I have it on good authority that a shadowy ghost with snap snap snapping fingers is haunting our house, and he is probably the one who caused both of our lovely new high-efficiency heat pumps to fail on the same hot day. He is probably the one, too, who made one of them leak through the ceiling into the clothes closet, and he is probably the one, too, who lured those preposterous Jehovah’s Witnesses to our neighborhood this morning. I loathe the Jehovah’s Witnesses as much as I would any band of lunatics who go door to door. They are not alone in this category, as my time in downtown Baltimore has shown, but they are the worst. For one thing, I think it’s an absolutely unforgivable sin to bother people in their homes, and this goes for phone solicitation, junk mail, and other intrusions, as well. I have enough problems without worrying about who is lying in wait on the other end of the phone or on my porch. Secondly, the goal of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is to convert people to their religion by exposing them to propaganda in their own vestibules. I think religion is ridiculous, but would it not be doubly so if someone’s entire view of the universe could be changed by a badly designed pamphlet? Bring me something by Chip Kidd, and we’ll talk armageddon, but until then, mind your own fucking business. Thirdly, I knew a girl in high school who was a Jehovah’s Witness, and she wasn’t allowed to have any birthday parties or celebrations of any kind because these were dismissed as evil. So what these people are doing is going door to door in an attempt to steal the joy out of everyone’s lives and replace it with their own tedious existence. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are the Anti-Gay in more ways than one.

The worst part about the Jehovah’s Witnesses is that they know people despise them and they do it anyway. Doors are slammed in their faces, dogs are sicced on them, and they are insulted left and right. There are plenty of people who get this treatment who don’t deserve it because they’re just trying to live their lives and want to be left alone, but the minute you try to tell other people how to live their lives, I say bring on the boiling oil. I think the Jehovah’s Witnesses welcome this reaction because they’ve woven it into their mythology of righteousness. If they stayed in their Jehovah’s Witness Huts™ no one would care what they do, but if they can provoke antipathy from as large a swath of the world as possible, it feeds their masochistic impulses. They are Suffering For Christ, who is sure to reward them with a big Birthday Party in the Sky. (It says in the bible that birthday parties aren’t evil after you die.)

I know I’m being uncharitable, but it’s all the shadowy ghost’s fault. If you had to stay home and wait for The Repairmen Who Never Came, you’d be bitchy, too.


These Are the Soul Cages

One of the most awful moments I face is the instant after waking up that everything hits me, the stuff I went to sleep trying to forget. This usually happens while my head is still on the pillow, but once I made it nearly across the room before that suffocating weight toppled me. Although eternally twenty-three, I will be old before my time if I don't discover the magic voodoo formula for protection from other people's shortcomings, which plague my life. Why is your problem my problem? My reflex is to bury myself in my own responsibilities and issues in the hopes that the others will take care of theirs, but this methodology is flawed and actively contributes to the diurnal despair. My soul is worn thin in so many places. I blame this on Best Buy Inner Harbor, poor customer service capital of the world. They know it and they don't care because they've got you where they want you. So you stand and putrefy in Best Buy Inner Harbor reality, which is disconnected from all other reality but somehow just the same.


Pink Eye, Stink Eye

Rosy is not returning to the view. I don't know what this means, but people are shouting it from the rooftops. The last time I was up on my roof, I didn't shout anything, but I'm not on the cutting edge of culture. “Rosy is not returning to the view.” Is this how all the cool cats are saying “conjunctivitis be cured” these days? Oh, Generation Y, your cleverness gives me goose pimples. Goose pimples! Yesterday, a bird pooped on the president, and this made headlines. I'm proud of that bird, or should I say “bird,” as it was really a certain Boston terrier in a propeller beanie. Here’s mud in your eye, Generation Y.


Friday Chupacabra Blogging and Pancake Breakfast

Mmmmm, pancakes.


Luncheon Companions

Part of yesterday’s festivities included the sighting of a certain man wearing an empress Empire waisted dress as a jacket over a tutu; he had a long beard, sported a hat that resembled a dandelion puff constructed of dirty rags, and carried numerous shopping bags that, one speculated, contained further fashion triumphs. “I’m craaaaazy!” he announced to those assembled.

“Which means he isn’t,” said my luncheon companion.

“Stop screaming!” the man barked at the children in a nearby playground. “I hate screaming!”

“That statement is ironic,” said my luncheon companion.

“Given that he’s screaming, himself?”

“Hmm, I suppose it was more like yelling.”

The craaaaazy man began a conversation with a nearby woman about what brand of yogurt she was eating, and she engaged him without batting an eye, as if he were the sort of interlocutor she encountered every day.

My luncheon companion and I walked along the park and then away from it, down the avenue toward his workplace. As we bid each other farewell at the door, a black man in a sweatshirt introduced himself. “I’m a homeless comedian,” he said. He was carrying half a danish on a napkin. “I will tell you jokes. That’s how I support myself.”

“Oh dear.”

“What do you call a white man surrounded by a hundred black men? Warden!”

He went on from there, one riddle after another-whimsically touching on prejudice, segregation, and lynching-ignoring our horrified pleas to stop. Finally, my luncheon companion gave him a dollar, and he wandered off to brighten someone else’s day.

“Goodbye,” I said.

“Goodbye,” said my luncheon companion.

And we went our separate ways.


The Spidermans

You would be hard-pressed to determine this from his dreamy-eyed publicity photos, but after two point five years of watching Tobey Maguire mug on screen last night, it is difficult to escape the idea that he is looking more and more like a young Bob Newhart. Two point five years is a long time to look at someone's physical and emotional tics, whether it's Bob Newhart Jr.'s crinkly nose, Kirsten Dunst's wounded puzzlement, or James Franco's half-witted grin. You are wondering how I know the names of all of these people when I can't even figure out what my nieces and nephews are called, but that is because I have IMDb on my side. If my family got a Wikipedia entry, my life would be easier, but something tells me that the universe is not so interested in sparing me anxiety. This is my new customer service attitude: “While I can't help it if you're stupid, I will pretend to care.” Sike, that's not true. My caring is all too real. I am like a Care Bear, which, by the way, is the name of the villain in Spider-Man 4, a film that will be twenty-seven hours long and feature a lot of bemused stammering.



I have appeared in two photographs in the past week, and I am not happy. The reason why is that I don’t know how to smile when someone says, “Smile!” The other reason why is that the camera picks your pockets and steals your soul, and I ask you, who needs that sort of thing?

I figured I needed to rectify at least one of those situations, so I practiced smiling in front of my webcam. But that didn’t work, so I took a picture of my usual scowl and addressed the issue in Photoshop. If Photoshop can make my bed and vacuum my floors, it can certainly manufacture a little mirth. I wish it could also negotiate with the camera to retrieve my soul, but if wishes were horses, then horses would not have gone extinct back in 2033.



Under Presshah

Yesterday I went to work early, left early, and then went to Target to buy a pressure washer. A pressure washer, for the uninitiated, is a machine you attach to your garden hose that makes the water come out at the speed of light. The reason why you would want to use this is if your deck is dirty or if the WWW is coming for you at warp three. In my universe, “WWW” is always Wicked Witch of the West. World Wide Who?

So anyway, I have a pressure washer, a device that will bring great pleasure to my unclean soul. My pressure washer will propel me up to heaven, where I can have cawfee with Jerry Falwell and we can talk about you behind your back. He told me he doesn’t like you very much, which is not surprising. He says you’re ugly and caused 9/11 with your potty mouth.

The best thing about the pressure washer, besides this upgrade to my social life, is the line in the instruction booklet that reads: “Keep machine clean. Do not use machine to wash itself.” Like Mr. Mytzlplk, the pressure washer can only be defeated by its own power.


But Deliver Us from Evil

My pretend gym boyfriend is having an operation tomorrow. Today, he gave me a sob story about how he has to recuperate at his parents’ house because no one else loves him. I don’t love him, either, although he looks pretty decent in spandex.

Also, do you remember that Bugs Bunny episode where Bugs Bunny is pitted against some sort of creature who keeps trying to serve tea, and the joke is “How many lumps do you want?” And in the end, this creature, who has been hit on the head a million times resulting in a million lumps, says he would not like any tea because it gives him a headache, and Bugs Bunny says, OK, what would you like, and the creature whips out a pot and bellows, “CAWFEE.” Well, that’s how I feel, except it’s the cawfee that did me in. I’m just now getting back to normal after going cold turkey. It is cosmically unjust that I own a cawfé.

It’s going to be a long millennium, folks.


Friday Chupacabra Blogging and JWER Bashing

I snapped this photograph in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood of Baltimore. Not pictured is the classic Mercedes automobile, located just off the right edge of this composition. Also, the chupacabra appears to have dropped its unfashionable purse.


I Can Handle the Socks

Yesterday, I became suspicious that the shoes I have been wearing every day for two years might have the teensy tiniest thing to do with the foot pains I have been suffering every day for two years. Me and my ridiculous conspiracy theories. But I could not escape this conclusion once it twittered into my mind, so I went to the Athlete’s Foot to see how this issue might be addressed.

The clerk was a no-nonsense woman who, unlike most shoe store clerks I have known, was determined to provide good service, but I don’t think she knew what to make of me. After I rejected pair after pair of brightly colored shoes that looked like the space shuttle, she began showing me plain white ones that would have looked more a home on a frumpish nurse. When I finally settled for something in between, she began the upselling. Of course I needed a special magic spray that will protect the leather from evil spirits and those hideous socks that don’t rise as high as the ankle.

I regarded the socks as if they would dissolve my feet. “I’ve seen those, but I never considered owning a pair.”

“Damn, how old are you?” she asked incredulously. When I told her, she shook her head. “Everyone wears this kind of sock these days. You should have brought your wife with you. She’d tell you that, you put these on, you look fiiiiine.”

I wanted to tell her that my “wife” was a man whose questionable taste had led him to purchase numerous pairs of the frumpish nurse shoes I had already rejected, but I marveled instead at her confidence that a certain kind of sock could so dramatically improve one’s lot in life.

I bought two packages, one white and one black for more formal occasions.

Update: My ankles are cold.


Wait, Does That Come Before or After Monday?

I slept late this morning and rolled out of bed at the crack of 7:16. Today, my work includes the contemplation of furnishings for live dolphins, gathering correspondence for a potential lawsuit, and . . . um, I forget. Luckily, I have my trusty to-do list, which follows me hither and yon. I think I will take tomorrow off because I worked all weekend. The to-do list and I are thinking about getting mannies and peddies. Just kidding. The to-do list says I may have thirty-seven point five five two seconds to relax six weeks from Blorpday. I am so fortunate to have someone looking out for my best interests.

I don’t know why, but I was just thinking about the time that I was driving to Amy’s house in my Halloween costume when my car got a flat tire on a dark and spooky section of road. OK, it was not that spooky, it was suburbia, but it was dark. And suddenly this guy showed up and without asking any questions helped a white-faced, black-cloaked ghoul put on the spare. And I was all, like, wow, I don’t know how to thank you! And he was all, like, just pay it forward, man, just pay it forward. This was June 1991, and I was nine years old.

OK, see what I did there? I wrote about two completely different things without a transition between them. That is known as “juxtaposition” and also “bad writing.” Just one of those extra little treats you can expect from the Hippo. Just paying it forward.


The Absence of Light

Last night, Rob and I drove a long way to see a musical play written and composed by a moderately famous person. If I typed this person’s name, you would know it, but I won’t because it’s not important.

The play was terrible. Not only was it terrible, but it ranks among the least worthwhile attempts at professionally produced artistic expression I have ever experienced—because it was supernaturally tedious, and also because one got the distinct impression that the writer scraped the shallow depths of his or her soul and this clichéd, pointless disaster was the most profound thing he or she was capable of. Rob’s mother’s boyfriend, who came with us, said that it was the musical equivalent of a Thomas Kinkade painting, an apt description to which I would only add that it was the musical equivalent of being clamped to a chair for three hours, with your eyes superglued open, before a Thomas Kinkade painting the size of a barn.

And the Thomas Kinkade painting would scream at you at regular intervals.

And, through your disgust, you would begin to feel sorry for it because it knows not what it does. But you would also be furious because this mediocre nonsense has stolen vital resources from something much more deserving of attention.

Wait, am I talking about the Painter of Light™ or the musical now? The whole thing seems to have gotten away from me, although I suppose it doesn’t matter. The annoying thing is not that people create these nightmares and call it art, which is fine, but that completely different people will come along and accept it on that level. It doesn’t matter what a person’s personal preferences are; what I find frustrating is that someone could look at a Thomas Kinkade and at a Picasso and not understand that the differences between them are more than decorative.

I suspect there were a number of people in the large audience last night who didn’t care for the story of the play, but they accepted it as a story because it had a beginning, a middle, and an end. There were people on stage moving around and talking and singing, so it must have been a musical. They may tell their friends they didn’t like it because a character did this or that thing—without contemplating how that thing affects what the writer was trying to do, or if the writer was successful in doing anything at all.

Everybody doesn’t have to be an expert on everything, but it would be nice if there were some sort of effort to see things beyond the literal level. A lie can be true, and the truth can be a lie. A person can talk and sing for three hours and convey nothing at all or be silent and express a fundamental reality of the universe.


Satan of Nine

Why are four out of five episodes of “Star Trek: Voyager” about the Pretend Doctor getting kidnapped? He can’t stick his shiny head out the door of the Sick Bay without someone getting itchy fingers. “How is the Doctor going to get stolen this week?” is what people must have thought in the past. Also: “Why is that Borg wearing high heels?”

Last night, before picking Rob up at the train station, I carried a flaming sauce pan to the four corners of the house. It was filled with Epsom salt, rubbing alcohol, and fire. The point was to burn away bad energy, but I almost burned away my eyebrows, too. Get thee behind me, eyebrows.


Reach Out, Reach Out and Touch a Chupacabra

Oh my goodness, I’m getting all emotional. My commentary system appears to be working again. The old gang of yahoos has come slouching back. I once again know the sensation of waking up to a hundred caught spams. I am starting, sorta kinda, to feel connected, and not just to the spammers, who were never far from my mind. To you yahoos, too. To the world. I just erased a maudlin paragraph elaborating on the topic of connection. Nobody needs that sort of thing. But now I don’t know what to write about. You can take the boy out of the maudlin…

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?

Oh, is that so? Hmmm.

OK, I’ll try to write better next time. In the meantime, it’s FRIDAY CHUPACABRA BLOGGING!!!


Oh, wait, that’s the dreaded chalupacabra. Here we go:

Now we’re cooking with fire.

The Power of Positive Thinking

I had a little garden
I made it out of clay
Then all the art students walked through it
And now it looks like crap

Oh garden, garden, garden
Look like crap you may
But once the Super Volcano erupts
I won’t even be able to see you

The End

Update: I think my comments are working again. Can someone post something so we can see?


Global Health Report

It is the day after May 1, 2007. It is the day after I had both an acupuncture appointment and a rolfing appointment, and I spent almost two hours at the gym. It is the day after a day of well-being. Today, I am sliding back to my insalubrious ways. J/K, I am an ever-vigilant warrior of health. Here is why: I have heart issues. I have chronic pain issues. I have chronic anxiety issues. I have dental issues. I have heavy metal poisoning issues. This is an awful lot of issues for a lad of twenty-three to cope with on his own, so of course I need a support staff of acupuncturists, rolfers, therapists, zero balancers, energy kinesiologists, and other exotic species. I don’t know if these are actually helping or if it’s just that the scheduling is keeping me so confused that I don’t have time to focus on my problems, but I’ve been feeling largely good lately.

But then something comes along and makes me wonder why I ever get out of bed. According to the Disaster Porn Channel, there is something in the world called a Super Volcano. This is a powerful but secret kind of volcano that can erupt and destroy life as we know it. Apparently, one went off around 74,000 years ago that left only about 10,000 human survivors in the world. There is a Super Volcano under Jellystone Park that is the size of the whole park and explodes every 600,000 years. The last time it erupted was 600,000 years ago. When it erupts again, probably on my birthday, it will cover the entire United States with two feet of ash and block out the sun for decades.

Why does everything always happen to me?