Friday, August 24, 2007

The Slow, Sad Decline Of Our Friend The Carpenter Ant

It may surprise our religious friends that the savior of the insect species was not ever a carpenter ant. No, the Insect Messiah will probably not come from colony species such as ants, bees, termites or Scientologists. As we pore over our insect religious texts, we understand that the Insect Messiah will travel long distances to preach to worker ants & worker bees, often outside busy nests, mainly attempting to liberate the workers from their queens. Queens in such cases are perhaps equivalent to the ancient god-kings of the old city-states. In any case, the Insect Messiah has her work cut out for her.

But one needn't be terribly concerned with the Insect Messiah to feel both pity & condescension toward the carpenter ant. This particular species of ant is particularly pathetic. For many hundreds of years now, its culture & literature have languished, & no scholar in her right mind disputes the reason: the shift from living in rotting logs to living in rotting human domiciles. What was once a thriving ant society, with dance, philosophical discussion, & hearty persecution of the drones, has now become a docile, dull totalitarian hive which spends its few leisure hours listening to Fox News on the television. Carpenter ants cannot vote, of course, but studies have shown that if they could vote, they'd to a single ant vote for the Butt Party. This, in contravention to many millenia as free thinkers & robust political gadabouts. It's enough to make the scholar weep for insectkind.

It's no surprise an industry has sprung up making big bucks on the control & eradication of the carpenter ant - they have truly become unpleasant creatures, boring to be around, simple-minded, dull-witted, tiring. If we are to believe their own literature - which has, fortunately, been saved by spiders in their complex spider libraries - these creatures were once the bon vivants of at least the Formicidae world, although their charm even now surpasses that of the boorish wasps, but that's not saying much. One can, if it so suits one, weep for their cultural programming & their capitulation to it, but instead it seems to many that, on the eve of the return of the Insect Messiah, we must move to other, more fertile areas of insect progress & scholarship, & leave those lost causes behind, praising their contributions in the past but regretting the fact that, when the insects rise up to consume the world, the carpenter ant will be not be an integral part of the revolution, but, alas, will find itself among the consumed.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

No One Is Purtier Than You

What would you say to my twitchy eye? Would you try to poke it with your stick? Would you be able to stop the nerves that make it flick & jump so? With your magic stick?

My twitchy eye can't be bothered with your half-assed alchemy. It does not fucking believe you. You know why? You & your poking stick are not threatening, no matter how much you wave it about or how many stories you tell about it. My twitchy eye twitches with skepticism.

Frankly, my twitchy eye thinks you're a twit. Furthermore, my twitchy regards with some nausea the fact that you desperately need people to be afraid of your stick. Your stick is your diaper & your mama's teat. Grow the fuck up, mutters my twitchy eye under its breath. It can't stand the look of you.

Do you really think my eye is twitching because of you? Ha! Ha ha! My eye's twitching because it's tired. It fucking says so here. So don't be waving your dumbass stick at me as if I give anything like half a shit about it. I am just staring too long at my computer screen. You deluded fucknut.

My twitchy eye must go away from the computer now. I see you are busy making friends with people who admire your stick. Of course! Of course!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Whither Jukeboxes?

Little Snarly lives in the back of a cubicle. All day & all night little Snarly hears the breathy workers as they rattle their keys & their keyboads all the worklong day. Little Snarly wonders if she too were ever a breathy worker, since she has a ring of rattling keys around her waist, & a flat rattly keyboard at her fingertips. But little Snarly cannot breathe, & little Snarly cannot move. She lives frightened in the back of her cubicle.

Little Snarly was not always afraid. Little Snarly used to have a friend. Her friend was full of coins. Little Snarly's friend would pull out a coin & force the gleaming round metal into machine slots. He'd give little Snarly soda, newspapers, candy, telephone calls, bubble gum, toys, anything, anything that could be got by a coin in a slot. But the thing little Snarly liked best wasn't something she could hold in her hands, but something she held in her head: music. Her friend would put a coin into a jukebox & music would come out! Good music, bad music, music you could dance to, music that'd make you laugh, music that'd make you cry, all kind of music! Little Snarly would sit on the folded daily newspaper, chewing gum, eating a candy bar, drinking a soda, sticking tiny stickers on her hands, & sway, sway, sway to her friend's gift of music.

Little Snarly remembered a sad day when her friend ran out of coins. A coinless time began, & her friend, either ashamed of his lack, or perhaps going somewhere to get more coins, her friend disappeared. Little snarly missed him a great deal, missed him more than the newspapers, the candy, the sodas, the toys - but not more than the music. & it occured to little Snarly that, perhaps, she didn't need her friend to get the music. She just needed the coins.

So little Snarly found the cubicle. The keys were dutifully wrapped around her waist & the keyboard was set dutifully in her lap, & little numbers came out of the workers' mouths which told little Snarly that, at some point in time, if she rattled her keys like them & if she rattled her keyboard like them, & if she managed to breathe just like them, she would get coins of her own. So, one coinless day, with only the sound of the rattling of her breathy workers coming in over her cubicle walls, little Snarly rattled, too.

She rattled until she was out of breath, & then she caught her breath, & then she rattled some more. She couldn't quite rattle in the way the breathy workers did, so she tried different kinds of rattling, & when she did this, one worker, called a supervisor, would come into her cubicle, readjust little Snarly's key & reposition little Snarly's keyboard, & then leave her alone again. It must be said, no matter how hard she tried, little Snarly could never rattle like the others did, & she experienced more & more dread every time she tried, because the supervisor's visits were more & more frightening. She kept trying, though, because she couldn't help think about the coins. The coins she would get to help put music in her head.

One day, the supervisor came to little Snarly's cubicle, & wasn't there to readjust her keys or to reposition her keyboard, & little Snarly knew from the smile on her supervisor's face that he was there to give little Snarly her coins. Her heart raced. Her brain was so hungry for sounds other than rattling & breathing that it pounded. The supervisor handed little Snarly an envelope. Little Snarly grabbed for it, almost dancing in her seat. She could hear outside her cubicle that the others had stopped rattling, too. Everyone everywhere was holding their breath.

The envelope was light, too light, but little Snarly opened it anyway. Inside were thin strips of paper in dull colors, folded neatly, as if cut neatly off a giant strip of paper, then folded, & placed into an envelope made just to hold the dull, smooth, same-sized strips of paper. No coins at all. There were no coins in the envelope!

Little Snarly waited for the outrage from beyond the cubicle. But there was none. A single simple sigh emerged from all the workers & then, after the sound of what had to be the same strips of paper in the same handy envelopes stuffed into pockets or drawers or purses or wallets, the breathy workers began to breathe again, & the rattling started again, this time with more determination, more purpose, more self-satisfied somehow, more menacing.

Little Snarly couldn't move. She didn't want a single rattle to come from her. She breathed silently. She simply didn't understand. & she was scared. So she moved slowly - without a rattle - into the back of her cubicle. Where she now lives. & she has forgotten about the coins, & she has forgotten about the music she wanted in her head. & because she makes no sound, her breath nearly silent & her body still, the workers- including the worker called the supervisor - have all simply forgotten about her.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Preface To Jukeboxes: This Used To Only Cost A Nickel?

Even with the magic of the iPod, I still wish I had a jukebox. I'd take a digital jukebox - surely they make them that way now - just as long as it's big & full of flashy lights & lets you pick songs from a list. A jukebox is second only to a radio show in having near-complete control of what the people around you are listening to.

There are two jukeboxes in my memory that make me happy.

One was in Garland, Texas, when I was growing up. This one played 45 rpm singles. My sister Karin, de facto (yet resenting it) babysitter for me & my little brother, would occasionally take the two of us with her (& her incredibly skanky friend Tanya) down Cranford & across Saturn Road to a place called Paco Taco. (Maybe it was Paco's Tacos, but I remember it as Paco Taco.) There was a jukebox there, along with what was probably medicore Taco Bell-y Mexican food, although this was the mid-70s, so I don't even know if there were Taco Bells at the time. The jukebox, though, Karin loved. She always played one song - a song I can't think of ever without thinking of her - which was Foghat's "Slow Ride." In that way kids get when they're trying to be a part of something they don't entirely understand, my little brother & I would get excited, too, when she played the song - & I seem to remember that the food always came at the end of that song.

Whether it happened more than once or twice, I don't know. But it apparently stuck in my head. It's a happy memory.

The other jukebox probably no longer exists. either, but it resided for a time in the back area of an Austin dive called The Hole In The Wall. It played CDs. My buddy Mike & I would go there, &, since we were both pretty inept with the pool cue, we invented new rules for pool that weren't as embarrassing as the ones everyone else used, & we'd drink pitchers of beer - ah, & I'd smoke, back in those lovely days when I was a smoker & you could smoke in bars - & get increasingly drunk as we'd get increasingly worse at pool. (One of the rules of our pool, if I remember correctly, was that, if you made a particularly bad shot, you had to give your pool cue to the other player, since it was obviously the cue's fault, & you wanted your opponent to have the bad luck.)

The Hole In The Wall's jukebox was pretty piss-poor, so mainly we'd listen to what other people programmed, but I in particular loved to play "pool" to two songs on that pathetic nickelodeon: the Knack's "Good Girls Don't" & Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run." I can't recall if there was anything more hip on that jukebox, but other, cooler jukeboxes (which seem to be cool only because they have the last few Johnny Cash records & "Sandanista!" by the Clash on them) never seem to impress me much anyway.

A jukebox is more about where it's at than its content, it seems to me. Those two jukeboxes were at the right place & the right time to make me happy & therefore to give me happy memories.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dues Paid In Advance

But what, might I ask, is the opposite of groin?

Let us instead praise heartfelt ice creams. I nominate Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Chunk. Or should I have said "heart-stopping"? Never mind. My cats beg for it. That's good enough for me.

I have pulled a muscle in my back, but I have since applied heat & I feel a little better. Ice cream in no way helps with the nausea, but what else can I do? My girlfriend is doing research & I am afraid of wasps. How else can you recommend doubt & disbelief to your friends &/or loved ones?

Oh! Before I forget! If you missed the Self Help Radio radio show I did last Friday (or the Friday before that, going back an entire year & sometimes more), you can listen to it as if it were on for the first time, except as an mp3, at If you like it, I promise I will make more (also, I will make more if you don't like it, but that shouldn't bother you). Like most radio shows, it's a mixture of music & talk, but unlike most radio shows, it's actually completely naked. & unashamed. It's not reacting to a repressive religious upbringing or anything - it just simply doesn't wear clothes. Maybe you find that sexy?

If ice creams lasted forever, would we all be fat & sticky? Do all words have opposites? Why don't we have breakfast together? Especially later in the day?

That's all I have for now. I am going to pretend that I can play lead guitar to sneakily try out for the Ramonalisas. I may be able to fool them if I hum loudly while I am "playing." Ha ha! We'll see!