Friday, September 22, 2006

Me vs. Scotland - Part #1

I went to Scotland with my friend Steve in March of 2005.  During my travels, I wrote shorthand journal entries in a notebook, which I later transcribed and turned into online journal entries.  I thought posting them here for the first time, accompanied by previously unreleased photographs, would make for a cool three-part article series.

As far as the title (“Me vs. Scotland”), I’m actually a pacifist by nature, whose mother is a professional Yoga teacher and whose dad is a hippy.  I just said the name halfheartedly in a joking manner, and it kind of stuck.  I also shot a nearly six-hour video of my trip under the same title, but the only way you’ll see that footage is if you bribe me with chilidogs and issues of The Fantastic Four.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2005 - I awake with about five hours of sleep in my system. I know, matter of factly, once I step one foot out of bed the whole thing starts. I stay there, face down, for a little while. After showering and dressing, I go over a few things while waiting for Molly. Once she arrives, around 11:15PM, I drive us to Cincinnati Mills.

We catch the noon fish feeding at Outdoor World and have shrimp hibachi at A Fusion Cafe for lunch. After walking around the mall for an hour I head back home. Steve's car is already there, and after saying my goodbyes to the family. I gather my stuff and we're on our way. At his house he argues with his mom while I watch from the sidelines. One quick gas step, and we're out of Hamilton and on our way to the airport. Our representative informs us our scheduled flight is delayed, and puts us on an earlier flight. We have to rush, passing through security I almost made a crack about slumber parties but decided better. The plane is really small; I get an aisle seat and settle in for the long haul to New Jersey. I listen to Head Automatica and read the first few chapters of Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals. The rhythm of the music, and the first chapter of the book consisting heavily of the narrator picking up a sexy woman in a bar, both have me smiling. I accept the offer of a snack; it contains crackers, cheese spread, pepperoni slices, an apple, and a almond/caramel chocolate candy. It's not bad, and I wash it down with Seagram's Ginger Ale. As we get closer to our destination you can see all the lights, and the traffic below. We get a little restless, but eventually touch ground in Newark.

We stop at the restrooms once we get in the airport, then stop at a store where Steve gets a drink and an issue of Playboy magazine. We find our departure area, get seated, have a small snack, and before we know it we're loading onto our next flight. This plane, a 767, is much more spacious. Steve spits some freestyle raps and we goof around a bit out of restlessness until liftoff. Steve's out instantly, I grab my CD player, pop in The Rocket Summer, and start writing. I'm interrupted by my meal service; I get the beef lasagna, salad, dinner roll, brownie, and a second Ginger Ale. The food's average, and I drop some red sauce on my crotch for good measure. Continental provides on-flight entertainment; 20 radio stations (one the contained some outrageous Japanese ska), 10 video stations (I flip back and forth between Ray and the flight channel containing general updating info on the flight), and video games which I've yet to check out. I notice I relate a lot of my experiences through pop culture, for example: Newark airport with Garden State, the lasagna with the animated Garfield Christmas special, etc. It's kind of hard being on a plane and not thinking about Twilight Zone: The Movie and that goblin on the wing... classic. It's dark, I'm 38,000 miles off the ground, over the Atlantic Ocean, and listening to An Angle. A little later I put in the Lost In Translation soundtrack, close my eyes, and try to just relax. After mostly unsuccessfully attempting sleep, the sun is peeking back out, and I can see layers of clouds below us. Steve's awake, and they bring out fruit cups with grapefruit and pineapple pieces, and croissants with strawberry jam. We have some orange juice, Steve plays a little video chess, then we fill out a "landing card". I'm listening to Rilo Kiley, and for the first time in hours I can see masses of land. We're set to arrive in a half hour, which'll be roughly 8:30AM.

Thursday, March 10, 2005 - We arrived at Glasgow's airport. It was amazing viewing the scenery and landscape from the plane as we neared our landing. We had to go through security, etc. We met Steve's uncle Thomas, and the moment we stepped outside I was in awe. We squeezed everything into his tiny car and we were off. Riding on the left side of the road, the tawdry yellow license plates with bold black print, and other signs let me know I was in Europe. We hit the highway and I quietly marveled at structures, vehicles, and everything on the sides of the road.

We went to Steve's aunt's house, located snuggly in a neighborhood that strongly resembled Harry Potter's. She made us this massive breakfast; containing eggs, ham, two kinds of sausage, pancakes, beans, and toast with hot tea.

Afterwards we both took showers and changed out of our flight attire. We took a walk, stopping in two tiny local convenience stores.

We visited his other aunt's, in the house Steve grew up in. He gave me the "official" tour. We saw a fox behind a shed, I'd never seen one in the wild, it was brilliantly red. Next we went to the house of Steve's childhood friend Joseph. His mom wasn't dressed when she answered the door, and ran upstairs which reminded me of a particular scene in Sideways. Her son was working, but her daughter Angie joined us in the living room. They're an Italian family, and friendly. Angie, at the tender age of 17, is growing into the delicate age of womanhood. That distraction aside, no sleep was beginning to take a toll, and listening to Steve talk I was starting to feel like the perfect accessory. After staying for a while, we picked up Kieran, Steve's cousin, ands walked back home.

I went into Kathleen's room, Steve's other cousin, who's also growing into a young lady, complete with requisite body piercing. I got into her bed, accompanied by stuff animals and Harry Potter merchandise and took a nap. Got up and met the father of the household William, had some kind of pork chop stew for dinner, and watched the news with the family in the living room. Kieran took Steve and I on a walk around 8PM, to get some money, and then we went to Riley's, a pool/snooker bar. The walk was dark and windy, but I enjoyed observing my surroundings. Riley's was a lot of fun, we shot pool for almost 3 hours. I'm a beginner, but did better than I expected, and for the first time since arriving felt truly satisfied. We had fun, and Steve ordered himself a pitcher of beer (4 pints) that he drank. On the walk home he tried to jump a 5-foot gap, and wiped out in the middle of a road. I filmed the event, and laughed hysterically from the sidelines. Got back around 11PM, had a sandwich I made, some chips and candy. Made a handful of phone calls; friends, family, and Molly. I was online in Kieran's room, he and Steve both passed out, so now I'm in Kathleen's "princess" cot-like bed, listening to Rilo Kiley and writing in my notebook around 1:00AM.

Friday, March 11, 2005 - Got out of bed around 6:15AM, feeling strangely awake. When Steve's aunt and uncle left for work, it was up to us to get the two teens up for school. There wasn't much better to do, so we spent an hour or so watching bad music videos.

After they left for school, Steve made us a breakfast of sausage sandwiches and milk.

Killed a couple minutes in the back yard observing a pond, then went back indoors to straighten up the house. We couldn't figure out how to turn the shower on, it's some box contraption with buttons, resembling something out of The Jetsons. I ended up taking an unsatisfactory bath.

We locked up the house and walked into downtown Bellshill, complete with shops, restaurants, etc. galore. We went into a place to exchange money.

I got around 49£ (pounds) for $100.

Stopped in a bakery to get a soda, then made the walk back home.

The family's dog Hairy was extremely horny, and humped a pillow to my mild amusement.

Steve's childhood pal Joseph picked us up in his car. Joe took us first to this place resembling an American strip mall/flea market; complete with requisite dinnerware, luggage, book section, golf gear, and a cafe where they served various meat pies. We went for lunch next, and Joe "fancied" Pizza Hut.

This Pizza Hut was unique from my hometown's for a couple reasons; served more alcohol, had buffet, and served us pizza with corn on it!

Went to an amusement park/arcade to go bowling. I scored a 61 and 58, far from stellar but an enjoyable afternoon. Joe is a super cool guy – I really like him. He was really fun to chat with, and brought some positive energy. Got dropped off back home, Steve fell fast asleep for a nap, and I attempted to do likewise. Got up around 6:30PM or so and ate dinner; containing chicken, peas, carrots, corn, and potatoes. It was uncle William's 41st birthday, and he had over two quests. I was invited to join the family in the living room; they drank import beer and chatted, wanted me to drink whiskey and forced me to eat a little chocolate cake.

I went in to Kathleen's room to get some space; William came in and sat on the floor next to me. He gave me a little speech about relaxing, having fun, etc. I must come off a little distant, because he's always trying to accommodate me when I'm really actually fine. He asked me what I wanted from the trip, I discussed my interest in scenery and museums.

Sat in bed listening to The Rocket Summer's album Calendar Days, which is a CD that'll always cheer me up hands down which is a great feeling. Was convinced to take a shower before going out, did so, got dressed in sharp threads, and chilled until Joe came over around 9:30PM and ordered us a taxi. Joe, Steve, and I went to this supposed "hip hop" club The Edge. The bouncer knows Joe, but told him we couldn’t enter with our casual shoes on. Got a second taxi, and took a mad dash back. Steve's uncle Thomas hooked me up with a pair of brown leather kicks, and Joe's dad took us to his huge superstore (think Wal-Mart) where Steve got some new shoes, too. Got back to the club a little after 11:00PM, where we stayed until 2:45AM. Steve and Joe drank between themselves at least 35 vodka mix drinks, with Pepsi and orange juice. I rarely drink; in fact, I just did start drinking (wine) earlier this very year. I got a Smirrinof Ice that I made last all night. Felt slightly out of place in the packed club at first, until we found a relatively comfortable spot. Joe said girls would love my American accent. Met two girls who were interested in our foreigner label, and then another woman 25 or so, who put on my black frame glasses and grinded against me. Steve tried to mingle, dance a bit, etc. I mostly observed and bobbed to the loud music. There were a couple beautiful girls there, honestly, but none exceptionally my type. Took perhaps the longest piss of my life in the seedy restroom. Near the end I was chilling on this couch, and these two girls who were absolutely incredible dancers did a few wild routines practically on top of me. It reminded me of Kid 'N Play tearing it up in House Party. In the cold night air we chatted with people outside afterwards, I did a lot more talking, not that I wasn't confident inside, it was just so much harder communicating against the music. Ran into Joe's girlfriend Fiona and a friend in the street, he left with them as Steve and I caught a taxi. The guy had no idea how to get us here, which was kind of a pain. After changing, brushing my teeth, and putting The Rocket Summer back on, I sat writing on my bed about the day.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bra Removal Guidebook

Bra Removal Guidebook

Part I: Winter Is For Lovers

I reached around Cindy’s back, struggling with the task of unsnapping her bra. “Having troubles?” she asked playfully. I looked up at her and our eyes met. “You could say that” I returned. “And I was under the impression you were somewhat a pro” she quipped. “Nope. If there was a ‘bra removal guidebook’ I’d be the first in line”. I moved back as she leaned forward, readjusting herself as she skillfully removed the bra in mere seconds. She let out a small giggle as she fell back into the couch, pulling me forward on top of her.

It was a few days before Christmas, Cindy and I were together in her family’s house in the deserted living room. Her parents and little brother were out at a relative’s for the night. The setting was perfect. In-between lapses of kisses I’d look around the room, taking in the awe of the holiday atmosphere. There was the fireplace, stockings hung, and of course, the Christmas tree. The thing that caught my attention the most was the blinking lights. In a myriad of colors, ranging from green, to blue, and red and so on, blinking on and off silently, reflecting on the window and in her eyes.

We were getting ready to have sex for the first time. As the snow fell softly outside I closed my eyes and was so thankful, now I’m not a religious person, but in that instant I said thank you to someone, or something, and bit my lip to stop from making my grin too noticeable. It was amazing. Our clothes and the blanket fell haphazardly to the floor. Even though it was a chilly Nebraska winter night, we were both warm as can be. Once we got past the issue with the bra things progressed naturally. We didn’t discuss it. We both sweat, our bodies rocking in harmony in the act of love, my head resting against hers, the scent of her hair against my nose as I buried my lips against her soft neck. I pressed in closer, the weight of her breasts firmly against my chest, her legs wrapped around me comfortingly.

The only minor scare was when I heard the floor creek in her kitchen it was her dog Max. He tilted his head and looked at me confusingly, then he went into the hallway and found himself a cozy spot to fall asleep in. I remember the last thing I saw that night. I started falling asleep, staring quietly at the blinking Christmas lights, inextricably amazed by them. I heard Cindy get up, and watched from the corner of my eye as she ran into the kitchen, wearing nothing but her socks and panties, and prepared a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa.

Part II: Mon Coeur Est Cassé (My Heart Is Broken)

It was a really nice Saturday in spring. The weather was great and I was free, so after a small lunch I headed to the park with my sketchpad to do some drawing. I sat on a bench that provided a fantastic view. Then it struck me, how could I have forgotten, Cindy and I had sat at this very bench the past fall. She loved this park. That opened the floodgates, and a lot of memories started forming. I thought back to a party we were at together the year prior, and how we escaped the loud people and the louder music to the back porch to talk. I asked her what her favorite season was. “I choose winter” she said, “I remember when I was a kid, I used to love to feel the cold of winter running up the legs of my pants”. I thought she was brilliant.

I blocked out the memories and started focusing on a drawing. I had just begun the foundation of the piece when I heard her. Cindy. That laugh was unmistakable. She was with another guy. They were holding hands. Like a bolt of lightning it hit me, tears began to fill my eyes. She used to hold my hand just like that. I never once really looked at the guy. No, I couldn’t stop staring at her. She was so damn gorgeous. I thought back to the first time we made love. It was a beautiful winter night. How will I face Christmas this year without her? I got to the point where all I could taste was the salt from tears, my face wet and warm.

A few feet away from me a mother in her 30’s was walking with the cutest looking little boy. “Mommy” he started, “every day is so amazing!” She smiled warmly and petted his head. Without a fair warning he let go of his mother’s hand and walked over to me, surprising both her and I. “What’s wrong mister?” he asked. “Wrong? No, nothing. I uh… was just laughing. So, so hard… that my eyes started watering” was all I could get out. “It’s going to be okay,” he told me, so reassuringly. “What’s your name, little man?” I asked. “Brian” he replied. “I’m Paul. It’s nice to meet you,” I said, shaking his tiny little hand. “Bye Paul! Don’t let any trees fall on you!” he said enthusiastically, and then ran back to his mom.

I felt so much better. That little kid, so full of life, was truly inspiring and uplifting. The tears were gone; I could breathe naturally again, too. I stood up, prepared to take a walk and reflect, try in put things into perspective. “Hey!” I heard from a familiar voice coming towards me. It was Cindy, she had seen me from afar and must have asked her companion for a few minutes alone. “Hi” I said, looking into her eyes. “I’ve missed you,” she said, looking down at my feet and then back up at me. “It’s been tough,” I added. “My family keeps asking me questions about you. My grandma wants to know if you’ll be at Christmas dinner next year, my little brother wants to know if you’ll come over and play board games with him, and my mom wants to know how I could have let someone like you go” she said. I didn’t know what to say. “You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen” was the first thing that came to surface. “Can we talk sometime?” she asked. “You’ve got my number” I replied. “Coffee on Sunday?” she asked. “I’d love to” I replied. We hugged in a passionate embrace; it felt like my knees were turning into liquid, it felt great. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the little boy Brian from afar, smiling at me.

The End 

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Stink Blasters - Pizza Face Pat

I had seen these awful abominations labeled as toys prior, but for the price tag they carried, never offered them more than a passing chuckle.  Essentially, their gimmick is… they smell.  Sounds innocent enough, right?  Well, let me introduce you to some of the illustrious members of the Stink Blasters family.  We’ve got Elephant Drop Eric, Rotten Egg Reggie, Butt Breath Bob, The Duke of Puke, and Matty Manure to name a few.

So, someone somewhere thought it’d be a great idea to market toys to children that smell like unwashed butthole and prostitute panties?  Apparently so, and recently on one of my routine visits to the local dollar stores, I found a bunch of these guys marked down from their original hefty price and being sold for $1.  Although I couldn’t find Dog Breath Danny, or Never Wash Nick, I was able to get my hands on another special smelly somebody.

Allow me to introduce you to Pizza Face Pat!  Pat grew up in Pittsburgh, where he suffered through a pretty traumatic childhood.  Kids would pick on him, both literally and figuratively, resulting in fits of rage and pepperoni binges.  Whether it was making fun of his oversized and misshaped head, to picking tomatoes and other toppings from his cheese-like skin, Pat didn’t have it easy.  Pictured here in his favorite leather jacket, he adopted a rebellious lifestyle, and wore the red shoes because, well, they just fit so damn comfortably.

Pat got his first job at the tender age of 17, working at nearby Sal’s Famous Pizzeria.  He got in trouble the first time, for suggesting to the owner, a fiery tempered Italian, that he not only feature pictures of prominent Italians on the restaurants’ walls, but also images of other diverse races and peoples, including potentially others from his own unique lineage, like Fish Mouth Fred and Blue Cheese Charlie.  Later, he was fired for yelling at a customer, who accidentally mistook Pat’s forehead for their dinner.

Pat lost his virginity at the age of 18 in a barn on a chilly autumn night, to his lifelong crush, which oddly resembled a garlic breadstick.  They made love to the song “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & The Supremes, and it couldn’t have been any better.  I should know, I saw the video in a college dormitory one raucous weekend night, and contend it’s the single most important piece of video footage since the JFK assassination.

This could potentially be my favorite piece of the package, and I can’t readily explain why.  Just the idea of a stink bag, with requisite crude artwork of a sewer hole covered in toxic muck, brings warmth to my heart.  If that makes any sense to you at all, then I consider you a friend.

I’m feeling all of this love and admiration for my new pal; then, I opened him from his plastic tomb, and my opinion of him was instantly changed forever.  Holy shit, he smells bad!  I don’t know how he coerced anyone into hiring him, let alone, giving him fellatio.  Almost instantaneously, my entire apartment smelled like the remnants of a year-old pizza that’d been sitting in the sun, and doubling as a mattress for two skunks to procreate on.  It didn’t smell like a delicious, fresh from the oven, piping-hot pizza; nope, it smelt like roadkill stuffed with Parmesan cheese.

I tried to look past his offensive smell, and I even stuffed him in the Stink Bag, but not even that could eliminate his pungent odors from my life.  I never assumed I’d be retching on the floor immediately upon opening a toy.  I eventually had to bid adieu to Pat, and send him back on his way into this crazy world in which we live.  I hope one day he can truly find his home.  I hope one day I can adopt his fashion sense, and ability to be himself regardless of the consequences or circumstances.  The next time you see someone, in the classroom or workplace, that’s overcoming adversity and discrimination, think of the brave Stink Blasters like Garbage Truck Chuck and Fartasaurus Frank, and find inspiration in them.

Overall Grade: C+