Friday, December 31, 2010


Almost everything I write, from quick notes in my notebooks to the novel I'm working on, are the result of the same process. 

Some small forgettable occurrence happens, and instead of living up to its description, it stays with me.  Throughout the day, I refresh my memory of it, keeping its head above water.  There’s no telling what will become of it and I am not about to let it succumb to my unforgiving, bitch of a short-term memory.  The next step in the process is what has now become a blessing in disguise: my unforgiving, bitch of an hour long drive home.  The sixty minutes of farms, slight freeway curves and cow-shit-smell really helps the idea snowball into something that’s only barely related to its origin. Somehow.

This time, the occurrence happened during the ride home.  Two-fer?

Aaaaayyyy, two-fer.

Doing 70mph, passing the Delafield area yesterday, I was listening to what I think is Madison’s only good selling point, 94.1 JJO.  The song on at that time was “Hell of a Time” by I don’t Know Who and just before I got beyond the listening area, the song ended and I could hear a sound clip of someone opening a beer can.  I've never heard that before!  It was a fun little extra that got the gears in my head turning, yet again.  When was the last time I  had a Hell of a Time?

It was a Friday night.  A couple friends and I were meeting a few others at a place on the east side, called the Twisted Fork.  I parked in my regular go-to parking space, crossed North Ave, walked in the door and took a look around.  With the exception of my friends and me, the place was damn near empty.  This put a smile on my face. Knowing the great atmosphere that place has, and the fact that I can easily walk around without shimmying my way through a group of spray tanned Affliction fanatics means this is great place to sip my glass of Jameson.  A couple of my friends were shooting pool while the rest of us were leaning against the table tops, discussing whatever came to mind.  Later on, we went outside to lounge on the patio.  While enjoying the low-key moment, the cook there came out with a plate of nachos.  While I was hungry at the time, I decided not to partake… watching my girlish figure of course.  Now when I say “girlish”, I really mean “equivalent to a Glad Bag filled with oatmeal-figure”, but I digress.

Dig in, ladies.

Sitting there together, nibbling on food and sipping on cocktails, we seemed to be having a great time, but we decided to have a change of scenery anyway.  Where did we go?  We were all mobile and had the ability to easily travel to any spot in the Milwaukee area.  Knowing that, we went to BBC.  Across the street.  I know you're thinking right now, “Well whooptee-fucking-doo”.  All I have to say to that is, “Fuck off, you come up with something next time then”.  Without saying a word to each other, we all do the same thing.  We walk in the door, head straight to the bar, order our drink of choice, have them pour it into a plastic cup, pay the mixologist, walk out to the patio, and sit down at the biggest table available. 

Some psychologists may attribute this to the theory that when the male gender in any species travels in packs, they tend to have an unspoken bond that makes them act the same way.  Others may attribute it to other silent forms of communication, such as telepathy or subconscious body signals.  But the fact was, it was nice out and we we’re all smokers. Moving on.

When we sat down, it was a different movie, but the same plot.  Drinking, relaxing, talking, laughing.  Now in situations like this, any one of my friends will tell you that, normally, I'm contributing to the conversation just as much as everyone else, probably more.  But that night was different, I was enjoying myself even more by sitting back and taking it all in.  It was at that moment that I realized something.  I tend to have the most fun in situations like that.  Being with a group of good friends, sitting around and talking, for hours. 

Don’t get me wrong, I've had some damn good times in much more exciting situations. Situations where the only thing I can do the next day is marvel in the memory of what happened the night before.  Take for instance, the night where a few of us challenged a friend to a 96 oz. beer race, not telling him that I slipped seven shots of rail gin into his glass, or the night I was involved in an epic snowball fight that traveled into the middle of a crowded bar, getting us kicked out,  or even the night that ended with a friend wandering to a neighbors door, banging on it and calling them a “smelly pussy”, resulting in the cops cuffing him in his living room… only to dump him in a hotel for me to pick up the next morning.  That was all one night by the way.

I am.

I could go on, but you can already see the magnitude of how some of my nights have gone.  The problem is, those nights you can’t plan for.  They happen out of nowhere, and sadly, they don’t happen enough.  You could try and recreate the formula and attempt “round two”, but somehow, you’ll always come up short.  I just seems to me that the nights consisting of friends sitting around and simply enjoying each other’s tried-and-true company are much more consistently fun for me.  Unlike many others, for a great time, I don’t need loud dance music, dimmed mood lighting, or bottles of vodka on ice served by vixens in fishnet stockings.

Before you draw any conclusions, I have to say that I’m all for being surrounded by beautiful women in fishnets.  If it were on a ballot somewhere to have that become more common, I’d take a red sharpie and pen a big “Hell Yes!” then I’d sketch a thumbs up next to it.  The rest of the aspects of bottle service I've never really been much of an advocate for.  Giving three portraits of Benjamin Franklin to someone for a single bottle that barely lasts twenty minutes?  No thanks.  I do understand that one gets to have other amenities like a secluded & comfortable area and a slight air of feeling cool and important by sitting in the VIP Section, but I have never thought it’s worth it.  I have done this a handful of times, for friends’ birthdays and special events and such, so I know what its like, but I’ve never been that type of person to really want to do it.  This is why I celebrated my birthday at my home away from home, Brass Monkey.  It feels like Cheers to me.  Well, almost.  Ted Dansen doesn’t work there, and the owners, Frank & John, don’t look anything like him.  Don’t blame them, its not their fault.  Blame genetics.

They are similar to Ted Dansen’s character in one way though.  If you happen to show up at their establishment, still dressed up after being at a wedding reception, there’s a good chance they’ll compare you to John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever”, and they have just cause for doing so.  A neighborhood bar like that isn’t usually the proper venue for a three-piece suit, but I still enjoy dressing up from time to time, just not in a VIP area.  I have done that before, but I felt like I was dressing up to please people who couldn’t care less about what I wore, just as long as I was shelling out enough cash to pretend I was in some kind of music video that’s shoved down teenager’s throats.  However, there is one time that I can guarantee I will dress up in a bar.  There is a moment in a man’s life that has and will always be discussed by men as soon as they hit puberty, the bachelor party. 

Though, there is one difference between myself and the countless other future husbands.  I will never have a Singleness Send-Off party at a strip club (or what I call a “Boobie Bar” / “Naked Nipple Club” if you’ve been around me long enough).  Some of you ask why, some of you already know.  For the ones that are in the dark, the rest of us can already tell you have never actually been to a strip club.  The lucky (or in this case, unlucky) man is dragged on stage and strapped to a chair, anchored to the stripper pole, in the center of the whole establishment.  First off, there's no way in hell I would ever want to be anywhere near that damn pole. Secondly, the things all of the dancers do to this poor man have to be some kind of violation against the Geneva Conventions.  The way they beat and humiliate him go way beyond the realm of the “sexy” and “fun” atmosphere they have otherwise  tried to portray that night.  The only way I can see this sort of act having any real value is scaring the man into staying faithful to his future wife, keeping him away from other women… well from strippers at least.

Those evil, evil strippers.

What will I do for my bachelor party?  Allow me to ask you another question.  Have you ever seen the recent Ketel One commercials?  Allow me to then refresh your memory.  Picture a group of men, dressed very well, standing at a higher-class bar, talking and laughing.  Think: James Bond and all of his secret agent buddies, after they’ve punched out for the day.  The advertisement is supposed to depict true gentlemen in their natural environment, and I have to say, they’ve done a great job.

In actuality, the “007” / “Ketel One Gentlemen” reference more accurate than you may think.  Decades ago in Great Britain, their government was very broke, but they still needed to keep up with the other countries, espionage-wise.  So what did they do?  They recruited and trained young & rich socialites, because they could finance it themselves.  These men were actually the basis for the James Bond character.  What were they nicknamed?  Gentlemen Spies.  Just a little fun fact for you all.

True, I’ll most likely never become 007, not even 006½.  Though what I can do instead is mimic the commercial.  To me, it’s the perfect combination.  I get to wear one of my nicer outfits, and I also get to spend yet another great night with eight to ten of my closest friends, talking and reminiscing about all the fun times we’ve had, and probably talk about all the fun times we will soon have… right before I get to stand in front of however many people and watch my bride walk down the isle, on the arm of her father… who would have most likely chased me down the street with a baseball bat at one point.   That is, if I could find an amazing woman who would at the same time be able to put up with my odd/charismatic/twisted personality without also chasing me down the street with a baseball bat.

OK, I'm fine with the bat thing.

If not, I will always be able to look forward to the future sessions of Guy’s Night.

Now that you know more about me, learn about the things around me:
Rusty Bolt
Voice of Others


As you probably know, I have a ridiculous amount of free time at work.

For my next trick, a paperclip Burning Man.

For every nine hours I’m within these concrete walls, I spend a mere two on work related activities. Chained to my desk with sheer boredom and with very little around me to break it (they turned off my internet after one too many Facebook sessions), I started bringing books with me in the morning. My bookmark, an old Nolan Ryan baseball card with no value, is steadily moving. Moving from the inside cover in the morning, to the half way point by the time the day is over and it’s time for me to hop in my car and hit the eastbound freeway.

Having recently counted over thirty books that I have whipped through in this year alone, I decided to keep track of how many I actually read in a work week. As of now, I average at least three completed from Monday morning to Saturday, end of day. As little as five months ago, I wouldn’t have believed I’d be going at this rate. The thought of it makes me chuckle to myself sometimes. Before I started making good use of my down time at work, I would normally lie down on my pillow-top mattress, reach above my head to the wall mounted bookshelf, grab my current literary endeavor, and knock out a few chapters before my eyelids would turn to lead and give way to gravity.

I am baffled by the increments of page numbers I periodically glance down at. 3, 18, 31, 58, 74, 113… the stack of pages in my right hand becoming more and more light and flimsy with each passing hour. Because of that, I've decided to up the ante, as they say. Right now I am working on two books simultaneously, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and Women by Charles Bukowski. Women is a new book to me, written by an author I’ve come to be a big fan of, but Burgess’ Orange is another story (No pun intended.  ...You know what? Fuck that. Pun intended).

Back in my early high school days, I picked this book up at the public library located next door to my school and decided to give it a try. I saw the movie version by Stanley Kubrick not long before and it was so messed up, I needed to experience its origin for myself. For those of you that have not done the same, you're in for a curveball. With an original copyright of 1961 and an author from Great Britain, the language used in it is probably not what you are used to, I sure as hell wasn’t. It was a far cry from the S.E. Hinton books I had grown up reading.

Page after confusing page, the only thing that helped me understand what I was reading was remembering the scenes from its movie counterpart. My eyes would scan across something sounding familiar, make the connection from that specific moment in the movie, and I would then find my way back to the story. It felt like getting up at 2a.m. and navigating through the dark abyss of my hallway, feeling my way to the bathroom by remembering the route I would take when the sun was up. Being only 16 and having a very novice understanding of The Written Word, I threw in the towel and returned the book to the library.

This time around, the experience is very different. Knowing what I was in for, I approached it a different way. To me, the first chapter or two were the primer for the rest of the book. I paid attention to the odd British slang terms and the context in which they were used. Through reasoning and having now been tempered with much more complex authors, I was able to translate them and memorize them. “Eyes” became “Glazzies”, “Good, Well or Top Notch” became “Horrorshow”, “Clothing” became “Platties” and so on. Now that I am versed in the ways of what I now know as the slang of "Nadsat", I’m halfway through the book and I can confidently say that it is a brilliant piece of work and I cannot wait to feel the satisfaction of finishing that last page and tossing the book face down onto my desk.


Back when I was chipping away at novels, two chapters every other night, I saw reading as a relaxing hobby to have. A way for me to wind down from a long day and a way to put me asleep. Now, the pleasure of reading a book has become exactly that: a pleasure. At the great risk of sounding cliché, I love how I lose myself in the story I'm reading, after I gain momentum. Whatever is happening around me, good or bad, falls away. Then soon I find myself becoming a silent observer, standing in a world that is eloquently being laid out for me by a person that I have never met.

Going beyond that, there's an aspect of some fiction novels that have given an edge to the bliss I experience. It’s the act of creating a world much like ours, only slightly askew. One of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke, Rant) has perfected doing just that. He creates a parallel universe where cars don’t exist or no one has jobs, or maybe there's a nameless vagrant walking around the country with the ability to resurrect road kill that’s been splattered across the freeway. I'm not completely sure why that makes the story more enjoyable to me. I think it’s because it makes the story more interesting to follow and become a part of, as opposed to sitting at my desk, but still real enough to not have the constant reminder that I’m simply…. sitting at my desk. This is probably why I never got into science fiction or fantasy novels; it’s too unbelievable of a story for me to be able to immerse myself in. Except for those god damned Harry Potter books, those are just plain annoying.

If the book department opened a night club, I’d be given a VIP pass tomorrow. But now that I think about it… since it would be a nightclub ran by a book department… I don’t think I’d want to go. Regardless, every single week I have new arrivals being delivered to me from all over the country. Online, I scroll through the recommendations and bestseller lists, hammering that “Add to Cart” button like a meth-head at Chuck E. Cheese’s playing Whack-A-Mole. Every book that looks vaguely intriguing to me, I buy. Fiction, nonfiction, biographies, it doesn’t matter. I find it all interesting now. Once I finish the order, I instantly get excited, knowing that very soon, they’ll be in my hands.

Come to think of it, I have some arriving this Tuesday. Hell yes.

Hell fucking yes.

Now that you know more about me, learn about the things around me:
Rusted Bolt
Voice of Others


It’s strange how a mere hour’s drive to work can make you feel detached from the rest of the world.

Reading the Facebook statuses and posts of people I used to regularly spend time with makes me feel like an abandoned child standing outside his former home. Looking through the window at the people I used to call family, watching them laugh and enjoy each other’s company, I can’t help but shed a tear. The warm orange hue the lamps give off, compared to the dark night I'm standing in, make it all that more tempting to walk through the front door. But I can’t. That door stays shut with the deadbolt of a large paycheck and no option otherwise.

That is the trade-off I am faced to endure. I gave up nightly adventures of spending time with my good friends for the ability to afford my life. To make sense of everything, I want to blame someone or something for the bitterness I feel. Bitterness caused by watching all of my friends make plans and have fun without me, only I have no scapegoat to give me that satisfaction.

Nevermind, I found one.

It isn’t their fault. Why should they bother to try and invite me if I'm only available one night out of every seven? They're simply following common sense. I can’t blame myself. I had no choice, I need the money. The location of my work… another no. The distance of my job cannot be helped, it is one small rotating gear of a machine that is way too large for me to control, the company I work for. While I do come home every night, I am still forced to be responsible and stay there, for the fact that I work long hours. The length of my work days are another small moving part in that grand machine which will keep going whether or not I want it to.

I sit here at my desk, doing nothing but reading and turning the occasional thought into a Word document. Yet I'm powerless to take this glorious amount of wasted time and transfer it to my once thriving social life. It almost feels like some strange nightmare of dissatisfaction that would immediately depress me once I woke up. The problem is, I'm already awake.

The single ray of hope I have is the possibility that it won’t last forever. After this quick pit stop, my life will gain momentum again. Having made certain steps and exhausting every option thus far, the only thing I can do now is be right in the same spot I have been, converting oxygen into carbon dioxide and wait for my plans to pan out.

I have to stay focused. Optimistic. Resilient. If I don’t, then I'm afraid I'll succumb to the depression that would be trailing right behind the idea of having a secluded, boring existence. Others may not have the same feeling, but to me, that’s the ultimate sin: Doing nothing great with this life I've been given. I've never been able to tolerate leading a dull, mediocre life. I do realize that’s exactly what I'm doing right now, but you should understand that I don't plan on it being like this for much longer.

So I can promise you this: Something will happen. If life is stubborn and doesn’t hand me the chance in the name of karma, I will twist life’s arm behind its back and force it to. I may not advertise it, but I've always had the ability to manipulate many of the things around me as I see fit, and I will keep doing so until I'm content with the result.

What I ask of you is simple: Don't forget about me. I may not be sitting next to you, but I’m still here, waiting patiently. For now.

Like a goddamn lion, ready to pounce your face off.

Now that you know more about me, learn about the things around me:
Rusted Bolt
Voice of Others