May 19, 2005

May 2005, Vol. 4, Issue 5

1. Hill Jack by Tenzin McGrupp
Welcome to Indiana, Doc. By the end of the night you'll get piss drunk, get in a fight, and fuck a fat chick in order to fully absorb the Southern Indiana Hill Jack experience... More

2. Members Only by BG
I saw him another aisle down, still no basket, still no cart, collecting another toothpick bearing Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage. I don't think he noticed I was watching him. Not yet, at least... More

3. The Conquering Hero By Joe Speaker
The region is well known for a certain delicacy. An aphrodisiac, some say, which neither of us had ever eaten. Our search brought us to this crowded restaurant, where we found them. Splashed all over the menu. Huitres. Oysters.... More

4. Cleotis by Bob Respert
Cleotis lived in a small town, he hung out at the bowling alley every waking moment, and he was the best in his town at a game you played inside those walls. No, I'm not talking about bowling. I'm talking about Dance Dance Revolution... More

5. Dying to Tell You This by Tom Love
I know that Debby was fairly calm when she discovered my body later that day. She's like that in an emergency. She felt me, cold and stiff, checked my pulse and then called 911. She had already been through this one time before... More

6. Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Sigge S. Amdal
If you, on the other hand, were actually invited to a party... then you should probably get a lot of drinks so you don't overheat on a probability high, and don't worry about hangovers since you probably don't exist in the first place... More

7. Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, Part II by Tenzin McGrupp
There's something very sexy, yet surreal, when a naked woman debates Heidegger with you while you desperately try to drown out a Britney Spears song that's blasting in the background... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

Thanks for returning back for the latest issue of my literary blogzine. This one represents some of their best work to date from a collection of returning authors. Joe Speaker is the newest addition to the staff and I'm happy to say that it looks like he's going to be contributing to future issues. Bob Respert has a hilarious story and his brother, BG, returns with an amazing tale. Our favorite Norwegian writer, Sigge Amdal, is back with another philosophical dialogue. I wrote a bit about my recent trip to Southern Indiana, along with Part II of my strippers project

Thanks to everyone who shared their bloodwork this month. I always say that the other contributing authors inspire me, because it's true. You guys write for free and if I could pay you, I would. Your time and effort is worth more money than I can ever afford to pay.

I ask that if you like these stories, then please do me and the rest of the writers a huge favor: Tell your friends about your favorite stories. It takes a few seconds to pass along the URL. I certainly appreciate your support. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list.

Thanks again. I am grateful that you wasted your time with my site. Until next time.


"We're clever and we're clueless." - Jack Johnson

Hill Jack

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2005

Somewhere, Indiana
6 May 2005

An iota of doubt flickered in my mind as I stepped off Northworst Airlines flight #169. Daddy from Snailtrax called me at 5 AM. He had started his tri-state bender off a day earlier than I after raging at a Karl Denson show in Bloomington and slid way past Shittysville during the course of the evening. He left a bizarre and rambling message that woke me up but I was too sleepy to pick up the phone.
"Fuck dude, this is fucking hilarious... (incoherent)... Doc, this is Daddy, man, call me when you are ready to get on the plane.... (incoherent).... I went to Karl Denson and ended up at some house party. I don't know, fuck, where my fuckin' car is parked.... (incoherent)... Call me so you can wake me up...(incoherent)... or otherwise I'm gonna to just gonna fuckin' rush into some houses and wake some motherfuckers up. Aw shit."
Aw shit is right. Five minutes before I boarded my plane I called and left a wake up message. I called two more times before take off... each time getting his voicemail. I did what I could. It was out of my hands.

The flight to Indy was nothing out of the ordinary. I re-read Wil Wheaton's entire book, Just a Geek (minus the Q&As) on my flight.

I quickly made my way through Indianapolis airport. It might have been the quickest navigation I’d ever experienced at major city airport. It took six minutes for me to deplane, piss, check my messages and make my way outside. Six minutes. I called Daddy expecting that he'd be laying face down in a drunk tank and would not be taking my call. I was surprised when he picked up.

"Dude, are you in Indy? Fuck," he said.

As I rode the escalator down towards the baggage claim area, he miraculously appeared at the bottom pointing at me. He made it on less than two hours of sleep. "Welcome to Indiana, Doc. By the end of the night you'll get piss drunk, get in a fight, and fuck a fat chick in order to fully absorb the Southern Indiana Hill Jack experience."

We were ready to get crazy. I was on a mission -- well, several missions. The first mission: Not to touch a computer keyboard for at least 80 hours. No email. No blogging. No Party Poker. Nothing. My second mission was to have fun, live in the moment, and see a kick ass concert. My third and most important mission... was a secret.

Daddy agreed to show me around parts of southern Indiana that I never would have set foot in I had not met him. I slowly slipped into vacation mode as we drove along the back roads. When arrived at his house, Daddy quickly showed me his dog, his banjo, and a framed picture of Hunter S. Thompson from a town hall meeting in Colorado. Mrs. Trax was at work and we would have to postpone our initial meeting for a few more hours.

Daddy lives right next to a golf course, along the fifteenth hole. We decided to hit the links for a round, which would be my first round of the year. He busted out a pair of old clubs for me and we were ready for a little fun in the sun. Daddy grabbed two six packs of Miller Lite from the clubhouse and we drove up to the first hole. No driving range for us. The driving range is for pussies.

Maybe I should have hit at least one ball. My first shot looked ugly after I topped it and my Titleist spurted only a few yards in front of us.

The cold beer helped my golf game. It made me forget about the last shot and focus on the next one. We chatted about all things like baseball trivia, Round Room, the weight of a whale vagina, and the last blogger trip in Vegas. The first nine holes were relaxing. Every now and then Daddy would remind me about the upcoming poker tournament, "6 PM Freezeout."

It seemed that Daddy knew everyone on the golf course. Even his old man, Major Trax, was on the course. It was an honor to meet a true Indiana sports legend and the father of one of the sickest and most demented motherfuckers I know.

The back nine went quick and I’d only had a hot dog to eat all afternoon. I shot much better and stuck to my 3-iron off the tees. My putting was horrible and my short game (40-90 yards out) is still my only strength. I used to play a lot of golf during college when I lived in Atlanta. Since then, it's been hard to find time to play.

Daddy is a pretty good golfer. He's a big guy and ripped a 300-yard drive on one of the par fives. Impressive, indeed. After the round, we headed back to the house and I met Mrs. Trax. Like I suspected, she was a hip, hip lady. During our brief encounter, our conversation jumped back and forth between Cincinnati race riots and Angela's infatuation with Jordan Catalano on the short-lived, yet critically acclaimed drama My So Called Life.

Before I left for the poker tournament, the lovely Mrs. Trax gave me a warning, half in jest and half serious, "Be careful of those Greene County boys."

We headed over to Greene County where Daddy's buddy the Weasel lived. That's were the game was being held... in the heart of Hill Jack country. If you are not familiar with the term "Hill Jack," well it's the equivalent to "Hillbillies." We stopped by the house of one Daddy's other friends to see if he was playing cards too. Unfortunately, he blew us off to watch movies with his girlfriend and her daughters.

We walked over to Aggies, one of Daddy's favorite local watering holes, and entered through the alleyway in the back door. You gotta love a bar with a back door. We ordered a few drinks and Daddy introduced me to this weird fellow named Werner, a German guy with very few teeth. He’s known as the best house painter in the area. He never spills a single drop of paint. Unfortunately, old man Werner blows all his painting money on beer and gets shitfaced. I met a few other people at the bar, all nice folks. Everyone I met in Indiana said the same thing, "Why the hell did you come here from New York City?"

I told them about the third leg to my secret mission. I was on special assignment by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Station or C-Boot as I shall refer to it from here on out).

"You see folks, I'm here in Southern Indiana to investigate the subtle art of Donkey Fucking. The people of Canada are intrigued by the Donkey Fucker phenomenon and sent me to find out as much as possible about how some of you whackos participate in the fastest growing hobby in rural America. If you guys have any information, I'd love to buy you a drink and have you tell me everything you know about donkey fucking."

I handed out my business cards. No one offered up any information. Their silence led me to believe that they were covering up. I was on to something. But what?

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

May 18, 2005

Members Only

By BG © 2005

I had the lunch special at the Chinese takeout joint with the surreal Chinese hotties running the counter today. They're the ones you'd call "Americanized," as much for that neva-gonna-get-it look they're rocking as for their lack of thick Mandarin accent.

I had the combo plate. Orange chicken, teriyaki chicken, fried rice, and lo mein. Add in an egg roll, toss sixty six cents worth of tip in the egg drop soup takeout tip cup at the register and see the gone little girl with the cornrows and the first generation parents unlikely to pry that Eminem CD out of their daughter's fingers manufacture a sixty six cent smile to send me on my way.

I had to bring lunch back today, as I do most every day, and I had to eat it at my desk while reading ESPN Page 2 and desperately looking for national validation on the Lions free agent signings.

And I had to laugh at the subtle irony freed for my pleasure from the inside of an almond cookie. Wisdom and truth chases fried foods down the hatch: Good health is a man's best wealth.


So I've got this bruise on the back of my hand that I can't seem to explain. It just seems to be another one of those signs that I'm edging closer and closer to decrepitude in my young middle-age.

Shit, at the rate I'm going, I am middle-aged.

I don't think I'm quite like the Charlie Kaufman character in Adaptation - yet. But I am tending to believe the worst when any and all of these spooky pseudo-health issues rears its ugly head. For example, I have this tooth thing going on right now. It doesn't hurt exactly, but feels funny when I chew something in the right front side of my mouth. I can't replicate the feeling by chewing on my finger or gritting my teeth, so I'm curious really what it is.

Except that I'm pretty sure it's an abscess, and I'm going to lose the tooth. I'll end up with a big gap in the right side of my mouth, and be forced to spend my money on Polident and Super PoliGrip. That cup of "water" by the bed? Don't drink that, I promise you don't want a gulp.

See? This is how you play Fatal Hypochondria.

I'm convinced that that bruise, which has gotten worse over the last couple of days, is probably either gangrene, leprosy or scurvy. Either way, I'm not getting enough vitamin C. Regardless, it's as if my hand is turning into an overripe peach just hours away from the shift from edible to rotten. Soon, the bruise is going to overtake my whole hand, making my palm, wrist, and fingers tender to the touch. Then it'll just turn black and fall off.

I'm not growing old gracefully.

I was at the grocery store on Sunday, and had an interesting encounter with one of our nation's cat food-eating elderly. He was impossible to miss, as I patiently waited behind him while he shuffled his way up over the curb and into the eye of the automatic doorway. He didn't look like my grandfathers did. My grandfathers were veterans, the type of guys that to a boy my age looked as if they could crush your windpipe in their bare hands, and would if provoked. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't lay money my dad's dad hadn't.

This guy was gaunt and disheveled, wearing discount green corduroy pants, a light blue Member's Only jacket, and those cream colored khaki Velcro slip-ons the Sunday circular trumpets in all their glory. He didn't grab a basket, didn't grab a cart, but instead gravitated directly to one of the nearly-senior citizens manning the hot plate full of marinated vegetables each speared with a toothpick.

He had a red pepper.

I saw him another aisle down, still no basket, still no cart, collecting another toothpick bearing Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage.

I don't think he noticed I was watching him. Not yet, at least.

I caught up to him again in the back of the store, ambling over with hands in coat pockets towards the bulk bins. He twisted, painfully, over each shoulder twice, three times, and teetered a crooked path to the Voortman cookie display.

Pink wafers #4037, $4.99 a pound.

He pulled his hand from his coat pocket and reached out, steadying himself on the side of the display to begin the mechanical process of winching his addled frame low enough to pluck a pink wafer from his bin of choice.

My grandfathers ate G-rations and came home to sturdy wives with families hardened from sugar rations. My grandfathers survived the coal mines, high voltage electrical work, Krauts, Buffalo-like frequent snowfalls in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and only the glory of raising big families in disadvantaged conditions as men.

Not a thing was fucking free for my grandfathers.

Member's Only had his hand fixed to the display, thumb twisted perpendicular to the pole around which it was wrapped. He slid - carefully - each foot out an inch or two then three, and bent at the waist - slightly.

And I was aimlessly staring through the vacant tops of the Jelly Belly chutes, fixated on this old man's quest for a free cookie. Staring, not ten feet away.

Somehow, he knew. He pricked his ears and wheeled his head around - easily the most catlike move I had seen him make in the ten minutes or so I had trailed him unintentionally around the store. He looked at me, then through me, but definitely still at me. I had closed my eyes slowly and cast my gaze back towards the bottom of the Technicolor jelly bean bins as he slowly cranked his neck around the other direction to see if anyone else might be spying.

I took that chance to move directly behind him. Dog biscuits, plausible due to the 20 lb bag of Iams in my cart. But I was still observing. I wanted to see him take the goddamn cookie.

He wasn't ready. Now I knew he was a veteran pilferer, as his radar was attuned so sharply that he simply couldn't be caught by human eyes. I couldn't tell, as he turned to look right at me, whether or not his eyes were fearful, desperate, or annoyed. He wanted the cookie, something in him felt he needed the cookie. But he didn't want a complete stranger with a chagrined smirk of gleeful intrigue pegging him a petty thief. You and I both know what I'm doing, why don't you just leave me alone to do it already.

There was one thing I recognized in his eyes though. This was a man who was profoundly alone. His gait wasn't that of a sick or injured or recuperating man, it was that of a person nearly doomed to wander his earth, his turf, with no purposeful meaning. I thought at first he was the antithesis to my grandfathers, both men's men, both scrapping and clawing to provide for their families, thievery and shiftlessness far from their ideal of America.

That wasn't it at all. A tuft of grey hair and huddled shoulders under a decades- old styled jacket is enough in this world to turn a man invisible, and by doing so, enable his disconnect so thoroughly that his every and any action is only of matter in his own mind and shaken off with just a shrug of his shoulders. Loneliness breeds a solitary set of ethics, one that owes nothing to anyone, not even oneself. My grandfathers weren't like this man, not because they were necessarily better men, but because by surrounding themselves with family they were no longer alone. They were purposeful men, men of consequence - and by consequence, I mean to say that the simple act of pilfering a pink wafer cookie had consequences far beyond a shakedown in the break room and a scolding by the local law enforcement. Their actions mattered. They were examples, pinnacles, for a select few. By design, they were most certainly not alone.

I moved along, slowly, behind a tall stack of paper towel rolls, and emerged on the other side in time to see an invisible man in dime store corduroys and Sunday circular loafers, hands in pockets, shuffling his way under fluorescent lighting back to wherever it is invisible men live to amble quietly through another day that won't matter to anyone else in the wide scope of things - ever.

I'm pretty sure he was chewing.

BG is a writer from Western Michigan.

The Conquering Hero

By Joe Speaker © 2005

"You promised," Mari said, fixing me with an attempt at a stern gaze, the mirth at the corners of her mouth giving her away.

"I know. I know," I replied. "But I think I need another shot first."

Of course I promised, I thought to myself. We're dating. I'd agree to a naked lambada with an unruly cactus to get in your pants. I am brave. I am intrepid. I am a gallant conquistador willing to explore the world's crannies to impress you. I will not be defeated in my quest.

That's how we find ourselves on our first adventure together, midway through a two-week trek across France. For several intensive months, we'd been planning, trying to reconcile our occasionally competing desires. I wanted history. She wanted cuisine. Here in La Rochelle, we found both.

La Rochelle is a strategically situated port town on the southwest coast of France. Since the 14th century, La Tour de La Chaine, essentially a massive chain stretched between two towers to ward off enemy ships, has guarded the entrance to its harbor. The towers later housed prisoners whose jailhouse graffiti, some of it remarkably artistic, remains to this day.

La Rochelle adopted reformist ideas during the Renaissance, becoming a center of innovation and prosperity. At least until Cardinal Richelieu and King Louis XIII blockaded the city in the 17th Century as part of a crackdown on independent factions within France. The city's inhabitants were literally starved into obedience.

Sounds like a good place to eat.

The region is well known for a certain delicacy. An aphrodisiac, some say, which neither of us had ever eaten. Our search brought us to this crowded restaurant, where we found them. Splashed all over the menu.

Huitres. Oysters.

Mari lives for food. She can recall every good meal she's ever had with startling clarity. Some mediocre ones, too. She favors exotic dishes, experimental and pungent. For my part, I'm a bit more conservative in my culinary tastes, refined, no doubt, by growing up with parents reared in the Midwest. Kill it, cut it, deep-fry it. Not a lot of sushi in my childhood home. My palate has not noticeably expanded since.

This is a vacation, however. A time for experimentation. For proving my explorer's heart to the fair damsel. It's beautiful here. Nothing can befall us. It had rained all afternoon, the wetness only adding to the town's charm. All gray slate and glistening, the buildings looked somehow older, more authentic. Now nightfall, the rain had given way to a heavy mist, softening the light from the iron streetlamps, dusting the cobblestone streets. I could imagine us later strolling through the fog, posed like a lover's postcard, frozen in that romantic moment forever.

We ordered a half-dozen oysters from the affable waiter, the smallest of the ten or so varieties they featured. When they arrived, he suggested we eat the first one au naturale, without any of the condiments he'd brought along.

"It is traditional," he assured us. To this day, I don't know if he was jerking our chain. Regardless, bring on the bounty. I am ready. I am Magellan. I am Pizarro.

"Go ahead," I challenged Mari when the oysters arrived. She pulled a shell from the leaf-covered plate and split it open. There it was, gray and milky white and nebulous, about the size of a marble. I was relieved to see how tiny it was, just an itty bitty little oyster. Nothing to a man of my purported stature.

Mari quickly threw back the oyster, salty seawater running down her chin. I stared for her reaction.

"It's okay," she said. "I don't see what the big deal is. It doesn't really taste like anything."

"Well, honey," I answered with a smile. "The big deal is that it's an oyster. It looks like something I hock up after a two-pack-of-cigs night at the pub. The big deal is that it's raw. And there's no ketchup."

"You're so boring," she laughed.

"Yes, I am. But here I am, on this expedition, prepared to conquer this mollusk. Just for you."

I grabbed for a shell and cracked it open.

Before I could even react, Mari crumbled in a fit of laughter. Oh. My. God. The oyster I'd chosen was quite a bit bigger than her's had been. As long as a man's thumb. A big man's thumb. Andre the Fucking Giant's thumb. Mari buried her face in her napkin, her giggles beyond control. I could only sigh and tip the shell to my mouth. All hands on deck.

"RHURK!" my throat protested. Above the napkin, Mari's eyes widened in surprise. Instantly, she scanned the cafe, seeing startled faces turn our way. Her laugher died abruptly and her forehead reddened in mortification.

The damn thing got stuck on the way down. I choked it back up, only slightly, and tried to gulp it down again.


Holy shit. The sound came involuntarily, a spasm from deep within my diaphragm, with the subtlety of a chainsaw. Everyone is looking at us. Some laughing, some pointing, some horrified. Tears are welling in my eyes.


Just like that, all drawn out and sharp. I'm panicking. I'm desperate. I vaguely think I'm about to die. This thing, this fucking oyster, is trapped in my gullet, salt and metal drowning my taste buds. This can't happen to me! I am a swashbuckler, a hero! An oyster cannot fell me!

I turn to Mari, pleading with my eyes, but she's gone cold. It's obvious she hates me right now. Hates me like she's never hated anything in her entire life. She wants to crawl away and hide from these people forever. Never see me again. Murder me in my sleep. For infinite seconds she only stares at me, her face narrow and caustic.

She reaches back as if to punch me and I brace myself for the blow. She catches me square between the shoulder blades, as hard a smack as I've ever received. I can feel the anger--the purpose--in the impact, which sends the oyster flying back out of me and onto the carpet.

It lands near the waiter, who is striding angrily towards us. He retrieves the regurgitated bi-valve without slowing. He arrives at our table, stone-faced.

"There is no charge," he says, pulling the remaining oysters away. "Bon soir."

"Bon soir," we mutter timidly, and hurry out into the misty night, defeated.

Joe Speaker is a poker- and soccer-playing ne'er-do-well from the godforsaken desert east of Los Angeles. He is universally unpublished and generally pissed off about that fact. He enjoys long walks on the beach and seeing the sun come up through the front doors of the local Indian casino. He's married and has a three-year-old son. You can visit him at The Obituarium.


By Bob Respert © 2005

Cleotis was incensed.

He was also confused.

When his buddy Jay told him that he looked incensed about something, he wanted to ring his neck. He doesn’t have a sister, and even if he did he wouldn’t have sex with her. It wasn’t until he said those exact words did Cleotis realize that Jay hadn’t said incest, but instead a word that sounds familiar and apparently means angry.

Stupid words.

Maybe finishing college wouldn’t be such a bad idea. People seem to like using big words and stuff. One of these days, he thought. A time when he wasn’t in such a good place, maybe.

Get yourself a sweet studio apartment right down the street from work and your favorite hangout, and you’ve got yourself something sweeter than Yoohoo. Damn he loved that movie Kingpin. It sorta hit close to home for him. Cleotis lived in a small town, he hung out at the bowling alley every waking moment, and he was the best in his town at a game you played inside those walls. No, I’m not talking about bowling.

I’m talking about Dance Dance Revolution.

Nobody was better. In fact, he had battled every kid in that puny town of his and won. Early in his career he was still an unknown, able to fleece unsuspecting punks out of a few bucks in a challenge match. Some of the money he saved, but most of it he spent to pimp out his ride. He owned a phat ride, a 1996 Dodge Neon. This wasn’t your ordinary Neon though. He spent hundreds of dollars on the right fin (2 feet high), the perfect decals (flames and such), a new hood with one of those humps in it designed to allow for more engine to fit (still has the original engine), and special lettering to announce to everyone how much of a badass he and his car are (Turbo, Loco, etc.)

He was the shit, and he knew that everyone knew it.

Evenings were spent leaning up against his baby, the DDR machine, gently pulling swigs from a Miller High Life, and waiting for challengers. Most were in their early teens but he didn’t mind. He wasn’t looking for big scores in this shitty town any longer. He’d outgrown it. He was waiting for his Neon to get out of the shop so he could head to LA, the premier DDR battleground, and the site where they film Dance 360 Degrees.

Cleotis was going to make it big, he just had to wait for his $300 muffler to be installed. It’s a special muffler that is specifically designed to sound as if there is no muffler on the car. He was pumped.

But like I said before, he was incensed. Not from his car taking longer than expected. Not from his baby’s moms getting pissed off that he hadn’t paid child support for 6 years either.

Nope. He was pissed from losing his first battle in over 8 years. To a girl no less.

Nobody beats Cleotis. Worse yet, she didn’t even offer a rematch. Even worse than that, he was strangely attracted to her. He thought she looked a bit familiar, and it wasn’t the fact that she was trying desperately to rip off Britney Spears’ wardrobe and persona.

Maybe that was why he lost. He couldn’t concentrate because he was constantly trying to place her face. He chuckled as he thought of where else he might like to place her face. He needed a rematch.

In a small town you can track people down. She wasn’t from around here, but generally you don’t make it to the local lanes if you don’t at least have friends or family in the area. Cleotis started asking around. He was able to decipher what type of car she arrived in from Louie up front. Louie stands on a chair and waves to cars all day long from just outside the bowling alley’s doorway. He’s gotta be retarded. At least a little bit. Nevertheless, when asked which car the cute girl drove, Louie muttered “Neon…Neon.”

Damn, a woman after his own heart. There were only two other Neons in all of the town so he set off on his bike looking for the odd Dodge out. He found it quickly, parked in front of the towns only motel. Door 1A.

He could tell that little Cleotis was excited to see her Neon jazzed up with a drop kit, sweet rims, and a brand new exhaust system similar to what he was waiting on. Little Cleotis fueled him to the door and he knocked.

Answering in just a long softball jersey, she looked at him seductively.

Cleotis regained his composure in time to ask if he could come in.

“Only if you promise to play nice” she said softly, as she pulled him in by grabbing the top waistband of his jeans and deftly moving him in while swinging the door shut.

They tore at each other like wild animals, each frantically trying to get down to business as soon as possible. Cleotis helped with his tighty whiteys, the last barrier to what lay ahead. Immersed in a Tazmanian Devil-like cloud of clothes, sheets, and bodies, they made sweet love for upwards of three minutes. A personal best for Cleotis, and she seemed quite pleased with his efforts.

As they lay together catching their breath, Cleotis realized he hadn’t asked her name yet. Nor had he placed why she looked familiar.

“I woulda asked sooner, but you know…I never got your name.”

“Jesse. Jesse Collins. I’m from up in Otsego.”

“Otsego? Collins? Are you related to Earle Collins from A & C Lumber?”

“Yeah, that’s my dad! Do you know him?”

And at that precise moment, Cleotis knew the difference between incest and incensed, and he was both.

Bob Respert is a drug salesman from Michigan.

May 17, 2005

Dying to Tell You This

By Tom Love © 2005

I died yesterday morning. I slipped in the shower and fell on my touchie. My head made a 'splat' sound as it hit the edge of the tub. Oh, it didn't hurt. It never hurts when you die. Just a little boink, then you open your eyes and are amazed to find that you are not crippled or bleeding or blind or in a lot of pain. None of that. See this wasn't the first time I had died. The first time was in 1971 of an accidental drug overdose.

It's what happens in the days surrounding your death, before and after that are curious. In my case I told my wife several times how much I loved her, how we had gotten through all the rough parts of our relationship and that as far as I was concerned we "would live happily ever after." I also sent her an e-mail telling her that I needed to make out a will and went on to detail how my life insurance was to be parceled out. The next morning, I was dead in the bathtub. The neat thing is that it was an accident. I had double indemnity so the final figure was somewhere around $720,000!

I know that Debby was fairly calm when she discovered my body later that day. She's like that in an emergency. She felt me, cold and stiff, checked my pulse and then called 911. She had already been through this one time before. Her first husband died in the bed beside her in 1989. Interesting how patterns repeat. So she didn't panic. Probably cursed a few choice words. My daughter was really upset. We weren't real close and she probably felt guilty about that. Then there's my friend Dale. It hit him pretty hard. He got drunk and cried long and hard. It was the next day when Debby called to tell him that he was in my will to the tune of $50K. Tears of sadness turned to tears of joy. He had no idea that I would do something like that.

That's how it affected everyone else. As for me, when I opened my eyes I saw the streams of water from the shower, felt the warm water on my legs, so I knew I wasn't paralyzed. I slowly got up, turned off the water. I dried with a towel, still amazed that I wasn't badly hurt. You see, I heard the slap of my head hitting the tub rail. But here I was standing, not feeling a bit of pain.

I got dressed and started to go to work, then changed my mind, thinking that for some reason I really didn't have to worry about that today. I drove around aimlessly for awhile and ended up back at home. It was then that I realized the truth. There was a quality of stillness in the air, a quiet feeling about the place. My vision was very clear, colors more vivid than I had seen in a lot of years. It dawned on me that the usual complement of voices inside and outside of my head had fallen silent. I went back to the bathroom and sure enough, I could almost make out the ethereal traces of my body there in the tub. There was a lot of blood too. Blood I spilled in that other reality, the one I left behind.

I'll tell about the changes that occur after death in a later post. My funeral starts soon and I sure don't want to be late.

Tom Love is a songwriter/guitarist and a nut case from Atlanta, GA. You can visit his blog: My Reality.

Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

By Sigge S. Amdal © 2005

In memory of Douglas Adams (1952-2001)

If I were ever to write an article for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Corp. I'd begin very humbly like this:

"The Universe is in fact - although a slightly debated fact due to the people claiming that subjectivity cannot be as objective as, well, objectivity, but they're constantly rebuked by the objectivists pointing out that the subjectivists cannot claim anything on objective grounds and should therefore silently pack their bags and move along to other, less dangerous, metaphysical fields - mind-achingly, eye-boggingly and above all fantastically dull.

You could lead a rather interesting life staring at a herring through all your waking hours, and although this has been done by an amazing number of individuals across the space-time continuum, it is rather shunned by those who tend to mend their dreams, or their neighbours' horny housewives’ dreams.

The Universe is, due to its vast, enormous, inexplicable huge and indeterminable size, so boring that it is impossible for any single entity to grasp its full level of dullness."

If I were to continue, this is what it would sound like:

The Universe is, as said, mind-achingly dull, and very very big, and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy offers some quite descriptive concepts which are highly regarded even among the elite of subjectivists. Especially by them, since they like the conclusion of it. Due to the Universe's size, which is infinite, the population within it is None. Nil. Zero. Zippo. Nada. To them it means that the number of objectivists is infinitely small. It is a simple equation that always warms the heart of good objectivists, too – born with sense for mathematical proofs, stating that a finite number of inhabited planets divided by infinity is as close to zero as you can ever get.

With this in mind, the number of parties that was, is and will be is even closer to zero.

And if you want the task of a lifetime, try figuring out the probability of getting invited to one. Of course, spending your lifetime on it will probably set the probability to exactly zero, but neither the objectivists or the subjectivists have any conclusive evidence in this matter.

Having stated that the Universe is, in fact as per scribed, so dull that it's close to impossible to find out exactly _how_ dull it is, it is about time to rebuke that fact completely. The Universe is simply the most eventful, everlasting party that ever was, is and will be, simply because no one has ever found any Universe other than this one, all the while considering parallel universes. How can this be? Have you ever seen much fun in a mirror? (That's a typical objectivist pick-up line, by the way, but no one has measured the success-level of it as of today.) If you do see alot of fun in a mirror, everyone can surely agree that there's a lot more fun if you turn around, away from the mirror. And even though people in parallel universes have complained about the racist issues that arise, most experts have agreed that every universe has their objectivists sharing the same idiotic opinion about the guys on the other side of the mirror(s) and therefore no one should complain about it since they are all complaining about it.

So, if by reading this, or by any other way of existing, you can accurately put down on paper that you exist, you are indeed a very lucky being. If you cannot, you're dead, or a member of the Hyper Intelligent Shade of the Color Blue (apologies), or have yet to learn how to scribble on a note of paper.

The fact is that you're so lucky to be reading this that there is no way you can accurately find out just how lucky, you just have to accept the fact and get on with it.

And why are you so lucky? Since you are alive in one of many parallel Universes that is so extremely dull yet excitingly funny at the same (and any other) time that you'll probably never long to be anywhere else. If you do, you're out of luck, see above reasons.

One important thing to do after coming alive, or more philosophically - realizing that you are alive, is to establish some truths. Here they are:

The Universe is.
The Universe is big.
The Universe is boring.
The Universe isn't boring.
Don't ask.

You are not any more unique than any of the other unique things around you.

This does not not make you unique, but should certainly take away that smug smile of yours (apologies to Hyper Intelligent Shades of the Colour Blue).

You are a part of this universe whether you like it or not.

Subjectivists claim that you are part of the universe because you like it.

If you immediately find numerous arguments countering this fact, then you're an objectivist and probably exist without any feelings about it, or even very bad feelings about it, although your feelings about it doesn't change your existence per se.


You are.
Don't ask.

And this is the difficult part:

You are
The Universe is
Of which the following two conclusions can be deduced:
1) The Universe is in you
2) You are in the Universe

Since option 1) would practically _make you_ the universe and this isn't widely regarded as very nice to all the other inhabitants of it (we'll come back to them) and would cause all sorts of problems in any number of fields - real estate for example - it has finally been decided that option 1) is ruled out forever. Hence: You are in the universe.

You are in the universe, and you are of the universe.

Since the universe is the only universe there is, you must somehow be part of it. Option 1) is still ruled out forever.

Now comes a bit of a tricky part.

If you don't like it, skip it.

The Universe is in constant change, it moves in itself like a wheel within a wheel within a wheel. If you don't understand the concept of a wheel, then you've probably skipped a few evolutionary steps and should quietly accept our apology and also skip this step.

The wheels within wheels, as said, is in constant motion. This has been decided to be true (except by the subjectivists that still claim that nothing can be true and thus deny their own argument) since there would be a real problem deciding exactly what the universe moved in if not the universe in itself.

To establish this situation (a situation that in casu is the universe itself, hence a highly difficult situation) you need three ingredients:
a) Matter
b) Time
c) A flaw in astrophysic theory

a) is easy.
Matter is, essentially, material.
Since we've established that you are, you must be of something. We call this something material.
Hence, matter exists. (In case you are a Hyper Intelligent Shade of the Colour. Blue, please apply the particle-model to light.)
Since we already have decided that the universe is, and you are in it, and you are made of matter and that there cannot be any other possible place from which you could have attained matter - the universe includes quite a lot of matter. It includes all of it.

b) is the tricky thing.

Since matter moves, or is thought to be moving, or is thought - at least - to have been observed moving, it must move in four dimensions:
Here, there, there and when.

Here, there and there can easily be pin-pointed on a map, especially if you know your current location other than being in the universe, but the when has caused many a mind to over-boggle. To sum it up: if you move an object (or the object moves itself or moves within itself) from one place or another (or, in fact, move that one place to the place of origin without even thinking about moving the object) you must have done so in a period of time. Don't ask.

Whether the Universe includes all of the time, or even if time is the kind of thing one can include, are other interesting issues - especially if you've just arrived late from a lunch-break.

c) is self-fulfilling.

Another summing up:
The Universe is.
You are.
Matter is.
Time is.
There is a general flaw in astrophysic theory.

Sounds very nice, doesn't it?


Without a sixth component generally referred to as Other People, all the time in the world would seem wasted on the living.

Other People is a generally accepted concept due to the fact that "they" are idiots and "we" are not. In a solitary being (you) harboring the universe, such discussions would seem quite meaningless, even more meaningless than they are in real life, so we can still see that option 1) is still over-ruled forever.

With the last decisions in mind, let's add that forever is all of time, if such a thing exists. If not, it just is.

Now, whether you have eight tentacles, triple breasts or two heads, you have a good starting point for figuring out the rest of the truths for yourself.

Or you can buy a tri-D receiver set and gladly accept anything you see.

We have established quite a few true facts that are applicable in almost any situation, even in situations like that of the universe.

Since you are, along with the universe and its matter and time, and you know there's a general flaw in astrophysic theory that Other People created, you don't have to feel so down the next time you're not invited to a party.

In fact, you are extremely lucky.

How come?

Since the probability of you being invited to a party in the first place, in a Universe we all know is as close to completely unpopulated as it gets, is so small that it would take a universe of time to calculate, then you're going along with the odds and the Universe are working according to the simple mathematical rules with which you've successfully established your existence.

If you feel that this conclusion is very boring, then you've significantly strengthened it, since we all can remember how dull a universe it is.

If you, on the other hand, were actually invited to a party... then you should probably get a lot of drinks so you don't overheat on a probability high, and don't worry about hangovers since you probably don't exist in the first place.

DISCLAIMER: In order to satisfy the general subjectivist/objectivist and not offend either part, we have taken catious steps to implement these two groups' perspectives into a singular perspective as that presented above. Although the two respective groups would, respectively, argue that they either cannot accept these truths on general principle or that they cannot accept the subjective objectivism we may have applied according to their respective perspective, we are all very sick of their debate a long time ago, and would kindly ask the subjectivists to withdraw into their own, comforting universe and take the objectivists with them.

Two tips to help you along the way, though, having realized quite enough truths for one day: Don't panic. Don't ask.

Sigge S. Amdal is a word wanker from Oslo, Norway.

May 15, 2005

Existentialist Conversation with Strippers, Part II

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2005

Grubby and Senor were getting simultaneous lap dances while I sipped on my tepid Corona and stared at the acrobatic stripper spinning around the pole on the main stage. I have some of the weirdest thoughts when I'm in strip bars and at that time, my mind raced back and forth between different topics. I thought about philosophers like Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre. I also wondered if any of those gentlemen were to hang out with Senor and myself in Las Vegas... then perhaps the face of 20th Century philosophy might have been changed. How could your existence be that meaningless and bleak when your faced is buried into the chest of a former Miss Teen Louisiana who's using your nose as a punching bag with both her breasts smacking up against you in a one-two combo?

Usually I'll have fleeting moments like "Boy man! Shit, God does exist!" when I'm in a strip club. Seriously, the only other place I had a semi-religious experience was at a Grateful Dead concert somewhere in North Carolina when I was 19 years old. But I have a strong suspicion that the three hits of liquid sunshine had a lot to do with my conversation with God that evening. He's a big Deadhead, you know?

Moving on, or shall I say flashing back to... the early 1990s... while exiting the nastiest and raunchiest strip club in Matamoras, Mexico (and I use the word strip club very loosely - it was a brothel with a stage and a stripper's pole in the front), I was once quoted as saying, "Oh my God!" after witnessing an exotic dancer shoot a ping pong ball out of her cookie. I was in awe as the ping pong ball flew over one hundred feet across the dilapidated stage where it landed perfectly in an old rusty coffee can amidst the rowdy applause of the twenty or so drunken frat boys in the joint. Juan Valdez's burro can do plenty of tricks, but nothing like that.


I'm used to having religious experiences inside strip clubs. When I made eye contact with Jessinna at Sin in Las Vegas, I was convinced that there was a God because he sculpted the perfect woman for me. Bodies are a dime a dozen, but what made Jessinna perfect was her personality. She was the right combination of cool and aloof, enough so that she didn't know how hot she really was. She lived in the moment and focused all of her attention on me. She bought her own beers and wasn't there to suck every dollar out of my pocket. And lastly, she busted my balls when I tried to slip a Heidegger quote past her and pass it off as my own.

"You didn't just make that up?" she barked over the loud music.

"Huh?" I said, totally shocked that she actually called my bluff.

"You don't think I'm that fuckin' stupid where you can fuckin' pass off a second rate quote from an out dated philosopher like Heidegger?"

There's something very sexy, yet surreal, when a naked woman debates Heidegger with you while you desperately try to drown out a Britney Spears song that's blasting in the background.

Jessinna sat down on my lap and I lost time. She wore a pink Victoria's Secret bathing suit and we discussed the origins of all her tattoos, which took about four songs long for her to explain. I became enamored by her dark complexion and the aroma of her light brown hair (obviously highlighted of course). The natural brunette from El Paso, Texas loved drinking Coronas. She was almost the same age as my friend Molly, who's also an El Paso resident. I knew that the name of her high school was the same as the mountains nearby which seemed to impress her. I wondered if they went to school together. That would have been one weird conversation.

"Hey, Molly. Senor is still alive. I met a vixen named Jessinna in a strip club at 1 AM. She's one of your old classmates from Franklin High. She has pierced nipples. And damn! That's the best $100 that I spent in Vegas."

I'm confused whether or not that's her real name, even though that's what Jessinna told me. I know... you can't believe anything a stripper tells you. As the story goes, her father picked it off a Mexican soap opera. Now there's a slight grey area. I couldn't tell if her father picked her stripper name or her birth name. I didn't bother to ask for clarification and instead I got another lap dance.

There were two coincidences with her name. First of all, she worked at Sin and there was "sin" in the middle of Jessinna. Secondly, she almost had the same name as the stripper from Iceland that I fellow in love with four years earlier. The Icelandic gal was named Sinna. Add "J-E-S" to the front and you got Jessinna.

Life is funny sometimes. In the middle of the fuckin Nevada dessert, a Jessica Alba look-a-like with Taz tattooed on her ass instantly became hooked up with a stripper in Reykjavik who looked a lot like Gwyneth Paltrow in a bizarre instance of Six Degrees of Pauly.

Jessinna jumped up as the first few notes of Metallica's song Enter Sandman began to play.

"I fuckin' love this song!"

"Me too. Let's go!"

I motioned for her to start another lap dance. Nothing is hotter than a stripper with a song she loves to grind to. Normally, I equate Enter Sandman with the New York Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was not a more dominant relief pitcher in all of baseball. As soon as you heard Enter Sandman on Yankee Stadium's PA system, you'd see Mo Rivera sprint out of the bullpen towards the pitcher's mound. As a Yankees fan, you knew that the game would be over in a matter of minutes because he was untouchable. Of course these days, Mo is not as dominant as he once was so it was easy for me to now conjure up images of Jessinna gyrating to her favorite song and I have vivid memories of smelling her hair as she dangled it over me and feeling the warmth of her breath as she blew into my ear and examining the thickness of her nipples every time I stroked the silky skin on her back and shoulders.

After the dance was over she ordered another round of Coronas. She even bought me a drink. What a girl! That's the first time that's ever happened to me. We sat for an undetermined amount of time before I settled up my tab with her and calmly invited her back to my hotel room for a late night party. She wanted to leave with us, but said she had to work until 6 AM. I told her, "Too bad. I would have made you famous."

As Jessinna slid off my lap and walked over to a table of L.A. hipsters in the corner, Senor asked, "Dude, what the fuck did you and that stripper talk about for over an hour?"

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.