Friday, July 25, 2008, Pt. I

I drove one of these at work today. Well, not this exact one. But the difference to the average blog enthusiast (and frankly, to me) is negligible. I black-and-whited the shit out of the picture to make it more "me", but don't you think there's some kind of shame implied there? A tiny bulldozer is a tiny bulldozer, right? Who am I to desaturate its mustard yellow paint and crop the frame around it for better balance? I mean, fuck. What's this need to turn every image into the album cover for Nebraska? I'd like to think of myself as relatively nonpretentious, but it's hard not to feel like a pompous ass doing the job I do some days.

I work for the street department in my hometown, and it really is everything you'd expect it to be. Sun-soaked afternoons tossing hot, oily sand into a gouge in the road, punctuated intermittently by periods of shovel-leaning boredom. Diesel-fuel stains on worn-out dad jeans. A break room full of forty-something racists with chips on their shoulders. Greasy men driving big trucks and swearing at each other.

Those who know me will understand why I feel out of place in this job. I am what you might call "little", embodying the marshmallow-fed, outcast, Midwestern nerd-child stereotype we've all come to know and love since the release and runaway success of Juno. I'm like Paulie Bleeker without the track and field records. Also I'm not nice and I don't get laid. Frankly, that was a terrible comparison. What were we talking about again?

Right. Suppose Jack Black decided to put on a shirt and do manual labor for eight hours a day with a dozen or so hard-bodied, sun-leathered Aryans for a summer. Except with more pantomimed masturbation. Yeah, more.

Today, my primary task was shoveling a year's buildup worth of grease, lost bolts and nuts, dirt from truck tires, and a moldy organic buildup on top of it all out of the trench drains in the mechanic shop. The consistency of this muck is somewhere between wet sand and Jello pudding, and it smells something like a mulched, half-rotten pile of forest litter in a wet rubber bag. I have to bend much further down than is naturally all right to be able to scrape the bottom of the foot-deep concrete ditch, and then I get to take this shovelful of ashen gray, petroleum-saturated, black fluid-dripping deliciousness and dump it into the front-end bucket of the tiny bulldozer seen above.

Somewhere toward the end of my toils, by which point I must have scooped half a ton or so of this awful shit, I see something skipping around, ornery and lively, in the gutter. It's a tiny frog, covered in a brown slick. Only his eyes shine yellow through the mechanical filth. I'm reminded of countless Green Peace-funded videos showing oil-drenched pelicans being restrained and gently washed by freckled nature girls. But, barring a sponsorship from Dove Soap, I am forced simply to snatch up my amphibian partner and place him in the tiny oasis of trees near the shop.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two-Thirty, Time for Dentist, Tooth Hurty

Today I had my third dental appointment in just over a month. I had a crown and two fillings, the first of what I'm sure will be many happy insertions in my oral biography.

First, the OK-looking dental assistant swabs the left side of my mouth out with a numbing gel that's supposed to be strawberry-flavored. The end result is somewhere south of Halls Wild Cherry Cough Drops, but not quite as foul as Nyquil.

I'm left to read an old National Geographic in the office (and if my writing teacher from last semester is reading this, he will surely get the literary reference) as I slowly begin to lose the feeling in my gums. There's an article about commercial products inspired by naturally occurring phenomena like the bristled foot-pads of geckos and the drag-reducing texture of shark skin. And yes, the article belabors the hell out of the whole cocklebur-velcro story.

The OK-looking assistant comes back with My Dentist in tow. Now it's time for novocaine. Supposedly by now, my mouth is supposed to be unable to feel anything, but when the needle pierces the inside of my cheek, I feel it sink deep into my jaw, into fleshy recesses I didn't know existed until they were penetrated by this stainless conquistador. The hypodermic Cortés strikes a nerve, sending a jolt of flicking stingers all the way up through my lips.

Properly anesthetized, it's time to take out my temporary, plastic crown, seated on my rearmost molar, and replace it with a permanent, porcelain one. My Dentist mercilessly thrusts in and yanks out the new crown, stopping at short intervals to file away bits of doll-face replacement tooth until it fits. When she is satisfied, she squirts some kind of godawful fluid that tastes something like salty poop, which will "make the area achy for awhile but will really help me out in the long run". It hurts. The assistant then begins brutally flossing the area "to get rid of excess adhesive", and the nylon filament comes out covered in blood. "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith is playing over the intercom. I am comforted by this, because it means that Stephen Tyler and Company have now been relegated to the dreaded queue of "muzak". In any case, the overhead observation light I've been staring into throughout the exam begins to resemble a bottom view of the firing thrusters of some asteroid-killing space rocket carrying no fewer than five famous actors.

Not skipping a beat, My Dentist begins digging holes in two of my other teeth, noting that her wild drillstrokes are shredding the fuck out of my gums, so those'll probably be sore for awhile, too. Switching randomly between the two teeth with that fucking drill, I feel as though My Dentist is having a really bad game of "Operation". It's not water on the knee, butterflies in the stomach, or a charley horse, goddammit. Every time that diamond-tipped bit sinks into my teef, it's like someone's running a live wire down into my jaw and shocking the shit out of it. Now my mouth is like an unevenly moist, bloody salty poopy cesspool.

My Dentist begins filling in the strip mines she's made of my bicuspid and first molar, telling me that the filler "smells bad, sorry".

"Well, at least it tastes great," I think. The filling filler smells like burnt garlic-rubber. My Dentist is no liar. Then a little more drilling and picking to smooth things out.

Then, suddenly, we're finished. My mouth is still wide open, and My Dentist begins tilting my chair up. The OK-looking assistant asks if I'd like a mouth-rinse, and although I'm thoroughly enjoying having an unwashed, sweaty orgy in my mouth, I nod my head obligingly. Then I'm expected to get up and leave the office. I feel like I'm missing something. I'm stumbling around in the lobby and then out to the parking lot, but nothing happens. I feel oddly used after this relatively short but excruciating appointment, but not necessarily upset. It's as if I've been taken advantage of by someone I sort of like anyway, you know? I don't know what, if anything, I could have expected. It's not like I have a fuck-on-the-third-date rule.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where's the Poop?

It's been a long time, but I don't know where else to turn. While this was meant primarily to be a video blog, I refuse to further update my old blog, which, while occupying a very cached-away place of love in my soul has proven too embarrassing and misunderstandishable for further use.

I only write now because I have realized that to write is a commitment tantamount to that which one must give a child or a lover, and although I don't actually know what I'm talking about, it must be that this is true because someone else's blog says so. I expect that what I have to say will rarely be of any consequence or relevance to anyone but myself, but perhaps time and a yet-unexposed group of similarly world-weary, pretentious young bastards will prove me wrong.

Now then; today I'd like to talk about Mickey Dee's, and more specifically about the meat of the matter. WacArnold's has launched a campaign, emblazoned on the sandwich boxes grabbed at by our corpulent children, bragging that their burgers are made with 100% Pure Beef. Rather than taking a more reassuring "This is what isn't in our food" route with a title like "FDA Allowable 2% Animal Feces," the Golden Arches has called into question the content of all of the Quarter Pounders, Double Quarter Pounder with Cheeses, and Big 'n Tasties made and served before these ads were printed. Am I supposed to assume that my suspicions have always been correct; that the hamburgers of my childhood were not only assembled and served with beef and a smile, but also with a dash of medical waste?

Maybe I'm being unrealistic. Maybe it's just that, before this campaign, McDreamy's put the meat from other animals into their sandwiches. That wouldn't be so bad, would it? Christ knows we've all had hotdogs that probably had a few bits of pigeon or saltwater iguana in them, and the worst that ever came of that was violent, effervescent diarrhea, right?

I know, I know. I'm being very hard on America's most popular eatery. I apologize. After all, they're just saying what they are. Certainly that must be better than the wily pitches of snakeoil salesmen Billy Mays and Ron Popeil. But something about McDuck's' sudden decision to advertise the contents of their meat smacks of the same kind of false sincerity observable in the "About Me" sections of countless MySpace rapists and in the smile of Ronald Reagan. Haven't Ray Kroc and company had something like fifty years to make their burgers with 100% Pure Beef, or at least to say so? Why now? Is it because of that ambiguously motivated but brilliantly cast Richard Linklater film? I want answers, McDonald's Chairman Andrew J. McKenna, Sr.