Saturday, April 30, 2005

May Quotes & Police Calls of the Week

Quotes of the Week
"Ralph and I were just talking about how Sandy has not been very destructive for a puppy. And then we woke up and she chewed off half of the door surround from our brand new door." -- My sister, Bubbles

"Don't you scare at me!" -- My niece, Sydney, telling her Grandma Jan not to stare.

Police Calls of the Week
Dec 5: Property damage. A witness saw a white van with a blue stripe, which did not have its headlights on, stop in front of a house in the 2400 block of Morrison St. A boy got out of the van, ran up to an inflatable snowman in the yard, and punched and kicked it, puncturing it.

Feb 3: Animal complaint. A caller in the 2300 block of Alysheba Court said there was a potbellied pig in his foyer.

April 12, 6:16 p.m.: East Santa Fe Street, 2100 block: Stolen avocados, silverware, pencils and book sleeves.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Judging Comic Books by Their Covers

I've always been kind of a comic book guy. Not as nerdy as the guy from The Simpsons, though. But I was hooked enough on the "funny" books as a kid to walk about 3 miles - uphill both ways - to buy them.

The guy who ran the bookstore I bought them from was a prick. If you even dared peek at the pages inside of a new or used comic on his rack, he would yell "Are you going to buy that? This isn't the library. You can't read those for free."

It was the only store in town, so I couldn't take my loose change somewhere else. I had to gamble a bit and judge the comic books by their covers alone. And they sucked me in, much like a National Enquirer cover hooks a gossip junkie.

I didn't always get what I bargained for. Sometimes the covers duped me. I stumbled across one comic called The Cross and The Switchblade in the 1970s. I typically bought anything that had super heroes and super villains kicking each other's asses on the cover. This one was different. It featured some street thug holding a knife to a preacher's heart, telling him "I Could Kill You Preach." The Preacher replies "Yes, you could, Nicky! You could cut me up in a thousand pieces and every piece will say I love you."

I didn't know what to think of this. It seemed like a sappy thing to say - even if you are a preacher - to some asshole who is about to give you unscheduled open-heart surgery. But I couldn't get past the title. It had the word Switchblade in it, so it had to be cool. One kid at school got suspended for having a switchblade comb, so buying a comic book with the word switchblade made me feel almost as ballsy.

Anyway, I got home and the comic ended up being a total holy roller issue. There wasn't even a good knife fight inside. Even The Bible had way better fights in it than this comic book did. The Bible had David smoke out Goliath with a rock. In The Cross and the Switchblade, the preacher kept trying to reach out to hippies with religion and managed to talk some chick out of using heroin. I preferred to see Spider-Man kick the Green Goblin's ass instead.

From that day forward I learned when judging a comic book by its cover backfired on me, all I had to do to fix it was use my imagination. Sometimes my ideas seemed a better fit for the comic than what was actually inside.

In my version of The Cross and the Switchblade, maybe the thug would try cutting the guy into 1,000 pieces to see what happens. In the end, 999 pieces don't say a fucking thing. But the mouth piece says "I love you" 1,000 times to make up for all the mute pieces. There are so many pieces of preacher lying around that the thug goes insane because he can't find the piece that's doing all the talking, and is dragged off to spend his life in an asylum. Through some sort of divine intervention, the preacher survives the attack and is stitched back together by a local quilting group. He continues preaching, but decides to keep his mouth shut if ever held at knife-point again.

OK, so that story is a little twisted for a book put out by Spire Christian Comics. Need further proof? I did a search on the internet for comic book covers and discovered there are plenty of people out there who are more obsessed than Comic Book Guy. Some of them have scans of the covers of every comic book in their collection - numbering in the thousands - posted on various websites.

After viewing these, I realize the store where I bought comic books sucked. It didn't have the selection of comics compared to today's information superhighway. I found so many side-splittingly hilarious covers. I'm not sure how I missed these covers growing up because they had my undivided attention at first glance now. My imagination was in overdrive thinking of their potential plots. I didn't actually read any of these issues, so I decided to be super judgmental and make up horseshit comments and/or the possible storyline contained inside for the sake of humorous parody.

Here's my Top 10:

10. In this LAUGH comic, Archie is letting a kid bury him with sand on the beach while on a date with that rich bitch Veronica Lodge. He spots a hot redhead on the beach and a sand dune begins to form at his groin region. Veronica pleads with the kid to "cover up his head, too." I wonder which head she was referring to?

9. With a title like FLAMING LOVE, I expected to see two men kissing on the cover. Or at least Satan swapping spit with Leona Helmsley.

8. These LOIS LANE and SUPERMAN comics tied for eighth place, and you can see a trend developing with Superman's supposed steady girl. She isn't worried about another woman taking away her man. But those Mermaids are another story. At left, Superman hooks up with a wheelchair-bound mermaid, who suffered paralysis in a commercial fishing tuna net accident, so he can abuse her handicap parking privileges in Metropolis. On the right, Superman opts for the more mysterious mermaid who leaves more to his imagination by swimming around in a dress. Superman later actually changes into a Merman to further pursue this fish fetish, which ends abruptly after he is caught by Babe Winkleman on a million-pound test line with a big-ass silver spinner and a sucker minnow. On the last page, Superman is mounted and hung on the wall of the Red Lobster in Smallville.

7. Taking the half-human, half-beast thing a step farther in this great LOIS LANE comic, Superman decides to continue to court Lois, even though the old nag has become half horse. Superman couldn't break her on his own, so he had to enlist the aid of Robert Redford, also known as "The Centaur Whisperer." After whispering sweet nothings like "I love what you've done with your mane" and "Your horse's ass doesn't look fat in that saddle," Lois settled down and let Superman ride her like a rented mule. In a tragic twist, their love was shattered when Lois broke her leg in a fall and Superman had to lovingly put her down with his heat vision.

6. The shoe is on the other foot in this LOIS LANE comic as Lois won't leave her man's side despite the fact he is turning into a tree. Lois isn't even a vegetarian but is constantly called nicknames like "Tree Hugger." Lois learns to live with Superman's rare condition and the woodpeckers, squirrels and rakings in the fall that come along with it. Superman shows his appreciation by letting Lois carve their initials in his barky chest. Later, Lois runs into Superman's high school sweetheart Lana Lang at Home Depot while shopping for some pruning snips, then makes her jealous by bragging about the new wood Superman has been sporting lately. In the end, Lois fends off lumberjacks who want to cut Superman down by climbing him and building a treehouse in the branches coming out of his head.

5. In this ARCHIE comic, he hopes to get in Veronica's pants by giving her a plastic frisbee for her birthday. Thanks to a slumber party game of truth or dare the night before, blonde Betty spills the beans on what Veronica really wants from Archie - A "pearl necklace." Betty hopes this could break the ice for a possible threesome invitation. But Archie, totally clueless and a virgin (his carrot stick still untouched), spoils the mood when he asks Betty if she thinks Veronica would be cool with fake pearls until he can afford real ones.

4. Lois and Lana are shellshocked in this LOIS LANE issue when Superman dumps them for being too stupid to figure out his Clark Kent "disguise," which is just a pair of glasses. After Superman storms off to have rebound sex with Wonder Woman, Lois and Lana feel like Dumb and Dumber for not picking up on Clark's super hints. Lois thought Clark constantly went into phone booths to satisfy his addiction to phone sex chatlines. When Clark bragged he knew what color everyone's panties were due to his bitchin' X-Ray vision, Lana believed it was was simply an attempt to make her jealous. And they both thought Clark was simply a candy-ass when he high-tailed it at the first sign of trouble.

3. This SUPERMAN comic shows his true weakness is not kryptonite, but a super dominatrix with great go-go boots.

2. In this JIMMY OLSEN comic, Superman's pal begs for mercy so he does not have to go through with marrying an ape. We soon discover this whole mess started when Jimmy was set up on a blind date with Ko-Ko by Lex Luthor. Jimmy wasn't attracted to Ko-Ko, but she knew sign language and was nice, so he decided to go through with the date as "just friends." After a bender of banana dacquiris, he woke up naked with the ape in a trashed hotel room surrounded by Samsonite suitcases. Later, Jimmy thinks Ko-Ko is psycho and trying to trap him by faking a pregnancy. Superman plays the Witch Doctor card and says the shotgun wedding show must go on. Note: The writer of this issue may have misunderstood his editor's request for a jungle love storyline, but they went to press with it anyway because monkey covers sell, baby.

1. Archie shows just how far he will go for love in this edition of BETTY & ME. Blondes in bikinis get plenty of attention at the beach (just ask Pamela Anderson). That's why Archie isn't afraid to admit to Betty he beat off 3 other guys just for the right to rescue her. Betty pretends to be flattered, but secretly wonders how many guys Jughead would have jerked off to rescue her.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Scooby Don't

I haven't seen anyone so obsessed with round metal money since that Mummy from the Scooby-Doo cartoons staggered around for 30 minutes straight repeating the words, "COIN! COIN!"

It all started last week when I listed some vintage coins on eBay for a friend. He collected coins in his younger years, but needed some quick cash to pay his mortgage this month. I was happy to help for a small cut of the action. My only problem was I knew squat about coins and hoped to avoid being bombarded with picky questions about conditions of the coins from people who will think nothing of sifting through 500 Hefty bags full of loose change with the hopes of finding a 1916 D Mercury dime. No such luck. I was shelled with so many questions I thought I was taking my SAT again.

I'm usually great with answering people's questions, especially when I'm trying to sell them something. But I've learned in 18 months as an eBay seller that trying to answer questions from a crazed collector is akin to answering questions from the FBI under a hot light about a crime you did not commit. They always think you're hiding something, like Jimmy Hoffa's body, and will stop at nothing to try to get the "truth" out of you.

The collectors ask what condition a coin is in on a 10-point scale. You can't pull an 8 out of your ass and bullshit your way by any of them. They have some sort of dewey decimal system set up for coins that tells them exactly how many minor flaws George Washington's cheek has, how long the coin was in someone's pocket, if it was ever inside a coin purse, and if it was ever used in a vending machine. I don't know how they track this, but THEY KNOW. They'll ask if it has wear (there's only about a billion interpretations of that), if it's still shiny, if it has the minter's initials on it (some of which are the size of a gnat's nutsack and only visible with aid of the Hubble space telescope). Too many questions like that will make you want to let a stamp collector lick you to death.

If I was a coin collector at least I could come up with some entertaining questions to keep things interesting. I'd ask, "On that 1969 penny, does Lincoln's head look like before or after he was assassinated?" or "Is Liberty sitting like a lady on that coin or is she all spread eagle like a Supertramp?"

Unfortunately, I'm just a freak magnet and get only boring questions and assholey accusations. I had never seen or even corresponded with The Coin Mummy before, but to make a long story short, he accused me of being a counterfeiter out of the blue in his first email. He seemed convinced I had minted the 176 pennies, 1 dime and 50 silver dollars in my basement before listing them on eBay. Apparently, I was a damn good dirty money maker as I made the coins look 30 to 105 years old in my minting process. Apparently, I had figured out how to mint coins during one of my two short stints behind bars where I was a star license-plate pressman.

I knew nothing about The Coin Mummy other than his obsession with "COIN! COIN!" He was apparently the self-proclaimed pharaoh of eBay coin auctions. I have no doubt this prick has 10,000 slaves building him a mini-pyramid tomb somewhere so he can be buried with his coin collection when he dies.

I wrote The Coin Mummy back and told him not to get his bandages in a bind. I assured him that I was not a master counterfeiter, although sometimes I wished I was so I could pay off my thousands of dollars of debt. This joke made The Coin Mummy's curse worse. He became even more obsessed with my coin auctions and began to take on the persona of one of the idiotic hick sheriffs featured on the Scooby-Doo cartoons. He warned me my coins had better be real or the authorities would come find me, even though he wasn't bidding on anything I had for sale and had less proof than non-alcoholic champagne.

At this point, I snapped and sent a reply, which included the following:

I'm not sure who elected you "coin chief of police," but now that my coin auctions are over you can officially withdraw your stakeout of my auctions, Kojak. Clearly the individuals who bid and won my auctions were not concerned with the way my ads were written so I don't see why you should be, Roscoe. I will say it again... MY business is NOT YOUR business, Mannix. The transactions I have with others are just that. Transactions with others. Any issues we have will be taken care of between us. Your duty is done, Adam-12.

I wish I had your kind of free time to monitor everyone else on eBay, but I have a life. You may want to seek medication or professional help for your apparent psychotic internet stalking problem. At the very least, I think it's time for you to turn in your "coin chief of police" badge, Barney Fife. Trust me, it is not serving you well and I'm not going to be hearing "Book 'em, Danno" any time soon. It's time to move on to your next case, Baretta.

Case closed,

I'm hoping that shuts The Coin Mummy up. He hasn't emailed back, probably because I sent my message in English and not Hieroglyphics. I started to put this ugly incident behind me until yesterday.

That's when - while driving on Marshall Avenue in St. Paul just a few blocks from my home - I actually saw the Mystery Machine parked. I didn't see Fred, Daphne, Shaggy or Scooby, but I think I did see some ugly bitch in an orange sweater, knee-high stockings and a mini skirt crawling around on the sidewalk with her eyes all squinty as if looking for her displaced glasses.

The van looked authentic, much like my coins up for auction. The gang was probably either trying to solve the mystery of my coins or possibly looking for The Coin Mummy himself. I'm not sure if some washed-up guest star was with them like Don Knotts or Phyllis Diller. No clue why they'd be in St. Paul and not Monster Island. Maybe they got lost because Freddy wouldn't pull over and ask for directions. I assume they were somewhere nearby trying to lure their chicken-shit Great Dane out of hiding with Scooby snacks to continue their mission.

Not wanting to deal with these meddling kids, I fled the scene. I had contemplated putting some other old collectibles up for auction on eBay. But after these recent Scooby-Doo flashbacks, I'm a little gun-shy.

There's no way I'm going to sell any Spanish doubloons from ancient shipwrecks. Surely, Captain Cutler would come after me in his glowing haunted deep sea diver suit.

Selling any old gold nuggets is out too, as the old Miner 49er would surely flip.

Any tropical island artifacts would be off-limits due to the curse of the Tiki Witch Doctor. Out of this world items like UFO photos or moon rocks would drive the Space Kook crazy.

I couldn't even attempt to peddle a battery charger for fear the 10,000-Volt Ghost would be shocked and give me an even more hair-raising experience than The Coin Mummy.

I admit it. The Coin Mummy has made me so paranoid I haven't listed anything on eBay this week - the first time that has happened in a couple of months. In reality, The Coin Mummy is probably just some crooked jerk wearing a mask (maybe even two masks). Still, I'd prefer his identity remain unrevealed.

With my luck, he would probably end up being that little prick Scrappy Doo. If I get an email that starts off, "Tah-Tah-Tah-Tah-Ta-Ta, Puppy Power!" and closes with "Let me at 'em" or "Splat," I'll know for sure and really be scared.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Gout Pout

I apologize for my posting delay, but I was stricken with a gout attack. That's right. Gout.

I thought gout was a disease limited to old farts in nursing homes, not 35-year-old good ol' boys like me. But I knew something wasn't right when my left ankle looked like a hippo's chubby stump. I asked one of my co-workers for his humble opinion.

"Does my foot look fat in this shoe?" I joked, pointing down to the throbbing mass exploding out of my Sketchers. "I swear my left ankle looks twice as big as my right."

"I don't know... I actually think your right foot looks half the size of your left," the half-full/half-empty smartass replied.

Since mule-like stubbornness runs on both sides of my family, I continued to work on my swollen hoof until I was limping around like a three-legged sea turtle. A couple of days later, I called in sick to work as my foot had ballooned so much I could no longer put on my shoe. It was probably for the best as my pace had slowed to that of a three-toed sloth with two broken toes. It was at this point I finally decided it was time to see a doctor.

The pain associated with a gout attack is astonishing. I have a high pain threshold along with an even loftier level of stupidity when it comes to seeking medical attention. Best example: A few years ago, I worked for three consecutive 12-hour days with a broken wrist before finally fetching Doc Baker. On a pain scale of 1 to 10, I view a 10 as pain so severe it causes you to pass out. Gout pain ranks a 9.9.

The agony honestly made me consider amputation as a potential solution. I thought about that guy who got pinned under a rock while mountain climbing, then saved himself by hacking off a limb with his pocket knife. I figured I could still live a fairly normal life minus a leg, so I started searching my pockets hoping to find a Swiss Army Knife, keys, fingernail clippers, a credit card - anything to start the cutting process. All I found was a wad of lint and 43 cents, none of it sharp enough to saw off my redwood-sized leg just above the ankle.

Instead, I took 4 painkillers and tried daydreaming to numb the pain. There were some pretty bitchin' state of the art prosthetic legs out there now days. I would have done anything to relieve myself of that gout pain, even settling for an old creaky wooden peg leg.

That would probably signal a career change. How much training would I really need to make the transition from warehouse manager to pirate? All I'd need is a new uniform, complete with a ruffled shirt, a parrot on my shoulder and an eyepatch. Hell, I already own an eyepatch, how hard could it be to find the other two? But before I could pledge allegiance to the Jolly Roger flag, my big sister butt in. She told me not to become Captain Hook just because of gout. I was aiming too low with the pirate plan.

"Why be a pirate when you could be a gladiator?" she asked.

She even sent an inspirational picture to cheer me up. It showed a dog who was paralyzed from the third and fourth nipples down, yet still lived a normal life thanks to a specially designed chariot that took the place of her useless, dangling hind legs. She also said the dog, who should be renamed Ben-Her, was available for adoption at a shelter in north Florida.

Despite the humor in this, it could not take away the pain. And here I thought laughter truly was the best medicine. Not when it comes to gout, Doc Baker reminded me.

"Your ankle probably feels like your nuts would if you were kicked in the groin by a horse," Doc Baker said with his typically blunt bedside manner.

He had the pain diagnosed to a T. I looked at his medical school diploma and marveled that the University of Iowa could teach its students such balls-on accurate analogies to describe a patient's pain.

Now I was ready for the good news. If they can invent a little blue pill to make a guy's dick swell up, surely they must have a tiny pink pill to make other body parts deflate. That wasn't entirely true. There was an anti-gout medication, but it didn't guarantee complete prevention of outbreaks. It just potentially prevented them, or at least made outbreaks "less severe." Kind of like that herpes medication from those TV commercials that actually allows some lady to ride bike or go swimming with her boyfriend. It's a brand new day! Yipee!

Besides handing me the prescription, Doc Baker delivered some bad news. He hurled a horrible four-letter word my way, and to my dismay, it wasn't shit or fuck. It was much worse. Diet.

Doc Baker told me gout attacks can be caused by consuming the following items in mass quantities: Beer, pizza, cheese, red meat and certain seafoods like scallops. I eat everything in mass quantities, especially pizza, cheese, red meat and seafood. I didn't even want to ask about pop tarts.

Many aged foods could cause my joints - specifically the ones in my ankles or big toes - to swell up like a roadkill carcass in July. I couldn't believe my ears, so I asked for a second opinion from the nurse standing next to Doc Baker.

"He's right," Florence Nightingale said. "You can't have beer and pizza anymore."

"You've got to be kidding me," I said, devastated, with tears starting to roll down my cheeks. "Are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

"If we don't give you a coronary now, all the beer and pizza eventually will," joked Flo. "And you'll have a lot of gout problems along the way."

"No more beer and pizza?" I whined while weeping heavily. "You could have just as well told me I have a terminal illness."

No more beer and pizza. It was as if someone had just yanked out my feeding tube. I give myself 10 days to live, tops.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Scent of a One-Armed Woman

I guess at some point you grow to expect that famous women will launch their own fragrance line. JLo has Glow, Elizabeth Taylor has White Diamonds, Celine Dion has Beauty, and Beyonce has True Star.

Britney Spears recently rolled out one called Curious. It makes me wonder if she will team up with Madonna for a follow-up called Bi-Curious. If she wanted to target the kindergarten market, Britney could release Curious George - a tropical banana scent with chimpy accents.

I have no problems with stars releasing fragrances. It's just something stars do. Movie stars release so-called albums. Singers "act" in movies. Both groups attempt to sell the smelly shit.

But when 15-minutes-of-fame people cross over that line and start peddling perfume, I begin to wonder what this world is coming to.

The biggest head-scratcher was hearing that teeny bopper Bethany Hamilton unveiled her fragrance line. Hamilton, if you recall, was the surfer girl who had her left arm bitten off by a shark off the coast of Hawaii in 2003. After an experience like that, I figured she'd be more interested in spraying herself with shark repellent than perfume.

The news broke on April Fools Day, which made me think it was a joke. Further research proved the story to be legit. The fragrances will be available later this year and will be produced by Revelations Perfume and Cosmetics. With a company name like that, maybe it's a sign the end of the world is near.

Hamilton hopes to harness the scent of the ocean in both fragrances. Didn't Kramer from Seinfeld come up with this idea originally? I guess if you can smell like the beach without having to dig sand out of every nook and cranny of your body, it would be convenient.

Stoked, made for girls, gets its name from surfer talk for "being excited." It combines clementine, pineapple, tropical orchids, lotus blossoms, sandalwood and coconut. I'm worried about this one. I believe the only Clementine I've ever had a whiff of was a woman in a nursing home, and she smelled like embalming fluid.

Wired, for boys, gets its moniker from surfer speak meaning "to master something." It blends orange and Asian pear, jasmine, juniper, cedar wood and sandalwood. I'm relieved to hear her ocean scent inspirations didn't include oil spills, lost illegal drug shipments, boat people and missing decomposed arms.

So now I'm wondering which other semi-famous people who lost body parts will be cashing in on the fragrance line thing. What smells will be in the air next?

Will Def Leppard's drummer release Drumstick, which captures the scent of a sweaty 80s rock band, groupies, booze and a good car wreck? Will John Wayne Bobbitt release a cologne called Lost & Found inspired by losing his penis for a few hours in a ditch, then having it surgically reattached? That one would just smell like trouble.

Then again, those people are probably a little too famous. Hamilton releasing a fragrance would be like John Thompson releasing a cologne. Thompson had both of his arms ripped off in a farm accident in North Dakota a few years back. His scent, potentially called Grain Auger, would surely include notes of sunflowers, wheat, soy beans and maybe a hint of flax. I suppose for more diehard lovers of the farm smell, he could come out with one called Bullshit, inspired by having to shovel out barn stalls.

I wish Hamilton had called me to be a consultant before forging ahead with this idea. She could have had more fragrances than just Stoked and Wired. Here's some better ideas she could have used, inspired by the ocean and her run-in with the shark:

Chum - There's nothing like seafood scraps to attract attention. The smell will definitely get you noticed.

Stump - This would allow to focus on the diftwood smell of the ocean, yet capture the idea of missing your arm just below the shoulder.

Gangrene - This one could smell minty, but also a bit mediciney.

Ouch - Band-Aids always make things better, so this smell of adhesive would capture that feeling.

Feeding Frenzy - Spray some of this on, and the guys will be rolling all over each other trying to get a piece of the action. Scent inspired by a cafeteria food fight with gravy being the dominant aroma.

One Armed Bandit - Smell like a showgirl with this fragrance that captures the Vegas scent: Smoke, dirty money, $3.99 buffets and slot machines.

Jaws: The Fragrance - Why not cash in on the Jaws franchise one more time? Maybe every time you squirt the bottle, the first few notes of the Jaws theme would start.

Sharkleberry Fin - Smell like a Kool-Aid stand with this fragrance. You could have the Kool-Aid Man fill his pitcher with perfume and bust his ass through the wall behind the perfume counter at Nordstrom's for its debut. Oh, yeaahh!