Friday Chupacabra Blogging

At one point, a great amount of space on this weblog was dedicated to my misadventures in the gym locker room, not because those were riveting but merely because it was one of three places I ever went when I left the house, and I could not fathom dedicating valuable column inches to live blogging the Whole Foods salad bar. It’s not as if the tomatoes were posturing and grunting and watching “The Tony Danza Show,” although if they had been, you can bet your ass I would tell you. (I am nothing if not your faithful correspondent.)

Anyway, I have joined the gym again. The same gym. The same locker room. Six years later, Tony Danza seems to have given way to some new blather that I do my best to ignore, but everything else is the same. And as I once again find myself limited to a Bermuda triangle of extraterritorial destinations—different ones than before—I imagine you will be hearing about this locker room again frequently as I revisit the hoots and clicks and primitive rituals of its native inhabitants.

Following is an actual, unretouched photograph of what happens in the gym locker room:


Your Wishes Granted!

Here are the results of my Facebook request for blogging ideas. I think I got all of them, so don’t say I never did nothing for you.


“Mr. La Forge, meet me in my ready room.”

Captain Picard’s voice tore Geordi’s attention away from the mirror in his quarters. Ordinarily, a blind man would have no need of a mirror, but Geordi La Forge, Lieutenant Commander on the U.S.S. Enterprise, was no ordinary blind man; the fashion-forward VISOR riveted to his temples allowed him to “see” across a variety of invisible spectrums. This was of little use in this moment, however, as he still could not tell if his VISOR clashed with the color of his uniform. “Aye, Captain,” he said to the air with a sigh. This was a mystery for another time.

In the turbolift, he encountered Counselor Troi, an empath and well-known intergalactic busybody. “Geordi, I sense that you are troubled,” she said. “Are you still upset about the ‘Dawson’s Creek’ finale? I told you, that was hundreds of years ago. All of those actors are now dead, even that girl with a monkey face who married into a cult.”

Geordi sighed for the second time in two minutes. He was on a roll. “I know, I know. It’s just . . .”

“What is it, Geordi?”

“I just wish I could see if I look good in this uniform, that’s all. I know it’s fashion forward, at least that’s what they tell me in Flatulent Culture Quarterly . . . but I can’t even tell what color it is!”

Counselor Troi studied him for a moment. “I think we are going to need to work this out in therapy, but for the moment, I can tell you that your uniform is yellow.”

“Is this the season that I wear the yellow uniform then?”

“Apparently so,” decided Counselor Troi. “Well, actually, I wouldn’t say yellow exactly. It’s more of a mustardy color. A very robust yellow if there ever was one.”

Geordi sighed. “Please don’t say robust anymore, Deanna.”

“I’ll see you in therapy, Geordi,” she replied as the turbolift came to a stop and the doors whooshed open.


Counselor Troi meandered down the hall, feeling things—not with her hands, anymore, not since that uncomfortable lecture from Captain Picard, but with her brain. As an empath, she was not only in touch with her own emotions, but with everyone else’s, as well. “I am bothered that he has a uniform and I don’t,” she concluded after a moment. “This is not my season to have a uniform.”

Just then, a nearby door slid open, revealing the Second Officer, Commander Data, and the ship’s Horrible Child, Wesley Crusher. They were exiting the holodeck, leaving the program running. Deanna could see traces of greenery and hear the lively chirping and howling of a thriving rainforest; a large insect of some sort sought the liberation of the corridor but evaporated as it left the purview of the holo-emitters.

“And that was essentially the driving geopolitical force of early twenty-first century Earth,” Data was saying. The android was clearly in tutor mode and managed to sound both pompous and bored. Wesley, on the other hand, seemed stricken. His confusion and horror washed over Deanna like the humidity of the rainforest behind him. “But . . . but . . . what was that thing? I mean, the man was bad enough, but what was that thing in the raft?!? Didn’t he know it was behind him?”

“Perhaps Counselor Troi will be able to soothe you,” said Data, spotting her. “I didn’t realize you were so vunnerable or I would have chosen a different lesson for the day.”

“Counselor Troi has another appointment right now, actually,” said Deanna. “And it’s pronounced vulnerable!” Then she went to Ten-Foeward (I mean Ten-FORward) and ate a chocolate sundae. She had heard that obese was the new sexy and wanted to get a head start on next season’s style.


Elsewhere on the ship, Captain Picard was enjoying afternoon tea in his ready room. “Enjoy it while you can,” he told himself, taking a sip. “Lieutenant Commander La Forge will be here in a moment, and then it’s back to business.”

And what a business it was!

“Did I hear you have been keeping sloths on the Engineering deck, Mr. La Forge?” he demanded a moment later, not even offering Geordi any of the steaming Earl Grey.

Geordi had expected a lecture about wearing the wrong fashion-forward uniform this season and was taken off guard. “Well, yes, sir. But let me explain…”

“Mr. La Forge,” began the captain harshly. Then he paused, got a grip on himself, and began again using a tone of enforced calmness. “Mr. La Forge . . . we were all very patient with you when you knitted woolen socks for everyone last season, even if the colors clashed with our uniforms something dreadful. We all put up with it when you started spelling acupuncture with two c’s—and believe me when I express exactly how irritating that is. (And by the way, we had to restrain the ship’s acupuncturist from killing you.) But sloths on my Engineering deck? Do you even know how to take care of them? Do you know how to train them, for goodness sake?”

Geordi was silent.

“Hmm? Do you, Mr. La Forge?” prompted Captain Picard. “Do you know how to care for and train a sloth? Your response may pertain to an animal sloth or even a human sloth.”

Geordi sighed again. Four for four. “Yes, Captain, I do. Here’s how.”

[Never] To Be Continued


No Expectations

The current playbook of certain politicians (Republicans—there, I said it) is to disgust us so much with the political process that we will throw up our hands and stop paying attention, at which point they can get away with murder. I hate to say it, but this tactic is working. I need to find something else to focus on because politics is an endless assault on my delicate senses. Every time I turn around, there is Scott Walker looking like he was inexpertly molded out of Play-Doh or Mitt Romney sounding like an incredulous little girl. I need my senses for things besides diagnosing the yang sanpaku of Michele Bachmann. I wish it were not so costly to let these shrieking infants have their way, but their primitive tantrums will be the end of us all. My dear friend Joel suggested yesterday that we gather up all politicians into a Hunger Games scenario where they can take care of each other once and for all and let the rest of us get back to forming a functional society. (We discussed arming Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg with weapons that might give them an unfair advantage.)

In an attempt to diversify my attention, I have begun listening to books on tape while I work out at the gym. My first choice is Great Expectations, which at least offers the sensory feast of juxtaposition of lines like, “And could I look upon her without compassion, seeing her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed, in the vanity of sorrow which had become a master mania, like the vanity of penitence, the vanity of remorse, the vanity of unworthiness, and other monstrous vanities that have been curses in this world?” with the image of spandex-flattered thighs on the elliptical machine.


Friday Chupacabra Blogging

Searching for chupacabra photos on the Internet, one tends to find actual, unretouched photogaphs (see above) or grisly crime scene photos of mangy coyotes set upon in the goat yard. I don’t often post the latter; there is enough confusion in the world without adding deceased chupacabra impersonators. Maybe the chupacabras are content to increase their mysterious allure in this fashion, but here is where they and I must part ways, as I am a stickler for precision.

How are you, my little celery stalks? I am fine. A bit weary, perhaps; the bearer of many responsibilities. Do you think it is easy being an acupuncture student, luring unsuspecting clients into my clutches of healing love when my clutches of healing love are a twenty-minute commute? It is not. Do you think it is easy managing repairs to The House That Is Collapsing Around My Ears, contending with uncontactable contractors and credit checks of Doom? It is not. Oh, I carry on gamely, my youthful features betraying nary an iota of strain, but under the unruffled mask is a face that forgot to shave this week.


Further Thinking

I am having second thoughts about what I wrote yesterday. Not the young bull or the chupacabra (I left a light on for them), but the idea that looking for order amidst the chaos is necessarily a reasonable thing. As I mentioned, this is a tactic that works for me because it keeps me alert to opportunities. The ancient Chinese Taoists believed that heaven assigns each person a destiny and gives in each moment the means to move toward it if we so choose, and as long as I don’t get too caught up in a narrow interpretation of destiny, this mirrors my own thinking that there is an action among the set of available options at any given time that is the most advantageous. This implies a certain order that can be discerned with the proper levels of awareness and attention. Of course, my own awareness and attention has led me careening on an implausible life trajectory from writer to editor to designer to publisher to retail owner to acupuncturist—and from suburban Maryland to suburban New York to Baltimore to Chicago to Baltimore to New York City to Baltimore—and while it dawns on me that this range of experiences actually dovetails more than is immediately obvious, the destiny it is preparing me for must be a doozy.

On the other hand, I think of whackjob fundamentalists who mock and thwart efforts to curb global climate change and then claim that the resulting hurricanes are their god’s punishment for whichever of their own personal bugaboos is getting the most media attention that week. This hijacks my whimsical thinking about order and chaos in the personal realm straight to the mental hospital as far as I’m concerned, but I can see where a discerning eye might find a connection.

For the record, I believe in the eventual full expression of potential (genetic, nurtured, taught, practiced, and even stumbled-upon), but not destiny or imaginary pouting deities that punish the world with cataclysmic tantrums.


Friday Chupacabra Blogging

The I Ching reports that I will achieve great progress and success, so that’s nice. It also says something about a young bull with wood on his horns, perhaps indicating that the ancient Chinese were not so interested in the MPAA rating system. All I know is that the I Ching, the ancient Chinese, and that horny young bull had better get this show on the road because I am long overdue for some good news. I actually don’t believe in divination or that everything happens because of some inscrutable Cosmic Plan, although it strikes me as a very good idea to live as if I do. Cosmic Plans suggest an ordering force amidst the chaos, and a mind alert for order amidst the chaos is a mind that is ready to make the best out of a bad situation, act when opportunity knocks, and in general pull itself up by the bootstraps. You had better believe that I am on the prowl for progress and young bulls. And, of course, chupacabras, which I do believe in because I encountered this unretouched photographic evidence.