31 December, 2007


“Wait a minute, Eric!” you (dear reader) blurt out before I can even begin my last post for the year, “is this going to be some cheesy retrospective on the year and all of the changes you went through during its course?”

Well, dear reader, to tell you the truth it was going to be about David Bowie, but I am nothing if not democratic… the people have spoken! Here is 2007 in review:

January was complicated,
As my sister married the boy she dated.

February events are hard to tell,
As life in SLO went to hell.

March started a new life with resolution,
For I finished Cal Poly and Intro to Air Pollution.

April changes take place every year
Because I always grow a year older.

May was my last month on the Central Coast
So we danced for all those birth could boast.

June’s graduation made me thank my maker,
But still I shook my fist at Warren Baker.

In July I saw my first Echo campers,
When I think of them my heart leaps and scampers.

August stole my dear, sweet Paul,
For whom I wrote a poem to share with you all.

September called me back to Mount Hermon,
Where I have a roommate who likes to speak German.

In October I started to explore a denomination,
That practically celebrates Christ’s Incarnation.

November meant a Thanksgiving far from McCollum -
Fortunately our potluck was not solemn.

December did not change a whole ton,
Even so, I ask: God bless us, everyone!

There you go, weaselnuts – I hope you gleaned a thing or two from all of the changes I went through this year. This last year was quite tumultuous at times – I most certainly did not handle post-college life as well as some, but probably better than others too. So I toast to 2007: You were a fine year with much heartbreak and tears, but you also brought me great love and joy. Raise you glasses high my friends, for in a few brief hours we'll be through with this gloridiculous year forever!

Or as DB put it, “Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.” Whatever that means…

Watch out 2008 - I'm coming for you

23 December, 2007

He Sees You When You’re Sleeping?

We can probably all think of a couple deadly sins that Santa is guilty of (greed, gluttony), but would any of us call him slothful? Oh, if you were thinking that was a rhetorical question, you’re wrong; I would.

For years now we’ve labored under the delusion that Santa is an industrious old elf, but I want to assure you that this is simply no longer true. Perhaps back in the day before the Internet and jet planes we were all impressed by Santa’s efforts to zip around the world, but even back then this was not nearly as impressive as we were deluded to believe.

“Wait a minute, Eric,” you scowl, “you really blew it this time. You’re a real blockhead. Santa Claus goes around the entire world in a single night and single-handedly delivers presents for every man, woman, and child on earth! What isn’t spectacular about that?”

Well my dear reader, I will grant you that this would be an amazing feat, but I assure you that this is a lie. Santa does not visit every man, woman, and child. Santa does not go all around the world on one night. Santa does not work alone! Santa simply has great PR here in America.

Allow for me to explain myself. Firstly, Santa does not need to visit every man woman and child on earth, simply those who celebrate Christmas – more specifically those who celebrate Santa’s role in Christmas. Santa is not only excluded by religious fanatics, but also non-Western Christians, those opposed to breaking and entering, and anyone who fears allowing an old white man control one more industry. Santa barely has to visit Asia, which contains more than a third of the world’s population. Really Santa does not need to visit that many people.

Santa also does not operate solely on the night of December the 24th, no he also makes sure to deliver some gifts on the day St. Nicholas of Myra is venerated, December 6. Many Europeans do not receive gifts on actual Christmas day, but rather venerate the birth of Christ on the day and then practice gift giving on the day of one of the most recognizable saints, Saint Nicholas-Sinterklaas-Santa Claus. Also in many Eastern Rite countries, gifts are given on Epiphany (or the day of the Magi or the Twelfth Day of Christmas) to represent the gifts brought to the toddler Jesus by some of the most famous, unnamed Eastern Astrologers in history. And I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up I sometimes saw packages from Santa under the tree before Christmas morning, so he must have pre-shipped some items to parents who understood his busy schedule. Lame.

Lastly, Santa obviously does not run a solo operation. Aside from his seemingly limitless labor source in the elves (I’ll get back to them later), Santa is known to have demon slaves (most notably Black Peter) carry his gifts for him! In some countries he even sends his little minions into the houses for him! Santa becomes little more than a glorified slave master! Bah humbug!

At least we can rest assured that elves are no longer low-cost, North Pole labor. When was the last time any of us received something from Santa that was even remotely homemade? Like everyone else, Santa is now outsourcing from other countries (it’s either that or he’s infringing on more copyright laws than even he has the financial resources to fight in court) and is buying corporate made gifts. If Santa is still employing his elves, I imagine they are now shrewd investors accruing Santa capital rather than factory laborers. I think the next step in the dialectic of history is a socialist elf rebellion… but I digress – as always.

So, this year while you’re sipping your hard nog, don’t get overly sentimental about Santa and his difficult task. Instead we should head the advice of Mr. Stevens and boldly proclaim: “Get behind me, Santa!”

21 December, 2007

A Global Warning

After Al Gore invented Global Warming back in 2006 we have all had to take it in the cahonies to go green or go home. It’s really not all that bad of a thing living a sustainable lifestyle; I pioneered the trend years before Gore started changing the global climate. So here are some suggestions for you chowder heads about saving our planet.

Al Gore Spreading Global Warming

Firstly, animals are smelly. Did you know that a single cow produces more natural pollution in a day than England during the entire Industrial Revolution? That’s not even to mention how all the CO2 they’re pumping into the air by just breathing.

“Eric,” you are more than likely to interject, “are you recommending the wholesale slaughter of the bovine race?”

Fear not dear reader, I do not come to bury cows but to praise them. However, I plan on making those deadbeat cows start carrying their own weight (with the price of ground beef around $2.00/lb. is quite a bit of weight) and do something for the environment. Perhaps, dear reader, you remember a little fad out of the 1980s – the Chia Pet. I propose that we begin growing Carbon Dioxide fighting plants on all of our oxygen consuming friends. Whoever thought that owning a pet could be a staple of going green?

Secondly, if you really want to help save the world, you’ll be sure to drink lots of wine. Now, I am not encouraging wantonness, but there are some distinct advantages to drinking wine. If we all could commit ourselves to drinking more wine, there would be more standing vineyards which have vines year-round selflessly converting dangerous climate changing chemicals into safe air and delicious ambrosia.

Wine also is full of healthy anti-oxidants that will prolong our lives. If we live longer, we’ll want to preserve our planet – as we don’t seem to care about leaving it to our children in a crappy condition, but we do want it to be nice while we’re here. We are intimately wedded to the planet, and if it dies so do we. What a downer.

A toast to love, music, wine, and revolution

Lastly, let’s not be pretentious…

“I don’t believe the words coming out of your finger tips!”

Dear reader, please! It is not a requirement that I always carry my nose slightly tilted up into the air. Anyways, I do not think that we need to hold to using cork to stop wine bottles. Must we continue to fell the mighty cork tree to make us better dancers? No! Plus I’ve had one too many bottles of wine corked by nefarious bacteria. Can’t we agree to twist the tops off of our wine? Perhaps we could even drink a glass or two from a box every now and then… but I won’t push revolution too heavily.

So dear reader, now that I’ve shown you two simple ways to fight global warming, we can uninvent Al Gore’s most recent contribution to the world.

“Thanks Eric, now I know.”

And knowing is half the battle.

19 December, 2007

An Emo Day

Today, dear reader, I provide you with a short eulogy for several trees that were felled at Redwood this morning.

I am most impressed by these behemoths, the redwoods. They are the basis for an entire ecosystem, and like so many relationships, symbiosis with the other flora and fauna keep these trees alive. However, more importantly still, they seem to have a sublime importance about them that silences my internal monologue.

I guess you could say I’m starting to envy the trees.

13 December, 2007

I’ve Just Read a Face I Can’t Forget

I’m not going to lie to you dear reader: I love women. However, I have run into a bit of a problem, I have no chance with the women I am completely infatuated with. I’m not talking about movie stars (I have no idea what film Scarlet Jo Hansen was in last) and I’m not talking about rock stars (I learned my lesson after Sherri Dupree married the guy from New Found Glory). My hopes with these women are even less.

Perhaps some of you have had the pleasure of following the adventures of my landlocked Paul, and have read about his recent bouts of good fortune. Paul is now an acquaintance and student of perhaps one of our greatest living literary minds, Marilynne Robinson – I am more than a tad jealous of him. If you’ve still got your finger up your nose and are stuck on Eggers or Sedaris, perhaps Ms. Robinson isn’t for you, but she is absolutely wonderful!

“Wait wait!” you will no doubt interject, “Eric, are you trying to say that you are in love with the author, Marilynne Robinson?”

Well dear reader, in a sense I am. She intelligent, clever, incredibly talented, and most importantly, her soul is attuned to the beauty and majesty of Christ. She is everything that a woman should be… Her books make me want to be a better human being.

“Eric,” I can hear your stomach turn, “don’t you think it’s a little unusual (aka ‘creepy’) for a post-pubescent-man-child of your age to be in love with a sixty-year-old woman?”

I anticipated your concern dear reader, and I’m afraid matters just get worse. You see, I am in love with more than one woman, and what’s more, I have even less of a chance with the other women I’m in love with.

“Pray tell just how many women you claim to be ‘in love with?’”

Well, for the sake of not giving you quite so big of a shock, I will only mention the ones I have particularly loved this year…

“How many?”


“Six women! My word! Couldn’t you just stick to one per season?”

I’m sorry dear reader, but I must ask that you stop your interruptions if you would like for this post to go anywhere. Over this past year there have been six women whose writings have been of utmost importance to me. Six women who have seen me as something than the little mooncalf I am and have lifted me up with aerial spirits.

I will not give book recommendations for these women because I think too highly of them, and I do not want to give you en masse a voyeuristic view of our relationships, and so I will simply give you their photographs and names in order that we met this year. I have known some of them longer than this year, but 2007 was certainly the year of women writers.

Iris Murdoch

Willa Cather

Flannery O’Connor

Marilynne Robinson

Lauren Winner

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

It is true that most of these women are dead, some married, and all out of my reach, but whoever claimed love to be rational?

If I were ever to meet one of these women, I’m not certain how I would strike up conversation with them… I’m certain anything I could say would just sound stupid. So, I guess I would hope to meet them in a bar so I could at least use a pick up line: “Hey Willa, if you were in that book you wrote, you’d be fine print.”

07 December, 2007


Dear readers, it has come to my attention that I am not very cool. This is frustrating to me because I used to be something of a hipster, but now I can’t seem to tell the difference between something Indie and something lobotomite would spur.

Eric as a Hipster King

I’ve been attempting to figure out where it is that I went wrong. When was it that I went from a dynamo to a dinosaur? Am I simply old? No, I’m in the height of my youth! Then what could it be that reduced me to obscurity?

Perhaps it all started when my beloved friend and roommate Jordan moved out. He was a hip individual, and I certainly did inherit a bit from him (dancing, pants). However, I don’t think I can pin all of my problems on his leaving San Luis Obispo, and besides, I was handed his kingdom when he left town, and I enjoyed a fruitful reign as San Luis entered its golden age.

Jordan Jolliff as a Spider

Perhaps I’ll never truly figure out what it is that took the brightest star of the heavens and thrust it down into the green muck of obscurity, but I do need to figure out how to bring myself back from it – figure out how to make myself shine once again.

I don’t need any more bad publicity, but this kind of thing happens all the time

What I need is a makeover. I need to find something that will cause the youth of America to look at me and say, “he’s in.” No, something that will make them say, “he’s ahead of the game.” Or they could say that in whatever hip lingoslang they’re using these days, but of that I can tell you nothing.

“Okay Eric, you’re not cool – we all know that,” you may less than fairly admit, “but what hope do you have of turning yourself around?”

Well my dear, albeit unkind, reader, I have taken my cue from Apple and have decided to place a big old ‘i’ in front of my name. Do you remember when computers began to be super boring and then Apple said, “Let’s put that there ‘i’ in front of ‘Mac’ and then we’ll see some happy customers!” Oh-oh, or do you remember people thought that only peas went in pods, but Apple told us that ‘i’ could go in a pod too? That one really seems to be working out for them. Most recently they’ve taken the dying fad of cell phones and breathed new life into it by inserting that beloved ‘i.’

Why is it that we are willing to pay more money for anything if there is an ‘i’ in front of it? Well, quite simply ‘i’ stands for ‘image.’ When you buy any Apple product you are buying a lifestyle (*cough* iLife *cough*), and you are letting the world know that you’re not afraid to stand up in its face and say that you don’t need to follow the trends any more… no, you’re willing to think different.

So, what would [image]Eric be like? Well, he’d be surprisingly like normal Eric, but people would know that if you hung out with him you were hip. People would get whiplash as they turned about in the streets to see you casually laughing with your friend, iEric. iEric will be completely compatible with your fast-paced lifestyle, and he’d always be good for a silhouetted dance number.

So, don’t be lame, be friends with iEric today. You’d better just hope that you don’t sign up right before a new generation comes out because then you’d be hella lame. And take it from me, iEric, lame is not the new cool.

30 November, 2007

My Level 5 Leader could Pown Your Level 3 Engineer

Can I kvetch for a little while?

“Please do Eric,” I hope you allow, “I haven’t had my fill of whiney-emo-chatter today.”

Did I detect on note of sarcasm in your voice, dear reader? Well, whether or not, I’ll take what I can get. One of the great frustrations of being a Mount Hermon intern is that you have to read some things that no self-respecting (which I shouldn’t claim to be) human being ought to read! Over the last several months I have been reading and discussing Jim Collins’ national-bestseller, Good to Great, or as I would call it, Simple Ideas Rehashed Until You Commit Seppuku with this Book. My title suggestion was ignored by his publishers.

Jim Collins’ Good to Great

I will give it to Jim, he knows how to take other people’s success stories and package them in such a way that he made a pretty penny himself. He gives us such witty analogies as ‘getting the right people on the bus” and “wash your cottage cheese,” and he has taught me how to curl up into a ball like a hedgehog (one of my favorite pastimes).

“Okay,” you interrupt (as usual), “where is this going, Eric? You’re not even doing that great of a job at complaining.”

My dear, and astute, reader, you are correct – my main purpose today is not to complain, but rather to follow Mr. Collins’ lead and embark on my own journey in capitalism! You see, one of Jim’s chapters is on what he calls “a level 5 leader,” and at this I thought to myself: Eric, is he speaking about some nerdy RPG (Role Playing Game, for you newbs) like Dungeons and Dragons? Naturally he was not, but that didn’t stop me from running with it.

I’ve never really played Dungeons and Dragons, but I’ve known a few nerds in my day

[Insert nerdy sound here.] My level 5 leader has a toupee of charisma and a +6 tie of recitation. [Pushes up glasses and another nerdy sound.]

Seriously guys, I think I could be onto something here! I could call it something like Associations and Accountants and you could create different character classes like Engineers, Accountants, CEOs, Investors, and Interns.

Potential Character Figurines for the Game

Okay, I can tell that you’re not sold on the idea, so allow for me to play Office Master and give you a possible scenario for my level 5 Leader.

A Level 5 Leader is gifted in both controlling employees and magic

Your Leader enters the corporate office, and something is obviously amiss. The foul stench of an alien presence permeates the halls. You proceed with caution. As you approach your lush corner office you are intercepted by your level 1 assistant. He informs you that there are a group of foreign investors in the boardroom. You can smell the hostile takeover.

A Horde of Foreign Investors

You slip into the boardroom, armed with Ostrich Leather Attaché Case forged by Jack Georges. The Foreign Investors swarm about the room, looking for blood. You whip out your +6 pen of trickery and begin battling your enemies. They cast a spell of offering good stock options, but you block with macho ego and then retaliate with a “for the good of the company” speech. The Foreign Investors begin to grow sleepy – your attack was successful. You practice your verbal agility and bullshit them into supplication. You are victorious in your first battle of the day! (You gained 1200 XP and $50,000 GP)

A Cantankerous Stockholder

As you leave the boardroom an impish man leaps out from behind the water cooler. Keeping your calm, you assess the situation: Samuel Chiggins, major stockholder, level 4. Chiggins announces that he will sell his stock to a rival firm unless his demands are met. You straighten your +57 tie of charisma and offer Chiggins a handshake of sedation. Chiggins takes your hand and you begin your verbal assault. Your veiled threats are too subtle to penetrate the old geezer’s ear hair, and you quickly change your battle tactics. Chiggins begins a brutal barrage of anecdotes about the company, but you are able to deflect by glancing at your +2 Rolex. Eventually you satisfy Chiggins by scheduling a meeting with him two weeks down the road, by which time his senility will make him forget all about his attack. (You gained 2000 XP and $63,000 GP)

A Rising Business Woman

As you return to your office your level 1 assistant once again stops you in the hall to inform you that a businesswoman is waiting in your office. You put up your guard and enter the room to find a level 3, business suit clad woman sitting on your plush leather sofa. You ask if you can be of service to her, and she begins to discuss the direction of her career. You recognize her as the woman who has been climbing the corporate ladder and decide to put on a concerned frown as she speaks. As she begins to push towards advancement and you deftly cast a spell of glass-ceiling and thus thwart her attempts at progress. Seizing the opportunity you offer to further discuss her career in your corporate hot tub on Friday night, she is unable to resist your poise. (You Gained 2300 XP, $70,000 GP, and a date for Friday)

You are on top of the World

You leave the office victorious and head toward your corporate jet for a quick trip to the Bahamas – you’ve earned it.

The Level 5 Leader Leaves a Little Richer

If you are reading this Jim Collins, get on the bus!

28 November, 2007

And I Kant Stand Him!

I was recently visited by my good friend Ben, and amidst our fine dining and pithy conversations, he was attempting to retreat from the world for a short time (fear not my dear Protestant worrywarts, he had every intention of returning) in order to write his Senior Project.

Ben and some of the McCollum Kids

As a quick aside for those of you who did not attend the prestigious California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo: Everyone who passes through the school’s learned halls must complete an opus that represents the acme of their academic work; everyone must complete a Senior Project that will be stored in the honorable Robert E. Kennedy Library for posterity. I wrote an ironic (misunderstood) essay on the history of the spiritual ramifications of the Bauhaus between the years of 1919 and 1932 – I know that it has been viewed on microfiche at least three times since being entered into the Library database.

Unless you object (which no doubt you’d like to, my most objectionable readers), I will carry on with the story at hand. Ben is a philosopher…

“Eric, this had better not be a boring philosophy story!” you will no doubt rudely interject. “Didn’t you learn your lesson after writing ‘Le Morte D’Bushman’ and had your audience sighing over your asinine, fifty paged attempt at wit?”

Well, I’m sure not all of my readers are quite so perturbed as you, dear reader, and thus I must ask for your patience (and tact) to be exercised in this instance. As I was saying, Ben is a philosopher, and as such he is given to philosophizing. His Senior Project is an attempt to move beyond justification though citation into original thought.

Dame Iris Murdoch

Now, if you know anything about Ben’s philosophical background, you know that he is hell-bent on discrediting Kant and making him the laughingstock of the philosophical world. Ben is attempting to use Dame Iris Murdoch’s philosophy to prove that Kant was speaking out of an orifice that most scholarship seems to come from. While I appreciate Ben’s project, I do not believe that Kant needs to be refuted from a philosophical standpoint, but rather I find it categorically imperative to defeat Kant once and for all in the realm of aesthetics!

Dear reader, this is our enemy, Immanuel Kant:

As you can see, Kant’s portraits range from looking downright evil to baboonish. Point the first, if we were to take Kant’s philosophy to act in a universilizabile fashion seriously, then I would ask for Immanuel to have a constant look about him! How can I take a stand of constancy when he can’t make up his mind to look like a bat out of hell or a Neanderthal!?

Point the second, look at him! The only reason he wants us to treat people as an ends unto themselves is because he knows that I could take him in a fight. Shoot, a one-armed, anemic child in an iron lung could rough him up! If the only groundwork he can lay for morals is that he doesn’t want to get thrashed by a school-girl returning home after having snow rubbed up her nose, then I don’t think we can take him all that seriously.

Point the third, to critique his reason practically and purely one only needs insert his name into little puns like, “If he Kant be ‘Emmanuel,’ then I Kant read Immanuel.” He would never see that one coming.

Lastly, point the fourth, the only possible argument in support of a demonstration of the existence of Kant can be found by students biting their thumbs at their philosophy professors when they tell their students that they ought to be doing their reading. If Kant can’t write clearly enough to prove to me that he thought, I don’t think he deserves to exist.

In conclusion, Kant is a big weenie, and even if Ben can’t refute him using Iris’ arguments, I believe that she could take him in a fistfight. And I refuted Kant thus!

The moral of the story is: You can choose your battles, but you Kant always fight fair. That one will never get old.

19 November, 2007

Thanksgiving a Humbug?

Do you remember when Thanksgiving used to be about gorging yourself on various tuber products and force-fed turkey? Or what about your Uncle Dave throwing back one or four too many glasses of wine? What about all of those nice fall color schemes in your house that you finally get to show off to your in-laws? Heck, we’ll even throw in some buckled hat pilgrims eating dinner with the Wampanoag in there if that helps get the spirit of Thanksgiving across. It doesn’t seem that long ago that people were so revved up about getting their double portion of turkey that they weren’t all too concerned with the culture of the market going on around them. But in this year, this the week of Thanksgiving, I have heard more complaints than thanks being offered. So buckle up, you chowderheads, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

I suppose it is true that Christmas seems to be coming quicker and quicker every year. People have been asking me, indignation on their faces, what I think about people already playing Christmas songs or (heaven forbid) purchasing Christmas trees? What is the correct date to begin celebrating Christmas?

I have, more than a little coyly, deferred to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and wanting to keep Christmas alive in my heart year round as Scrooge had after his conversion, “and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that truly be said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!” But people usually give me an exasperated sigh and say something to the affect of: “So you’re one of those people.”

Granted, the majority of complaints I receive from people about Christmas season are commercial ones. I’ve heard from folks that storefronts had barely taken down Halloween decorations before the Christmas ones were popping up. I can appreciate these concerns, I really can – they do seem to be signs of a further commoditization of Christmas (and all other holidays), but I wonder if Thanksgiving really cares about the face time. Do there need to be giant pilgrims and smiling turkeys in our stores to usher in the holiday cheer?

What Hand Turkeys have to do with Thanksgiving, I don't know... But they do.

However, I didn’t want to leave all of you dear readers debating the validity of this line of thinking, so I decided to invent a time machine and go back to the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth (not Berkeley) and partake in their merriment.

And so with the handy pilgrim costume I always keep on hand, I was in my time machine and rushing back to 1621. I arrived to the smell of fresh baked rolls and cooking duck and the sight of a child chasing a dog through a vegetable garden and her mother scolding close behind.

"The First Thanksgiving", painted by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

I tried to hide in the margins (something I picked up from being a wallflower back in High School) but these kind people pulled me into tumult of their celebration. We feasted and laughed for hours, only taking breaks from our eating long enough to either go for what they called “walks to get gut a’circulating” or sweep the children up into our arms and set them upon our knees so they could recount their latest adventure.

The party was going on without a hitch, but I could tell that there was something missing… Dancing! These Pilgrims weren’t dancing! Now, I should have remembered from my history books that Protestants were not the biggest fans of dancing back in the Seventeenth Century, but I had maybe thrown back a little bit too much mead to consider that at the moment. I eventually swaggered over to the cutest bonneted lady I’d ever seen and took her by the hand. At first the dancing was a little strained, but she quickly took to it. There were a few frowns from on-lookers, but the Wampanoag began howling with laughter and a few of the tribe’s youth came to join us. Eventually the Pilgrims’ eyes began to soften and slowly but surely they joined us in the most ruckus Pilgrim Dance Party America had ever experienced.

Dancing continued until the early hours of the morning when we all collapsed in fits of laughter and Tryptophan induced comas. This truly was a Thanksgiving to be thankful for.

But then the unthinkable happened.

There was an unearthly scream that jarred us all awake. Little Alverice was gone but we could hear him crying. Without considering the danger we might be thrusting ourselves into, I rallied the Pilgrims and Wampanoag behind me and we charged into the wilderness after the lost lad.

A cool mist had settled low to the ground, making it impossible to see what we where stepping upon. Without warning Jonathan the carpenter was grabbed by something and sucked down bellow the fog. We jumped back instinctively, but after taking hold of my senses, I leapt into the fray. If I can fight giant spiders and vampires, I was ready to take on whatever this foe may be.

As I dove into the mist, a claw slapped me across my chest and I was lifted back into the air and collided with my companions.

The beast rose to its full height, towering above us. A werewolf. In that moment I knew that my former roommate Jordan was right in his speculation that Squanto had indeed been a werewolf.

Fortunately I always carry a silver knife on my person for such occasions. I once again charged the beast and threw myself into its torso. Fighting off a barraged of clawed blows, I climbed up its body, clutching tightly to clumps of its fur. Eventually I reached its chest, and after drawing my blade I smote it thus. The monster collapsed to the ground and was metamorphed back into the former British slave, Squanto.

After we returned to camp and nursed Jonathan back to health and returned young Alverice to his mother, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag asked me if I would stay with them and help them build a new utopian society – they asked if I could lead them as their king. I told them that I needed to return to my own time and set a few things straight about this whole Thanksgiving business. They didn’t really understand what I was talking about, but there was not a dry eye among the lot of them.

And so my dear readers, I have returned to you in order to level this argument: Thanksgiving is about family and friends and an inordinate amount of food. Let’s try to keep Thanksgiving as uncommercialized as possible. And let us keep Christmas in our hearts year round.

I’m not really sure how that last one slipped in there.

18 November, 2007

I could Sell a Trunk-Elongator to an Elephant

I sometimes wonder if all of my job experience will someday culminate into some impressive position in which I can utilize all of the skills I have acquired over the years. Sometimes I think of myself like Dr. Samuel Becket from TV’s Quantum Leap, except for instead of having multiple doctorates, Al’s ex-wives, a bad-breathed Gooshie, and a sassy computer named Ziggy, I have fake racists co-workers and knowledge about sizing a woman’s toe.

Remember that time Sam Leapt into Lee Harvey Oswald?

Since I don’t believe myself to be leaping through time (righting wrongs, making sure Arrested Development was still being produced), I will instead embark upon giving my litany of jobs.

I was no capitalist from a young age; I did not have lemonade stands or mow neighbors’ yards. Truth be told, I was just a lazy little bugger. I started my first job in High School under parental persuasion. I joined the ranks of the SanOmar empire and spent my days screen-printing shirts and making Farkle containers in what I lovingly dubbed “the sweatshop.” I don’t find it particularly strange that this is the time I started listening to heart-breaking music, as I was working in a sweltering box with an enraged Cuban and a yappy dog.

In an attempt to cut down my hours working for San Omar I began working for my Uncle Dave, performing market research for large computer-data-storage-devices. I still have no idea what I did. Was I getting paid to surf the most boring parts of the web or I actually working – unbeknownst to me – for some covert organization with intentions to conquer the world… It was probably just the boring Internet stuff.

However, my situation quickly changed, as situations tend to do, and I found myself no longer working for either my uncle (who moved out of the computer-storage business) and my Cuban chief (as he tried to kill me with a bottle of Icky-Sticky-Unstuck). And so, once again my parents encouraged me to find work; however, since we were in the process of moving from Washington to California I did not know where to look for work. I decided to take a job working Day Camp at the church my father had taken a position with – it should be worth a few laughs, right?

I will only give my time working at South Hills Community Church a brief aside here (as I worked for them twice in the future), but my time working Day Camp was one of the worst jobs I ever had. I like kids, I really do, but there was a general feeling of disgust and entitlement that circulated not only amongst the campers but the counselors as well and if you mix that with dehydration and the repetition of cheesy music, you’ve got yourself a work experience that is detrimental to the soul.

Let’s fast-forward past my senior year in High School, the following summer, and my first year at Cal Poly to the summer preceding my second year.

I am not proud of it, but when I started off that summer I was so desperate for a job and having such difficulty finding one that I spent a day working for the local paper, calling people up to ask if they’d like to purchase a subscription.

“Eric!” No doubt you’re aghast. “Are you telling us that you were a telemarketer?”

Yes, dear reader… I took the position by urging of my parents, and while I tried to justify it in my mind in some way, I could not.

“You’re scum, Eric.”

I cannot fight you, reader. I was so ashamed that I never returned the telemarketing office, not even to pick up my check for one-day’s work – they had to send me my check for thirty some-odd dollars.

My rebound from telemarketing may not have been a great improvement, but at least customers came into my store rather than my entering their home. Yes, I began my first retail experience by becoming a vitamin salesman for the renowned The Vitamin Shoppe. Sure, it wasn’t the most glorious job, but I didn’t have a B Complex about it. Ha ha ha! But seriously, I was working and gaining experience (in what, don’t ask me) and I left confidently believing that I would return to San Luis Obispo ready to find a job and take on the world!

I had forgotten something over the summer: San Luis Obispo is a college town saturated with cheap labor. I thought some lucky store would just snatch me up when they saw me strutting my stuff down Higuera St., but this was far from the truth. Once again I was at the mercy of the man, and I began a dogged search for an employer.

After several weeks of turning in applications I finally found someone who wanted me. Gary Wallace of Edgeware Cutlery offered me a job as a knife salesman. Thus I continued in my soul-sucking retail experience.

Our fiercest competition

My time at Edgeware wasn’t a terrible one, I met such interesting characters as Brian, my coworker who feigned being racist to be accepted by his red (which I learned did not me ‘communist’) friends. There was Randy the postcard guy who was in love with my other coworker Yoneko. There were quite a variety of people who I had no right to sell knives to.

The problem was that the store started to get to me. The whole place was full of glass cabinets, and I started having vivid daydreams about systematically or barbarically destroying the entire store, one eye gently twitching.

Eventually I could not take working at Edgeware, I was going crazy working retail, and knew that I would not return after the summer.

I had been offered a job in San Jose working for a company called Once Upon a Toe.

“What was that?” said not doubt with a suppressed giggle.

Yes, dear reader, I worked for company called Once Upon a Toe. We sold toe rings. I was a toe ring salesman. I sorted, fitted, and sold toe rings. Actually, I generally worked in the office, but it wasn’t unheard of for me to size a woman’s toe so she could purchase an appropriately sized toe ring that she could wear continuously. (No, I hardly did anything to make that sound more ridiculous.) During that summer I also worked for South Hills one last time.

Okay, this post is becoming quite tedious, and so I will some pictures explain what it was like working for Lifewater and Mount Hermon.

I was asked to dress like this to represent Lifewater

Johnny put up more of a fight than any High Schooler ever has

So, my work experience may not have taught me to be the most honest person who ever lived, but you can rest assured that I can sell a decorative supplement to an armed (albeit dehydrated) youth from another country at the drop of a hat. Sigh.

15 November, 2007

From the One You Left Behind...

If I ever happen to have children (one of which would be named Linnaea), I would not allow them to attend school on 15 November, as it is one of the most important – albeit uncelebrated – days of the year (according to the Gregorian calendar).

Wait, dear reader, you look a little confused. Could it possibly be that you are unclear on what day it is?

“Okay, Eric,” you will probably pander, lip upturned and finger forcefully tapping your keyboard, “what day is today?”

What day is today? Why today is Paul McCullough day! This is the day when June McCullough gave birth to Paul “Bobby” McCullough a short twenty-two years ago. However, I will not give you a biographical sketch on Mr. McCullough because that job has already been breathlessly accomplished by one Alison Waffles, and so I defer you, dear reader, to her.

“Well, if you aren’t going to tell us about Paul’s life, then why are you taking up our time? You really screwed up this time.”

My word, you are on edge today, so allow for me to rush ahead!

Today I want to talk about myself (big surprise), and more specifically what Paul McCullough means to me. Since he is so far away, I figured that I could get away with writing him a very sentimental cinquain which I have decided to put on display for all of you here today. In honor of Ben’s witty comment earlier, I have named this poem “A Good Paul Isn’t Hard to Find:”

If I
don’t marry, Paul
could be my hetero-
sexual life partner. He’s a
good man.

Now that my heart’s bleeding all over your web browser, I will show you a couple of pictures to drive home the goodness of my dear friend.

Paul sitting with our dear friend Adam (who happens to be a hobo clown poet)

When Paul choreographed the dance numbers for the movie Footloose

Paul brought sexy back years before JT

Life imitating art imitating life

To Paul - may that magnificent son of a McCullough have many glorious years ahead of him!

So, while I will always encourage you to remember me when naming your children, I ask that you also pause before sending wee Eric or Erica to school come 15 November.

09 November, 2007

Stay Depressed Emo Kid

Hands down Chris Carrabba front manned the best emo band ever in Dashboard Confessional. For all of you out there who find my crestfallen friend a tad bit whiney or annoying – you’ve probably leveled the same charges against me, and so I’m not even going to listen to you.

However, this is not a love note to my heartbroken buddy, but rather I wanted to explore what emo looks like in other cultures!

Now, we’re all probably familiar with the stereotypical emo garb, kindly displayed on my friend Ben bellow (I snuck Paul in there too because he was probably playing some hella melancholic tunes at the time). You’ll note the black clothing, hair in the face, and dissatisfied expression – please keep that in mind for the remainder of this rambling.

Despite the derision of my peers (if one can call them that), I adamantly believe that I am not, nor have I ever been, emo. If costuming suggests anything, I did not garb myself in black. If lamenting past loves was a requirement, I certainly couldn’t have accomplished that in High School. So, let’s just put to rest this whole Eric=Emo business because it is nothing more than hot air.

“Eric,” you may interject, as you often seem to, “why are you so worried about being emo if you started off this article defending its avatar?”

Well, my astute reader, I do not want to be likened to emo music because the majority of it is really bad, and emo kids can be a bit whiney. For a while there were stickers circulating with the lowercase words: “cheer up emo kid.” These emo kids wanted to be sad, so I fashioned a sticker of my own, cleverly bearing the title of this post.

“Eric,” you’ll no doubtedly persist, “you’ve done a bit of griping today, but you have yet to discuss emo in other cultures. Please share your thoughts.”

Thank you reader, I can always trust you to keep me on track. I discovered this picture on Google images while searching the term “lederhosen” (please don’t ask why).

I was startled to see the hipster haircut, the downcast eyes, the hands digging into his pockets, the curling lips. This was either an emo kid in Bavarian disguise or in fact something I had never considered before. Had emo reached our Germanic friends? Were their Emokindern? I can only imagine heartfelt ballads about punctual scheduling and flipping coasters in bars. Has an accordion ever appeared in a song by bands named something like Dunkelaugen? This whole going international thing could really be what emo needs to become a serious genre.

Now, perhaps some of you are thinking up mean jokes about Germans not having feelings, and thus being unable to be ‘emotional,’ but I assure you, that this is plain not true! Hannes Wader sings a lovely song about wild swans and birch trees courting one another, and the most famous German drinking song laments, “you don’t know how good I’ve been to you.” So, let’s slap some black Lederhosen on and stand in the middle of polka concerts, scowls on our faces, and deride the other listeners because we’ve known about polka music so much longer than they have.

06 November, 2007

Is that a Cougar Eating Your Face or are You just Happy to See Me?

Back in February a mountain lion decided to gnaw on a seventy year old chap for a little while. The man survived, the mountain lion returned to the forest, and since then mountain lion sightings have been on the rise – we are up to six a day in Santa Cruz County! Since only about six people see me in any given day, there is a good chance that one of those people are a mountain lion in disguise – topology suggests as much.

Mountain lions are about the sneakiest bastards you could ever hope to meet. Last year one walked around in downtown San Luis Obispo for about an hour without being noticed – everyone just thought it was a European tourist looking to purchase a cat sweater. Eventually we figured out that it wasn’t really a European when it commented that it really liked Budweiser – we shot him on the spot after that little slip. There is now mass hysteria surrounding a mountain lion invasion. My roommate, Matt Boutte, long time San Luis resident, has considered running for political office on an anti-cougar platform. “I have always been a Tiger (the SLO High mascot), but I have never been a cougar!

I am naturally worried about the escalating mountain lion population. My instincts are starting to kick in, proving me to be a skittish animal. My eyes are always watching the trees, anticipating a cougar licking its chops at my lean, sinewy flesh.

However, I have decided to no longer live in fear. I will not let these cougars disrupt my American way of life. I will launch a pre-emptive strike that will shock and awe all puma-kind. I have found a tree perfect for pouncing, and have crafted a little resting place amidst its branches. I plan on lying in wait for a mountain lion and then pounce upon it, unawares. I will give it a brief scuffle and then allow it to retreat. As it flees, tail between its legs, I will raise a defiant finger and declare: “Tell all your friends!”

I figure I will either live a life from that point forward free from the cougar-menace or I will sincerely hope that one of you find me while I am in combat with the cougar, its mouth firmly gripping my face. Oh, and I’d be most happy to see you at that point.

03 November, 2007

Don't Pee on my Coat

I have a tendency to live in abnormally chilly houses. In San Luis Obispo it was not uncommon to see your breath during the winter months. I can remember a period of time while I was studying the history of death and dying in modern Europe and America – I would don my history cardigan, wrap an afghan about my legs, bury some earplugs into my ears, and sport my very stylish reading glasses. I felt like an old man with bad hearing and vision. People would enter the room, I would barely hear them, and then upon looking up they were nothing more than a hazy blob. Oh, and I could see my breath.

However, I do not want to speak about my San Luis residence today. I am now in the Santa Cruz mountains, and am housed in a fine abode. As you can imagine, it is a lovely living space; however it is also on average ten to fifteen degrees colder than anywhere else in Santa Cruz County. Our house is partially submerged under a hill, and my being downstairs leads my home to be somewhat similar to a Hobbit-hole or a mole’s home.

With the weather getting colder, I have been excited to wear my beloved pea coat (maybe the nicest thing I own). I realized that this desire would arise when I was preparing myself for the move over the hill, and I began packing up my belongings thinking that my coat would materialize. Alas, my coat was nowhere to be seen! I could have sworn that it was packed up when I left San Luis, but I hadn’t needed it while I was at camp, and thus I hadn’t seen it for a good three months.

I began a frantic search for my beloved jacket, but my efforts were fruitless. I had one final desperate hope of finding the coat: sending out an email to my dispersed roommates. My cry for help clawed its way through the cold divide of cyberspace and managed to reach my friends.

At first the results were bleak. “Haven’t seen it, but I’ll keep my eyes open.” Touching, but ultimately left me without my coat, and the weather continued to grow colder.

I had all but given up hope in reclaiming my outer garment (searching eBay, eyeing my roommates parka) when a welcomed name appeared in my inbox. Johnny Paolucci, that magnificent Italian, had sent me a note. Any news from Johnny could warm my heart even if my body were an icy relic awaiting future anthropological discovery. What was this? My coat had been discovered! It was a prodigal and returned to me! I once was cold but now I’m warm! I would survive my first winter atop the mountain!

Before you think me entirely mercenary, my coat was not the only reason I went to San Luis last weekend. I love people there very much, and I would want to see them even if my coat rested safely in my home or was misplaced in Beirut.

And so, good has been done here. Johnny is still a beautiful man, and you will all get to enjoy a thawed Mr. Garner. Eric: one – Anthropologists: zero.

30 October, 2007

Not for all the Tea in San Luis Obispo

Despite the potential squabbles with my possible, future wife (yes, we are getting theoretical today), I have given serious thought to naming a child of mine “Linnaea.”

“That’s an interesting name Eric,” you may ponder, “but where does it come from? Was that the name of a relative?”

No, dear reader – Linnaea is the name of an old woman in San Luis Obispo whom I barely knew. The most important facet of her history lies in the founding of Linnaea’s Café in downtown San Luis Obispo – I place that I haunted frequently in my college years and a place my spirit haunts to this day.

I am actually visiting San Luis Obispo today, and I thought paying homage to this fine town outweighed the risk of flirting with diary. Who’s to say you agree with me? I suppose you’re continued reading is at that will tell.

A view of Linnaea's from Higuera and Garden

Back to Linnaea’s… I have a sordid history with the place. If I look back on my four years in San Luis Obispo, I can point to three of them revolving around the Café. Perhaps, Linnaea’s regular, John Feeno (pony-tail dreadlock, linguist) is right in his deduction that his table at Linnaea’s is the center of the universe? Every girl that I liked in college shared with me at the Café. You knew that you were becoming good friends with someone outside when you took them into Linnaea’s for the first time and you had to make an effort to take your Linnaea’s friendships outside of the Café because you didn’t know where else to go. For my last year and a half in San Luis, I pretty much went to Linnaea’s every weekday morning at 7:00 (when they opened) and had a cup of tea with the baristas (whom were invariably my friends). If San Luis were my world, than certainly Linnaea’s as a world within it (wheels in wheels, plays within the play).

So, as I sit here today, I raise my cup of tea to you, dear readers – I raise it to you, dear Linnaea’s – I raise it to you, dear San Luis. And as Tiny Tim observed, “God bless us, everyone.”

27 October, 2007

Happy 300!

We did it! We have lasted for 300 days this year! Congratulations everyone. I never thought October 27 would ever come, but here we are.

Oh, in other news, it is also Navy Day! We are just celebrating right and left here at Oolong Fancies (i.e. Eric Garner).

“Wait a minute, Eric,” you should probably interject. “What does Navy Day or 300 whatsacoohoosits got to do with your blog?”

Well dear friends, I am taking a stab at patriotism because I have been reported to be a communist!

“Eric, haven’t you claimed to have socialist leanings all along? And why are you writing such short paragraphs today?”

Both good questions my friend, and I will attempt to answer at least one of them.

I have always had a strange affinity for socialism. Granted it has gone in fits and bursts; sometimes I see it is naïve idealism and at others as a valid individual goal. Regardless of how my opinions have changed, it is fair to note that I am drawn to socialism in both an academic and practical sense.

A Birthday Card for Megan Hansen Hansen

My academic curiosities have lead me to study the modern history of countries such as Russia and China; speculating as to where they went wrong and what they did right. I’ve read communist literature, and while Marx’s Manifesto was the most interesting treatise I read, I also waded through Engels’ Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. I also examined some of the literature of the Soviet Union’s dissident writers. I even at one point in an essay wrote the ridiculous line, “[the] Soviet Russia (Narnia before the curse had been lifted: always winter, never Christmas).” So, a bit of time in my academic career was focused in the red.

However, my interest was not just in the intellectual questions surrounding a communist world, but penetrated as deep as the spiritual and remained as opportunist as a capitalist venture. I wondered if the doctrines espoused by the socialism were the same as Christianity; however, it lacked (or rather denied) the impetus by which this could be accomplished – namely Christ. Was being a good socialist the same as being a good Christian – choosing to work charitably for your fellow human? However, these pure thoughts could not last forever, and I conceived of a children’s doll that you would tickle until it confessed its socialist leanings – I called it Tickle Me Pinko.

Before I completely forget why I’m writing this entry, allow for me to tell you of my accusation.

One night early this last summer, I went to check my email with a fellow counselor up at Mount Hermon’s Conference Center. It was a nice little get away from what had been an emotional first couple of weeks, and we were enjoying what I came to call “Big-Word Conversation.” A surprise awaited us in the staff lounge – the most awkward Mount Hermon Summer Staff employee of them all. I felt a little sorry for this guy, it was obvious that not many people wanted to talk with him, and so I engaged him in conversation over a game of pool while my friend checked her email.

As I sank ball after ball, I left my awkward companion ample time to make bold claims and ask me bizarre questions. I generally responded with as brief of answers as I could – I’m not very good at multitasking (talking-doing anything). It came out that I had been a student of history – my competitor made it very clear that the only history he was interested in was American, particularly if it had to do with The Civil or Second World Wars. I flippantly noted that I had primarily studied Modern Russia and China.

I want to pull you, dear reader, aside for a moment. What would be your response to a statement like mine about what I studied in school?

“Well Eric,” you would hopefully state, “I suppose that I would ask something along the lines of, ‘why did you choose to study that?’ or, ‘are you interested in comparative socialist history?’”

Those would both have been very good questions… I’m glad I have such astute readers. No, he did not respond that way – he simply blurted:

“So, are you a communist?”

This was neither a joking question, nor was it asked as a friend. This fellow wanted to know right now whether I could even possibly be a Christian – he may need to report me to the director post-haste! We have a pinko-commie bastard in the sanctum sanctorum! Alert the guards!

“I have socialist leanings, yes, but I am not a communist,” I answered, my face flushed and my hand tightening around my cue. What gall!

The conversation shot back and forth for a while, my attempting to explain why it was very Christian to be a personal-socialist and his looking at me like I had a lobster stuck up my nose.

I called the Eight and sunk it. We parted ways. But I continued running into this guy over the summer. I continued to work charitably (by which I mean in practical love) toward him, and he continued to be awkward. By the end of the summer he wanted frequently sought me out for conversation, and while I didn’t seek him out, I did not avoid him. Could his heart be beating a little pinker today?

Oh, and I don’t know why those paragraphs were so short.

26 October, 2007

Confessions of a Prehistoric Bird Monster

Today I have something vile about myself to confess – something that I had always figured I would take with me to the grave… Sometimes I am transformed, against my will, into a hairy, reptilian beast with a dog peeing on a baby for a heart and a portly hog loose in a sweet shop for self-control. I just figured you hadn’t heard enough about my encounters with the supernatural, and thus I decided you might want to know what to do when you note: “My, Eric certainly has an animal-magnetism about him today. He could use a shave though.”

Where to begin? Where to begin? I suppose I ought to give you the history of this curse, lest you become irritated with my recent misfortune. So sit back, kiddos, this will be a long one.

The year was Fourteen-Ninety-Two, and aside being when Columbus (that bastard) sailed the oceans blue it is also when everything of consequence happened in Spain. In the small city of Verín in southern Spain there was an unholy beast that stole young women from their vegetable gardens and planted them like one would a potato. Some thought the fiend who fed on human flesh was making the first attempts at a vegetarian lifestyle, while others presumed it to be a giant squirrel-like imp who wanted to store food for the winter. Regardless of what the creature was doing, it really irked the local towns folk, and so they vowed to rid their land of this pestilence.

It being the height of the Inquisition, the people sought the help of their Grand Inquisitor to lead the attack on this brute. And so, with religion at the helm of this miniature crusade, the people set out to slay the beast. They eventually caught up with the monster near the coast. Its rotting teeth and unkempt hair frightened the irate mob, but could not shake their resolution. With ire boiling in their stomachs they charged the creature and fell it thus. And there was much rejoicing.

Seal of the Inquisition

However, no party can last forever (no matter how much I wish they could), and the revelry of the villagers was cut short by their attempts to destroy the pestilence forever with fire. It would not burn. Despite their best efforts, they could not get the gremlin to ignite! This left the Grand Inquisitor with quite the dilemma. On one hand, he could not leave the monster where it lay; for fear that it would reincarnate and strike against the village with proliferating malice. However, on the other hand he could not take the monster back to Verín with him because it was unclean. Thus he made the choice to leave it with Isaac, a Jew who had managed to escape from the oppressive ghettos. (Please remember that 1492 was also the height of persecution against the Spanish Jews).

At first Isaac did not much mind the brute, as he was somewhat impish himself. He delighted himself with using it to play pranks on his neighbors. Every afternoon for months the monster was having tea with him, sitting in Senorita Estrella’s bathhouse, or doing giant summersaults down the hill into Senor Pantalones’ pasture. Isaac came to think of the monster as his best friend; however there was a problem with his playmate… He wasn’t very mobile. It really was exhausting to move the brute from Point A to Point B. And so, Isaac concocted a plan to make his accomplice a more transportable one.

Isaac shorn the brute and wove a wig out of its fur, he also tanned its hide and crafted a mask out of its leather. Donning the body of his partner, he set off about the countryside causing all kinds of mischief.

Eventually the Grand Inquisitor had quite enough of this and had Isaac's heads cut off, and Isaac’s blood cried out from the ground. He wasn’t a bad chap… being a Jew in Spain at the time of the Inquisition seems like a pretty good reason to be pissy to me. And so, a terrible curse came upon the mask, and it corrupted all who touched it unless they had the purity of a child. Thus it was taken in by a virtuous order of monks and stored within the confines of their cloister, safe from the prying eyes of the world.

The mask fell out of human memory.

Centuries later, a young priest in training by name of Stephen Akers caught word of this mask while pouring through tomes of church history. He discovered that the monastery that housed the mask had been destroyed by a brief Moorish incursion onto the Spanish shores. He was so fascinated by this unholy relic that he set seas (actually airs) for Spain. Upon arriving he hunted for this impure article of clothing and eventually found it at a street fair in Grenada being peddled by an innocent child, unawares of the evil he carried. Stephen took the burden of the mask upon his person and returned to the States.

Eventually Stephen could no longer bear the weight of the mask weighing upon his soul, and so after great deliberation he opted to lay the fardel upon the most pure person he knew…

Hey! Wait a minute! I don’t want to see those smirks. You can just take those snickers and throw them in the rubbish bin or you can stick them in unpleasant places – you hear me? I am plenty pure! However, it wasn’t me, Stephen thought to give the mask to. Stephen knew Alicia, my beloved roommate Paul’s girlfriend, to be the most virtuous woman alive. However, Stephen could not leave the mask at her house because his arch-nemesis lived there, and he would do anything to thwart Stephen’s purposes, even wear a cursed bird mask. Thus Stephen laid the mask in our house’s care. It was placed inside our coffee table’s (which was made from wood taken from the hull of Noah’s Ark) drawer and locked with a bolt that was crafted from the sword of King David. The mask was safe.


One day in an epic, wrestling match, I collided into the coffee table and (miraculously?) knocked the lock free, opening the drawer. I lay face to face with the unholy mask, its blank eyes boring into mine. Before Johnny could stop me, I was completely seduced by the mask and placed it firmly against my face. Without a moments delay I was transformed into a great beast. However, while I thought it would be really cool to plant girls in our front yard, I was more interested in lokian misbehaving.

One time I waited outside of the bathroom for half an hour while Johnny was taking a shower. I didn’t even make a sound, I remained as still as a gargoyle perched atop a barstool. Johnny wouldn’t speak to me for a month after that little stunt.

On another occasion I tried to spook the Arlen kids by playing a Sounds of the Haunted House record and dancing around eerily amidst smoke. To quote Jesse: “I just really wanted it to end.”

Eventually I became really lonely as a Prehistoric Bird Monster. No one really liked me very much. I would often just perch in trees and let out melancholy howls at the moon. All alone.

However, in time I learned to control my curse and could shift back and forth between the suave Eric you have all come to love and the hideous beast that now lay within. It was actually pretty easy to take charge again once my favorite Greek restaurant accused me of being a Turk and denied me entry… That simply would not fly!

In later news, I can now bring out the Bird Monster when needed – it’s a regular party animal! Not to mention it’s quite popular with the ladies.

So, I now live my life as a Prehistoric-Bird-Monster-American, and while I may not enjoy all of the rights many other Americans do, I still know how to have a good time. So, next time you see someone like me, remember that Prehistoric Bird Monsters are people too.

24 October, 2007

I don’t like Talking about Recent History, But…

…Apparently I am the target of any blood-sucking creature. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if an army of Chupacabras attacked me! Allow for me to explain my indignation…

Last night my beloved roommate Dan was nearly consumed by an enormous arachnid! I am not usually scared of spiders if they are smaller than a toaster oven, but most spiders don’t approach people with a gun. This spider just started making wild demands about letting it eat Dan’s intestinal tract, but we would have none of it. I’m not sure how the scuffle went down, it was dark, but by the end of it Dan still had his intestines and not an atom of the spider remained in existence.

But that’s not the story I want to tell you about now.

Back in the early summer, before I was a seasoned spider fighter, I faced the most grotesque spider I had ever seen. Finished brushing my teeth, I was alone in the rotator’s cabin at Redwood Camp. I began to step out of the bathroom when I noticed the usually off-white wall miraculously painted black. To my surprise, this was not furry, eight-legged paint, but rather a behemoth of a spider. Still unable to accept the reality of this spider, I considered myself to be at the worse end of a prank by one of the other Redwood staff – but then it moved. I jumped a full yard-and-a-half back as its glistening body pulsated against the wall. Quickly devising a plan, I grabbed a discarded shoe and smote the spider atop the abdomen with all the righteous fury I could muster. The lob reared and I perceived it to fall into the trashcan bellow.

I was not about to sleep with a presumed dead spider-dragon in my room. I lifted the burdensomely heavy trashcan to bring it up to the light, but instead of witnessing a deceased araneae, the corner of my eye caught a falling darkness. Deftly dropping the wastebasket, I saw the spider drop atop a chair. I swung at it with the shoe, but missed as the monster slid beneath the chair. I overturned it and began striking at the beast with my trusted weapon. The spider leapt away from its broken defenses and attempted to scurry beneath the couch for shelter – unfortunately for the spider, I was too quick. With an impressive blow I brought the beast to halt, and then with one final swing it exploded. Its body crumpled to a hundredth its original size, leaving me without a trophy, but I had bested it regardless.

Spiders around these parts have been a tad bit more respectful since that fatal day – which is largely why I’m so shocked by the spider’s recent behavior in Dan’s room. Fortunately for Dan’s intestines, I’m still around to keep spider aggression down.