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|Sunday, February 18th, 2007|
No, I don't know how to use the cut function.
the weekly hangover field guide to the road
part 3: what the hell was that?
by Hillman Avenger
Knoxville, like every other American city built in the last 250 years, is primarily a drivers town. It's big enough to support a downtown area where you can walk/bike/stagger from bar to bar to apartment to bar to emergency room, but getting anyplace else or to any store of a significant size requires you a car or a friend with a car. For the car-spotters among us, this failure of urban planning means that we could be exposed to a huge variety of makes and models, when actually everybody just buys a Camry. This week we take a look at three brave souls who bucked the trend and followed their dreams to buy cars which you basically can't not look at. Then we'll take a look at why they should've picked the Camry.
2Nd-Generation Cadillac Seville
Spotted in: Vestal
WTF factor: Medium high
Notes: As the ritziest and priciest division of General Motors, Cadillac has long been at the forefront of GM styling decisions, from “swoopy with rocket fins” in the 60s to “pointy boxes” in the 70s to “slightly bigger and pointier boxes” in the 80s up to today's “big pointy boxes with all sorts of neat creases in the bodywork.” The original Seville was an especially significant example of this trend, since after its introduction in 1975 every GM car in every GM division for roughly the next ten years looked exactly like it... except for this one. Come to think of it, after seeing this car, I can't really blame them for locking the design department in a closet and building the exact same three-box sedan for most of the eighties, because damn.
There's no way to look at a Seville and not think “is it supposed to look like that?” Up to the rear quarter windows it looks like a perfectly ordinary 80s Caddy: big, angular, handsome in a boring sort of way. Then your eyes follow the trim line as it suddenly veers down to meet the bumper below this... hump which makes the car look like some kind of weird early attempt at a 4-door hatchback with an ass tumor. Without the hump, the car would almost look okay, especially if they had nixed the rear doors and turned it into a sort of fastback coupe. But no, Cadillac needed a cheap sedan, and supposedly they wanted to remind people of the old sloping trunks and spare tire mounts of the thirties, so they came out with a car that looked like a DeVille that got tailgated by a steamroller. The late seventies and early eighties was a pretty terrible time for any car styling department, but you can barely get Cadillac to even admit the Seville existed. Its descendant, the STS (Seville Touring Sedan; and until I started researching this article I didn't know those letters actually stood for something either) remains the least awesome-looking car in the Cadillac lineup, although it remains ten times as visually interesting as anything Buick or Lincoln have built for the last ten years.
Spotted in: Chapman Square in front of the Kroger's
WTF factor: Medium
Notes: Yet another GM styling decision that hopefully got somebody fired (out of a cannon, into the sun), there is basically no aspect of the Aztek that you can't point to as an example of one of General Motors' enormous unfixed problems: GM is cheap, so the Aztek got mounted on the tall, stunted U-body minivan architecture and is one of the least convincing-looking SUVs ever built.. GM doesn't know when to let go of a design trend, so the lower third of the Aztek is covered by goofy plastic Hummer-style cladding. GM is committed to brand-defining corporate faces no matter how awful they look, so the Aztek has the retarded Pontiac snout but with a weird lateral crossbar through it due to the weird layout of the radiator. And lastly, nobody at GM has any contact with anything resembling the youth market or has talked with anybody under the age of 35 except to order a hamburger, so even though the Aztek and it's “Xtreme” styling (GM's words, not mine) was supposedly aimed at Gen-X markets, the car was priced so high that none of those damn pesky kids with their skateboards and baggy pants and hip-hop and crack cocaine could actually afford the monstrously ugly, shitty minivan-pretending-to-be-a-crossover-SUV that the General had so graciously provided them with.
So who did buy the Aztek? Well, during 2001 over half of them were sold to GM's captive rental fleets (Avis, Budget, etc.) and some were “sold” to GM executives forced to buy them to make up the numbers (ha ha, serves you right, suckers). Even then, GM only sold 27,000 cars, 3,000 short of the minimum number they needed to break even with development costs. The Gen-Xers General Motors was shooting for most likely continued driving the Hondas and Toyotas that had run very nicely for the past five years and would continue to do so until the earth crashed back into the sun, having neither the funds nor the inclination to pony up the cash for the Pontiac even after GM panicked and hosed down all of its model lines with rebates and employee pricing schemes; internal GM memos presume this to be because they spent all their money on their drugs and Pac-Man. Rosie O'Donnell apparently bought one, so that's one more strike against it. The fat naked gay guy from Survivor won one and presumably used it to build a treehouse of some kind. I've never encountered anyone else who definitely owned an Aztek and I halfway suspect the one I keep seeing is a prop placed their by General Motors to make it look like at least somebody bought one. Weirdly, Wikipedia reports that the few people who bought an Aztek report unusually high levels of satisfaction with the car, but there's two problems with this statistic: number one, it's from Wikipedia, where I once wrote an article that said Indian astronomer Subrahman Chandrasekhar was a talking, crime-fighting pig, and number two, anyone damaged enough to buy an Aztek in the first place is likely to have much different ideas of what constitutes a good car than normal human beings.
Spotted in: Market Square
WTF factor: Extremely high
Notes: Goddamn! I was originally going to put the AMC Eagle I've seen out west here, but a Smart Car in America—in KNOXVILLE no less—beats the hell out of that. Smart is a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz and represents the European answer to the Prius. The answer apparently turns out to be a turbocharged 3-cylinder microcar that looks exactly—exactly—like those little plastic Playskool cars you had when you were a toddler that you drove by sticking your feet through the floor and saying “vroom.” A lot of European manufacturers have some kind of weird grudge against hybrid technology, mostly because they think they can do it better either through turbodiesels, otherwise normal itty-bitty gasoline engines, or even hydrogen fuel cells... or because none of them can figure out how to do it as well as Toyota can and that pisses them off. In any case, there's an entire class of vehicles over there known as the “city car” which typically hold two people and groceries, fit into parking spaces that would barely hold a bicycle, and can maybe just barely reach 75 mph if for some reason you need to drive outside of an actual city (preposterous!). Also, they may actually have worse city mileage than a Prius, while remaining smaller, less useful, and very possibly (due to Benz snobbishness and weird customs issues) not that much cheaper.
So what's it doing in Knoxville? Well, hopefully nothing outside of downtown, the Old City, and Fort Sanders (and even then Fort Sanders would be kind of iffy) because driving the Fortwo on American highways with American cars would be completely goddamn terrifying. The Fortwo is an ingeniously designed car that meets all European safety standards, but do you know what European safety standards don't take into account? The Dodge Ram, the truck that's also a command. Confronted by some chic urbanite tootling along Alcoa Highway, your average Ram driver will be consumed with the urge to destroy the hipster Euro-car and thus prove to the world that he totally doesn't have a tiny penis or a secret stash of gay porn. That's if the Smart doesn't disappear underneath a Tahoe (driven as always by a tiny blonde woman on her cellphone) trying to get onto Alcoa in the first place.
Basically my new article is that I write extremely unfair and poorly researched columns about cars. I'm also typically writing a full page instead of a half because we've been having some LAZINESS issues with the staff lately.
The bubble car mentioned was coincidentally the subject of my first TWH article. It really is goofy looking and very good at its duty of issuing parking tickets to people who park slightly out of bounds for five minutes to return a book to the library yes I am still bitter abotu this FUCK YUO
the weekly hangover field guide to the road
part 2: the five-0
by Hillman Avenger
Policemen: the thin blue line that separates us right-thinking citizens from dope-fiends and McGruff the Crime Dog (ironically, an actual vicious dog that exists only to commit crimes and bite the unwary). We deal with these noble guardians of the peace nearly every day, from our morning gunfight to our afternoon call girl to our evening insider trading scandal. At times, however, we can't help but wish to avoid dealing with the po-po (or as the French call them, le paux-paux) due to various financial and insurance-related problems that are an unavoidable consequence of the current Weekly Hangover lifestyle. In those cases, it's best to recognize the various makes and models of vehicles that will pursue you through Knoxville's back alleys, fruit stands, and fortuitously-located ramps so you can escape with your life and your insurance coverage intact.
< > Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
< > In service with: Virtually every police department in America
< > Notes: The last of the V8 Interceptors? No, not really, but I like quoting Mad Max and you should too. The Crown Vic has been the universal favorite of cop shops across America since its debut in 1992 as one of the very few big V8 rear-wheel-drive sedans still attainable on a police budget—cops like big engines and hate torque steer, so when Chevrolet phased out the rear-drive Caprice the Crown Vic was the only game in town.
< > Distinguishing features: These are huge-ass cars in the most literal sense of the word—check the enormous trunk, suitable for holding shotguns, assault rifles, and people who've seen things they shouldn't have seen. The Crown Vic is one of the biggest modern cars on the road, and watchful motorists can spot them from far enough away to cut their speed by ten to fifteen MPH. Better yet, the Crown Victoria did and continues to do amazingly badly on the civilian market, to the point where you can safely assume that any Crown Vic you see on the road that isn't a taxi is some form of cop car. One caveat: the Mercury Grand Marquis and the Lincoln Town Car are essentially the same car but glitzed up a bit, but you should be able to safely tell these apart from the Vic by their 800-year old drivers puttering along in the left lane at no more than 45 MPH.
< > How to evade: Wait patiently for them to explode. You see, the Crown Victoria's fuel tank has a problem with... well, exploding, and Ford took a characteristically long time to fix it, and their solution was not so much to prevent the cars from exploding as to add in special fire suppression systems when they did explode.
< > Chevrolet Impala 9C1 Police Package
< > In service with: Campus cops and other police departments that don't actually matter/have money
< > Notes: A 4th-generation Impala SS without the luxury options, the 9C1 is most commonly seen puttering around downtown areas where the Crown Vic's ability to execute awesome smoking V8 rear-wheel peelouts is rarely called for. 9C1's have a decent 3.8-liter V6 providing power to the front wheels and would probably be a decent match for 90% of the cars on the road today but are primarily a cheap prowl vehicle, good for breaking up the occasional rowdy party and preventing the occasional frat boy from choking to death on his own occasional vomit.
< > Distinguishing features: The weird black surrounds on the Impala's headlights are carried over onto the police model, making it (and all other 4th-gen Impalas) look like it mouthed off to its husband one too many times. We told it that we put in eight and a half long hours down at the office every day and all we want when we get home is a hot meal and a little polite conversation, so we can't be blamed if the Impala 9C1 “falls down the stairs” once in a while.
< > How to evade: Buy a Crown Victoria at a police auction. Ha ha! Irony.
< > Weird Anonymous Parking-Ticket-Issuing Downtown Bubble Car
< > In service with: Police departments with nothing better to do than prevent people from parking less than a half-hour's distance from the library
< > Notes: Augh! What the hell is this thing? The KPD makes no mention of it on their website, possibly because it was developed from technologies Man was not meant to use. It looks like a golf cart from Blade Runner and presumably runs on either an electric motor or the tortured souls of the damned. It carries two meter-maids within a plastic sphere that is invulnerable to all human weapons and is whisper-quiet to allow it to invade the dreams of sickly children.
< > Distinguishing features: You'll know it when you see it, trust me.
< > How to evade: Sell your car, travel on foot, bicycle, or jetpack. Any mode of transportation that takes up valuable parking spaces will arouse the Bubble Car's ire. It can read minds and knows where you live. It will not allow itself to be mocked.
|I AM LAZY
Yeah so I wrote three articles since that last update and HERE THEY ARE
the weekly hangover field guide to the road
part 1: the BMW
by Hillman Avenger
< >< >< > Sup ninjas! I'm sure a lot of you that are new to Knoxville have noticed that the roads are full of crazy, crazy idiots out to kill you and everyone you ever loved. Tennessee Department of Transportation records show that in the next hour as many as twelve people will be killed trying to turn left onto Alcoa Highway alone. Being a socially responsible newspaper of record and the only people who really care about you, the Weekly Hangover has decided to take on the task of educating you, the consumer, about the unique dangers posed by the roads of Tennessee's third-largest and first-awesomest city. This week: how to identify and avoid the BMW and its cruel and deadly pilot.
< >< >< > The Bavarian Motor Works was founded... uh, way the hell back, most likely in Bavaria, as an airplane factory; the famous blue-and-white crosshairs badge is symbolic of a spinning propeller. Like pretty much everything else that is or was popular in Germany (including David Hasselhoff) BMW was a major Nazi defense contractor, building a series of popular radial engines for fighters and bombers as well as one of the world's first jet engines. This early engine was to establish a BMW tradition in delivering unbelievable, first-in-class, world-record performance for about ten hours before a huge catastrophic unfixable mechanical failure. After the war, Bimmer (which is how BMW snobs pronounce what everyone else refers to as “Beemer”) switched over exclusively to cars and car engines, presumably because they have a lot less distance to fall when they blow a cylinder.
< >< >< > The first BMW anybody outside Germany gave a damn about (besides the completely boss and totally unaffordable BMW 507 owned by Elvis Presley) was the 2002, a zippy 70's coupe with a 2.0-liter straight-four engine and the beginnings of the big BMW design cues: big snorty nostrils, bug-eyed headlights, and a weird little kink in the rear quarter windows that nobody but complete car nerds will ever be able to identify (if you have a really burning need to impress someone with a lifetime subscription to Car & Driver, refer to it as the “Hofmeister kink” after BMW's chief designer). It also established BMW's image as a pure driver's car—base-level stripper 2002's had seatbelts available as an option.
< >< >< > Of course, the BMW of today is a wholly different creature. After a couple years of being a cool little weirdo Eurocar with handling that nobody else could match, Yuppies glommed onto the chic-ugly little sedans in unprecedented numbers. Your modern 3-, 5-, 6-, or 7-series (or if you're a total girl, one of the Z-cars) is still a hardcore driving machine, but nine times out of ten the man behind the wheel will be a doctor/dentist/lawyer/drug dealer who figured “well, I'm rich and successful, I guess I have to own a BMW now.” The remaining 10% know the names of every single BMW Formula 1 driver by heart and can identify individual BMW generations by their internal factory designation—in short, complete dangerous loonballs. That 10% are the ones most likely to shell out the extra cash for the terrifying M-series of cars, which (apart from their itty-bitty M badges) are completely indistinguishable from the usual deliberately-ordinary-looking BMW but feature super-tweaked handling and engine modifications intended to sucker Highway Patrol Camaros into either ignoring the dull little sedan or engaging in a fruitless high-speed chase. I once saw dashboard camera video of a late-model police interceptor Camaro struggling after an '87 M3 (one of the slope-browed walleyed eighties models from before BMW figured out what aerodynamics meant) for five minutes at 90+ MPH before the Chevy took a mild corner the wrong way and spun out into the divider. Mein leben!
< >< >< > On the other hand, that same video ended a minute later with a fleet of tired old Crown Victorias pulling up around that same BMW, smoking and steaming on the side of the road after its super-famous super-finicky straight 6 blew itself up. BMW engines (in fact, a lot of German engines) are designed like fine Swiss watches—complex, elegant, and not suited to run at tens of thousands of RPMs for years on end. Infinitis and Lexii (the two Japanese companies perpetually trying to bite BMW's game) generally have simpler, less powerful engines that last ten times as long and don't require a wizened Teutonic dwarf to be flown in first-class to replace the spark plugs. While BMW drivers of all stripes and levels of insanity delight in riding up on your bumper, hustling past you in the right lane, and generally exhibiting their annoyance at you being allowed on the same road as their precision German driving machine, the best way to get back at them is just to drive placidly by them in your beat-up Camry as they sit on the side of the road waiting for AAA to find them a tow truck that can haul a rear-wheel drive car.
|Sunday, January 28th, 2007|
well probably not
The Star of Knoxville is the local riverboat, Calhouns is near where it docks, Lifestar is the regional air ambulance service.
Deep dish diaries
definitive deathbed do's and don'ts
Some of you might have pulled yourselves away from your bongs and your Nintendos for long enough last Thursday night to have noticed a helicopter landing at Fort Sanders Hospital. You probably assumed it was Lifestar hauling in another meth lab explosion survivor and resumed your filth and debauchery, but it was in fact the personal high-speed heavily armed assault transport of my most hated and unkillable enemy, Dick Clark. Yes, America's Oldest Living Teenager had finally arrived to gloat over my pending demise. In fact, he's here right now, getting in a good bit of pre-gloating. My arms are constricted by this combination iron lung/gamma radiation chamber so I'm writing this column through the magic of speech recognition technology, guaranteed by its manufacturer to be 99% Acura or your mummy faxed. At any rate, you're all welcome to the world's first live on-air newspaper advice column and death watch, hosted by your friend and mine, Dick Clark. Sure you won't mess this countdown up, Clark? Getting behind on your game? Ah, I see. The stroke was an elaborate ruse to fill Ryan Seacrest with a false sense of security. And how do you intend to prevent me from exposing your trickery to the world?
Oh yeah, that fire axe you brought. Damn. Anyway, let's get started. Don't smoke without carefully considering the consequences.
For instance, a lot of people automatically assume that smoking a cigarette makes them look cool when sometimes all it really makes them look is European, which can either mean dangerously suave Serge Gainsbourg cool or ponytailed German hiking enthusiast non-cool. Think carefully about the aesthetic effect that cigarette will have on your face. Maybe you'd be more suited to a cigar, or (in very rare cases) a corncob pipe. Also cancer is apparently a factor. Keep an eye out for that. Do stand up for what you believe in
unless it's hard. For instance, a lot of people nowadays are angry that the government is seeking legal justification for torture and trying to get habeas corpus thrown out and also may be planning to smother a lot of us in our sleep with special million-dollar Pentagon stealth pillows. That stuff is messed up! However, it turns out that changing this situation may involve a lot of time-consuming voting and caring about things and a somewhat increased chance of being tortured and smothered to death. In any case, it's probably best to just keep watching American Idol and assume things will work out for the best. Don't trust anybody over thirty.
For example, me and Dick Clark are both well over thirty and have spent most of our lives trying to figure out how to have each other killed in a way that looks like an accident. I have spent so much money on trying to figure out how to make the Times Square descending ball-thingie explode that if I ever kept track of my illegitimate children I would never have been able to buy them Christmas presents. Dick, for his part, once tried to ram a flaming oil tanker into my summer cottage on the Jersey shore. I guess now that's finally over. I'm weak as a kitten and sealed into three tons of radioactive medical equipment, and practically nobody knows where I really am, so it looks like Dick Clark has finally won our private war. Do learn to convincingly fake your injuries, and always conceal at least one flashbang grenade where even a detailed emergency medical examination can't find it.
[Note: This was all that we found on the computer in Raoul's underground hospital cell. At roughly 9:30 PM EST Sunday night, Fort Sanders Medical Center was rocked by a series of bomb blasts, later found to be the results of shaped-charge explosives used to penetrate the reinforced doors and bulkheads erected to prevent Mr. Morris' escape. Moments later, a slate gray Jensen Interceptor was seen speeding from the hospital towards Volunteer Landing, where Calhoun's had earlier reported being shelled by an unknown vessel that appeared to rise out of the middle of the Tennessee River. The Star of Knoxville was later found to have been torpedoed and lost with all hands. As of this publication date, the whereabouts of Raoul Duquesne Morris, Dick Clark, and Ryan Seacrest are unknown.]
|Monday, January 22nd, 2007|
|preparing for the end???
I'm seriously not sure how long I can keep these going, so I've put Raoul in the hospital. I have lots and lots and lots of stuff to do and I haven't even really gotten into my online courses. At work I am trying to do four or five things at once because we can't find any temps who can work the full eight hour shift. Also one of the headlights burnt out on the Camry (which always happens to my cars) and something's wrong with the key because it takes me five minutes to get it turned and start the car.
On the up side, I've found an apartment on the sixth floor of an old hotel with probably the nicest view that can be had anywhere in Knoxville for $375 a month. I think I can see the river! Mom keeps flipping back and forth between telling me sternly to be as frugal as possible and taking me to the Target website to look at $300 loveseats (which I think she will buy for me, which is awesome because it's a neat loveseat). The main other things I have in mind for my apartment are an ugly old desk/tv hutch thingie that fits in the corner which will hold my family's second best tv, my old dish chair, our very old microwave (literally held together with duct tape) and a bunch of Steve McQueen/Astrud Gilberto/nifty sixties posters.
The deep-dish diaries
do's and don'ts deux: this is much easier than writing a real article
Hello again, you rowdy punks and ne'er-do-wells. I'm glad to see you've returned to my eternally spurting font of wisdomto splash around in the various fluids of my sage advice, as I am currently incapacitated by my inability to practice what I preach. I really meant to add a coda or footnote or starkly contrasting yellow-on-black danger sign to my advice on watching what you eat, because I thought of some particular budget foods (Food City pizza rolls, Steel Reserve, twigs and leaves) that seem like good deals to broke college students tired of ramen but turn out to shorten your lifespan by a good 5% each. Ironically, I had a meal of Food City pizza rolls and Steel Reserve right after that article and now I'm sealed in a vault at Fort Sanders Hospital with a complicated array of sophisticated machines struggling mightily to keep me alive. Someone from the newspaper dropped off a care package with a six-pack of Wild Grape Smirnoff Ice, I assume because they thought I was recuperating from a sex-change operation, but since my stomach is in a separate fortified underground wing of the hospital being poked with science sticks I can't even enjoy the dubious pleasures of fizzy fruit-flavored homosexual premium malt beverages. Let my predicament be a terrible warning to you all!
Anyway, here's some advice. Do challenge yourself with your academic choices.
That means math and shit, and probably poems or something. I dunno, I took four years at the Ho Chi Minh State Community College and got my bachelor's degree in sawing through a Laotian's throat without disturbing his kids in the next room. Also a course at Roane in desktop publishing, but that doesn't sound as impressive. Anyway, my point is that the courses you choose in your fancy lady-boy college should try and kick your ass a little, because that's the only way anybody learns anything. I knew a guy who only chose courses he pretty much already knew how to do, and he ended up majoring in Shooting Up Heroin with a minor in Believing in Ghosts. Today, he's the head of a multi-million dollar chain of Christian bookstores. Hmm. Actually, forget I mentioned that guy. He sort of shoots a big hole in my theory. Don't make a goddamn fool out of yourself without a good reason.
I know a lot of you may have had guidance counselors or kindly elementary-school teachers that told you to take pride in who you are and to ignore anyone who makes fun of you just for being different. Those people's kids all weigh 300 pounds and spend their weekends waddling around the forest pretending they're vampires. Shame is a very useful and natural human reaction which ironically you have no reason to be ashamed of. It's the little angel on your shoulder that whispers in your ear, “People don't really need to know how much you like anime.” Do develop an appreciation for the finer things in life.
People ask me all the time how they can become as refined and subtly erotic man as myself without spending all their money on bossa nova albums, cognac, silk smoking jackets, and obscure European sports cars. The answer, my friends, is as simple as fashioning a crude spear out of a stick and a pointy rock and waiting in the bushes outside a mechanic that specializes in weird foreign stuff until someone leaves an Alfa Romeo Giulia Spyder unattended. Theft is what separates civilized man from the animals. Except for raccoons. Raccoons steal shit all the time. Don't buy a Pontiac.
Seriously, cut that shit out.
Something has just started beeping really loudly in the room and now I'm surrounded by nurses—plump, succulent nurses that I am too weak to molest. This is probably as good a time as any to cut this article off as it is very likely I won't survive the next hour and very certain that I won't enjoy it. If there's still an article here next week, expect more of these do's and don'ts; if not, please know that I was deadly goddamn serious about those pizza rolls.
|Monday, January 15th, 2007|
|first new article of the semester
My real job is helping me move to an apartment downtown by covering move-in costs and deposits and such. I hope to maybe talk them into covering the deposits for utilities too because they'll only be paying me 9 bucks an hour for the first 60 days (although when my health benefits hit--%90 off all premiums--it will go a lot farther).
The World Grotto is a pretty cool albeit hipsterish bar at Market Square, which is where my job is. Market Square is a very pretty and historic and overall great place in downtown knoxville which usually features at least two schizophrenic homeless people per week. If I play my apartment-choosing-and-tolerating cards right, it will be within walking distance of wherever I end up living.
The deep-dish diaries
demonstrated deep-dish do's and don'ts
by Raoul “Duke” Morris
Hi kids, welcome back to school. I call you kids because due to a comprehensive phone, door-to-door, and hidden toilet camera survey campaign carried out in secret by our editors, we have determined that the Weekly Hangover's audience is close to 99% pesky goddamn kids staying up all hours of the night and playing music much too loud (the remaining one percent being comprised of the multiple competing FBI, CIA, NSA, and Interpol hit squads who attempt to monitor my every move; Inspector Lucerne, I know you're reading this and I wanted you to know that you will never, EVER find the diamonds and that your wife is a filthy, filthy whore). As the oldest, wisest, and deadliest member of the Hangover staff, I feel it is my duty to help guide you kids through this crazy thing we like to call Life with a series of informative “do's and don'ts” based on past experience. By doing this, it is my fervent hope that you will lead your lives with greater foresight and also that you will be nice to me twenty years from now when my brain will have eroded away and I'll be spending all my time curled up in front of the World Grotto on Market Square shrieking about how the government stole all my patents (they did, but I'm usually a classy enough guy not to mention it).
Do invest in real estate in Arizona five years ago. I feel confident that time travel will become a reality within the next ten years, so hop to it. Right now hordes of Californians are paying top dollar for any sort of land in the Grand Canyon State, despite the fact that many places need to have water trucked in from the nearest aquifer and that the total population of Arizona is maybe fifteen people, two of whom may actually be very large and clever scorpions. In 1999, I bought a kids treehouse near Phoenix while stoned for a lollipop and an issue of X-Men and said treehouse is now worth roughly 239,000 dollars. Unfortunately, at that period in my life I was writing checks under a different name every four hours, so I have no idea which alias I used for that property and no way to actually collect on my windfall. I will gladly cut one of you guys in on the deal if you let me borrow your time machine.
Don't bust out the “surrender monkey” jokes in front of the French Foreign Legion. For one thing, technically none of them are supposed to actually be from France, even though most of them actually are Frenchmen under assumed names. For another, it's an interesting historical fact that while most French generals have spent their wartime careers sipping wine on their fainting couches, actual French soldiers are usually busy trying to strangle Germans with their own intestines while Vietnamese people throw grenades at them from behind bushes. Actually, considering that the Foreign Legion is mostly composed of unstoppable sociopaths and fugitive mercenaries from all corners of the globe, it's generally a good idea to avoid jokes altogether unless you're really sure they'll like them. Also, don't tell them I said any of this.
Do watch what you eat. Especially if it's moving around. I was very lucky in that my secret CIA health plan provided for a replacement stomach made out of fiberglass and Kevlar because an accumulated two years of eating nothing but Oreos and heroin smoothies would have otherwise left me a dessicated, Cryptkeeper-esque husk of a man. I don't mean bust out the vegan hamburgers made out of sunshine and hay, but just keep some simple dietary rules in mind, like never buying any liquor in a plastic bottle with little Gatorade-style hand grips on the side.
Don't ever cross me. I can't stress this enough. I may enjoy killing, because you gotta love what you do and do what you love, but I have other hobbies too. If I have to neglect my bonsai just so I can hang upside down in your chimney all day waiting for my chance to shoot you in each eyeball with my matte-black Ruger .22 (with noiseless integral silencer and laser reflex sight) I'm going to write a furious letter to the News-Sentinel about how inconsiderate children are today.
That's all I can think of right now. If you have any further questions, meet me in front of the Grotto and let me borrow some cigarettes.
|Monday, December 4th, 2006|
|part 1 of a serial
The newspaper is over for the semester so I am free of all restrictions. Rishi told me once that I had to somehow finish the story of Francisco Assisi Noideno but I also wasn't allowed to screw it up, and the only way to do that is to do it in long form.
RDM is much more lucid than usual in these stories; this is because they were written in the early nineties when his lifestyle had yet to completely take its toll on his nervous system. I spent something like an hour cross-referencing Google Maps with a Wikipedia drawing of the Monaco Grand Prix for a scene (drifting an Impala all the way around the Loew's Hairpin) which turned out to be a sentence long so I hope everybody knows enough about Monte Carlo to appreciate all the work I put into it.
I am really, really surprised how well this first part has turned out, and I probably won't do any more because I won't be able to top it.
Monte Carlo was bleak and damp the December morning when my past came back to bite me on the ass.
This was 1992 and I was at a low point but a stable one; my South American interests had long since collapsed and I'd left my European contacts out in the cold too long to get hooked back in. My Soviet friends would've been more than happy to see me as they could always use a hand in killing each other and carving up the new Russia, but my killer instinct wasn't what it used to be and I never could handle the drama of working with the Mafiya. The CIA hadn't returned any phone calls since 1987, possibly because they may have got wind of some of my side projects, and the area of Southern France that I eventually found myself in after running short of money was annoyingly short of people who needed to be killed for money.
That's how I found myself in Monaco, working for a novelty taxi service that exclusively used huge fat-ass American cars. That as-close-as-it-gets-to-cold day in Monte Carlo I was stuck with the agency's bloated lime-green '68 Impala four-door, which was gurgling its merry way down Boulevard Albert 1er when I spotted the day's first fare--a hard, wiry old man in a grey suit with a matching grey crew cut and a familiar look in his eyes. Unfortunately I spotted him about halfway deep into the Impala's ideal stopping distance and ended up standing on the brakes and dipping the front end so far it briefly felt like it was trying to tunnel into the sewer system. The taxi service usually left the suspensions unmodified in order to reinforce the novel-to-Europeans feeling that the gigantic-to-Europeans body might just tear itself completely free of the chassis.
When the Impala had settled back onto its haunches, the old man opened what I had thought was the locked passenger door and settled into the worn Naugahyde seat. The checked Bakelite grip of a weathered but functional Army .45 poked suggestively out from his jacket and it suddenly hit me why that look of his was so familiar. After five years in some locked cabinet in Quantico, my CIA file had finally been pulled, and now they'd come to collect on past dues.
With the speed born of years of practice, I pissed my pants. I didn't know I'd be in the Chevy today and the only weapon I had handy was the M79 grenade launcher I had squirreled away under the seat, and that was going to be of limited use against somebody sitting in the same car. I'd taken a couple night-school courses in capoeira but none of them covered what to do when you're buckled into a seat next to a trained killer (no doubt with that 1911 hanging loose in a magnetic full-race speed holster) and badly hung over besides. Thankfully, when the puddle of urine touched my thighs, I remembered what had just touched his--the two hypodermic needles I'd sewn into the cushions the first night I had the car to myself. With renewed confidence, I growled "Where to, Mac?"
"I think you know how little that matters, Morris," the iceman replied. "Go where you... did you just piss yourself?"
In lieu of an answer I shoved the Impala into gear and lurched on towards Avenue d'Ostende. If I was going to be killed in this fruit-colored heap I was at least going to drive through my favorite part of the city one last time. "So I guess you boys found out about the hydrofoils, huh?"
"They were expensive hydrofoils, yes. We're certain there were ways you could've impressed your date that did not directly hinder the invasion of Grenada. That is not what brings me here today, however."
Relieved, I slumped back in my seat a bit. "So what does?"
"Francisco Assisi Noideno."
Terrified, I jerked forward in my seat a lot. "Fuck you. He's dead. Yakuza. Choked to death with his own... ear-thingies."
The iceman cracked a withered parody of a grin. "Really now, Raoul Duquesne Morris, AKA Dr. Alexandru Gonczeau, AKA Rev. Thompson H. Stockton, I'm surprised at your naivete. How many times have you been killed by the Yakuza? Or the Cosa Nostra, or the Spetznatz, or any one of a hundred other convenient organizations? The Noid could claim to have died at the hands of the Vienna Boys Choir and everyone would be too relieved to question it." The grin vanished. "The fact is, he's resurfaced, he's making problems for us, and you're the only one left in our Rolodex who's dealt with him and lived."
"You call this living?" I cut off a Renault and darted, or came as close to darting as the bulky Impala could manage, onto Avenue de Monte Carlo. "Besides, I met him once and a month later he chopped up my dog." I turned to glare at the impassive hitman. "Dr. Bark-bark didn't deserve to go out that way. Nobody did."
"I'm sorry about your dog, Morris," he said, unconvincingly. "I'm also sorry about your friend, and I hope you know that we've taken good care of Mr. Araujo's wife and child since his passing. At least the Noid chose to end him quickly."
"What?" I lurched to a stop again. "Rubinho was killed by the Mexicans. Exploding calzone, November 1988. I flew in to identify his club foot. There's no way-"
"You were our biggest operator in the region. After you bugged out, Noideno filled in all the blank spaces you left behind and made the jump to Mexico. By '88, he had half the cops in the country in his pocket."
I didn't like the implication. "I told Ruby to get out while the getting was good. It tears me up but it's not my fault he stayed in the game."
"Ah, but he had a family to provide for, didn't he? The lovely Minou... and darling Thiago. Especially Thiago." The withered twist of a smile again. "Who else would take responsibility for Thiago and his condition?"
I liked that implication even less. "You can't prove a damn thing about Thiago."
"Ridiculous, Mr. Morris. Of course we can. And again, did you piss yourself earlier? Because it smells like piss in here."
"I plead the fifth." A Fiat 600 honked angrily behind me, reminding me that I had essentially parked my inconveniently large car on a public street. I stirred the shoebox full of gravel that the gearshift was apparently buried in and muscled the car onto Avenue des Spelugues, the hulking Chevy pitching and rolling like one of the yachts in the harbor.
"Ah, but you're not in the States, are you Raoul? Although I think perhaps it would do you good to visit. It would be... lucrative." The stranger produced an Air France ticket from his jacket pocket next to the .45, scaring the remaining wee out of me. "Côte d'Azur International Airport, gate 4, Tuesday at 7:50 AM, to Quantico, Virginia. First class. We need you to be well rested."
"Money's no good to a dead man." I cranked the window down to air out the car. Christ, I wish I hadn't had so much coffee. "I'm comfortable where I am now... although I'm not so sure you are."
"Hm? Oh yes, the needles. The dossier gave us fair warning." He frowned, unimpressed. "You've been sewing a syphilis-tipped syringe into every car you've owned since 1981 and you thought we wouldn't notice? I assure you I've been well-immunized against such shenanigans. Although I admit your second prick is an unwelcome surprise."
Playing a hunch, I replied "I bet they say the same about you."
The killer reddened, and I knew I had him. "I'm quite afraid I don't catch your drift, Mr. Morris."
"USAF Colonel Franklin Chalmers "Daniel" Boone, former DARPA black ops astronaut and two-dicked gun for hire," I responded. "Born 1934, to John and Maya Boone of Pahrump, Nevada. CIA operative since 1979. First man on Mars."
"Hm. Second man on Mars, first to come back alive." A warmer, more genuine smile from Boone. "I hardly blame Gospodin Bogdanovich for letting his guard down, but he never should have brought that replica 16th-century crossbow along if he didn't intend to use it."
I made the right onto Avenue Princesse Grace--the first hard corner of Circuit de Monaco--and gunned the engine. "Funny story, Colonel. Something to add to my files, alongside the rumor you've named your two partners in crime Castor and Pollux."
"The left and right, respectively. Very good, Morris." Boone's grin spread as I yanked the wheel hard over into full steering lock and drifted the full length of the Loew's Hairpin. "You know, the twins are the reason I couldn't get into NASA? Well, along with my other interests."
"Other interests?" I corrected the oversteer just in time for the right-angle turn of Mirabeau Bas, cutting the apex but straying briefly into the oncoming lane. "Like what?"
"Snuff. Scat. Pozz frot. Rice bear piss queens. Anal footjob gangbang cumshot ponyboyy gloryhole beast play," the colonel murmured dreamily, earning my undivided attention for the crucial few seconds I should've been braking hard for the wicked Portier right-hander onto Boulevard Louis II. I came into it much too fast and ended up hanging the Impala's tail far out into the left lane, forcing an Opel minivan full of sleepy rave kids off the road into the cool blue waters of the Mediterranean. The car fishtailed crazily as I wrestled the wheel for control, Boone droning out more obscene and previously-believed imaginary sex acts next to me, until I reined her in and skidded to a halt just inside the mouth of the tunnel.
Fighting my way free of the piss-soaked seatbelt I ran to the shore, to be rewarded with a furiously bubbling patch of ocean and the muted sounds of "Doctorin' the Tardis" issuing from the submerged van. I pondered the chance that they might break free and swim out before I remembered the terrified face of the driver--a big dumb hat and two giant pupils, and as the driver he was likely the least fucked-up one among them. Plus they were probably all wearing those stupid boots. God fucking dammit.
I was aware of Boone behind me now, mumbling something about Thai latex feminization clinics before shaking his head and frowning at me. "The second needle... sodium pentathol? Inhibiting my higher cortical functions-"
"And uninhibiting mostly everything else, yeah," I said, unable to tear my eyes away from the rapidly shrinking patch of bubbles that marked the raver's passage from this earth. "Truth serum, like the kids say."
The colonel straightened his tie and followed my gaze to the Opel's watery grave. "A pity. If I recall correctly, Monaco was the only microstate where you had yet to kill anyone. This... complicates matters."
You could still kinda see the silhouette beneath the waves, and it looked like the map light was still on too. Shit. Monegasque cops were there mostly to keep people from cheating at baccarat, but it's not likely they would miss this sort of thing for long. Also, I think I saw one of the members of the House of Grimaldi sleeping something off in the back seat. Shit shit shit.
"There's a British Airways 747 leaving Nice in two hours, Raoul," said Boone. "It's bound to Sao Paulo, but like I said earlier, you have business there, and there are preparations that still need to be made before you make the scene in Quantico." He paused to adjust his shoulder holster, tucking the Colt deeper into his jacket. "In the meantime, I'd appreciate it if you dropped me off at the Grand Hotel. I have an appointment there with a roomful of exquisitely tiny Chinese men and their tame swan hates to be kept waiting."
I turned and started on my way back to the car. A minute later, at the gates of the Grand Hotel, I discovered that I had forgotten to set the meter running.
TO BE CONTINUED
|Monday, November 27th, 2006|
|dealing with grief
This is what I'm going to get run in the paper for this week. Not try and get run, but will get run.
We have a new 42-inch Panasonic plasma that is really, really great. I bought Trauma Center for the DS. We would trade it all to have Pucky back and healthy, but we still have no regrets about her going to sleep Friday since like I said she got to go out on a high point. At some point I'm going to hit up Lowe's and Wal-Mart and Home Depot and such to see if I can find a little kitty statue to mark her grave after we take the little stepping stones off, but that's not for another week or so. Brigit may have pooped on the site already, or at least that's what it looked like she was doing as we were carrying the TV in. Pesky Brigit.
Brigit and Pooky may now be in the middle of a power struggle as it has percolated into their tiny brains that a large, scary cat is gone and therefore freeing up valuable reserves of delicious food. They have always been in a state of limited war but now they are going after each other much more overtly. Brigit is big, fat, and dumb, whereas Pooky is small, wiry, and terrified of everything, so the war is progressing much more farcically than most.
Speaking of war, recently I have been getting drunker than usual on Battlefield 2 and swearing that all my victories were to be in Pucky's name, given that her bloodlust was never truly sated in life. This turns out to work really really well as at one point I killed eleven white people in a row in Mashtuur City before one of them managed to take me down with a lucky grenade toss, whereupon I died with Pucky's name on my swarthy, bearded lips. I tried to think of other ways to honor her memory but most of them involve catching and eating blue jays and they're not around this time of year.
|Friday, November 24th, 2006|
She had such a good day today and was in an unusually good mood. She crawled into my lap, and into my sister's lap, and spent most of her time curled up on her pad next to the oven with her little leopard-print catnip mousie that i think I bought for her. My sisters and I dug the grave at about one and went back into the house. I sat in the kitchen with her and watched her sleep. The last half of Moonraker
was on but she wasn't paying it much attention. I guess she was a Connery fan.
At four thiry we piled into the van for the vet's. I let pucky down into the footwell on the passenger's side; cats like to be there because it feels like the engine and drivetrain are purring at them. She spent the five minute ride looking around and grooming herself, and when we were waiting outside the office (because we wanted her to spend as little time in the vet's as possible) she actually curled up next to the door speaker.
We set up her pad on the examination table and let her down on it and she still wasn't scared. The vet was a nice Indian woman and we managed to get her crying too. Mom held her by the neck as the vet gave her the needle in the right haunch... or tried to, because we all forgot that when Pucky appears slightly nervous that means she's saving up her hidden reserve of strength to try and pull something, so she kicked at the nice lady and nearly wiggled free. So I had to sort of hug her shoulders.
It took a few minutes for the sedative to percolate all the way through. She sort of wobbled lower and lower to the ground as we were petting her. Soon enough she was lying down all the way, enough so that the vet could roll her up in her little blanket and let us say our last goodbyes. Even shot full of drugs she still had her little "don't mess with me" glare.
We didn't watch the gassing because cats apparently spasm when that happens sometimes.
By the time we got home and back to the grave she was still warm. We all had a chance to hold her body and pet her, even Dad. Dad was crying a little bit too even though he almsot always hated pets and Pucky almost always hated him (at one point she managed to crap on his wrist while he was asleep). We buried her with her mousie, wrapped up in her little blanket, put an old stepping stone over her so nothing would try and dig her up, and planted crocus bulbs over that.
I am so glad that she went today, when she was happy and well-fed and well-rested and brave. I can sort of see her grave from my desk, and she can see the birdfeeder through the bushes (so the birds can't see her). She was such a great cat.
|She had her sight back today
Sort of. We doubled up her thyroid medicine and so she was mostly able to track us as we moved and able to get herself to the litterbox. The meds are toxic, they make her nibble at herself neurotically, there's no guarantee they'll keep working, and she hates them anyway, so there's no change to the plan. I just hope she'll still be able to see when it's time tomorrow, because I would hat e for her to be more scared than necessary.
It was nice out so I took her to be outside one last time. She got to hiss at Bridget again and wobbled around the base of a tree where mice are known to burrow, sniffing at digging at the leaves. We gave her literally as much turkey and ham and her favorite beef cat food as she could eat, and I recorded some more of her meowing on my sister's laptop. She has a very distinctive voice. I miss it so much already
we've picked out a site for her grave where she''ll still be able to see the birdfeeder like she always used to when she sat at mom's desk we're going to plant crocuses over it.
she'll never be sad or scared or hungry or achy again
|Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006|
|Pucky goes to sleep Friday
We were going to try and do it tomorrow morning but we decided that if we ended up having to wait or even postpone it after having moved Pucky from her little nest it would just be too horrible for her and us, so until Friday we will be making her as happy as a blind, deaf cat can be. Someone will always be in the house to help her if she wants food or the litterbox or something else and she will get literally all the turkey she can eat thursday.
She's such a supernaturally tough cat. All she has left is her nose and her whiskers but she still gets up and tries to do things. Tonight Brigit tried to poach Pucky's little beef treats in her usual manner (using her huge fluffy head to gently nudge all other cats out of the food bowl) and Pucky cut loose with the loudest, fiercest hiss I've ever heard her make. Brigit is a very dumb (but lovable and loving) cat but it would appear she finally learned not to mess around with Pucky.
Pucky isn't in any pain, but you can tell that being blind is scaring her and she's really only happiest when she's asleep. So it's time for her to take the big nap.
|Tuesday, November 21st, 2006|
This was the hardest one I've had to write because Pucky (the cat I grew up with) has suddenly taken a turn for the much worse. Her vision seems to have completely disappeared over the course of two days and she got lost on the way to her litterbox. Despite the inherent humor value of Welsh people, it's hard to be funny when your cat is probably going to have to go to sleep after thanksgiving.
The deep-dish diaries
ties that bond
So apparently the new James Bond movie is pretty good. I'm quite willing to take everybody else's word for it, since having lived a life of danger and intrigue and driven more than anybody else's share of rocket-launching BMWs off the top of parking garages I find the movies generally pretty blah. I should note that I have met all the actors who played Bond (even Lazenby) as they have all at one time or another killed someone on the behalf of the British government AND they run a heroin ring. Well, except for Brosnan, who they won't let into the heroin ring, which I don't get because he seemed like an okay guy when we were kidnapping all those people in Argentina. The new guy I haven't met, but rumor has it he is an incredibly sophisticated robot designed for the joint purposes of killing and murder. Also, he was really good in Layer Cake.
Despite this, it needs to be understood that Bond films and even Bond novels bear extremely little resemblance to what people like me and Timothy Dalton actually do in order to preserve capitalism and the status quo. Ian Fleming really was a decorated English intelligence officer (not spy per se) but he generally realized that the actual tedious work of sorting through radio intercepts and memorizing aerial maps and stuff wasn't what people really wanted to read about, so he just cut that part out and went straight for the garroting (always a good idea). For the same reasons, when he wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang he skipped over the complicated mix of science and black magic that actually can make a car come to life and plunged straight into delightful whimsy.
Having said all that, I will admit to knowing the real-life equivalent of James Bond. I mean yeah, nine times out of ten everything I said about life as a globe-trotting assassin being dull and unpleasant is true, but by some fluke of luck Jarvis Most Dangerous Welshman Alive Bach Esq. (his full legal name) managed to duck all the filling-out-forms and tortured-by-the-Koreans part of international espionage and went straight to driving Ferraris out the back of exploding space shuttles. Pontypridd's most famous secret agent wasn't 100% Bond, though, since his hilarious Welsh accent prevented him from getting any kind of trim northeast of Swansea. It was funny as hell; we'd be playing baccarat against a Swiss diamond miner with a bionic arm made of diamonds and he'd have his eye on the guy's icy Chinese assassin/masseuse (known in the trade as an assasseuse) who was wearing a dress shaped like a diamond and he'd go “s'pose et's ther king o' hearts 'gains' the two o' dimens, like” and the assasseuse would start giggling and the diamond guy would shoot her in the eye with a diamond from a diamond gun hidden in his diamond arm because assasseuses are supposed to be cold and emotionless, especially mysterious Oriental ones. And then I would start laughing and Bach would shoot me in the kneecap, which sounds worse than it was since my kneecaps are actually made of a superdense Lexan/Kevlar weave. Also that particular time I shot the diamond guy in his kneecap for a laugh and his turned out to be diamond, which I probably should've guessed what with his bionic diamond arm. We still lost that baccarat game. Goddamn, baccarat is hard!
Anyway, aside from that, the whole Bond mystique is a myth. Totally fictional. Oh wait, Moonraker was based on something I did on spring break once. And about half the other Roger Moore movies pretty much actually happened as well, but I can't tell which ones because he claims to have injected a bomb into my skull while I was asleep once... also the first fifty Lotus Esprits really could turn into submarines... also Auric Goldfinger is alive and has stated he plans to purchase the Sunsphere. But other than that, complete bull.
|Tuesday, November 14th, 2006|
Wrote this in less than an hour (it's still a day late) making it the fastest article yet. I just googled "console yourself" and found out that basically every other published article in the entire world concerning the PS3 launch used the exact same title that I thought rather clever at the time. I am bad at titles.
The deep-dish diaries
By: Raoul D. Morris
It's been a busy week at Chateau d'Hangover, or at least that's what I've been told. I've been laid up with an ear infection as a result of Chris' dog's unprovoked sexual assault (see last week's column for details) (what do you mean you don't keep these on file?) and have spent most of my time dripping antibiotics into my ravaged ear and learning how to watch Law and Order reruns sideways. After I could hear things on my left side again I dropped by work and who should open the door but Rooney done up in camo paint and bandoliers, and the first thing out of his mouth is not “Glad to see you back Raoul” or “Hope your ear's feeling better Raoul” or even “I support whatever you plan to do or have recently done to Chris' GTI in retaliation Raoul” but “Can I borrow that big scary gun you're always waving around at the writer's meetings?”
The gun in question is one of my personal favorites, a Mateba auto-revolver in .454 Casull with an eight-inch barrel and Picatinny sight rails, and was my preferred way of settling disputes and occasionally ordering drinks. “That's a lot of gun, my friend,” I replied. “To be responsible for it, you need to prove to me that you're a true man—the genuine article, untainted by both the emasculatory feminization of the metrosexual agenda or the cartoonish hypermasculinity of the summer action film franchises. You must show to me that you contain the purest archetypical essence of male duty, thought, and action.”
“How do I do that?”
“Fill out this form.” In my trusty brief-bag (it is NOT a man-purse, goddammit) I always carry around a few copies of a super-accurate and meticulously researched manhood test I compiled from stuff I found on Myspace, which will tell you with 97% certainty whether you are a true man and also which anime character you most closely resemble. While Rooney was carefully filling in the bubbles with his #2 pencil (making each mark heavy and dark), he filled me in on the reason why he needs my enormous Italian handgun. It turns out he and Gipson are looking to score a PS3 this Friday and they don't plan on doing it by farting around with pre-orders and sleeping bags in front of the Best Buy. I say good luck to them—murder hardens a man, burning the baby-soft fat of his civilized mores away to reveal the gleaming skeleton of rage that drives each and every one of us. Also I would very much like to play that new Metal Gear game, or at least drink patiently through one of its hour-long cutscenes.
Man, it's hard to believe Sony is up to 3 already. I've seen and fought in a lot of console launches in my day, and they just keep getting bigger and louder and dumber with each new generation of bleeping shrieking plastic box. Of course, I've personally made more than my share of cash from the console market; it was myself and a team of five KGB and CIA contract workers who made sure the Dreamcast wouldn't pose a threat to Sony's market share. I'm surprised Sony hasn't rung me up yet: considering the price tag, the hurriedly redesigned dual-shockless controller, the bizarre statements Ken Kutaragi has been making about how we would all gladly work two jobs to buy a PS3, and the fact that Sony has made approximately three units per state (which, given performance records for most Sony launch hardware, will most likely break down after two hours of play) I'm sort of amazed at how badly they've handled... well, everything. Like I said, I hope to sneak in some time on Rooney & Gipson's console, and I might buy one in a few months after the bugs are worked out, but right now I'm perfectly happy with my DS, my weary old second-generation PS2 (five years old and it still works somehow), and maybe that nifty new Nintendo Revolution—which is what the new Nintendo console shall be referred to under my roof under pain of death. A word of warning: if you plan on standing in front of or really anywhere in the vicinity of Twilight Princess on launch day, you better be wearing some pretty impressive body armor. Nobody keeps me from my elf adventures.
|Monday, October 30th, 2006|
Chris' dog is fucking gigantic (something like 15 pounds heavier than a regulation dalmation) and really did attempt to have sex with my head. A very friendly dog otherwise, but it's cooped up in a medium-sized apartment and is going nuts. The Metro Pulse is kinda-sorta our rival in that it is an alternative newsweekly popular among UT students, except it is roughly one million billion times better than us in terms of layout, writing, etc.
The deep dish diaries
dogs of war
By: Raoul D. Morris
It may not be obvious to those of you who read this paper or even those of you who saw us at the party (everyone else sucks) but there is a constant, silent, undeclared battle for dominance between the TWH editors that requires total vigilance and elaborate deception just to keep one's head out of the water. Every week I am attacked and must counterattacks, beset on all sides by secret plots and intrigues. Will looks at me funny—I cut his brake cables. Mike mentions the pictures seem to be printing out too dark—I introduce subtle neurotoxins into his drinking water. Naked Chris I throw rocks at, thereby pre-empting whatever terrible plan he is likely to form against me... or so he led me to believe, as I have lately discovered that the handsome bastard had an ace up his sleeve in the form of the world's most powerful Dalmatian.
A lot of you people see the word Dalmatian and think of lucrative cartoon puppies and wonder how anyone could weaponize such an adorable critter. Well, a lot of you haven't been to Chris' house. I was there the other week for a writers meeting, idly scratching racial slurs on the hood and windshield of his car, when I heard the door open. “Ah Chris, about that Hillman Avenger guy--” was about all I managed to get out before I was pinned to the ground by some gigantic spotted thing having sex with my head. Chris was fairly quick to free me from underneath his animal (I can only assume he wanted more time to gloat) and I stumbled off convinced that this was yet another in a series of increasingly exotic and unpleasant renegade hallucinations I've been suffering since I sold off my anti-psychotics for an awesome cane sword. It was only later when the doctor discovered an enormous and incredibly unpleasant obstruction in my ear that I realized that Chris had finally turned our cold war into a hot one with the overt use of biological weapons in the form of his huge huge dog.
Very well, Chris. Tit for tat. My experiences in Vietnam and Central America have taught me that the best and also most fun way to fight fire is with lots and lots of more fire, preferably in the form of napalm strikes on poorly-defended villages. What was needed here was my own doggy champion, a patriotic and idealistic Captain America to Chris' dogs' ruthless neoconservative Iron Man in the Marvel Civil War of our newspaper feud. The first step to the plan: figure out an analogy for our conflict that doesn't have anything to do with comic books, or at least figure out who on the newspaper represents Black Goliath. This step was unsuccessful, but it did provide me with the fundamental concept necessary to retaliate: obtain a weak and sickly dog, inject it with a mysterious super-serum of my own devising, set it loose on my enemies, then freeze it for awhile until it became necessary to use it against Namor the Sub-Mariner (Metro Pulse).
Of course, I couldn't just start injecting dogs willy-nilly and expect to get results right off the bat. For one thing, my mysterious super-serum was mostly just liquid PCP and Hawaiian Punch, and required testing on less lovable and cheaper animals than man's best friend. It was with this in mind that I went to the pet store and acquired Captain Hamster, Hamster America, Captain Hamerica, Hamtain Capmerica, Ultimate Captain Hamerica, Ultimate Hamtain Capmerica, U.S. Hamster, Marvel Essential Captain Hamerica, and Green Lantern, who I intended to keep for a pet. Alas, I depleted my initial hamster stock so quickly that I had no choice but to subject Green Lantern to the most refined version of the process: having him drink a little serum out of the bowl and then placing him next to a microwave with tinfoil in it. When the smoke of the resulting explosion cleared, I found that Green Lantern had not only navigated the elaborate set of traps/obstacle course, he had punched a hole through my door and left—although not before swiping my notes and formulae for the successful serum. So I guess Chris' dog is safe for now, although if you live in the Fort you might not want to leave any sunflower seeds unattended for... well, however long hamsters normally live.
|Monday, October 23rd, 2006|
|lasers are awesome
This article basically came about when I read about deuterium-fluoride lasers on wikipedia and realized I had bad writer's block. Thus, it's probably the shortest one I've done so far, puffed up only by another destroying-Chris'-car gag. It is gray and cold outside. Ugh.
the deep-dish diaries
by Raoul D. Morris
Okay, everybody needs to shut up and help me find my keychain because I'm not writing a damn thing otherwise. It has a Citroen key, a Toyota key, one of those goofy little fake carabiners with STEVE'S NOVELTY KEYCHAIN CARABINER DEPOT printed on it, a little plastic Cyclops figurine, and the world's most powerful superminiaturized deuterium-fluoride laser, and if some gunt finds it and uses it as a laser pointer on his PowerPoint presentation there's a good chance he could take out a wall, or at very least a couple eyes.
The laser shouldn't be too hard to tell apart from your normal garden-variety laser pointer because it's got Cyrillic warning labels all over it and it's the size and weight of your average Maglite. In fact, it's not so much on my keychain as my keychain is on it, but I carry my keys everywhere and I figured that since I always have my keys with me I'd always have my laser with me AND having such a gigantic thing clipped onto the carabiner would lessen the chances of it falling down a vent or a grate or a vane or the many other elaborate ventilation systems that keep Chateau d'Hangover's underground meth lab from exploding. Besides, why key an editor's fancy-pretty-lady-boy Golf when you can simply melt tiny holes in each cylinder head? Naked Chris would ask why do anything at all to his Golf after exploding one of his cars already, but he generally fails to appreciate the complicated interlocking system of grudges and alliances that very often means his car must die. His many subsequent indignant memos, impassioned speeches, and tearful haiku (please note: haiku is an irregular plural like “deer;” don't ever say I never tried to teach you ingrates something new each day) indicate he was surprisingly attached to his dumb little kraut car and thus a prime suspect in the disappearance of my beloved laser. It would appear I was right to punish him in advance, even though I was pretty messed up on pills at the time.
Of course, the laser is important to me for reasons other than its capacity to destroy; for example, the mere act of taking anything that is rightfully mine and a few things that are less rightfully mine but mine nonetheless deserves swift and horrible retribution. There's also a lot of fond memories attached to that laser, so I've got a sentimental angle on it too. Apart from the warm glow I get whenever I destroy the cars and lives of other people on the newspaper, I've also impressed a lot of fine women with my ability to write my name on distant buildings and mountains, and delighted children worldwide by slicing animals into two perfect bloodless halves (the laser's heat instantly cauterizing the blood vessels and filling the air with a delicious barbecue smell). From a purely utilitarian standpoint—the philosophy that the best course is the one that makes the maximum number of people happy—this laser is vital for me to continue performing my good works on earth.
So whoever found or took my laser, please know that whatever you plan to do with it is making the world a slightly worse place. For the sake of the children, I ask you to return it to me via one of my many secret mail drops or by leaving it in the Chateau d'Hangover Official Meditation and Drinking Gazebo along with fifty dollars to compensate for the psychological trauma of not having my laser handy in the presence of Chris' newest car. Or! You can come to the Weekly Hangover Halloween Party at New Amsterdam's tonight (tonight being Friday October 27th) to return my laser in person. Be warned that I will be very cunningly disguised and may end up attacking you with a push dagger, but that's the price you pay for making me mix business with pleasure.
|Monday, October 16th, 2006|
Gipson is the better of our two sportswriters. Shh! Don't tell the other one! Whoever he is.
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The deep-dish diaries
seasonal assassination disorder
By: Raoul Duquesne Morris
It looks like Autumn has come around again to remind us once again that no matter how warm and wonderful the rest of the year can be, it's always and forever destined to asphyxiate under a frozen shroud of snow and dead leaves. I always get depressed around this time of year, more so this year because due to various complications of the Witness Protection Program and accompanying blood feuds, I'm unable to run any of my various scams or smuggling operations and am flat goddamn broke. The Citroen (1972 SM, navy blue with Euro-spec headlights), as always, is in the shop, and the mounting cost of restoring its butter-smooth Maserati V6 and pop-out fender-mounted machine guns means that I have had to develop a renewed appreciation for Old Milwaukee and discount meat.
Worst of all, doing work for the paper (this column, layout duties and the occasional poisoning) occupies barely a day out of my week so I am left with little else to do than remember the faces of those I have betrayed... which turns out to be a lot of people. Way more than I remember betraying. I think it might be a compulsory thing because just a few days ago I betrayed Patrick Gipson at the TWH Official Multimedia Action Sports Desk by telling him I would look after his apartment while he was on break and then I shot him in the base of the spine before he'd even left the room and I totally didn't plan on doing that. I tried to join a support group for compulsive betrayers but every time I got their address and meeting time I ended up setting up an elaborate nerve-gas trap for them. Oh god, I'm sick, but I want to stop. Can somebody out there please help me? (P.S. Party at Gipson's place everybody! Dress however you want but don't bring gas masks.)
Anyway, I'm depressed and haunted by guilt and the blood that I can't (metaphorically) (also in some cases literally) ever truly wash from my hands blah blah blah. Very dark, very Halloween-y. Fortunately, I have yet to meet the depression, mania, or similar disorder that can't be defeated temporarily by rum. In what I believe to be a revolutionary and delicious therapeutic advance, I've decided to combine my favorite rum-based cold-weather drinks with the memories of those who inspired or invented them so that I might finally escape from underneath the crushing boot of advancing winter.
Fingerbang. Aw hell, I just remembered this one actually involved Irish whiskey instead of rum. Maybe it would still work. Anyway, I got this one from Mad Kev O'Gradyvich of the IRA and the Russian Mafia, and it involved Jameson's and Butterfingers brand hot cocoa (Butterfingers hot cocoa being a delicious byproduct of the Mafiya's Ukrainian heroin factories produced as early as 1978 and not actually related to the popular candy bar) and it was a delicious way to warm up cold nights in Kiev or Belfast. Kev was a very jovial guy who was not actually Irish or Russian but in fact a Minnesotan with an amazing talent for improvisation and local accents, and his racket was based around the very lucrative trade of arms for demolition experience between the Reds and the Irish. It was a very lucrative trade and I wanted in on it but he said no and I got mad and I got drunk and I ran him over with a parade float of Lenin petting a cow while he was buying rocket launchers in Dnipropetrovsk. Soviet cities always had parade floats of Lenin petting things if you knew where to look.
Rum-Tilly-Icious Bedtime Sleepy Sensation. Rum and chamomile tea and honey and sugar and... probably other stuff too. I never made it myself but I had a lot of it when I was hanging around with this British drug boss, Nigel “Delicate, Sensitive Boy” Colwyth in Jamaica, a big mincing fella who I bought planes and pilots from. Nigel had been around since the time Jamaica was part of the Empire and was a noted insomniac due to the fact that he was rumored to have indirectly caused Bob Marley's cancer through voodoo and was afraid of reprisals. This lead to me dressing up in a skeleton costume with dreads and singing “No Woman, No Cry” outside his mansion one Halloween while I was drunk, which in turn lead to him shooting me in the shoulder and me shooting him in the head. Even when drunk I was a better shot than Nigel “Delicate, Sensitive Boy” Colwyth. Anyway, the drink was to help him sleep.
Rum. Purchase a fifth of rum and drink it. This isn't directly associated with someone I killed, but I thought it was worth including because it has contributed directly or indirectly to a good two-thirds of the people I have killed either as a motivation or a weapon. Also, I realized I didn't know very many other mixed drinks. Sorry guys!
So there you have it: three drinks that bear almost no relation to what I originally promised to write for you. This article has also failed to make me feel better for the murder of virtually every human being who has put any degree of trust in me, so I'm even more depressed than usual. Also, Gipson is apparently still alive since I just got a text message from him stating that he burned down his apartment in order to spite me; it appears that once again the cycle of violence is perpetuated.
But hey, those leaves sure do look nice.
|Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006|
|Another RDM article
Now with 250% more in-jokes!
Rooney is not a goth but I portray him as such for purposes of comedy. He did have a birthday party that I went to though (which was fun and did not involve capes).
Happy rooneymas to all: a sacred day marred by violence
by Raoul Duquesne “Duke” Morris
Well, I hope none of you are expecting too much out of me in the way of a column this week, because our graphics guy Rooney had his big fruity birthday party and I had to drink a lot of cheap liquor in order to enjoy it. Technically the guy's my boss, so I was required to go out of decorum and the terms of my parole, but just because somebody's really good at adding a beer bong to something in Photoshop doesn't mean he can throw a good party. It's not really obvious if you've met him, but Rooney is one of those “gothics” you may have seen on the TV and pretty much all of this year's Rooneymas was spent swooshing around a cemetery in big capes and skeleton makeup listening to his one Siouxsie and the Banshees album over and over again. Mary (the fashion editor) was excused on the grounds that if she wore a cape nobody would ever take her advice seriously again. I was excused on the grounds that I hit Rooney very hard in the mouth with a bottle of absinthe—not the real stuff with the wormwood in it, or even a convincing fake with weed killer in it, but just a bottle of goofy green shit with a picture of the Cure on the front. Anyway, I was told to “never defile the dark energies of Rooney Manor again,” that I had ruined Rooneymas, and that I was not going to be invited to Lance-ukkah although they would still appreciate it if I made them my special macaroni salad. Also, rumor has it Rooney has sworn “the revenge of a thousand undead swordsmen.”
Yeah, whatever. I've stood up to a lot worse than what some Photoshop wonk in a cape and an Einstürzende Neubauten sweater-vest (which I didn't even know they made until I saw Rooney wearing it) can dish out, so you'll excuse me if I don't start carrying a Powerade bottle full of holy water like AJ did after he stepped on Rooney's pet ferret (which also wore a cape and an Einstürzende Neubauten sweater-vest; AJ later explained that he thought it was okay to step on it because it was clearly some kind of exotic hallucination and Rooney reluctantly accepted this explanation). Even outside of my career in Central America I've always tended to hang around people with lots of anger management issues and expensive handguns, and the kind of occasional inevitable miscommunication can have serious repercussions. For example, there was the time I was in Belize at an outdoor cafe, trying to raise a signal on what I later found out to be both the first cellular phone in the Caribbean and the last cellular phone to make use of an external generator. I was getting the stinkeye from the waitstaff concerning the noise from the two-stroke Honda lawnmower engine and was trying to decide whether to bribe or beat them into submission when to my amazement, I received a call. ”Hello?” I hollered into the mouthpiece over the clattering engine.
“You've got some pretty blue eyes on you, Morris,” a sinister baritone rasped in my ear. “It'd be a shame if, say, acid was to get in 'em.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “I would hate that.”
“But acid's not going to get in them, is it, Morris?” the man continued.
“Really? Good!” I replied. “Thanks, that's very reassuring.”
“Wait, I forgot something,” said the voice, momentarily thrown. “Acid's not going to get in them because you're going to do exactly what we tell--”
“Out of curiosity, what do you like about my eyes?”
“Eh? Uh, they're blue, like I said, and they frame your face well... I would say they're your best feature.” Another man mumbled agreement in the background. ”Also, acid isn't in them. Yet. And it won't be! Unless you mess with us!” Then a click and a dial tone.
Seconds later, a bile-green Jaguar XJS peeled out from a side street and sped past, two hooded figures glaring at me from behind the controls. Presumably these were part of the group that had threatened/hit on me over my phone a moment ago without leaving any demands or additional instructions. I sort of had a chance to ask them more later that day when I passed the Jaguar in its natural habitat (the side of the road with someone working on the engine) but I ended up throwing a grenade at them—I was in a hurry and I had a shoebox full of grenades in the passengers seat of my Legend and one thing just naturally led to another. Let it be known: if I have easy access to grenades and proximity to something I might throw a grenade at, I'm going to throw a goddamn grenade. It's just something I do, and people are going to have to get used to that, so I would appreciate it if Chris quit bitching at me at every writers' meeting about how his VW wasn't insured yet. He would've gotten better value for his money with a Japanese car anyway, and I probably wouldn't have been as tempted to destroy it with explosives. Probably.
Anyway, I'm still at a loss for what those guys were up to. It's entirely possible that there's still some group of people watching my every move and preparing to throw acid in my eyes. If so, and if they're reading this article (I assume they are if they're serious about their surveillance duties) they can join the goddamn club. The line starts right behind the guy with the cape and sweater-vest.
|Wednesday, September 20th, 2006|
|The white-knuckle world of intellectual property law
[Mike and Chris are the two chief editors. Wait, that's made fairly clear in the context. Forget I said anything. Oh, and a Vincent Black Shadow is a motorcycle mentioned by Hunter S. Thompson. Those reading the print newspaper will have to Google that for themselves.]
Raoul “Duke” Duquesne Morris
So some of you (probably all of you) may not have noticed this, but the interior design of the Hangover has undergone a subtle yet profound change, what with all these gray boxes and justification and hyphens and shit. That’s all me, fellas. Early attempts to have the two editors lend a hand were foiled when I found them wearing hoop skirts in the gazebo at Chateau d’Hangover, sipping mimosas and giggling at one of the many poolboys in our employ (oddly, the Chateau has no pool that I am aware of). I don’t so much work with those boys as I work around them, but I did have to ask Mike why our copy of InDesign froze up every fifteen minutes to send an email to Adobe Software and the FBI. Mike mumbled something about “BitTorrent” and “LimeWire” and “intellectual property law” shortly before he and Naked Chris did whippits and chased each other shrieking through the hedge-maze.
So yeah, apparently everything I’ve been doing here so far, including how I rode to work on my Vincent Black Shadow without a helmet, has been flagrantly, almost obnoxiously illegal. Which is fine, since as you people already know I am no stranger to shady dealings, even limp-wristed sissy shit like this “file-sharing” controversy. Hell, I started Napster, although I doubt any of you mewling, puking infants would recognize it as such.
Napster started up as a sort of side business/promotion deal for my pizza work in the fall of ‘83. Gianmarco, one of my boys on the ground in Peru, was a big fan of Quiet Riot and prone to making rash promises besides, and at some point (probably while stoned) he told pretty much everybody in Lima that for every large pizza sold in the month of September would include a free single of “Cum On Feel the Noize,” despite having no immediately obvious way of obtaining said single. Naturally, I was pretty pissed off, but after I had fed the guy through a few farming machines I came to think he had the beginnings of a good idea. The problem was how to acquire this music fast, with minimal expense, and without anybody from the government finding out about it--essentially the same problem you face today, except with a greater possibility of being killed by the Peruvian military.
Now I’d be lying if I said that our first idea was anything other than “helicopter assault,” because most of us had been in Vietnam in some capacity (I myself taught the Hmong irregulars how to make breadsticks) and we had a bunch of Hueys left over that we would use for deliveries and/or murder. The problem was that I couldn’t have the raid on Quiet Riot’s recording studio traced back to me since I knew they were one of the bands started by the CIA to infiltrate the nascent glam-metal scene (among other things they replaced Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy with an unkillable robot) and Langley preferred to have their operations play nice with each other. After a day’s thought (and drinking) I decided to start up a new company named Napster (a reference to the late Giancarlo’s narcolepsy) and had the copters resprayed with a logo that I had carved into his skull on a whim. Since I pretty much ran the CIA’s intelligence-gathering operation in Peru, if they ever came asking about the helicopter mercenary company with some kind of weird cat mascot, I could tell them I’d cleaned them out and taken over.
Anyway, the raid went off without a hitch, although Quiet Riot was never the same afterwards. Knowing a profitable sideline when I saw it, I kept the business running throughout most of the eighties before selling it off. There were a lot of close scrapes, like the time Depeche Mode shot down two helicopters with RPGs (a trick they learned from the Mujahideen during their otherwise unsuccessful Afghanistan tour) and stranded a team of my soldiers in downtown Cuzco for 24 hours. I also found out that David Lee Roth really did know karate after he killed something like eight heavily armed men in the space of five minutes with nothing but his bare hands and a Lycra jumpsuit. Just a gigolo my ass.
So yeah, that’s how we got our free music in the 80’s. To think, kids these days break out in a sweat when they hear about Sony suing some ten-year-old with a CD-R full of Clay Aiken songs. You try getting a good night’s sleep when you know David Lee Roth knows where you live.
|Thursday, September 14th, 2006|
|My favorite blog
Well, I guess it's a blog.
The Chernobyl entry is extremely cool. I was expecting it to be the same pictures from a year or so back purportedly taken by a lady on her motorcycle (later revealed to be fake, the pictures were real but from somebody else) but it's apparently from a pretty recent expedition. An abandoned amusement park, a wrecked school, a complete Soviet city slowly being absorbed back into the Russian forest. It's times like this I wish I had more drugs.
|Tuesday, September 12th, 2006|
|Short short short short film review
I work at a dinky little Alternative Newsweekly
mostly about drinking and being stupid and occasionally I need to fill holes in the layout for when someone's spilled bongwater all over the computer while they were typing out. I'm also contributing shortened versions of the pizza stories as well as making up the occasional new one.
It is so so so so so so so so so hard for me to be concise but I guess this is useful practice. This particular review had to fit in a quarter of a page in ten-point Book Antiqua (which I don't really like as a font but I haven't figured out what should replace it yet).
won't somebody PLEASE think of the children?
by Hillman Avenger
One of the worrisomely few clear memories I have from my childhood is reading an angry editorial in that most distinguished of Scripps-Howard news organs, the News-Sentinel. In it, a man complained about the violent state of 1990s cinema, particularly the films offered from the shadowy lands of the Orient. His example: a Japanese movie featuring a climactic shoot-out in a maternity ward, the hero cop chuckling as he shields the baby's eyes and says "X-rated! No peeking!" I knew then that my mission in life was to find this movie.
Well guess what readers? John Woo's Hard Boiled is everything that whiny editorial promised and more... well, except it's not Japanese. This was the movie that introduced both John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat to Western audiences and completely revolutionized the action genre for the 90s. You'll see every modern action cliche ever invented in this movie, and what's more, you'll see them done flawlessly. One scene in particular--a single take lasting nearly three minutes following Chow and co-star Tony Leung as they shoot their way through two floors of the hospital--should leave you saying "HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!" for a good half-hour afterwards.
The plot... eh, something to do with counterfeiting. You know damn well you're not watching this for the story anyway, so it doesn't matter that it's forgettable. The picture and sound quality are also off-putting (it looks and sounds like it was shot in '82 instead of '92) but I promise you that once you get to the gunfight at the marina you won't give a damn. SEE THIS MOVIE.