Friday, October 31, 2008

Psychedelic Kimchi: Diffidence of Corruption

We here at Psychedelic Kimchi love a great many things, but what we truly adore is Konami's hallowed Castlevania series. It's especially cool when a cryptic title (preferably consisting of three words) is attached to any particular entry, such as Harmony of Dissonance, Lament of Innocence, Aria of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, Legacy of Darkness, etc. Given the series' penchant for gothic imagery (think Hammer horror films, actually) and catchy, almost eerie music, and it should be easy to comprehend why October makes for the best month to play -or replay- a Castlevania game.

For the uninitiated, Castlevania is, at its core, characterized by a hero that brandishes a whip against a plethora of supernatural opposition (ghouls, flying medusa heads, sea serpents, emaciated Shih Tzus) led by the dastardly Count Dracula.* Throughout the years, the gameplay has fluctuated a bit, ranging from hardcore side-scrolling action to Metroid-style exploration (not to mention forays into the realm of 3-D), but the focus remains intact: kicking some preternatural ass.

For dedicated fans of the series, you'll be excited to learn that PK's very own Sparkles*_* has an extensive Order of Ecclesia review in the works. I dare not give away any trade secrets, but rest assured that it will be a veritable bonanza of pertinent information, and it may include an interview with one of the game's developers. Look up the word passionate, and you'll find a definition of the word passionate, which fits Mr. Forbes like a glove. I'm excited.**

Let's take a look at some covers for starters (and no, not all of them include obscure titles):








Note: You gotta love that "Win a trip to Dracula's hometown!" contest that was set up for Castlevania III, but if you click on the picture shown above, then you'll see that it was "Void in Quebec, Canada." Not sure what that was all about, but here's me, playing the world's smallest violin for you, Quebec.

Grant DaNasty

* With the character of Death going in for a layup, for the thirty-thousandth time.

** Originally, the plan was to do a podcast in which Sparkles would present his essay upon the game and its protagonist, while I would masturbate and emit funny little noises as a backdrop. Sadly (due to budgetary constraints) this will not materialize, but I'm still excited to see what he has in store for us.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Inertia Denied



Emotions aside, momentum is what I crave, and I'd be lying if I were to say that an image like this failed to elicit just that.

Milk Snakes and Affectations.

Runny Nose


Remember that time (pick one, preferably the last, as it makes what follows more cohesive and your skin smoother, your hair more lustrous) when I said I was calling it a day until March? Yeah, that's still the case...except for when it isn't.

Bear with me.

I don't think I've ever written in length here about fantasy basketball. Trust me, I won't start now. All I want to say is that it has helped me care, for the first time, about the physical well-being of complete strangers. (And if you need to know, with Deron Wiliams, Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, and Andrew Bynum on my team, I care a fucking lot.)...I'm sick. Like sickle-cell anemia. Like Captain Trips. Like Marvin Gaye when his father shot him in the chest. Like watching an octogenarian breastfeed her 10-year-old great granddaughter on television. And, yes, I might be delirious, but, no, I didn't make up that last one. When I knocked off work early this afternoon at 2, the stars were aligned. I WAS MEANT TO SEE THAT...Has anyone ever mashed up an entire movie? Besides The Phantom Menace, I mean. Regardless of whether or not it's been done before*, E.T. and The Howling would be so fucking cool. I'd do it myself, if I weren't too busy figuring out how mosquitoes can fly but people can't. (Birdy notwithstanding.)...It's not as hard as Contra 4 or figuring out (*snicker*) how your gas boiler works, but Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is pretty damn hard. And you know what? Daddy loves a challenge. I never tire of killing Dracula. Key word: Dracula...My dog is constipated and my teeth hurt...


* and it probably fucking has

Honestly



October 6, 1984 was a special day for me -and if I may be so bold as to stop for a second and inform you, friend, that I'm a sucker for flattery, particularly of the sexy variety- as it was the day our family acquired a new pet, a spunky young Airedale terrier personally selected by yours truly. I should also note that it was kismet that drew me to that specific puppy, and when she licked my face for the very first time, I fully apprehended that impressive events (and equally searing memories) were inevitable.

She was given the name 'Brandy,' by whom I cannot recall, although there is a vague memory of my mother drinking heavily during that period, which may have influenced the decision. Nonetheless, I felt the name appropriate. To this very day I regularly imbibe a bottle (or two) of the aforementioned liquor throughout the month of October, and for good reason: that dog was a part of me, or should I say, she took a part of me and replaced it with something else, but we'll get to that later. I understood her like no one else could and, perhaps, vice versa.

That sounds smug as hell, but I won't apologize; it's just how I feel. It's difficult to think otherwise when you've thrown yourself into something with such fervency and, subsequently, prepped to pop the pimples of hard labor, like I had been.

You may not believe the confession I'm about to make, but the truth is the truth. This is a tale of love. Dig?*

On that day, October 6, 1985, back when the overgrown lad currently chewing the fat of Gleipnir was an even younger boy, he chose -driven by some incandescent yearning to empathize, familiarize, or harmonize- to join his newfound pet in consuming the #1 recommended dog food of veterinarians throughout the 1980s, Iams dried pet food. I recall that it tasted something like crushed cornbread muffins deluged with fat, salt, and preservatives, rolled into tiny cylindrical shapes. I presume that it contained a large amount of protein (to promote the growth of a pup's developing physique), but who is to say what it did for me, beyond perplexing my parents, amusing my sister, and disgusting my friends.** What this misbehavior failed to do, unequivocally, was entrance the new puppy; if anything, she detested me for infringing upon that which was intrinsically viewed as her own.

To skip ahead and answer the inevitable question: no, I don't eat dog food anymore, as alcohol is the new Iams, and the dog itself has been replaced by, well, I'll leave that to your imagination. Same snake, different skin, aren't we all?

Skipping back. No.

Fenrisúlfr


* Except that it's disingenuous of me to proclaim love in a conventional sense, and don't get me started on the phrase love / hate relationship, because that does little justice to my feelings toward the former pet of a latter life. A kid is, more often than not, decidedly infantile in their affections, and to posit that I had fallen prey to such delusional activities would be a dire understatement of the greatest magnitude. To better grasp my relationship with Brandy the Bitch, look up battered wife syndrome, masochism, or Stockholm Syndrome on Wikipedia in the near future. For those too lazy to do research, just recollect the trials and tribulations of Eoin Forbes' first marriage, and you'll be on the right track i.e. How many times have you been bitten / disfigured by a canine, and come back for more?

** That's why you chose me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Be Heavy


I was born in 1978 under the sign of Taurus and the roof of a rusty Ford. My mother, Gail Breslin, died under the same roof that very morning, holding me and my rapidly beating newborn heart against her slowly dying own. A highway patrolman spotted the car -- both rear doors open and encroaching on the right-hand ditch -- no more than a few minutes after I entered this world and my mother departed from it. Lucky for me; not so much for her.

From the day of her birth until that fateful morning on May 11, 1978, Gail Breslin led a hard life. Just a few days old, she was abandoned on the steps of an orphanage in Iowa and baptized just a few days later. The date: May 13, 1961. I'd like to believe she died on her birthday. My birthday. I've read that Shakespeare may have died on his birthday, too, but no one knows for sure. Sometimes it's better that way. Sometimes it's best to make truth out of the unknown. Isn't that the essence of art, after all?

If it's good enough for the Bard, it's good enough for me.

Gail "Don't Call Me Abigail" Breslin never met her birth mother, nor did she ever care to. But, remember, there's truth in the unknown, and for her the truth was that no army of irresponsible, abusive, or uncaring real parents could be worse than the tyrants who supposedly looked after her best interests but in all actuality tossed her -- like a football lateral -- further and further behind, from one foster home to another, from one asshole/bitch and monster/witch to the next.

There was the preacher with psoriasis who used to pinch her behind as she slept and kiss her on her mouth when she was awake; the passive-aggressive school teacher who would teach by day and -- after a few glasses of brandy and a hardcore swing session at the neighbor's -- torment by night; and don't forget the corrupt police officer. There's always a corrupt police officer in tales such as these, and this one's no different.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Honesty


I'm a sucker for all forms of flattery, particularly that of the genuine variety. When an intangibly stunning woman (an intangible quality that both mystifies and impresses me more and more each passing day) asked me my name on October 6, 2006, I knew it was kismet. Strike that; I was pretty sure at the time, not certain, and was compelled to follow up on my hypothesis.

I wasn't wrong.

That sounds smug as hell, and I apologize; but it's how I feel. It's hard to be humble after pitching a perfect game or striking oil in the most unlikely of places*. Still, I'll try.

This is a tale of love. Dig?


* Say hi to your mom for me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Business


Some quick thoughts as I contemplate the existential question Does God have a mommy?

I am Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, and you will bend to my will...You know how Apple updates its iPods like every other day? I couldn't care less about that, but it seems Nintendo (also known as "Just When I Thought I was Grown Up They Keep Pulling Me Back In") is pulling a similar stunt with the DSi. Bigger screen? Cool. Camera? It's not like I don't have one on my cell phone, let alone on my FUCKING DIGITAL CAMERA, but whatever. No slot for Game Boy Advance games? Never stuck my thing into that gaping orifice, anyway. But if you make that badboy slimmer, it just may break. I'm all for streamlining products -- punctuation, not so much -- but who wants to play a portable gaming device while at the same time feeling as though he's holding an After Eight? Not me, Constant Retard, and certainly not you...My boxer shorts share the name of a Charlie Chaplin film (Modern Times, even though they house The Great Dictator)...You know, I would have bet a million dollars/a couple of pesos that Stephon "God's Son" Marbury would overdose before Isiah Lord Thomas. Life is funny sometimes. By the way, you can call it an accidental overdose if you want to be all PC, but I reserve my right, then, to call it intentional stupidity...Hi. You might know me as Mos Def, the guy who dropped the phenomenal Black on Both Sides in 1999 (just as good as -- if not greater than -- Nas's Illmatic) but in real life I'm just some guy who dropped a few hot singles, parlayed that into the awesome-yet-disappointingly short-lived Blackstar "project" with my similarly complacent aquaintance, Talib Kweili, then went all Mel Gibson, releasing an album without a cover and Trying to Do Meing Kanye West's Graduation. But I feel much better now. My new single is called "Life in Marvelous Times," and if you don't like it you're probably a child rapist. I'm back...Finally, Ming&Tracy&Ron&Luis&Rafer. Make me a shirt.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Garden of the Gods



Gaze upon the beauty of my playground, ye mortals, and prepare to meet your oleaginous destiny.*











*Crumblies are people! People!

What Dogs Yearn to Shed

Somewhere, etched upon the porcelain Urinal of Life, is the adage "you can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends," which is a phrase that seems neat while you're taking a piss all over it, but not so tenable when it comes time to zip up your pants. By that statement, deceased reader, I do not wish to imply that the importance of friends (and family) be based upon the constraints of ephemera, nor would I dare suggest that you stab your grandmother with the straightened hook of a wire clothes hanger (unless she were wearing a bleached William Shatner mask, in which case propriety be damned).

For starters, I don't think it's entirely accurate to presume that one has the power to choose their friends. There are, most certainly, those individuals* that have the power to do so, but I also think that they are in the minority. The majority of us are selected by others to be friends, and by that I mean we, as sui generis constructs (even if that, in-of-itself, is a lie of convenience), are designated by others as comrades, if only because we share similar, decrepit instincts. It may be just a matter of me and my deflated sense of self-importance, but I'm inclined to believe that there are people that will never like you, and those that will adore you beyond any sense of rational thought (the former being abundant, the latter requiring psychiatric evaluation).

Before you accuse me of being a lunatic (or waxing philosophical), consider that I generally rub the average person entirely the wrong way. It's hard to believe, I know, but there is a segment of the population (disbarring cats, of course) that finds me repulsive, and to them I say "thank you," not because I'm hideous (which I am, unequivocally) but, rather, they dislike my representation of friendship or, by extension, humanity. Laborious extrapolation, I know.

It's not melodrama, misanthropy, or anything in between: it's actuality, staring me, and you, diseased reader, in the face. That I have nothing to amuse you with today bothers me immensely, but then again, you chose me, not the other way around. Bear-baiting at its finest, even though bears make for shitty friends far more disconcerting than any foe.

Next time, next time, next time.



* Paging Denz, or Paul Hogan.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Taste of Pretension



The bitter taste of the Red Sox defeat in Game 7 of the ALCS fresh in my mouth, what better time to channel those sour grapes into a critique of something else which I distaste: dark chocolate.

Now, I know Kmart for one is partial to Twix Dark, and I may think he's a little bit of a bastard for liking such an affront to the goose bumps on his mouth worm, but I get it. Twix Dark is to dark chocolate what your average YouTube commenter is to American letters: a far cry from the real thing. No, we're talking dark chocolate. Lance Reddick dark. That inedible shit you don't buy because you want something tasty but buy because you want to seem sophisticated and wine is too goddam expensive. (The day will come when dark chocolate is expensive, you just wait...unless that day is already here, which it probably fucking is.)

You know what, I'm not even going to bother with the commentary; I'll let this little slice of fuckshitassery speak for itself:


How to Taste Dark Chocolate


1. Find a location free from background noise and smell , such as television, music, a crying baby, road traffic noise, talkative friends etc. Being able to concentrate as intently as possible will facilitate flavor detection.

2. Clear your palate. This means that your mouth should not contain residual flavors from a previous meal. Eat a wedge of apple or piece of bread if necessary. This is crucial in order to taste the subtleties of chocolate's complex flavor.

3. Make sure that the piece of chocolate is large enough to accommodate full evolution of the flavor profile. A piece too small may not allow you to detect every subtle nuance as the chocolate slowly melts. The important thing to remember is that flavor notes gradually evolve and unfold on the tongue rather than open up in one large package. So remember, don't think small here. 10g should be a minimum starting point.

4. Allow the chocolate to rest at room temperature before tasting. Cold temperatures will hinder your ability to detect the flavors. Some even advise that you rub the chocolate briefly between your fingers to coax the flavor. This procedure is optional.

5. Look at the chocolate. The surface should be free of blemishes such as white marks (called bloom). Observe the color and manufacturer's job at molding and tempering. Does the chocolate appear to have been crafted carefully or slovenly? The bar should have a radiant sheen. Chocolate comes in a multifarious brown rainbow with various tints, such as pinks, purples, reds, and oranges. What do you see?

6. Break the piece in half. It should resonate with a resounding "SNAP!" and exhibit a fine gradient along the broken edge. This is quality stuff!

7. Smell the chocolate, especially at the break point. The aroma is an important component of flavor. Inhaling will prime the tongue for the incoming chocolate. It also gives you a chance to pick up the various nuances of the aroma.

8. Place the chocolate on the tongue and allow it to arrive at body temperature. Let it melt. Chew it only to break it into small enough pieces that it begins to melt on its own. After all, we're tasting and not eating! This step is crucial, for it allows the cocoa butter to distribute evenly in the mouth, which mutes any astringencies or bitterness in the chocolate.

9. Observe the taste and texture. As the chocolate melts, concentrate on the flavors that are enveloping your tongue. Melting will release more volatile compounds for you to smell. Close your eyes, take notes, enjoy this moment of bliss, and bask in contentment. Texture can be the most obvious clue about the quality of a chocolate. Low quality chocolates will have a grainy almost cement-like texture.

10. Now the chocolate is nearing its finish. How has the flavor evolved? Is the chocolate bitter? Heavy? Light? Was the texture smooth or grainy? Do any changes in texture and flavor occur? Take note of how the chocolate leaves the palate. Is there a strong reminder lingering in your mouth, or does it quickly vanish? Note any metallic or unpleasant flavors in the finish. This is a sign of stale or lower quality chocolate.

11. Repeat the process with a different chocolate. The comparison will highlight the subtle flavor notes in each chocolate. By sure to cleanse your palate thoroughly before tasting each different chocolate.

12. Shoot yourself.

(Okay, that last one was mine.)

Just How Little Are You, Debbie?

I love snacks, and let no man, woman, child, or bovine convince you otherwise. What I especially like are Little Debbie products, namely Swiss Cake Rolls. Granted, one could make the (plausible) argument that Star Crunch® Cosmic™ Snacks played a greater role in shaping my current, charming personality than Swiss Rolls ever did, but that notwithstanding, the Swiss sure know how to make some good fucking rolls.

During high school, my daily lunch consisted of the following: a bottle of Surge*, mystery meat atop a slice of white bread all smothered in brown gravy (the cafeteria food was surprisingly good, even if it was, unsurprisingly, a perplexing endeavor to determine the animal from which the meat originated), and a pack of Swiss Cake Rolls.

I always wondered why we, the customers, were never given a glimpse of Debbie beyond the mug shot strategically placed upon each and every wrapper. Was she hot? No, if only because that happens to be the dumbest goddamn query possible amongst mankind, and inching toward idealjetsam levels of creepiness to boot. Was she fit?** That's what I really wanted to know, as one so addled by sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is apt to entertain such ridiculous conjecture.

At the time, my supposition was that Debbie must have been quite the little porker, and that she was rolling a whole lot of money into her Swiss bank account, courtesy of chumps like me. Lest you judge me too harshly, diluted reader, keep in mind that Debbie Reynolds is, in fact, a living person and not the fantasy of some advertising agency gone awry.

I miss high school.


Iced Honey Bun

* Separate post, bitches!

** That's the second dumbest question amongst mankind, followed by Why doesn't she update that hat?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Swans Reflecting Elephants



A few months ago, whilst browsing about the Jamsil Kyobo Book Center, I saw they had Stephen King's Duma Key in hardcover. I bought it. (That same day, somebody jumped off a bridge spanning the Han, and I'd like to think the two occurrences were unrelated. I'd like to.) I read it. Or, rather, the first 70 or so pages; because, boy, that's one heavy book, and -- please believe me when I say I'm being 100% genuine -- holding it in my hands hurt my wrists so much that I could barely swing my bat in the shower the next morning.

So I gave up on the book for a time, always planning to pick it up again, but never really wanting to. Reading, Constant Retard, is synonymous with comfort (unless you're attending high school).

Enter: Today. After a night of pool*, vodka, THE BEST CHICKEN WRAPS I'VE EVER HAD THE PLEASURE OF TONGUE FUCKING**, and shaving cream, I ventured into the Bundang Kyobo Book Center with one goal in mind: find Duma Key in paperback.

Mission: successful. Ice cream: cold.

Book in hand and rationalizing my purchase by thinking, "I've bought It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back four times in various forms of media, and I own more than a few pairs of blue jeans," I hopped on the Green Line, during the commute reading what promises to be King's best novel ever about a 50-year-old guy from Minnesota who loses his arm in a construction accident and relocates to south Florida. But, just as the book's protagonist, Edgar Freemantle, has a phantom itch after having his right arm amputated, so too do I have a gnawing, irksome annoyance.

Listen, I'm guilty of making mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation from time to time -- the most blatant of which, if you you check the PK archives, Bruce, is my embarrassing habit of placing punctuation outside of quotation marks*** -- but there are some mistakes that I'm unwilling to turn a blind eye to.

Sorry: There are some mistakes to which I'm unwilling to turn a blind eye.

See, King, God bless him, repeatedly writes "for awhile" rather than the grammatically correct "for a while." He did this as well in Blaze, and perhaps in many of his other books. Blaze was the first one I noticed it in, and I chalked the error up to King writing in a loose style to reflect the brain-damaged protagonist's narrative. The same might be said for the brain-damaged protagonist of Duma Key, but I don't think so.

No, what I believe is that King doesn't know the grammatical correctness between "stay awhile" and "stay for a while." That's all fine and dandy, but the man has editors and proofreaders, right? I suppose it's different for a bestselling author, but I'd get called on the carpet for something like that.

I suppose that, in this case, the writer, editor, and proofreaders share the blame (the paperback has some god-awfully omitted words in places), and I also realize my work as an editor has made me hypersensitive to writing mistakes both blatant and subtle (blatant: "everyday" written to indicate daily; subtle: using a space after an ellipsis), but I'm genuinely surprised that a novel published by one of the largest American publishing companies and written by one of America's last few writing celebrities would let such an error slip past.

Mostly, though, I'm confused. I'm all for making the English language more comprehensible, but if the price to pay is reducing such a beautiful language to the simple, ugly written word used these days by the ignorant and uneducated, count me out.

(And, trust me, I recognize the irony.)

I'm getting older, but not stupider, thankfully.

Update: Okay, now I'm getting kinda pissed. I read another 30 pages this evening before going to my Pilates class, and I encountered a "what on earth?" You live on it, so capitalize that fucker.



* deserves its own post...that I'll never write

** deserves its own post that I probably will write, right after this one

*** or, if we're talking speech, my retarded use of the word "instinctually" during the last PKast. Of course the word I was searching for was "instinctively." But you already knew that.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Psychedelic Kimochi

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Elliman Says

This one's for you, sweet thing.






JIKKO!

Just Me and My Bitch




She's a brick, and I'm drowning slowly.

(For Kmart.)

Yo Joe!


Congratulations are in order to America's latest flavor of the month: Joe the Plumber. Previously known as Joe Six Pack aka Joe Blow aka Joe Camel, he is the new poster boy of American politics, and a doozy at that.

Aspects of Joe the Plumber that need concern you, dicked reader:

1. He's been working all his life to start his own plumbing business.
2. If he makes over 250k per year, Papa Obama is gonna stick it to him i.e. not at all.
3. The man really needs a boost from trickle-down economics.*
4. Don't get him started on abortion, unless it pertains to the 'really bad' kind of abortion that we all know and fear.
5. He doesn't have a wife, but if he did, rest assured that she'd be in favor of teaching without any manner of training.
6. He fully understands that eating at Taco Bell encourages illegal immigration.

Can you recognize the future when it's slapping you in the face (with a plunger), United States?


* That's tinkle-down economics to you and me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fireworks

I will show you genius in a handful of green glass




Let's face it, soju brands aren't known for their uniqueness vis a vis packaging and labeling. They're all bottled in green, um, bottles, each with the same off-white label and frustratingly -- and thumb-cuttingly -- stubborn cap seal.

Enter: Cheoeum Cheoreom soju and their capital idea to hire singer (and all-around sexy girl) Lee Hyori as their spokesperson*.

Now, putting Hyori's face/body/posterior/labia on the front of a soju bottle, while awesome, could be seen by some as crass. The answer? Put a picture of her on the bottle's back label and tell your distributors to place the bottles backwards in convenience store refrigerators.

Then proceed to reap the monetary rewards.

(On a personal note, I was "Hyori'd" this very evening. I hope you'll believe me when I say it wasn't the first time. Nor will it be the last.)




* I'm no feminist, so I'm using "spokesperson" over "product whore" or "marketing slut."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Breaking News


Get ready for fun, everyone!

From the Sony Pictures Studios, it's America's game: Wheel of Fortune!

This week, there's a collection of very special episodes entitled 'Canada Week.' For the next five days, folks, you'll be treated to killer puzzles like
H O C K E Y
G R E A T
W A Y N E G R E T Z K Y
and have the chance to win amazing prizes such as a romantic getaway to scenic Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.*

Set your TiVo if you're unable to catch the action live!

* Would it have been beneficial to provide a Wikipedia link for Saskatchewan, as if it were some obscure reference? I'm just saying.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Korea!



It's about Korea. Scout's honor.

http://www.switchpod.com/users/kmart/KoreaSorta.mp3

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Jealous Ones Envy

Yeah, this afternoon I had the best 생선까스 I've ever had the pleasure of tasting; but -- word to Sinead and Leon Yoo -- nothing compares to the following, which I have it on good authority my man Kmartian is eating every day (that and pussy).

The Yoko Matsugane of Meals

Big Bell Meal, you don't know me, but you make me so happy.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Paint the Snake



I love you and you loathe me, but it's October (the month to end all months; the time for things best left unwritten to flourish; the greatest opportunity to enjoy both hot eats and cool treats) so let's put aside our petty differences to better embrace the Anything Goes lifestyle, if only for a moment.

(Take only what you needn't.)

-

Jeff Erickson is well aware that something is wrong. Glancing over his shoulder, towards his sleeping wife, he hates to consider just what that something is. She moves, slightly adjusting her left arm in an unconscious effort of increasing the comfort of her slumber. He watches as her hand creeps ever closer to his side of the bed, and in reaction he inches further away. He doesn’t know why. He loves his wife, but the glory of that rose is fading away without a doubt. Age is an enemy and he knows that the burden of time is beginning to fall upon the two of them without remorse. Just as he laments the steady loss of what was once a thick, healthy head of blonde, he cannot help but notice the lines forming upon her peaceful face. There is nothing that could disguise the fact: not her mane of chocolate hair, not the beauty of her eyes, nor the exotic nature of her complexion. He is getting old and his wife, Julianne, is not far behind. This is part of the problem, for youth is truth to Jeff Erickson.

Sitting along the edge of the bed, he recalls the words he would once use to describe himself. Handsome, daring; an exciting man with considerable business savvy. Now? A balding thirty-nine year old man; dependable, respectable and successful. He is still physically fit and he thanks the Lord for that gift day in and day out, but then again he was fit fifteen, even ten years ago, back when he was still a dashing youth full of piss and vinegar. Basking in the pale moonlight that seeps through the skylight, he quietly pushes his checkered boxer shorts down to his knees in order to examine the rejuvenated reminder of his spry prime. Free from the confines of its cotton prison, the essence of manhood stands tall, but is it proud? In a way, he thinks he should be jumping for joy, or perhaps he should stir his wife from slumber, as she would undoubtedly gasp in ravenous delectation. For the past three months he has been writhing in the silent agony of impotence. It is something far beyond the scope of physical dysfunction, however. Julianne assumes that such inactivity is a phase that will pass in due time, and that is one reason that he refrains from waking her. To presume that time is something to put faith in is naïve, perhaps even a sign of ignorance. His wife isn’t stupid, she just lacks an adequate level of pessimism. Studying his prize, entranced by his throbbing instrument of pleasure, he bears no intention of sharing this moment with his wife. Her body is like her face: still beautiful, but getting older by the minute, something to reminisce. Furthermore, it has all been done before, in several fashions no less. He still loves his wife though, and despite the magnificence of an erection he is troubled. This is the second instance of his being cocked since the onset of impotence and, just as the first occurrence, Julianne is not the woman stirring the passions within his veins. A question deftly arises: Does the flame of desire burn so brightly for someone that is not even a woman?

Jeff cannot answer this question, or, at the very least, he doesn’t want to. He hates himself for even contemplating such an atrocity. His throat is parched, acting in conjunction with his longing for sexual gratification. Pulling his boxers back up to his waist, he mourns the further containment of the roaring bulge but nonetheless he must quench his thirst. In silence he exits the master bedroom, carefully shutting the door as not to disturb his adoring wife. Through the darkness he makes his way down the hallway leading to the kitchen; towards refreshment. Passing the bathroom is inevitable though, and as he creeps by, he spies the tiny nightlight providing what minute illumination it may upon the family restroom. For a moment he pauses, as if he is a slave to his own penis. Poking and prodding, his desperate extension thrusts itself against the cotton barrier, striving to reclaim the fervor associated with the bathroom, the shower in particular. It remembers the first instance of phallic resurrection, as does he. Eleven days have passed…


…It was a matter of chance really, as fate was not within his vocabulary. Business was good at Rockwell; the engineers were content and thus his position in management was a delight. During such periods of prosperity an early withdrawal from the office was permissible, even encouraged, and he had long ago come to the conclusion that no matter how much one enjoyed work, it was still work, and thus he made the decision to take advantage of the opportunity with marked enthusiasm. An hour and a half scratched off of the work week was certainly a perk, as freedom at three-thirty as opposed to the usual five o’clock simply lengthened the weekend.

He threw the keys of his S-10 onto the table alongside the usual assortment of junk mail, as he was eager to loosen the noose associated with professional life. The microwave proclaimed that it was exactly forty-six minutes past three. His wife would not return for another hour at least; Fridays were her turn to make a grocery run after work was through. However, he was fairly certain that his daughter would be home by now. Yet it appeared that both were absent and in realization of this fact he smiled, for it meant that he could mix himself a drink without fear of reprisal. As of late Julianne had been harping on him about his drinking habits, saying that their daughter was at an impressionable stage of life. The consumption of alcoholic beverages in the presence of teenagers sent a negative message, or so he had been told, and to pacify his wife he often resisted the urge to enjoy a post-work, homebound happy hour. Neither of them were present at the instant, and he could hear the siren song of Bombay seductively whispering in his ear, ushering him towards the liquor cabinet.

Setting the blue bottle upon the table, he had begun the search for a suitable glass when he was momentarily startled by an unexpected noise originating elsewhere in the house. Perhaps he had been mistaken; his daughter might be home after all. Ruled by curiosity he stepped out of the kitchen and into the living room, facing the hallway leading into the bedroom. There both his gaze and his body froze in unison, paralyzed by a luscious shock that ravaged his senses.

Likewise stood his daughter, undoubtedly stunned by his mere appearance within the sanctuary of their home. He could feel the dark chocolate of her eyes focus upon him, glossing over in disbelief, and it was the certainty of confusion that granted him the opportunity to study the unwitting instigator of his surprise. The damp towel that withheld the majority of her delicate, steadily developing physique from his sight was bleach white. It was as if the essence of purity had draped her in amiable flakes of the brightest snow, deliberately playful in its intention of tickling his eyes. Similarly, the hall surrounding his daughter was of a congruent hue to the towel itself, thus further accentuating the copper that was her exposed flesh. Tucked beneath her arms, the towel failed to completely deny him a glimpse of the quaint crevice, an emerging chasm signifying the otherwise hidden breasts of a girl on the verge of womanhood (he was not exactly sure what the term womanhood meant but he considered breasts to be a necessary component of the equation). His glance was swift, as aversion served to avoid the fearful possibility of discovery at the hands of his own progeny.

She gasped. “Dad! What are you doing home!?!” He tried to think of something that would pacify her, yet his mind was devoid of any tact, let alone wit.

“I just…” He paused to shrug, as if the movement would provide credibility to his guise of embarrassment. “I decided to leave work early. I didn’t know that you –“ She cut him short, interrupting his apology with multiple obscenities. Rushing past him, she furiously leapt down the stairs that led into the basement which was her lair, and subsequently he heard the slam of a door. They were utterly separated now, and yet his mind was still lingering in the magic of devious fascination.

Consumed by a yearning that was still incomprehensible, he returned to the kitchen and mixed himself a potent concoction. Gulping the gin, he savored the flavor that washed down his throat with a detached sense of satisfaction, for it served to dull the tempest that was brewing beneath the tranquil surface of his skin, and yet the vivacious bulge emerging from his crotch spoke a language all its own. The bestial manifestation was like a slap in the face, for the amazement was undeniable: after weeks of languid dormancy the roar of vigor had returned with a vengeance. The reason behind this renewed vitality frightened him however, and he sought to exorcise the demon of incestuous carnality but it remained, toying with him. He couldn’t help but envision what lie beneath that flimsy, lily-white obstruction. He wondered if there was a patch of darkness growing between his daughter’s tender legs, and if the color of her nipples were the same as her mother’s; an appetizing hue of burnt sienna that a tongue could savor as if feasting upon ambrosia. He shook his head violently and took another gulp of his drink. He felt like a monster but that was not the problem. The dilemma arose in that he could not make a decision as to whether or not he enjoyed these emotions, although part of him already arrived at an obvious conclusion.

Later in the evening his wife saw fit to chide him mildly. Her reproves were, of course, oblivious to what his thoughts were regarding the subject, instead focusing upon their daughter’s tumultuous adolescence. Julianne scolded him for not appreciating the fact that, at the age of fourteen, a young woman was incredibly self-conscious and the last thing a daughter needed was to be surprised by her father while half-naked. She was shy around boys, Julianne told him. She was uncomfortable with her body; kids still made fun of her mixed heritage; teachers complained that she was a daydreamer. To all this and more he listened. Mildly intoxicated, he found it remarkably easy to nod in agreement, satisfying his wife with the occasional “yes” or “I know”. To say that he actually understood anything about the mind of a teenage girl was a complete and utter lie, but nonetheless it was an effective strategy to assent, rather than argue, with his wife. Eventually the chiding subsided, allowing him to enjoy an evening with two of his favorite companions, gin and television, although secretly he thanked his wife for her actions, as they worked a bit of magic in their own way. The guilt placed upon his shoulders diminished the influx of troubling thoughts, as did the absence of further interaction with his daughter throughout the course of the evening. Only once did she emerge, cautiously inching up the stairs to retrieve a can of soda from the refrigerator. At that point, she was no longer the dripping temptress; she was his daughter, covered in stonewashed jeans and a black T-shirt that bore the insignia of Stone Temple Pilots (and he was vaguely aware that it was some sort of music she enjoyed). It was comforting to see her clothed, formless and sexless once more. As she emerged from the kitchen with a can of Pepsi she offered no acknowledgement of his presence, and was thankful for this small courtesy. Life had been restored to mundane normality…


…In the dead of night, amid the darkness, life is not normal, nor is it comfortable. Rapacious from thirst, he drenches his throat with water, refilling the glass repeatedly. The thirst refuses to subside, just as the glorious, hellish erection does not relinquish its hold upon him. He wipes his forehead knowing that he is sweating profusely. Eleven agonizing days of disturbing, carnal dreams gnaw upon his mind and for all this he is aware of an itch that tickles his very essence, whatever that may be. Water does not, cannot silence it. He contemplates excessive masturbation but that only infuriates him, as it will only delay, not eliminate the itch. He clenches his teeth to the point of ache because there is no avoiding the wicked truth: He is Father, but that comes second to his being Man primeval.

She listens to music in her sleep, he has heard it before and he feels the pulsating bass heighten his longing. Bathed in generous rays of the moon, her skin is vibrant and fresh, something pure. He slides into bed with her; it is a twin mattress, designed for the comfort of one but he is not deterred, for the two of them are not separate entities. He pulls her flimsy panties down to her knees as he watches her face contort as it stirs from the depths of convoluted, teenage slumber. Delicately he places one hand upon her mouth for he cannot allow her to utter a single word of protest, as it would destroy the ultimate passion. His other hand guides his devious entry, and he smiles as her eyes widen; he does not gather pleasure from any pain she experiences, but rather he grins in response to the corrosive ecstasy that accompanies the primal penetration which blurs the distinction between the He and the She. His daughter does not struggle but her eyes stare into his own with blank numbness, as if she is attempting to somehow understand what is going on. She does comprehend the physical activity, and he knows it; his best guess, however fleeting such consideration may be, is that she cannot fathom who is doing this to her. However, he is unwilling to entertain the idea that she feels anguish, for he is providing calm, gradual thrusts, just as he did the first time he made love to his wife. He needs to believe such a thing just to contain his own sanity. As his ecstasy continues to climb, he strokes her hair lovingly, for he knows he must keep her docile, mainly because his mind is dancing madly, construing imagery at a rate that is exhilarating. He thinks of three distinct scenarios:

He thinks of a day long past, back when he and his wife (whom at the time had been his fiancé) had been renting an apartment in the semi-lucrative Windsor on the River establishment, spending most of their days frolicking to the bittersweet melodies of Stevie Nicks. He had been watching an episode of the Dukes of Hazzard just as Julianne burst in through the doorway, drenched in the commodity of a sudden, furious downpour of rain. She muttered something about “fucking rain” but all he had been able to do was study the wet mane of hair with fascination, just as he was totally enraptured by the heaving of her chest, a shapely figure accentuated by the plastering of her T-shirt against her flesh. He couldn’t recall if the previous, generous bombardment of Daisy-imagery fueled his desire, but regardless he engulfed his fiancé immediately, savoring her wet perfection with animalistic glee. That evening they made wild, passionate sex the likes of which he would forever recall with a certain glimmer in his eye. The things she did that night, the way their bodies glimmered with sweat as they consecrated the worn leather couch; these memories are heaven. Something died that night though, never to return.

He thinks of a recent event that burns within his mind, that of his daughter no longer being his daughter, as she stepped into his view wearing only a towel. In that spontaneous instant he saw all that he once claimed as his own, and still did, but it was like stepping back in time, and perhaps itself a slice of superior goods, for was his wife ever this perfect? Yes! At least, he thinks so – but Julianne was faded, marred by the specter of age, whereas his daughter was pristine in her vitality, almost as if she is a reincarnation; not of a soul but of memory, brought about by divine intervention to reward his infatuation with youthful vigor. Or, he thinks; they may simply be perfection given life, a life that he can embrace to regain his own sense of personal decay. Then again, it could be nothing but a favorable result of genetics; and who is he to theorize?

But there is one other thought that his mind ushers forth, and it is one that cuts through him with serrated efficiency. He thinks of a little girl, one so full of joyful curiosity, sitting upon the front porch, happily watching the fireflies as they dance in the summer evening, while he sits behind her in his favorite patio chair. Prodded with questions regarding the nature of fireflies and their sparkling fire, he responded to the child with a shabby tale of wondrous fairies that loved nothing more than to show the world their majestic brilliance. It was a horribly simplistic tale indeed, and it had been composed at the spur of the moment, lacking any semblance of creativity, and yet the child smiled in amazement, chattering on and on about how she was glad that he knew so much about the world. It is here, in this fragment of time, that he wishes he had not recalled anything at all.

He realizes he is finished entertaining his body at the same exact moment that he knows he is about to choke on his guilt. Drained of his lust, he cannot bear to look her in the eyes, let alone be near her shivering frame. He pulls away, leaving his daughter to the empty caress of the night. Running his hand over his stained, jaded manhood, he methodically wipes away the excess ichor and seminal discharge and places the cooling refuse upon his plaid boxers. Life is too short to recall that devils lie in delayed reactions, and he collapses into his own bed, exhausted by such strenuous exertion.

He wakes in the morning empowered by vigor the likes of which he has not felt in years. He showers fanatically; soap is his best friend now. He eats breakfast with his wife, as he always enjoys her bacon and cheese omelets. Out of habit he inquires where their daughter is, as she should be up by now preparing for school. His wife sighs with a familiar tone that hinted to an absence from school; their daughter was quite adept at becoming ill if she so wished. She tells him “Megan tells me she’s not feeling well, and to be honest, she did look a bit sickly.” He nods and tells his wife that she might as well stay home from school then. With that he kisses his wife goodbye, a kiss accompanied by a playful stroke of her rear. He alerts his wife to the fact that he feels better than ever and that she will be in store for a treat this evening, and that he hopes she has a good day at work. With that he sets off towards the daily grind but it will not be the daily grind at all, for he is viewing the world in a way that he once considered lost to the sands of time. He is reborn, but there is a question that arises from the back of his spine, and this dreadful query burrows into his mind: For how long will he feel this great?

____________________________


R.J. MacReady

I Wouldn't Spend My Life Just Wishing


My girlfriend and I hopped in her car and left Seoul for Bundang at just after eight. We were on our way to Clive's, a bar which a mutual friend of ours owned. I used to frequent the place before moving back to Seoul late the year prior, and every few weeks or so I'd manage to find my way back, more for nostalgia's sake than anything else. (The clientèle had a way of changing every six months or so, as tends to happen at expat bars on the Peninsula, and usually not for the better.)

Clive's.

I met a guy there who nicknamed it "Drexler's."

When I pointed out that former NBA player Clyde Drexler's name was not, in fact, "Clive," I got told to fuck off.

Raw shark.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Nightmare as a Child


A phone rings.

"Hello?"

"Hey, Dwyane -- not sure if I spelled that right. Anyway, how are things?"

"Who is this?"

"Your worst nightmare. Ha ha."

"Stephon?"

"Guilty as charged. Are you watching The Twilight Zone on Veoh? It sounds like you are."

"I was sleeping, actually."

"Why? Did somebody slip you a roofie? It's only 4 AM. I hear things about those South Beach clubs, man."

"Do you have any particular reason for calling, Steph?"

"Maybe. I've been sitting in my four-cornered room, staring at candles, and having pareidolic visions."

"Paleolithic missions?"

"I knew you wouldn't understand."

"Well, it is pretty late."

"The party's just getting started, baby! Congrats on your gold medal, by the way."

"Thanks."

"I'm really proud of you, Dwyane. You were too green in 2004. You really have come into your own."

"Stephon..."

"Sometimes I feel like the black Syd Barret."

"Who?"

"You know, the guy who played drums for The Who. So, how's Star? Never mind. We'll have enough time to catch up with each other in training camp."

"What?"

"Oh, you haven't heard yet? I got the call straight from Pat. I'm to report to training camp after I get back from this auction in Paris. Seriously, you haven't heard? This is gonna be so cool! Beasley needs someone to dish to, doesn't he?"

Don’t be afraid. Bad dreams are only dreams.