Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth), or: Fear Itself

I’m currently enjoying the last of my three mostly-relaixing days off work in a row with a cup of coffee and Faith No More’s superlative 1992 album Angel Dust. I’m thinking about watching a movie when I’m done writing this (maybe The Thing or Full Metal Jacket), and I’ll probably take a nap at some point. I might watch an episode or two of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I don't know if we'll have enough time.

“Hey Joel, how did you manage to snag three mostly-relaxing days off work in a row? Isn’t your job currently crushing your soul and slowly draining you of life?”

Kind of rude of you interrupt, but I do appreciate your interest. I’ll handle the second part of your question first: as a matter off fact, my job is currently crushing my soul, and has also been sapping my very will to live lately. That’s not say that I don’t enjoy my job; as jobs go, I could do (and have done) much worse for myself. I actually quite like my job most of the time, inasmuch as I am capable of liking a job. (I firmly believe that the purpose of human beings on this planet/holographic simulation is not to toil away at jobs, but I’m caught firmly in that game, and it’s a hard game to quit). Frankly, most of the soul-crushing and life-draining I’m currently experiencing is a direct result of working in the foodservice industry during a global pandemic.

It goes without saying that what follows is solely my opinion, and does not reflect the opinion of my employer but I’ll go ahead and say it just to be absolutely clear: everything published on this blog is solely my opinion, and does not ever reflect the opinion of my employer or anyone else, unless otherwise noted. We obviously need your business so we can stay in business, but many of us are overworked to the point of near exhaustion. A little bit of understanding (and maybe a little empathy) from the general restaurant-going public would be pretty great, and I would love to be able to take a couple of days off work that don’t involve oral surgery or covid vaccines for myself and or my better half.

But I digress. To answer your first question, I was able so score three days off in a row by scheduling oral surgery (I already used up the covid vaccine excuse) to finally get all four of my wisdom teeth removed at the sprightly young age of 44. I went into the experience knowing that even though I would likely end up miserable and unable to eat or sleep or think about anything but pain, I would at least have a good excuse to rest my feet and back, and to not think about work for three days. My overworked and underpaid prep cook/manager Mike also picked up an extra day to cover one of my days off. That guy is a fucking champion and a bloody legend. All hail Mike, the Fucking Legendary Champion.

Anyway, let’s hold the rest of your questions until the end of this piece, please.

This song is not about being overworked and exhausted, but rather is about vampires. Your second question made me think of it, though, and it’s a fucking rad song, so why not shut your damn fool mouth and dig it, especially since you apparently decided it was okay to interrupt me with a question? You should proably go ahead and listen to the rest of the Surf Nicaragua EP while you’re at it. It’s not my favorite Sacred Reich release, but it’s a damn fine piece of work.

Here’s a little backstory on my experience with dentists, since you insist on knowing so dang much about my three days off in a row.

My mom never took me to the dentist as a kid, because I was one of 4 kids, and neither she nor my dad had dental insurance, and we just couldn’t afford it. No one in my immediate family went to the dentist when I was a kid, aside from emergency situations, and being #blessed with pretty good teeth, I never went at all. One result of that reality is that I made my first ever visit to a dentist at the age of 21, when I started having some relatively intolerable tooth pain. I chose a dentist from the Yellow Pages pretty much randomly, which was the style at the time, and Dr. Asshole (not his real name – I probably wouldn’t have picked him if that had been his name) informed me that the pain was, in fact, tooth decay, and that the decaying tooth was, in fact, one of two baby teeth that never came out of my mouth as a child, and which was now starting to just rot out of my big dumb head. He gave me a local anesthetic and began to chisel it out, stopping once, ever-so-briefly, after I indicated that I was was in pain. He said “does that hurt?” and I said something like “yehhh” and said “that’s weird, you shouldn’t be able to feel anything” and continued to chisel away until he was finished. He gave me a prescription for darvocet, and I went home to rest. After taking my second dose and going to bed, I got the fear, and became convinced that something(s) was/were in my closet. The only thing that made sense to calm me down was to get out of the room and watch Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, which is the best of the Police Acadmey franchise, I don’t care what you say. COP helped soothe my jangled nerves and I eventually fell asleep in my easy chair.

Fun tangent: I got the opportunity to meet Bobcat Goldthwait many years later/several years ago (god I’m getting old) and I told him a very abridged version of that story, and he listened patiently, and when I was all finished, he responded “Really? Police Academy 4 calmed you down? That’s pretty weird, man.” Then he signed the very same VHS copy of Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol that saved my life that night all those years ago. Bobcat Goldthwait is a hilarious, weird, very friendly man, and a true American Treasure.

Upon my expiration from this plane of existence, I would like to be cremated with and/or have my remains shot into outer space accompanied by this item, please and thank you.

About a year later, one of my wisdom teeth started to bother me. After a few days of grinning through the pain, I found a different dentist, this time on the recommendation of a friend. Dr. Much-Nicer-Than-the-Last-Guy (also probably not his real name, although I couldn’t begin to wager a guess as to what his real name was) diagnosed the problem and gave me a prescription for antibiotics and a referral to an oral surgeon. The antibiotics made the pain stop, so I threw the referral in the garbage where it belonged and went on with my life. A couple of years after that I was living in Austin, Texas in the early stages of the car crash that was my first marriage when that wisdom tooth started to bother me again, only much worse this time. After lying awake in absolute misery for a few hours, I woke up my ol’ lady and informed her that I needed to go to the emergency room. I caught a vibe from the ER doctor – let’s call him Dr. Dickhead – like he thought I was trying to score narcotics or some such. If only he’d known about my darvocet experience.

“It’s your wisdom tooth. It’s infected. You need to see a dentist,” Dr. Dickhead said prickishly.
“I know what it is,” I responded through clenched teeth, my clothes dripping with sweat, “but I don’t currently have a dentist and it’s 3:00 AM, and I’m in a lot of pain.”
“I can give you some antibiotics, but you need to see a dentist,” he said, dick-headedly.
“I don’t currently have a dentist, but I would love to have some antibiotics, thank you.”

I took the day off work and consumed as much ibuprofen as I could safely consume, along with the antibiotics Dr. Dickhead so graciously prescribed me. The antibiotics cleard up the infection, like antibiotics do, but this time I found a proper dentist (Dr. Very-Nice) and became a returning patient. When she told me I should think about getting my wisdom teeth removed I pretended to do so, but they weren’t bothering me, so I decided not to bother them.

In the interest of saving us a small amount of our precious and fleeting time, let’s fast forward to now-ish, which places us at 17 years and 2 dentists beyond Dr. Very-Nice.

A few months ago, my current dentist, Dr. Weirdo (who is in no way an asshole, a dickhead, or even a prick) recommended I get my wisdom teeth removed, just to avoid issues down the line. They hadn’t bothered me at all in at least 10 years, but I trust that weirdo, so I got a referral and set a date for my surgery. I was nervous, because I’m a fairly rational human being, and after consulting Mrs. Circlepit, with her lifetime of dental woes, I decided to opt for general anesthesia. Essentially, the idea of sitting in a chair for an hour hearing the sounds of oral surgery was mostly unappealing to me, and remebering the fact that my first local anesthesia experience from 23 years ago was much more uncomfortable than either I or Dr. Asshole expected, I decided I’d rather spend the extra money and get knocked out.

It woulda been cool to be knocked out by this.

Extraction Day arrived this past Monday, and I put on a strong face, but on the inside, I was shittin bricks.

As I sat in the chair waiting for the doctor to arrive, I thought back to all the people I’ve known who have had wisdom teeth pulled and/or cut out, and how nearly all of them (especially the ones over 30-ish) experienced a recovery that sat somewhere on a scale of rough-to-bad. I though about the old medical dictionary my mom had from the late 60’s or early 70’s (which I enjoyed reading as a kid), remembering the horrifying stories of olde-tyme surgery and early anesthesia (knowing it wouldn’t be like that, but thinking of it nonetheless). Then the doctor came in, told me he was gonna insert an IV, and that I would probably feel the medicine going in for a couple of minutes. Next thing I know, I’m being awakened by the nurse.

“Is it over already?” I slurred, trying to steal a few more seconds behind the comfort of my closed eyes.
“It’s already over,” she replied. “We need to you wake up so you can go home.”
“He’s finished? No shit? I don’t even remember it,” I mumbled.
“He’s finished. Can you wake up for me?”

And I did, eventually. I guess. I have no memory of being put into the car, and I have the faintest image of sitting in the passenger seat at the CVS drive-thru while we tried to pick up my post op prescriptions, but they apparently weren’t ready yet, so we came home and then there’s a dull awareness of taking my shoes off and sitting on the couch, whereupon evidence retrieved yesterday shows that I attempted to watch a previously recorded A&E Biography episode on retired pro wrestler Shawn Michaels, but fell asleep before it even started. Mrs. Circlepit picked up my Rx a little later, by the way, to the tune of $6.66, which is undeniably pretty fuckin awesome.

Let him who hath understanding reckon the total, after insurance coverage, of your prescriptions.

I ate like a horse on a liquid/soft food diet that first day, putting away some V8, fruit smoothie, applesauce, yogurt (twice), cream of tomato soup, and two Burger King milkshakes. I’ve inexplicably felt zero discomfort since I was in the chair pre-surgery, when the childlike worries of possibly not waking up from the surgery flashed through my brain, and I only had to do about 90 minutes-worth of work yesterday, mostly getting next week’s schedule finished before I was inundated with even more time-off requests, which also allows me the luxury of doing jack-shit today, which is a pretty nice feeling, even though a tiny part of me feels like a lazy sack of turds, thanks the difficulty with being still that I inherited from my dear ol’ Ma. I realize there are a lot of commas in that last sentence, but I don’t really care. Besides, I’ve written sentences that used way more commas before.

I guess the point of this, if there is one, is that sometimes (often?) the things we worry about most don’t come to fruition. That and, if you’re in the vicinity of Bloomington, Indiana and need oral surgery, I suppose I’d recommend Dr. Devitt (that is his real name) at Bloomington Oral Surgery. Seems like he did a helluva fine job. If I wasn’t able to feel the stiches, I wouldn’t even know he’d ever been inside my mouth.

Thanks for reading. And seriously, eat a meal at home every now and then so I can, too.

Old-Ass Mixtape Reviews, Volume 3: Late 90s Mix (Save): Side B

Welcome to the second half (Side B, if you will) of my riveting journey through time itself, in the form of a 20-ish year old mixtape. If you missed it, check out “Side A” here, and then check out Volume 1 here. If you’re too lazy/busy to click through those links, the gist is that I’m listening to this old-ass mixtape for the first time in who knows how long (it’s certainly been at least 5 years, but probably closer to 10), I have no idea what’s on it, and I’m sharing the results with you, gentle reader. Together we’ll have a laugh or two, and maybe learn a little bit about what makes ol’ Rev. Joel tick, aside from tacos, coffee, John Carpenter movies, and Tom & Jerry cartoons. Let’s get started, whadda ya say?

Side B”

1. Bubbling through the mud and muck resulting from my short-sighted failure/possible inability to use Dolby Noise Reduction is “Bored” by Deftones. You may recall that Side A started off with “7 Words”, also by Deftones. Both songs are from their auspicious1995 (!) debut album Adrenaline, which is not as good as the albums that followed it, but is still a solid album. The foundation for what this band became was definitely in place on their debut.

2. “Bored” is followed by what seems at first be silence, but is in fact part of “Kinky Sex Makes the World Go ‘Round” by Dead Kennedys, dubbed over into near oblivion (as mentioned in Volume 2, I was real into DK at this point in my life). It sounds kinda spooky, and it goes on for a surprisingly long amount of time (not unlike the song itself), but Mitchell, Indiana’s own Circle of Illusions is up now, and holy smokes, this was a good band! I’ll write more about them another time. The song is called “Flow”, by the way.

3. Another track, another Circle of Illusions song, this one “Without Time”. Speaking of time, this band sounds very much of its time, which is to say 1997. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all.

4. Ahmahgawd, it’s “Us vs. Them” by New York Hardcore legends Sick of it All! This song is from their 1997 nutkicker Built to Last. I was a real sucker for any song with a bunch of gang vocals back then (it’s the same era as my discovery of the Misfits, and punk rock in general). Gang Vocals are still one of my primary musical weaknesses, but not as much as jangly guitar, sick riffs, and unconventional vocalists.

5. I suspected “Busted”, from the same album, might be next, and I’m glad my suspicions were correct. This is a superfast moshpit-inducer with lead vocals by bassist/kickboxing champion/NYHC legend Craig Setari. Sick of it All kick an unbelievable amount of ass, and I really hope I get to see them live again someday. “You wanna take, take, take ’til you have it all!/CAN’T TRUST IT!/Your busted ass!” Indeed.

6. Up next is “Long Whip/Big America” by Corrosion of Comformity, from their 1996 album Wiseblood, which I used to think was just okay, but which grows on me as I grow older (seeing COC live a couple of times in the past few years helped me appreciate the Pepper Keenan-fronted version of the band a lot more). This song is fuckin great. Back around the time when this mixtape was made, my buddy Travis would sometimes sing “maybe I’m wrong, but I think my dick is too long” to the tune of this chorus, and it always cracked me up. In fact, it still does. I apologize for nothing!

7. I definitely did not expect “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits to be here, but when I think about it, I do remember a period of time where I was really into this song and “Why Worry Now”, both from their bajillion-selling Brothers in Arms. Travis and I used to spend a lot of time driving around listening to music during this period, and he was a straight up Dire Straits fan. Like to the point where he even bought their other albums! I wil be flabbergasted if “Why Worry Now” isn’t next.

8. Consider me flabbergasted, although I’d be willing to bet that it used to be on here and I just taped “Spiderman”, from Greatest Hits Live by the Ramones, over it. I don’t listen to the Ramones nearly enough anymore. They really were just one of the very best goddamn bands that ever existed.

9. In the ultra-brief time that I wrote the thing about the Ramones, the song ended and there was like 2 seconds of very loud silence (curse you, lack of Dolby Noise Reduction!) followed by approximately 1.5 seconds a “Distorted and Very Out-of-Tune Guitar Chord” that was certainly played by Yours Truly. I had to pause the tape and collect myself for what might be next, based on said out-of-tune chord. I also had to pee and get more coffee, but you don’t need to hear my entire life story. Not when there are old-ass mixtapes to review.

I did a google for the word “onward” so I could find a funny picture or gif to put here, but every single result was for some goddamn Pixar movied called Onward, and I got tired of trying to filter out those results, so I just put this song here instead, because Unleashed fucking rules.

10. Following that groundbreaking dissonant blast of musical genius (yeah, that’s the ticket!) is another 1-3 seconds of silence, followed by Yours Truly again, this time playing “The Same Note Over and Over and Over Again” on my old Les Paul copy. Listening to this now reminds me why I must remain vigilant against any thoughts I ever entertain about getting another guitar, or another bass, or a banjo, or whatever other insturment I think I want. I have no interest in learning how to play an instrument, I just wanna skip the learning process and know how to play. My lack of patience would’ve made me easy pickins for the Dark Side of the Force. It likely still would.

“The Same Note Over and Over and Over Again” gave way to what is, as of right now, at least one full minute of silence. Surely that’s not the end of our adventure. That would be even more disappointing than The Neverending Story was when Mrs. Circlepit and I rewatched it last year for the first time since we were kids. Yeah, I said it.

Real talk: y’all’s nostalgia is clouding your view; that movie is a turd. We’re given no reason whatsoever to care about Atreyu (or his horse Artax, for that matter, even though Artax is the only likeable character in the movie aside from the bookshop owner), and then when that damn wiener kid Bastian gets to return home and is asked what he’ll wish for next, he doesn’t wish to have his mom back, even though losing her seems to be the source of most of his troubles. No, he goes straight to using Falkor to chase and terrorize his bullies. “I’ll see you in hell, Mom, I’ve got terror to inflict!” I’ve read that Micheal Ende, who wrote the novel that the movie is kind of based upon, did not like the adaptation, and tried to sue to block its release and/or force a name change. He was unsuccessful, but he was not wrong for trying.

Also, I found this on wikipedia, and it made me laugh: “Gene Siskel said the film’s special effects and art direction were cheap-looking and that Falkor the luckdragon resembled the sort of stuffed toy you’d win at a county fair and throw out when you left. He also referred to Noah Hathaway [Atreyu] as a ‘dullard’ and said the film was ‘much too long,’ even after [Roger] Ebert pointed out the film was only 90 minutes long.” I like to think that Siskel responded to that with something along the lines of “okay, then it’s 90 minutes too long.” And I know it’s a kids movie, dammit, but I also know that kids movies are capable of being good.

For example, we rewatched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids for the first time in 30-odd years (not to be confused with 30 Odd Foot of Grunts) last week. It held up much better, and it was quite good. It was funny and well-paced, and the special effects were really well done, especially for the time. It’s no Goonies or anything, but it’s light years ahead of The Neverending Story. By the way, Roger Ebert was critcal of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids after praising The Neverending Story, proving once again that critics don’t know shit about dick, and at least strongly implying that Roger Ebert may have been something of a dullard himself.

Sorry, I got a bit off track there. The tape stopped like 20 minutes ago, by the way. “The Same Note Over and Over and Over Again” was indeed the last “song” on “Side B” of Late 90s Mix (Save). That is indeed disappointing, but as it turns out, not as disappointing as The Neverending Story.

I’m pretty sure there used to be a couple of Sepultura songs on there at some point. Probably “Territory”, and either “Refuse/Resist” or “The Hunt” (maybe both). I was into Chaos A.D. real hard back then.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane with me. There’ll be more installments of Old-Ass Mixtape Reviews at some point. I gotta lot of old-ass mixapes. Thanks for reading, and if you like what you read, why not leave a comment and/or tell a friend?

Old-Ass Mixtape Reviews, Volume 2: Late 90s Mix (Save): Side A

Welcome! Today I’m gonna I listen to an old mixtape for the first time in a long time, and I’m gonna write while I do it, just to make myself write. We’ll see what happens. I did this once before, and I don’t know if anyone else really saw it, but it was a fun exercise, so I decided to do it again, because I have a lot of shit rattling around in my think hole.

For Volume 1, I pressed play and wrote while the tape was playing, ostensibly to write a real-time “first listen”-type review, but also to just force myself to write for a set period of time. I kinda did that this time, but I also kinda didn’t. More “overdubs” this time, you might say.

Late 90s Mix (Save) is a 90-minute cassette, and frankly, I don’t have time to cover the whole thing right now. Instead you’ll get Side A, and you’ll like it. You should consider yourself lucky to get 45 minute’s-worth of recorded content. When I was your age we had to put tape over the holes on old Foreigner tapes or whatever and record over them, and we were happy to have 45 minutes of recording space for an entire tape.

Here’s a link to Volume 1, if you missed it, or just wanna re-live the magic.

Late 90s Mix (Save) hasn’t been around nearly as long as Beloved Songs, and as such, I believe most of the source material was recorded from compact disc. Plus it entered my life as an actual blank tape made for recording from compact discs. This is the real deal: Memorex CD2 90. We’re talking Type II High Bias, High Output, Wide Dynamic Range, baby! This is the kind of tape that has a spot on the label to indicate whether or not you turned on the Dolby Noise Reduction before you hit “REC” (it would seem I did not), whereas Beloved Songs was recorded onto a 10-year-old Bob Seger tape or something.

What I’m saying is that I suspect it’ll be much easier to listen to than the first one, but who knows? Anything can happen in this thrilling world of zero-stakes, esoteric personal blogging. You’ll just have to strap yourself in for the ride and find out along with me.

Actual footage of us finding out together.

Without further ado…

Side A

  1. Kickin things off with “7 Words” by Deftones. I’m into this, but so far, the sound is real in-n-out. Better than Beloved Songs, but let’s see how good you sound after you’re recorded over an old Bon Jovi tape or some shit. This song spoke directly to my angst in the mid-to-late 90s, and I still dig it, but where early Deftones is concerned, “Bored” is more my style these days. Lots of background noise afterward. If only I’d used that Dolby Noise Reduction.

2. Oh, shit, it’s “Collapse” by Brutal Truth! This song will surely have a place on the Official Soundtrack to the End Times. If you need convincing, listen to the song while ruminating on the fact that we are, in fact, living in the End Times. Not like in the Bible and shit, but for real. I’ve written about Brutal Truth some before. Some of it can be found on my other, even less-frequently-updated blog, but the rest is in notebooks that you’ll likely never see.

3. I suspected there might be another BT song, and then I got smacked upside the head by “Media Blitz”. This was my introduction to the caustic vocals of Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod (his is the voice you can kind of understand), and although I didn’t think much about it at the time, it was also my introduction to The Germs.

Here’s a blog-exclusive bonus track (!) – the original version of “Media Blitz”:

4. “Sunless Saturday” by Fishbone! I like Fishbone a lot, but not as much as I feel like I should like them. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it makes sense to me. I think I maybe saw them perform this on Saturday Night Live, but that might be some crazed fever dream. Or maybe it was on Letterman or something. At any rate, “Sunless Saturday” fuckin rips. This one brings back memories of a mostly-miserable summer in my late teens that had a few real bright spots. This song was one of those bright spots.

5. “Police Truck” by the Dead Kennedys. Holy smokes, that guitar! I don’t really know what else to say, other than that I’ll be surprised if “Too Drunk to Fuck” isn’t next. I used to always play those two back-to-back.

6. There it is. Do I know Late 90s Joel or what? “Too Drunk to Fuck”. I once sat (slumped, really) drunk behind a futon at a guy’s house and sang this chorus over and over again. It was sad, but it was also almost certainly true, and now I find it pretty funny. I also woke up the next morning while everyone else was still asleep and ate some Hamburger Helper that had been sitting out on the stove (at least) overnight, then threw up approximately 85% my soul about 30 minutes later. I haven’t drank peach schnapps since, and I tend to have better judgement in general.

7. One thing I absolutely did not expect to hear on this excursion was “Raise Hell” by Anthrax. This song is from their Armed and Dangerous EP, which was their first release with then-new vocalist Joey Belladonna. It seems odd that I included it here. While I love Anthrax, it’s never been a favorite of mine. It’s not bad, and I surely dig the gang vocals in the chorus, but the chorus is also goofy as shit, and rhymes “fire” with “desire”, which is not automatically a bad thing, but which is certainly not a desirable feature of an Anthrax song.

8. What a strange and wodnerful age we’re living in, when a man can play an old-ass mixtape that goes from Anthrax circa 1985 straight into “Someday I Suppose” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I definitely first became aware of this band from Clueless, which I saw three times in the theater. I still like Clueless a lot, but I most definitely had a thing for Alicia Silverstone back then. I even paid to watch Batman and Robin in the theater (more than once) just to see her on the big screen. Okay, I also saw it three times. You did dumb shit when you were a teenager, too. At least I can admit my mistake.

9. More Bosstones. I’m not surprised, but I have to admit I wasn’t sure who this was until the vocals kicked in. “A Man Without”, which I’ll also admit I had look up based on the lyrics. I probably haven’t heard this song since the last time I listened to this mixtape. I used to be real into the Bosstones, but especially the album Don’t Know How to Party.

10. Holy mother of fuckballs, it’s “Killing Time” by Obituary! This tape may be the actual nexus point for my divergent musical tastes. It took me a while to really get into/appreciate death metal, but for whatever reason, 1992’s The End Complete by Obituary was one of the albums that grabbed me back then.

11. Motherfucking “Silo” by Only Living Witness! This band was just utterly phenomenal, and I wish theyd’ released more than two albums.

12. And now here’s “Slug”, also by Only Living Witness. Yegods, what an incredible album Prone Mortal Form is. The Decibel Hall of Fame entry on it is one of my favorites in that series.

13. Well sumbitch, it’s “When the Shit Hits the Fan” by Souls at Zero! I completely forgot about this, but it fuckin jams. These guys were solid, both as Souls at Zero and as Wrathchild America. Their drummer/vocalist Shannon Larkin went on to join Godsmack, and while they’re not my bag, he’s still a great drummer. This is a cover of the Circle Jerks, and the original is also pretty dope, and quite relevant to today’s turbulent times. They made an acoustic version for (and appeard briefly in) the movie Repo Man, starring the late, great Harry Dean Stanton and Emilio Estevez.

Here are the Circle Jerks’ versions…

That’s all I got for now, pals. I’ll be back someday (I suppose)(ha!) with the exciting follow-up. Until then, be excellent to each other.

“The Finger Thing Means the Taxes!”

Greetings, gentle reader. It’s been a while since I wrote anything, and as usual I have as many ideas as I have excuses, but today I had a rare day off to myself, so I decided to sit down and hammer something out. I then decided to delete half of it and rework the remaining half, and now I’m left with this half-assed whole blog post, and you get to reap the “benefits”.

What an absolute piece of shit this year has been, eh?

Sorry, I’ve never been good at small talk. But here’s a “large talk” thing that’s on my mind right now, in part for reasons that were included in the deleted half of this post (and which may still surface here someday). Don’t worry, I’m barely making sense to myself here.

Someone I know told me recently that their taxes are going to go up under Joe Biden’s tax plan. I assume Trump told them this, but I don’t know for sure, because I don’t listen to that fuckin blowhard. Regardless of where they got that information, the fact is I don’t know anyone who makes over $400,000 per year, which means I don’t know anyone whose income taxes will increase under Biden’s tax plan. And don’t mistake this as an endorsement of Joe Biden; I didn’t vote for Joe Biden so much as I voted against Donald Trump. Some members of my family might be bothered by that, but I sincerely couldn’t possibly care any less about that than I already do. I would’ve voted to eat a turd every day for the rest of my life over another four years of Donald Trump.

Watch this:

I just think it’s really funny, is all.

On an at-first-seemingly-unrelated note, I learned today that Tiffany & Co. sells a sterling silver dog dish for $2,500. Here’s a screenshot, in case you don’t wanna give their website any traffic:

“Add a whimsical touch to your home with this bowl that any dog will love.”

True story: I once saw a dog eat cat poop, throw it up, and then eat the throwup. Dogs will drink antifreeze. I love dogs more than I love most people, but it’s a fact that most dogs are pretty dumb about a lot of things, and I guarantee you there isn’t a dog in existence who cares one way or the other if its food and water are served in sterling silver bowls, as long as you give it food and water. And if I’m wrong, and there is a dog in existence that expects its food and water in a sterling silver bowl? Well then that dog is an asshole.

On a side note, if sterling silver adds a “whimsical touch” to your home, your home is probably as whimiscal as the average tomb.

There is a smaller version of this bowl available for “only” $1,800, but that’s not any less stupid.

Speaking of “Bone China”…

Anyway, that whimsical-ass silver dog dish isn’t even almost close to being the most expensive item listed on the Tiffany & Co. website. They offer a non-functioning decorative greenhouse for $275,000. That’s approximately two times more than I paid for my real house. Granted, my real house wasn’t “hand-assembled by the finest Tiffany artisans”, but I can stand inside my real house, so that’s gotta be worth something.

Peep those dimensions on the bottom right, folks.

And even that Barbie Dream Artisan Greenhouse doesn’t approach the most expensive item on the Tiffany & Co. website (the most expensive thing I could find that didn’t require booking an appointment just to be told how much it cost was a $630,000 necklace). Stuff like this is designed for the kind of assholes who pay $400 for plain white t-shirts. Like Patrick Bateman-level shit.

Here’s a stone cold fact (with apologies to Stone Cold Steve Austin): if you can’t afford to throw your money away on a $2,500 sterling silver bowl for your dog to eat thrown-up cat poop out of, you will not be paying more income taxes under Joe Biden’s tax plan.

I was unable to find any sterling silver diamond studded hand-crafted artisan guillotines on the Tiffany & Co. website. Maybe Armani makes a nice leatherbound model.

I’m sure I would’ve had to book an appointment to look at them anyway.

Thanks for reading. As usual, I don’t really know what the point might be, or if I even have a point, but I do know this: the world can be pretty goddamn shitty and unfair sometime, and while I may not always act like it it, I do sincerely believe kindness and compassion will win in the end. It’s just a matter of making it happen. Be the change you wish to see, and all that shit. The eviction of the Current Resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave on January 20th will be a breath of fresh air, but it has to start with each of us. Look out for each other. It literally costs nothing to not be a dick.

Cook As Needed For Pain, Volume 1: Ratatouille

Note: I wrote most of this on August 1, and then I just abandoned it for some reason. I sat down to write this morning, and noticed it there in my drafts, and decided to finish it. Must be your lucky day.

I was making ratatouille earlier while listening to sludgy metal/hardcore NOLA legends Eyehategod’s mindblowing second album (1993’s Take As Needed for Pain) when it occurred to me that I could (and should) make a blog about it. My plan as of right now is to make “Cook As Needed for Pain” a regular feature where I write about what I’m cooking and what I’m listening to while cooking (hence the “Volume 1” in the title), but I don’t wanna get ahead of myself.

Ratatouille, if you’re not familiar with it, is more than a funny and touching Pixar movie featuring funnyman Patton Oswalt as an adorable little rat. It’s also a delicious French stewed vegetable medley that happens to be a super easy way to use up summer vegetables. I first learned about it at the not-very-good French culinary school I attended back in aught-three, but as is typical of things I learned there, I don’t remember much about it. I’ve been making it pretty regularly for the last 10 years or so, though, and it’s really just a delightful dish, and it could only be easier to prepare if someone else made it for you and asked you to reheat it.

The New Food Lover’s Companion (Third Edition) (a book that I still reference on a regular basis, even though the internet exists) defines it thusly:

A popular dish from the French region of Provence that combines eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic and herbs – all simmered in olive oil. The vegetables can vary according to the cook. They can be cooked together, or cooked separately and then combined and heated briefly together. Ratatouille can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature, either as a side dish or as an appetizer with bread or crackers.

Sounds pretty easy, and versatile as fuck, right? That’s because it is. My favorite things to cook are the things I can riff on – chili, gumbo, curried vegetables, ratatouille, what-have-you. I mean, if I wanted to measure a bunch of ingredients, I’d be a baker.

Here’s the list of ingredients in today’s batch of ratatouille:

1 medium green bell pepper
1/2 a small red onion I had left in the refrigerator
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium eggplant
2 medium-sized tomatoes, plus 5 or 6 cherry tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
dried basil
dried thyme
dried oregano
kosher salt (to taste)
fresh ground black pepper
olive oil

Note: I cut everything except the garlic and onion to roughly the same size as half of a cherry tomato, and I minced the garlic and onion. Mrs. Circle Pit doesn’t like the texture of onions, so if I wanna cook with them I have to either cut them small enough to essentially hide them or cut them large enough that she can see them and pick them out.

I started out by sauteeing the onion and bell pepper in olive oil over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, then I added the zucchini and yellow squash, sauteed that for a couple of minutes, then added the eggplant, cooked for another minute or two, then the tomatoes, then the garlic and all the herbs, then I cooked it together for a few minutes, stirring regularly, then I turned the heat down to low and covered the pan. And I don’t mean to alarm you, but the ratatouille is STILL SIMMERING LIGHTLY AS I TYPE!

Just look at this pretty motherfucker!

It was seriously so fucking simple, and it’s gonna be even more delicious than it was easy. Also, I got to listen to Take As Needed for Pain while I cooked it. I’ve definitely had worse days.

This brings us to the end of the original post. All I really want to add is that you should make ratatouille as often as possible, and you should also listen to Eyehategod as often as possible. Don’t let their name scare you, there’ll be plenty of time for the music to take care of that. Thanks for reading.

Speaking of Daryl

My friend Chris made another comic out of one of my dumb stories. This is it. I like it a lot. The other one is fun too, but I like this one more. It’s also based on a true story. I apologize for the formatting. I don’t know how to make it better, and quite frankly I don’t care enough to take the time to figure it out right now.

Thanks for reading!

Old-Ass Mixtape Reviews, Volume 1: Beloved Songs

Howdy! I’m trying really hard to make sure I write something every day, no matter what. Right now I’m not feeling my main project, so I thought I’d try something new(ish), just to keep my brain moving. I have a bunch of old homemade mixtapes from way way back (most recently circa 2005), and I haven’t listened to most of them in well over 10 years. What I’m gonna do, from time to time, is play one of those tapes and write about it.

I plan to write while the tape is playing, ostensibly to write a real-time “first listen”-type review, but also to just force myself to write for a set period of time. I will not allow myself stop before a tape is finished, except in cases of emergency, or if the tape just goes kaput, which so far seems like a real danger with this first one. I’ll be surprised if I can make it through a single play without this tape literally (figuratively) exploding.

Readers of my old blog might recall my Old-Ass VHS Reviews there, wherein I would review an old-ass VHS tape featuring some kind of heavy metal band or bands. This’ll be similar to those. As stated above, I’ll write while listening, and then I’ll go back over it for some light editing – minimal overdubs, unlike this tape. This tape so far is like if mud made a sound.

Oh, “this tape” by the way, is called Beloved Songs. There’s no date on it, so I’m not sure when I made it, and I legitimately have no idea what’s on it. Anyhoo, here are some words about it.

Side One

1. First up is “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan. I don’t remember liking this song before Ministry covered it on their 1996 album Filth Pig, but I guess I did. A lot of people think Filth Pig is a real piece of shit, and honestly, I understand why a long-time Ministry fan might feel that way. I, however, am more of a casual fan of Ministry, and I really like Filth Pig. Especially the title track – holy shit!

2. “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin, or maybe something else…no, the chorus just kicked in, it’s definitely “Immigrant Song”. Is that a chorus? I don’t really know. Anyway, this song is dope. This recording sounds like it’s playing from the bottom of a 50-gallon drum filled with muddy water, and maybe a turd is floating on top. I might have to scrap this experiment and try another tape.

3. Is this “You Could Be Mine” by Guns ‘n Roses? I think it is. It started out as something else, and then this cut in. Oh yeah, Slash’s guitar is almost cutting through the muck. Duff’s bass is definitely discernable, but Duff is a complete badass, plus bass is almost the only thing audible on this whole tape so far. The longer this song plays, the more it sounds like if the band was playing live at an amphitheater, and I was listening from someone’s back yard like half a mile away. And it was kinda windy outside.

Side note: I sat in the living room with a tape in the VCR for three Fridays in a row in hopes of catching this video on Friday Night Videos so I could record it. Life before the internet (and without cable TV) was hard. You kids have no idea. Now get off my lawn.

4. “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin. This one is kinda clear. It still sounds like shit, but I could tell what it was immediately, and there was no doubt whatsoever. I fuckin love this song.

5. “Hey You” by Pink Floyd. This one is also relatively audible, especially once I remembered to turn down the bass. I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d listen to this tape ever again, but if things continue thusly, I might be able to get through it one more time for this. Holy shit! it got super loud for a sec, and then…
5a. “Nothing’s Changed Here” by Dwight Yoakam cut in during the guitar solo. Dwight is such a badass. Then after about 15 seconds…
5b. “Speak of the Devil” by Pirates of the Mississippi cut in for four lines of the chorus, and then…
5c. “Hey You” slid back in for literally 2 seconds, and then…
5d. “Where Are You Now” by Clint Black on the Big Ten Countdown on Indiana’s Country WKKG (101.5). Damn, y’all, that Bart Ellison had a smoooooth goddamn voice.

Shit, that was regular ol’ rollercoaster!

6. We now join “Monkey Business” by Skid Row already in progress. This song is so fucking good. Skid Row was so fucking good. Not just the hits, either – Skid Row was a goddamn beast from 1989’s Skid Row through 1995’s sUBHUMAN rACE. I saw them live on the sUBHUMAN rACE tour when they opened for Van Hagar (who were touring for Balance). I will never forget how immensly heavy Skid Row was that night.

Side One clicked off while I was telling you how motherfucking heavy Skid Row was, so I’mma flip it, reverse it, etc.

Side Two

1. Ooh, it’s “Fly Me Courageous” by Drivin’ N’ Cryin’! I haven’t heard this song in a long time. I think I still like it, but I can’t tell from this copy. I couldn’t even tell what it was until the volume shot up right at the refrain.

I was really into this song back when it was new, but I don’t remember ever listening to another Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ song.

2. “Brain Damage/Eclipse” by Pink Floyd. I was really into Pink Floyd for like 5 years in my early teens. It seems like that was pretty common among teenage boys back when I was one of them. I still like them a lot, but I’m less likely to put them on a mixtape these days. The tape has returned to sounding like muddy buttholes.

3. “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent. Man, Ted Nugent is such a piece of shit. I hate myself a little bit for liking some of his songs. I saw Ted Nugent live two summers in a row (1995 and ’96, I think), with Bad Company providing support both times. I wasn’t as acutely aware of what an asshole Ted was back then, but my memories of his band’s live performance are positive. Bad Company kicked every bit of ass both years. Also, lawn seats only cost 12 bucks.

4. “Traveling Riverside Blues” by Led Zeppelin. My discovery of Led Zeppelin coincided with the release of their box set in 1990, when I was 13. That’s a pretty perfect age for a dude to get into Led Zeppelin. Anyhoo, the box set included 2 previously unreleased songs, and this was one of them. Like the bulk of early Zeppelin, this is mostly just an amped-up cover of an old blues song, but I still dig it. I do prefer their middle period, though, especially Side Two of IV and the entirety of Houses of the Holy. I remember seeing the video for this on MTV at my aunt Connie’s house once. That was pretty exciting. I saw the video for “Sweet Child o’ Mine” once there, too. I’m getting of track, though.

5. HOLY SHIT! A live rendition of “Jesus Was Way Cool” by King Missile! I’m hoping future tapes have little surprises like this hidden inside. I feel like this must’ve been recorded off “Brave New World” on Rock 92 FM.

“If you were blind, or lame
You simply went up to Jesus
Or, well I guess if you were lame, Jesus would probably go up to you
Because it’s difficult, if you’re lame, to go up to Jesus”

And that’s the end. That was a fun little excursion. Look for another one sometime soon. Don’t look too hard, because I make no promises, but I’m gonna try to try. Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, why not tell a friend?

Don’t forget to follow Clockwise Circle Pit on Instagram and Facebook. I’m on Twitter too, even though I hate it, because it’s much easier to talk shit to Donald Trump and his kids (and Ted Cruz) there. So, y’know, follow me there if you want, but I don’t really use it for updates or anything.

Finding Something New

“Tone deaf” is certainly an appropriate word to describe Ivanka Trump’s entire life, but this “Find Something New” campaign that she rolled out yesterday reaches Beethoven levels of deafness. Some rich asshole who’s never worked a day in her charmed life is gonna tell me to get a new career just because her piece of shit dad fucked up by pretending like this pandemic wasn’t real? How about you get a new career fucking off, Ivanka.

In all fairness, Ivanka isn’t the only tone deaf member of that family, but as the most attractive of the Trump kids (just ask her dad!), everything she does has bit more of a sinister edge than if Eric or Don Jr. were presenting the same ideas. When you see those two assholes, you expect a certain amount of chicanery.

I mean, these two dickheads are obviously full of shit.

On the surface, the idea is not without merit – learn a new skill, get a career in a field that pays relatively well, leave your low-paying job behind. But what happens when everyone who is currently laid off, or who is currently working a low-paying, “unskilled” job “finds something new” and leaves their low-paying, “unskilled” jobs behind?

Oh, you want a decaf pumpkin spice latte with skim milk? Too fucking bad asshole, all the laid-off baristas found something new, and are now repairing elevators. You wanna order the Cobb salad but you wanna sub cheddar for gorgonzola and you wanna sub steak for chicken and you wanna sub spinach for half the amount of lettuce? Sorry fuckwad, all the furloughed servers and cooks found something new, and they’re working as electricians and plumbers now.

Look here: I’ve been cooking professionally for more than half my life, and I’m fucking good at it. It’s not considered skilled labor, but I promise you it is, and I challenge anyone who disagrees with that statement to step into a busy kitchen in the middle of a Friday night dinner rush and prove me wrong. That shit is exhausting, both physically and mentally.

Unrelenting heat, flames and steam and smoke shooting out from all over the place, slip-and-fall hazards that can’t be dealt with right away, sharp knives moving everywhere, dehydration, never-ending noise coming from every imaginable direction, 7 tables order at the same time, and one of those is a 20-top who wants to modify every goddamn thing they order, food being sent back because a surprising number of people don’t seem to know what “medium rare” actually means, all while trying not to piss yourself because you haven’t been able to step off the line to go to the bathroom in over 4 hours. And when it’s all over, you get to start restocking and cleaning!

That’s not something any random person can do. The list of people I’ve worked with who found that out the hard way and moved on is much longer than the list of people I’ve worked with who are still in the industry.

But don’t just take my word for it. Watch the late, great Anthony Bourdain step back into his kitchen for the first time in years.

And I’m not saying my job is anywhere close to being the hardest job. Hell, I’ve worked harder jobs myself. I once spent the absolute worst three consecutive weeks of my life as a construction laborer, and I left there to go back to foodservice, because fuck every bit of being a construction laborer.

What I am saying is that it takes a certain set of skills to be good at working in the service industry, regardless of the specific job. Cooks, waiters/waitresses, bartenders, baristas, manicurists, hair stylists, estheticians, hotel workers, retail, bowling alleys, convenience stores – all of it. Shitty, unskilled employees exist in all areas of the service industry (as in every industry), but the ones who are good at it, and who can make a career of it, are skilled, and if you can’t see that, you’re big ol’ shit head.

But Ivanka Trump thinks I should use my time while I’m furloughed from my relatively well-paid job at a beloved locally owned restaurant that offers health insurance and PTO to pay for classes and training and “find something new”. Simple, right? No way a 43-year-old man would have any trouble getting a job in a new industry in the midst of a recession.

I know, I’ll just ask my dad for a small loan of one million dollars, and I’ll find a new career making guillotines!

Y’know, for Alice Cooper. In case he ever gets to play live again.

Thanks for reading. And good luck finding something new.

Current Situation, 06/17/2020

Here are the current contents of my brain, in no particular order:

The cops who murdered Breonna Taylor should be in jail.

I really miss my mom, and I wish I could show her what I’ve done with yard since we bought our house.

Systemic racism is real, even if you don’t believe in it.

My friend Chris is making a comic out of one of my old short stories, and it’s awesome.

The only appropriate response to “Black Lives Matter” is “yes, they do.”

There’s a cricket in the garage, and it might drive me to madness.

Corporate-backed media isn’t telling you the whole story about anything, and you should seek out alternatives.

I only have old short stories, because I pretty much never write anymore.

The new Run the Jewels album is fucking amazing.

Police departments need to be de-militarized immediately.

My hibiscus is getting so tall.

Donald Trump does not care about you, unless you are Donald Trump.

I’m very sad that Darn Good Soup is closed forever.

If you are Donald Trump, you can and should go fuck yourself.

I like my job, but I really wish I didn’t have to go back to work.

Defunding the police does not mean abolishing the police, it just means reallocating funds into programs and services that are designed to help the people rather than the state (i.e., “protect and serve”, but for real).

If you haven’t watched What We Do in the Shadows (the movie and the series)(and especially the series), you should change that.

Fox News and MSNBC are state media, and you should stop watching them immediately.

If you don’t appreciate absurdity, you probably shouldn’t bother with What We Do in the Shadows.

“White privilege” doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard, it means that your life hasn’t been made harder because of the color of your skin.

This song has been speaking to me a lot lately.

Climate change is real, even if you don’t believe in it.

I’d eat tacos every single day if my health would allow it.

The majority of confederate monuments were erected in the era of Jim Crow laws, and their purpose was to intimidate black people and reinforce the losers’ backward-ass belief in white supremacy, and that’s why those monuments belong in the museum or the ash heap.

Look at this fine specimen of confederate pride: “master race”, indeed.

I wish I could get paid to write without having to sell ads.

Antifa just means “anti-fascist”, and being opposed to facism is not up for debate.

Coffee is just the fucking best.

Seriously, fuck Donald Trump forever and ever.

I started laying this thing out just before I got into bed last night. As I was drifting off to sleep, I realized that if I’d started writing regularly when I first got furloughed back in March, I’d’ve kinda been getting paid to write this whole time. I’m not especially smart sometimes. Thanks for reading, though.