Archive for January, 2012
In this year’s most talked about metal reunion, the original members of the metal legends Celtic Frost returned to the stage to help celebrate the passage into manhood of young Shlomo Needlebaum. The Needlebaums have been lifelong fans of the band and Sol Needlebaum, Shlomo’s father and owner of Honest Sol’s Linoleum Flooring with 40 locations throughout the Midwest, knew that this was the perfect opportunity to bring the band back together. “Morbid Tales has been a constant part of Shlomo’s life since he was a little baby. We played Dethroned Emperor at his bris and he’s been in love with them ever since,” proclaimed Sol outside of the Moshe Dayan Memorial Temple in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.
At first, Thomas Gabriel Warrior (or Fischer, as most adults like to call him) was dead set against the idea. However, the chance to help a fan like Shlomo start the exciting journey into adult life along with a check for 50,000 dollars helped Warrior change his tune. Warrior’s love of the traditions of Judaism were also a major influence on his decision. “I have always had a special place in my heart for the Jewish people and particularly their traditions,” said Warrior decked out in corpse paint and a yarmulke before he strode on stage, “I often think of the great quote by the German poet Berthold Auerbach who said ‘Judaism lives not in an abstract creed, but in its institutions’. UGH!”
Celtic Frost opened The Bar Mitzvah Concert at Epstein’s Deli and Reception Hall on Saturday night with their classic song The Usurper. Then, they launched into two altered versions of classic songs in honor of the evening. Into Crypts Oy Vay sent the crowd of 200 into a frenzy and Bacon (For The Wicked) caused the floor to rumble with the charging fury of pure metal metalness. The highlight of the night was when Warrior was lifted onto a chair during the hora (which the Rabbi Jacob Greenblatt referred to jokingly as “The Circle of Tyrants” dance) and carried around the restaurant while singing “Inner Sanctum”.
The night was not without incident. Bassist Martin Ain, confused and annoyed by the challah that was being thrown at the band, fired Franco Sesa’s drumstick at 12-year-old Annie Blechman. The stick slammed into her forehead, sending her to Mt. Sinai Medical Center for overnight evaluation. Ain was briefly detained by police after the event but was released on his own recognizance pending investigation.
All things considered, the evening was a major success. The band sounded crisp in spite of its four-year layoff. Warrior, who has made millions of dollars over the past few years in the fortune cookie message writing business, is seriously considering putting that project on hold and going back on the road with the band. Celtic Frost has already confirmed that they might be playing a full Bar Mitzvah World Tour in the fall with stops in Israel, Poland and Miami Beach.
Posted by Keith Spillett in Articles I Probably Shouldn't Have Bothered Writing on January 25, 2012
“Beware of the hobby that eats.” -Benjamin Franklin
The modern world can easily be a paradise for the highly committed and deeply disturbed among us. A person can amuse themselves endlessly with useless acts of rebellion meant to add luster to the dreary, humdrum, day-to-day flatness of life. Abbie Hoffman once figured out how to obtain a free buffalo from the Department of Interior. He was a bit more creative than I am. Having become sick of ending up with piles and piles of junk mail I set my sights on turning this annoyance into an affirmation of the uniquely twisted nature of today’s world.
It all started at Kroger on a rainy Friday afternoon many Octobers ago. Kroger is a supermarket chain that exists down here in Atlanta, Georgia so that people have a place to go if Publix is too crowded or closed.
I had recently been forcibly removed from the place for getting into a shouting match with three employees over my belief that they were intentionally overcharging me for the 35 boxes of store brand pudding I was trying to purchase. I was in the mood for mischief, but not the type that would again lead me to being tossed onto the ground and called a “pudding hoarder” by an overzealous store security guard.
At Kroger, you can get a card that, in exchange for surrendering loads of personal information, can help the cagier shoppers among us to save lots of money through special discounts. Of course, once your information is in their hands who knows where it ends up. They can sell it to anyone they want. They can give it to the KGB for all you know.
For fun, I decided that if they were going to get someone’s name, it ought to be The Boston Strangler’s. So, now when I look in my mailbox and some company is trying to send me coupons for, say, diapers, those coupons are addressed to Mr. Albert DeSalvo. Kroger and the other litany of corporate octopi that spend thousands of dollars to figure out whether I might buy more or less than 100 dollars worth of Kleenex per year are actually trying to appeal to a maniac who terrified the people of Boston for months on end. Cracks me up every time.
My fake criminal spree continued at CVS the next day where I signed up for their consumer rewards program as Dr. Jack Kevorkian. The following is a re-creation of an actual conversation that took place.
CVS Customer Service Agent: Do you have a CVS card?
Me: Sure. Here it is.
Agent: (swiping card) You saved $3.52 on those cans of formaldehyde Dr. Kevorkian.
Agent: Hey. You are not the famous Dr. Jack Kevorkian are you?
Me: No. That’s my brother.
Agent: Your parents named you both Jack.
Me: Yes. And we are both doctors.
If you were to ravage my mailbox, you’d see a regular who’s who list of famed murderers. Target knows me as Ted Bundy, Hobby Lobby calls me Ed Gein, Iams Dog Food thinks I’m David Berkowitz and The Omaha Steak Company sends their annual Steak of the Month mailing to a connoisseur named Jeff Dahmer. It’s really rather a strange feeling to see pictures of smiling, deeply contented people in a Macy’s catalogue that has just been sent to Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez.
Why does this make me laugh? I’m not sure. It’s childish, insensitive and really asinine. Murder is certainly not funny, particularly the sheer perversity of the acts committed by my alter-mail-egos (except, of course, Kevorkian, who really doesn’t belong in this group of sickos). Maybe it’s a way of trying to make sense of the perpetual flow of slickly produced come-ons that follow me around where ever I look. Maybe it’s an indicator of my inability to understand the nature of evil. Maybe I just need another hobby. It’s hard to say.
Posted by Keith Spillett in Articles I Probably Shouldn't Have Bothered Writing, Blithering Sports Fan Prattle on January 17, 2012
(Middle-aged woman with red hair walks on the elevator. I am pacing back and forth. My facial muscles are twitching. I begin saying “Vermont” over and over in a loud voice for no particular reason)
Woman: (frightened) Sir, are you okay?
Me: No. No. I’m not okay. I’m NOT okay. I’m not OKAY ALRIGHT!!!!
You know why? Do you? Moneyball. That’s the problem. Moneyball. I stayed up all night watching that film. Over and over. I read the book. I mean, I loved the book. It fueled my deep and undying passion for baseball stats. It was fascinating. VERMONT! I mean, Michael Lewis is a heck of a writer. But….THE MOVIE!!!! Ehhhhh!!!! Vermont!
Woman: (staring straight ahead in utter terror) The….movie?
Me: It’s absurd. Absurd! They turned the thing into a Merchant-Ivory picture! All the edge of a five-year-old butter knife. All the dullness of Out of Africa with the “fight the system”, Occupy Someplace message that Americans love. Mr. Smith Goes To Oakland. Blah blah blah. Of course, the big climax is the film is the main character turning down a whale’s colon full of money for “the love of the game”. If there was ever a part of me that didn’t want so see Hollywood attacked by human eating vultures it died in that moment. VERMONT!!!!!!
Me: Good lord! How many shots of that stupid “Awwww shucks”, wax-lipped expression on Brad Pitt’s stupid face can one man handle? Who wants to watch this guy do a 2-hour impression of the offensive line coach at Auburn? And the fat kid? What’s his deal!!?!! If I was Paul DePodesta I’d rather them got Anthony Perkins to play me. They even put hipsters in baseball movies now for godsakes. VERMONT!!!!!! And his daughter?!? Good lord! They put her in the movie twice for the sole purpose of playing that god-awful song. TWICE!!! Awful! Those noises she makes. She sounds like a porpoise giving birth…
Woman: (reaching into her purse for either a whistle or pepper spray) Sir, please…….
Me: Look! You asked me what I thought about the film! I hated it. Vermont! If you watched the film you’d think the A’s only had Scott Hatteberg, Chad Bradford and David Justice. They had Zito! Mulder! Hudson! Dye! Tejada! Harang! Ramon Hernandez! Not a one of those guys were Moneyballers. And their division sucked! Those were also factors….don’t you think??????
Me: You’d think Billy Beane had a blind second baseman and 9-year-old playing catcher. You’d think Billy Beane climbed Mount Mariah and talked the good lord out of making Abraham sacrifice his son. You’d think he cured smallpox by dialing a few numbers into his computer. VER—–MONT!!!!!
Me: And another thing, what did Art Howe ever do to become the worst movie villain since Jack Nicholson put on face paint? Sure, he wasn’t exactly a great manager, but watching this film you’d think he had Frank Menechino’s liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. He’s an American League manager! Of course, he’s cold and disinterested! You would be too if you had to watch 162 games a year without even getting to call one double switch. Let’s face it, it’s the most mind-numbing job this side of being Underwear Inspector Number 8 at the Hanes Factory.
Woman: (angrily) Are you finished?
Me: Am I finished?!? Am I finished?!? VermontvermontVERMONT! You know what stings the worst. The reviews! Reading reviewer after reviewer practically break their collective arms trying to heap praise on this piece of garbage because the director “gets out of the way and let’s the film tell it’s story.” According to most of the Gatekeepers of Good Taste, the best thing an American director can aspire to be is irrelevant. Where are the 12-minute tracking shots? Where is the juxtaposition between Billy Beane and a Chicago Slaughterhouse in the 1890s? No homage to Eisenstein’s Odessa Step Sequence? Only two films get made in Hollywood anymore, the one about the likeable but eccentric character triumphing over some overblown problem or the one about the co-ed trapped in an elevator who can only survive by gnawing off her own leg. America used to stand for something! Is this really the best we can do? VERMONT!!!!
Woman: (finally looking at me with a deeply concerned expression)This is my floor. I’m going to go now.
Me: Thanks for listening.
Woman: You bet.
“Death is not the worst that can happen to men.” -Plato
There aren’t many things that scare me. I’ve been around a time or two and have seen some awful things. Sure, I’m afraid of death, just like everyone else. But, I think I’ve made my peace with it. There are things far worse than death out there. When I wake up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat, filled with pure panic, it’s not death that’s staring back at me. It is something far more hideous. It is the number four.
You’ve seen a thousand fours in your life. They are everywhere. Four noble truths, four great elements, four horseman of the apocalypse, four letter words, the number four Bobby Orr, the list goes on and on. What they are used for is not important. It is what those fours ARE that is lurking behind every door, just behind the shadows, just out of reach. It is what those fours ARE that is haunting me. No matter how hard I try I cannot escape.
Because, you see, there are plenty of uses for the number four, but there is only truly one four. It is indivisible, it is unstoppable, it is perfect, it is irreducible and it is after me. I try to tell people what’s going on, but they don’t believe me. I explained my predicament friend the other day about my problem and he laughed. He drew the number four on a piece of paper and ripped it up. “Now you’re safe,” he chuckled.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Fool! He doesn’t understand. It’s not some absurd, half-witted drawing of the number four that strikes fear into my heart. I’m not scared of what can be done with four; I am utterly terrified of what it is. The perfect platonic form of four. Four in all its grotesque fourness. The ideal four. The world is filled with four imitators, trying to fake fournesss, trying to be useful, trying to help us count all of the pointless presences around us. But, I have SEEN four. The real one. The root of all fourness. And, worse, it knows I have seen it.
Oh platonic four, if I could take back that one time my eyes shot open in the middle of the night and I saw you hovering above my bed, I would. Everything was fine before that night. I wandered through this odd fantasy world of illusion that we call life with full belief in the forms that surrounded me. Then, I saw you and was forever changed. I had seen a lifetime of fours, but never any as perfect as this one. In that moment, I understood all other fours to be impostors. They did not have your straightness, they did not have your smoothness, they could not measure up.
What my eyes witnessed forever corrupted my being. At first, I looked for the perfect four everywhere. I needed to see it once more. I needed to know it and be connected with its truth. I wanted to be by its side. I wanted it to show me that there was more to this life than incompleteness and wandering. I longed for one more fleeting glimpse of its timeless perfection.
A horrible thing began to dawn on me. What if I wasn’t meant to see it? What if my accidental encounter had doomed me? What if the perfect four was looking for me with the same fury that I searched for it? All at once, I knew. I began to sense its presence everywhere I went. It was stalking me. Waiting for me to let my guard down. Hunting me.
I was at the supermarket looking at the oranges and suddenly; I saw it out of the corner of my eye. It was hiding behind the walnuts and almonds. Waiting to consume me whole. It sensed my glance and began to move towards me. I dropped my grocery basket and ran out of the store screaming. I didn’t stop until I got to my car. Which was the right key? There it was dashing across the parking lot like a rabid dog. No one saw it but me. It raced towards me. Finally, I pushed the key into the lock, got in the car and sped away.
I have been hiding from it ever since. Held up in a dingy motel room passing my final hours. I have this lingering sense that it knows where I am and is toying with me. Enjoying my suffering. Laughing at me. I went through a day or two thinking I could destroy it. I repeated 3 plus 1 equals 5 for hours on end. I figured if I denied the truth of its inevitability I could make it go away. However, my mind is no match for the perfection of its form. A mere string of thoughts could not slow its terrible, astonishing inertia for even a second.
I prepared for my final showdown with four. I would wait for it. I would catch it by surprise and break it into a million pieces. I would hit it with a hammer. Shoot it with a gun. Cut it up with a chainsaw. Melt it with a blowtorch. Something. Anything.
All resistance is absurd. I know this. Four is indestructible. It has no parts. It is endless and deathless. It wasn’t created and cannot be destroyed. It was here before we were and will be here forever after. If I dropped a million nuclear bombs on the world the number four sustain as much as a dent. It is beyond law, beyond meaning, beyond understanding. Unstoppable.
I feel its presence getting closer now. Through the trees. Into the parking lot. Past the couple putting luggage in their trunk. Up the back stairs. Past the ice machine. Outside the door. Inside the door. Across the room from me. Next to me. Inside of me. Finally….
(Editors Note: The following was written during Mr. Spillett’s regular Saturday journey to Quarg, a parallel dimension located in the Glyming Galaxy. In this dimension, fortunately, Tebow Time and Tebow Mania do not exist)
Things keep getting worse for the New York Mets. Following a dreadful 2011 campaign, the Mets most reliable starter, R.A. Dickey, was consumed this week by a pack of snarling mountain loins on his quest to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Dickey, who finished 2011 with a sterling 3.28 ERA, was ripped to shreds only moments before he reached the top of the mountain leaving the Mets 2012 playoff hopes in tatters.
However, things might be starting to look up. The Mets today signed knuckleballer and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow, who was released by the Broncos yesterday after throwing 12 interceptions in the first quarter against a Pittsburgh Steeler defense that was using 11 defensive linemen, was snapped up immediately by the pitching starved Mets.
Tebow, who hasn’t pitched a baseball game since he was an 11-year-old little leaguer, was shocked at first by the offer. He had counted on spending a good portion of his adult life underthrowing open receivers in the NFL. But, a chance to pitch for an organization poised on the brink of greatness, like the Mets, was too much to refuse.
The question is, can Tebow pitch in the majors? Sandy Alderson certainly thinks so. After watching Tebow throw wobbly, erratic passes to no one in particular, the Mets GM began to believe that he is a natural knuckleball pitcher. Scientists have studied the motion of the ball leaving Tebow’s hand and are at a loss to explain it. “It’s as if the ball is being guided by a drunken stumbling vagrant,” said NASA Chief Physicist Aaron Bowles. Alderson, however, believes its trajectory is reminiscent of how the ball used to leave Phil Niekro’s hand.
Alderson believes that if Tebow could make a baseball do what he does with a football, he could be virtually unhittable. Beyond his potential, Alderson was impressed by Tebow’s willingness to pitch for free. The Mets, who project their payroll to be somewhere around 150 dollars next season were looking for a low risk, low reward signing to eat innings for them. Tebow seemed to fit the mold perfectly.
Alderson also admitted he was excited about the idea of Tebow bringing positive attention to a franchise that has spent the better part of the last five years being treated like a leper colony. “Who wouldn’t be moved by the story of a kid from an upper middle class family, who represents the most popular religion in the United States defying the odds and becoming successful? The chances were one in a million. He’s an underdog in every sense of the word,” said a teary-eyed Alderson.
I wanted to start the New Year off with some valuable, insightful nuggets of wisdom from the most quoted man in American history, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Here are a few particularly brilliant ones that have touched me at nearly every level of my being. Hopefully, you can carry these words with you as we embark on a journey into another year of wonder and beauty. This is my gift to you, dear reader. May they fill your days with sunshine and your nights with endless darkness.
“A dreamer is a person who is asleep and is thinking about things.”
“A man of genius is a man who can find a way to make large amounts of money in a short period of time without going to federal prison.”
“If you follow the path, you will eventually find the thing you were looking for. Unless that thing is at the beginning of the path. Then, you’ve missed it. But, you can always go back. Unless there is a gate that automatically closes when you go through it. Or guards. With rifles.”
“Make sure that you live each and every day as if you were going to be hit by a bus at any second.”
“Live your dreams, except for the one where you are trapped in a cow’s stomach.”
“Thoreau spent a night in jail and a few years in the woods and suddenly he has something to say. No one has ever gotten more out of less suffering. Y’all act like he was Job or something.”
“As we grow old, we tend to wrinkle more. Like a shirt.”
“Democracy is a good way to get people to go along with absurd rules and even believe they had some role in their creation. If that doesn’t work, tell them they are going to hell if they don’t obey.”
“Children are vile. Except in soup.”
“Don’t waste your life on useless things like going to work, personal hygiene or repairing misunderstandings. Live as if you are going to die and you don’t really want anyone at your funeral.”
“Finish each day as if it’s 11:59 PM.”
“A confident man is someone who catches fire and asks for a cigarette.”
“Live in the sunshine every moment of the day or night. Drink water directly from the ocean. Eat poorly prepared, undercooked meat. Pretend no rules apply to you.”
“Nothing can bring you peace except for the extinction of the other 7 billion parasites around you.”
“Nothing great was ever achieved without a fawning and deluded public.”
“Shallow men believe that getting hair restoration will make them attractive to 22-year-old women. Smart men know that it’s better to pay them directly.”
“The world belongs to those who have lots of money. Or an army.”
“Tis a good person who would be willing to give up a kidney to save a friend. Tis an idiot who would give up a lung.”
“We all boil rice differently.”
“Whoso would begin a quote with the term “whoso” is probably trying to say something that is pretty simple but might appear to be more complex due to the use of arcane language.”
“It’s easy to be misunderstood when you mumble.”
“For every genius, there are 100 men smarter than him who have bad breath.”
“When times are difficult, buy gold and help no one.”
“The reward of doing something well is watching someone come along and carelessly screw things up.”
“Remember that guy who sat behind you in health class in 10th grade and stuck a paperclip up his nose and had to have surgery. He now runs a bank.”