Sunday, February 27, 2005

Blogger wants your money part 3

I am recovered from a weekend where I felt kind of off-colo(u)r. Having regained my health, I was almost deafened by the clamour for Part 2 of my series of reminisces on unusual means of transportation. So, like a painted whore, I now present for your delight my thoughts upon a journey I once undertook by recumbent bicycle.

Recumbent Bicycle

It was once my good fortune to be able to ride in a recumbent bicycle. For those innocent of such bicycles, let me take a moment to explain. Now, the common design of the bicycle is for the rider to sit topmost of the device, the legs pointed downwards, and thence, through the act of pedalling to propel oneself hither, and indeed, should the feeling take hold of one, thither.

The recumbent bicycle is a different beast. Here, the rider sits in a chair-like arrangement, the legs thrust out horizontally, and through pedalling, one is propelled towards the horizon while reclining in a more pleasing manner than the conventional cycle.


My own chance to ride a recumbent bicycle came while holidaying in Australia. On a long road at the edge of the outback, my party were issued with various forms of cycle, from the common bicycle, the staple of the circus, the unicycle, the tandem, the tricycle, and to my own weapon of choice that day, the recumbent bicycle. Before embarking we were invited to change into harlequin garb, sans Big Shoes, the wearing of which may complicate the pedalling, increase risk of injury dramatically, and therefore constitute a grave insurance risk.

We then set out.

What transpired was not a race, but a jolly perambulation, as we all wrestled more or less succesfully with our contraptions. For my part, I only went to ground once, in the process sustaining a grazed shin and a chipped tooth. My friend with the unicycle was less lucky, his umpteenth fall putting paid to his testicles, and his whines and wails of discomfort arousing the interest of a poisonous snake, which then delivered a full jolt of poison to his right ankle. He was taken away by air ambulance and not seen again.

But here I am, forgetting the most important part of that day. I was first across the line and won a lovely bottle of Australian wine. Happy days!

Friday, February 25, 2005

The English Patient

I will get around to writing the second part of my trilogy on reminisces of unusual means of transportation, but for today, I think I am going to have to just sit still. I stressed myself out about having to disrobe and have my testicles squeezed by a doctor at my medical examination today (this is for immigration purposes). I also realised 30 minutes before I left that my toenails are still red! I tried to remove the damn stuff with nail polish remover, but then spilled the contents of the bottle.

I figured I'd just point to it being a trick played on me at a stag party.

Thankfully, I didn't have to disrobe or take off my socks. But my blood pressure was described as borderline by the nurse, probably on account of stress.

I just came back from having an MMR shot round the corner, and now all I plan to do is watch the CSI double bill and fall asleep.

Be warned, I shall come back stronger than ever tomorrow!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Blogger wants your money part 2

After some thought, I have decided that the quality of the material on Extreme Unction needs to rise dramatically if I am to make the transition to Full-Paid blogger (see previous post). With this in mind, I am going to be following the guidelines laid down by Mr Kottke for

What Makes a Blog Worth Paying For

Therefore, for the next 3 days, I will focus on banal reactions to encounters with novel forms of transport. We shall begin with the sedan chair.

The Sedan Chair

I am a big fan of the bicycle, the hobbyhorse, and the pogo stick, but I like to sit quietly, too. One time I sat in a chair for almost four hours, and I'm not ashamed to say that I enjoyed the experience (although I am in no rush to repeat it). So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that here in Asia they have a chair you can sit in that also moves!
I was carried through the mountains, ooh, they were cold.
I was carried through the desert, ooh, it was hot.
I was carried through a small forest, ooh, it was still hot.
My journey came to an end and I climbed out and thanked the two 6 year old children who had carried me 20 miles without once complaining or asking to stop, even when one twisted an ankle. If only I had money I could have given them. But boy, was it FUN!

Can I also thank the dipstick who posted "You are a homosexual" as a comment on Universal Plus. I have used this comment as inspiration for a new entry on Universal Minus, titled "The people who create dummy Blogger accounts just to post comments intended to cause hurt..." and of course, just like every other stupid person on the planet, they should be buried alive, the Extreme Unction catch- all punishment for crimes against humanity.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Blogger wants your money

This made me laugh so much. A blogger called Mr Kottke wants people to pay him to blog full-time, as he has been blogging so long, since the Stone Age, and now he doesn't want to do his web design, so please give him a handout...

... he wants 30 dollars of each patron, and for that you get blog posts of this quality. I reproduce this below amid gales of laughter, I really truly cannot believe anyone would expect payment for this!

"Get on the bus

I'm a big fan of the Tube here in London, but I took a bus last night for the first time and I recommend the experience. You get a much better sense of the city than you do burrowing underground from place to place. If you can, get on one of the double decker ones (they also have the long accordian buses here, which I think are newish) and sit on the upper deck in the front. With the huge windshield in front of you (and not much else), you feel a little like you're floating around the city. Quite fun."

Using this post as a baseline for calculating the level of a contribution, then I think this corner of the blogosphere, Karbon, Claypot, Random Speak, Casser La Voix, and Not Rocket Science and Meat of the Matter would be requesting 5 figure donations...

Don't forget to check out Universal Plus and Universal Minus. The Universal Equation is currently at equilibrium, with 2 + items and 2 - items. Submit an entry and maybe you can topple the balance!

The Order of the Universal Plus and Minus

I am proud to announce a new project, two new blogs, started this very day by myself and Hari. The idea is very very simple, one blog devoted to the good things that make the universe a better place, the other blog devoted to the miserable things that make the universe that much worse. Each entry is just three sentences.

It works, try either one.

Universal Plus

Universal Minus

And if you like the idea, Please Please Please think about submitting your own + or -

Monday, February 21, 2005

Life in the Crash Position

I was talking to Hari today, he has launched a new blog. I thrive on interacting with Hari, he's great, and is just 19 years old. Just think, if I had the mentality of one of those Daytime Show freakazoids, I could just about be Hari's daddy.

I'm not Hari's daddy, and thankfully our relationship doesn't revolve around sending me webcam pics in return for items from his Amazon wishlist.

Hari has the depressing problem of belonging to a generation who are widely seen to expend the bulk of their energies on playing X-box and spreading sexually transmitted diseases. It wasn't like that in my day. We didn't have X-boxes. We also didn't have R n B stars encouraging everyone to get down, to gather in groups in tight clothing and rub crotches. We had Top of the Pops instead.

Now Top of the Pops has been moved to the wasteland of BBC2, unable to compete with megabucks videos rotating permanently on satellite channels. I, for one, am glad at its passing. Top of the Pops had become as embarrassing as watching your grandfather lining up to take part in the Olympic 100 Metres Final, his ancient addled brain still brimming with the belief "that I've a fair old chance of a medal"...

In my own teenage years, I never managed to experience any meaningful sexual contact (or meaningless sexual contact, come to think of it). This helps me identify with men who miss out on going to war due to congenital defects of the cornea or fallen arches. We were simply passed over for our healthier, fitter, rivals. While we may have been spared the horrors of the jungle, the searing heat of the desert, and the Zing! of bullets whizzing past our heads, we instead suffered the lonely silent agony of being confined to quarters, listening to Joy Division records and wondering what kind of God could be cruel enough to give us a fully functioning penis and a body-image that saw a two-toed sloth staring back whenever we dared to look in the mirror.

I'm thinking of this today, because of a conversation with Hari regarding the demise of Hunter S Thompson. This man will remain an inspirational figure for each new generation, so long as some of them continue to emerge from school able to read. This isn't to label young people as morons, but it's worrying that a report published just this week concludes that "a quarter of all children are still leaving primary school unable to read and write."

Thompson had courage, intelligence, a penetrating eye for detail, and a grand talent for causing trouble. He may have ended his days surrounded by peacocks and firearms, but he never popped up as a panellist on "I Love the 80s" or trying to sell us American Express; right to the end, he took no prisoners, and that is a fine legacy.

However, the one group of people no writer can speak to are the illiterate, and taken together, Thomspon's suicide and these appalling levels of illiteracy in British schools, this is a black day, indeed.

Oh, how much easier things were last week, when I felt like a toad.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Poor Andy Roddick and the Paris Hilton Leak

Breaking news for sports fans. Now, I know I said I would leave tennis alone, but this is golden.

Andy Roddick pulled out of the Memphis Open tennis championships today, poor boy has hurt his foot. But! and this is where it gets better, it would seem that Paris Hilton's phone book has leaked on to the web. This is why Andy Roddick received a mystery call from England this morning.

(Sadly the list has been taken down, but it was fun while it lasted)

Go ahead! You too can now ring Eminem or Vin Diesel

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Shattered Dreams

I was planning to put the second thrilling instalment of my trip to watch Pro Tennis at the Memphis Racket Club here today, seeing how it was always one of my dreams to be a tennis writer.

However, from the lack of response the first part generated, I'm thinking that maybe I made the right choice when I put aside all dreams of snorting cocaine at Monte Carlo nightspots after a tiring day spent sipping champagne and watching men and women whack tennis balls.

So... what's next?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Goodbye Toad, Tennis Report part 1

I woke up not feeling like a toad at all. So that was a plus, a big plus. A huge plus. What wasn't so good is we fell asleep with CNN playing. Maybe that explains why my dreams focused exclusively on the problems of the Lebanon. I woke up at 8 a.m. to some newsguy saying, "... and that concludes our in-depth, highly graphic account of the violent political situation in the Lebanon..." Thanks, guys...

I went somewhere cool today, and watched something that I have always loved, but never seen live before. No, no, I didn't finally get to see Hootie and the Blowfish! And no, it wasn't a live sex show either. It was... well, I doubt anyone will guess...

It was tennis.

It's the Memphis International Open this week, a tournament that brings some of the best players from the men's and ladies game to the city. Me and Hannah went along and watched bits and pieces of the afternoon matches. Now, when I was growing up, I always dreamed of being a tennis writer, watching and writing about great matches, traveling around the globe, perhaps even being invited along to a tennis player's private party and munching cheeseburgers laced with human growth hormone, who knows...

So today I will live out that childhood fantasy by bringing you an Extreme Unction round-up of the day's play. But first, to get everyone in the mood, here is a picture of Andy Roddick.



Match 1 Akiko Morigami (Japan) vs Eugenia Linetskaya (Russia)

I will concede that I only saw the last five minutes of this match as I had spent the previous hour eating a salad at the local Chilis. Nevermind, I can still outline the essential drama with a few dramatic strokes of my pen. This was a confrontation between the East and, well, someone from even further East, and while the girl from Japan put up a valiant fight, nothing could stop Linetskaya from using her power and accuracy to steamroller her way into the next round.

Result: Linetskaya wins 6-2 6-2

Match 2 Max Mirnyi (Belarus) vs Cyril Saulnier (France)

I caught most of the second set of this match. My first glance at Max Mirnyi was as he powered a ferocious ace past a static Cyril, a scenario that played out with monotonous regularity over the next 30 minutes. Some note must be made of the physique of Max, it was extraordinary. This man has arms five feet in length. His legs are also five feet long. The overall effect was of a man who had been crossed with a stick insect in some godawful experiment by renegade Russian scientists.

"Behold, Vassily Ivanovich! My creation is complete!" (see picture below)


Poor Cyril. Poor, poor, Cyril. Not only was he a Frenchman in the land where insulting French people is now a popular bloodsport, he was also a mere mortal. The match conformed to a classic formula, that of the Small Skilful guy vs The Big Lad who Stole His Lunch Money (and spent it on anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, and injections of stick insect DNA)

As the match wore on, I was torn between my earlier description of Max as Stick Insect, and the dawning realisation that he may also be a Robot.

Robotic Stick Insect, anyone? Okay.

Despite some fighting spirit from Cyril, Max utterly destroyed him. He did everything but eradicate the man's bloodline, using nothing more deadly than a tennis racket. I was both impressed and appalled.

Result: Mirnyi wins 7-5 6-4

(I will save the second part of my round-up for tomorrow)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Feeling like a Toad

Today I feel like a toad. I can't say just why.

I keep thinking of these lines from The Ticket that Exploded by William Burroughs:

"Pool covered with green slime in a ruined French garden. Huge pathic frog rises slowly from the water on a mud platform playing the clavichord."

Will I feel like a toad tomorrow?
I just had a thought, but it's okay. I wondered if I looked like a toad. I haven't been outside today or looked in the mirror, so there was a nagging doubt. It's okay. I don't look any more like a toad than usual. I'm looking and I'm seeing pretty much an image of myself looking back. It's quite a relief.

This still doesn't resolve the question of what tomorrow may bring. Now, I know that it's true that we never rightly know what may happen tomorrow, and boy, have enough people said as much when I've felt down and lonely.

"Hey, you don't know what might happen tomorrow? Do you?"
"Well, I figured that tomorrow I'd still be poor and working at a dairy packing milk, but hey, maybe you're right and I'll be abducted by sex-starved bikini teens on the way to work..."

Why do people tell you all about the wondrous possibilities of life when you have no life? Would they try to cure a man's thirst by describing giant bottles of Coca-Cola? Or dole out their wisdom to those without legs...

"Hey, I never knew you had no legs? Let me sit here and tell you all about legs and the wonderful world of the legged and how people with legs start out with no legs, just like you, but, by the power of positive thinking, hey presto, they grow legs!"

Would somebody spare me this world full of fools?

I've wondered off the point. I have a perfectly good life, I'm not thirsty, and I have legs. That really was a hopeless digression. I still feel like a toad, though.

Okay, philosophical speculation aside, it seems to me I have one more thing to consider than the average person. The average person may have their problems, but they don't likely worry about what animal they will feel like in the morning. Who knows? Maybe I am going to feel like a different animal each day? I have posted a question for Ian D. on this, as he is fast becoming my one-stop shop for medical ephemera.

Am I going to wind up like Stalking Cat (pictured below), and start having my physical body modified to look more like a toad? What a depressing thought, being the Toad Man, Creeping Toad, Man-Toad, the Green Freak...


Maybe after 10 years of cosmetic surgery I'll look something like this:



I suppose I can at least look forward to an unexpected career in the circus.

Weird referal URL (part of an occasional series)

Eternal thanks to the person who found Extreme Unction through a google.de search for "sidestreet blowjobs" - I am sorry, but that introductory offer from Extreme Unction has now expired!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Babelfishing

Today we have colds. We went to Walgreens and looked through all the remedies until Hannah was satisfied we had what we needed. I was surprised that for someone so cynical that she thought any of the remedies worked. I have trouble believing that it isn't basically the same stuff in every product.

I am aware that many people in the world see me as something of an intellectual, who knows why? Because I know who Nelson Algren is? Because I read a friend say "Joseph Boyce" exhibition and I know that she most likely means Joseph Beuys? Anyway, to confound this popular image of Extreme Unction as a chin-stroking man of ideas, I would like to take a few seconds to pay homage to my favo(u)rite trash TV star - Dog the Bounty Hunter (pictured below).



I don't just love the Dog for his tasteless mullet, skin-tight tops, and the way he wields a can of Mace. I dig the deeply weird mix of his daily life, working with his family (who all have tattoos, tight tops, and hair-trigger tempers), chasing down bad guys, his brief flashes of street wisdom, and the occasional explosions of sentimentality that invariably inspire a tear to trickle down below Dog's shades and end with men hugging men, men hugging women, and men hugging men again, usually while a handcuffed Mexican looks on bemused.

Bless you, Dog!


I know this is not a unique idea, but I ran yesterday's writing through Google's translation, turning it into German, then Italian, then back into English using Babelfish. The end result is quite funny.

The voice to understand

They have guided entirety ahead, with people in the posterior center. People have had names, but temporary she had alleviates them you of their labels. It has described like the man 1 of the stick and man 2 of the stick. One of the men of the stick has had misread just a sign that "the sale of the goodses" dictates and it had rendered it like "sale of the dii." That one was up to now the culminating point of the travel.

The cure was playing calmly therefore calmly, than all that you felt yourselves they were cymbals and the synthesisers. To its mind, the synthesisers they have seemed plans you for the maximum penetration of the skull. It has thought next to the giant robots in a future uncultivated land, stomping through the abandoned cities, the sounds of the synthesiser from the album of cure amplifies you to a volume that has transported the impressive destruction. Then it has thought next to all the members (and the former-members) of the cure that must have long operations and complex in a hospital in which not there was anaesthetic.

It has had its sense and Van put Morrison over. A period of thirty second ones is passed.

"sound like a turkey that is picked," has said its moglie brandnew.
"I have listened to hardly the cure that geme an hour, we is uniform."

The men of the stick in the posterior part, have still not had names. They were calm, like if they were trying hard to remember themselves of. Or perhaps forgotten to supply to the men of the stick the social abilities of base.

He has watched the sky of the Mississippi, has chosen that what has thought was the little meaningful part, therefore stared. From no part, he has felt the voice to understand , increasing towards the outside a message that has churned the automobile...

"... poichè we work to extricate same dal reign della reflection, finally we will see that not there is cure, here we are Van Morrison, but only a single song, the song della creation... and it not sound nothing at all like a turkey that is picked... "

It was calm. Van Morrison was calm, also. It was probably on its sense to the furnace by now.

Slowy, has begun to hit its barrette leggermente on the dashboard in order to remember to all that was here.

Monday, February 14, 2005

My first full day as a married man

It was a beautiful spring day in Memphis this morning. The concrete floor of the balcony was warm for the first time. I looked down at my toenails. They are still painted red, a fact that was slipped out pre-wedding and mercilessly incorporated into the Best Man's speech. I then felt obliged to show my red toenails to the wedding party. I thought offering them a glimpse of the real thing would limit their potential to construct their own elaborate fantasies. For the same reason, I reproduce the offending red toes here.


I have also completed my first story since being married. Here it is:

The Voice of Understanding

They drove along together, with people in the back seat. The people had names, but he had temporarily relieved them of their labels. He pictured them as Stick Man 1 and Stick Man 2. One of the Stick Men had just misread a sign that said “Goods sale” and had rendered it as “Gods sale.” That was the highlight of the trip so far.

The Cure were playing quietly, so quietly that all you heard were the cymbals and synthesisers. To his mind, the synthesisers seemed designed for maximum penetration of the skull. He thought of giant robots in a future wasteland, stomping through abandoned cities, the synthesiser sounds from Cure albums boosted to a volume that delivered awesome destruction. Then he thought of all the members (and ex-members) of The Cure having to have long and complex operations in a hospital where there was no anaesthetic.

He had his way and put on Van Morrison. A period of thirty seconds elapsed.

“He sounds like a turkey being plucked,” said his brand new wife.
“I just listened to The Cure whining for an hour, we’re even.”

The Stick Men in the back, they still had no names. They were quiet, as if they were trying hard to remember them. Or maybe he’d forgotten to provide the Stick Men with basic social skills.

He looked at the Mississippi sky, chose what he felt was the least significant portion, then stared. From nowhere, he heard The Voice of Understanding, booming out a message that shook the car...

“… as we labor to extricate ourselves from the realm of reflection, we shall finally see that there is no Cure, there is no Van Morrison, but only a single song, the song of Creation… and it sounds nothing at all like a turkey being plucked…”

It was quiet. Van Morrison was quiet, too. He was probably on his way to the oven by now.

Slowy, he began tapping his fingers on the dashboard to remind everyone he was there.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Just Married

Thank you to everyone who offered congratulations on my marriage to Hannah. The ceremony was completed at 3.30 pm, here in Sheffield, Alabama, at the family home.

It's unusual for a marriage ceremony to feature Extreme Unction and for everyone to go home happily, but there you go, perhaps a unique event.

Here I am on my wedding day, flanked by Willie and Billie, two fine Southern gentlemen.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Pagoda Egg Rolls - revenge of Egg Rolls

You see, just when you thought Schwan's Pagoda Egg Rolls had disappeared from Extreme Unction's consciousness, back they come with the force of a hurricane. I don't know how to admit to this, no, I'm not going to confess to serious crimes, but, I have been doing something I am not very proud of, something that conflicts totally with my dynamic superhero image (no sniggering at the back).

Folks, I've been checking my referal log to see how people are finding Extreme Unction.

And this is why Pagoda Egg Rolls are back on the menu. It would appear that my humble blog is proving one of the Prime information resources for news of the recall of Schwan's Pagoda Egg Rolls.

Here, for your delectation are some links to egg roll searches that lead to Extreme Unction. I pray that none of these poor souls were suffering a horrendous reaction to a contaminated egg roll while searching the net, I'd hate to think of someone's last moments being a view of my blog through dying eyes.

Search 1

Search 2

Search 3

Search 4

This does throw up a novel way of gaining new traffic for your blog. Perhaps I'll start a Pagoda Egg Roll affiliate scheme this week. In the meantime, I suggest randomly inserting the phrase "Pagoda Egg Roll" into your blogposts. I'm doing it, and it works!

Here's to Pagoda Egg Rolls!

And here's to Pagoda Egg Roll Recalls, again!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Identity Theory says No

I left the Burroughs post to sit atop Extreme Unction today, as I wanted those who missed it over the weekend to share its glory. That sentiment made me guilty of the sin of Pride, thereby bringing to three, the number of Deadly Sins I engaged in today, the others being Lust and Gluttony.

However, time moves on, the picture changes, and here I am again, reflecting on more rejection notices from the editors of literary websites. My Cat Flea Titus certainly seems to have struggled to find anything more than a sympathetic hearing. I feel like those times when you repeat a supposedly funny story a few times to various folks on a night out (usually at the insistence of somone larger and more drunk), and with each rendition you become less and less convinced of the worth of what you are saying.

Anyway, here is today's rejection notice, along with my reply.


Dear Jason,

Thanks so much for submitting to identity theory. Your piece seems to cross genres between fiction and nonfiction (maybe even poetry too), and as such, it's a perfect fit for neither section of the site.

Personally, I find your idea -- and the background of your idea -- more compelling than the lyrical treatment you give it -- meaning I would transform it into a strong personal essay. But that's just one editor's opinion.

I hope you find the right publication for your work, and please keep us in mind in the future.

Best wishes,

Jane Friedman
identity theory fiction editor



Jane,

thank you for your helpful comments regarding my piece.

i am left perturbed by your drawing a line between fiction and non-fiction. it would preclude A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and any number of writers who work in a visibly autobiographical way, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Ernest Hemingway, Paul Bowles, etc from your simple definition of fiction. to see what your definition of fiction may include, i read the opening story in the fiction section of this issue - it concerns a farm someone made up and a dog called Ralph that lives on the farm someone made up. it may be fiction, but, my question for you would be - is it anything else?

i have stood many times outside The Bleeding Horse in Dublin, and read the plaque in the pavement commemorating the appearance of that pub in Ulysses. there is one example of the full flowering of the relationship between art and life.

i won't be able to "keep you in mind for the future" unless your editorial policy changes, as my use of the evidence of my senses as the base material for my art is not going to change.

i hope you accept this message in the right spirit. editors criticise writers, sometimes a writer must be availed of criticising an editor's comments.

best wishes,

Jason Kennedy

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Happy Birthday William Burroughs


I was tempted to write about William Burroughs today, on account of it being his birthday. Now I am not so sure. My Burroughs books are thousands of miles away in Britain, being guarded by someone I cannot really place my trust in. And that poor person has their own troubles, too, and I am thinking about the books, and the old carpet in the back room of his bungalow, the piles of journals and magazines in the lounge, and of myself, always making the same comment about dust mites at some point early in a visit, or requesting, then demanding some cheese on toast, of feeling in my pocket for whatever money I have, and shelling out for beer or a night out. So William Burroughs would've been 91 today. Maybe it's no big deal. He was a pioneer, he was a poet, a mythographer, an adventurer, someone who stirred controversy by following his artistic urges, not as some desperate quest to be "strange and unusual", in the mould of the tattooed and pierced types who focus obsessively, morbidly, on the drugs, the weird sex, in Burroughs work.

I suppose I feel sensitive about looking strange and unusual, as I look so boring. I've let my hair grow out for 7 weeks, and instead of becoming interesting, it looks stupid. Just as Burroughs in Tangiers acquired the nickname El Hombre Invisible, I feel the same way, not spectral, but simply anonymous. When I walked through the streets of Dublin with Leo, I would see people, mostly women, double-taking on my petite cavalier companion, with his second-hand clothes and neatly trimmed moustaches. I would see it in their eyes, their sense of wondering, "Is this man famous?" or "He's interesting." Leo is blessed with not only being interesting, but looking interesting. It's what drew me to him when we were at art college. He had made himself fairly infamous with his care-free behaviour during a trip to Leicester for an arts festival.

Now, you see, this is where Burroughs comes back into the story. Part of the festival, the grand opening, in fact, was an exhibition of Burroughs' shotgun paintings. If you're not aware, and it's no crime, why should anyone feel at a loss for not knowing about Burroughs' shotgun paintings? Their artistic worth is open to discussion, their impact on world affairs, surely negligible. The paintings have yet to cure a disease or assist in a rescue operation. But, still, we are all free to express ourselves how we see fit, and while many of us do no better than eating Pop Tarts and cursing other drivers as we head out to the shops, Burroughs did some shotgun paintings. And I saw them. Along with the rest of our party. And I beheld Burroughs' signature. And it was good.

When we came back to college, a few days later, I walked over to the shared house Leo lived in (it was a converted boarding school), and knocked on his door. And I said, "I don't really know anything about you, but I'd like to." And he welcomed me in, and things went from there. We ended up living together, working on pamphlets of bizarre writings and collages, playing chess, smoking grass and drinking. A visit from the landlady's family (too strange to explain), led to the addition of fleas to the apartment, so for two weeks afterwards, we engaged in all our usual activities, but with both of us wearing multiple pairs of socks, our trousers stuffed into them, to attempt to thwart the fleas that were leaping from the carpet to dine on our manly legs.

By 2000, Leo had left for Dublin, and four years later, I joined him there, and spent four months of my own in that great city. I had a wild time, but with few of the outward signs of wildness. And without looking interesting, apart from when someone asked if I was French. And then someone else commented, "You don't look like you're from round here." So, not interesting, but foreign-looking, despite the fact that I am basically of Irish ancestry (with a little French). The wild part was leaving behind England and the things that had weighed me down. You can know a place far too well, and then you stop seeing anything but your own prejudices. To quote Nabokov, "Transparent things! Through which the past shines." For me, the past was a bitter place. In Ireland, I discovered that it was English society that was sick and dying, not myself. There was a gigantic rush of freedom, the lifting of my spirits. I began writing again. I started this blog in September 2004, and it is still going strong.

Today, on the 91st anniversary of Burroughs birth, I am six floors up, in a Memphis apartment. I can walk out on the balcony and watch the flag fluttering over White Station high school, or stare past the bare trees towards Clark Tower, outlined aginst a gentle mix of blue sky and white clouds. I am not doing a huge amount but work, write my blog, put together the odd short story. It's another hiatus, while Hannah completes her Law studies, while I acquire some confidence on the American roads.

I am twiddling the gold wedding band on my finger, we bought rings yesterday. It was a case of wearing the rings, or worry all week about losing them. By this time next week, I'll be married, and it will be time for another new beginning.

I was going to write about William Burroughs today, and I never really got going. I was going to find a suitable quote, too, but I only have two of his books here. So, instead, I will finish up with a quote from another great American writer, Nelson Algren, as I am currently reading A Walk on the Wild Side. It doesn't tie in necessarily with how I feel today, but it's just beautifully done. Goodbye.

"Yet as the magic spring of 1930 died in endless drought, Dove's hours too grew drier day by day. Till filled with a nebulous homesickness he would shamble down a dead-end road that long ago had led men west. That led now only to tin-canned circles where hoboes hopped off the Santa Fe.

Years before a box car had slipped a coupling, scudded downhill and turned onto its side in the chaparral. Half sunk now in sand, ruined and stripped, only its bare iron skeleton and a few beams remained to cast a meager shade on days when shade was as precious as water. There were always a couple of hoboes resting there."

Friday, February 04, 2005

Weird Wedding Stuff

My wedding research has uncovered some beautiful accessories for the big day. Here are just a few, along with my very own thought-provoking commentary.

Weird item one - Gay running partners caketop


Well! Aren't they sweet! Please note that the blood-thirsty pack of bible-thumpers they are running from are sold separately. This is a definite snip at just $395.00 for a handmade caketop that looks like you and your same-sex partner. Find it at twogrooms.com - Hurry, while stocks last.

Weird item two - Cake top rats


Hmmm! A cake top guaranteed to scare to DEATH at least one member of your wedding party. From the same company that brought you the best-selling Tarantula and King Cobra (it spits convincing fake venom!) cake tops comes this, their best effort yet.

Really, what could be sweeter than the sight of two rats kissing on top of your wedding cake?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Extreme Unction's Wedding List

Yes, I'm getting married soon. There really isn't any time remaining, it will be on February 12th, in Alabama. Now, I don't know much about being married, but one thing I discovered was that people compile lists of gifts they'd like. So, over the next few days, I'm compiling mine, along with simple explanations of why I want each gift.

Item 1 - a phone that can make me sound intimidating!

Digital Voice-Changing Phone

G1: Digital Voice-Changing Phone

Among many other features, this easy to use device can make even the meekest voice sound intimidating. You can even use it to be your own secretary and avoid unwanted phone calls. Powered by a 9-volt battery and completely portable.

Price: $150.00

Reason for wanting this gift - My voice isn't very manly. Instead of a Barry White style bass rumble, my voice is more likely to shatter wine glasses. For this reason, I would love a Digital Voice-Changing Phone, so I could experience how it feels to call up and intimidate someone. And who would I intimidate? Anyone! Who cares!

It would also be great to flip between various voice settings during the course of a conversation, perhaps to enhance the dramatic nature of the subject being discussed, or simply to entertain. The possibilites are literally endless!

Item 2 - A jump hour watch


Price: $100.00

Reason for wanting this gift - Firsty, I should say what a jump hour watch is, for those who are not familiar. They are a side alley that Swiss watchmakers pursued briefly when digital watches first came on the scene. Basically, the minute hand roams, and the hour hand "jumps" when the hour strikes. They are eccentric and there's a wide range of weird designs, from art deco to positively space age. The one above is simply classy, it would look good on my married wrist.

Item 3 - Edge of Space ride in a Mig-25


Reason for wanting this gift - It would actually be much harder to come up with a reason NOT to want this gift, but the sales literature for this trip says it all beautifully (although may I add that you travel at speeds approaching 1800 mph).

"Cosmonaut Training includes a large amount of physical conditioning to acquaint cosmonauts and astronauts to the experience of spaceflight. Nothing, however, can simulate the view from space like the cockpit of a MiG-25 from a breathtaking vista of 82,000 ft (25 km). Nearly three times the altitude of Everest, your view directly overhead fades into the darkness of space. Below you, the curvature of the Earth is awesomely apparent, and the horizon is 715 miles (1100 km) across. Flying at Mach 2.5, or one mile every two seconds, is the most exhilarating experiences available anywhere."

Price: $20,000

This concludes today's selection of prospective wedding gifts. Any wealthy benefactors, or perhaps, anyone with good credit who would like me to be hurled into outer space, please email me at the usual address.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Pagoda Egg Rolls part 3

Today, I have sat down with a Herculean task in front of me. You see, Schwans have yet to respond to my latest email, which sets out just why I cannot contact them by telephone. Here it is:

Dear Schwans,

I am not able to call in, as I have a hearing impairment that I suffered at a Hootie and the Blowfish concert in 1996. Also, a friend, who is an attorney, advised me that I should conduct this
correspondence in writing only.

yours

Mr Griffin

Egg Rolls and Self-censorship

I was tempted to be much more forthright in my opinions, threaten legal action, etc. But I have had second thoughts. I will shortly be filing a petition to remain in the US, after my impending marriage, and I would hate for the Secret Services to nix my application on the basis that I have harrassed the manufacturer of the Pagoda Egg Roll. So, I have given in and resorted to self-censorship.

So, my Herculean task is to breathe life into the subject of Egg Rolls, by fair means or foul. Clutching my wand of power and snorting from my Doritos feedbag, I have scoured the internet in search of Egg Roll Treasure, and by golly, I think I have some for the good people of the world.

More Egg Roll related goodies.

My research took me to the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual wilderness that is www.rateitall.com - where a few lost souls have gathered to deposit word-dung on the subject of their relationship to egg rolls. Here are just a few of their fascinating comments:

5. minkeydude , on 1/4/2005 11:35:00 AM, said:

I never cared for the egg roll. What's all the stuff inside? It tastes pretty funny. It never stops me from grabbing one though and taking a bite or two and leaving it aside. There's some sort of mysterious pull to it.
(0 people found this comment helpful, 1 did not)
6. WarGamefan93 , on 10/13/2004 5:17:00 PM, said:

Beloved's right. Eggroll's are da boomb and the chicken ones are great.
(0 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not)
7. PTRoxieMisha , on 10/10/2004 1:25:00 PM, said:

The Chinese restaurant that I go to does not have very good egg rolls, but I have tasted some at other places that were decent. And I actually like the frozen ones a lot, especially shrimp ones.
(1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not)
8. jazzybee , on 8/21/2004 1:45:00 PM, said:

This is my favorite part of the Chinese food buffet. I love egg rolls no matter where I go to eat chinese. If you like to fix egg rolls at home I suggest you try the Pagoda's. They taste just like you get them out of the restaurant if you fry them.
(0 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not)

If anyone is still awake, this web page also contains my favourite invitation of the year so far.

Click HERE to invite a friend to rate Egg Roll

In all seriousness, I found this amazing offer too much to turn down, so I have invited 5 lucky people to come along and rate Egg Roll too, and contribute just that little bit more to the world's store of knowledge.

Many thanks to KarbonKountyMoos for sharing her insightful opinions on the question of egg rolls.

2. karbonkountymoos , on 2/2/2005 11:31:00 AM, said:

Egg rolls are good - spring rolls are better. I make my own at home, since I am 50 odd miles from the closest Chinese restaurant,
(1 people found this comment helpful, 0 did not)

Pagoda Egg Rolls part 2

I didn't get much of a bite from the Schwan Pagoda Egg Roll People.

I sent them this message:

Message: hi there. this last weekend i had a celebration to mark my son's return home from the Yemen. Your pagoda egg rolls featured prominently in the food that was laid on, and after visiting the Schnucks website today and reading the recall notice, i am concerned that my guests may have eaten contaminated food.

I cannot find the packaging for the pagoda egg rolls. Could you confirm what the foreign material was and whether it has, or will have, any detrimental health effects, as i don't want to unnecessarily alarm the people who attended the party.

thank you

Mr Griffin
I received this reply:

Dear Customer;

Thank you for writing. We ask that you call us at 1-800-544-6855. Our office hours are from 7 am to 9 PM Central Time, Monday-Friday. We will be happy to go over any questions with you.

Again thank you for writing. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Customer Product Support



I have responded, instructing Schwan that I cannot communicate by telephone due to my hearing being impaired by injuries sustained during a riot at a Hootie and the Blowfish concert (a stampede for the exits). I will keep you updated.