From the monthly archives:

February 2011

Why I Joined A Bike Gang

February 28, 2011

Honestly? I had this wild fucking hairdo, a bunch of red strips of cloth, no shoes, and a whole lot of free time. That’s not very interesting, but it’s the truth.  

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A Jellyfish Parent Speaks

February 27, 2011

I’m not looking forward to the day when I have to answer my daughter’s question about what humans do when we sting them. She thinks they die, which is not unheard of. But it’s gonna break her heart when she finds out they pee on each other to relieve the pain. It’s disheartening, and it’s [...]

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Blowin’ In The Wind: A Mime’s Lament

February 26, 2011

There was a time-’67, ’68, around then-when there was still some modicum of respect for mimery. It was still seen as the ultimate expression of physical acting. Legitimate theater and film actors, up to John Wayne and Charles Bronson, used to come to me and beg: show me how to better command my instrument. Meaning, [...]

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The Name Englebert Humperdinck Is Not Funny

February 25, 2011

I doubt most people are laughing at his first name. Englebert is close enough to Bert that it’s hardly noticeable. And taken by itself, Englebert, is just not that remarkable. In other words, it might get your attention initially, but eventually you’d forget it. Most people, then, are laughing at his last name, Humperdinck, which [...]

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Calling Into Darkness From Either Side of the Chasm

February 24, 2011

It just doesn’t seem like a fruitful endeavor, is all I’m saying. Why? Why what? Why do you have to void your bowels on my dreams? Consistently? Why? That’s what I asked. Why do your dreams have to be so weird? Why couldn’t you dream of being independently wealthy? Why couldn’t you at least dream [...]

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A Patronizing (At Times Degrading) Civil War Embalmer to His Nephew

February 23, 2011

“We get paid to drain the fluids, Nate. Not spill ‘em all over the corpse.” “This here’s embalmin’. If you don’t like it, then don’t let the tent flap hit you where the Good Lord split you.” “Don’t drink the  formaldehyde, son.” “Nate! Get off that body.” “I’m gonna pretend I didn’t just see you [...]

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Reasons I Can’t Be On NPR

February 22, 2011

1. My name is not, in any way, unusual.

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In The Des Moines Central Valley Mall Photobooth With Vicky Kesserman, 10 Years Later

February 21, 2011

I guess it’s hard for me to remember. Were you and I here before I went out with Phil? Phil Jeffers, I mean. I still have those photos, Vicky. We just look so happy. Okay, smile. [Click] That’s really sweet, Kev. But wait, which class is it that we had? The first one. When we [...]

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Insulting And/Or Taboo Subjects To Bring Up With Cattle Thieves

February 20, 2011

Stealing dairy cows. Hangings. Fake branding irons. The total absence of personal accountability in a posse. Separating a heifer from her calf. Barbed wire. Ambition (or a lack thereof). Texas Rangers. Impotence exposed at a cat house (most certainly caused by deep-seeded regret and shame at stealing). The phrase “real cowboys.”

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Cave Moment #5 In The Life Of Timmy Barnes: Age Six

February 19, 2011

“Uncle” Ray: Here you go buddy. An honest-to-God fire helmet. Timmy: … “Uncle” Ray: Let’s just get this strapped on. Timmy’s Mom: What do we say, Timmy? Timmy: … “Uncle” Ray: What’s the matter, Timmy? Timmy’s Mom: It’s nothing, Ray. “Uncle” Ray: I mean, you’re gonna be the coolest kid on the playground. This is [...]

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Nostalgia and Lamenting at the Health Teachers’ Happy Hour

February 18, 2011

I just remember a time when saying vas deferens brought the house down. For me it was always testes. Say testes to kids in the 8os and you had people falling out of their desks. It’s all gotten too serious if you ask me. Show them a penis diagram now and there’s no snickering. Just [...]

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Another Unproductive Couples Counseling Session

February 17, 2011

I feel weird having to wear this on my finger. Are they washed between uses? They’re washed, Sylvia. And sprayed with disinfectant. And then washed again. And please, you’re playacting. You’re wearing the Nathan doll on your finger, so please, be Nathan. This is what I’ve been talking about. Who? Who has been talking about [...]

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Mommy’s Not Sad Like That, or Explaining the Ending of Anna Karenina to Your 9-Year Old Daughter

February 16, 2011

She doesn’t fall in front of the train by accident. She falls on purpose. Because she’s very sad. No, it’s a different kind of sad than Mommy gets. It’s much worse. Because it’s not that I can’t be with Daddy; I left him. He’s Anna Karenina. No, I don’t think he’ll fall in front of [...]

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Andrew Jackson…

February 15, 2011

Andrew Jackson ordering appetizers and not sharing. Andrew Jackson buying his shoes one size larger well into his twenties. Andrew Jackson stealing toilet paper from the fitness center he seldom goes to. Andrew Jackson licking a mirror, his breath fogging the glass. Andrew Jackson repeating “Meriwether” until it becomes a string of meaningless syllables. Andrew [...]

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Overheard At The Annual United Bed Bugs Convention

February 14, 2011

In closing, I say this: Nothing—not a parasite, not an animal, not a hole in the goddamned ozone—nothing is keeping up with our growth. The future is obviously uncharted, and so very promising. No, not just promising—it is truly unlimited. [Robust applause] I can take a few questions. I fed yesterday, so I have some [...]

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