Thursday, September 15, 2011

Attenuation, or I AM STRUNG OUT

Like a heroin addict in a mormon temple.

I am starting to get pretty antsy at The Cottage. The Old Lady takes off every morning from work, and returns in the evening with grand tales of social interactions with actual, living, human beings while I can only discourse about the day's events on The Days of Our Mockingbrids. She doesn't listen well to my tales of territory encroachment and infidelity among our yards most common aerial inhabitants. I really empathize with the chicks, how can they develop good and civil morals when their mother acts like she is on a telenovella, and their father fights constantly with the neighbors. The crickets, stink bugs, and ticks make far less interesting television, and the network disregards all of my correspondence on the subject of cancelling these programs in favor of a greater variety of avian-oriented shows.

I have not yet been able to convince a telecommunication company to sell me internet and phone service. How did people survive in the time before time? Trekking five miles to the library is already getting seriously old, and my antivirus program is still out of date, Windows keeps asking to be allowed to connect to the internet to check for updates, and my firewall program is also annoyed that it can't annoy me with a constant stream of antivirus and version updates. My guild is meandering, foundering even, without my guidance, and my friends haven't heard from me in far too long! I haven't received a communique from Sadi Fansa about the status of our sponsorship request to the corporate office, and I am afraid that he has joined another band.

In long, I am fiending.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Celebrity Dream Cameo: Candy Bar Guy From Die Hard (Al Leong)

In the dream, I wake to a call in my dingy apartment, answer the phone, and then run and grab a web vest, tactical gear, and one of those Russian pistols that look like a Colt .45 acp.* I nod at my partner in the other room, as he is grabbing the same sort of gear, and loading a similar pistol.

The next thing I know, my partner and I are speeding through the surf in a rubber boat with a bunch of other mercenary-looking toughguys. We all have AK-47s, and random other assault weapons like grenades, and such. The guy assigned to our fire team is that guy from Die Hard who broke the display case to grab some candy bars when they were repelling the first SWAT assault. He also tortured Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon.****

Anyway, we end up assaulting a beach, and a system of bunkers that guard a drug processing operation. It looked like heroin and opium, but doesn't really matter. Most of the defending troops looked like Latino extras from Red Dawn, or Predator. While we were tearing our way through their defenses, Candy Bar Guy ends up with a puppy. Some of the cartel dudes had some puppies, and their mother had been killed or something, so they were seriously pathetic. While we were taking cover behind a concrete wall waiting for the flamethrower guy to show up, Candy Bar Guy feeds the puppy, and waters it, and then sticks it in his vest. He leans over and says in English, "always wanted a puppy." Everything said so far had been in Russian.

While we are clearing the encampment or resistance, I realize that this is probably a CIA operation, and that my control will probably want to know why I helped destroy it. I glance at my partner, and he shrugs at me, meaning "maintain cover." A giant Soviet Army helicopter swooped into a clearing to pick us up, and Candy Bar decides to stay and "enjoy the war." I toss him an AK, a bunch of magazines, and a box of ammunition. Then I take my seat with the other mercenaries.

When we are back in Moscow, I contact control in the usual manner. (I think I put a flower pot on my fire escape, how Woodwardian.) Then partner and I go for a walk to meet control. We are walking toward an area that we know control likes because it has a number of busy bars that we can use as randomly as humanly possible to avoid a pattern, when these two college looking girls approach us and give us the signs that they are control. This is new.

They look like they're eighteen, dark, mousy, both wearing dark blue, puffy winter jackets, and they keep using stupid language like "report about your last mission." I keep tying to use code like "I'm a Canadian hiking enthusiast" and "let's go enjoy some local color at a bar I know." These two morons don't understand that surreptitious meetings in dark alleys draw the most eyes.

We walk along until I see a sign outside a loud bar that says in English, "Good Service. On Tap." Signs like this are becoming fashionable in Moscow, or so the dream tells me. "Hey, look! They have good service on tap! This looks inviting!" I say, and drag the stupid girls into the bar despite their protests about drinking on the job, and using agency funds for illegal activities. My partner circles round the block to check for tails, and get a paper and some woefully bad Soviet cigarettes.

I smile and tell them to grab that booth by the bathrooms, and I will get the drinks. The bar turns out to be a Sparta Praha-supporting bar, and my orange-y red baseball cap is the exact color of the team. I make some stupid sports talk with he dues at the bar who all love my hat, and are surprised that a Canadian journalist would support Sparta.***** I tell them that I studied in Prague, which is true in the dream, and why I know Czech and Russian.

I grab the beers, probably all #9s, and sit down with the sour looking young agents. My partner enters from the kitchen door, and gives me the "no tails, back door is clear" signs. He sits with us and throws his arm around the other girl's shoulders. The next time the team scores, I jump and yell and clap hands with crowd. Then I sit down and give the girl a kiss, and whisper in her ear, "shut the fuck up before you get us all knicked by the KGB. Use proper craft, or I'll leave your carcass in a shallow grave." I have decided while getting the drinks that the reason these two idiots have been assigned as our new control is because someone at the Company has decided that we are dead men because we did exactly what we were supposed to do to maintain cover, and are being sacrificed to the tender mercies of the KGB. I make the arranged signs to my partner of "cover blown, disappear, home not safe, good luck."

And then I woke up.

(Please excuse any typos or wordos, typing on my touch screen is annoying, and this interface makes it difficult to edit as well.)

* I would normally link here, but my phone is not connecting very well this morning. On the other hand, all I hear is crickets chirping in the field and walnuts dropping from the sky.**

** This is why I have a walnut helmet.***

*** Some parts of this statement may not be accurate.

**** And no, I don't mean Mel's memories of his murdered wife and fighting Vietnam, I mean actually tortured him with electricity.

***** I have the real life, and possibly quite wrong, impression that this team's fans are the worst hooligans in the Czech Republic. I think I got this impression solely from the movie "Up and Down."

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

SPX is This Weekend

I will attend the Small Press Expo in Bethesda* this weekend, if only to buy the second volume of Questionable Content.  Maybe I will be able to get a t-shirt or two.  I am also hoping to run into the cartoonist who runs Man's Face Stuff, because I need some manly face stuff.  For a project I am keeping secret from fulsome.  Since I am keeping it secret from fulsome, I should blog about it because we haven't seen his dumbass on the internets in years.

* If your closest Metro stop is White Flint, guess what, you don't live in Bethesda.  This isn't snobbery, this is annoyance with realtors that stretch borders to sell shitty condominiums.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Expressions of Faith

I learned much while I was working in various bars in DC. I learned that I would rather own a bar than work in one. I learned that I love people sometimes, and despise them at other times. I learned that I am a pessimistically hopeful person, which may the strangest discovery.

There were many shifts in which I was desperately short of funds. I would be carefully rationing my oatmeal to make it last all month, and trying to avoid eating even a half price meal while working. Even working on your feet for nine to eleven hours a day, you can gain some serious weight eating burgers every day, but you wind up needing to eat something. I was stuck between warring impulses, either the food I was serving would remind me that I was hungry, or the end of the crossword would result in extreme boredom and awaken my gnawing stomach. Many nights, I would break down, and order some crappy sandwich from the kitchen, or wander over to the market. After a few lean months, May, June, and July in the non-waterfront/roofdeck bars of DC, I noticed an odd pattern.

On nights that I desperately needed customers, I would almost always have a decent night if I gave up and ordered a sandwich as soon as I could. If I held off and toughed it out, I would almost always have a crappy night. When I changed jobs, and started working weekend brunches, this trend continued. If I woke up early, made coffee, had a decent breakfast, and then went to work, I would have a boring Saturday filled with cable television or girl watching out of the big front window. If I got to work hungry, and ordered some french toast or steak and eggs, we would be unexpectedly, and happily, busy. Soon I started calling it my business tax. If I didn't need, or didn't want to pay it, Serendipity and Infinity would spurn me, and my day would spent in idle chatter, speculating on the temperature of the water in the local pools/coffee shops/museums. If I scarfed a meal just before unlocking the doors, I would see a wave of annoying and outstanding customers parade in the doors, just in town for the conference on erectile sustainability, or the United Dairy Solids Conglomerated Federation of America annual meeting.

As the economic and social news of the last three years of my underemployment has steadily continued gloomening, I have at times marveled at all the young expectant mothers and fathers, and at the number of college friends with wives or husbands and new children. Some of these lunatics have TWO children already, while I, as the joke says, have no children THAT I KNOW OF. How could anyone possibly want to spawn in these uncertain times? Why would you want to bother with the trouble of diapers and midnight feedings when Michelle Bachmann is an allegedly serious candidate for the Presidency? She's worse than the Ever Vacuous Palin! Morons all over the world are refusing to even think about any compromise that would allow any humans anywhere to live in peace. The oceans are critically endangered, and Star Trek IV could actually happen! The levels of toxic pollution are rising to the point that all of today's children's children will be inheriting a shit heap with no refuge, and people are STILL buying SUVs! If I think about everything that is going horribly wrong (as I see it), I could end up pulling my hair out in a rubber room, and these freaks are bringing children into the world! What the hell is wrong with them?

Or maybe it was just me, maybe something was wrong with me? There are still events happening that aren't all shit. Scientists in the Midwest are developing trees and programs to clean up the industrial chemical messes left by irresponsible people in years past, organizations are working with Native American nations out west to rewild areas of the country, and not everyone is an uncompromising chundernozzle. We lived through Mutually Assured Destruction, I told myself. Remember when Dad said that ducking and covering was worthless in the event of a nuclear attack? Remember when he said we would hopefully be killed so fast that wouldn't even have time to wonder why it was so bright in the classroom? Boy, that was a hoot.

So I found myself trying to believe that we aren't all so fucking stupid that we would kill ourselves, but that we have to watch it because a TPK* is still quite easy. Despite the fact that our leaders aren't leading, or even pausing to take deep breaths before shoving their heads up some orifice or another, a person must have faith in our collective desire to not live in shit. You have to look harder for it, but there is evidence that we are not a species of incredibly smart dumbasses. With a few notable exceptions, most humans don't enjoy wars or massacres. If everyone everywhere could just take five years off from killing each other, we could get our shit together and really fulfill one of those hippie songs from the '60s.

As I sat at my bar, watching CNN on a slow day that had started with a lovely breakfast of maple syrup-and-sausage-infused oatmeal, I realized that I had become an optimist. I then realized how people could have children, and it made my expressions of faith in humanity through french toast seem pretty fucking trite.

Also, babies are pretty damn cute, especially when they are shitting on my brother's lap. Now that was a hoot.

*Total Party Kill, in role-playing games this happens when everyone including the game master screws up badly enough that everyone admits it was a bad idea, and re-rolls shaman.