I don’t know why it started. It was like someone hit a switch, and bang everything was Flipper.
Five days a week I get up, shower, drink coffee, get on the train and go to my job as a software developer for an evil corporation. I take my seat in an “open floor plan” in sector 7-G, where I turn on my computer, take off my headphones and dial into a string of conference calls disguised as Agile work. When those are mercifully over I put my headphones back on, resume the music where I left off and mindlessly type Oracle statements to protect our customer’s sacred data from prying eyes, script kiddies, “hackers” and Russians. This is the shape of things in my world. Come tomorrow I may be older, but come tomorrow I won’t be bolder. Or some shit.
So, a bit about me. I am a woman of a certain age. I grew up in the Ohio Valley. I graduated high school in 1983. I went to a nondescript state college. I was a punker. I guess that I still am a punker. To this day I love the hyper polka beat of a snare and high-hat teamed with pick driven bass and crunchy barre chords all swirling beneath a vaguely melodic vocal track shouting a rant or anthem to decadence. Oh, and by the way, Green Day and Blink 647, or whatever the fuck they are called are not punk.
After school I got married to a guy from the scene. We drunkenly fucked a bunch after shows because I liked his DRI tattoo and I eventually got knocked up with the first kid. The guy and I got married, bought a house in a marginal neighborhood and vegetated for a few years. We produced a few more mouth breathers who dog me to this day.
The father of my children graduated from skateboards and hardcore to rockabilly and right wing politics to being a tattoo artist slash “biker.” We split some time in the 90s when I couldn’t take anymore weed, Rush Limbaugh and Johnny Cash. All during this time I had my hardcore vinyl, CDs and eventually shitty MP3s. When the kids were being brats I could always escape via MDC by headphone, crack a beer and block out the negativity. When the ex was being a stoned idiot ranting about how tattoos are “real art, maaaan”, I could go into my office and crank some Black Flag. Henry, Chavo, Keith, didn’t matter they were all great.
I have carried this hardcore habit with me throughout my career as a developer and life in general. When I have to attend a boring work conference call – headphones and DOA. Sitting on the train next to a mouth-breathing douche tool who tries to make inane conversation while staring at my cleavage – headphones and Minor Threat. Standing in line trying to order some shitty takeout – headphones and Poison Idea. You get the picture. Total avoidance of crappy human interaction and social norms. I told you that I was still a punker. A punker trapped in an early 50s female body, living in a middle class corporate world that is drowning in a sea of apathy.
One day after a waterfall call masked as a standup call, where my boss, Samyuktheswari was talking on and on about how our project is in red status and about the wonders of DevOps, I went back to my desk, slipped on the headphones and cranked some Flipper. No sooner had I begun humming along with Sex Bomb did I clock Samyuktheswari turning the corner towards my work area with that “we need to have a long pointless conversation about the project” look in her eyes.
I turned the volume down as she approached and looked up as she said, “They went down to some cheap hotel and got all squishy and wet.” I looked at her as I took off the headphones and asked her to repeat what she said, thinking that I had confused her words with the Flipper playing softly on my iDevice. She tossed me an annoyed look and said, “ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, he, he, he, he, he, he, ho, ho, ho, ho ho, ho, ho.” The strange thing was that her lips looked to be saying something completely different from what I heard. Kind of like watching an American movie in Germany that has German voice overs.
Samyuktheswari just looked at me like I was disturbed and started pointing at my computer screen and continued rambling on, but all I heard was, “Hey little girl, do you need a ride? Well I’ve got room in my wagon why don’t you hop inside? We could cruise down Robert Street all night long. But I think I’ll just rape you and kill you instead.” I looked up and she was staring at me, all I could do was nod my head yes and look back at my computer as she walked away.
I sat there for what seemed like hours staring at my screen wondering what was going on. After about twenty minutes I shook myself out of the daze and went to the cafeteria to grab a coke and some chips. I paid for my stuff and sat down at one of the common tables. It was populated by many of my computer geek, nerd, co-workers. Guys who work on code all day then go home and play computer games all night. Many of these guys were in their twenties, but they looked like they were approaching fifty due to their rather unhealthy lifestyles. They were mostly harmless and easy to sit with because they didn’t talk much as they ate and stared at their phones hopelessly trying to get a date on some app, or virtually arguing about Star Wars, Trek or some other nerdism.
Regis, the guy seated next to me put his phone down on the table and said, “I make decision with precision lost inside this manned collision just to see that what is to be perfectly my fantasy I came to know with now dismay that in this world we all must pay, pay to write, pay to play pay to cum, pay to fight.” I mentioned kind of shockingly that I never knew that those were the lyrics. Regis just made a squish face, looked at me like I was nuts and went back to his phone.
I got up a little bit bleary, a little weary and tossed my chip bag into the trash and my Coke can into the recycling bin. At this moment my mind was wandering to weird thoughts of how maybe I had gone insane, most likely to all the drugs I did during college, or maybe suffering from some sort of hearing damage from my years of going to shows and standing by the mains as the bands played. But, I could still hear all the background noise as I walked back to my desk. I could make out the conversations people walking near me were having. As I neared my work area I could hear Steve from product management blathering on on a conference call about whose action item was whose. Obviously my hearing was intact and my sanity still present, because I could hear the conversations and I wanted to punch Steve.
When I walked past co-worker Freda’s desk she looked up at me and smiled and mouthed the word “hi” but I heard, “wild in the streets.” I smiled at her and went back to my desk, packed up my effects and went home.
That was six months ago. I still hear hardcore lyrics any time someone speaks to me directly. I can watch watch a movie or TeeVee or speak with someone on the telephone and hear their real words. Just face to face conversation is punk. I am getting rather good at lip reading, and hearing punk lyrics instead of people’s everyday inane jibber-jabber is rather cool. I have learned to like my current situation and think I’ll just roll with it and see where it goes. Maybe, in the future I’ll end up hearing real time conversations again. Maybe I’ll hear hardcore lyrics until my death. Either way I am fine, and actually I hope this affliction doesn’t stop, because I really hate listening to people yammer on. Gabba Gabba Hey!
The matador had a stuffed codpiece just like every other matador in this god-forsaken land. The bull rolled his eyes. “Fuck this shit” he thought to himself. Two weeks ago he was on a farm in Kentucky, eating grass and occasionally siring a calf. Life was good. Warm rain, endless fields of bluegrass, several acres of hot prime cow on the hoof at his beck and call. He was King Beef.
Then for some reason, probably because he was a god-damned bull, he gored someone’s precious little snowflake. Future date raper more like it. The little shit had it coming. The kid kept pulling on the bull’s tail. Then when the kid grabbed his balls and swung on them like a rope swing — I mean shit, who could put up with that? So, he gored the cantankerous little shit — didn’t kill him, but he wouldn’t skate or bike for the rest of his life. The little fucktard. Bull figured he would get the gun for sure, so he just got mean. He would charge at tractors in fields. He would run full steam up to anyone in the field, snorting and acting a fool. WTF, right? Might as well go out with some fun.
Oh, but fate is a fickle beast. Also factor in human greed and anything can happen. Especially when you belong to a farm run by an “enterprising” man who can see the dollar signs in almost any situation. Next thing the bull knew he was on an auction block. Bull figured that he would either end up in a rodeo or in some Texas school lunch tacos. Neither happened. He was put on an airplane and flown to Spain. Bullfights that is. The pain in Spain falls mainly on the bull. Stupid traditions and machismo is what meet a bull in Spain.
Bull watched the “Bull Fights” for several weeks from his stockade. He quickly learned that the term “Bull Fights” is full of “Bull Shit.” They aren’t fights as much as a ritual slaughter of the bull. The cowardly Spaniards would win every time and his time had come.
The picadors have stabbed him several times in the neck via horseback. Then the three banderilleros further weaken him by stabbing him more in the neck. He was having a hard time standing, but the roar of the idiot crowd cheering pissed him off and sent a surge of adrenaline through his system. He walks up to the matador who thinks that he is being clever by hiding a large dagger under his cape. Bull stops, snorts and says to the guy, “What. The. Fuck?” The moron matador just shakes his head and stares at bull like he’s never heard English before. Then in a flash it dawns on bull that he is in Spain. People are mean and dumb everywhere, and here they kill bulls for fun. Plus, he’s in SPAIN, the matador doesn’t even understand English! Bull sighs as the blade enters his brain-pan and the flowers of death rain down from the bullring stands.
I wrote this while sitting on a bar stool in Mexico. There was a bullfight on the teevee and it made me think what it would look like through the bull’s eyes. Bull fights are bullshit in my opinion.
His shadow mocked him.
Sure, the sun mocked him most of the time during the day in Denver, but his shadow decided to join in on the action. His shadow did not just remind him that it was ninety degrees Fahrenheit with 8% humidity like the sun did; nah, his shadow didn’t care for that shit. His shadow wanted to fuck with him good. His shadow became twisted somewhere along the way. Maybe too many beers and not enough love somewhere in Texas, or maybe it was just that way all the time, twisted and bent for no particular reason.
If it was noon, his shadow would stretch way the hell out to the right like it was five P.M. If it were five or six in the evening his shadow would creep right up under him all tight like it was lunch time. His shadow just did not give a fuck. His shadow did not care. His shadow was more nihilistic than any 1970s smacked out New York punk living on 53rd and 3rd.
At first he did not realize that his shadow was fucking with him. He would walk through the day not noticing, oblivious to his shadow’s shenanigans. Then, after awhile he started feeling that something was off, but he did not quite get what. He just carried on with his life.
This went on for a while, then one day he went to “It’s Just Lunch.” His date was a high-talking vocal fry woman from some eastern New Jersey shit-hole suburb. As they were chatting and eating on the patio of the Squire Lounge she said, “oh my gawd like…yer shaaaaaadow is all liiiiiike not liiiiiike miiiiiiiine!” He just looked at her while he masticated his fish sandwich thinking to himself that she was probably just another moron, too bad, a pretty face, yes, but a pretty face who probably went to Duke or some other shitty party school and who majored in servicing their cheating basketball team or some such shit. He dropped his napkin and bent down to retrieve it when he noticed that indeed his shadow had crept over to the left while the vocal fry lady’s shadow was right under her as a normal 12 noon shadow should be. He just swallowed his fish bite and said, “it must be the wind or some something.” She “goes,” “okaaaay” and begins yammering on about some reality show that he would never see. He quickly downed his Jim Beam and water, paid the bill and bolted, his shot at pretty vocal fry ass be damned.
He rode his fixie to City Park — to his one refuge amongst the goose poop, a park bench tucked out of the way by the lake. As he was sitting on a bench watching a rat chew on a goose carcass Smokie the local vagrant rolled up on his scooter, guitar strapped to his back. He wondered to himself how that dude was still alive — living on the streets and doing bad coke all the time. Smokie asks him for $20. Smokie had stopped trying to scam money out him by playing that one old blues tune over and over again a long time ago, so he would just ask for cash. He told Smokie to go pound pavement elsewhere as he had bigger fish to fry. He mumbled something about shadows and girls as Smokie just smiled like he understood what he was talking about. “What the fuck”, he thought to himself, “savants are ruining the god damned country, or is every third person a fucking savant?” “Whatever, fucking commie savants” he mumbled to himself as he jumped on his bike and rode away from the park. He would not stop by Larimer Lounge tonight or go to one of the skateparks littering the landscape of his town. He would just head home with his fucked up shadow.
As he rode home with his fucked up, wrong side shadow, it started messing with his head. He would look down and his shadow would be on the right, then all of a sudden it would be on the left. As he pulled up Market street the sun was setting and his shadow was hiding from him, nowhere to be seen. He gets off his bike to lock it up and looks down in time to see his shadow flip him off as obnoxious laughter rumbles through the air. “Gotta get more sleep and lay off that legal weed”, he thinks to himself while heading up the stairs to his place as his shadow pockets the Bowie knife it lifted from Smokie earlier and follows him into his apartment.
I wrote this clunky story at a bar called Fenix on Isla Mujeres, Mexico while sipping Indio beers and enjoying a beautiful beach view and a nice cooling breeze off the Caribbean. One day I might hone this craft. But, this is where I am now. Story title copped from Michael D. of the great Denver band Omens who I am playing with right now.
I always enjoyed this strip.
I didn’t create this flow chart, but I put it in Vizio to make it easier to read as the original was a scan of a napkin drawing that was found on the Internet.
I am going to try this with a bunch of stuff that I have laying around.
We spent last week in Bogota, Colombia and surrounding areas. I worked during the day so only got to explore in the evenings/Saturday and all day Thursday when I took a vacation day from the job. Here are some pictures and words from the trip.
First a word about the flight. Word = Suck.
Spirit Airlines does indeed bill themselves as a “no-frills” airline, but when you have to fly an overnight flight in a 1980’s era 737 from Denver to Fort Lauderdale with the “coziness” (they say it is cozy to have no leg room and 6 seats to an isle) of Spirit you get a large dose of whoa.
And then of course there were delays, cranky passengers, cranky crew, sleep deprivation and exhaustion. But we did manage to get there in one piece.
After an exhausting taxi ride we arrived at our friends Clayton and Brit’s apartment in north central Bogota. Clayton is on sabbatical and Brit is working on her thesis, so they decided to spend the summer in Bogota to learn Spanish. They graciously invited us to come. Convenient for us to visit.
Bogota has a population of ~8 million people packed into a dense area at an elevation of 8600 feet above sea level. The place we stayed at was near the zona T in a fairly middle class neighborhood. There are several decent restaurants within walking distance as well as the Bogota Beer Company which brews an average take on pilsner and a maibok like beer that is about as dark as a South American beer will get.
The locals are fairly nice and congenial. People have a quite casual uniform featuring scarves and jeans. The women often sport ridiculously high heals. The city features a lot of sprawl and ugly architecture until you get to the “old town” or colonial center.
Great experience with some really nice people.
In 1962 my birth mother squirted me out into this strange world, naked, helpless and unable to provide for myself. I will probably exit this world in the same state. That is another discussion altogether.
A veritable boatload of things have happened since the time I was a little screaming titty babby. Let’s explore a few of them.
When I was born people made telephone calls on a land line connected solid based rotary telephone that was attached to the wall by a short cord. You dialed a seven digit number no matter where you were calling within a certain local calling district, or you dialed the American country code (1), an area code, plus the seven digit number if you were calling “long distance.” Calls to foreign locales where almost unheard of. Long distance calls were expensive and rare and often caused parents to scream about how they were not made of god damned money.
Now almost everyone has a computer/communications device that is way more powerful than the computers that put mankind on the moon in their pockets which they use to stare dumbly into all hours of the day, while texting one another with bad grammar, occasionally making actual telephone calls, looking at porn and cat pictures; all while the US government uses these devices to spy on its citizens in a clear and obvious violation of the fourth amendment that no one seems to give a shit about.
Getting from there to here in a little less than 50 years is amazing. Technological progress coupled with America’s unhinging and losing its collective shit after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have led us to a brave new world of fewer rights and greater technology.
America, Fuck Yeah
In my life so far I’ve “seen” the assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK, among others. The ongoing civil rights struggles and progress. Race riots in Watts, Detroit and Cleveland. The 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Watergate. Kent State. The demise of unions. The rise of an insane religious Christian right. Ronald Reagan starting the dismantling of the middle class, along with the Bushes, Clinton and Obama continuing the destruction. Joe Namath wearing panty hose on television. The steady gain of Gay rights. The decline of NASA and science. The steady decline of Constitutional rights. The glorification and embiggening of wacko American gun culture. The corporate takeover of Hippie, Disco, Punk and Skate culture. The demise of the Soviet Union. The rise of an elusive Terrorist “Threat.” The NSA and TSA. Politicians of both major parties just continuing being beholden to special interests and the money of the 1% who own their asses. The birth and decline of Occupy Wall Street. An ever increasing Oligarchy and last but not least the very real threat that we as a species will eliminate ourselves from the planet due to global climate change.
Over half a century and still no flying cars, hoverboards, sexbots, or unlimited leisure time due to automation. But, we work more, vacation less. We have over 300 channels of shit on teevee and endless choices of horrible cheap fast food to shove into our pie-holes, so we’ve got that going for us.
One constant over most of my years has been the skateboard toy. I’ve skated boards with steel wheels, clay wheels, saw the rise of urethane, the death of vert, the rise of street, and then the rebirth of vert. The rise of backyard ramps, the first wave of skateparks, the death of skateparks, the rise of street then the rebirth of skateparks. And now every John Doe seems to have his own pool or bowl in his backyard. Skateboarding is mainstream and corporate, but it is still fun. I’ve broken bones, skated well, skated badly and resigned myself to the fact that I can still skate, but not as hardcore as I once could. It is a fun thing to do.
Rock and or Roll
In April 1962, when I was hatched the top pop song according to Billboard’s Top 100 was ‘Johnny Angel’ by Shelley Fabares. The pop charts that year were dominated by the likes of Elvis Presely, Chubby Checker and Ray Charles. ‘Monster Mash’ was number one in October (cool).
The Beatles would have their first number one hit with ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ in 1964. The radio of my early days as dominated by my mother’s choices were usually Bobby Vinton, Johnny Mathis, Motown Girl groups, and whatever was on the pop stations.
I think that I started actively listening to radio when I was 8 or 9. I remember going to school one day and a classmate was bemoaning the fact that his sister had told him over breakfast that morning that some lady named Alice had knocked ‘American Pie’ off the top of the charts. I had to get home and tune up the radio to find out what was happening. Much to my surprise Alice wasn’t a lady, and the song rocked. The song was ‘Eighteen’. It seemed so odd in my little kid mind that a guy was singing about being eighteen years old and full of angst. I was still playing with Hot Wheels and riding bikes for fun. But, I dug the tune.
My father’s older brother has three sons who are around my age. When we would go visit them in rural northern Ohio I would love to go through their 45s. Their collection was always so much more expansive than mine. This is where I first heard the Rolling Stones, Jerry Reed, 5 Man Electric Band, War and the like.
My birth mother’s younger brother had a stereo up in his room while he was an angsty high school teenager. When we would visit my mom’s family I would often go into his room when he was away and put on his head phones and crank whatever he had on the 8-track player up to ten. This is where I first listened to “Dark Side of the Moon’. I was mesmerized. Then I found a tape on the floor called ‘Black Sabbath’. I put it in the player and rocked the fuck out for the entire album. From the first notes of ‘Black Sabbath’ to the time it got to the second song ‘The Wizard’ I had found something that moved me in a way the pop of the day did not. I remember listening to it all the way through then playing certain cuts over and over. I think I would have stayed up there all day listening except my grandmother called up the steps and said that she had made some nut roll — I wasn’t going to miss out on that stuff. The Croatian in me loves some nut roll.
Everything changed again when I bought the Ramones album and Duty Now for the Future by Devo. This lead to me getting into hardcore punk and some metal.
Rock music has gone through many stylistic changes. It has definitely become another tool of our corporate betters, but I’ve seen and heard some amazing stuff over my 50+ years. The highlights being 70 punk, American hardcore in the 80s, and bluegrass American roots music.
Blah Blah Blah
The world is a mess. We as a species may not be around for much longer, but hell, we’ve had a good ride. As Tom Tomorrow said in today’s comic: The world is a dark and chaotic place, devoid of meaning or hope, in which evil frequently triumphs and sociopathic brutality is the norm. Human beings are advised to find what small solace they can before tragedy inevitably overwhelms their insignificant lives.
Improv and Other
Editors Note: My wife does comedy improv, so I will start off by saying that I am biassed towards her acts, because duh. And they are also quite good.
I am a relative new comer to improvisational comedy. It never even crossed my sphere of existence until I started dating Amy, who would later become my wife. She, being entrenched in the scene led me to the entire experience.
The first show that I went to was at the Bovine Theater in downtown Denver. Amy has a two person show called “It’s All About Amy.” The joke is that she moderates the show about her own “past experiences” while the action is done by her partner, Jerod, who along with Amy is one of the most talented comedic actors in the Denver scene. You can find more at It’s All About Amy.
I started filming her shows and gathered a bit of knowledge about the art form from showing up and paying attention while filming. When I first started watching it was difficult for me in the sense that sometimes things seemed to lag. I’m just as guilty as anyone in the first world of having a short attention span. I’m working on the attention span thing. I like to think that I am still my own person and beyond the reach of soulless corporations who try to profit off me through a constant barrage of adverts and media blitzkrieg. Anyway, the lag issue went away when I tried to put myself in the actors shoes. Acting off the cuff for an hour and being funny doing so is a real talent. I have nothing but respect for anyone who can pull this off.
Amy has another show called ‘3 Blind Dates’ where three women enter a speed dating situation with three other people (usually three men, but they will also sometimes do same sex encounters). They switch between the three and then the audience picks out who should go out with who. The second half of the show consists of their various dates and results in a hilarious show which reaches a denouement of what happened after the date.
Great stuff. If you are not familiar with improv comedy check it out sometime. You will more than likely be pleasantly surprised.
Also, be sure to check out The Adventure Project, my beautiful wife’s other concern.
An Other Side Note
Last night after the 3 Blind Dates show ended I was sitting at the bar organizing my camera gear and having a beer. There was a group of women next to me shooting the shit. A male actor in one of the later shows dressed as a woman walks up to them out of the green room. I thought his costume was really great having just witnessed a female actor in 3 Blind Dates perform as a male. The guy in drag is talking to the ladies next to me and I just casually mentioned that everyone loves a bearded woman and his costume was exquisite. You would have thought that I pissed in his Cheerios by the reaction he had to my comment.
I’m not sure if the little millennial snowflake was offended that some old dude at the bar would dare speak to him, or if he was so wrapped up in his shitty little masquerade that any outside commentary would cause him to poop his trousers (or skirt in this case).
Anyway, junior, I suggest that if you want to be an actor you get a thicker skin or maybe bring your mommy to your shows to shield you from any “unpleasantness” in the form of an unsolicited comment from an old fart. Take a selfie and chill, or better yet eat a bag of salted rat dicks. Freaking millennials, just take off your god damned animal hats and grow a set. Everyone doesn’t get a trophy for every activity they do in the real world.
2 stalks celery
2 stalks kale
2 stalks red chard
Put in the juicer and drink it.
Skill is never a guarantee of success. Luck has more to do with anything than skill. Luck and who you know.
For every Starbucks or EOSHD.com there are a million failures littered all over the landscape.