The Future of Art, Selling Comics and Tales from a Smoker: My Bad Day

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Deciding I needed some inspiration and reflection this weekend I hit The Mall to take in some art museums. Stopped by the Freer, cut through the Enid A. Haupt garden and made my way to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, my favorite Smithsonian museum. I’m walking through the sculpture garden and I see these two kids, probably around 8 years old, run over to a sculpture and start kicking it and jumping on it while their parents laugh and video tape it. I was going to say something but decided that in some weird way, what the kids where doing could be interpreted as art and it would be a shame to interrupt. Plus, the father was a big dude.

The museum is very abstract, modern, minimal, etc. And I’m walking through one of the more minimal galleries this group of hick tourists are keeping up with me and the daughter kept commenting: “I can do that.” Finally, after hearing her say how she can do every painting in the museum, I turned to her and said, “But you didn’t.” She gives me a dirty look and walks on, silent this time.

It made me wonder. As America gets dumber, will we need to start dumbing down our art? Will every painting look like Thomas Kinkade, open to no interpretation and hacky as all fuck? Will we be able to interact with every sculpture so that it does more than just stand there? We already see how it happened in the music, film and cartooning industry. What about fine arts? Is that next? I don’t know, just found the whole experience kind of sad and inspiring in a different way than I originally hoped it to be. DC would be a great city if we didn’t have so many tourists in it; I think that’s my number one conclusion.

I’m selling a bunch of old comics on EBay, think of it as an experiment in how much they’re actually worth. So far I listed three lots, 61 Image comics, 34 Valiant comics and 110 DC comics. I have more coming.

Anyway, story time, as per some suggestions I’m going to do a themed week, Tales of a Smoker. Enjoy…

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I used to be a smoker. I started in High School and despite many protests from family and friends, the habit continued for years, up until two and a half years ago when Robin and I quit cold turkey.

Like all smokers I used to quit once every two or three months. It was the same old story, you wake up and cough up a lung, reach for the cigarettes because they made it so you’d stop coughing, pause for a moment and say, “What am I doing? Is this how men are supposed to live?” Throw away the pack, say that’s it. Buy some gum and a package of Entenmann’s Doughnuts – the variety pack with the plain, chocolate, powdered and crumb. Last for a day before you bum one off your friend. An hour later you’re so enraged that you cheated and need a cigarette to cope with it. Two hours later you just say “fuck it” and buy a pack.

All through college and almost three years out of college it was the same thing over and over. There was this one time, however, I seriously considered quitting. This wasn’t a health thing or a money thing – my decision was brought about not by the sword but by the pen. The digital pen of a man called Guam.

It was a typical morning. Woke up too late to go to class, had a cigarette and got some breakfast in the Towers dining hall. A tomato and cheese omelet, most likely, since that was what I got every morning. Accompanied it with a tall glass of chocolate milk, the occasionally cup of coffee.

On my way to what was supposed to be my second class of the day, I see my friend Chris. Chris and I were good friends Junior year, we had every class together and hung out quite frequently outside of class.

“Hey Chris, what’s up?”

“Nothing. Cocksucker.”

“Come again?”

“Why don’t you go kill some more people cocksucker.”

He walks away, leaving me confused. I go into class and find that Chris wasn’t the only one spitting venom in my direction – everyone was. I was getting called “filthy smoker” and “murderer”. There was a jokey feeling to it all but I didn’t get the punch line. This was me, lovable Jason, friend to all. The guy that walked around campus in my pajamas and robe with a pipe and a coffee cup and knew everybody. Always got the big smile and hello. A kiss from every girl and a pound from every guy. I was king pimp and apparently my most loyal subjects have turned against me and I didn’t know why.

I believe it was Andy that showed me this article. The article which ran in the BU student paper, The Daily Free Press. In the Op-Ed section, home of some of the best humor writers in the school, guaranteeing that it was the only section of the paper that was read by all 30,000 students every morning. Guam’s collaborative article with Greg was particularly popular, Two Blue Monkeys, a humorous point-counter-point often over the top and outlandish.

The article said that the only way to stop smoking was to be a complete and total asshole to a different smoker each day. Starting with me. All of my friends, coworkers and acquaintances. And you know what? Even though it was done in light-hearted fun, it almost worked. There’s something about everyone telling you you’re flawed, even in a joking manner. It was like a school-wide intervention.

As the day went on, though, and everyone finished getting their jokes in and their last licks the sensation faded a bit. I didn’t smoke much that day, though, because every time I lit up someone started in with the hate.

I think the real punch line to this story is how serious this douchebag took the article. Actually taking Guam's article serious and saying how smokers get a bad rap. Today, August 1st, we’re taking a stand against stupid douchebags and if anyone knows who Craig Penno is, graduated from the Boston University School of Communication in 2000, please ostracize him. As a matter of fact, let’s ostracize him this whole month. Don’t even tell him why. Douchebags don’t deserve to know

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Self-Pimp and Pictorial Adventure #2

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Here’s the Thing… #6 – The Only Thing Holding you back is Yourself
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Six Months. Technically half-way through the blovel. And I say technically because I’m considering adding another month, I have plenty of stories to tell. Anyway, I did this at three months, threw up pictures relating to stories or people in stories. Some of you may say this is lazy and not truly story-telling but it takes a lot longer to do one of these (I’ve got the whole story writing thing down to under ten minutes a night – it’s amazing how quick you write when it becomes routine).

I like the picture posts because it serves as a nice jumping on point for new readers (although I do have the “best of” now). It also validates my stories; at least you don’t think they’re all complete bullshit. That’s the same thought process behind the obsessive back-linking – if I’m making shit up then I had this whole thing planned for years the way the stories cross.

Anyway, I’m just rambling. Pictures!

1) No story here, just thought you’d like to see my baby-ass. 2) The Woodhull Street crew. Steven, Bobbie, Mita, Louie and Me from left to right. 3) Roots, bitch. Roots. 4) Another picture of The Coat (first picture here). This time you can see more of the trench action.



I did a week of Birthday stories in February so here are some pics to accompany them. First two are apparently a couple of cakes I forgot to mention. 1) The awesome Muppet cake, probably inspired by my huge collection of Muppet puppets. 2) Apparently Rob Liefeld got his start doing Super Friends’ cakes at Carvel.



The next three are from the McDonalds birthday party at the worst McDonalds of all time. Funny thing here, go look at the comments from that story and check out the funniest comment ever. I actually got a sincere apology from a McDonalds’ manager. 1) The Cabbage Patch Kid football cake. 2) The apple pie tree that did nothing except be a big plastic stupid tree. 3) The main attraction – Hamburglar Head.



1) My Sister having a blast in Florida. 2) Mets’ fans for life, bitch. 3) Grandma’s old backyard. 4) Uncle Mike and I on my Confirmation.



Three more. We got 1) The Moose warming up. That’s B with the glasses and Squee with the hat backwards. 3) G and I were fashion whores Freshman year in High School. 2) This picture is from the greatest Christmas ever when I got the complete series of Star Wars figure from Santa Claus but he hid them on me behind the couch. The only one he didn’t hide was Snaggle Tooth, who I am holding right there.



Half-way through, you guys having fun yet? Got some good stories coming up, I need to get back on the summer of 423, I know that, and I really need to hit my sexually awkward stories because they’re embarrassing but funny as fuck. As a matter of fact, I think Monday will be about the Prospect Park debacle. Yes…yes…

That you all for reading, seriously. It makes it worth it. The traffic has its highs and its lows but it’s good enough to keep me doing this. Just keep reading, keep commenting (or sending emails) and if you see a story you like, send it to a friend. And for God’s sake, people, keep it real.

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Lateral Writing and Da Don Dada

Little writing thing before the story. I just finished a three night class at the Smithsonian on Mental Calisthenics. It was co-taught by a researcher at the National Institute of Aging, the editor for the Newsday crossword puzzle and a member of the US Puzzle Team that played in the international championship for the past 4 years (he’s four years younger than me – nuts).

Anyway, it was all about increasing memory reserves and trying new puzzles to keep yourself sharp. The first day was dedicated to lateral thinking problems; the second day was all crosswords and yesterday was all non-word problems. The lateral thinking stuff I found particularly interesting as a writer and editor.

These puzzles are the one were you have an MC that gives you a situation and by asking the MC yes and no questions about the scenario you need to solve the puzzle. The key is to ignore all of your preconceived notions. So one problem would be “A man pushes his car up to a hotel and realizes he’s bankrupt.” You ask yes and no questions and it turns out that the man was playing monopoly. Another example would be “A man lives on the 13th floor of his apartment building. On rainy days he takes the elevator all the way up to the 13th floor. On the other days, he takes the elevator up to the 7th floor and the stairs up to the 13th.” You ask yes and no questions and it turns out the man is a midget that can’t reach the buttons past the seventh floor but on rainy days he uses his umbrella to hit it.

Anyway, I realized that these lateral thinking puzzles are a lot like plotting a story. A lot of the time we have a beginning and an end and we need to find a way to get there that makes sense. And in order to throw the reader off, we need to drop all of our preconceived notions and make the solution interesting and exciting instead of straight forward.

I started thinking up some of my own lateral puzzle problems (one of them led to a campy story about a vampire robbing a blood bank that I’m actually trying to find an angle on) and I realized that: 1) Everyone should do this. Try to come up with a fun ending and turn it into a puzzle, it’s a good pre-writing workout and 2) I think I might want to MC a weekly Mental Calisthenics thread somewhere in an effort to help aspiring writers and just sort of have some fun trying to stump people. I don’t know, could be fun. Just would need a place to host it.

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I remember when the lambada first started getting some serious press in NYC. There were all of these articles about “dirty dancing” and people practically having sex on the dance floor – the usual media hype.

One Friday my family was at Grandma’s house, like we were every Friday growing up, and they were all discussing the lambada. My family, being of Puerto Rican descent, couldn’t understand what was wrong with the traditional dances – the salsas and the merengues that already had an innocent but notable level of sexual connotation (truth is, it was the American bastardization of the lambada that made it more sexual than the Brazilian original).

Anyway, as we were discussing my Aunt Lisa jumps in and, being the youngest of my father’s siblings and quite hip, informs the rest of us that if we think the lambada is bad, we should see this reggae thing that’s hitting the clubs.

I couldn’t have been older than 12 at this point, the Lambada movie came out in 1990 and I know this was before that, so my familiarity with this “reggae thing” wouldn’t come for another two years at the age of 14, when all of us kids that frequented teen clubs learned how to dry hump on a crowded dance floor whenever they spun Cutty Ranks’ “Limb by Limb”.

Man – teenagers and reggae is not a healthy combination. It wasn’t even dancing or anything remotely close. It was a matter of how far you can shove your thigh up some girl’s crotch.

A good dancer was someone who was able to make the jeans obsolete, place the thigh bone securely between the labia* while still providing significant pressure to the clitoris.

A great dancer was one that can hump her leg at the same time and get your self some.

And Da Don Dada was one that did it while singing “Murder She Wrote” by Chaka Demus & Pliers**.

And, let me tell you, I was the Da Don Dada once. I don’t brag about my sex life, if anything I openly admit to the fact that I am awkward with my rare shining moment that is generally eclipsed by all of the embarrassing moments. But this one day on the dance floor will be one of the few sexual accomplishments I will brag about.

Because I got her off. And even if she was lying or just trying to be cool, it doesn’t matter to me, because the only evidence I have is that she went through the motions and said she came while dancing with me. Buju Banton’s Champion was on and I had that god-damn thigh wedged tight, angled just right, mixing up the motions on the clit and wham-o, like that she spat fire on my leg and I was indeed a Champion, somewhere in Jamaica an angel got its wings.

Age 14. The girl was talked about before. As mentioned, she said I was a good dancer. But in retrospect, I was Da Don Dada.

* Uh…If you’re not at work please do a google search on "ancient art of labia stretching" and please tell me what the fuck is up with that? What “tribes” partook in this “ancient art”? I gotta start using that. “No, honey, it’s the ancient art of money shots. It’s your roots.”

**Does anyone know have a copy of “Bam Bam”, the “Murder She Wrote” B-side? It’s not on Real Player On Demand and I’m jonesing.

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Level Sands and The Force was With Us

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I just realized I forgot to plug Lone and Level Sands by A. David Lewis. I actually picked this up at WW Philly but didn’t read it until a month ago. I’m going to preface this by saying that it is not the best comic you can possibly read, I feel like it's more rewarding the more familiar you are with the source material, but I have a strong love for all sorts of religion, especially Judaism and Catholicism (although my tastes lean more towards historical religion) and this book was right up my alley. It’s the tale of Moses and Pharaoh but what makes it super interesting and such a great take on the text is that Pharaoh is portrayed as this man that takes his punishment from God and tries to remain a good man to his family and kingdom throughout. Such a great take on the story, I loved it, and you should read it if you have any interest in the source material.

Story time…
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Following yesterday’s lining up story, I was one of the tens-of-thousands of dorks that camped out for Episode I tickets back in the day. A far cry from Celtics-Bulls tickets, I’ll give you that.

This is actually one of my favorite stories and I’m very surprised I haven’t told it yet – I actually needed to double-check and make sure. It takes place right after the first time Robin and I hung out (my version her version). I was sitting in the cafeteria with my friend Akiva when he asked me if I wanted to camp out for Star Wars tickets. I mean, why not? It was only the middle of finals’ week, what’s wrong with an all-nighter hanging out with a bunch of dorks in Jedi costumes?

We decide to do it, round up a couple of more people and pack some bags with books to study, food, and booze. We get to the movie theater and we’re the third group online, within the next four hours or so the line extends around the block.

I tried to study. Really, I did. I re-read some stuff and went over the homework. But this wasn’t a line – this was a god-damn party. Everyone was drinking, smoking weed – people making out in dark corners. Word got out that we were lining up and guys came by in cars and yelled “dorks” and got a response they probably never expected. Rocks and empty bottles of scotch and beer flying towards their car while a bunch of “dorks” bum-rushed them. They peeled out of that bitch.

It wasn’t even a Star Wars line. I’ve seen the videos – they dress in costumes and play board games and card games and stuff. We had women flashing us for shots of Jack. This was a college party down in the streets of Copley Square. We were running out of alcohol as the night progressed and had to send people to get back-up before package stores closed. And as the party grew, my need to study for the test slowly went away.

We didn’t sleep. At around 4 or 5 AM this girl from the news came down to do a story on us. She asks if anyone wants to be interviewed and I just ran up to her, ready for prime-time (or day-time, technically).

Some kid ran up to me and handed me his toy lightsaber. The newswoman smiles and starts the interview.

“How long have you been on line?”

“Like twelve hours, maybe?”

“Twelve-hours! And what motivated you to do this?”

“Oh, man, this is Star Wars, baby. This is like…my childhood, you know what I’m saying?”

“And what’s this you have here?” (motioning to my lightsaber)

“Oh man, this is the lightsaber I use when I’m fighting off the evil Jedis that try to cut in front of me on line.”

I then begin drunkenly swinging the lightsaber around, making fake lightsaber noises.

A couple of hours later I leave the line so I can take a nap before my exam. Akiva is fine with purchasing the tickets.

I get into my class, feeling like shit, and sit down to take my final. My teacher walks in, gives the exams to the TA who begins to hand them out and says:

“Good luck, everybody. And Jason, may the force be with you. You’re going to need it.”

Turns out my little clip was not just on the news that morning, but I was actually the guy they showed on the promo piece.

Promo guy: Coming up, on morning news…

Cut to me playing with the lightsaber.

Newscaster: Coming up, after the break…

Me: I’m fighting off evil Jedis.

It wasn’t my proudest moment but it’s definitely one of my favorite stories.

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Lining Up

Monday, July 25, 2005

At the top of the page there is a link to the new introduction and the new “Best of” page. Phase I of the new site layout. The rest will be coming throughout the week.

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Back in the day, I used to be a basketball fan. A lot of us used to be, actually. You know, white people. It’s a dying breed now, the occasional fan left such as writer extraordinaire Jay Busbee but for the most part, they’re few and far between.

Michael Jordan left and, in my opinion, every franchise tried to bank on what Michael stood for but got it all wrong. Every franchise tried to get their flashy players not realizing that Michael was more than just panache, the man played with his team and his very existence made them all better players. So Michael left and the NBA slowly tanked and the Lakers’ debacle was followed by the even more embarrassing Olympics brain-damage and basketball, for most of us, might as well be as dead as hockey.

But I got to see him play once. The great Michael Jordan. Opening day against the Celtics, in Boston, second-to-last row of the Fleet Center on the foul line. Some of the worst seats one could get but I didn’t care. The man was pure energy, 80% of the stadium cheering for him, not the Bulls or the Celtics.

We actually camped out for these seats. Showed up at the Fleet Center at 10PM the night before they went on sale at 9AM. We had blankets, pillows, jackets, thermoses for our coffee and flasks for our whisky that we put in the coffee. And we drank all night while playing cards and slap-boxing, about the five-hundredth party on the line and excited that we would absolutely get good seats to see Jordan.

R, my lady at the time, was camping out with us mainly because she had nothing better to do. This worked to my advantage because I was broke as no joke and R had some cash to spare – she was going to buy the tickets for the two of us.

At 8AM or so we all start standing up and getting stretched out for when the line starts to move. R gives me her ATM card and tells me to go get the money out.

“Do you know the code?”

“Sure.”

I go to the ATM and the line is out the door and snaked up the block. After waiting for a half-hour or so, I finally get to the machine, put the card in and punch in the code.

INCORRECT PIN – PLEASE TRY AGAIN

I was tired; I probably just put the wrong pin-number in. So I reenter it.

INCORRECT PIN – PLEASE TRY AGAIN

That’s funny. Oh! It was the cousin’s birthday, that’s right. Not her birthday.

INCORRECT PIN – (Something about three strikes and I’m out and now the card’s being destroyed.)

And I stared at the machine in horror. I picked up the emergency phone they have next to the ATM machine and I demand that the lady spit the card back or else, “My girlfriend is going to fucking kill me.” She apologizes and tells me that a new one is being mailed out and I should have it in 5-7 business days.

I try to think up excuses – I was mugged. The card fell out of my hand and disappeared in a small gap between the ATM machine and the wall. I dropped it in a sewer. After five minutes of coming up with the worst excuses possible, I returned to the line and decided to fess up.

I’m not sure exactly what I said but I’m pretty sure this is what she heard: “Hey honey. After spending the entire night in the freezing cold watching me and my friends get drunk and slap-box the night away I decided the best way to thank you would be to cut off your money supply for the next 5-7 business days.”

Needless to say she was enraged. I weathered through the storm, however, and one of my friends spotted us money for the tickets (and the seats sucked thanks to scalpers and ticket agencies buying them up) and I pretty much just gave her the cash I had in my bank account because I felt so bad. I think one of our “breaks” came from the whole ordeal but those things only lasted until lunch-time the next day when we were both feeling ripe for a nooner.

And when it comes down to it, I got to see Jordan play. And in the end, that’s all that really mattered.

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SDCC Story and No Knees on Muppets

Comic-Con story, real quick. Some guy comes up to our booth wearing black jeans, a black shirt and this wizard robe. He’s completely unresponsive to everything I’m saying, not even looking at me, as he uses his right hand to flip through Western Tales of Terror (his left hand stays hidden beneath his robe the entire time). After being awkwardly silent for five minutes, he looks at me and says, “I don’t like the art” and begins to walk away. I turn to Josh and say, “Hey, Josh, the Level 3 Wizard doesn’t like the art in Western Tales.” I always find it funny when someone in a costume comes up to the booth. At Mid-Ohio we had a Storm Trooper inquiring about Elk’s Run, one of my favorite con moments of all time.

So weird - it's been almost 6 months since I've been doing this site and last night I completly forgot to do my story or even plan for it. If it feels rushed I apologize, tomorrow's will be super bang-up.

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In sophomore year of college we had a kid on our floor named Eric. Eric had several things going for him that made him the butt of our jokes.

For starters, he walked like he had no knees. If you try to walk without bending your knees, you’ll notice that it takes a lot of effort. Since Eric always walked this way, and it is unfathomable to believe that this was a conscious decision, we decided that he obviously has no knees. So, one of his many nicknames became No-Knees, logically.

The second target was his laugh. He looked like a Muppet when he laughed. When Eric found something funny, he would first open his mouth wide and scrunch his face, hold it there for a second. His head would then violently thrust around, his face still frozen in a gaping grimus, with no sound coming out. So, another one of his nicknames became Muppet.

And whereas there were additional humorous, minor traits that went along with Eric, the one that endeared the most to the pranksters and jokers within us was that Eric was absolutely clueless and never realized that we were making fun of him. Even when we were doing it right in front of his face.

The realization came when we were sitting in the lobby one day and Nico comes running over, half smiling, all excitement.

“Eric, man, you like reggae?”

“Uh…a little.”

“You gotta hear this.”

We all go into Nico’s room and he’s playing this Bob Marley derivative of some sort. It’s an ok song and Nico is sort of bouncing to it, smiling, obviously hiding something. The song is called “No Need”, it turns out, and when the chorus picks up Nico starts singing:

I have, no knees, to rely on.
I have, no knees, to walk with.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no knees…


His parody version of the song was being sung loud and clear as day. Everyone on the room, except for Eric, is laughing. Eric is just sort of bouncing his head and smiling in approval of that song. And at that moment, we realized Nico struck gold.

Max and I were sitting in the lounge one night, studying with a couple of other people, when Eric comes over. Instantly Max begins to talk about Muppets. He’s telling us how funny he finds Muppets, especially their laughs, and he imitates a Muppet’s laugh, looking exactly like Eric’s laugh. We all start to laugh, including Eric – who does the same exact laugh Max just did.

The repeat of the laugh sends us into a fury of uncontrollable laughter which feeds Eric’s laughing which in turn feeds our laughing. In between laughing fits we press on, saying how Muppets walk like they have no knees and continuously imitating the Muppet laugh. We must have done this for an hour, Eric present and laughing the whole time, and apparently never catching on.

From that moment on, every time Eric was present the conversation switched to Muppets and No Knees and he laughed along with the rest of us.

The following year we learned that the new freshman on the floor just didn’t get it and started calling Eric “No Knees” to his face, effectively killing all of the jokes potential.

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Self-Pimp and My Blow-Up Romance

Friday, July 22, 2005

Little self-promotion: a new Here’s the Thing is up. This one is all about image and why you need to work on yours.

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Jesus Christ MegaStar was the brainchild of Guam and I. I talked a bit about it earlier on, essentially it was a one man show marketed as a larger show to trick the audience into believing the star of the show, me, hijacked the play. But even saying it was a one man show is a bit of a stretch because as the play went on different characters were added.

Quentin, the keyboardist, became a character with lines and many funny bits. Dan, who was originally supposed to be Jesus according to the playbill, got shoehorned into the roll of an apostle, a donkey, a Pharisee and finally Judas. Pat, the “director”, played a couple of bit parts before becoming Pilate. Guam was a plant in the audience who played the roll of the preacher at the end that brought the whole play together. Even the stage hand played a roll, disgruntled and throwing props at me as the show went on.

And then there was Mary Magdalene. Mary was a blow-up doll, purchased at a sex shop, voiced off-stage by Pat, wearing Old Navy track pants and a gap sweater. During my first month of this blovel, way before anyone was reading, I posted this track which was the Mary Magdalene/Jesus song Forbidden Love. Guam is actually doing Mary’s part for the CD recording since he was originally supposed to play the director.

Anyway, if you listen to the track you’ll get a taste of how offensive the play was.

Guam and I had to purchase the blow-up doll and we went to sex shop on Newbury to see what they had in stock. We had to choose between the black doll, the Asian doll and the white doll and we decided on the white doll since it was the most hideous. See:


Two guys walking up to the counter and placing the doll down caused the woman to raise her eyes a bit, probably thinking we were going to have the worst threesome of all time.

“It’s for a play,” I told her as she silently nodded her head, not believing a word of it.

We took it back to my place and blew it up. As soon as it was filled I instantly put my hand in the vagina and realized that there is no way anyone can find this hot. It’s plastic and way too expandable. Put some lube on it and it might compare to a sixty year old woman that had ten kids.

The boobs were hysterical – they were an a-cup at most, in case you had a thing for flat women. The fact that she had a poop-shoot and mouth was even funnier, since there was no physical difference between them and the foyer. She was shaved down below, as well, which really meant they saved a penny on paint.

Her face sort of looked like an alien and she had this butch-lesbian haircut. When I first realized how butch she looked I had this funny image in my head of a desperate lesbian trying to get hot with a blow-up doll. It still makes me laugh to this day.

We had to take it to the stage. Part of the charm of this play was that the stage was actually an amphitheater sized classroom – it really added to the fact that this was going to be a lot more low-budget than we advertised it to. So essentially, we had to store this blow-up doll and the rest of our props in a storage room behind a classroom, where teachers kept supplies and what not.

The day we carried the blow-up doll over also happened to be the day our props people finished creating our 8-foot cross. So here we are, walking through the streets of Boston (Bay State Road, no less, filled with college students), Guam carrying bags filled with costumes and a clothed blow-up doll, me dragging an 8-foot tall wooden cross.

Needless to say, everyone got out of our way and stared at us in horror, some laughed.

Once the play was over there was always the question of what we were to do with the blow-up doll. Despite Robin’s protests, we kept it at my place for a while, occasionally changing her clothes for a couple of laughs.

One night I actually stared at it, while alone, and wondered what it would feel like. I mean, people actually use these, you know, it can’t be that bad. Thankfully I resisted the urge – I think I would be pretty embarrassed with my self if I gave it a shot, especially with a girlfriend that lived across the street that was a quick booty-call away.

When we moved out I got rid of the doll – deflated her and put her in the recycling bin. I had a good semester with Mary around, but that part of my life was over and it was time to move on. Mary will be missed, but I take pleasure in knowing that she may become part of some fanboy’s costume. And knowing that, I wish I did have sex with it, because the thought of some fanboy’s Batman costume at one point being humped by me really makes me smile.

Here’s a little bonus for you, the Jesus Mon track. This is where the Pharisees, played by Dan and I, plot the Last Supper.

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Help Me and The Harshest Critic

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Can someone please recommend me some good comics? I got my stash today and with the exception of Y I just skimmed through them all. What am I missing, please, tell me. Tell me something I’m missing in the comments section. Or over email. Please. Just throw out a comic I may not be reading that you’re enjoying. All the good stuff, it seems, I get irregularly when I play catch up at cons.

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Following yesterday’s story and putting the humor back in…

Back in High School I went to my first Patterns meeting after my teacher recommended two of my poems for the anthology. I was nervous going in; the president of the group was this senior that wrote some vicious stuff as I remember it. Of course, I didn’t know shit about poetry then and still don’t; his “vicious stuff” was probably just one of the millions of e.e.cummings’ clones you encounter in high school and college.

“Ohhhh…look how he put that period in between the ‘sk’ and the ‘y’. It symbolizes how the sky was only partially blue, perhaps his psyche interrupting him and letting him now that all is not well as the speaker perceives it.”

My hatred for bad poetry is second only to my hatred for bad improv.

Regardless of what his writing was really like, he was hot-shit in the Midwood High writing community. You know what it’s like? It’s like when you’re trying to break into comics and you meet someone who says they were published and shows you his book and it looks like ass but who cares, he’s published! As you make it further and further you realize that for most people, published means they had their work printed on some form of paper or the internet, even if they did everything themselves and never sold a solitary issue.

That’s what Patterns was like. A bunch of people that have been “published” in a high school poetry anthology that's only bought by people that are in it. Put a bunch of those people in a room and you have ego-trumping for an hour.

My poems were set up to be read that day but there was one poem before me. This girl is reading it, not the writer (the writer wasn’t present) and the poem was decent as I remember it. I t(hin)k the wri(te)r made gre(a)t use of par(enth)esis to reall(y) say som(e(t)hin)g to the re(ader). (Did I mention I hate bad poetry, yet?).

Anyway she read the poem and some people clapped and the main guy, the king shit, looked over inquisitively and said, “Let me see that.”

The girl hands it to our exalted leader as he looks at it for a moment, stands up, and hacks the biggest loogie possible right onto the page.

And then rips it in half.

And then drops it to the ground.

And then steps on it.

Repeatedly.

And my first thought was, “Woah, that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” And my second thought was, “Fuck, I’m next.” But it went fine, both of my poems were accepted and I made it into their little clique.

Now, whereas the spitting on someone’s work thing is most likely the dorkiest, egotistical, and most unprofessional response I’ve ever seen – it was pretty friggin’ funny and I use it whenever I can, albeit jokingly. I used a variation of it once in college when a friend of mine asked me to look at his term paper. After reading it, I pulled out my lighter, set it on fire and threw it at him. He jumped out of the way and screamed, “What the fuck?”

“It was good,” I responded. “I like the whole ‘pushing up the timetable of the Apocalypse’ theory. It was a really strong point.”

We both just laughed. Because, you see, it’s funny as a joke. But in retrospect, that dude at the Pattern’s meeting was insane. As was I, for thinking that he was cool.

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Pics, Skyscrapers and Proof that I'm an Asshole

Got some CCI pics starting to circulate, some of which feature me. Here are some from Josh’s camera – notice my awesome “Future is bright” pose. Also some from Flippersmack which features my favorite – my shocked expression while staring at Josh’s crotch. Speaking of Flippersmack, starting this Friday my Here’s the Thing… article will be posted to there as well as the DCC blog. Little exposure never hurt nobody. I went ahead and wrote first drafts for the next three: improving your image, how to conduct business behind the booth and when someone’s using in a bad way as opposed to an acceptable way. Should be fun.

Also, I read AdHouse’s Skyscrapers of the Midwest. I dug it, quite a bit, although it seems to hit its stride a lot more in the second issue. I don’t need to give it a glowing review, however, because it comes with the best endorsement any book can get. Robin read it from cover to cover. Robin, who has yet to finish a comic because she finds them juvenile or just plain boring, who has tried to read Fables, Sandman, True Story Swear to God, Trenches, Invincible, Blankets and Maus and has rarely made it past a few pages, read and LIKED Skyscrapers of the Midwest. I’ll be bringing my copies to this Sunday’s DCC jam for whoever wants to borrow it.

Finally, congrats to artist Jason Copland and his wife on their new son, Stewart. He's a cutie.

Story time…

_________________

Sophomore year in High School I took my first creative writing course. It was an advanced course and you to apply to get in by writing a couple of creative essays. I was psyched to get in, obviously, and began a year that in retrospect taught me that I am an ugly person inside.

All of our papers were anonymous. With every assignment the class would choose their favorite story and the top three vote-getters would read in front of the class. With my first assignment I went for the cheap shot and wrote about Stephen. It got the most votes and I read it in front of the class. A bunch of people actually cried. And just like that an egotistical monster was born. Months back Chris Fabulous made a comment on this site how “Hitting an emotional note writing about the holocaust is no more of an accomplishment than hitting a home run in tee ball.” Writing a story about my eleven year old cousin dying of AIDS in front of a bunch of people I didn’t know is the same thing.

With every single assignment I was one of the top-two vote-getters. Every poem, short story, essay – didn’t matter. I started really letting myself go, dropping the f-bomb left and right in my stories and just doing really cheap tear-jerkers and excessive dramas. And the teacher loved me and was a bit more lenient with what I could get away with - I actually wrote a one-page short with a detailed rape-description. It was really all shock, no content.

It got so bad that one student wrote a story about how it’s unfair that I can get away with what I’m doing whereas he gets points taking off for cursing because it’s “gratuitous” when he does it. He was a top three vote getter so he got to read it to the whole class. Meanwhile, I was reading a story about a Vietnam-vet that tortures a “gook” for shits and giggles. The story has no moment of redemption; the vet is practically the hero simply for shock value. The punch-line? The kid that wrote about me was Vietnamese and had to follow my story.

And the ego grew.

And then this girl, Melissa, wrote this story about her family. And it was long. And it was safe. And it was boring. It was about twenty pages long. And she was top-three. But she got a bad grade from the teacher which prompted her to write reaction paper after reaction paper which, according to the rules, were also to be read in front of the class.

Our teacher gave her an entire class to read her story followed by discussion – I never got anything close to that. I sat in the back of the class, pissed off that this apparently talent-less hack, never a top-three vote getter, was getting all of this attention.

So I wrote about her. And it was nasty. And not only was it nasty but it made me look like a complete and total asshole. It still will, despite the fact I was a fifteen year old brat when I wrote this, I am still to this day embarrassed by it and embarrassed to show it. Observe what happens when one ego-trips, and his first attempts at competitive writing are highly praised:


Pretty bad, huh? I’m better now, trust me. I have a lot of stories about Creative Writing and joining Patterns, the school’s yearly poetry anthology. I honestly think that Creative Writing courses (and the subsequent workshops and writing groups that followed) combined with that poetry group is the reason my writing turned to shit in college and I ultimately led to revelation that I’m writing about the wrong stuff.

I have nothing against creative writing courses. But from Junior Year in college and on I opted for a mentor. Workshops, classes and group discussions, for me, absolutely destroy my creativity by turning me into a huge, egotistical jerk.

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Chicago Plans and The Truth About Fireworks

Monday, July 18, 2005

A day after the San Diego convention and I made my Chicago arrangements. I’ll be at Wizard World Chicago Friday and Saturday, August 5th and 6th, most likely roaming. Jay Busbee, Jorge Vega and I were going to split an artist alley table but none of us actually reserved it and after this past weekend, I wouldn’t even want to sit behind a table. I’d rather chill my ass off. I’m not staying by the convention, I’ll be at the Four-Points Sheraton down on the Miracle Mile so Robin can shop while I con.

I’m preparing my next Here’s the Thing article tonight. It’s about image (not the company). Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy – San Diego was an eye-opener. On that note, story time…

__________________________

This story is two weeks late but I was on my vacation on the Fourth of July and Guam did a story instead. So, two weeks later you’re going to get my collection of fireworks stories.

We were stupid kids when it came to fireworks. We used to buy them in the backroom of this convenience store across from our junior high school. The owner would look us over, make sure we were on the up-and-up and shuffle us into the back to show us what he had. We’d buy some of the small stuff – the bottle-rockets, jumping jacks, ladyfingers and roman candles – but even more of the big boys – M80s, blockbusters, pineapples and the occasional watermelon bomb. For those that don’t know, the big fireworks I just mentioned where eighth, quarter, half and three-quarter sticks of dynamite, respectively.

We’d blow up dog shit with the M80s, phone booths with the watermelon bombs. Everything in between with the other sticks.

We were equally destructive with the other shit we bought but for some reason we didn’t see the danger in what we were doing with them. We’d light jumping jacks and throw them down people’s pants as a joke. We’d put bottle-rockets in the air hole of whiffle ball bats and run around the neighborhood firing them at each other, playing war games. We’d stand in a circle, light a roman candle and lay it on the ground and try to dodge the fireballs that shot at us while the candle-stick danced across the floor.

We’d try to shoot Roman Candle fireballs through small spaces. Like partially open windows to people’s apartments. We’d go into deserted houses armed to the teeth with the big boomers and just blow up walls and whatever else we could find. We’d light repeaters up (the things that shoot a variety of fireballs into the air) and take turns jumping over it, trying to time our jump so that we don’t get hit by concentrated fire. We’d lay an old metal garbage can, mouth down, over a pineapple or watermelon bomb and watch whatever is left of it launch into the sky while shrapnel from the base shot-out in all directions.

Garbage cans were fun for tons of reasons, actually. The old metal ones are great for destruction – we’d start a fire in one and just throw random fireworks into it. M80s blowing up, fireballs and skyrockets shooting out of it.

We were even destructive with sparklers – we’d play this game that was sort of like tag except you had to tag people with the burning end of a sparkler before it went out. And there was a much smaller boundary and no place to hide, usually, so if someone set their sites on you – you were fucked. We’d go home with burns all over our arms.

The amazing part? Despite years of experimenting with the destructive nature of fireworks, none of us ever got hurt (not counting the occasional burn). But nothing that ever deformed us or left lasting repercussions. It kind of makes me laugh when I hear people get all worked up over how dangerous fire-works are and why they should be illegal. Shit, we were trying to hurt ourselves and we turned out fine. Kids – there’s nothing funnier than putting an M80 in a steaming pile of dog shit and it’s safe despite what your parents say. Just light it and run away, that’s all.

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Back from Cali and The Last Date

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Guess who’s back?

The California trip went great, got some good rest. Had a blast in San Francisco, I still hate LA and San Diego was mainly taken up with the convention which was fun but painfully tiring. Got to hang out with plenty of cool cats behind the booth on both Friday and Saturday, we had an impressive signing line-up. It was inspiring talking to some of these guys and just seeing them do their thing. I got to watch Phil Hester sketch, talk to Stuart Moore about working on Firestorm, hear Scott Mills tell me about what he’s lining up and stare in awe while Juan Ferreyra drew heavily detailed drawings for people and that was just four of the guys we had behind the booth.

Hopefully I’ll have some good stuff to talk about in the coming weeks. I will quickly direct you to the column on Kids and Comics I contributed to over at Buzzscope. And for everyone waiting on an email from me, it’s coming, I promise.

I want to thank everyone who took time from their day and wrote some of the great stories that graced the site over the past two weeks. I enjoyed them, I hope all of you did as well and it gave me the chance to get my own shit together. I made a list of over a hundred stories I want to tell and I’ll start today’s with a nice follow-up to Robin’s story on Friday. It’s been talked about twice already so I should probably get down to it and tell you all about my blind-date that took place after Robin and I hooked up for the first time…

_________________

…my first and only blind-date, I should add. It was a nightmare and I probably deserved it. In my defense, I didn’t really want to go after hooking up with Robin but I already made plans and thought I’d be an asshole if I cancelled them.

Let’s get this out of the way right now, I met her online. I know, I know, all of the cool points I’ve been racking up have just been halved. Everyone told me not to do it but I didn’t care. Me and this girl, whose name I’ve forgotten, we had a connection, you see? I don’t remember what message board we met on, but I’m sure I was passionate about it and I don’t remember what our IM (and subsequent phone) conversations where about but they must have been substantial. This one night, we talked on the phone for three hours. Three whole hours! About…stuff.

We made plans to go to a Red Sox game which is a horrible idea for a pseudo-blind date. The next day I get a call from the girl and she asks if I ordered the tickets yet. After I tell her that I have not, she asks if two of her friends can come along, some chick whose name I forget and the chick’s boyfriend. I completely understand that she may feel a bit uneasy about meeting a stranger and I agree to order two extra tickets.

I never asked to see a picture of her. If she offered one up, I would have gladly looked at it. I didn’t want to seem shallow, though, because as I said, we had this connection that transcended physical attraction. So when I was waiting for her in front of the Pizzeria Uno in Kenmore Square, I had no idea what she looked like. Despite not caring what she looked like, every threesome that consisted of two hot girls with one guy had my praying that it was the party I was waiting on.

And then I heard my name.

And despite not caring about what she looked like, I was very disappointed.

She was just sort of frumpy and not very attractive. And she was wearing this hideous t-shirt with a bear on it, something someone’s mom would wear. Her friend looked like she fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. And her friend’s boyfriend looks like he was just smuggled across the Mexican border…and he got hit by the ugly truck while trying to cross a highway in Yuma.

But, this was about more than physical appearance and possible INS violations. This was a once-in-a-lifetime connection. And, besides, a bear shirt is better than a unicorn shirt. I get introduced to everyone and they thank me for the tickets.

All three of them thank me for the tickets.

And not with money, for the tickets, but with a thank you.

I was standing there, wondering if I should ask for the money for the tickets. I was a poor college student working in a pool-hall for the summer. Poor college students that work in pool halls can’t afford four Red Sox tickets. But I let it go and I ate the cost of the tickets and I started the date very pissed off.

We get to the game and I’m my usual self, telling jokes and telling stories. But I’m getting no reaction, no laughs. And I’m using my A-material. Not even a courtesy chuckle. And I’m becoming very, very pissed off.

Somehow we ended up sitting: Mexican, me, date and the girl that was boiled in the ugly pot. And my “date” spent the entire game talking to her friend that got her faced slammed-in by the ugly book bag. Her back turned towards me, I was forced to talk to the guy that will eventually be “stealing” jobs from Americans that actually want to work in meat packaging plants. And he was one hell of a conversationalist – all he talked about was cars. I didn’t even have my fucking license. And I’m now very, very, very pissed off.

I figure that after being ignored for three hours, they would pick-up and go home after the game.

No. No, not at all.

They invite themselves back to my apartment since I live within a few blocks of Fenway and I think I was just so fucking shocked I couldn’t say no. When we walked in the door, frumpy, ugly, illegal and pissed, my roommate looked at us and briskly walked into his room while trying not to laugh – knowing full well I was on one shitty date.

They sat in my living room and ate all of my Cracker Jacks and Funions for an hour while I checked my watch and stared at them, the kind of stare you give someone when you’re a moment away from killing them. And they talked and they laughed and ate my food and left.

The next day I called Robin and we went out for ice-cream.

The girl tried calling and emailing a few times after that but I never responded. At one point she IMed me and I pretended to be Robin. I wrote, “Oh, this is Jason’s girlfriend, Robin. He’s letting me use his computer while he’s in the shower.”

Like I said, I deserved the shitty date, and in retrospect it was pretty funny. Everyone has at least one bad date, this was mine. And since it looks like Robin and I are in this for good, my last non-Robin date was one that will forever remind me why dating sucks. Maybe that's the real key to a six-year long relationship.

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Guest Writer: Robin tells "What Really Happened"

Friday, July 15, 2005

Extra special treat to finish up the two weeks of guest writers. Robin, the love of my life, my baby for the past six years, wrote a story for The Moose.

But what’s extra special about it is, it’s a great little experiment in story-telling. From the beginning I said that this site was about finding a story everyday. That no matter how mundane your day is, every minute is a story that contributes to a larger story. This site is all about when I first realized that and trying to turn my average life into something entertaining.

Robin decided to take my version of us getting together and tell her side of what really happened. There’s a drastic change in tone and message, for starters, but on top of that it’s kind of fun to read it and realize that every minute of your life is a different story for different people.

Enjoy and my stories come back starting Monday.

________________

So here is my side of the story of how Jason and I got together. I had been watching him from afar for maybe a semester or so. He lived in the dorm where my dining hall was so I saw him frequently and thought he was cute but didn’t know anything about him. It was on that day in the dining hall that I realized that he was an RA and friends with my RA, Kat, who I was pretty close with. They were all sitting together and I saw my opportunity and pounced. I sat down and Jason was indeed reading the personals quite intently (note: see paragraph #7 of his corresponding story; not looking for a girl, my ass). I did make a witty comment about Jason not needing those personals. Jason looked up from the paper, looked at me, then looked back down. I guess I just wasn’t the ad he was looking for. I don’t remember any spark of interest from him but he says that he was impressed with my video library (ie, Rambo). I didn’t have time to waste on this guy if he wasn’t interested and so I excused myself to go watch Wheel of Fortune.

I didn’t go out with everyone that night but Kat knew I was interested in Jason and somehow the two of them made their way back to the German Haus (my dorm) and Kat woke me up and told me to get downstairs. We all drank, listened to music, laughed and had a good time. Jason was wearing plaid pants with a hole in the ass and suspenders. He called himself a “fashion misfit” which he denies to this day. But he most certainly did – you can’t mess with my memory.

After staying up all night and really hitting it off, I was ecstatic until he ignored me the next day. That sure made me feel good. I thought he was a dick, but when the German Haus had another get together a little while later, I decided to see if I couldn’t woo him again. He fought. He did use that “I’m gonna have a glass of wine, masturbate and then go to bed” line. I didn’t doubt that was the truth but that didn’t cut it with me. He came over. It was another great night. More people were there, we were all laughing; we smoked in the basement dorm room and wandered around the Charles River where Jason quizzed me on my wildlife knowledge. He honest to God could not understand why I couldn’t name all the different species of birds native to the area, just because I was from the area. How that makes sense I don’t know. Jason also conveniently left out the part about the killer squirrel that we encountered at the river. That crazy cracker was coming at us and he kept pushing me ahead of him. Sure we were stoned and people do some crazy shit when they’re high, but that was pretty shitty on his part. That squirrel was going to fuck us up and I was going first. Luckily we got out of there ok.

Anyways, after this night Jason ignored me again and it sucked all over again. Maybe he wasn’t looking for a girlfriend, but acknowledge me when we’re both standing in the salad line dammit, what’s wrong with you?

I ended up staying on campus for the summer working for buildings and grounds and it just so happened that my area was where Jason was living that summer. I had no idea that he was staying there for the summer and I felt pretty dumb when he saw me picking up the trash from him lawn a couple months later and he just awkwardly looked at me and said, uhh, what are you doing here? I felt like a stalker. And I know he thought I was stalking him. A few days later I was drinking with my roommate and after a few beers I decided that Jason had one more chance to get with this. If he denied me one more time, I guess I would have to take the hint. Scared shitless and feeling very vulnerable I went to his apartment and invited him over. He started rambling about having other things to do, he started making calls to see if anyone else wanted to hang out and I just waited, feeling like an asshole, to see if he was absolutely, positively, free to hang out with me. He finally, reluctantly, said he would come over. He did not look happy and I felt like an idiot. This guy did not want to hang out with me but he was because he felt obligated or something, who knows what he was thinking?

We drank a lot of beer. I kept them coming. I made sure he was drunk and vulnerable and I played lots of sexy music. I was very smooth. When the moment was right, I pounced. He stayed the night and I did not fart at all that night. That’s a vicious lie.

I thought all was good but then he had a date the next night. I was hoping he would cancel it. I mean, what was the point? I thought we were finally getting things started. But no, he had to weigh all his options (even though he was NOT looking for a relationship, remember??) before settling with me. Again, it made me feel really good about myself. My self esteem was skyrocketing! I love being denied repeatedly and then just when thongs really looked good, being told to wait to see if someone else was better than I was and if they weren’t, then ok, I would do.

As it turns out Jason’s blind date was a wash (hahaha) and he finally gave me a real chance. Moral of my story: guys, don’t be dicks to girls. It makes them feel real bad.
If you’re not interested, don’t act like you are. And just because you see some girl picking trash up in front of your apartment doesn’t mean she’s stalking you.

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Guest Writer: PJ tells "Filling in for the RA"

Thursday, July 14, 2005

PJ was on the receiving end of many a joke in college – he’s very religious and always forgives us. He’s also one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met – the cat would do anything for you if you asked and is always available for great conversation. He gives a humorous little college story today, enjoy!

___________

Continuing a trend of guys who use their initials, you’ve now got PJ, Jason’s buddy from college. Jason and I met in college through a mutual friend, Jerry. Jason and I really became friends when we were shooting the masterpiece that he and Jerry had written, “Mr. Sandman”. Though six years later, the movie still languishes in post production; the three of us have enjoyed a very “special” relationship ever since of forever frustrated group homo-erotic attraction doomed by the fact that we’re straight. And our girlfriends would kill us. Alas, cruel fate!

I hated high school. But that’s a statement like saying “I breathe”. Most of the people I know hated high school as well. There are cliques, there are circles, there are people who are cool and places you can’t go and will never be able to go simply because you are you. And there is no use trying to fake it because, let’s face it, you’re just a pudgy little geeky nerdy freshman. Okay, well maybe not you. That was just me.

But this story isn’t about high school. Except for one single, shining part of it, I hated high school. This story is about college. Because in contrast, college rocks.

I didn’t drink until I was twenty one. I figured that I owed it to myself to get some friends over to get drunk. Only two answered the call, my friends Rik and Jerry. We scoured some liquor together and then started to go to task. I felt cool.

Rik eventually figured out how lame this was and took off. Jerry hung around and we just talked about whatever crap came to mind. Stupid stories, walking-in-on-your-parents stories, getting high stories before graduation stories. Anything went.

Eventually, after feeling quite inebriated (at least, that it was what I thought at the time. I have since learned what true inebriation is), I get a knock on my door at 3 am. Despite the fact that it was college, it still was unusual to hear at knock at your door on a Saturday night: everyone was still in their drunken stupor walking home. So I figured it was the RA telling us to shut the hell up.

Instead, it was Jiyeon, one of the girls that lived across the hall. She looked really concerned, pulled me outside my room and kind of mumbled “Uh, PJ, one of the freshmen is passed out on the front stairs and uh…I think you ought to take a look and see what you can do.” Thinking that this was really the RA’s problem, I said “Why not have Alexis take care of it?” Jiyeon gave me a look that said something wacky was up, something that probably would get this poor schmoo in trouble. So I acquiesced. Jerry, that lucky bastard, was also an RA, meaning that he technically would have to report anything he saw. What it really meant was that he could just sit on his butt and keep on drinking while I dealt with this. Being a good friend, I didn't even put him into the position where he'd have to make a decision.

I walk out to the front staircase and I finally understand why Jiyeon was so concerned. Bill (whose really name is Steve, to protect his identity) was there on the steps. In only a T-shirt. A T-shirt was placed on his lap to guard his offending parts.

Now, honestly, I didn’t really want to help out in this situation. And it was really difficult to figure out exactly what I ought to do. I trying applying the popular litmus test of “What Would Jesus Do?’, but I’m pretty sure it is shaky in Scripture about what to do with half naked drunk freshmen. Should I be the Good Samaritan and try to help him up to his room? Should I allow him to face his just consequences by leaving him there? Should I get out a permanent marker and give him a Charlie Chaplin mustache? Should I get a sign that reads “drunk freshman for sale”?

Though the last two options seemed like good ideas, I was sure that somehow they would eventually end up screwing me over. And their Scriptural authenticity was in doubt (though while asking my friend Guam, the religion major, he assured me they were well within doctrinal protocol). So I decided to help the sucker out.

Standing over him and calling his name a few times did not seem to do the trick. He was well too plastered for that. So I began to slap him in the face. It is a rare occasion when you can honestly claim to hit someone without retaliation for a good cause. Eventually he grumbled awake.

Clearly not understanding his situation in the least, he stood straight up. Once again, I had wished that Jiyeon had asked someone else, possibly one of the girls, like Jeanne or Julie, who would have relished the opportunity to see Bill (Steve)’s manhood. Personally, it was a sight I could have done without.

He grabbed the shirt that fell to the ground and then proceeded to try to sit back down to go back to sleep. Now, sans the shirt, this would have been a great practical joke for the morning when all the churchgoers are leaving. But I still felt sorry for the kid…best not to let this ruin his college career when he probably would have so many better opportunities later to ruin his career. So I started helping this guy up the stairs. I cursed Steve for being an RA. Bastard should also have to deal with this.

So when we are almost to his floor, Steve gets the bright idea of ripping open the top of his shirt and wearing it like a Hawaiian skirt. Why he did not think of this earlier, I’ll never understand. Notably, I had thought of it, but the notion of trying to put this shirt on him like a skirt would have made this bad situation even worse.

Five feet before he gets to the door of his room, he collapses to the ground and mumbles “Thank you, PJ”. I kick him back up to his feet so that he can actually get to his bed. His roommate was on the computer playing some sort of video game and looked thoroughly confused at what had been happening.

I made it back to my room, feeling the need to keep drinking.

Looking back on it, there are a lot of morals to this story. You could point out the need for responsible drinking. Or making sure that the people you drink with bring you back with your clothes on. Or that you should help other people, despite what they’ve done to themselves.

Personally, I think the moral of the story is tied up with a regret: in college, if anyone ever asks you to help out, make sure you carry a permanent marker. Because you never know when someone is going to need a Charlie Chaplin mustache.

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Guest Writer: RJ tells "AZ ain't for Me"

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Next up we got my cousin RJ who is the star of many of my stories. His story is interesting to me in that it reminds me a lot of my Arizona story. What the fuck is wrong with the girls in that state that makes them so easy to lie to?

Second thing that struck me is that this is a great story from RJ, but would make an even better story coming from his uncle (my cousin Anthony) about how he played RJ. You got played, kid. Oh, yeah, you might need my dictionary post for some of his terms, whitey.

______________________

Hey all you Moose lovers, RJ here. You know, Jason's Super Fly cousin. Yeah, I know, you all want my body, but I'm married so bug off. Jay asked me politely for a funny story, so here's one of them. I got plenty, but this one goes out to a special girl. As Jason so eloquently puts it: Story Time.

Back in 1993, when I was 13 years-old, I visited Arizona. My aunt and uncle lived in a nice complex in Scottsdale. Their house was very nice, spacious, and I had a huge room with a big bay window that faced the front. That was a little creepy because there was a light right above the door that shined through the window every night. What was worst, my uncle told me 5 years earlier, on a stormy night, some lunatic killed his family a few houses down. What was worst than that was the guys 12 year old daughter managed to make it in front of the bay window before she died. My uncle said that sometimes he would hear a little girl trying out front, but when he would go check it out, no one was there.

Ok. I'm from Red Hook, Brooklyn. I'm not scared of anything. Or so my pride said. I was petrified. I had to spend a month and a half in that room.

Two weeks pass and I heard nothing. One afternoon I'm sitting at the pool when this hot girl comes in. I'm talking smizoking hizzott. Dark tan, crystal blue eyes, brown hair. I was dizzy. I have my little radio with me and a bunch of the latest rap singles and a couple of full albums. I crank the volume up, letting her know I'm the alpha male. She put her headphones on.

Strike 1.

Now I feel like a mo-mo. I can't sit here and not step to this foxy momma. So while she's tanning, I grab my balls, ‘cause that's what we do in tha hood, and walk over to her.

Me: Sup, yo?

Her: Um, hi.

Me: You from around here?

Strike 2. Of course she was. It was a private complex, complete with the residential pool we were at.

Her: Yeah.

Me: True dat, true dat.

Awkward silence.

Her: Where are you from?

Ball.

Me: I'm from Brooklyn.

Her: A city boy. What are you doing here?

Ball 2.

Me: Chillen’ wit my aunt and uncle for the summer.

Her: Oh, who are they?

Me: Anthony and Kathy.

Her: I know them, they're cool people.

Me: Yeah, I know.

By this time I had walked. No more batters box for me, I'm going to first. We talk a little more, just bs'ing for a while. I can’t take my eyes off her body. I mean everything about her was perfect, down to her pedicure. I asked how old she was.

Her: 17.

I'm 13 at the time, but 13 ain't gonna cut it with this. She asks me.

Me: 15.....

Caught stealing. I could see it in her eyes. I could feel it in my face. Whatever chance I had was now gone. Especially when she got up and started to leave. It got dark real fast, and I'm stuck there.

Her: Well, it looks like a monsoon is coming. We shouldn't be by the pool. Why don't you come back tomorrow so we can hang out?

Wait a minute, did I hear that correctly?

Me: Uh, yeah, sure, uh, true dat.

She laughed and waved goodbye. Yea, I'm gonna score.

The next day I'm there super early. I didn't want to miss her for anything. I waited until it got dark. My stomach was rumbling, I was sweaty. I go to my uncle's house dejected. I couldn't believe I got played. That don't happen to me. Especially in Arizona.

Later that night I go back to the pool. There's this girl there. She's sitting where the pretty one sat. Now this girl is pretty, but she wasn't MY girl. I get in the pool and chill. This girl keeps looking at me so I smile. She smiles back and waves me over.

Red Hook mode. This I'm not fucking up.

I go over to her and make small conversation. She was actually prettier up close than I thought. I'm laying it on thick and she seems to be loving every minute. She asks me if I want to hang out with her that night. She was home alone while her parents took her sister to therapy. Of course I want to hang out. I want to hang out all over your voluptuous (edited out for fear of family reading this).

So it was a date. She was coming to pick me up in 20 minutes. Enough time for me to shower and throw something ghetto on. She's there in exactly 20 minutes. We hit a 7/11 that's right in front of the complex. She buys a pack of smokes and a condom.

Home Run.

We go to her house and sit on her porch. She wants to know all about the Brooklyn Thug Life, so I give it to her. I tell her I'm in a gang called MDK, ( I didn't lie to her about this, but I didn't tell her that MDK stood for Mentally Disturbed Kids, and that there was only 5 of us 13 years old or younger). I told her I was in shoot outs, I did drive by's. I told her that we got into gang wars and we once beat this kid into a coma. I was so good you'd think I was Tu-Pac. And she ate it up. She was getting excited and I knew it was a wrap. She brings me inside her house, sits me down in the living room, and jumps in the shower. I'm patting myself on the back, high fiving the air. Hell, I got up and did the qui-qui dance. She comes out and she’s glistening. She's all wet and wearing only her bra and panties.

Her: Come to my room.

GRAND SLAM! I'm going to Disney Land.

I get to the front of her room and my pimp sense starts tingling. Maybe it was the blood red curtain she had for a door, but that wasn't going to stop me from hittin da skinz. So I go in.

This is where it gets scary for me. Inside her room she's got a black light. There are candles all around that she starts lighting up. Posters of the Grim Reaper and heavy metal bands are covering her black walls. Pimp senses are screaming for me to run, but I can't move. She turns to me and tells me with a voice not her own: “Take my body.” I want to run, but instead I sit on her bed. She straddles me and shoves her tongue down my throat. My heart starts pounding. She pushes me down on the bed and takes off her top. Next thing I knew, the condom was on and some freaky Gwar type of music was coming from somewhere.

It gets blurry from there on. Bits and pieces come to me in flashes, but my therapist tells me I need to suppress them. I do remember her trying to scratch my back and telling me she wanted to lick my blood. I do remember her pounding on my chest like I was King Kong. I do remember crying. I remember waking up in my bed at my uncle's house, but not knowing how I got there. That damn light illuminated everything. I felt violated. Raped. I couldn't even tell my aunt or uncle about it because I was Gansta #1.

I never saw that girl again. Her sister saw me one day by the pool and told me she went away because she was sick. I took it as it was. For the rest of my stay I looked for the hot chick, the first one. I figured I could talk to an angel about the Demon Bitch from Hell. No luck. One of my last nights there I asked my aunt about her. My aunt told me there wasn't any girl that fit that description living in that complex, but I insisted that she knew her. I told her I spoke to this girl right before a monsoon. My aunt went pale. She told me she did know a girl who fit that description, but she was killed 5 years earlier by her father. She died in front of that bay window on a stormy night. I slept in the living room the rest of my stay.

True story. Except for the therapist part.

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Guest Writer: My Sister tells "Stories About my Brother"

Monday, July 11, 2005

My sister is my life. She knows this. And although she’s too young to be reading this site, she gave me a story for it that choked me up a bit. She’s 16 now, making her way through high-school, and hopefully going to college near me in two years. Otherwise, there’s always after college, you know?

__________________________

Hi. My name is Elizabeth, Jason’s sister. Jay asked me to write something for his site, I’m not that good at writing stories like Jason is and don’t have much to write about so I thought I would write about my memories with my brother growing up.

Let me first say that I was the best gift ever, even better than video games, according to my brother. Unlike most siblings I don’t think we ever fought. I think it was because of the eleven years between us. By the time I was at that age where most siblings start to really annoy each over, Jason was already out of the house and in college. I was seven.

However when he did live home he did so many things with me. From dressing me up in his clothes when I was a toddler to making movies when I was a little kid to making up games that we still do to this day. We sometimes rearranged the whole apartment… our parents weren’t always happy when they came home to see the mess we left!

He always tried to make me laugh, one time, which I don’t remember but he mentions it every once in awhile, he tried to do a magic trick for me and instead swallowed a quarter. When I was around nine or ten my cousin Steven was a regular at our house during the summer. We had some fun times. Jason directed movies and we starred in them. It started out with a stop-go animation featuring Jason’s GI Joes and Star Wars figures voiced by Jason, Steven, and I. Followed by short films of the three of us as bums, Steven and I as Siamese twins, and a Muppets’ revenge movie. That was the best. That same summer Jason decided to spray sun-in in my hair… that didn’t go so well. I cried every night for about a year until it completely came out. I hated being a blonde!

I remember the day we brought Jason to his dorm. I only remember arriving and leaving. I loved visiting him in college. We went to go see all the historic sites, but my favorite was his bench on the Charles River. It was so nice and peaceful. Leaving was always hard for me. I missed him so much and did not get to see him that much. Whenever I got into the car to leave, I always tried to hide my tears from my parents I hugged my favorite stuffed animal, bear-bear, and cried. Whenever Jason did come home to visit we hung out during the day, then night came and he would go catch up with old friends. When I was younger I was always upset that he went out even though I didn’t show it.

When he got out of college and got a real job. He always got me the best birthday gifts and Christmas gifts. The first being a video camera, followed by a keyboard that following Christmas. The next year he gave me a DVD player for Christmas. Then one of my favorite gifts, my computer he got me for my fourteenth Birthday accompanied by my TV my parents brought me. Then, that Christmas, my game cube. Followed by the second best gift for my birthday tickets to go see RENT…I love that play. He got me the tickets for my birthday in March and flew down in May to take me to see it. I had so much fun and he got me addicted to that play.

Being with Jay is always a fun time. I love to visit him. I wish I could see him more often and I hope in two years I can go to college near him so I can catch up on the years we missed when he moved out. I love my brother and look up to him so much. I think he is an awesome brother and most kids wished they had a brother like mine. I know I can always count on him to be there and I know I can talk to him about anything.

Here is to my brother. Although I can swim circles around him and he is a tad musically challenged, he is super smart, a great writer, and LUCKY to have a sister like me…

Just kidding I am just as lucky, if not luckier to have brother that cares so much like him.

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Guest Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov tells: "Mike"

Sunday, July 10, 2005

First off, I know last week I said I was one story under to fill out the two weeks. Now I’m one (and possibly two) stories over. So, all good, please stop with the “I’ll give you a story” emails. Especially if I don’t know you because, you know, that’s kind of weird. At least start posting in the comments section, we like new people.

What can I say about Joshua Hale Fialkov? He’s the man behind Hoarse & Buggy, Western Tales of Terror and Elk’s Run plus several new properties on the horizon. The dude gave me my shot, although if you read Here’s the Thing… it’s more like I took it, and although some say “It’s only an editor”, any position is what you make of it.

Josh is a genuinely great guy and a phenomenal writer. All of our books are getting great reviews and even though there are several people, like me, behind the scenes, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. And he was nice enough to provide a touching story for the Moose and I thank him for that and hope you all enjoy.

_____________________________

My brother is a lot older than me. 9 years older. So, when I was a little kid, he was a teenager. He had this friend, one of his oldest and best friends, a guy named Mike. Mike, as far as the 6 year old version of me was concerned, with just about the coolest guy ever. He introduced me to heavy metal, comics, gaming, and really shaped who I was as a kid, mostly due to his being the polar opposite of my brother. He was a smart guy who was laid back, fun, and generally just a cool cat to be around, who, coincidentally, was a remarkably talented guitarist. For some reason, my clearest memory of him is having him chase me around our family room, and then sit on my head and fart. I hated it, but thought it was hilarious. Hell, I thought it was hilarious to the point of doing it to my friends. The guy was cool. In that 80’s suburbs of Pittsburgh dork-chic kind of way. Hell, to this day when I hear Iron Maiden or Motorhead he’s what pops into my head.


When I was about 7, Mike stopped coming around. He’d started using drugs, starting with Pot and then graduating on to (what I assume) is the harder stuff. My brother, and I could be wrong, was forced to stop hanging out with him after he was arrested for possession. It really killed my folks, because they loved Mike like one of the family. It broke my heart because he was quite possibly the closest thing I had to an Idol. But time went on. I forgot about him. My family just sort of pushed that corner of our lives away into the back of our collective minds. Through the rest of his high school time, my brother would periodically here from Mike, who had gone off to roam the country, doing whatever he wanted, living the Kerouac existence. Once my brother left for college, that was just sort of it. He’d officially divorced himself from the life that came before (just like most of us do when we go to college.) Mike became the idealized cool I aspired to. I took up Guitar when I was maybe 12, aspiring to be as great a player as he was. In retrospect, I don’t know that I ever actually heard him play, so it might again be a bit of invention in my memory.

Anyways, when I was around 13, getting ready for high school, I was sitting around the house on a Saturday afternoon, and the phone rang. I picked up and heard on the other end the strangest voice I’d ever heard. Shakey, with a slight stutter, almost like a catatonic person spewing syllables without any real purpose. The voice, deep and dark, said “Is Jon there?”

My brother had returned to Pittsburgh to go to Med School that summer, and he was off living in an apartment in the city.

“No. He’s at his place.”

“What?”

“He’s at his apartment. Who is this?”

“…”

“Hello?”

Nothing. Silence. I could almost hear the gears turning.

“Josh?”

“Yeah. Who is this?”

“It’s me.”

“Who?”

“Mike.”

Nothing. Silence. The gears were turning on my side this time.

“Who is this really?”

“What?”

I started laughing. It was someone playing a joke on me. It had to be. This wasn’t Mike. This shattered, soulless growl was not the guy I’d spent so much time looking up to. So much time aspiring to be like.

“C’mon, stop fucking around… is this Martin?” My brother’s room mate. I didn’t know how exactly he’d know who Mike was, or that it would strike such a cord with me, but it seemed like the most plausibly implausible explanation.

“Who… who’s… Martin?”

My face went pale. Something in his voice, when he said the name. This slight guttural sound… it just clicked. It was him.

And I panicked. I slammed down the phone, and ran out of the house. I don’t know why exactly. I walked around my neighborhood for a bit, smoking what must have been one of my first cigarettes, trying to get my head around it all.

After Ozium-ing and collecting myself, I went back inside. My mom was on the phone, talking. I sat in the kitchen watching her talk. To him. To Mike. Talking to him in the slow, metered way you talk to someone who’s not all there.

“You walk your ferret everyday? On a leash?”

A pause. She looked at me. Saw my pale face, that little bit of my heart breaking.

“Are you going to school?”

No, I could almost hear him saying on the other end, I’m too fucked up to go to school.

“Well, that’s good that you’re getting your life back together. Give me your number, and I’ll have Jonathan give you a call.”

A pause.

“No. I’ll give him your number. He… He just moved into a new place, and the phones aren’t hooked up yet. Yeah. So you couldn’t reach him.”

My mom’s eyes had that glisten of tears.

“Using a payphone? Oh. Well, Jon’ll be here on Wednesday afternoon, why don’t you call back then?”

She breathed hard. Almost a sigh.

“Yeah. That’d be fine. Take care Mike. Glad you’re doing better.”

She put down the phone, and sat down. I didn’t notice but tears had started running down my face. Snot gumming up my nose. My mom stared at me for a moment, and the tears rolled down her face as well.

She told me the real story about Mike. He’d been busted for Coke that time that lead to Jon not being allowed to see him. It lined up with the time my parents caught my brother smoking a cigarette in the basement (god knows why he didn’t just go outside). Of course, in retrospect, again, I don’t think it was just a cigarette. My folks were way too mad for it to only by tobacco. My folks saw this as a sign of Mike’s bad influence, and split them up. As time went on, Mike bounced in and out of rehab, each time coming out addicted to something else. My mom still didn’t give the specifics, but, just from how fucked he was on the phone, I assume that he was doing something along the lines of Heroin or PCP towards the end. After a serious bout of it all, Mike finally kicked the habit. He lost a lot of brain cells tho, did some permanent damage. He spends his days sitting in front of the TV rocking back and forth and walking pet ferret on a leash around his neighborhood. That’s it. That’s his life.

The story… well, it did what everyone one of those DARE programs are supposed to do. It scared the shit out of me. This wasn’t some cartoon guy falling to the perils of drugs, it wasn’t some poorly acted film strip. I knew him. I loved him like a brother. And he destroyed himself. All that he was, all that potential, all that talent… gone.

I swore I’d never let it happen to me. And from that… this semi-traumatic, and memory clouded event… it’s made me clean all my life. No drugs. I didn’t even touch a drop of liquor till college, and even after a few rounds of drinking too much, I don’t even drink anymore (although the occasional SoCo and Coke still touches my lips on occasion.)

I went to a college where EVERYBODY did drugs, and it never really crossed my mind as something to do. Watching my friends rise and fall from them pretty much reaffirmed my stance on them (one of my best friends became a massive pothead, to the point where he just plain couldn’t function without 5 or 6 joints a day. He smoked pot like I smoked cigarettes.) Through it all, I’ve held this pledge to myself. I’m going to succeed where Mike couldn’t. I’m going to do the things he would’ve wanted to do. I had a successful band, I’m make comics for a living. These are things Mike dreamed about doing and fucked himself out of. Would smoking a joint ruin me? Make me a junky? Probably not. I guess I’ll never know though.

-- Joshua Hale Fialkov, Los Angeles, CA 6-14-05

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Guest Writer: Chris Fabulous tells "Pep Rally Riot"

Friday, July 08, 2005

Today we get a little Chris Fabulous action. I first met Chris probably close to two years ago. He was hanging around Digital Webbing, absolutely gutting people’s stories and everyone was afraid of him except for me. I gutted his story and we started working off-line on each other’s stories. The first thing I edited of his was his mammoth graphic novel Fat Lip, currently being illustrated and looking gorgeous. He asked me I wanted something of mine looked at in return and I asked him if he could hook me up with some artists. He laughed at my naivety and we continued to critique each other’s work.

Chris’ story takes us to Lubbock, Texas – the hearsay around a particular Fabulous Baker Boys show.

________________________

I tell people that it wasn’t “inciting a riot.” That’s hearsay. “The whole thing’s been blown a little out of proportion,” I tell them. I even wrote a letter that they put in the school paper telling off all the boneheads that were punching and stomping people and whatnot. They called it “moshing.” I don’t endorse that MTV crap. I’m all about the too-tight six-dollar suits with socks down the front of the pants, throwing stuff at guys with big cop mustaches, and a good circle pit.

This thing was a fiasco of the highest order, though. Don’t get me wrong. I loved every minute.

See, I’m not even from Lubbock, Texas. I’m from less than Lubbock; a nearby town called Wolfforth with 248,000 less people. Despite that, my high school wasn’t tiny. There were about 1,500 kids at this time, my senior year. Technically my senior semester, since I graduated early.

I don’t know how they do things where you’re from, but in Wolfforth, Texas, high school football is a big deal. You’re either on the sidelines cheering for the ‘roided-up Neanderthals or you’re a fucking communist. I was not a communist, though. That’s hearsay. I just resented being forced to admire and yell for the same Corky-rejects that made sure that every minute of my high school life was as degrading and miserable as possible. It didn’t matter how I felt about it, however, because on Friday mornings during football season, pep rally attendance was mandatory.

Spicing up the pep rally experience was totally mandatory as far as I was concerned. Shouting inappropriate things at inappropriate times, holding up our middle fingers instead of the index during the school song – our version of the Tigers being number one. And, yeah, I got in some pretty serious trouble for turning my back to the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance. I made up for it with choreographed crotch-thrusts during the national anthem.

The ultimate pep rally embellishment on my part came when our friend and head of security, Matt Roller, landed FBB a “gig” playing a song at a pep rally. His first cousin was the head cheerleader, and I think he not only talked her into letting us play, but maybe even into the whole concept of any band playing.

We showed up to get set up the night before. The cheerleaders and their various relatives and hangers-on were present, preparing things, and soundcheck consisted of running through a song and seeing that turning our amps up to 10 still wasn’t exactly loud enough to fill the gym. Nothing was mic’d except my voice. We ran through “I Got a Problem,” saving the actual tune to be performed at the event for the element of surprise. Some little shit tried to get smart with me about the lyrics of the song, since he was having trouble understanding them. “What are you even saying, dude?” this little bastard smirked at me. “Well, the main lyric is “I can’t believe my dick’s so big,” I explained. “Obviously, you wouldn’t understand.” I think it was at that point that maybe some of the powers-that-be should have gotten a fucking clue as to what they were in for, but no one said anything and things went on as planned.

The theme for that week was supposed to be “the battle of the bands,” and our “competition” consisted of a group that had been formed specifically for the occasion. I’ll give them credit for writing the song they performed, and for doing a half-decent job for the majority of them having never performed in any kind of musical way before. Everybody in the group was a friend or acquaintance of mine, so I don’t want to talk too much shit about them. They know they were horrible, though. They went on first, and were met with a mere smattering of applause. Then it was “go time,” as they say.

Even I was shocked by the amount of applause we got when we walked out onto the basketball court in front of all 1,500 of my classmates, and the various parents, administrators, etcetera. Our reputation preceded us. It was a far cry from the days of being bullied and spat-upon by the vast majority of the student body just three years prior. I guess it comes with being a senior. I don’t know. Some people had even made signs for us and everything. It was completely surreal.

“All right,” I remember some pud with a cop mustache announcing. “The next band is the Fabulous Baker Boys.” I promptly snatched the mic from him and introduced the tune. I wanted to make a little disclaimer that, as conscientious citizens, we would never swear or curse in public, and that people should not confuse the title of the song we were about to perform with some profane diatribe. “The words to this song are, ‘FBB ain’t nothing to FRONT with, so don’t mix it up,” I said. Obviously, that was sarcastic, and I think everyone got the message.

So we grabbed our instruments, and our loyal security team, Matt Roller and Jeff Kelly were in place, wearing their standard-issue six-dollar Goodwill suits with socks stuffed down the front. Shaun, B, and JME got set and I made the comment that would tip the first domino that would create a Frenship High School legend.

I didn’t incite a riot or anything like that. I didn’t tell anyone to hurt anyone else, or anything like that. All I said was, “I don’t think anyone would mind if you guys came down and danced a little.” And so they did.

Shaun and JME kicked into the opening measures of “FBB Ain’t Nothin’ to Fuck With,” and kids came pouring out of the stands in the way that you see after the hometown team wins the World Series. The way it is when the bench clears at a baseball game and a huge fight breaks out on the field, except this was 1,500 high school kids dancing the violent, bloodthirsty way that MTV taught them to dance to punk rock. Ugly, macho, teenage hormones surging. Screaming and swearing done by people other than me.

Before we even got to the second verse of the song, my mic was dead. I chunked it at the guy with the cop mustache, and the band played on. It took the faculty much, much longer than it should have to just unplug the amps. Even then, JME kept playing for a while.

The remainder of the pep rally was canceled. Everybody went back to class. We loaded out like normal, and I got called to the office over the loudspeaker. JME had been out of school for years and never went to my school anyway, B was in disciplinary school for making a post-Columbine bomb threat, and I guess Shaun was invisible or something. I’d been told I was the “ringleader” of the group before by the principal. I guess he just wanted to make an example out of me, so he gave me three days of in-school suspension and that was it. The “official” reason was “incident at pep rally.” It wasn’t “inciting a riot,” as I later joked. That’s hearsay.

I don’t think anybody that was there that day forgot about my band after that. Attendance for our Lubbock shows was huge from then until we broke up seven months later. I wrote that letter that they put in the school paper. “Moshing.” I don’t endorse that MTV crap. Like I said, just give me a good circle pit.
Not that I didn’t love every minute of this fiasco.

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Guest Writer: My Mom tells "Stories About my Dad"

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The two week vacation continues. Due to drop-outs it looks like I’m one story short right now but I’ll figure something out. Today’s story is quite fun, for me at least, and well worth the two hours it took me to edit it (mom, what was up with all the backslashes, periods and parenthesis? Yowza!)– it’s my mom talking about her dad. I already talked about Poppy a little bit but, being that I never met him, it’s more fitting coming from her. Please, enjoy. I did.

__________________

Hello, everyone. My son is Jason Rodriguez and he finally asked me to write a story for his web site. As most of you know he is a wonderful, talented, sarcastic writer. Did I also say brilliant? And he’s my son.

Anyway I really can't write but I can tell you a little about my dad. My dad was a World War II corporal in the army. Never bragged and only 4 years ago one of my cousins that is a Vietnam vet looked into my dad’s service history. He had 12 medals including two Purple Hearts and one Silver Star. Growing up I used to say, “Dad, did you get any medals?” because I knew that he was wounded twice. He used to say, “Does it matter? I didn't fight for our country for a piece of metal.”

So I always left it alone.

He was not a big man. I bet he didn't measure 5'4 but he was a giant in my eyes. When he got out of the service he got a job for a while as a mechanic with a little shop in Red Hook. They said he was one of the best mechanics around. He loved Harleys; he could take them apart and put them back together without a manual. I don't think he ever got paid for his jobs, but he didn't care.

In 1949 he opened one of the first bar and grills in Red Hook. It was called "Gabe’s Bar and Grill - Where Old Friends Meet”. It was a huge bar with a back room that now would be condos for sure. We use to have our holidays dinners there in the "back room". My dad was a very generous man; he lived for the day alone. We had a big family as it was but always had at least 3-4 families with us in the back room for the holidays.

Everyone came to my dad for a "favor", as he called it. “Jackie, 15.00 for my rent, please.” He never chased anyone down for the money owed him that was “other people’s” job in the neighborhood, he would say, not his. They used to pay my dad back with weird things. First it was a dog. Then he had his own pigeon coop in the yard. People that flew pigeons used to give him someone else’s pigeons if they caught them. Ducks were a common pay back in the middle of Red Hook. My dad built a huge dog house in the yard. One day it was raining and after the rain stopped and I was looking out the window and out came three dogs, cats, ducks, two rabbits and a pig. It was around Easter time, I remember, and we had a nice dinner that holiday.

I'm the youngest of 5 and when I was 6 my mom wanted to go on a vacation with us. My dad was always tied to the bar. He told my mom find a place. Well, she did. It was in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. He dropped us up there on a Monday and left my mom, with 5 kids, who didn’t know how to drive. They were cute wooden bungalows. We went for the whole summer at a cost of about 300 for the summer, and that was considered a lot.

By the 2nd summer most of Red Hook was going up there. Some would rent for a week or two and some family members stayed the whole summer. The men would come up for the weekend. It was lake-front property and it was the best times of my childhood. Two times a summer my dad would rent a big bus and invite some kids from Red Hook and their parents up to play baseball against a team from New Jersey. The owner of Brief’s Cottages used to go crazy. She did come to like my dad a lot, though; after all, he kept her in business.

There were over 30 cottages and one year she was selling and my dad wanted to buy them. His brother-in-law talked him out of it. Too bad Jason could now be a very rich kid. Oh well…

My dad always made sure we had what we needed. He truly lived just for the day. He loved his kids...and died too young...I sure wish my dad was around now. He would read this and say, “Peggy, why are you writing all that stuff about me? I just did what I had to do for the family.” Jason, you can kill this story but it’s all true. Wish my dad was around now to see you and Elizabeth. Well, he actually is.

I love you,
Mamadukes

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Guest Writer: Jay Busbee tells "Of Love And Hospitals"

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Today’s guest writer is Jay Busbee. Jay is a great guy that I met at Chicago last year. His portfolio was in much better shape than mine and inspired me to get my act together. As a matter of fact, upon returning from Chicago he posted what he learned on Scryptic Studios and I’m pretty sure one of the people that he was using as an example as someone doing the wrong thing was me. It’s all good, though, baby, ‘cause he’s a cool-cat regardless. Enjoy!

_________________

Howdy do, Moose readers. Jay Busbee here, writer of comics, sports, novels, and other stuff. A tip of the ol’ ballcap to Mr. Rodriguez for giving me the stage for the day.

I’ll take Jason’s usual plug space to throw some virtual ink toward an organization I’m involved with called The Foundation for Hospital Art. Those of us who are into comics are well aware of how art can amaze, astound, and (in the case of that Frank Cho sweetness) arouse us. What you may not know is how well art can heal, too. The FHA is dedicated to putting art in hospitals and clinics—places where there’s usually nothing else to look at but gray institutional walls. It’s a hell of an organization—check them out.

End of plug. And now, story.

___________________

New Year’s Eve morning, 1993. Manhattan. Le Parker Meridien Hotel. I’m riding up in the elevator, a bag of fresh bagels in my hand and a song in my heart. Last night, you see, under the angels of Rockefeller Center, I proposed to the love of my life, and she accepted. We celebrated with a dinner at Tavern on the Green, and today we were ready to head back home to D.C. and begin calling the fam’ and friends with the good news.
Only…there was a problem.
I opened the door of the hotel room to find my wife-to-be laying on the floor of the bathroom, curled in a fetal position and wailing in pain. And two thoughts exploded into my head:
1. OhdeargodwhatthehelliswrongwithAnnie?

And

2. Damn, son, you musta knocked the bottom outta that ass last night!

But #2 quickly faded into the background as I realized that this was no ordinary Jesus-God-what-the-hell-did-we-do-last-night kind of situation. Annie wasn’t quite puking blood, but she was still in some excruciating pain. I defaulted to Little League coach mode—“Get up, soldier! Rub some dirt in it, you’ll be all right!”—which wasn’t a whole lot of help. We contacted the hotel doctor—who I’m pretty sure was the same guy parking cars the night before—and after a quick feel-up determined that whatever was ailing Annie, it was out of his league.
He called in an ambulance, and we skipped right out on paying that fat New York City hotel room bill. The EMTs were still in the “does it hurt when I do this?” phase of examination; they’d shoved me to the back of the ambulance, and I stared out the back window and watched cars and taxis fight to fill in the space left in our wake.
“Counting the lawyers, buddy?” one EMT ventured, a line that sounded like he’d used it a hundred times.
“Um…no.” The witty repartee had deserted me.
We entered through the emergency doors of St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital near Columbus Circle—the same doors John Lennon was wheeled through the night he died—and found ourselves in the surreal hell of a New York City emergency room on New Year’s Eve. If I wasn’t flat-out terrified that my brand-new fiancée was going to blow a gasket right here—and before I’d even had a chance to take out a life insurance policy on her—I would have really dug this dive into a petri dish of humanity.
But with ten years of perspective—and a now-very-healthy wife—I can appreciate the subtle insanities of the day. Like, for instance, the intern who wheeled my wife around from test to test sporting a tie featuring the Grim Reaper standing on a windswept mountainside. He spouted some cheery existential bullshit about death being all around us so we should embrace it, not fear it, fortune-cookie nonsense that didn’t seem to fit the mood of the day.
After ten hours in the emergency room, we still had no idea what was wrong in Annie’s abdomen, but I had seen this:
-An attending physician with glasses thicker than a half-pound burger who walked into our little cubicle, grabbed the bottom hem of Annie’s gown, and callously threw it back like he was unveiling this year’s Mustang. “What’s the story with this one?” he asked a nurse. This one. Bastard.
-A chubby little fireplug of a fellow, wider than he was tall, shuffling down the hallway toward the bathroom—and dropping his drawers about three steps short of the door. Thankfully, he continued onward.
-A little girl sobbing her eyes out as she walked through the emergency room clutching to her chest the red, wet towel wrapped around one hand. And, a few minutes later, a bored-looking fellow holding a plastic bag filled with ice—and one tiny little finger.
-Creepiest of all was the room directly across from Annie’s cubicle. When burger-glasses banished me while he looked over my wife-to-be like he was pricing furniture, I sat down on a plastic chair in the hallway. While Annie’s “room” was just a couple of curtain dividers, this was an actual door with a large window looking into darkness. On the doorknob was taped an index card with DO NOT OPEN DOOR!!!! scrawled in magic marker. And as I sat there looking at my reflection in the window—I swear this next part is true—a face loomed up out of the darkness staring straight at me. A hand pointed slowly at the doorknob. I looked around—nobody else was anywhere close by—and shook my head no, still not certain this wasn’t just some hallucination. The face faded back into the black, and I never saw it (him? her?) again.
With about three hours left in the year, the doctors finally determined that one of Annie’s ovaries had developed a cyst, twisted around on itself, and died. For purposes of comparison, the doctors recommended I consider how I feel should one of my little fellas do the same thing. “Ouch” doesn’t begin to describe it.
They determined that Annie’s ovary had to go, and figured that while they were in there, they’d grab the appendix too. So half an hour before midnight, they shot her up with enough morphine to keep Courtney Love happy for a week, and moments later, for the first time all day she smiled. Then she went from gentle smile to outright dopiness. “You won’t lose any champagne corks in me when New Years comes, will you?” she giggled. The doctors just smiled and said, no, they’d already drunk all their champagne already.
They wheeled her off into the operating room, and I friggin’ lost it. I began bawling, a full-on shivering-shoulders cry, and I found the nearest phone and called my parents to give them an update. I hadn’t gotten more than two sentences in when a couple of security guards walked around the corner, stared at me incredulously, and—with zero regard for the fact that I was a grown man red-eyed from crying—asked, “What the hell are you doing here?” (By this point, you see, visiting hours were long over.)
I excused myself, went to the cafeteria, and sat there, head in hands, as a monotone announcement came over the loudspeakers: “Attention. It is now 1994. Happy New Year.” From where I was sitting, I could see the reflections of the Times Square fireworks off the surrounding buildings. And all seemed very dark.
Long story a little less long, things worked out. Annie came through just fine; the other ovary picked up the slack. I spent the next day sitting by Annie’s bedside, doing nothing but watching bowl games as she slept. She’d wake up every so often, smile, touch my hand, and pass out; I’d smile back if there wasn’t a critical play on. And after several days in New York—during which time I got yelled at by a hospital administrator for sleeping in the lounge, got fleeced by scalpers at the Knicks-Magic game, and ate cheap pizza for a week.
I could overreach for some moral, some nonsense about early adversity strengthening our love, but screw that. It was a hell of a start to a marriage. More important, it was a great story—and in the end, that’s what matters, am I right?
Thanks for reading—enjoy the rest of the guest hosts while the Moose is loose out west!

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Guest Writer: Sean Maher tells "Me and Chuck Down By The Schoolyard"

My first communication with Sean Maher took place on March 6th. He launched his website, The Zealot’s Lore, and gave Elk’s Run a glowing review that was previously posted on the Millarworld Board. Sean sent me an email to let me know. I thought Sean was your typical comic-book freak angling for a slot in Western Tales because, you know, I’m cynical.

But over the months I’ve seen his voice grow and Sean has become one of my favorite, most passionate comic reviewers around today and he’s also a swell guy (and a mighty fine writer).

Funny side note, I get a lot of people coming to my site searching for “Sean Maher gay” but apparently they’re looking for info on some actor. No idea who he is or if he’s gay. But this Sean Maher has a girlfriend, I know that.

Also, not thinking, I did update yesterday despite the holiday. Guam wrote a wonderful story that was apparently viewed by around 40 people. And one was me and the other 39 was the entire island nation of Guam. So go back and check it out, it's funny.

_______________

I’m reading Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities #3 and realizing just now how much Eric Powell must dig Tom Waits’ music. Carnival characters spanning from creepy and disfigured to powerfully heroic (and often including elements from both ends of that spectrum), with a macabre sense of humor keeping everything fun. This is shaping up to be great work – The Goon already being one of the best series on the stands, of course.

I’m glad Jason asked me to write a story for this blog, because as hysterical as it is (and I’ve had a couple near misses at work, cracking up at Hooker Hand and Jason trying to piss a booger off his finger), there’s also a serious element that I like; as Jason put it, it’s building to “the summer when life presented itself.” With that in mind, I thought it might be cool to tell about the first time I knew somebody I thought was a hero.


Chuck Taylor was probably the most hated kid in school. In seventh grade he was about six-foot-two, a giant in black jeans, steel-toed boots and an old leather jacket. He kept his greasy red hair in a mohawk, and there were scars burned in his scalp where he shaved it. I was always hearing about rumors that he’d threatened teachers with knives and set off pipe bombs in the bathroom. Every week or two he had bruises or scratches from brawls with his father, and his teeth were cracked in a few places. He was one of my best friends.

There’s a period where you go from digging the things you learned about at home to learning about the “hardcore” adult stuff from your friends, and Chuck got me hooked on early Metallica albums. Up to this point, I’d pretty much just listened to my old man’s Tom Petty and Billy Joel tapes, so when Chuck threw on “The Call Of Ktulu” I about shat my pants.

There were three other guys we’d hang out with. Kenny Earnst was a fat, disgusting moron, and the funniest guy I knew at the time. His little sausage fingers were always stained brown. He’d wiggle ‘em together as if plotting some evil scheme and make gay jokes about our gym teacher, a weird old dude named Mr. Bacon who had a waxed moustache. Nick Javier was the only kid in the class shorter and scrawnier than me, and I think he just hung out with us for protection – it wasn’t for the friendship, I know, because we ripped on him constantly. Bobby McFadden was a tall bastard, just like Chuck, but he was a pale blond goofball. Me, I pissed a lot of people off because I didn’t really give a shit about the school we were at, but I also didn’t have to struggle to pass classes – I’d come from a way better school system and pretty much knew all the stuff they were teaching anyway. So hanging out with the nerds didn’t really work, but I still was one. The only people who didn’t seem to mind were these guys, and I got a lot of mileage off of talking shit to Nick.

So one day the five of us are in gym class playing basketball against these other five kids. One of ‘em is Sam Stack, who was one of the more popular kids in the school. A real mean little asshole, just as short as I was and a lot dumber. To protect himself, he’d gotten in with Danny Brady. Now, I know that’s a bitch name, but Danny was one of the scariest kids around. He was just as tall as Chuck and he was supposed to have a gang. To get in the gang, you had to let Danny beat the shit out of you – I saw him wailing on a kid one time, windmilling his arms around like a madman, and it scared the piss out of me. So Sam had pretty much free reign to be an asshole to anyone he wanted, because Danny scared a lot of people.

And the whole time we’re playing ball, he’s trying to trip us, throwing the ball way out of bounds so we have to run after it, pissing us all off. Then after a play was over, Bobby was walking back toward the other end of the court and Sam threw the ball as hard as he could at the back of Bobby’s head, almost knocking him down.

Chuck snapped. He shouted and ran after Sam, who tried to bolt. But Sam’s legs were about half as long as Chuck’s and he only got about five feet before Chuck grabbed the hood on his sweatshirt, yanked him back off his feet, grabbed his shoulders and swung him around like a discus. After a couple spins Chuck finally tossed him about ten feet, where he rolled around on the blacktop, got up and ran off. It was the most awesome thing I’d ever seen.

At lunchtime, I walked out to the main yard and saw about a hundred kids swarming on the far end of the field. I knew exactly what was going on and ran over.

I pushed my way through to the middle to find Chuck and Danny circling each other, shouting threats and pushing each other away. Everybody around me was shouting; like I said, everybody hated Chuck, and this would be a great excuse to see Danny kick somebody’s ass without it being voluntary on the ass-whuppee’s part. Me, I was pretty damn sure Chuck could take that punk, but the problem was the mob – if shit went down, even if Chuck won, there’d be a dozen kids ready to jump in and send him to the hospital. So I stayed and watched and tried to figure out how I’d help if shit went down – totally freaking out, because I was the only one there on Chuck’s side – when the Recess Lady showed up and broke us all up. It took her about fifteen minutes to do, being a sixty year-old blue-hair as she was, and she’d gotten Chuck to start walking away when Danny hocked a loog over his head and he came roaring right back, screaming “Who looged?” There was a huge crew of kids talking shit at him now, so it could have been any one of them.

Finally! A chance to help! Chuck turned to me and shouted his question again and like a soldier answering his drill sergeant I hopped-to and shouted “Danny!” Some help I turned out to be. The whole bullshit process started again and the poor old woman had another ten minutes of work to get Chuck to leave and Danny to go to the principal’s office.

Danny bragged and congratulated himself. Chuck stayed away from school for the rest of the week, probably starting fires and throwing punches with his dad.

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Guest Writer: Guam tells "Dangerous Minds - No, Really, They're Fucking Dangerous"

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Moose is on vacation and his friends are helping out for the next two weeks. This week’s story comes from my boy Guam. I met Guam junior year in college, we were RAs together at BU and he got me into improv. We’ve acted together, wrote together, created together but most of all – we just wasted a shit-load of time together.

Guam is now going to law school, which is why I’m not allowed to use his real name. He does improv in Boston, has written a few plays provided someone kicks him in the ass and wrote, acted, codirected and coproduced one of the best one-man plays I’ve ever seen, Tales of a Broken Heart: Not a Love-Story. It’s the true story about his heart failing and how he got himself through it. He’s performed it several times and the audience laughs, cries and tends to walk away feeling good to be alive. Except me. I punch him in the pacemaker.

His story is a great way to start off. It’s hysterical, touching and definitive Guam (the guy, not the island, never been to the island). Please enjoy.

__________________

Dear Jason Rodriguez Admirers

Jason is on vacation on the West Coast and he asked some of his friends to sub for him during his trip. Jason set down a few guidelines, no stories about him (he already used my favorite one, Beach House) and all must take place by the summer of 2000.

Since I do what I goddamn want, this story takes place in September of 2000. Let me back up. In order to attend BU with Jason I won a scholarship from the Government of Guam for being the valedictorian of my high school. I received $15,000 a year from the government and used it to attend BU, but the caveat was that I had to return home and work for a year. It sounded like a good deal at the time, and I guess it still is a good deal, but my return led to the most depressing period of my life from which there are few entertaining stories. This here is one.

I had to return home and work for a year. I could have flipped burgers or climbed coconut trees; it didn’t matter so long as I worked for an entire year. My Dad decided that I should be a teacher. It has only been recently in my life that I decided to make decisions for myself. I still don’t like to do it. My dad’s reasoning was that (1) both he and his mother are excellent teachers, and (2) I am smart. From that my dad decided that I could be a teacher and arranged a job interview. One of my fatal flaws is that I believe my own and others BS when it is about me. One pep talk and I cruised through an interview and got a job as a remedial science teacher for 9th graders in one of the toughest high schools on Guam.

Oh, by the way, what did I get my undergraduate degree in? Religious Studies.

I was doomed from the beginning.

Besides the week I spent in the hospital after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, teaching was the worst week of my life. I should have taken a hint when there was a vacancy in the middle of September. These kids already ran one teacher out of the school.

It was hard getting their respect since I am about 5’ 5” and weighed 145 lbs at the time. I am quite the baby face. It took me a while the first day to convince people that I was the teacher of the class. And this was my first experience with public school. I didn’t realize that it was populated by barbarians. I stayed up late every night, preparing a lesson plan about the ecosystem, something I think I had heard of once. I distinctly remembering being so stressed out one night that I was crying.

One day I thought I was making progress with the kids when this soon to be drop out actually raised his hand in class
“Yes?”
“Sir, are you a stoner, sir?”

I was immediately taken aback. My mind started racing. What the fuck did I do last night? No. No, I’m cool. I stayed at home and played video games. Phew. Oh shit! What is this kid’s last name? No I am not down with any Castros from Yigo. Hah. You don’t know me kids. Fuck you. I’m all good. Oh fuck! I have been quiet for like 10-12 seconds. Quick, say something. SAY SOMETHING NOW, BITCH!

“That . . . uh, is an inappropriate question . . . Why do you ask?

“Because you look like one, sir.”

I quickly turned the class’s attention to the definition of a habitat. I am a fucking Smooth Cat.

By Friday I had reached my limit of babysitting future drop outs, being ignored, and having my personal life probed by little barbarians. Today I was going to hand out a quiz on the material so far; I would grade it and then I would never see these fucking kids again unless I bumped into them at the arcade. I walked into the vice-principal’s office and said fuck it I can’t do this shit anymore. I’m giving them a quiz and then going home to never set foot in this school as long as I live.

It was easier than I thought. I walked to my box in the faculty room for the last time and checked it. There was one memo and it read, “Due to the threats of gang violence, please do not let your students out into the hall unsupervised.” Well, at least my last day was going to be interesting. There would either be a fight or an in-class soiling.

I went to my classroom. Very early on in my first period, a Teacher’s Aide came in. They call them Teacher’s Aides but I have never seen one in a classroom before. They are more like glorified roadies. The Aid came in and shoved an index card in my face. Apparently this bulletin from the office was so sensitive that it could only be read briefly off an index card carried around by a burly woman. The index card said:

“Due to the rumors of gang violence, all teachers and aides should maintain a presence in the halls and the open areas during morning break and lunch.”

This struck me as the stupidest thing I had ever heard. I could just picture it in my head.

[ Four Young Hoods gather around in a deserted hallway of Simon Sanchez High School. They have various weapons assembled and are steeling themselves for a bloody confrontation.]

Leader: Alright, those Yigo boys are going down today.

Hoods: Yeah!

Leader: Nobody messes with the Keiser Boys!

Hoods: Yeah!

Leader: We are going to jump those guys and fuck them up! [Silence.] Guys?

Hood #3:It’s … It’s

Hood #2: The Remedial Science Teacher!
[poof of smoke]
RST: Hello, children. Let me tell you about our friend the ecosystem.

Leader: Let’s get the fuck out of here! Run, guys! RUN


Yeah, that probably wasn’t going to happen. I was gonna spend break in my classroom. Thanks, but no thanks.

The notes did not end. Yet another burly female messenger arrived in my third period. This super secret note told me to hold my third period and not release them for break because the school was conducting a room to room weapon search. All I had prepared was a quiz, so the class eventually devolved into chaos which was fine because I was clock watching. I was gonna be out of there at 3:30. What did I care?

After 40 minutes they finally made it to my room. They had all kids form a line on the side of the room while the searched every single bookbag for weapons. They did not find any weapons but one kid had one of these travel nail care kits. A little black travel cozy with a nail file, nail clippers, and the other instruments of which I am completely befuddled. I guess it is a perfectly fine thing for a person to own, but probably not a wise thing for a 14 year old boy to make a fuss over when it gets confiscated.

The Aides took it away and he just started pleading. “No, that’s my manicure kit.” “Hey, my mom gave me that.” “Don’t take my manicure kit.” It was horrible. I was watching a high school 3 car pile up. Each time this guy said the word “manicure kit” he was committing social suicides.

“Hey, that’s my manicure kit.” No girlfriend freshman year.

“Sir, they are taking my manicure kit.” Now he will be called a manicure related nickname. Add one year to the length of his virginity.

Manicure Kit. Manicure Kit. MANICURE KIT. I couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to say something helpful to stop the bleeding, but instead I said, quite loudly, “Hey Rico, maybe you should play down the whole manicure kit.” And then I cut loose 3 manicure related insults which ensured that he would not get laid until at least college.

Last period I was all set to flee. Last period was the worst class of them all. It was full of gang bangers and other kids who would later encounter the penal system. There was one kid, Jose. I handed him the quiz and he smiled really big. His test taking style was a little unique.
(1) Jose read the question
(2) Jose stared off to ponder the answer.
(3) Jose’s focus wandered.
(4) Jose remembered a song he liked.
(5) Jose bobbed his head to the music in his head.
(6) I reminded Jose of the time remaining for the quiz.
(7) Repeat Step 1.
Such a nice kid, but not too bright. Just as I was feeling great about leaving the school, Jose turned in his quiz and said, “Sir, I know I didn’t do very good on this quiz. But I’m gonna do good on the next one.” I had reached a student. I somehow inspired him to work hard to excel despite his natural head bobbing tendencies. And I was abandoning that kid. I felt like a Piece of Shit. One of the worst feelings in my life. I hope Jose turned out okay. I’d feel guilty if he was in jail or a drug addict right now.

I thought about all the teachers I gave a hard time, who I tried to prove were stupid, whose lives I made worse, and I thought about how hard this week was, and I felt like I was going to cry. To any teacher at St. John’s Episcopal School or Father Duenas Memorial School who were unfortunate enough to draw my petty, petty ire, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. Next to mothers, Teachers have the hardest job in the world. I am truly sorry.

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