts without derision (well, aside from the normal mockery from the comely server).

Ok, back to the stalking: most of the clothes (if we exclude Hawaiian shirts, all of the clothes) that I own have been given to me by various romantic interests. For some reason, women seem to want to have some input on what I wear, especially were we to be going out in public. For years and years, this puzzled me (were they afraid that if I dressed myself I’d be so smokin’ hot that other girls wouldn’t leave me alone?), but yeah, yeah - I get it. I accept it, ok? No, I cannot dress myself in an acceptable manner. There. I said it. Happy now?

So given my complete lack of fashion sense, and my sudden realization that holy mackeral, I’m running out of clothes!, it would seem prudent to find a significant other. And not being one to dream small, I think it’s now time to act on my long-held passion for the enticing seductress rocker Juliana Hatfield*:

Above: See you soon, Juliana (though you won’t see me, at first …)

So if any of you out there have any tips or pointers on how best to go about this, please let me know in comments. Is that Twitter thingy good for this? Do I limit my phone calls in which I say nothing for several seconds before hanging up to certain hours of the day/night? Has that bunny thing become too cliché-ish at this point? Help, people! It’d be nice to lay down a foundation before driving across the country to hide in the bushes outside of her house.

I hope she likes Hawaiian shirts!

* The uncyclopedia entry for her at that link is some funny shit. I highly suggest reading it!

Monday, March 7, 2011

That Is NOT What I Meant And You KNOW It!

I’d like to apologize to my reader for straying from this blog’s raison d'être*, which is actually two-fold: 1) chronicling my quixotic pursuit of the enchanting-and-not-seen-since-8th-grade seductress Suzy Lynn Hightenschtrödel, and 2) providing up-to-date and in-depth coverage of geopolitical hotspots. It is not intended to be as demon-dog-centric as it has been as of late; however, I would like to relate the latest incident, which has proven quite troubling for me.

I popped some popcorn the other night for a relaxing evening of home theater. Not microwave, mind you, and not hot air popped, but good old fashioned oil-in-a-pan-dumped-into-a-paper-grocery-bag-slathered-in-butter-and-salt popcorn. It’s as delicious as it is deadly! I always pop way more than I can actually eat, of course, as even the thought of running out before the end of a movie is enough to reduce me to a sobbing shell of a human being.

Well, the movie was fine, the popcorn sublime, and, after rolling closed the bag and placing it on the dining room table, Indy and I repaired to the bedroom for a night of sound slumber. The next day, as I prepared to leave for the pub a volunteer shift at the orphanage, I gave her strict instructions, in no uncertain terms, to leave the bag of popcorn on the table. This is what I found upon my return:

Above: ummm … why yes, I AM still working on cataloging my CDs!

Technically speaking, of course, she abided by my directive. What am I to make of this? Is it an indication of improvement in her behavior? Is she actually showing intent in becoming a "good" dog? Might there come a time when I will be able take a shower without hoisting the garbage can up near the ceiling like a backpacker’s food in Glacier National Park?

Oh, that I could bring myself to believe that.

The more likely explanation is that she’s taking her passive-aggressiveness to a new level of annoyance. She’s been following some of the labor union stories in the news, and I suspect she’s picked up on the concept of “work-to-rule” actions, in which union members “strictly observe the employer’s rulebook” in order to … well, in order to fuck with said employer.

I’m sure you can understand my concern over this new development. She shows no signs of aging, or of any vulnerability at all, really … neither chocolate, nor chicken bones, nor barbiturates and alcohol mixed in with her food have had any effect … she seems mystefyingly impervious to traditional canine dangers. If she really has adopted this “annoyance by adherence” strategy in our ongoing battle of wits, I fear for my sanity. The war may be lost.

* French for "raisons of ether," a light and tasty fruit snack akin to trail mix.