Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bad Things Happen To People Who Don't Edge Their Lawn, Ted

Our Homeowner's Association is pretty proactive. They tackle problems right away, and they're not afraid to get aggressive about it. Look, when someone doesn't take care of their lawn it hurts everyone's property value. We have to stick together, especially in this kind of housing market. That's why -- as a friend -- I'm going to give you a little warning, Ted. Edge your lawn. Edge the shit out of it.

Mowing twice a month and waiting for the rain to water the grass just isn't going to cut it. Especially with that St. Augustine you've got. That stuff holds together great, but it spreads right out onto the sidewalk. You don't want to let it do that. That's how people get duct-taped and shoved into the trunk of someone's car.

You know Bill O'Donnell, down the block? Nice guy, retired Air Force. Ol' Bill thought he'd put himself up some plastic gnomes, just for the fun of it. You haven't seen Ol' Bill recently, have you? Of course you haven't. The paperboy doesn't come round, and even the police have stopped looking. Of course the police don't fuck with the Homeowner's Association either.

They say the Italian mafia will kill you, but the Russians will kill you and your family. You've heard that, right? Yeah, well the HOA will make it so no one will ever find you again. People won't even ask, they'll be so scared. Why are you screwing around with the weeds in your flowerbed like that? Are you suicidal? Ted, just come back to reality here. You've got a family. Don't be a hero. Just get out there and tighten those corners -- maybe clean up that crabgrass over there. No one escapes them! Don't even try, or you'll end fertilizing Mrs. Compton's rutabagas in the community garden.

They just want to see that you're playing ball, and they'll leave you alone. Don't force them to make an example of you, for Chrissakes. You're playing with the lives of everyone and everything you love. If you don't straighten out and start edging -- and bag your clippings in clear plastic bags for the recycling truck -- they will end you. I'm afraid, just living next to you. Don't draw attention to this block, Ted. The way you go without mulching is just insane. You have no idea how close you are to getting necklaced with a gasoline-filled tire next Fall Fun Festival.

Look, I've gotta get back to my hedge trimming before someone sees us together. We never talked about this, Ted. But get with the program. I'll kill you myself if I have to.

The Day Before (Part 4 - Final)

11:30 p.m.

Mike Guiteau has between 30 minutes, and 24 hours and 30 minutes, left to live. He’s bored now.

He smokes a cigarette. He looks across the room at all these poetry people. They have strange facial hair, and exaggerated clothing and ornaments. What are they trying to do? They look like muppets. Mike always wears whatever he has on, which is usually a suit and tie, and they look at him. He sometimes gets up to read and he thinks he hears them laughing at him, but he can’t be sure.

At some point in his life, he thought that being you made you better. And so he does it, even though it can’t help him here. But if nobody notices how better he is, is he really?
He looks across the room at cute girl with pig tails and tattoos and something wrong with her nostrils. It might be rings, but he can’t tell from here. She’s sitting alone, and he thinks about going up to her. Then he thinks about his ex-girlfriend and begins to feel bad. But maybe he shouldn’t; it’s not like they’re going out. But he feels bad anyway.

He waits, and a guy with a mustache like Dali comes up and kisses the girl full on the mouth. Then he starts whispering to her, and she begins to snicker. And Mike wants her more, maybe just to be in on whatever it is.

He suddenly realizes the poem should be different. He pulls it out and scribbles. It was supposed to be how our whole lives, looked at from someone else’s eyes, might be sad or funny, or anything. . . “They might even be:” he has, and he writes, “puns.” He doesn’t know though. He begins to think about it. You understand what would happen if someone’s life were a joke. That’s a cliché, but everyone would get it. But what would it mean if someone’s life were really a pun?

He’s getting very close to the time he could die now, and Mike Guiteau’s turn comes up to read. There is something out there, something that could kill him at any time. That will kill him within the day. But it’s only very terrible to him. And he doesn’t know it’s coming. And so there is no way you can look at it as bad, and maybe therefore it’s not so bad at all. And if Mike knew this, would he laugh?

He steps up and taps the mike to test it. He leans in close, and no sound comes out. Then there’s a buzzing sound, the sound of sparks and someone curses while the whole room goes dark. Mike stands there a moment, and tries to figure how to look good in all this. Maybe just stand here? Maybe say something?

He looks out at faces blank as tree trunks at night. He sees a man who will die in an auto wreck, two future cancer victims, a half-dozen middle aged heart failures and one case of auto-erotic asphyxia. He doesn’t know which is which, couldn’t tell them apart now if he did, and doesn’t even think to wonder.

He thinks of the trees back by his home. The last home he had. He used to find them fallen over or blasted by lightning out in the middle of nowhere. He would wonder what it must have been like to be there, and he’d become disturbed.

There was always that saying about trees toppling over in an empty forest, and he could never get a handle on why it bothered him so much. But it has all the secrecy in the world in that statement, a cliché so tired and true and brutal that it leaves you there, by the forest’s edge, thinking about how little you know. Along with all the other clichés about silence and secrecy.
He starts to read, but no one hears him. No sound comes out, and he can’t make any eye contact. Far away, at his office, someone is backing up all the computers. This person goes to shut Mike’s machine down; it crashes and his letter and project are both wiped out. The only hard copy of the only version of the letter, covered with mustard, slides down an incinerator chute in the belly of his building.

He tries to remember his new verse. He thinks “pun,” and wonders if the whole poem is even worth it. If maybe he should just leave before this becomes a joke.

He tries to get his mike to work, but it won’t. He hears that guy whispering to the pretty, scary girl again. He feels like he’s cheating and being cheated on. . . both together, and he doesn’t know which is worse. And there in the dark, for maybe the last time in his life, he hears a woman snicker.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Go Ahead And Fear The Reaper

We the members of Blue Oyster Cult have recently decided to announce a major shift in our core values, and we thought we should do so as publicly as possible. As you know, we're famous for a song that advocates a strong pro-Reaper ethos. We no longer subscribe to this philosophy. We want to let you, our fans, know that you should go ahead and fear the Reaper. Really. The Reaper is just bad.

Our strong antipathy toward the Reaper has actually been building for some time. Most of us in BOC are in our 60s. Sure, when we were younger we liked the idea of flirting with the Reaper. But now the Reaper terrifies us. We wear sunscreen and get regular prostate exams. We've each gone to a funeral within the past year. One of us -- we don't want to say who -- voted for John McCain, because he "felt like he could identify with the guy." The beauty of the Reaper is no longer some vague spiritual idea we can bullshit about while driving around higher than Jesus in a large van painted over with wizards and women in fur bikinis riding dragons. The Reaper is a cold hard fact. You should definitely fear him.

The main reason we want our Reaper-fear known is we are tired of receiving email from the friends of dead BASE jumpers, chain smokers, and people who harnessed themselves to high-speed trains. Often these people will say the deceased expressed a love for our music. We would like to reply: Don't put this on us! Don't make us responsible for every jackass in a Spandex jumpsuit who gets himself dismembered on the face of a cliff.

And if you are reading this while standing on top of a radio antenna holding a flimsy parachute please, please, please just climb down and go do something that won't kill you. There is nothing beautiful about the Reaper. We're sorry we suggested otherwise. We were young, and we didn't know anything. You know what is beautiful? A nice game of Sudoku. We all play it, even the roadies. Unstrap yourself from whatever contraption is about to decapitate you and start learning that. And eat plenty of fiber. Fiber's good too.

And while we're on the subject of terrible email: If you have footage of your college a cappella group performing our song, along with some some sort of joke about a cowbell... please go fuck yourself.
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