Thursday, August 31, 2006

Oh, the humanity...

The visual scenes of war played out before us on CNN tend to affect us on so many levels that we finally become anesthetized to the shock and horror. But there are some acts so basic and personal... so visceral that we must divert our eyes. The photo above is just such an atrocity. This is hitting way below the belt.

(Thanks to The Silver Fox for the photo... check out her blog:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dingleberries at Dusk

I think I have Cheltenham Book font envy. There is something about this elegant font that screams quality and competency. The classic lines, the flourishes pronounced yet understated… and no need to select bold face because this font merely steps up and proudly walks onto the stage without embarrassing fanfare or unnecessary introduction. Hello… I’m here… use me as you will.

Of course, I can’t show it to you because it costs $21 to download it, not that this is an unfair price for such a magnificent font program. You see, my friends, $21 is the exact price of a case of Bud Lite® and… well, I’m sure you understand. The first weekend of the NCAA college football season is nearly upon us and attention to brew inventories must take first priority.

Meanwhile, I shall continue to utter silent curses directed to those of you who choose to goad me with stories and jokes written in Cheltenham Book font, knowing full well the jealousy I suffer at your hands— not that my entreaties will have the slightest effect on you, sallow-faced impure wretches that you are. Just know that I am profoundly and irrevocably injured.

In protest, I am using the Times New Roman font, the most banal, uninspired, truly hideous example of man’s inhumanity towards man ever invented. Of course, if anyone were to actually send me $21 (no checks, please) or a pirated download of Cheltenham Book font, I would be forever in your debt.

Now, go play…

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Was Born a Haggedorn

Where, exactly, is Iceland, anyway?

I wish my surname were ‘Haggedorn’… if it were, perhaps my mom would have named me Thor or Gunter. Now, there is a writer’s name. Gunter Haggedorn… sorta has a ring to it, don’t you think?

I can see the dust cover on my first novel, Terror in Nordhurland. Then, underneath the title, James A. Michener would have written, “One American’s epic struggles to overcome the indignity of life in a foreign land with neither money nor the ability to speak the language. Armed only with a can of Sterno and a rusty pair of vise-grip pliers, Haggedorn regains his dignity and creates a force for social change while living in the dumpster behind a downtown Reykjavík fishhouse/brothel.”

Yea… what could have been…

Oh, well, maybe in my next life.

It is my utmost desire to bring peace to the world, but first I must find the man who stole my vise-grips. I will hunt him down or my name is not Thor-Gunter Haggedorn. Not that you would care—you’ve always shown a depraved indifference toward all things mechanical—but, I assure you, there will come a day when your fortunes, too, will revolve around the huge, spinning wheel that is Thor-Gunter Haggedorn’s existence. Even as you now walk self-assuredly down the streets of downtown Reykjavík broadcasting your unenlightened, pusillanimous contempt for all creatures big and small, it shall come to pass that the high shall find their yins wrapped hopelessly around the yangs of the low, and only the virtuous shall continue to spin on the ether-wheel. If it is you who absconded with my vise-grips, I offer you the advise of the sages: Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.

I shall say no more, for to do so would risk abandoning my principles, usurping the education and enlightenment derived from onerous months of dumpster dwelling. Admittedly, it is tempting to lash out at humanity’s rejection of even its most basic tenets. However, to do so would approximate a posture taken by the pulpit’s best car salesmen.

For it is written that a can of sterno more easily passes through the gastrointestinal tract of a puppy (even a good-sized puppy, perhaps a boxer or Labrador retriever, and possibly even a St. Bernard, if it is less than six months old and has no glandular hyper-activity diagnosed) than a man who steals another’s vise-grips enters the kingdom of Thor-Gunter Haggedorn.


So, if it is you who removed them from my pocket while I endured the slumber only a man who has just imbibed four liters of Kleisthoffen blanc can possibly understand, simply return them. I promise I shall be lenient if you show contrition, pay the fine, and swear under the penalty of eternal sobriety that you shall never again rummage through my domain. Remember, I am not a vengeful man.

In fact, not only am I not vengeful, I am outwardly placid. Had I chosen not to communicate with you, there is every probability that you wouldn’t know that I am an Ásatrún priest or Golthi. Chances are, you’ve no familiarity with my religion, but if I told you I were a Wiccan, Pagan, or Celtic Druid, your search compass set for intellectual enrichment would be headed in the right direction. I’m also called a Heathen, although I tend to shy from the description due to its less-than-noble connotations. The term implies non-enlightenment in its barest sense, and I assure you nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s see you go out and become a priest whilst domiciling in a dumpster in lower downtown Reykjavík. I’m one plenty-smart dude, so don’t try to put me down or I might have to go upside your head with my vise-grips. That is, if I can catch the son-of-a-bitch who stole them and bring him to justice. Thor-Gunter, get a grip! You’re a bigger man than this.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Lipid Taxonomy 405

At 4:05 this morning, I woke up in quite a stir, repeating one word over and over, and I have no idea why, because it’s a word that I don’t recall ever hearing before. Laying there in the dark, I couldn’t shake it… glucoflavonoids… glucoflavonoids… glucoflavonoids…

I suppose this might be explained away as ‘unconsciously bringing one’s work home’ if I were a biochemist, but one semester of undergraduate biochemistry in 1973 hardly qualifies me for inclusion in any of their professional organizations. So, I did what any rational person would do at that point— I got out of bed and fired up my trusty PC. Once my homepage was booted and all the pop-up ads were deleted, I consulted Google, typing in glucoflavonoids. Wonder upon wonder, I even spelled it correctly.

There were only five entries for the topic, one of which was in Spanish and, therefore, of very little use to a gringo such as myself; along with my many shortcomings in such disciplines as biochemistry you could also quite correctly include bilingual fluency. Be that as it may, I pushed on, determined to find out what the hell the damned things were and why they’d invaded my sleep!

It turns out (after slogging through 59 pages of a technical paper written in 2002 by S.R. Jensen and J. Schripsema, Chemotaxonomy and pharmacology of Gentianaceae) that glucoflavonoids are actually very closely related to several other families of compounds in family Gentianaceae, the iridoids, xanthones, mangiferin, swertiamarin and, of course, the under-appreciated gentiopicriside.


Imagine my disappointment when I read that the iridoid glucoflavonoids of Gentianaceae are usually secoiridoids or, at their very least, the obligatory biosynthetic precursors of the secoiridoids.

However, I must admit, I’m relieved that it's not cancer or VD...

Good night.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Shiloh at Appomattox

This morning I find myself retreating from my dark place, shunning its allures and attempting to keep it from advancing past boundaries I set up so long ago. However, astride the passage of time rides deterioration, and a once-impenetrable barrier fortified by armaments of youth and vitality now yields areas along its length readily subject to siege by armies of invaders intent upon ultimate destruction.

My garrisons now cede regions previously impregnable and inviolable. Regularly, distrust and despair overcome my shrinking defenses, forming subversive cells deep within my infrastructure. Niggling presences create internal strife and doubt, sabotaging laughter and annihilating creativity—my ducks' backs sop up the poison, their feathers suddenly incapable of shedding the rising tide and floodwaters that threaten their very existence.

Where are you, Robin Williams? You’re overdue with my ration of satire and I fear you’ve been captured. Did they get you, too, George Carlin and Jon Stewart? Did you finally succumb to the shackles of the shekels, Bill Maher? My colonels have apparently abandoned their posts, falling victim to the allure while accepting the shiny baubles and concentrating only on the entrancing gold watch.

Generals Thompson, Pryor, Garcia, Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin and Brautigan have long since left the battlefield, and Vonnegut and King are missing in action. Their replacements, both poorly trained and improperly armed, lack the fire in their bellies to carry the cause to victory. My once-powerful army is now a sallow militia that must ultimately fall.

You win, George. I hope you take great pride in your victory. Your bombs and battles and surgical strikes might just as well have been aimed at America, because that’s where they’ve landed. You can’t defeat the Iraqis or Bin Laden, so you decided to take America hostage and force us to watch you stratify the world. It’s Us or Them, huh, George?

When Esteemed Consigliore Rove finally proclaims you King of the World, it’ll all just be a blip on the radar. However, I would offer you this advice as you spit on the White House lawn: What goes around comes around. So unless you’re really capable of quickly bringing about the Biblical Armageddon you so desperately seek, you may want to reserve a prayer in hopes that God has a sense of humor.

Friday, August 25, 2006


I’ve always thought I’d like to be an astronaut. Can you imagine the thrill of having an exploding building strapped to your ass as you hurdle skyward towards infinity? Of course, the weightlessness part is a bit concerting… I assume astronauts get to sleep at some point and I don’t know what I’d do with my dentures. Certainly a glass of water sitting on my NASA bedside table wouldn’t work, so chances are one of my comrades would be fetching my teeth out of mid-air before my sleep period ended.

But what a view… especially at night! (Think about it, I’ll stop for a few seconds to allow you to catch up… I know it’s lame, but what the hell, it’s worth a shot. You try writing comedy some time—trust me when I tell you it’s brutal. I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be if I actually gave a damn what people think.)

I’m sorry, my train of thought is currently derailed, an eventuality all too common in my life. What’s worse, I’m apologizing to people who neither purchase nor invest much by way of time allotment to my writing. How pathetic is that? Damn…

Bestial Communists and Free Spirit Prison

I went on vacation recently to the Rockies, to the Pike National Forest, not that this little gem of information is particularly relevant. There are about a dozen National Forests in Colorado and one is pretty much like the next, I figure. The professionals responsible for such things tell us that around a million years ago or so, this particular piece of real estate teemed with tiny three-toed horses, sloths of varying sizes, a few camels and probably a rhinoceros or two.

My woman and I had driven in to the trailhead from Dotsero, where we’d spent a little time with her relatives, some Mormons who’d slipped out of Salt Lake City in the middle of the night about ten years ago. The previous evening we sat around their fireplace drinking vodka and talking about Marxism. Soon, conversation turned to a legendary place not too far from their current location, a very special trail known only to a few fortunate locals who had been sworn to secrecy and promised to give their lives rather than divulge its location. Evidently, if you find and follow this trail, you can find Free Spirit Prison, the place where all Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, Moslems, Jews, soccer players, Sodomites and the occasional Methodist goes when they die. Of course, Mormons don’t go there. Shirley, my woman’s aunt, read to us from The Bestial Communist, a sordid little tale written by the ex-mayor of Provo, Utah. Can’t say as I took much of it to heart, though, being a pagan vegan. My woman asked Shirley if she believed the book to be written under some Divine Power, or if she considered it to be some form of Mormon Catechism, but she said, “No”.

Earlier, I’d bought a new package of socks from a store in Glenwood Springs. I might have considered stealing them, but I wanted the receipt for income tax purposes. The socks came with a written guarantee. I stuck it in my pocket, but when I looked for it later, I couldn’t find it, which is a shame because, apparently, if I didn’t like them for any reason, I could launder them and send them back to the manufacturer, who’d be obliged to send me a new pair. I could wear them for a while, wash them and send them back, only to be rewarded with an identical facsimile within a reasonable span of time. Now I’m forced to face the fact that these socks will never become a family heirloom. All my future generations are on their own.

We walked up the trail a ways, intent upon finding Free Spirit Prison, until we came upon a couple, a girl with grass all over her jeans and a man wearing a silly-looking Australian cowboy hat, one of those suede contraptions with one side of the brim pinned to the crown. He had a bottle of Ripple sticking out of one of his back pockets. They been sitting on a tattered blanket by a pine tree, but judging from the grin on her face, the sitting part of the equation had been preceded by a more supine activity. Hand in hand, they picked up the blanket and bounced further into the trees, looking back occasionally to see if we were following. We weren’t.

The path, easy to follow and well developed, eventually led to a sign that said Free Spirit Prison 1 ½ Miles. We walked across a mountaintop and down into a valley where the path just stopped. Nothing but trees stood before us. I looked all around, but I saw neither hide nor hair of that trail, so we followed the stream, and soon we saw a spot where the stream widened. I figured it was a beaver pond, so we approached it with great stealth. If the trout see you, they’re nearly impossible to round up again. Drawing closer, we noticed that it wasn’t a beaver pond at all, someone had dammed up the water with a few boards. The stream flowed right over them, but the water pooled behind it, making it look like a big bathtub, so the woman and I decided to take a bath.

We took off all our clothes and the mosquitoes had at us until we got into the water, and then they stopped. I saw several dead fish belly up in the shallowest part of the tub, their bodies turned white as the frost on iron doors in mid-winter. Immediately I knew why the fish had died. The water had come from a hot spring and the trout had made the mistake of venturing too far downstream.

We splashed around awhile, playing and relaxing, until I started to get ideas. I placed myself in such a position that she couldn’t see my hard on, I intended to surprise her with it. I went deeper into the water, risking being covered by a dead fish. I don’t think I surprised her very much, because she was soon riding me like a bucking bronco, her arms around my neck and her hot breath nipping my ear. I felt her come and I was close, too, so I pulled out… she liked to watch. A few seconds later, a white, stringy mass filled the clear water, swirling like a falling star destined for Free Spirit Prison. Once and for all time, I knew I could never be a Mormon.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Old Viking Looking Back

The white windsock hung in the bare branches of an oak tree beside our picnic table, its green and orange tentacles suspended by thin branchlets that formed a trapping web; the last fading remnants of a bygone time, crepe arms spread at unnatural, grotesque angles. Upon first glance, with only a bit of reflection, I imagined an octopus grabbing onto narrow wisps of coral, stubbornly defying the current and all nature’s relentless attempts to pull it into deeper waters. Perhaps that octopus/windsock and I are brothers, each seeking refuge from the current—or maybe we are merely passing in a previously charted course of neither design nor consequence.

These days, it is difficult to discern.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Oh, yes I am...

Well, the jury is in— I’m worth it. Could there be any mistake about it? Over four years of exhaustive research has gone into the theory and no longer can there be the slightest chance that they’ve made a mistake— I’m definitely worthy of a reward.

With that in mind, why shouldn’t I treat myself to something I’ve had my eye on? A recently completed study reveals that I’m worth the creamy goodness of a gallon of Häagen-Dazs macadamia brittle, the luxury of SleepComfortCoils, Givenchy and, it goes without saying, an automobile with the quality engineering of Mercedes-Benz, fine china capable of saying to the world, ‘You’ve made it, boy’, and the understated elegance of Rollex.

Haven’t I earned the right to spoil myself occasionally with a new 72-inch flat screen plasma HD Sony and the decadence of SurroundSound Harmon-Kardon stereo equipment? A myriad of magazine ads and television commercials assure me that I am… not to mention corporate executives of no less than the illustrious Hilton Hotel chain.

No, there can be no doubt, really. I’m capable of distinguishing between a quality chronometer from a run-of-the-mill timepiece, I can sense a kidskin glove manufacturer’s commitment to me, and entire departments of Madison Avenue marketing experts have deemed me the perfect focal point of advertising campaigns.

Therefore, having concluded that I deserve nothing less than the very best the world has to offer, I intend to invest every last dime of my non-discretionary income on the finer things in life.

That is, I will if I ever get a freakin’ job.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Statistics tell us that one out of every five people on earth is Chinese, and there are five people in my family, so one of them must be Chinese. It's either my mom or dad, my older brother Leroy, or my younger brother Ho-Chan-Chu. Personally, I think it's Leroy, he's always been a little 'different'.

I'm staying home tonight, I'm too embarrassed to leave the house. My wife has decided she wants to become a mime.

Yes... that's right, a mime... the most disgraceful and insipid of all art forms. I'd rather come home from work and find a Robert Maplethorpe collection in our den! Why would anyone want to emulate some garish, white-faced nut whose entire reason for existence is to annoy total strangers in parks and public gathering places? I don't get it!

Now, she spends her evenings walking across the living room, palms thrust forward, searching for that invisible pain of glass... all the while grinning like a baby with a gas bubble.

Mercifully, occasionally she disappears behind the sofa, as she practices walking down the invisible stairs. At that point, it's all I can do to keep from slamming and locking the invisible lid to the invisible cellar.

During more cogent moments, she speaks of her 'muse'. I've never been one to belittle an education, but if this is an example of what books can do, I'm glad I confine my excursions into the world of literature to the occasional story in Field and Stream. If I see one bill for 'muse service', all bets are off, I swear to God they are!

Well, I'd better go. I think I'm going to go see if I can trap her in her invisible box.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hotbed of the Ho-Hum

James Watt, after watching an iron kettle boil over, was sufficiently inspired to invent the steam engine. Imagine what could be invented after witnessing an obese epileptic eat tacos. The creation could, quite possibly, bring about the end of life as we know it.

Well, enough about that... I'm going to run with another recurring thought (fantasy?) that seems to pop up at obscure times. Yesterday, while directing my rider mower over the expanse of wasteland I laughingly refer to as 'my yard', I kept thinking
about how awesome it would be to wake up from a coma and have the first words out of your mouth be delivered in a language you didn’t know before you lapsed!

Can you imagine? Aunt Shirley goes around the bend five years ago and she's pretty close to the point where you start to plant flowers in her navel, when suddenly the lights come back on and she sits bolt upright and begins to greet you in Arabic or some other gibberish that nobody can interpret? How long do you think it would take the hospital to find an interpreter who could speak the Papua New Guinean Kewa dialect? Meanwhile, Aunt Shirley is trying to shove a bone through her nose and build a fire next to her respirator.

Do you suppose that all people in vegetative states are really getting intense Berlitz courses in the language of their choice and won’t be released back into the world until they’ve passed their final exams? That might explain why some folks never get back, they just can’t seem to memorize the proper verb declensions and formal/informal derivatives necessary to graduate.

And who is teaching these courses? Are there teams of metaphysical language teachers flitting around in our cranial midsts, merely waiting to seize the opportunity? Some celestial linguist gets the call: Mrs. Herbstreit, go to Randolph County, Missouri, you have a new pupil... one Mr. Bubba Church who wants to learn Middle English. Then, she creeps up behind me when I'm not paying attention, smacks me on the head, puts my lights out and school starts. Meanwhile, I get a four or five-year vacation at the Moberly Institute for the Simple, matriculating patiently while my skill levels hopefully soar to C- levels before graduation.

Just think, if I could master Middle English, my dream of becoming a thane would finally come true. I’d love to think that I could graduate somewhere before assuming room temperature, it might erase the horrors of high school.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Never Quite

I finished the last of the Ovaltine last night, and my skim milk suffered for it, offering little more than What-It’s-Suppose-To-Taste-Like with the occasional hint of Something-Resembling-Hershey’s-But-Just-A-Little-Inferior. Here in Never Quite we’ve learned that such eventualities sew the fabric to our day. Enough stitched to Right, On Time converging intimately with Up To Par. All the misshapen Almost-Beatitudes lay next to snippets of What Could Have Been and Fulfilled, colorfully covering me as ward against reality’s cold. It’s a heavy quilt, too, even if the fabric tends to pester a bit, grabbing at the skin and constantly reminding that Finished and Good Enough and Published still sit on the table, waiting for their opportunity to join the others.
Bubba says 'hey'. Thanks for stopping by, bless your heart. Welcome to the maiden voyage of Not Quite Right. If you'll promise to come back and/or let me know you loved/hated my blog, I'd be appreciative. If you want to argue, that's okay, too, so long as we can maintain some form of civility about it.

I am... different, I guess. You'll find damn little by way of hard news here, although from time to time I'm liable to take a swing at this or that politician who needs to get his/her head out of his/her ass.
I'm never sure whether the material I post makes sense to anyone but me, so I make no promises that I won't offend you or your sense of decorum, but I promise to try to keep from being mean, in as much as I understand the definition of the word.

Some folks feel that I ain't wrapped too tight, but I don't pay too much attention to them. I live by one credo adopted early on: Life is short-- get over yourself. In other words, if you think you're important, you probably aren't, at least not in any meaningful way. So, if you're looking for a few words strung together in a way you may not have yet witnessed, maybe this is the blog for you. If not... okay, I hope you find what you're looking for. I thank you in advance for any pseudo-intellectual input/support you'd care to offer. I promise not to attempt to sell you anything.