AC is a chick magnet.

Anyway, back to crazy drunk conference lady. As I said, we were standing there waiting for the shuttle and talking amongst ourselves when she stumbles up, clearly intoxicated.

She must have a weakness for large black men, because she makes a beeline for AC and starts talking in a non-stop drunken slur. She completely ignores our respective wives for the first minute or so, intent on talking shop with AC, and then asks my wife if we all met at the conference. My wife jokingly says "No, they just picked us up at the bar, and we're going back to their hotel."

The crazy drunk conference lady starts in on how awesome the hotel is, and how it will "treat them right." She was drunk enough to actually believe my wife, which was pretty funny.

My wife and AC's wife, recognizing the serious amount of crazy in play here, move themselves slowly away and continue their conversation, leaving AC and I alone with CDCL. She suddenly says "So here's my story" and then launches into the entire sordid history of her trip so far, starting with Saturday night and working her way forward through a series of drunken encounters. She starts telling AC about how she was just at the bar and some guy was hitting on her with a line about how his wife had just died, and he wanted to give her a ride back to the hotel. I don't think either of us had heard that particular line before, and we were wondering if perhaps his wife had actually just died, and was, at that point in time, still back in his room rapidly cooling.

Then she starts asking about our ages. She is smashed out of her gourd, and says that we look like we're in our twenties. We break the news to her, and she comments on how smooth AC's skin is, and I think that line is supposed to aid her in trying to steal him away from the "local girl" that he just "picked up." Abruptly, she says to AC "Let me see your teeth." -- like she can tell his real age by the amount of wear on his molars, in the same way she would if he had been a horse she was thinking of buying. Instead of saying "Fuck No, Crazy Lady," AC complies with his best Mr. Ed grin, and she leans in close and checks out his fine incisors. I'm still not sure exactly what she was looking for, but I guess she was impressed with his obvious dental prowess.

Finally, AC gets tired of being inspected for signs of age, and pulls out his license just to prove he was really as old as he said he was.

Luckily, the bus came right about then and saved us. On the ride back, we disclosed that the women were actually our longstanding wives, and that we didn't just pick them up at a bar. As we're walking into the hotel, AC is talking about CDCL and doesn't realize she's about ten feet behind us. I don't think she heard him though. She was already setting her sights on her next tall black man with fine molars, since AC was obviously taken. Either that, or on her next drink.

Probably both.


Now I know why Glen Campbell left this dust bowl.

I slept in the plane during the five and a half hour flight to Phoenix, and I woke up when the pilot came on the loudspeaker and said we were about 20 minutes out. I slid up my window cover and got my first look at the beautiful state of Arizona. My exact words were "Holy shit! It looks like a gigantic dirt pile."

So yeah, the entire state looks like Afghanistan only with more shopping and less small-arms fire and opium. It's seriously hot here, and frankly, I am not used to 112 degree days, and have no desire to become used to them.

And of course, the hotel is seriously cranking the air conditioning, so it's only about 65 degrees in all the conference rooms. Picture walking from hell on earth into a meat locker and back about ten times a day, and you'll have a good idea of what it's like here.

People always say it's a dry heat, and they're right. That makes no difference. My oven at home is a dry heat, too, but you don't see me living in there, for god's sake. These people are nuts. Seriously, if the electricity ever went off in this town for more than a week, this whole place would get swallowed by the desert.

The hotel itself is pretty nice. There's an insanely expensive spa where I am pretty sure you can go get your nuts packed in mashed cucumber and lemon for 200 bucks, if that's your thing. They play soft music and then rub your feet with oregano or something. I don't know. I took one look at the prices and ran scared.

I'll post more (with pics) soon. Special Dark is a trip to travel with. He's afraid to talk and scared to move because he thinks I'm going to blog about it. I am, of course, but that's besides the point.


What is the sound of one hand flapping?

Quite a few years ago, I chanced upon a severed rubber hand a few weeks before Halloween. I can't remember who gave it to me, but it was molded from a real hand and the overall effect was pretty convincing if you weren't too close.

In my infinite wisdom, I thought it would be funny to slam it in the trunk lid of my shitbox Chevy Citation, leaving its fingers sticking out above the license plate. I enjoyed seeing people's reaction in my rear view mirror when they noticed it.

After about a week of this, I pretty much forgot about it. It was still hanging out of the back of my car, getting grimier by the day.

I was watching television one night, and the doorbell rang. I got up and opened it, and a state trooper was standing on my doorstep. It turns out that the sound of one hand flapping is a lot like a siren. The conversation went something like this:

Cop: Mr. Johnny Virgil?

Me: Yes, that's me.

Cop: Do you own a maroon 1986 Chevrolet Citation?

Me: Yeah, why?

Cop: Does it have, uh, a human hand sticking out from under the trunk lid by any chance? I know that sounds crazy, but we've been getting reports all week and someone reported your license plate number.

Me: (laughing nervously) Ha ha, well, yes, actually. It's not real though. It's a rubber hand.

Cop: Can you come with me please?

Me: Um, where are we going?

Cop: Out to your car. I'd like to take a look at it if you don't mind.

I put some shoes on, grabbed my keys and followed the cop outside to the parking lot of the apartment complex. He had his giant flashlight swinging around sort of randomly, and I was trying to remember where I had left the car. I finally remembered and we walked over to it. He played his light across the back of the trunk, and there was the hand. The problem was, while the thing had started out looking pretty fake, the road grime had taken its toll. Dirt and dust had collected around the fingernails, and combined with the grime in the skin creases and the general overall grubbiness, in the beam of the flashlight this thing looked as real as the hand on the end of my arm, had my arm been attached to the torso of my recently exhumed corpse. The cop took a quick step back.

"Open the trunk please," he said, suddenly all business.

I unlocked the trunk, and the hand fell onto the ground with a muffled thump. I picked it up, wiggled it around, and then handed it to him. He shined his light on it for a few seconds, flipping it over, then visibly relaxed and said, "OK. It's probably not a good idea to keep that there. You wouldn't believe the number of calls we received on this. We've had troopers looking for you all week."

I told him I was sorry about that, and I tossed the hand on the front seat. He left, and I went back inside.

The next day, I stuck it behind the little door to the gas cap. I figured that still looked creepy, but it was more funny-creepy than axe-murder creepy. And you'd have to be insane to think that someone was actually reaching out from down inside the gas tank.

Two nights later, the doorbell rang again. I opened the door, and the same trooper was standing there, holding the grubby severed hand and looking at me. He was not smiling.

"I'm gonna have to take this," he said.

"Yeah, that's probably best," I replied.

'I don't want to have to come out here again," he said, pointing the severed hand at me for emphasis.

"No sir," I agreed. "That would be bad."

"OK," he said, "We understand each other."

He turned and walked back to his cruiser. I could tell that for a split second, he wanted to slam the hand in the black-and-white's back door and drive around with it that way, but he restrained himself and just tossed it on the seat next to him and then drove away.

And that, sadly, was the last I saw of my severed hand.

Halloween is coming up pretty quickly, and I'm thinking it might be time for another one.

I'm heading to a Phoenix resort next week for a conference with my co-worker Special Dark, so there should be some good blog fodder in the making. Plus, I'm pretty sure I saw in the brochure that they sell severed hands in the lobby store. I'll let you know how I make out. Hopefully it won't get confiscated at the airport.

Is it better to check a severed hand with your luggage, or keep it in your carry-on? I can never remember.


Ingenuity: brought to you by Coors Light

There's been a little activity recently over at the Squatterson's place. Some general cleaning up and painting has been going on. I think they got spooked because the town has started to tear down the mobile home next door as an "unsafe building" and there's a big dumpster out front. They probably figured they'd better get their shit together before the town decided they were next.

Anyway, the last time I drove by, there was about 5 or 6 of them sitting around a picnic table with an umbrella on it drinking beers and swatting mosquitos. It was a pretty hot and humid day, and the bugs were bad. I could see that all of them were waving their hands around their heads trying to kill whatever they could.

The very next day, I saw this:

They didn't have any poles, so they just cut the bottom out and draped it over the umbrella. A few tie lines to some trees and a road sign, and they were good to go.

On my way home I saw a bunch of them all hunched up under there like they were discussing where to bury the body and hide the money, but I'm pretty sure they were just trying to get out and were too drunk to find the zipper.


Shakira is hot, but she sounds like Cher.*

I live in a pretty scenic and rural area. As a result of both those things, on the nice days we have a lot of bike traffic. Up where I live there are two types of bike people. The ones who like to ride their bikes, and the ones that have to ride their bikes.

These two particular types are easy to tell apart.

Because of the scenic areas, the first type of bike people come from all over. They will pull up in their Mercedes SUVs, and they will have five thousand dollar Trek Madone bicycles, stretchy bike pants and shirts, helmets that make them look like they have torpedoes strapped to their heads, and fancy bike shoes that lock into their pedals. Judging by the standard amount of activity I've witnessed at traffic lights, I am fairly certain that if they actually stop pedaling, they will fall over.

These are the people who ride their bikes because they want to, and they want to because they are fanatics. They travel in packs and love to share the exercise, the camaraderie, and the fun of pissing off motorists by riding directly down the center of the road and not budging one inch for the car behind them.

Because of the rural nature of the area, we have our share of the other type of bike rider as well. They will have a rusty Schwinn with a wire basket in front, and they will be dressed as they are always dressed -- dirty jeans, a wifebeater T-shirt and old sneakers. These are the people who ride their bikes because they have to, and they have to because they no longer have the right to drive a car. They travel alone, and deeply hate everything involved in pedaling wherever they need to go to find beer or work or food. About half the time, the wire basket will contain a six-pack of Coors.

The odd thing though, is that these people actually ride on the shoulder. Somehow, either in their drunken stupor or through the hazy pain of their hangover, they are able to out-think the stretchy pants people. This group of bike riders know instinctively that a car weighs upwards of 2000 lbs, and that they, on the other hand, do not.

Give me the second type any day. The other ones just make me want to commit vehicular manslaughter.

*yeah I know the title has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but I was watching a rerun of SNL and it needed to be said.


Mr. Clean is a Giant Man-Whore.

I was watching TV last night, and I realized something. Mr. Clean only "comes round" when the missus is home alone. There's never a husband or boyfriend in sight.

Mr. Clean is a clearly a major playa and special man-ho for de ladies.

Seriously, just think of all the moist towelette this guy must get -- he has the ability to pop into any house he wants at any time, and apparently he can also read minds, because he appears just when the women are thinking, "I wish I had a strapping, virile bald man to polish my pot."

I first noticed this phenomenon when I saw some fleeting but seriously flirtatious eye contact between the lady of the house and the Mister. You could also tell that he'd been there lots of times before because she wasn't even surprised when he materialized. I re-wound my PVR, and caught this still frame:

If there isn't smoldering passion there, there's at least some mutual interest in a quickie over the counter.

After that, I started freeze framing through Clean's other visits. It seems that one of the main talents it requires to be a giant man-ho is an ability to service several different women per hour. I have to say, that impresses the hell out of me. Not even when I was in college did I have that sort of stamina, and there was certainly no satisfaction involved on anyone's part.

To be fair, part of his success has to be due to the fact that he doesn't have to actually drive anywhere. Also, because he's Mr. Clean, I am pretty sure he's inherently dirt-free and never has to do any laundry or take a shower.

This one starts out innocently enough.

He is showing her what a great job he can do on her stained and filthy table, upon which, in her spare time, she apparently rebuilds lawnmower engines. But she turns away for a second, and then he makes his move:

Yep. It's out, and you didn't even see it happen. He's that good. She is shocked, but obviously also appreciative.

And this one is just blatant. I am almost positive they are actually doing it as she cleans.

Here's to you, Mr. Clean. You are truly a hero among men.*

*except among those men who happen to be married to the above women.


I stole this internet connection.

Ahhhhh. It's good to be back. It was touch and go for a while there. I don't have internet access until the 14th, since there was a small gap between when my satellite internet ended and my DSL begins, so I'm going through information withdrawal. I had to use an actual paper phone book yesterday, for god's sake. I watched the news on television. I called a store on the telephone and asked them for directions. I felt like a caveman. Or my dad. I was about a second away from digging through my garbage and trying to find an AOL free trial disk, that's how bad it was.

I was in Cleveland for a few days, and I'm not sure exactly what was going on in that city, but there was not a hotel to be had. Every hotel I called, from the Ritz Carlton to the Crackwhore Inn, was booked solid. Because of this, a guy on my team tells me to book a room at a hotel in the suburbs, and he'd drop me off and pick me up. He dropped me off after work on the first night, and was supposed to pick me up at 7 the next morning. I was waiting for him at 7 sharp, but he didn't show. At 7:30, I started calling him at his desk and trying to page him, but my pages were failing. At about 8, I went back into the hotel and asked them if they had a fresh battery for my pager. They did, and as soon as I popped it in, 3 pages came down. One of them said, "I have a 102 fever, and I'm not going to work. The bus into downtown stops right behind your hotel."

Great. I walk behind the hotel, and see the bus stop, and a bus is just pulling in. I start running and catch the bus with no problem, even though I didn't have exact change and a $1.75 ride cost me five bucks. Cheaper than a taxi. I drop into a front seat. It's one of those that has another bench seat facing backward directly across from me. A second after I sit down, a black guy sits down across from me.

I do a double take because the black guy has a smaller, additional black guy growing out of the side of his face. OK, it's not a whole black guy. It's actually a mole, but the mole itself has a mole, which seems to have vestigal arm lumps and the beginnings of a head. It was coming out of his left sideburn, and it was almost impossible not to stare at it. It looked like a small brown penis was attached to the side of his cheek, and it was practically waving at me. It was tough to ignore and I was trying to look everywhere but directly at it, and failing miserably. I could even see its reflection in the the window. Seriously, I don't know how he didn't bang this thing on doorjambs or knock pedestrians off the sidewalk by mistake.

After a bit of thought, I concluded that the guy either didn't do anything about his face growth because he didn't have the money, or because he didn't care. The thing is, this little man didn't spring from his sideburn overnight. It had to start slow, giving him ample time to get it taken care of. Of course, as I said, not having money is a problem. That's understandable, I suppose, but had it been me, all I can tell you is that a bottle of vodka and a utility knife are pretty damn cheap. Even if that level of self-surgery was out of reach, I would have been at that thing with a broken bottle if it came down to it. All I'm saying is that there's no way I would walk around with a small brown penis growing on my face, because one small white penis on my body is more than enough.

So anyway, that was my bus trip to the office. That night I came down with whatever creeping crud my co-worker had and I sweated off about 20 lbs and dreamed I got stabbed. I woke up with a fever, took some tylenol and then fell asleep again, whereupon I immediately dreamed I got shot. I don't know what's in the water in Cleveland, but I think it wants me dead.

I finally got to sleep around 5:30 and my coworker pages me at 6 am and says he's working today and is going to pick me up at 7. Fortunately for me, it was the day I was going to be flying home. Unfortunately for me, it was also the day a bunch of fucking Islamic morons in England decided to try to blow up some planes with some kind of two-part explosive. From what I gather, there was supposed to some sort of boy-on-boy mile-high club meeting where the guy with the Diet Coke would meet up in the bathroom with the guy with the Mentos and then all hell would break loose.

So after shipping all my liquid shit to myself via interoffice, I made it through security no problem, but they did take away my mountain dew.

Pretty soon the only way people are going to be allowed on planes is if they're buck naked. Of course the fares will double, because there will be another plane following behind with everyone's luggage. Once everyone is on board and strapped in, the pilot will pump the cabin full of knockout gas and keep everyone asleep until they reach their destination. You'll wake up with drool all over you, from both yourself and the guy next to you, since most likely they'll be lots of head-lolling going on.

It's not going to pretty -- especially if the guy sitting next to you has a small brown penis on his face.


Spiderman and Me: A retrospective

First, a little background.

Ever since I was a kid, I liked comic books. I collected them, but unfortunately in the process of collecting them, I actually read them to death, and consequently destroyed them without realizing it. By the time I was done with each issue, it was worth absolutely nothing.

It wasn't until I was a teenager that I realized the wisdom of reading them once, and then putting them in a sealed plastic bag with an acid-free cardboard backer. I collected comic books until I was a few years out of college, my rationale being they were an investment. Once I was out on my own, however, things like rent and food began to take precedence, and my collecting habit ground to a halt.

It was about time anyway, because I was very close to killing the marketing department at Marvel. Every story line broke across 7 different titles, and if you wanted to stay in the story loop, you were often forced to buy shit issues of some other comic that Marvel was whoring out. By that time, the comic books had a cover price of almost 3 dollars, so I called it quits.

When the Spiderman movie came out, other than a few fanboy quibbles,* I was ok with it -- they did a decent job. At some point, my wife got me a pewter paperweight of Spiderman as a gift, and I had it on my desk at work.

Word got around that I liked Spiderman. I would come in and find little 'gifts' on my chair that were spiderman related. Keychains. Christmas ornaments. Happy meal toys. Every "secret santa" revealed another hunk of useless chinese-made Spiderman merchandise.

When I came in on my birthday, I found this:

Nice, huh? Some kind of wall hanging thing from the movie. Before I chucked it, I flipped it over, and was surprised to find this:

Hmmm. I wasn't sure what to make of that.

If there is one thing I know, however, it's that if you're given some sort of useless collectible that you don't give a shit about, and the back of it contains a stern warning that says "CAUTION: Do not open" the first thing you should do is open that bitch without hesitation.

So I pry the top open, and laugh out loud, because I see this:

Holy shit. First a CAUTION and now a WARNING. They aren't fooling around. I decided that before I went any further, I would take a deep breath and hold it, just in case.

I pulled the picture completely out of the frame. There was a piece of pressboard under it, a piece of transparent plastic over it, and the picture itself, printed on a cheap glossy paper.

I flipped the picture over, and it turns out that holding my breath wasn't going to do any good at all because I saw this:

OK, I made that last one up. But that's along the lines of what I expected. Instead, I got squat. Nothing at all. It was completely blank.

I still have no idea what the hell the big deal was, although I do have one request: If I start slurring my words more than usual tomorrow, get me to the emergency room and tell them what happened.

*Organic webbing from his wrists instead of from a mechanical webshooter? WTF? Also, in the comic, Mary Jane was a HOT MODEL. Hello?? Dunst? Seriously?)


Here, kitty kitty.

The other day I was driving to the store and I saw a sign hung on a tree at the corner of my street about 200 yards from my house. I don't know why I decided to check it out -- I figured it was probably some left-over garage sale sign or something. I pulled up next to it and saw this:

Great. I think it's safe to say that I won't be covering myself in raw bacon and running through the woods naked.

Well, not anymore, anyway.


It's good to be a squirrel.

So I'm eating dinner and thumbing through one of the ridiculous mail order catalogs that show up at our house by the bucketload every single day - even though I've never ordered a single thing from them - and I can't believe the stuff they are trying to sell me.

The chinese people working the assembly lines where they make this crap must think we're all effed in the head.

One thing in particular catches my eye right away. It's this:

First off, let's talk about the big "Exclusive!" in the center, as if any other catalog might actually be tempted to sell this abortion. I am thinking it's exclusive only because this is the only mail-order catalog the manufacturer of the apple-torso-squirrel could convince to take it. Trust me - somewhere, there is a warehouse stacked to the ceiling with these things.

The second thing that I found hilarious is that they are apparently encouraging squirrels to eat a hearty meal out of the abdomen of one of their own. Now, in the squirrel world, this may be entirely permissible, but I have to be honest -- it sorta creeps me out. Not to mention the fact that if a real squirrel overcame his apprehension long enough to partake, the owner of this feeder would look out his living room window one morning and see this: