Friday, November 17, 2017

You Will Be Seeing Unusual Accomplishment

Let me tell you one thing, my super17, I'm really bored of drawing me at tables, desks, and in front of computers.

In fact, I'm really bored of drawing me all together.

Why do I have to be the focus of every picture?

The arrogance on me; the audacity to make myself my favorite subject.

 So, to everyone's shock, this post will not contain any drawings of me. Not one.

And it's not going to contain any chairs, desks, and laptops, either. 

Not a single mundane, tedious-to-draw detail that fleshes out a scene. 

To hell with fleshing out, and to hell with me.
The barest minimum. That's the principal all works of art should adhere to.

Don't describe the varietal planing of sidecut valley succulents to me, Cormac McCarthy, just say 'brown grass.' If it's old, simply say it:

"The gutshot drug dealer ran through the old brown grass. He bled on some brown grass, too, but it wasn't as old, and it was in a different part of the valley. The hot, dry valley."

Now that's how you tell a story, by dammit.

Over explaining, over showing; drawing too many walls and chairs, layering on so much thematic depth that the brain must tread water in a sea of many meanings, never once reaching the shore of What the Hell Are You Talking About Island.

Give me the classics, like Venus of Willendorf:

Oh, all right, wife.

The things you think are precious, I can't understand.

And then, sixty years later, a cybernetically enhanced Ken Burns makes a documentary about my life and accomplishments.

"The story of Gweenbrick is really the story of us all." -Shelby Foote

Cue "Ashokan Farewell"

Friday, November 10, 2017

Not a sight for sore eyes


I waited too long to post again.

If I give myself even a few days to loaf, or bathe, or think upon the needs of others, then my urge to create sputters out.

Sophocles is supposed to have said:

I would argue that it is not penises at all, but blogging that drags us about by the chain. It compels us into the night of our thinking, desperate for a tryst with any inspiration we pass by.

And if we fail to consummate; when, bereft of all ideas, the blog it droops its head, then we collapse against our couches and our easy chairs, drown the memory of our glory days, the manic overlapping of ecstatic thoughts, in a plate of midnight nachos and yet one more episode of some mindless television.

Well, I guess I do all of that, anyways.

Your experience may differ.

Which is what JJ always says to me, in a loud, pleading voice.

"Come on, Brob, give me them shoes."

"No. You may not have my shoes."

"Damn, man, I'm trying to help yooooooou!!."

JJ has tried to help me in various ways: by asking for my shoes, my wallet, the keys to my car, and for my winter coat. 

I don't understand what he means by this kind of helping.

Other things have happened to me lately that I don't understand. 

Like one of my local thrift stores had at least ten blue pencil cases with the word 'Farkle' crunched out by a label maker and slapped on their tops.

Each case was priced at $3.50, and each contained exactly one set of Farkle rules printed on glossy cardboard, but absolutely nothing else.

It made me angry, irrationally so, and then left me baffled by my own gut reaction.

The Wikipedia entry for 'Farkle' begins with one of the most eloquent sentences ever written:

"Farkle, or Farkel, is a dice game that has also been called or is similar to 1000/5000/10000, Cosmic Wimpout, Greed, Hot Dice, Squelch, Zilch, Zonk,or Darsh."  

If I could write like that, I'd have one million readers.

Speaking of readers, on purpose so I could change the subject from empty Farkle boxes, when I checked the Google analytics for my last post, I discovered that it had been read by seventeen people.

Seventeen. If I'd charged each of them a dollar, I'd have way more money than I do right now.

And if I could meet all seventeen of you, face to face, I would firmly shake your hands, then force you to tell me every single joke in the post that did or did not work for you.

I would form you into a focus group and press you for feedback that I could incorporate into a holistic visioning strategy with a growth in my readership sectors as an expected outcome.

This would be so fun for all of us.

Imagine I was dead, and you were going through some old papers of mine, kind of cleaning up but also lingering over the words, seeing me in them with an ache in your heart, tracing a doodle of buttface Shakespeare slowly with your fingertip. 

You come across the joke.

What is the exact laugh you would make? Would it be a sad, quiet chuckle, or a big boffola? 

Would it make you wish I was still alive, still able to write such hilarious things, or would it make you pack all my notebooks away, and dismiss the entirety of me with a shrug and a well, that happened, murmured aloud to an empty room

Now it's you who have died: you float above your corpse, splayed out on the kitchen floor, and as you pass through the roof on your way to the sky, you see me in the driveway, wearing a T-shirt with the words of the joke printed on the back. 

Do you hang in the air for a moment, giggle out little bubbles of ectoplasm, or do you cluck your ethereal tongue at my weak punchline, my too wordy buildup or my botched drawing of a critical scene? 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Party Pants On

I am supposed to be taking part in the planning session for our class Halloween party, but these types of meetings destroy me spiritually and emotionally.

Astute readers will notice I switched which hand my divine self is holding my regular self in by mistake.

It's called a 'continuity error'.

Shut up, astute readers. Nobody wants that brand of keen observation you're pedalling. 

The party planning gestapo convenes at the head of the table and calls us to attention.

"Now we will have the assigning of things to bring," they declare.

"You know what I'm gonna bring, Teach? I'm gonna bring in some lasagna....for myself." JJ looks around with a sly, satisfied smile.

"I believe I will bring in Gatorade for EVERYONE," another student announces. He turns and points an accusing finger at JJ. "You were only thinking of you."

The class erupts in 'oooohs' and snaps of their fingers.

As the excitement in the room builds, Cliff jumps up from his seat and marches over to me. He pats my shoulder, at first slowly, then building in speed.

"Thanks, man," I tell him, leaning away. He goes back and sits down.

A list of Halloween themed treats the students can make is laboriously compiled: licorice spiders, rice krispie pumpkins, witch brooms roughly approximated by cheese sticks, la choy noodles, and some kind of flappy ham.

"Und ve must wrap ze tiny vieners in dough, so to make viener mummies," one of the teachers declares.

There is some tittering at the use of the word "wiener."

In other immature tittering at marginally naughty words news, when I had students working at the thrift store, stocking shelves, they kept laughing whenever I said 'balls.'

"Put this ball with those balls," I commanded.


"There's too many balls in that box. Take out some balls."

*Snort laugh*

"Oh, grow up you guys. No, stop. Way too big of balls here."

*Howls of laughter*

"About those licorice spiders. We need to decide if we're going to do more of the lacey type licorice, or twizzlers cut into bits?"

"And what color? Guys, we have to pick a color!"

"Oh my god we need to start writing this down."

"I've been writing it down."

"But we need two people to write it down, in case one person misses something."

"What if one person writes it down wrong?!"

"You mean like the licorice spiders should have red legs, but the other person writes it as black?"

"Holy shit."

"Shut up, Gweenbrick. That's a real possibility."

"We could use that watermelon pull-n-peel. Here, I had some the other night and I took a picture of it."

"Oh that's right, you sent me the picture. Let me find it on my phone too."

"Do you think we should all have two pictures of everything?"

"Yes, absolutely."

"I have two phones, so I can always have two pictures of everything that I can text to the same person twice."

"What a good idea."

Since my input keeps getting dismissed as either too negative, or of indeterminate value, I am told to play cards with JJ.

He is sitting next to me, one hand popping Trix cereal into his mouth, the other planted on top of a mound of Skip-Bo cards.

Our classroom has acquired many decks of Skip-Bo cards over the years. Instead of getting rid of some, the new decks are consumed by the old, until we end up with a gallon bag stuffed full of Skip-Bo.

The same thing has happened to our Uno cards, only worse. 

To play a game of Uno in our class requires getting the copier paper box overflowing with cards from the closet and dumping it all over the table. You don't shuffle the cards; you swim in them. 

I don't know how to play Skip-Bo, but it soon becomes clear that my ignorance of the rules doesn't matter.

JJ's version of the game involves spreading cards all over, repeatedly picking up the 'number one' card, and asking me questions about it.

"Damn, is this a one or a seven? Come on, Brob, give me a hint." He grabs another wad of cards, shuffles them nervously from hand to hand, then scatters them back across the table.

"I been doin' all that smokin'," he tells me.


"Yeah, smokin' that weed. Smoking that nasty marijuana."

"You don't smoke that."

"Yes I do. With my dad. But I don't smoke it no more. I quit. I lost my license."

"You had a marijuana license?"

"Yeah-NO-wait. My dad does. WAIT! He did though."

"To smoke?"

"No, to drive, fool! He drive a truck."

"Oh...and he lost his license."

"What? No! He didn't lose no license."

I consider all of this for a minute.

"Does he really smoke weed?" I ask.

"Huh? I told you, man, he drive a truck."

The conversation goes on, spinning its wheels down blind alleys and dead ends.

Someone turns on the Cha-Cha Slide, loud, and I slump into my chair, eyes closed.

After a minute, I start to do the moves that the song commands me to do, only heavily, slowly, as if asleep.

"OH MY GOD!" JJ screams. "You is drunk as hell!"

He shakes with laughter.

A purple Trix escapes from his hand and falls between his legs. He chases after it, into the depths of his crotch, but then gives up; he settles for some vigorous scratching down there and a sniff of his fingers.

"Please go wash your hands," I tell him.

"Damn, bossy."

When JJ gets back, he spies the errant Trix laying on his seat, snatches it up, and eats it.

"Let's play, man, come on." He points impatiently at Skip-Bo.

I look at the rest of the staff.

They are drawing a flow chart of possible licorice spider outcomes based on the tensile strength of a given braid thickness, and exploring if different flavors might contain inherent structural weaknesses. 

"Deal me in, JJ," I say with a sigh.

He pushes seven pounds of Skip-Bo cards towards me. They crash over the table edge and pool in my lap.