Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-- Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Just today a former high school classmate, Polly, informed me that I need to write my own obituary. This is because:

  1. My classmates are dropping like flies and it might be catching, and

  2. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

So okay, Polly, here it is. I trust you and only you to edit it when the time comes.

Few Mourn Local Asshole's Passing

Infamous local asshole Hulles, [insert age here], passed away in his home last evening thrashing violently and screaming like a girl. He had been suffering from Trailer Parkinson's Disease for several years, a malady he caught from an old girlfriend, and his timely death was viewed as a great blessing by all who knew him except his mother.

He was preceded in death by his cat, Mimi, who was tragically killed and eaten by a gang of spiders the size of dinner plates. He is survived by [insert remaining members of immediate family here] and about 120 former classmates who couldn't be bothered to attend the memorial service.

Hulles was respected by almost no one, even after a number of years of court-ordered public service. We are informed that he died as he lived: friendless, penniless, and with a large erection.

Hulles attempted a number of careers during his all-too-long sojourn on this earth, including white rapper, gigolo, computer programmer, and humor writer. He failed miserably at all of them, to the surprise of absolutely no one. He is perhaps best remembered for the spectacular lawsuits brought against him by a Brazilian woman he kept mentioning in his blog, and which ironically only she ever read.

Services for Hulles will be held [insert date and time here] at [insert location here] unless the Vikings make the playoffs, in which case they will be forgone entirely in accordance with everyone's wishes.

We at the Independent add our expressions of relief to that of his friends and relatives, and note in passing that Hulles' oddly prophetic last words were “Boy, the people I owe money to are going to be pissed.”

-- Hulles

Monday, November 27, 2006

I believe that none of us is tested beyond our ability to endure, my comments on NaNoWriMo (and everything else, for that matter) notwithstanding.

This was proven to me once again today. It's a bleak day in Saint Paul, weather-wise, and the old internal landscape is pretty gloomy as well. My cat was cranky and bitchy, all the news I had heard today seemed grim, and hope was looking like it was in no position to twitch in my breast any time soon, let alone spring eternally.

Then, just when I needed it the most, I ran across the following bit of news: they're making a new Smurfs movie. Now lest you think that in my extremity I have abandoned sardonic postmodern humor for insipid drivel (shut up), it wasn't really the fact that they're making the movie that turned things around for me, it's a tidbit I found in the article. Producer Jordan Kerner1 was quoted regarding the TV cartoon show as follows:

"Having seen all 234 episodes of the show numerous times....”

That is just what I needed to hear today. Someone else has it worse off than me. Someone else has a lamer life than I do. Someone else is a bigger dork than I am. And I can make fun of him.

So all of a sudden the sun comes out (figuratively speaking), the birds start chirping, and I start whistling “Stank Ass Hoe” again. Hulles is in his coffee shop and all's right with the world.

Thanks there, Jordan, You made my day.

-- Hulles

1“Hi, Amber, my name's Jordan. You remember me from producing the Smurfs movie, right? Ever thought about acting?” The guy's casting couch must still have the plastic on it.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Please forgive me for just a small, tiny, itsy bitsy rant.

This month is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for those who get into it). The gist of the whole thing is that during the month of November you write a 50,000 word novel.

I actually thought about doing this myself. I changed my mind at 12:01 AM on November 1st. I have the greatest respect for those who are attempting this feat, however. Writing should always be encouraged, no matter what form the writing takes or how much of a dork the writer is. (Hence this blog.)

But I wish they could do it somewhere else. My little coffee shop has been filled up every day this month with frantically typing would-be novelists. You heard me bitch about the Beaujolais Nouveau thing, where us hard-core drinkers are displaced by hordes of tyros with functioning livers on the third Thursday in November. This coffee shop – my coffee shop – has been like that all month, sending me and Lucille, my laptop, into the desolate staging area where you stand and wait for a table with an outlet for hours on end, along with the other disgruntled regulars.

So I just need to say, “BACK OFF, NANOWRIMOFOS! I'm doing real writing and I do it 24/7/365, not one month a year!” (Not really “real writing,” it's a blog for chrissake, and not really "24/7/365", but you know what I mean.)

Okay, Hulles, put down the heavy ceramic mug and step away from the espresso machine....

There, I'm better now. Thank you.

-- Hulles

I was speaking of "beauty" recently. Another example of this is included below: “Verbo” by Pablo Neruda, a poet I have long admired. I got both the original and the English translation from my friend T. M. Lauth's web site. She herself did the lovely translation. and it is with her kind permission that I include it here. Thanks, T.


by Pablo Neruda

Voy a arrugar esta palabra
voy a torcerla
es demasiado lisa
es como si un gran perro o un gran río
le hubiera repasado lengua o agua
durante muchos años.

Quiero que en la palabra
se vea la aspereza
la sal ferruginosa
la fuerza destentada
de la tierra ,
la sangre
de los que hablaron y de los que no hablaron

Quiero ver la sed
adentro de las sílabas:
quiero tocare el fuego
en el sonido:
quiero sentir la oscuridad
del grito. Quiero
palabras ásperas
como piedras vírgenes.


by Pablo Neruda

translated by T.M. Lauth

I’m going to wrinkle this word,
I’m going to twist it,
it is much too flat
it is as if a great dog or great river
had passed its tongue or water over it
during many years.

I want that in the word
the roughness is seen
the iron salt
The de-fanged strength
of the land,
the blood
of those who have spoken and those who have not spoken.

I want to see the thirst
Inside the syllables
I want to touch the fire
in the sound:
I want to feel the darkness
of the cry. I want
words as rough
as virgin rocks.

-- Hulles

That's right y'all
I'm back y'all
Soul assassin y'all
Comin' to you directly from the Hulles y'all
All rights reserved

Ignore the “Burning Violins” entry. That shit's for pussies.

As perhaps you can tell, I'm listening to different music today. I decided my fragile male ego needed shoring up so I've been playing Cypress Hill's Skull and Bones. Their music, if you're not familiar with it, is described on their web site as “Latino hip-hop/rock fusion.” If that means nothing to you, think rap and you'll be in the ballpark somewhere, especially if the ballpark is in East L. A.

I'm not sure when I first started listening to the Hill, but I think it was right around the time Skull and Bones was released. Back then I was tragically ignorant of the hip-hop scene, but I saw a video of them performing some of their stuff on TV and was struck with the energy and power of their music, so I picked up the double CD. I've never regretted it. Sometimes you need to listen to Cypress, just like sometimes you need to listen to the Cowboy Junkies. Today it's the Hill for Hulles. (The opening lines to this blog entry are slightly modified from the intro to (I believe) Skull.)

I guess I really started learning about the hip-hop genre per se in the last year or so. My friend Ben decided to take me under his wing and teach me, once he figured out I was serious about learning. Ben was born in Mexico and is roughly 22 years old. He's a handsome devil. In fact, I have to be careful not to hang out with him when my friends the Count of Monte Crisco and the African Queen are also present, because they'd be all over him like a cheap suit and there would be nothing left of poor Ben. Ben likes women, or at least (from my point of view) girls, and doesn't have my experience in coping with gentlemen who play for the other team.

Whatever, Ben's been teaching me about hip-hop by talking with me for hours; writing down performers, CDs and song titles on countless BevNaps; and even mixing me a hip-hop sampler CD with the perplexing title “Yacht Club Yodels.” Ben's totally into hip-hop. He even writes songs which he's happy to perform at the drop of a gorro. He tells me that if you perform, you need a hip-hop name. He careful explained to the dumb old white guy that, no, Mos' Def isn't the guy's real name, it's made up. “Want to hear my hip-hop name?” he asked me with an evil grin. “Spictacula!” I almost choked on my beer when he told me that. I can still see his big grin: “It's okay to say racist shit again now if it's your race.” Go Ben.

In return for all this musical edification I try to help Ben out in a couple ways. I do this by giving him tips on how to manage his relationships with women. Actually, there's just one woman right now, but she sucks so if you're interested in Ben let me know. I also give Ben sex advice (“Have it. Have lots of it.”)

Speaking of relationships and hip-hop, Cypress has a really funny (and vicious) song on Skull and Bones called “Stank Ass Hoe.” For some reason, every time I hear this song I think of a recent girlfriend of mine. Not that she was a “hoe,” exactly. I don't think she ever charged anybody. I suppose I shouldn't make fun of her – she was afflicted with a tragic malady she contracted in adolescence called “Trailer Parkinson's Disease1.”

So with all this tutoring from Ben and his pals and with listening to the music they recommend I'm just starting to get develop a taste for the music. Actually, I find hip-hop pretty infectious (unlike Trailer Parkinson's Disease, hopefully). I often catch myself singing tunes like this one from Cypress. I also find myself changing the lyrics slightly:

So you wanna be a blog superstar,
Big house, five cars, a credit charge
Comin' up in the world don' trust nobody
Look over your shoulder constantly....

You might be interested to know that, after carefully thinking over what Ben told me, I have finally decided on my own hip-hop name: Mos' Articulate. Let us count the entendres. I come up with four without even breaking a sweat. Just don't call me Art; caps will pop. I suppose Mos' is okay, though, if there's no one around with a last name of Def to confuse me with.

Being the sensitive guy I am, I feel a little isolated from my peers in enjoying hip-hop. There apparently aren't a lot of middle-aged male Caucasians who find this genre appealing, at least here in the Midwest. Most of my friends still listen to Elton John. So I'm organizing a campaign to change this, and I'm starting with the other creaky old codgers I hang out with. I'm going to make myself a posse, as they say.

We'll invent old white guy gang signs (“East Side Cribbage Club, what I'm sayin'...”) and we'll turn our plaid fedoras jauntily to the side as we slowly creep down the sidewalk listening to Outkast on the iPods clipped to the frames of our walkers. We'll take over the open mike hour on Sunday afternoons at the coffee shop and rap shit about icy cold Fleet Enemas and being disrespected by our nursing homies and getting fucked over by Medicare.

So don't be surprised to hear street language suddenly start flying out of your grandfather's mouth, at least if he hangs around me. Us old white guys will pick up on that manner of speaking in a heartbeat and make it our own. Much like young white guys have done, come to think of it. Just like our grandchildren, we'll be sitting in community recreation rooms everywhere trying to sound blacker than the geezer next to us. It'll be def.

-- Hulles

1This is another one that I thought up myself, but which is too good for someone else not to have thought of it before me. With this one also I haven't dared to google it to find out; it would break my heart to see “10326 entries found”.


A while back I made an interesting discovery. I made some Quaker Oats Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal for breakfast and was just about to eat it when a friend called me on the phone. I gabbed with her for a bit, then hung up and returned to my nice bowl of oatmeal. In the interim, however, the oatmeal had grown cold. “No problem,” I think in a charmingly naïve fashion. “I’ll just nuke it.” So I popped it into the microwave, set it for 1 minute on high, and went back to reading Hustler.

Moments later I heard a muffled whump that sounded like a hand grenade going off under a pile of mattresses. I checked on the oatmeal and found to my chagrin that the contents of the bowl had been pretty much evenly distributed over the top, sides, door and carousel of my microwave. I was a little miffed that the oatmeal box said nothing about it not being a good idea to microwave instant oatmeal that had already been prepared, but I was too lazy to write the Quaker Oats people so nothing came of it.

So that you can learn from my experience, I should emphasize that you need to clean up exploded oatmeal right away. The box also said nothing about this, package of few words that it was, so I let it go for a couple of days. When I finally got around to cleaning up the microwave – sometimes you just need to nuke popcorn – I had to rent a small jackhammer to get the stuff off. You recall making papier-mache in grade school? How flour, water and newspaper magically combine into something that even a seven-year-old on his best day couldn’t destroy? It turns out that if you use oatmeal instead of flour, it’s like using rebar-reinforced concrete instead of plaster of paris1. BTW, the noise from the jackhammer put my cat on edge for weeks. She still hasn’t forgiven me.

At this point, I should also confess that the Department of Homeland Security got wind of this little contretemps somehow. This is why you can no longer bring packages of instant oatmeal in your carry-on luggage aboard airline flights. I know, I know, I ruined Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal over the Atlantic for everyone. Sorry.


Three years ago on November 22 I was merrily going about my business doing laundry and performing other miscellaneous household chores. One of these chores was to hang a small picture in the bathroom. “No problem,” I think in a charmingly naïve fashion. “I’ll just grab some nails from the box on the shelf in the laundry room.” I should mention that my laundry room is really, technically, a “laundry/utility room.” This is because, in addition to the washer and dryer, it’s where I store all the shit that I have that doesn’t really belong anywhere else, like nails and rented jackhammers I haven’t returned yet.

As I reached up on the shelf in the laundry/utility room to get the nails, I accidentally knocked a fairly large can of silicone spray lubricant off onto the floor. As luck would have it, it landed upon a pipe wrench which poked a hole in the can. The can started spraying and spinning around like Linda Blair’s head, and a fine mist of silicon lubricant began coating the walls and my pants pretty thoroughly. “$%@&!,” I muttered. “I’ll never get this spray off the walls.”

As it turns out, I was wrong about that. I later learned that aerosol cans these days have either butane or propane or a combination of both for a propellant, as opposed to the good old days when they all used Freon. See, back in the Freon years, spray cans were safe as milk for homeowners even though they played merry hell with the ozone layer. Neither of these things is true any longer, for good or ill.

While I was reaching down to grab the spinning spray can, a funny thing happened. As I mentioned, I was doing laundry at the time, which meant that my gas dryer was running in the laundry/utility room. All the while the can was spraying silicone lubricant out the hole in side, it was also leaking butane. At some point, the concentration of butane in the room reached the right level, the gas dryer flame ignited it, and my house blew up.

I don’t really remember the nanosecond or so when it actually blew up. One moment I was reaching down for the spinning can, and the next I was standing in a fireball and my pants were in flames. I was somewhat nonplussed to discover these things, so I said some very bad words and ran into the living room and “dropped and rolled” on the floor to put out the fire in my pants. I leave the snide joke about that last phrase to you.

The dropping and rolling thing really worked, and I felt pretty smug about remembering it in time of need. Not for long, though -- I next ran into the kitchen and grabbed a pan of water and rushed back into the laundry room and threw it on the spray can and what ever else was still burning, which luckily wasn’t much. This also worked quite well, wonder of wonders. Nearly all the spray had already burned off, and I actually remember noting that I wouldn’t have to clean the walls after all; the explosion and fireball seemed to have taken care of that quite nicely.

Explosion? Then I heard someone calling my name and realized it was the people in the upstairs unit in my duplex. “Hulles, are you all right?” they called. They sounded worried. “I’m not sure,” I answered quite honestly. Then I wondered how they could be talking to me; they weren’t in my apartment. That’s when I noticed all the windows of my house had been blown out. They were standing in the front yard with a cell phone, checking on me and calling 911.

They later told me they were watching TV in their living room when there was a whump and their floor leapt up about six inches. Being pretty normal folks, they immediately got the hell out of their apartment. This is what caused them to be in the front yard when I first noticed them.

I sort of staggered out into the yard myself and sat down, very much in shock. I did a self-examination and found that I had a few flash burns but was otherwise okay. I next checked on my cat, Mimi, and found to my vast relief that she was fine as well. She had been snoozing under the bed at the time, which I suppose was why she wasn’t blown up along with the windows.

And speaking of windows, every one of the windows in my apartment had been blown out except the one in the laundry room where I was standing. There were pieces of glass strewn everywhere across the yard, most no bigger than a quarter. Mixed in with the glass were dozens of small miniblind bits; it seemed the window treatments had fared no better than the windows. I also started to notice a few weird things about the apartment, like there were large cracks in the hall drywall and the back wall of my living room was canted out into the yard. Scary.

About this time the fire department showed up. Actually, by the clock it was probably only about seven minutes or so after I blew the place up, but it seemed much longer at the time. The good old SPFD sent four trucks, two chiefs (!) and an ambulance, God bless them. It turned out they weren’t really needed for fire fighting, but it was unclear if the gas lines had ruptured so they hung around a while to check. I later found out they initially suspected I had a meth lab set up in my humble garden level apartment. I suppose they don’t get the spray can explosion story just every day, so I guess I can understand their incredulity,

Incidentally, at this point in the story every woman I’ve ever told it to swoons once they realize that I was surrounded by about 40 firemen. Some even faint in coils. I can see them thinking to themselves, “Dang, I wonder if I have a spray can at home that I can blow up.” “Go for it,” I tell them. “I’ll come visit you at the trauma center.”

I say this because every man jack of the firefighting hunks that looked at my house told me the same thing: “Son, you are lucky to be alive.” One of the EMTs who examined me told me I was so lucky that I should immediately go out and buy a lottery ticket. I actually did this, and I didn’t win shit, but I suppose both surviving the explosion and winning the lottery is a little too much to ask of Dame Fortune. I gladly settled for the former, believe me.

Another funny thing was that I had a first date with some woman scheduled for later that evening. In retrospect, this is probably why I was doing laundry in the first place; usually laundry for me is a semiannual event accompanied by much wailing and lamentation. Anyway, when I told the EMTs about the first date and how I had to call and cancel it, they cracked up. “Don’t cancel it,” they told me. “You are so going to get lucky tonight.” I ignored them and cancelled it anyway. “Um, sorry, I can’t make the date. I just blew up my house.” “What?” “I just blew up my house. I’ll call you later. Sorry.” Click.

I’ll skip the horrible and traumatic aftermath and end the story here. Know, though, that every word of this story is true and really happened to me. Well, except the semiannual laundry thing; I do laundry a little more often than that. But the rest really did occur as described. I was even on the local TV news that night. And as an aside to that, Janet From Another Planet, an acquaintance about whom it has been muttered by some “the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead,” says every damn time I run into her “Hey, I saw you on TV that night you blew up your house.” Thanks, Janet. Glad you’re right on top of things. How’s that Beanie Baby collection coming along?


So what can one learn from these Hulles misadventures in things that blow up? There are surely many life lessons that can be discovered by the attentive reader, but I personally think the two most important ones are:

  1. Don’t microwave instant oatmeal, and
  2. Keep your aerosol cans in the garage.

Simple, right? And yet if only someone had told me these things earlier in life, I’d probably be a lot better-adjusted and less-excitable person today than is actually the case. Maybe, if someone had bothered to mention these things to me when it would have done some good, I wouldn’t scream like a girl and dive under the table every time some prepubescent airhead snaps her gum.

Although, come to think of it, maybe that last thing is related to either Fun With A Bazooka, The Flaming Blow Dart Gun, or Hulles Makes A Land Mine, three stories that I have not yet chronicled but which are going to appear in this blog Any Day Now. That is, if I live that long....

-- Hulles

1I feel there’s a joke about Paris Hilton lurking in there somewhere, but it’ll just have to remain a feeling for now. However, feel free to track it down yourself and report back.

Dance me to your beauty
With a burning violin...”

Leonard Cohen, “Dance Me to the End of Love”

I’m sitting here alone this evening listening to my old pal Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies sing “Powder Finger” from the Caution Horses CD, possibly my favorite album of all time. I love Margo, as readers of this blog will have heard over and over ad nauseam. Not only that, I love her haunting voice and her band and her music. And I owe her. She’s given me so much comfort and happiness over the years that I am completely at a loss how to calculate the debt in Soul Dollars, but it’s a big one. And she’s always been there when I’ve needed her the most. This is not a bad trait to discover in someone you adore. So thanks, MT. I’m naming my firstborn daughter after you. Unless of course you’re the mom, in which case we fall back to my old favorite Demi Pamplemousse to avoid confusion.

Listening to Margo makes me think about beauty, particularly as found in music. I can easily rattle off a dozen artists and works that certainly exemplify beauty, if not actually define it. Besides Margo’s music, Hilary Hahn Plays Bach leaps immediately to mind, an album of which I’ve spoken before. I have a choral version of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” that brings tears to my eyes (artists unknown). Nanci Griffith and John Prine do a duet of Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” that also causes my allergies to act up. Madeline Peyroux’s cover of the epigram to this entry, “Dance Me to the End of Love,” is as warm and rich as the hot chocolate that for some reason you can only get in Puerto Rico. And so forth.

So when I find new beautiful music, I have to share it, and I found some last Sunday as I was listening to “Saint Paul Sunday” on KSJN, the wonderful local public classical radio station. “Saint Paul Sunday” is a weekly radio show done from Saint Paul every Sunday. I tell you this so you’ll know when it’s broadcast if you’re blond. The host is Bill McGlaughlin, who is another old pal of mine in that I’ve listened to him for years and he’s brought me lots of joy, much like Margo. Fortunately for all of us, however, I’m not madly in love with him like I am with Margo. He has always seemed to be a pretty likable and interesting person for a guy though, and I hereby add him to my “People I’d Like to Have Lunch With” list. (If you’re new to Hulles or have a memory like mine, so far the list consists of Bill and Freddie Mercury.)

Last Sunday, the featured artists were a group called “Anonymous 4.” I had never heard their music before, but I had heard of them repeatedly since they seemed to be the darlings of the last Minnesota Public Radio pledge drive. I figured they were just sort of a glitzy folk quartet that had escaped from “A Prairie Home Companion” and sought political asylum on the classical station, so I wasn’t very excited about their show prior to its being aired.

Little did I know that they are really angels. I believe in angels. I don’t believe in the kind of angel that looks like Nicholas Cage, one who acts like God’s own secret agent and goes around helping people by whispering the winning lottery number in the ear of the person tragically dying of some exquisitely painful esoteric cancer who is leaving behind a wife who looks disturbingly like Ellen DeGeneres and a family of thirteen scruffy waifs, all of whom oddly enough seem to be about ten years old except for the littlest girl who doesn’t just tug at your heartstrings, she yanks them right off the brackets. Where was I before I started working on the movie script? Oh yeah, angels.

I believe in the kind of angels that can sing. Billie Holiday is probably the Queen Angel. Anonymous 4, however, have to be tied for the Princess Angel billet. They are four women (or castrati; I’m not sure I heard the answer to that question if Bill asked it) who have the sweetest voices ever. They sing a cappella music that seems to range from Gregorian Chant-like hymns to revival-meeting anthems to real no-shit folk music. I could probably say that better if I knew more about the kind of music they perform and if I’d heard Bill’s entire interview with them, but I don’t and I didn’t. What I did hear of their music, though, was frighteningly beautiful. I was blissed out listening to it, as Carmen used to say. If I ever meet them, I’m sure I’ll fall madly in love with all four of them. Unless they’re castrati, of course.

So do yourself a favor, give your viscera a beauty makeover tonight by listening to Anonymous 4. You won’t regret it, unless you have the soul of a clerk. And you don’t, because you read me. I’ll send you a certificate suitable for framing that says you don’t have the soul of clerk, if you’re ever accused of it. In fact, I’ll get Nick Cage to hand carry the certificate up to Saint Peter himself if you happen to get hit by a beer truck on your way home tonight, God forbid.

Anyway, I guess my point is that I revel in the ineffable beauty of music. It seems to me as if it is the very marrow of the bones of life, and I’m so grateful for it. In fact, I don’t think it’s hyperbole to state that I could not have survived without it, it’s that important to me. So thank lots to whoever is in charge of this musical beauty stuff -- probably some muse whose Greek name I could never pronounce correctly. Whoever it is deserves a raise and an extra couple weeks’ vacation. I’ll send them a certificate too, if they want.

This leads me to remark that, because I feel what I do when I listen to Margo or Hilary or Anonymous 4, I’m not entirely comfortable with the theory of natural selection as a complete explanation of why you and I are here. It seems a little too far-fetched to me that random mutations over the millennia have somehow endowed us with a means to discern and delight in the splendor of a glorious sunset, e. g.. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the ability to appreciate beauty in both nature and art is really what separates us from Chicago Bears fans. Thank God for that.

-- Hulles

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Yippee! I finally got to use that title. I've been wanting to since I mentioned the song in "The Gala Convolutions." So here are the changes I made recently:

In "Say Amber...", J (the subject of the entry) mentioned that Doogie was recently out and gently corrected me on the spelling of Doogie's last name. So I made the changes; thanks J.

In "I Can Make You A Star", I gave the barista a tongue stud because Jadie, the model for the character, has one and it adds versimilitude and ups the hipness quotient to about 7.32. Jadie, XOXOXO by the way. These other women mean nothing to me, honest.

I gotta go, but I've got a ton of stuff to upload when I have more time. Ciao (why do I think of the Cult when I write that? No time....).

-- Hulles

Friday, November 24, 2006

Zut alors! I missed my own centennial. I guess I still haven't gotten this self-absorption thing mastered, try as I might.

My 100th post on this blog was the lame “Great. Me And The Cat Again Tonight.” I was rereading that little guy today and decided that I pretty much nailed sardonic but somehow forgot the humor part. (And as far as postmodern, I still don't know exactly what that means but it sounds hip.) I was just cranky about facing the holiday alone, I guess. Well, not really alone. My cat Mimi's always there for me, thank God.

Yesterday, the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., she and I spent a mostly quiet day. I puttered around the house muttering bizarre things to her (“So, Mimi – if that is your name – what the hell are we going to do now?” “There's an Espia in the House of Love – let's get her!” etc. etc.). After I got tired of puttering and muttering, I played a video game for a while with Mimi helping by laying in my lap and grabbing the controller at particularly intense moments (“Eat leaden death, imperialist dogs!”).

Eventually it was time for dinner. Since I'm nothing if not a traditionalist (the postmodern thing is a lie to get you to read me), we were going to be having turkey. Unfortunately, I had sent Mimi out earlier to get it but she came home instead bearing an anorexic starling with mysterious cat toothmarks in it. If you want something done right.... However, I finally found a recipe that could be modified for starling and prepared the bird. This was something of a challenge, as even my little finger was too big to stuff the sucker so I had to use a number 2 pencil (the eraser end, duh). Fortunately it turned out quite succulent and tender and was enjoyed immensely by one and both. Poppa can cook.

Mimi and I polished off the pert and insouciant red wine with overtones of oak and a hint of tannin and made ready for an evening of sports. (I'm pretty sure she was drinking some, anyway, because we seem to have finished off the box.) The traditional Thanksgiving sport in the Hulles household is not football, as you might imagine; rather it is a game we like to call Humor Dad And Chase The Toy That Used To Be A Mouse Until He Gets Tired Of Making Me Actually Move My Big-Boned Body And I Can Go Back To Napping. She won, of course. She always does.

Before bed I always have to read Mimi a story. I think she finds my nasal monotone soothing. She likes The Stinky Cheese Man, so once again I read it to her and once again she kept looking at me as if to say, “Dad, that's not really how it goes.” “So read it yourself, then, dammit!” I finally shouted. “That is, if you somehow developed prehensile paws when I wasn't looking and can turn the pages!” She presented her backside to me and raised her tail in the cat version of the finger.

Eventually we made up. “Never go to bed mad,” my ex's used to tell me; as a result I went without sleep for most of the first thirty-five years of my life. But Mimi's easy to make up with – she has a very short attention span and most difficulties can be smoothed over with Turkey and Giblets Dinner. It was Thanksgiving, after all.

So from the Hulles Household, which consists of me and Mimi and the various vermin that seem to find their way in no matter what I do, Happy Day After Thanksgiving. Next stop, Christmas. Can't wait.

-- Hulles

Recently J stopped by my blog and left rather a nice comment. He may come to regret it.

I didn’t recognize his letter, so once I could finally hit the tiny little hyperlink with a mouse click I visited his blog. (You try to hit it -- the 'J' in my first sentence is a hyperlink.) I liked him and his blog immediately because he had a post about a “pocket pussy” that looks like a flashlight (the “fleshlight”). As an aside, I reproduce my comment on this entry here because it is all about me:

Incidentally, I'm holding out for a plastic taco that looks like a toaster. This is because I want somebody to catch me at it and say "Dude, why are you humping that toaster?" I can't wait to see what I answer.

Actually, I found out a number of things about J that I liked. One is that, as indicated by his moniker and his blog bio, he’s terse. Sort of an anti-Hulles. Another is that he’s a photographer. As he says in his blog bio (tersely), “i live in minneapolis and like to take pictures.” His gallery is here, check it out. I’m sure his work is excellent but I couldn’t actually view it myself. He has a Macromedia Flash thingie on the site, and Lucille, my aging laptop, creaks and wheezes so loudly when it encounters a Flash thingie that the other people in the coffee shop scowl at me and swirl their chai in a decidedly unfriendly fashion. (Bring it on, you milksops; I’ll open up a can of fisticuffs on you.)

It also seems that he’s a friend of Lo’s. As we have recently learned I have become quite fond of Lo, so this is a big plus in my book. (And just for the record, she explains missing me at the Gala Bookstore Opening last weekend here.)

I have to confess, however, that the thing that intrigued me the most about J was the little picture that accompanied his comment. My immediate reaction was, I want to have that picture on my comments. As far as I can tell from an image the size of a postage stamp, if that's really his photograph he looks like a cross between Ferris Buehler and a straight Doogie Howser. And he looks young.

As I was thinking this, a thought occurred to me that has no doubt occurred to countless other people since Lewis and Clark opened up the Internet for us to explore in 1815 (according to Wikipedia, anyway): that I can be him.

I can swipe his picture, stick it in my blog bio, and start writing tersely. Okay, that last thing might be a stretch but maybe I can fake it well enough to get by. No one will suspect that, instead of being an angst-ridden, hip-hop loving young artist, I’m really an angst-ridden, hip-hop loving old lecher who couldn’t photograph his way out of a paper bag and who doesn’t create metaphors very well.

New Identity Theft Commercial:

Young man wearing sunglasses and looking like a cross between Ferris Buehler and a straight Doogie Howser is sitting in a Starbuck’s holding an expensive camera and a copy of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. His voice, however, is that of an 85-year-old white man that’s forgotten more about perversion than the young man will ever know.

Young man: “The other day my friends and I folded up our walkers and took the short bus out to the Mall of America. We bought Preparation H, fiber supplements, tickets to Cats, and I even bought a new Apple Powerbook. The great thing is that it was all on this young punk’s Discover card! It’s OK, though; his dad probably pays the bill anyway.”

Young man cackles obscenely then starts coughing up gobbets of phlegm.

Fade to logo.

Another great thing about this evil scheme is that I always wanted to be a photographer. This way I don’t actually have to learn about f-stops and composition and lighting and stuff, all I have to do is claim that J’s web site is really mine. (“Yes, Amber, that’s right, I created the web site myself in Dream Weaver. That Macromedia Flash thingie is pretty nifty, isn’t it?”1) This is a swell idea. God forbid I should have to go to the trouble myself of actually taking studio photographs of naked young girls... wait a minute.

But upon further reflection, I like being the age I am. I like my bio picture, especially with that intriguing growth on the left side of my face. And I’m creative enough that I can probably figure out a way to run the aforementioned studio photograph scam without pretending that I’m 20 years old.

Seriously, most of the time I am happy that I’m exactly the same age as Hulles. In fact, just yesterday I found myself yelling at some poor woman who recently turned 34 (sigh), saying essentially that you’re as sexy as you feel no matter what your age. I recommended to her that she go out and buy a Jurassic 5 CD and a bottle of Jägermeister and get over it. Well, I guess it’s time to take my own medicine. (And medicine, ladies and gentlemen, is sure as hell what Jägermeister tastes like.)

Therefore J, I guess your identity is safe for the time being, at least from me. I’ll stay Hulles, the mature and grandiloquent pundit of postmodern humor, whatever the hell that means, and you can remain a terse, angst-ridden young artist. Besides, Lo likes me better.

Maybe I can borrow your studio sometime, though.

-- Hulles

1Except that I'll have to learn to bullshit tersely and not use old man words.

I keep getting wonderful emails from Casti. I also keep getting creepy translations of them. So screw it. I'm learning Portuguese and going to Brazil.

I decided to learn the Portuguese language after a couple of recent Casti emails that sounded really sweet. I can no longer take not being able to understand exactly what she's saying. To me there's a big difference between “you're hot and I can't live without you” and “I'm dying from the heat.” Not to Babel Fish, though. I think it's intentionally trying to drive me crazy with its cryptic translations. It would seem that Babel Fish, for its own inscrutable reasons, has joined the swelling ranks of People, Places And Things Out To Get Me. In fact, it would not surprise me if what I imagine to be affectionate correspondence is really Casti threatening me with a dozen lengthy Brazilian lawsuits if I don't stop mentioning her on this blog. So I need to find out for myself. Then I'll lawyer up and change my blog name.

The clincher for actually going to Brazil, however, came from an entirely different source -- I recently learned thanks to Reuters (and they never lie; it's sort of the opposite of Fox News) that:

The mayor of a small Brazilian town has begun handing out free Viagra, spicing up the sex lives of dozens of elderly men and their partners.

Let's stop right here while I issue the following disclaimer: I am not elderly (except compared to you young whippersnappers), and I have never needed nor even tried Viagra. I do quite nicely on my own, thank you. In fact, I've considered contacting the pharma company that makes it to see if they need donors; I could use the money.

But I really like this town in Brazil, Novo Santo Antonio by name. They seem to have the right perspective on the role of government in the lives of its citizens:

"Since we started the free distribution of sexual stimulants, our elderly population changed. They're much happier," said Joao de Souza Luz, the mayor.

When's the last time your mayor gave a shit whether you were happy or not? Sure, he or she might say they want you to be happy, but do they hand out free Ecstasy at the city-sponsored rave, or give you a case of single-malt scotch and passes to the local strip club? I doubt it very much. This mayor, however, puts his money where his mouth is (in what ends up being an unfortunate turn of phrase on my part).

However, according to Reuters, the old guys aren't just using their newly-sharpened chisels on the busts of their wives. It sounds like a few mistresses are getting the benefit as well:

To discourage such illicit canoodling, Souza Luz said the city had decided to begin distributing the Viagra pills to the wives of the men who signed up for the program.

"That way, when the women are in the mood, they can give the pills to their husbands," he said.

I like this town. They see a problem, they fix it. And they don't do it by becoming holier than thou art and lambasting the poor elderly E-D sufferers who became perhaps a little over-excited with their new-found abilities. They don't self-righteously ban Viagra from the pharmacies of Novo Santo Antonio. They just say, “Dudes, if you want if for free from us, you gotta talk to the missus.” Saint Paul could certainly learn a thing or two from these guys, in my opinion.

The best part for me was what they named the program. which was “Pinto Allegre” in Portuguese. They translated it for the article as “Happy Penis,” but I'll bet it's really lots cruder than that. I leave it to you to come up with a suitable English version. I've thought of several, but some things are better left to the imagination.

So now you know why I'm learning Portuguese and going to Brazil: Casti, a pleasantly relaxed form of local government, and La Espia T.

Oops, forgot to mention that the totally hot La Espia T. speaks Portuguese and is taking a trip to Brazil soon. In an unusual display of magnanimity on my part I decided that I'm going along with her to protect her from the sex-crazed old men1 in Brazil. It takes a thief to catch a thief, after all.

-- Hulles

1Hardened criminals, one might say.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sigh. Another day spent catching up on all of your blogs and not doing anything on mine. Well, except this. I really want to get this out before I lose it. The thought, that is, not it. I lost it a long time ago.

The women with whom I've become acquainted since I started blogging – you, quite likely – have totally spoiled me for meeting anyone in the flesh. You have an obvious mastery of the English language (or Portuguese, in some cases), you do interesting things, think interesting things, and write interesting things. How is any real woman supposed to compete with that? Can't be done. So these days I end up snarling a lot at the lesser folk I meet just out of frustration. I know I'm being elitist, judgmental etc. etc., but I'm spoiled, as I say. And it's your fault. And I wouldn't have it any other way. So thanks.

Sort of.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I was remiss in my earlier post about N_____ and the Substandard Dork. I forgot to mention that:

  • She had a cute ass.

This is important, I learned recently. (Besides, she did have a cute ass, I just forgot to list it.) I took a page from Kat and looked at what people type into search engines that land them in Hulles territory. Funny thing. In my posts where I talk about cocktail waitresses, and there are many, I got a bunch of hits from just using the phrase “cute ass.”

So isn’t that curious? I have to confess it’s totally beyond me why you would google “cute ass.” Do you expect to find pictures of cute asses? How do you know that what you think is a cute ass is what someone else thinks is a cute ass? I’ve known some women who think they have a cute ass who, if they were to post pictures on the Internet and your monitor was large enough to display them, would blind you instantly if not actually kill you.

Perhaps, like Perseus, the searchers don’t look directly at the computer screen as they follow a particularly enticing cute ass link. They probably have a specialized mirror contraption that was developed for this very purpose, after the less-creative cute ass googlers were turned to stone and removed from the gene pool in some bizarre Darwinian selection process.

Maybe they expect to find people blogging about cute asses. I can do that. I do do that. I have a funny feeling that maybe my stuff isn’t what they have in mind, however. I rather suspect that they are looking for something a little racier, as in “Letters to Penthouse:”

Like, I was in this crowded elevator, and this totally hot chick with a cute ass, a complete stranger, is standing in front of me, and she like unzips me and hikes up her miniskirt and I totally did her right there on the elevator before we even got to the twentieth floor! And none of the suits on the elevator even knew!

Must have been some great sex. What am I talking about? I just made it up, of course it was great sex.

Ultimately I suppose it doesn’t really matter why people google “cute asses.” All that matters is that they come to Poppa. So welcome to Hulles, you wackos. Come for the porn, stay for the sardonic postmodern humor and dessert recipes.

The rest of you can expect to see a lot more posts about cocktail waitresses.

-- Hulles

I don’t really think about getting laid all the time. Honest, Mom, I’ve been so busy at the law firm (and yes, I still expect to make full partner any day now) that I had to hire a ghostblogger to keep up the Hulles entries recently. It turns out the college student that I retained for this purpose was both a crazed sex fiend and a smart*ss, a deadly combination. At least it was for him; his lifeless corpse is folded up in the trunk of my Audi as I write this. Good thing the weather’s cold here in Minnesota this time of year, otherwise that could be quite a mess, hah hah. (See, I remembered that I shouldn’t use those emoticon things, Mom, since you have so much trouble these days with tilting the computer monitor on its side.)

So yes, everything’s fine, I’m still married to BethAnn and she and the labs are doing just fine. Besides, even if I was playing around you don’t really think Cristina would help me in that kind of sordid behavior, do you? She’s such a sweet girl. Sure, maybe Juan Antonio would, but I would never ask his help. He’d set me up with someone like that Amber girl (see photo) in “Chasing Windmills,” which would kill me for sure. What a way to go though, hah hah. (Note to self: call Juan Antonio.1)

Speaking of BethAnn and her barren womb, remember Heather III, my daughter from my sixth marriage? Guess what? It turns out she wasn’t killed in a horrible accident involving a beer truck. We ran into each other while commenting on Anne Frasier’s blog just the other day! (You remember Anne, the woman who writes the large-print zombie stories....) BTW, I already have a junior partner working on a defense for my not paying child support for seventeen years, so don’t worry about that. And guess what else? It turns out that Heather is homeless and needs a kidney! I already explained to her how she couldn’t live with me, my cat is allergic to white girls, so I gave her your address. I hope that’s okay. And about the kidney, you won’t be needing yours pretty quick, right? Just kidding, hah hah. But now that I think of it, I wonder if her blood type is compatible with the ghostblogger’s? That would be a win-win situation for sure. (Note to self: follow up on this right away, the weather’s supposed to get warmer.) See? I still remember how you taught me never to throw anything away that you might need on a rainy day.

So other than that, not much new. I did post my Dark Chocolate Raspberry Mousse recipe on my blog the other day. Remember that one, and how much trouble Grandma and I got into because of it? Boy, that was a scary time for a while. I thought I might not make partner at the firm after all. Good thing one of the senior partners found pictures of Grandma while he was surfing blue-hair porn and decided the whole thing was really quite understandable. It helped that I gave him the recipe and the name of Grandma’s nursing home, hah hah. (Darn it, it’s driving me crazy not to use emoticons!)

So that about wraps it up. I have to run, I’m having one of my people take all the Seans and Heathers from my previous marriages to a hockey game tonight so I need to call the ex’s and make sure this counts as a visitation. Tough being both a lawyer and an ex-dad these days!

And Mom, just to let you know, it should be safe to read my blog again from here on out. Love ya.

-- Hulles

1Sad to say, my Mom can't even tilt the monitor enough to read italics anymore, which is why I can get away with putting Notes to self in this blog entry.

Monday, November 20, 2006

As you know, I recently discussed Cristina's and Juan Antonio's efforts to get me laid and the result of those efforts. The result of those efforts was not that I got laid but that an amusing jingle was created, which is small comfort at 3 AM with an erection you could cut glass with.

I was thinking about that very thing – getting me laid, that is -- this morning when all of sudden another light bulb went off over my head. This light bulb was so incandescent that both I and my cat were effectively blinded for about twenty minutes.

To explain this for the people congenitally unable to follow hyperlinks, Cristina and Juan Antonio write, direct, produce and star in a daily web video series called “Chasing Windmills.” As I have said elsewhere, these are wonderfully crafted little movies that essentially create a sort of engrossing and addictive soap opera. And C & JA aren't selling much soap right now. But they will, and Windmills will prevail.

Having said that, the idea that suddenly came to me was that my kid makes movies. And she's my kid. And she loves me. And she wants me to get laid too, if only to shut me up for a day or two. Thus was born the “I can make you a star!” plan.

The plan is simple, and you probably already have it figured out. As I schmooze with the random popsy I can work the conversation around to this:

“You know, with your looks and talent I can make you a movie star! No, really! I can get you a part on 'Chasing Windmills.' It will probably be a small part, at least at first, but who knows where it will lead? You could be a famous star like Cristina, or at least like Amber. What is 'Chasing Windmills?' It's a very popular soap opera. You won't have seen it, it's on Bravo.”

After a bit more of this, I convince said popsy that we need to go to her apartment to discuss the details, etc., etc., fade to black. It would be my apartment but then I'd have to actually clean it once in a while.

You should know that I haven't really discussed this with Cristina and Juan Antonio yet. But I'm sure they would be flexible and write in a part for a gorgeous young blonde if I asked them to. It's for a noble cause, after all. What's not noble about wanting your ancient stepdad to repeatedly take advantage of a gullible 22-year-old barista with a tongue stud and great hooters?1 Not a damn thing, is what. So of course they'll do it.

Ah, I'm about to become a voluptuary at last, whatever the hell that is. I wonder how much a casting couch costs. I suppose if you have to ask, your movies just aren't big enough yet. And they're not even my movies; they're my stepdaughter's and [whatever the hell Juan Antonio's official relationship title is]'s. Admittedly, that does make it a little weirder, but who cares? Just think of all the glass I won't have to cut.

-- Hulles

1As an aside, I originally wrote this, “to take advantage of...”, but changed it to its present “to repeatedly take advantage of....” I think it's interesting that the original phrase makes it sound like a minor foible or peccadillo, whereas inserting the word 'repeatedly' makes it sound like the moral equivalent of blowing up a bus full of nuns and baby ducks.

What I didn't mention about bailing out on the coffee house last Saturday was that after leaving I made a beeline for the nearest bar, which happened to be Costello's (“If we wanted you to come for the service we would have opened a church”). In passing, I want to mention here that I thought about leaving Lo a big note in Common Good Books: “Lo, hadda go, come meet me at Costello's across the street after Garrison autographs your left breast. Hulles,” but then I remembered that she's an impressionable youth and, as such, walking in the door of Costello's would instantly turn her into a crack whore. As you might imagine I didn't want that on my conscience plus I couldn't afford her so I didn't leave the note.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Costello's. My friend Lu was tending bar, so I was pretty sure I could belly up and periodically emit lugubrious sighs and order glasses of water in my most pitiful voice and she would buy me a beer. Sure enough, it worked. It was also during the “two for one” hour -- 2pm to 3pm for you Twin Cities drunks that don't already go there (both of you) – so I ended up with two beers. Much better than the coffee shop, although I was beginning to miss reaching around the saxophone player to type on my laptop.

As I was sitting there, in walked a lovely woman. This happens very seldom in Costello's. Women come in there all the time, and I know most of them, but the “L” word can seldom be applied with a straight face. “Ridden hard and put away wet” is the usual sotto voce comment, I believe. (Like I'm a prize.) Since I was still a little blue from missing out on meeting Lo, when the hot female unit approached the bar I found myself muttering, “Please let her sit next to me. Please let her sit next to me.”

Wonder of wonders, Lovely Woman did sit next to me. As she was settling in, I turned my face upward and said, “Thank you, God!” She found this funny, which I in turn found encouraging. To make a short story even shorter, she told me her name was N_____1 and I either learned or observed the following facts about her:

  • She was pretty, as I mentioned.

  • She had a good sense of humor (i.e. she thought I was funny sometimes).

  • She was articulate.

  • She was well-traveled.

  • She had a great tan (just back from Mexico).

  • She had raccoon eyes (see above).

  • She had lovely brown eyes.

  • She had great hair.

  • She was 5' 4” tall.

  • She was nominally 30 years old.

  • She repeatedly spilled beer on her jeans.

  • She liked Costello's.

The last item is questionable about whether it's an asset or a liability, but since Pollyanna is my middle name2 I went for the asset as usual. If you're wondering about her body, so was I. She was Minnesota Winter Clad, and I have no idea what her body was/is like. This is certainly not for want of ogling, however (discretely, it goes without saying). And oh yeah, forgot one:

  • She was meeting some substandard dork there for drinks.

She didn't say “substandard dork,” of course, she said “friend,” but I knew she meant “substandard dork.”

N____ laughed when I said “I hope your friend develops car trouble and can't make it,” and she took it for the compliment it was. What I really was thinking was, “I hope the substandard dork is consumed in a fiery car accident and all they find of him is the metal eyelets from his Nikes.”

SD finally arrived. I was introduced to him; his name was Bob or David or Ted or something, who gives a shit. I was happy to note that SD and I were about the same size, so later when I had to take him outside later to engage in fisticuffs it wouldn't be totally unfair that I pummeled him unmercifully. (Note: people, generally Brits, really used to talk like this.)

Those guys gabbed among themselves as I sat beside them and listened in on their insipid conversation and surreptitiously glared at SD (“Enjoy yourself now, chump, you're going to be wearing a shiner pretty damn quick.”) To her credit, N_____ periodically turned to include me in the conversation, but SD was having none of it. He could probably somehow sense my innate virility and was desperately seeking to prevent me from carrying off his woman.

Actually, it sounded like they really were friends. I thought she was just being disingenuous and trying to spare my feelings because she knew I would shortly fall madly in love with her. I really liked that she made a couple of comments while SD was in the Men's Room that implied she also thought he was, shall we say, a less-than-optimal drinking companion. Unlike yours truly, of course.

Finally, after spilling about twelve beers on her jeans, N_____ and SD left. As they were leaving, I brashly gave N_____ my bar card with my blog address on it and said modestly, “You should go there and read my blog. Sometimes I can be funny.” She smiled and responded, “Really? I have a Masters in Comparative Lit and I have a lot of respect for writers.” Then she and SD walked out of Costello's.

Good thing they left, because suddenly I was trying to figure out whether to a) bypass the fisticuffs altogether and just quickly go and shoot the fucker and carry off his woman, or b) lose myself in Fantasyland where, after Casti and my acrimonious divorce and custody battle, N_____ and I have a extended and physically strenuous tryst in Saint Tropez3 where we both die from too much sex and our improbably entwined bodies are discovered with drool seeping out of the big smiles on our faces. I chose (b), but only because the wood chipper has been acting finicky lately and one does want to do a thorough job of body disposal.

And did I mention that N_____ has a Masters in Comparative Lit? Telling me that was like pouring a 55-gallon drum of 97-octane unleaded on an already-burning campfire. Or something. I wonder if she likes poetry?: “No magic wand...”

-- Hulles

1This is not her real name. (“Anne? Oh, En, sorry. How do you spell that?” “En, underscore, underscore, underscore, underscore, underscore.....”)

2And yes, I was teased unmercifully at school.

3What the hell is Tropez the saint of? Nude sunbathing? (“Please, St. Tropez, don't let me sunburn my scrotum again today.”)

I felt compelled to share this.

From the Onion headlines recently:

New Mobile Device Purchase Makes Asshole More Versatile

NEW YORK—The new BlackBerry 8703c has allowed total shithead Robert McClain to assign more work to his assistants while he is gambling in Atlantic City.

-- Hulles

Sunday, November 19, 2006

We'll see here how well I can write in a coffee shop filled to the rafters with people here for the gala opening of Common Good Books downstairs. There's currently a jazz combo playing in a space about the size of my living room, and of course that's where I'm sitting. The combo's okay, they're certainly earnest, but they're really distracting since they are performing pretty much in my lap. I have to reach around the saxophone player to type this.

The good news about the jazz guys is that my pal Melissa Rainville fronted them for a couple of songs, including “Autumn Leaves,” a smoky, sultry, bluesy number that caused me to once again fall madly in love with Melissa. Please don't tell her though, you'll scare her to death. I routinely drink scotches older than her, or would if I could still afford them.

This post has been continued today, Sunday, because it turned out I couldn't write in a coffee shop filled to the rafters.

RECIPE FOR DISASTER: 1 small coffee shop, 200 people, 50 gallons of coffee, 1 unisex restroom.

After the third spectacular bladder explosion – not mine, thankfully – I felt it behooved me to get the hell out. Not sure where the word “behooved” comes from, but if I look it up I'll never get this finished.

Because today we're going to be following some convoluted threads. The first convolution is that, when I was googling “Autumn Leaves” to provide the helpful link above, I ran across this:

Autumn Leaves. A 'burb for those in their golden years who maintain a diary or journal on the web. Join now!”

Hmmm. Nice name. I'm in my silver years, if not golden. I maintain a diary or journal (of sorts) on the web. Maybe I'll join! Except, what do they mean by a 'burb? Do I have to move to the outskirts of Phoenix? How can you join a 'burb? Are the only people who live there old bloggers? Perhaps I should rethink this plan. However, I note in passing that if they had used the original French song title ("Les feuilles mortes"), the 'burb would be named “Dead Leaves" instead of "Autumn Leaves." This would no doubt diminish the popularity of the place with the blogging blue-hairs. Marketing is everything.

So, path followed, back to the top. Yesterday I had the foresight to plan around the Common Good Books gala open house, so I left earlier than usual for a Saturday morning blogging gig. As I was driving to the coffee shop, and after stopping to buy gas for the wood chipper, I found myself wondering about the word “gala.” It looks sort of funny. Where does it come from? So once I arrived at the coffee shop I reached around the sax player and looked it up.

Sadly, there is nothing remarkable about the etymology of “gala”. It is from Italian; the Italians swiped it from the Middle French “gale”, which meant “festivity”. In other words, “gala.” Not much there to work with.

Not one to be easily stymied, however, I decided to look up a putative synonym for “gala” in the thesaurus, “Saturnalia.” This proved to be a much richer vein to mine.

The first thing I noticed in the Wikipedia “Saturnalia” entry was that there was a cross-link to “an early sauropodomorph dinosaur, Saturnalia”. Cool, I thought. A Party Dinosaur. Who knew? Visions of dinosaur frat parties combined in my head with orgy scenes from various Fellini and Ken Russell movies. The result was a sort of X-rated cartoon thing I'm pretty sure Pixar will never produce. The less said of it here the better, I suppose.

Satunalia is a festival that is celebrated in mid-December. The Romans originated it as a feast dedicated to the god Saturn. See the Wikipedia article if you want to know more. One of the things I liked most in the Wiki Saturnalia piece was at the bottom:

The customary greeting for the occasion is a "Io, Saturnalia!" — io (pronounced "yo") being a Latin interjection related to "ho" (as in "Ho, praise to Saturn").

You know where I'm going with this. It's nice to learn that Ebonics has a Latin pedigree that I never suspected.

Done with “Saturnalia.” Back to “gala.” I have long been a fan of Salvador Dalí and I recalled that his wife was named Gala. She was the model for “The Madonna of Port Lligat,” a painting that I have always admired greatly. Plus she has a decent left breast. So back to good old Wikipedia for Gala Dalí.

Now Gala's entry is a pretty racy little article for Wikipedia. It seems that the words “chaste” and “demure” were not words that were very often used in the same sentence as “Gala.” Indeed, the article says she was accused of being a megaera. and that Salvador, my hero, was a practicer of candaulism. What the f*ck?

I quickly learned that a megaera is, basically, a jealous or spiteful woman. Hmph. The person who wrote the Wikipedia article must be related to me somehow, to use a two-dollar word where a twenty-five-center would have served as well. At least I learned something.

As all the rest of you probably already know, candaulism is the practice of exposing one's wife, or a picture of her, to other voyeuristic people. Oddly enough, this word was in use before the Internet ever existed. The pre-web candaulists must have had a relatively tough go of it back then compared to today's modern candualist. Now any jerkoff (dang, thought I added that to the spell checker dictionary) can post naked pictures of his wife where the whole world can see them. Ain't progress great?

At last we come to the end of the Gala Convolutions. I hope you found them interesting and informative. I did. I even found them useful. If I ever date again, when we have the inevitable confrontation I can shout “Io, megaera, how'd you like me to candaulize your ass? Ho won't be praising her Saturn then!” This is sure to settle things quickly, with me the obvious victor. At least until she looks the shit up on Wikipedia.

-- Hulles

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dang. I can't believe I was speaking derisively of my blog titles in an earlier post. They are nonpareil.

But to the subject at hand: yesterday was the third Thursday of November, which is the day the year's Beaujolais Nouveau is released for consumption. Every oenophile1 knows this, and we hardcore drinkers know it as well because once a year the fucking oenophiles get in the way of our regular daily alcohol consumption.

For you non-oenophiles, Beaujolais Nouveau is a young wine that is meant to be drunk before the May following the date it was released. In other words, it's not just young, it is an infant in swaddling clothes, whatever the hell swaddling clothes are.

BN should be served at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, “the wine is more refreshing and its forward fruit more apparent than if you serve it at room temperature.” I just now learned this on a web page called “10 Fascinating Facts About Beaujolais Nouveau.” Actually, I only found a couple of the facts fascinating, like that they have to harvest the grapes for Beaujolais Nouveau by hand, it's one of the rules. The rest of the facts are at best mildly amusing.

Regardless, it still tastes like wallpaper paste to me. Apparently this year's harvest was a particularly good one; all that means to me is that the BN tastes like a better grade of wallpaper paste than normal.

Many people seem to get into the Beaujolais Nouveau release date, however. There was quite the crowd of aesthetes at the local public house yesterday. This got me to thinking, are there Beaujolais Nouveau Release Day Widows, in the same way that there are Deer Opener Widows? Sure there are. And you women know it's true. Every third Thursday in November you get together somewhere where the only wine they serve comes in boxes and Wang Chung the night away.

However, I have some shocking news for you BNRD Widows: ladies, your husbands are gay. No self-respecting straight guy would explicitly attend the Beaujolais Nouveau release. Even supposed metrosexuals, and I may well be one as much as I detest the term, would not be caught dead going to an event like that. Images of flattened nuts and wooden mallets come to mind. So sorry about your luck, girls. That fur coat that your husband's friend bought him last Christmas wasn't just the thoughtful gift you imagined it to be. Poppa's playing for the other team.

So blogging wives everywhere, take note: if your spouse goes out next year on the third Thursday in November, take the kids to Mom's and get a good lawyer.

And to all you avid Beaujolais Nouveau fans that suddenly lose your meal tickets: it serves you right for leading the poor women on, you ween-o-philes you. Let 'em go so they can hook up with serious alcoholics like us. And admit it -- it does taste like wallpaper paste.

-- Hulles

1I have no idea whatsoever how to pronounce this word, nor do I ever care to learn. However, speaking of derision, I sometimes pronounce it “ween-o-phile.”.

I have been noticing recently that some people seem to have a problem with the word 'fuck.' The odd thing is that they themselves use it, they just don't spell it correctly. They spell it either 'f*ck' or, if they're Lutheran, 'f**k'.

I have thought lots about this – obviously I need more things to do – and have reached some interesting conclusions about this.

For one: who are they trying to fool? They know what word they mean, we the readers know what word they mean, and six year old kids who can't spell anything else know what word they mean. It would be a poor word if no one knew what it meant – this would defeat the purpose of using the word in the first place, which is presumably to communicate some idea with others. Ergo, they aren't fooling anyone.

So what the f*ck are they doing? I have come to believe that many people who do this are attempting to somehow sidestep the sin of actually spelling the word out, as if spelling it 'fuck' is evil but spelling it 'f*ck' is okay. I'm not sure who judges you in the afterlife, but I'm pretty sure that whoever it is is smart enough to know you meant “fuck”, asterisks or no asterisks. (“No, really, I didn't spell it correctly so it doesn't count!”)

Maybe they just don't like how the word looks if it's spelled correctly. I can sort of sympathize with this view, because the word 'fuck' is admittedly stark. However, that is its beauty, in my opinion, or at least its utility. If you don't want stark, don't use 'fuck' (or 'f*ck'). But de gustibus non est disputandum, as they say.

So what word might one use instead of 'f*ck?' I personally recommend '$&#%@' or the equivalent, it has more integrity somehow. I recall as a child wondering what the f*ck '$&#%@' meant, and once I finally figured it out (senior year in high school), wondering how you pronounce it. My brother and I came up with “star spiral lightning” as the accepted pronunciation. This was derived from the comic book version of '$&#%@”, where they could actually draw symbols instead of use typewriter keys. I think “star spiral lightning” was what Donald Duck said when he stopped too quickly on his bicycle and landed astride the bar that boys' bikes have but girls' don't.

So there, I'm done ranting about 'f*ck' and its insipid brethren. Spell it however you want to. It's just that 'f*ck' seems a little childish, really. There. I am done now, g*d d*mn it.


This is a portmanteau entry whereby I duly notify you of emended or corrected earlier blog entries. My brilliant kid Dulcinea recommended I do this, as opposed to making you reread every blog entry I ever posted. To her go the kudos, and let the blog writhe, I say.

In Common Good Books, I said as a parenthetical comment on Garrison Keillor, “warning: he's a big fucker.” Well, he is. In the course of trying to decide whether or not this is an offensive comment – it was not meant to be – the phrase “the Shaquille O'Neal of the literati” occurred to me. So I had to add it to the post because I like the phrase a lot.

In Hulles Con Colmillos, I asked for graphic artists to submit logo designs. I changed this to “people who studied graphics arts in school but are now bitterly working in bars or coffee shops” because there's lots more of them.

In The Making Of “Children Of A Lesser Dog”, which I really like and the heck with the rest of you, gosh darn it, I added a comment about girlfriends and AKC requirements and proffered my favorite phrase from “Children....”

“And then she died.”

-- Hulles

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

As I have perhaps mentioned before, our hometown prodigy Garrison Keillor has recently opened a bookstore in Saint Paul in the Blair Arcade. The name of the store is "Common Good Books."

In the interest of supporting local bookstores -- to be more precise, in my excitement at once more having a local bookstore -- I am passing along the following item:

This Saturday, the 18th, Common Good Books is having an open house in the Blair Arcade from noon to five. There will be a string quartet, soup, tea and a chance to meet the prop. himself (warning: he's a big fucker, the Shaquille O'Neal of the literati as it were).

So stop by if you're a Twin Citian. Maybe I'll see you there. And Garrison, if you google yourself and / or your bookstore, I'm a good writer (said in my best plaintive Dustin Hoffman Rainman voice).

-- Hulles

It gets effing cold in Minnesota in the winter. In January, if for some reason you and I are standing outside talking, the thin crackling noise you'll hear will be my nuts freezing off. Winter in Minnesota sucks, and the cold hurts, nuts or no nuts.

So when I find a reason to like the cold weather I have to share it. Perhaps some fellow Minnesotan will read this and not go postal after three months of below-zero (Fahrenheit, get with it) weather. I will then have saved some lives with this blog entry, always something I'm happy to do in the spirit of my court-ordered public service.

The other day I was relaxing in a local public house, daydreaming of Casti (“Casti, our first child has to be named Demi Pamplemousse!”), when I consciously noticed for the first time a phenomenon that I have taken for granted for years. When a woman walks into the bar in this weather, you may initially find her attractive or perhaps interesting-looking, but you have to wait for the peeling before you know what she really looks like.

The peeling is the process of a woman taking off her winter coat. I don't know what ladies' winter coats are like in your neck of the woods, but here they are generally heavy, long, puffy, or some combination of the three. Their primary job is to keep the wearer warm, after all, and that job is taken seriously in Minnesota. However, this bulk makes an effective body concealer for the discerning ogler like yours truly. You have no clue whatsoever to the shape of the woman you are staring at (discretely, of course), so the unveiling process is always eagerly awaited.

Women know this. Outside of trailer parks they generally aren't stupid. As a result of this canniness, many females will make the peeling something of a performance. A seasoned Midwestern female can turn the otherwise commonplace process of removing a winter coat into the Dance of the Seven Veils. But whether they do or no, I personally am a rapt audience (discretely, of course). However, it's a little like opening a present at Christmas when you're a kid – the anticipation is almost always better than the gift itself.

Still, the peeling process is a pleasure per se, even if the end result is sometimes disappointing. And I am absolutely grasping at straws to find anything at all to like about facing another Minnesota winter. So here's one. I hope it's enough.

-- Hulles

Monday, November 13, 2006

Apparently not everyone is a fan of this blog.

I recently heard from someone in Wisconsin who found it offensive. Later, as I was stuffing his body into the wood chipper, I got to thinking: “It's hard to do all this menial work and still write top-quality blog entries. I need some help.” I should mention that with the wood chipper, once the novelty wears off, destroying human tissue is pretty mindless work and my thoughts do tend to wander. “I know,” I said to myself and what was left of my critic, “I'll form a squad of Hulles Death Commandos. They can handle the enforcement side, and I'll concentrate on the writing side.”

This seems like a great idea to me, and I would urge all of you to consider enlisting. The way I imagine it, all you'll have to do is serve me with dog-like devotion both here and in the afterlife. Sure, there'll be a little fawning and boot-licking involved, but nothing too demeaning – I am a humble man, after all. You'll just have to remember to call me “El Caudillo” in public and “Master” in private, not too tough for bright people like you I should think.

Besides, you'll get this swell T-shirt. On the front it will say:

(Insert Logo Here)

Hulles Death Commandos

and on the back it will say:

They Shoot

They Get Naked Themselves

They'll Drive You Fearful

It won't really say “(Insert Logo Here)”, of course. I'm hoping one of you Commandos went to school to become a graphic artist but now bitterly works in a bar or coffee shop and can design a suitably fear-inspiring logo. Email me your submissions if you're interested. If it's a good logo, we'll all get tattoos except me. The words on the back are from a blog entry of mine, but then you knew that already, didn't you?

I don't really foresee a lot of physical violence being required in the Death Commandos. Intimidation should prove sufficient in most cases. Of course there will need to be the occasional gratuitously brutal killing pour encourager les autres, but hey, the team is called the Death Commandos after all, not the Harsh Language Commandos (although...).

One thing I can promise you is that there will be no suicide bombers (a.k.a. not-so-smart bombs) in the Commandos. I only expect so much for a T-shirt, and the dog-like devotion should pretty much cover it as far as I'm concerned. No need to rush for a good seat to serve me in the afterlife, there'll be plenty of room for everyone I'm sure.

So come on out to my ranch at New Lugburz and check it out. You'll get to be the brutal power-crazed storm trooper you always wanted to be, and I'll be freed up for the more cerebral aspects of the Hulles blog. We all win. Besides, I personally can't wait for the fawning and boot-licking. I get that so seldom these days.

I promise I'll be a kind master. Heh, heh.

The title comes from here.

-- Hulles