Hut, hut, hike

I can imagine no greater pleasure than reconciling oneself with Mother Nature.

I have a lot of free time on my hands. Resolving not to squander so much of it on useless crap, I went for a hike yesterday. Too much time has passed since I last hiked. A few miles from my home lies a desert monument with several hiking trails. Why not put some distance between my ass and my leather sectional and take in the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert? And I could skip my daily workout – killing two Spotted Owls with one stone. A hike was the perfect way to spend the day.

I knew I'd work up an appetite on my big hike. I anticipated 2 hours of rigorous, outdoor activity. So before I began, I stopped at a McDonald's, threw down a #5 and topped off my urinary system with free-refill diet sodas. When I eat at a restaurant foolish enough to put the soda fountain in reach of the public, I commit to drink half my body weight in Diet Coke. Years of diet soda consumption have stretched my bladder to the size of a beanbag chair. Bottoms up, McD's!

The hiking trails are only a few minutes' drive. So when I arrived, I still had a half-full cup of diet soda. I wasn't going to dump it or let it flatten in the car -- sacrilege! I decided to drink it while I hiked. This seemingly superfluous piece of information will become important later in the story.

I began my hike. The elements conspired to bring me to a state of rapture: the air was crisp and cool, yet the sun beamed. The sky glowed electric blue. A mild breeze would occasionally wash away the sun's warmth from my skin. The mountains ahead were breathtaking – towering deposits of earth peppered with saguaro cactus and desert wildlife. The whole scene intoxicated me. I felt the instinctive well-being man feels when removed from the foreignness of his modern lifestyle and immersed in his ancient habitat, Nature. Then I began encountering people, which killed the buzz at once.

A certain species of Man dominates national parks: the nature-lover. One can identify these vile creatures by their Eddie Bauer wardrobes, walking sticks, and their ritual of saying hello to every fuckin' person they pass on the trails. These people are friendly to a fault. By the time I'd hiked my first mile I'd greeted a dozen people and had tired of the word "hello" and all its derivatives (hi, hiya, howdy, how's it going, how you doin', hope you fall down that cliff, etc.). I'd rather each of these people were a mountain lion, for they'd cause me less fret.

By now the physicality of the hike took possession of me. I felt alive. My heart was pumping. My lungs were cycling the desert air. Each of my feet shuffled over the landscape until it nestled into a groove of stone, thence my leg sprung me further up the inclined path. I had achieved harmony with my environment. Almost. Two problems currently presented themselves. My McDonald's soda cup, now empty, became an encumbrance. And I was gaining on a nature-loving couple.

I hadn't seen a garbage can anywhere, and I had no reason to believe that as I penetrated further into the desert wildlife, I'd find one. I know what you're thinking: just toss the cup under a bush and be rid of it. I like your style. Well, unfortunately it's not that simple. Bounding up the mountain trail, I had passed many nature-lovers, all of whom surely noticed my 44 oz. McDonald's cup. Should they find me without my cup when I passed them again – this time on the way down – they might surmise I'd littered their pristine ecosystem! What's more, this wouldn't be just any parcel of litter; it was McDonald's refuse – the arch-enemy of nature-lovers everywhere. Why, that little golden "M" on the cup might as well be a swastika. I'd cause less offense by "relieving myself" on a copy of Al Gore's Earth in the Balance then by disposing of McDonald's refuse in the desert. Anyway, by tossing the cup into the desert, I risked an earful and perhaps a visit from a park ranger.

I also had the nature-loving couple ahead. They'd surely want to chat. Luckily the trail forked about 30 feet before I'd overtake them. It would be close, but I could probably dodge them before they engaged me in conversation. Sure, I'd have to detour onto the smaller trail, but it would be worth the effort.

I darted down the other trail. It looked inhospitable, more like a desert wash than a trail. But it had the virtue of being people-free. Suddenly, I heard the aforementioned couple, the female of the species, yell, "Aren't you taking Painter's Trail?"

What the hell was she talking about? Painter's Trail? Huh? I soon realized what was happening. The nature-lovers, all-too-familiar with these trails, saw the path I'd chosen and knew I was heading into a wash. Dammit. Now I'd have to talk with them. I needed a quick, witty response that wouldn't invite further conversation.

"No. I'm up for a real challenge today. I've opted for, uh... Satan's Poop Shoot. Bye!"

And with that bit of repartee behind me, I was off.

Two-hundred feet later I encountered a fence of rusty barbed wire. Dead-end, dammit. I had to double-back and pass the nature-lovers after all. Dammit!

I still clung to my soda cup, which was leaking Coke residue onto my hand with each step. I reconsidered tossing it at the dead-end, but I feared the nature-lovers would beat me to death with their biodegradable walking sticks. So I clutched it my hand. My cup was like my Islamic beard, or perhaps a burka – proof that I was not an infidel. If I kept it, I might make it out of the park without being sacrificed at the altar of Environmentalism (peace and blessings be upon Him).

The trails carve through a mountain range, so if you persevere, eventually you can turn back and take in a view of the valley and the city skyline. It's beyond beautiful. As I paused to look across the desert basin, I realized how blue the sky is, how big the earth is, how wondrous the mountains are, how precious the environment is -- and just how many more condominium complexes we can still cram into the valley. Damn, I should have gone to real estate school. Those things are selling like PlayStation Portables!

I could have stayed in this little niche of desert forever. Then something strange happened. As quickly as it struck me, the novelty waned. The majesty of the desert became an uninviting plane of prickly cactus, jagged rock, poisonous scorpions and snakes, arid air and a lack of climate control, television and toilets. Only 25 minutes into my hike, I longed for the artificial environment of my gymnasium, where Man can take exercise as God intended: harnessed to a cold, electromagnetic machine with little, blinking LED lights. I hiked back out of the canyon, hopped in my car and drove to my gym. I dumped the cup in the trash.

This was my last hike ever.


Service Engine Soon

The "Service Engine Soon" light on your car's dashboard is the Where's Waldo of automobile maintenance: 1% amusing, 99% psychological torture.

Make no mistake. The "Service..." light is psychological torture. Mine has been glowing for a few weeks now and the inside of my car feels like Abu Ghraib Detention Center. One wonders what maniacal misanthrope invented the Service Engine Soon light. Consider what the light is really saying to you:

Hello, driver. Guess what. There's something wrong. There's something really wrong. But I'm not going to tell you what it is. It might be something trivial, something you could repair cheaply, but should you ignore it, develop into a costly repair. Then again, it could be something deathly serious already. Perhaps I'll leave you stranded in a bad neighborhood after dark. Or I'll wait until that job interview next Thursday. You'll have to wait and see.

Remember that movie in which the villain crank-calls the baby sitter and asks "Have you checked the children? " That's the same effect the Service light has. The only difference is, instead of a murderous rampage, you shiver at the thought of having to suck dick to raise $2000 in transmission-repair money. I don't know what's worse: a knife-wielding psychopath cranked up on meth, or your local profiteering auto mechanic -- either one promises abject horror.

Why can't the Service light just tell you what the hell is wrong? Cars have been telling us useless crap for years now. Who gives a damn about RPMs or what the cabin temperature is? I don't care whether the "car in the mirror is closer than he appears." Screw him. I'm changing lanes anyway. That closer driver needs to realize that I'm later for work than I appear.

This is the Computer Age. I figured that by the year 2006, a little robot with a jetpack would fly out of my car's engine compartment and give me a mechanical status report in my choice of over 200 languages. The Japs really let us down with that one! As it is, my car's computer can tell me my "instantaneous fuel efficiency," but it can't tell me that a piston is fixing to pop out of the muffler? What the fuckin' fuck? I suppose I shouldn't be surprised when I consider all the useless error messages Windows has been flashing at me for 10 years.

The Service Engine Soon light leaves you to anguish and reckon. Maybe this is why we name our cars after females. They both let you know something's wrong, but they won't tell you what it is.


Grandparents and bumper stickers

You've probably seen the bumper sticker that reads "If I knew grandchildren were so much fun, I would have had them first." When I see that bumper sticker, I drive along side grampa (an easy task as he's driving 15 mph under the posted limit) and shout "On behalf of your children, UP YOUR UNGRATEFUL POOPSHOOT, Grampa."

This attitude makes me thankful for negligent, abusive retirement homes that leave grandma lying in a pool of her own filth for three days with MTV blaring from the television. If my parents ever paste that repulsive bumper sticker on their Cadillac, I'm going to tip the night nurse at their retirement home a little extra just to smother them with pillows. I mean, really! What kind of attitude is that? How can old people like those little booger factories more than their own children?

I'm sure grandkids seem nicer than one's own children, but there's a reason for that. The grandkids didn't put up with 20 years of your bullshit and Naziism. They never had to eat your cauliflower. They never had to turn the music down because they'd "go deaf;" or back up from the television because they'd "go blind." You never stormed in on your grandchildren when they were "becoming familiar with themselves." Thanks a lot, Mom! And by the way, it's just adorable how you called me "Spanky" for 10 years afterward. Let me assure you it didn't affect my psyche in the least. Great burn. Anyway, all grandparents do is spoil grandchildren and when they metamorphose into little hellions, they pass them onto their parents. Of course grandkids compare favorably to your own children.

I don't mean to come off angry. The truth is, I think it's sweet how old people love their grandchildren so much. My grandparents still save the Happy Meal toys they get from McDonald's and send them to me. I'm 34. They don't realize I've outgrown fuzzy dinosaurs and bubble pipes. You'd think they'd take some Social Security money and put it toward a Play Station Portable. But, no! A Rubik's Cube key chain for my birthday? Thanks! What are you getting your own children next Christmas? A stool sample?

Anyway, I hate that bumper sticker.


Things NOT to say...

Things not to say to...

A policeman

These aren't donuts, dude. They're tires. No go play with your radar gun. And if you really want to catch me doing something naughty, drop by your bedroom one night and say hello to me and your wife.

A feminist

If you put half as much effort into your cooking as you do reading "discover your inner-goddess" paperbacks, I wouldn't have to bang your sister for a ham sandwich.

A 2000 Al Gore voter

Do you want to buy this box of uncounted ballots for a souvenir? They wouldn't fit in the shredder. For an extra $100 I can throw in the "real killers" OJ's been looking for.

Guys with goatees

Doesn't that tickle your boyfriend's balls? Do you have a name for that thing? I've got one. How about "Jism Mop?" You know, on account of all the jism your boyfriend shoots into it.

People with excessive tattoos

I've always wanted a 3-dimensional paint-by-numbers. Get your freaky ass naked and I'll get grab my palette.

Islamic fundamentalists

Yeah, I read about those 72 virgins. The bad news is, they all have the right to vote and most of them have jobs, too.

George Bush

Mr. President, that red button on your telephone summons the Domino's Pizza guy.

Dick Cheney

Tweet, tweet.


Drive-by blogging

  • I just figured why we consider rabbits' feet lucky: they have sex like gangbusters. Why do we use the term "getting lucky" to denote "having sex?" It's a bit premature. Isn't it? You don't "get lucky" until a few weeks later when she starts her period -- and when no rashes appear on either party! I've never been so religious as that period before her period. Amen!
  • Given the Holocaust, I'm surprised to see so many Jews in comedy. You'd think more of them would be locksmiths or excavators.
  • Everybody's having a collective conniption fit over ExxonMobile's record profits. Those greedy bastards cleared about 9 cents-per-gallon profit. Say, where's the outrage over Starbucks coffee? They're opening 18000 more stores around the world. They mark up their product (an addictive substance) about 10000 percent. And since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, how about a little outrage over Hallmark who charges $3.25 for a 3-cent piece of cardboard. I know a few tapped-out gentlemen who'd love to kick the crap out of Hallmark executives. I'd rather sterilize myself via blunt force trauma then give those bastards a dime!
  • I think any woman who complains about having a door opened for her should have a chair yanked from underneath her sometime during the date.
  • I heard a commercial on the radio for a licensed sex therapist. Licensed? What are the boards like for sex therapy licensing? All right, candidates. All answers are multiple orgasm. For the clinical component of this exam, you must gobble the entire shaft without disturbing the balls. Teeth are an automatic disqualification. You have 90 minutes. Good luck.
  • When will Cosmopolitan Magazine publish the newly discovered link between blow jobs and burning calories? You read me right, ladies. It's a scientific fact that hummers burn more calories than the elliptical trainer. Next month's issue: Hand-jobs, the New Decathlon.
  • You'd think trees would reproduce in the winter – when they're all naked! All except those prudish evergreens.
  • Tentpole Mountain dis-o-the-day: Do you think when they release the Director's Cut of Brokeback Mountain, the actors will be circumcised?
  • I never understood the appeal of obituaries. Who cares about some 85-year-old war veteran who had a heart attack shoveling shit in Missouri? Roger was a wonderful husband and grandfather who never missed a Sunday at Church. Who gives a shit? Instead, why don't the papers publish deceased relationships? Mike and Cheryl separated this week after 14 years of textbook co-dependence. After a brief prison stint in the late 90s, Mike, a 12-pack per day wife beater, came home to find Cheryl doubling-up on her brother-in-law and an unemployed diesel mechanic she met at the local liquor store. Although gunplay ensued, nobody was seriously injured except for Mike, who blew off his right testicle in the exchange.
  • How ironic that listening to Air Supply can be so suffocating. They're an "air supply" alright – that is if somebody farted a bunch of B-rated elevator music into a tank.
  • I don't mean to be insensitive or anything, but have you ever noticed how retarded kids are fascinated with boogers? It's true. A few boogers to a retarded kid are like a model of the solar system to a normal kid. Both are equally intrigued.
  • After a recent argument, my wife asked me if I took my "prick pills" this morning. I told her that I'm on the patch nowadays.
  • Do you think Indians named their dogs "Sniffs-at-Crotch" or "Craps-on-the-Field?"


Vanity is only skin-deep

I want to know why everybody I know always looks the same every time I see them, but when I look in the mirror, it's a craps-shoot. I have no idea what creature will be looking back at me. There's a thousand different things that can go wrong with my appearance. My hair alone can be fucked up in up to 32 ways at one time. My hair is a true-time multitasking embarrassment machine. Once in a while it manages to look cool, but most of the time it looks like Ray Charles molded 100 eggs of brown Play-Doh onto my head -- after hitting the "brown sugar."

My complexion is beginning to frighten me. I'm developing patches of color that haven't made it into the Crayola-128 pack yet. In fluorescent lighting, my face reminds me of a relief map of the Painted Desert -- the part where wildlife goes to die. I used to feel lucky for being a man, largely because women had to bother with makeup. But I'm getting to the age where I'm jealous of women, because I could really use some of that shit! Tell me more about this "foundation" stuff.

Looking into the mirror is a gamble. But at least you're expecting potentially bad news. I hate when you catch a glimpse of your reflection unexpectedly, perhaps in a store-front window, and you don't have time to brace yourself for what a traffic accident your appearance has become. Of course, some days you look so good you can actually feel it and you almost feel sorry for that poor fat bastard with the pasty skin, the goofy shorts, mismatching socks and the hair that looks like his parents were a baboon and Don King, until you realize that poor bastard is your own reflection passing by the Denny's front window. That's a piece of humble pie.

But I'm learning to deal with it. I stay positive. Most of the time it's just unflattering lighting, after all. You need to have flattering lighting! Too much light reveals things that have no business being seen. So as a rule, I avoid well-lit rooms, fluorescent lighting, track lighting, computer monitors, electrical storms, cigarette lighters, heat lamps, sparklers, lightning bugs, penlights and disco balls. I don't mind direct sunlight, though. I can still look pretty good in the sun because everybody has to squint. You just have to watch out for people with sunglasses.


Riddled with bullets

• My therapy sessions consist of a barren room, a bottle of whiskey, a punching bag and a stack of Playboys.
• Islamic fundamentalists like punching the air. Every time I see them on television, Islamo-fascists are punching the air in unison as if the Spirit of David Hasselhoff hangs in it. It's frightening to watch. But if you mute the television and play some MP3s, it makes them look like they're rocking to a Bon Jovi Concert. Dig that Western pop culture, Habib.
• Sometimes, just for fun, when my wife's approaching an orgasm, I say to her, "Keep it down. Remember, your dead relatives are watching."
• I like to watch the morning news so I can figure out whom to spend the day hating. Sometimes it's people without jobs. Other times it's rebellious teens. Lately it's Barry Manilow, who's reminded me what a big pussy the white male has become.
• I've been thinking about dating and I've realized that at some point during the date every girl asks herself, so am I going to sleep with this guy, or not? I figure the moment immediately preceding this event is the best time to buy her another drink and tell her how you're saving for a really cool sports car. Or make something up. You can regale her with how you fought off two hungry tigers with your bare hands to save orphan children in Kuala Lampur.
• I never understood the Sex Offender Registry. It's not practical. I don't care if my neighbor peeps on me while I'm showering. I want to know who in my neighborhood is stealing car stereos. We should put those little vatos on a list! The Car Stereo and Hubcap Thief Registry. Uh oh, dear. The Escargoza's just moved in. Time to buy The Club!
• Women need to understand that as men age, the price they're willing to pay for sex plummets. We still want sex. We're just have less tolerance for bullshit. An older guy takes a girl on a date and she busts into a Beyonce-inspired quasi rap about how you have to buy her some Gucci before you see her coochie or whatever, and he's likely to say to her, you know what, I think I'll just jerk off tonight. Have a lovely evening, Queen Latifa.


Coin-ism makes no cents

Everybody hates pennies. You can never find them when you need them. They're always the first to pop up when you're scrambling for dimes and quarters. After a while, they collect a shell of human funk and dust that turns them black and gross. They take up all the room in your piggy bank. They piss off the people behind you in the checkout line when you're buying liquor with them.

Pennies are a real pain in the ass. On the other hand, they are the most pleasant tasting coins in our currency. I find the 1983 Lincoln "D" series delectable. Throughout history, American scholars have systematically edited the many contributions the penny has made to posterity. For example, pennies can replace bad fuses. You can't beat the price. They cost only a penny. Suck on it, Smokey the Bear.

I've read that people are considering eliminating the penny from American currency. Aren't we being coin-o-centric? What do we have against the penny, really? We love the other coins. The thin-lipped, light-colored dime is our standard of coinal beauty. Likewise, quarters shine brightly in our hearts -- as long as they feature the face of a white, slave-owning George Washington on its silver-colored profile. We treat dollar bills like royalty. Why are we excluding the penny from the American Dream – money?

I submit it's because of the penny's brown complexion. It's racism, only with currency. We're discriminating against the penny. If we see something brown, we bomb it, flush it, or exclude it from societal norms. Don't believe me? Consider this: Abe Lincoln's profile is on the penny. Isn't he the Great Emancipator, the one who freed the slaves? I don't think this is a coincidence. Maybe the US mint should establish affirmative action for pennies. I don't know how it would work, because it takes five of them just to make a nickel. I'm sure the trial lawyers will work it out -- as long as they get their percentage in dollar bills.


Weekend nincompoopery

  • Despise hatred all you please. You can't deny it has the virtue of being a great motivator. After all, what ultimately moves you to start looking for a new job, a new home, or a new spouse?
  • Hate also brings out your creativity. Remember the foods you hated as a kid? I was a regular Houdini with peas and cauliflower. I could hide them in potato skins. I could make them disappear into a napkin. I could teleport them into the bottom of a milk glass!
  • Why are political science classes so noisy and calculus classes so quiet?
  • Why tax fast food for making people fat? Let's tax couches and video games and stretch pants.
  • So I'm watching these guy shower at my gym. Relax. Hold your comments. I wasn't watching in a Brokeback Mountain way, but in an anthropological way. I noticed that most guys take showering more seriously than I do. These guys were scrubbing the hell out of themselves. They were going at themselves like their bodies were one giant penis and they were Pee Wee Hermans in a peep stall. Innuendos aside, I didn't observe anything sexual. These guys meant business. Watching them made me feel remiss. When I shower, I wet it, rub it with some soap, rinse it and move on with my life. I figure I'm clean. My shower lasts 2 minutes and 30 seconds -- 3 minutes if I want a happy ending. Not these guys. They were scrubbing like gangbusters. They were tip-toeing, strecthing, squatting, reaching their arms around, probing crevasses, vibrating like motors as they scrub, scrub, scrub. I wanted to ask them, don't you chafe? Were you just exposed to radiation or something? It's like a re-enactment of Silkwood in here.
  • You'll notice I made another disparaging remark about Brokeback Mountain, above. I warned you several posts ago that I'd be doing that often. I plan to make good on my threat. In fact, I'm going to be poking so much fun at the movie, riding it so hard, giving it such a thorough lather, that I've added "Brokeback" into my MS Word online dictionary. I was tired of seeing it underlined in red.
  • A time will come when we adopt hydrogen cell technology, wind and solar power. At that precise moment, some environmentalist busybody will publish a paper "proving" the damage water vapor, decreased wind current and solar radiation is causing the ecosystem. Count on it.
  • True story: One time I was writing a blog post and I wanted to use the word "nincompoopery." I doubted it was a real word. So I walked over to my dictionary. Lo and behold, the dictionary was already opened to the word "nincompoopery!" Today I wanted to use the word "douchebaggery." No such luck this time.
  • Does anybody else catch the double entendre when Viagra advertises with a pop-up window?
  • Of all the things political correctness has taken from us, I miss most of all the option to call my friends "fag." Remember how useful that word was? "You've asked me to throw the ball to you 4 times now. Quit being a fag." "You crashed my bike, you fag." "Last one in the pool is a fag." "Only a fag couldn't make a shot from that close."
  • On a related note, remember that game "Smear the Queer?" What do they call it now, "Smear the Individual Who's in Possession of the Football?" I'm telling you, people. We've lost something. Political Correctness is culture cancer. I fear for the future of the term "douche bag."
  • I figure about 15,000 blogs have already pointed this out, but let me get this straight. Not only have we had a dick, a bush and a colon in the White House, but now we have a boner leading the majority party in the House of Representatives? What's next? A Secretary of Defense named "General Herpes?"