Wednesday, December 26, 2007

the rocking horse winner (misses you)

"at one a.m. i am home writing you..."

i should put my sweatpants on. it's really hard to type wearing jeans (unless they're the kind with lots of holes in them; so many holes, in fact, that you have to wear pajama pants underneath just to remain decent). do you think i could ever work in a cube? i fantasize about it. almost daily. would they let me wear my sweatpants in a cube? would they be okay seeing my tattoos? whirl wasn't and i didn't even breathe on, in, or near their cubes.

"with only five hours away from here..."

we saw the rocking horse winner in two-thousand-three. do you remember? it was ninety-plus in the basement of the church and just under fifteen outside and the snow was falling when we came out in our sweat-soaked t-shirts. we shivered (convulsed) the whole way back; at least we found a close parking space, you know? that guy from between the buried and me came along and we didn't know him and it was awkward and we tried to make the best of it even though we knew his motives were everything short of honorable. didn't he come from jersey? figures.

"and a trip i'm looking forward to..."

just a glimpse of that photo starts my head into straight stupidness. have you ever felt a jackhammer pound on your chest, just to the left of center? it'll kill ya if you don't stop it soon enough. too late. union workers are brutal guys and he's not about to shut that thing off; not until his ten o'clock break, at least. my knees have already buckled and it'll take more than dr. andrews to make this right. the blue planet's archeress,...? maybe. but she don't got a scalpel, only a quiver of (bloody) arrows.

"that morning i woke up on sunday...."

it was bright but cold inside. good thing for double fleece blankets, you know? we should bake some cookies to-day. it'll warm the first floor up and it'll pass the sunday afternoon since the steelers have a bye. can you believe it's this cold in october? i think it's gonna snow this afternoon. did you make it back from d.c. okay? you didn't play at the 9:30 club, did you? did you hear? there's an interview with joel osteen on tv to-night. we should probably watch that.

"next to tree tops, off of orange (st.) across the way..."

have you ever had such amazing chocolate in all of your life? this coffee's not bad either. it was cold this morning but it's so lovely out this afternoon. are you ready for fall? i sure am. but middle age turns old man pretty quick, at least in the rust-belt, and he'll be blowing the icy smoke out of his stinky cigar really really soon. we'll definitely see snow before thanksgiving.

but that's okay, we've got plenty of couches to burn.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

happy Christ-mas (you just punched Jesus in the face!!!)

"o holy night, the stars are brightly shining..."

every year begins and ends with christmas (does that last week of the year really even count?). it's funny, you know, how you grow up and get older and move away, and then back, and then away again and the gift giving(receiving) is a little less important than in nineteen-ninety-seven when you got that canon rebel and walked across the street and stood in the hay pasture where (and took a photo of the mansion), nine years later,
you'd photograph john reuben. that was a long time ago, you know? but it sure doesn't seem like it.

"behold your king! before him, lowly bend..."

to-morrow is christmas. to-morrow is christmas! to-morrow is christmas!!! ohmygoshiwonderwhatigot!?! i really hope it's a sega. i love sega. i love sega! i love sega!!! i think it's a sega; i really really do! we went to the video store to rent a movie and i saw that there were sega games rented out on our account (i was so smart to look at the computer screen!). i can't believe i'm gonna have a sega! a sega!!! but to-morrow is sunday and how can christmas be fun when it's on a sunday? - we'll have to go to church and i won't get to play the sega. i really hope it's a sega. i'm gonna play it allllll day long.

"fall on your knees, o hear the angel voices..."

we can't go that way. if we take that road home, it won't be christmas! we always go the other way. and then we stop at turkey hill and get coffee. remember? we've done it that way since ninety-nine. please turn around and go the other way. i'd really appreciate it. then we'll get coffee and it will be christmas. it will be christmas. then we'll take the tree outta the truck bed and put the colored lights on it and all will be right in the world. orphans will sing and widows will shout in praise of our commitment to our christmas tradition. you know they won't like it if we do it any other way. i promise.

"christ is the lord! o praise his name forever...!"

last night you found it hard acquainting yourself with sleep; even to the soothing sounds of sigur ros. two a.m., already?! i wish i could breathe. why's my nose all stuffed up? i'm not even sick. it's dark and warm down here and christmas number twenty-eight (twenty-nine if you count my time in the womb) is just a few hours away. actually, it's already here, that text message at one a.m. proved it. and why does everyone send out texts on christmas? (and easter and the fourth and thanksgiving and flag day and and and...) that costs me fifteen cents, you know? well, not until i go over two-hundred for the month, but i'm getting close. i can breathe again. there's light streaming in from the basement and i smell coffee. it's morning. it's christmas morning and it's not like nineteen-ninety-seven anymore. that coffee's being made for me.

not the other way around.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

happy winter solstice ( spring is only ninety one days away)

the days are getting longer now, you know. we're creeping up on summer but it's hell and back til we get there. january's rough and february's a rapist. so is the crimson archer, he and all of his arrows dipped in blood. he's no innocent, i'll tell you. march pleads insane and can't seem to make up her mind, seventy one day and snow the next. with april comes the past-time and sunnier skies lie ahead....

you see the daffodils? they always show up in the driveway by easter. doesn't it make you smile? they're the first green of the year. green is the color of life, you know. from death comes life. from death comes life. rejoice, my dear, you have no idea what this means. not even a clue. but smile with me. take my hand. we'll enjoy the warmth and the green to-day. it might not be here to-morrow, you know. fret not for to-morrow, for to-day has enough worries of its own.

enjoy your worries.

you may never have them again.

when snow comes to the angry city, peace resides. everyone slows to a gentile pace and when the fog comes, the city breathes. it's heavy breathing, you know, the kind right before you fall into the coffin of deep slumber but aren't quite there; it's more than sleeping but not quite dying. it's beautiful. in fact, beautiful's not even the word. how about: bella. the angry city is bella to-day. but only for a few hours. soon the dirt from the autos will stain the satin white blanket and,
kicked around by restless slumber, wrinkles will form everywhere. you know, the kind of wrinkles you can't iron out. not even with a steamer.

lucy'd be upset.

but to-day is the solstice. we're three days from christmas and the summer sheets still haven't been packed away; you can still see the dead brown dirt. the white satin blanket only comes out when it gets really cold. here we cover up with the summer sheets more than we'd like, even after the solstice. the coal stoves keep us warm and, for now, that is all we need. the green will be here before you know it.

and so will you.

c'mon. take my hand, the grass is soft. so is the sunlight. take off your shoes, we'll go barefoot for a while, but only a little while, i can't stand it longer than that. can you believe it's been ninety-one days already? never thought the old man would die, but he did. just like last year.

sometimes you just have to hold the pillow over his face longer than is comfortable.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

the restart: like a nintendo entertainment system (1985)

blow on it. blow a little softer and a little warmer. click the game in right along the edge. push it softly. it should start now. did it work? try again. make sure the edge of the game fits just inside of the tray. let it catch on the way down. that always works. did it? try blowing again. a little softer this time. keep trying. it'll work eventually. you just gotta be patient. it's frustrating, you know? but keep at it. time spent with mario will be worth it.

"why not? what's a year or two or even three more? two-thousand-three will be here before you know it."

"yeah, but that's so far away. two-thousand-three?! i'll turn tweny-three just after graduation. i can't even fathom three more years. that's a....lifetime."


the game was a breeze until sometime in the middle of world three. that last ship and the koopa at the end was absolute murder. it was tough to get at him even with a p-wing. a p-wing! with those things you're practically invincible.

"pittsburgh?! why would you wanna move here? it's a tough market here. i'll give ya as much work as i can, but pittsburgh? i don't know why you'd wanna come here."

"well, it's a long story, but i'll appreciate the work. thanks for your time."

it's impossible to beat this game, you know? been playing it since, what?, '91 and we've never beaten it. the japanese made these games just too damn hard. what were they thinking? they just never realized we were no where near as smart as them, i suppose. it's my favorite nintendo game there is, but, even still, it goes off after about an hour. that might get you thru the sand world. maybe. if you're fast and don't warp at all. those little beetles at the end are really annoying and so are the ghosts.

"wanna play tetris?"

"i once made over two-hundred lines."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

gagging on stale morning air (in praise of the nightmare)

thank you: the two words you spoke audibly after this morning's nightmare to which you woke up, just as the sun began to rise behind those typical three-rivers clouds.

earlier, it was raining hard, and you got up to shut the window and pull your bible off of the window-sil so that it wouldn't get wet. it was still dark out, but not nighttime dark. you know, the kinda dark that it gets just before it gets light. dark, but not dark. light, but not light. somewhere in between.

it's in that somewhere-in-between that the nightmare broods and is birthed. she knew it was coming and everyone was there (that's why she gathered us). not even the fake blue sky in the fake green landscape lit with the fake gold light from the fake setting sun could prevent it. everything was fake but this. time to say good-bye, you know? good-byes are sad, you know? it's hugs all around and now it's your turn. her breathing becomes more labored and that soon-to-be-ninety-six-year-old pair of lungs are working hard. she crumples in your arms and the words are there, mumbled into her ear "_____ ___".

(that didn't make sense, say it the hell again before it's too late!)

thank you.

(too late, dammit.)

and with that, friday october the nineteenth began.

the sun is up now.

and so are you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

pittsburgh diner review (II)

Pamela's P&G Diner

60 21st Street
Pittsburgh, Pa 15222 (Strip District)

A friend of mine once described good coffee as being “like sex in the mouth”; if good coffee is sex in the mouth, then Pamela’s is nothing less than the breakfast-climax. Their business card claims that Pamela’s is the best breakfast in Pittsburgh; I might dispute that, preferring: Best Breakfast in Pennsylvania or Best Breakfast on the East Coast or Best Breakfast in North America or…well, you get the point. Everything about Pamela’s fits neatly into the Utopian breakfast experience: the perfectly rolled Banana and Chocolate Chip Hotcakes, plenty of good, hot coffee, the Lyonaise Potatoes (homefries), the well-lit pink and blue artificial-fifties interior decorated neatly with retro-ish photographs and the pleasant service that rivals that of any diner I’ve ever been to. So, if you’ve yet to venture on down to the Strip for an epic breakfast at the newest Pamela’s location, I plead with you to make your way down there… as fast as humanly possible.

Happy Days (Are Here Again): 9.6
Juan Valdez Says: 4.5
My Money Doesn't Grow on Trees: 9.8
What Would You Like To-night?: 9.1
May I Kneel Before the King?: 9.7

(+) outdoor seating; plenty of parking nearby; colorful, easy to read menus
(-) you’ve gotta be kidding

Total Tab:
Banana and Chocolate Chip Hotcakes: $6.95
Coffee: $1.50
Tax: $0.52
Sub-Total: $7.97
Tip: $2.00
Total: $9.97

pittsburgh diner review (I)

Ritter's Diner

5221 Baum Blvd
Pgh, Pa 15224

New Jersey is over three hundred miles away but walk into this Shadyside establishment and it instantly feels like you've been transported to the Garden State circa Nineteen-Sixty-Eight. The wait-staff was typical diner-quirky; expressions of the servers' own tastes abound (to-night, ours was proudly donning pink Betty Boop Scrubs). Prices were surprisingly low ($4.80 for an omlette) though the coffee was slightly higher than I'm used to ($1.35) all the while being the only blight of the experience here - few times in my life have I had a weak, flavorless brew this low in quality. Electronic jukeboxes accompany the late sixties/early seventies style booths in the smoking section, which is really the only section worth being seated in; that is, if you want to be absorbed (or transported) into the wonderful vintage atmosphere here (the non- section is a separate room in the back that feels much more like the awkward room at buffet restaurants where resistant patrons stubbornly order from a menu). As mentioned earlier, the omlettes are inexpensive (add-ons are extra: 50 cents for cheese, 25 cents for anything else) yet most surprisingly delightful; neither under nor overcooked and accompanied with homefries and toast (white, wheat or rye).

Oh, It's so Jersey!: 8.6
Juan Valdez Says: 0.5
My Money Doesn't Grow on Trees: 7.4
What Would You Like To-night?: 6.8
May I Kneel Before the King?: 6.0

(+) dirty silverware (ask for clean!)
(-) electronic jukebox, no on-table jelly, no strawberry jelly

Total Tab:
Ham Omlette: $4.80; with Cheese (+ .50) and Tomato (+.25)
Coffee: $1.35
Tax: $0.49
Sub-Total: $7.39
Tip: $2.61
Total: $10.00