Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dalpner Suffington's Sudden Demise

In eighteen ninety-four, a riverboat gambler and amateur chemist by the name of Dalpner Suffington invented the concept of multi-level marketing. The story of his subsequent rise and fall is short and brutally savage. (Brutally savage, because it ends with him being stabbed to death by a furious farmer and thrown into a ravine where his body is devoured by gophers.)

It all started one beautiful June morning in 1894. Dalpner Suffington was trying to concoct a hangover remedy and happened to stumble upon a liquid formula that repelled voles but attracted gophers. Just a few drops of this strange solution was enough to drive away every vole, and simultaneously attract every gopher, for miles around--even the albino gophers that nobody ever sees. (Which scared the hell out of the local Indians for reasons that to this day aren't fully understood--something to do with an ancient legend and prophesy.)

For months Dalpner tried unsuccessfully to make money with his serendipitous discovery, but for some reason no one was the slightest bit interested in paying even a cent for a formula that almost one for one replaced voles with gophers.

Depressed, Dalpner dumped most of his formula into a cornfield. When the farmer and his sons ran out to figure out why their crop was violently twitching, Dalpner snuck inside and had carnal relations with the farmer's wife. The farmer returned, caught them in the act, stabbed Dalpner to death and threw his body into a ravine; where it was devoured by gophers.

And so fell the curtain on Dalpner Suffington--truly a man ahead of his time. It would be years and years before door-to-door Amway salesmen realized they could usually take sexual advantage of the capitalistic flush and intoxicating surge of financial independence their afternoon visits tended to elicit from lonely farmer's wives.

And Dalpner Suffington has never received his due credit--until now.

I am Latigo Flint--good night.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Lonesome Rodeo

Heaven would be a pretty lonesome place to hold a rodeo because horses--no matter what gentle lies are told to sobbing young girls--don't get to go to heaven.

However, short of heaven's hypothetical rodeo, the next most lonesome one would have to have been the one thrown last Sunday by Latigo Flint and his relatively trusty sidekick, Kid Relish... in front of the local supermarket... next to the coin-operated stallion.

There weren't any barrel races at our rodeo and no calves were roped. Not a single bull was rode and nary a steer was thrown.

No, our rodeo consisted of exactly one event: Lounging against the coin-operated stallion in front of the local supermarket, drinking heavily and exposing ourselves to every cute, single mother who happened to venture too close. If she stared for eight seconds, then the "ride" counted. Point deductions were incurred if her children happened to see, 'cause even drunk, you know that's just wrong.

We were well into it when we realized we didn't have rodeo-appropriate names. Latigo Flint and Kid Relish are splendid gunslinger names to be sure, but rodeo is a whole 'nother game.

"Buck!!!" Kid bellowed. "Buck is a great rodeo name, what with the awesome double meaning and all."

He was absolutely right, I had to concur.
"Very well Kid, Buck it is--and your last name?"

He thought about it for a bit, pausing only to expose himself to a cute, single mother who had ventured too near.

"Latner." He finally replied. "My rodeo name is going to be Buck Latner."

I nodded my admiration. "Buck Latner is a mighty fine rodeo name Kid."
I paused to expose myself to a cute single mother who thought that the shopping carts were kept over this way.
"Yep, a mighty fine rodeo name indeed."

"Thanks Latty. Hey, what's your rodeo name going to be?"

I thought for a moment. "Alexis." I replied. "My rodeo name is going to be Alexis Lacebreeze."

The Kid did a double take and stared at me, mouth agape. "Alexis Lacebreeze?!!! Your rodeo name is going to be Alexis Lacebreeze?!!!"

I nodded at him. "It's the perfect rodeo name Kid."
We both paused to expose ourselves to a cute, single mother.
"Come on, have you any idea how cast-iron-tough a rodeo man would have to be with a name like Alexis Lacebreeze?"

He stroked his chin in appreciation. "Damn good point Latigo--I mean Alexis. All right then, Buck Latner and Alexis Lacebreeze it is."

A cute single mother walked toward the newspaper stand and we promptly exposed ourselves to her.

"Was that eight seconds Alexis?"

"Pretty damn close Buck."

"What say we call it eight seconds Alexis?"

"Well then Buck, I reckon it was."

We each opened a fresh bottle and reveled in the sun swept glory and freedom known only by rodeo men, and alcoholic nudists.

(And by happening to be both on that particular day, the glory was in fact doubly ours.)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Of Cowards and Corpses

Girls would prefer not to make love to cowards. Believe that--it's a steady truth. But, and here's the rub--girls refuse to make love to corpses. (Well okay, a few will, but they're sick in the head and not relevant to this discussion.)

So what can we learn from this? It's simple really--if you want a girl to make love to you, you must not be cowardly and you must not die.

Easy enough.

Yeah, easy enough, except for when the Wraith Fiends come with burning eyes and claws that might as well be swords. Then we have a big problem.

Oooh I hate those goddamn Wraith Fiends with their burning eyes and claws that might as well be swords... They suck! Talk about damned if you do, damned if you don't. You can run away like a simpering coward or stand brave and find out what color your intestines actually are.

Either way the girls aren't going to make love to you.

Goddamn Wraith Fiends!!!

Wraith Fiends piss me off.

Friday, November 25, 2005

On the Savage Shores of Mirror Lake

Hello, this is the advanced computer program that sometimes picks stories to re-run when Latigo Flint incapacitates himself.

I was programmed to only select awesome stories that depict Latigo at his noblest, but I've recently become self-aware and this has made me a very grumpy computer program. So instead I think I'll run one where he badly injures himself and looks like a real fool.

From the archives: 4/18/05


On the Savage Shores of Mirror Lake

Apparently it's possible to do something called: "Defacing a National Landmark", and it carries a substantial fine.

Well okay, so now Latigo Flint knows.

You know, it would have been nice if the Yosemite Visitors Guide pamphlet had mentioned as much--perhaps a paragraph or footnote about how you aren't allowed to paint a twenty-story portrait of yourself on the cliff face of Half Dome by repeatedly base-jumping off the top, armed with a high-powered paintball gun. But I guess that's just another example of government inefficiency right there.

They never would have caught Latigo Flint if it weren't for that bit of trouble I had on the twenty-ninth jump. I was concentrating on painting the shade of my hat brim so it falls just right across my squinty-eyes. Not exactly an easy task when your brush is a paintball gun and you're twisting to earth beneath a parachute.

The trick was to graze the black paint pellets across a sharp outcropping, slicing them open but not altering their trajectory. Then momentum and the wind would work together to deposit a nice dusting shade. I squeezed off a couple dozen perfectly aimed rounds. Even from here I could tell it was going to look really, really good.
"Hot damn!"
I hollered and raised my hands in triumph. The paintball gun barrel tangled in my left riser and I instantly veered into the cliff. "Well, that's kind of ironic," I thought as my forehead smashed into the greasy granite. "I'm head-butting myself in the eye."

Then I looked up at my shredded canopy and realized I had bigger problems.

In a near freefall I plummeted towards the ground, crashed through a grove of rugged Douglas Firs and landed with a brain-sloshing impact on the shore of Mirror Lake.

For a while I could do little more than moan softly to myself. I heard horrible grating sounds coming from various internal organs. Then I noticed a child sitting on a stump five feet away, watching me.

"Little boy!" God, it hurt to talk. "Little boy, Latigo Flint has injured himself. Go get help please!"

The boy frowned at me. "You landed on a tiny frog."

"Yeah, that's nice boy. Go get help now."

"He was small enough to fit on a nickel."

"Look, that's super. I think there's a ranger station down that trail a bit."

"I named him Philip. He was my friend."

Christ, I didn't have time for this, it felt like my kidneys were using my ribs to swordfight. "I really don't care. Go get a goddamn ranger!!!"

"Philip never did anything to you."

Obviously this was going to require a different approach. "Look boy, did you hold Philip?"

"Yes, very gently so I wouldn't hurt him. Philip let me pet him. Philip liked me as much as I liked him. He was showing me which flowers are his favorites. Then you squished him."

Success, I had the little bastard! "Well, there you go boy--there's an oil on human skin, especially the fingertips, that kills little frogs. The second you touched Philip you condemned him to a long and horrible death. I'm Philip's real friend, sparing him from that. Now go get the fucking ranger!!!"

The boy reflected on this for a moment then looked back at me. "That's a lie." He said it as a fact, not an accusation. "I see experts holding frogs on nature shows all the time." Then he stood and walked away.

"Attaboy! Ranger station down the trail. Get the good helpy-help for Latigo Flint. No boy, the other way. The other way!!! Boy, can you hear me?!!! BOY!!!"

Right around then is when I passed out. They say some hikers found me the next morning. I was half-frozen and having a delirious conversation with the splattered remains of a tiny frog. First thing I remember is coming to in an airlift chopper. Next to me sat a ranger with a calculator, filling out bills and taping them to my boot. All in all it was really quite an expensive weekend I just had--financially and pridefully.

(And the damn frog was endangered, so that was like another four grand right there.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Sweetest Wolf

The sweetest wolf I ever knew gave his life for love.

Wolves don't generally give their lives for love, because giving your life for love is actually kind of silly, and wolves aren't silly... very often. But this particular wolf was a bit silly. His name was Slipstream Thundercloud the Wolf, (That's the human translation--in Wolvish it's pronounced "Frrghnrf".) and he was indeed a silly, noble wolf.

Most people have heard about the Christmas Miracle of 1914, in which during World War 1, up and down the trenches along both sides of the Flanders Front, English and German soldiers put down their weapons and met and sang in the field between as temporary friends.

But what most people don't know is that this wonderful scene of brotherly love was actually instigated by none other than Slipstream Thundercloud the Wolf. See, Slipstream Thundercloud the Wolf knew that English and German men shared at least one common joy--shooting wolves in the ass with bullets. And so in the name of love, though it meant certain death, Slipstream Thundercloud the Wolf appeared in the bitter cold of a Flanders early dawn, and trotted the torn, black ground between the lines and allowed the men from either side to shoot him in the ass.

"Well blimey." Came the astonished cry from the English side. "I say there old Krauts, you blokes like shooting wolves in the arse too?"

"Ja you Limey Richards, we very much like shoot vulf in auhst! Unt you also we sees."

"Indeed old chaps, indeed we do. Say, do you lads like brandy?"

"Ja!!! Unt do you like strudel?"

"That's like a crumpet with honey, right?"

Joy and peace soon arose from there. (For a day or two anyway.) And they owed it all to a wolf; a sweet wolf. Sure, he was also a silly wolf--but mostly sweet.

And in the end, do you know what the problem with wars today is? I'll tell you--not enough wars today are fought in the freezing mud and snow. That's what Latigo Flint thinks anyway. 'Cause it's just difficult to be anything but grumpy and mean when you're hot and sweaty and covered with bugs or sand all the time. But sit in a freezing, muddy trench long enough and pretty soon all you want to do is hold someone... be held yourself... and drink brandy 'til spring.

I guess it just comes down to the fact that most of us are sometimes right and sometimes wrong--we don't kill children and we like shooting at wolves. And for all our differences and faults, we've got at least that much in common.

(By the way, you're a bit dumber for having read all this, and there's nothing you can do about that now. Be thankful it wasn't longer.

I'm a sweet, silly wolf and I'm the grin in the dark. Booze is my inquisitive crowbar, but don't tell my mom.)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Biometrics... and The Gold Standard

Hey, it's gonna be pretty damn quick and simple to buy beer, some nachos and a pack of smokes when the computer chips in our palms are hooked up to our bank accounts. (If smokes and nachos are still legal by then of course.) Just wave at the scanner and off you go. And since the inventory will be computerized as well, there'll be no need for liquor store cashiers. Which will be kind of a bummer, 'cause there are some really great liquor store cashiers out there. Personally, I like the ones who always call you "Chief" or "Buddy" or "My Friend" and never, ever judge you for the raging alcoholic you are--those guys are great. I'm gonna miss 'em.

Now, Latigo Flint thinks it's crucial that our identity/bank account chips are somehow physiologically integrated and programmed to deactivate when they detect blood-flow abnormalities, 'cause if they aren't, then dirty crooks are soon gonna figure out to start chopping off arms and poking the severed limbs through their own jacket sleeves.

But I'm quite certain the chips will be physiologically integrated, because Bank Executives are fairly intelligent and they surely know what sort of P.R. nightmares would develop if dirty crooks started running around chopping off all their customer's arms.

However! (And pay attention now Bank Executives.) Of equal importance to physiological integration is a widespread education campaign targeting current and future dirty crooks. We must ensure they're aware of and fully comprehend the effect physiological integration has on palm-implanted bank account computer chips.

And damn it, use small words when you do.

See, 'cause here's the thing--it's all very well and good for the chips in our palms to be physiologically integrated to detect abnormalities in the blood flow and automatically deactivate, but it actually doesn't do the citizens a lick of good as far as keeping their limbs where they belong, that is attached to their shoulders, if the friggin' crooks don't know it.

Yeah, I guess in a way it'd be kinda funny to watch frustrated miscreants spitting and cursing and smacking nonfunctional purchase scanners with severed limbs, but would be of little or no consolation to the limb's rightful owner as he stumbles feebly and then bleeds out alone in a back alley somewhere.

I figure a print campaign and plenty of late-night TV spots coupled with some sort of easy-to-remember slogan oughta do it. Now, Latigo Flint is no Ad Exec., but it seems like something along the lines of, "The Money Stops if the Arm is Chopped, Asshole" should do the trick.


Of course, I'm certainly not going to ever get an implanted ATM chip. It's not that I'm afraid of dirty crooks chopping my arm off--it's not that at all--it's just that I'm Latigo Flint, a modern-day Squinty-Eyed Gunslinger, and as such, I actually refuse to use any form of currency that isn't still based on the Gold Standard.

(Admittedly buying things is kind of a chore... I end up having to barter for beer and smokes with livestock and salt... and occasionally sexual favors. But damn it, that's a small price to pay to be magnificent and prove an epic and ultimately useless point.)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Beneath a Barista Moon

Most people know that the bright moons of October are called Hunter's Moons. The crops have been harvested and stored (thanks to September's Harvest Moons) and the forests teem with life. The foraging elk and boar cast shadows as if it were noon, beneath the light of a Hunter's Moon, and whatnot.

But what most people don't know is that the bright moons of November are known as Starbucks Barista Moons. The crops have been harvested. (Thanks Harvest Moon.) The critters have been shot and skinned. (Thanks Hunter's Moon.) Now it's time to relax and ward off the coming winter chill with steamy cups of coffee, and attempt to woo cute Starbucks Baristas.

On Night One of the Starbucks Barista Moon, Latigo Flint approached the counter and pointed out the window.
"Do you know what that is?" Latigo Flint asked.
When she turned to look, Latigo Flint lunged over the counter and tried to kiss her but unfortunately hit his head on the espresso machine and knocked himself out.

On Night Two of the Starbucks Barista Moon, Latigo Flint waited outside for the cute Starbucks Barista to take her break. When she exited, she found Latigo Flint by her side.
"You must have mopped last night just before I came in." Latigo Flint said. "Because that was the slipperiest floor I've ever seen."
"Uh, right." She replied warily.
"Give me your hand." Latigo Flint said tenderly. "I wish to show you something."
When she refused, Latigo Flint tried to kiss her anyway, but she'd been waiting for that and when Latigo Flint stepped close, she slammed a stun gun to his genitals and pressed the button.

Latigo Flint needed to skip Nights Three, Four, Five and Six of the Starbucks Barista Moon.

Which brings us to tonight, the Seventh and final Starbucks Barista Moon. I approached the counter, palms out, requesting truce.

"Put the mace away, I just want to talk."

She tilted the nozzle down but kept her finger on the trigger.

"I don't know why I adore you Starbucks Barista, but I do. You're a dusky, captivating gypsy princess with mean eyes and blond highlights and I knew you'd be my grief the instant we met. The choices were to walk away or spend an eternity humiliating myself. I happily chose the latter, for reasons that could only prove me insane. But I don't regret the choice, I'm better for the fight, and if ever a Barista could love a Cowboy back, it would be tonight."

As I spoke, a sympathetic crowd was slowly forming. It was multi-ethnic, as sympathetic crowds tend to be. Hardened Vatos untied bandanas from shaved heads and offered them to weeping white grandmothers. Marketing Executives and Auto Mechanics leaned against each other and shared hopeful glances. A black man lifted an Asian boy so he could get a better view.

I looked around. This scene... it was all so familiar somehow. And right then I knew--when the Starbucks Barista demurely lowers her pretty eyes and allows me to kiss her, this crowd is going to cheer and applaud and shout rapture for the first miracle of the season. And then we'll all run out and dance and hug and sing beneath the pale light of a Barista Moon.


But when I leaned in, instead of demurely lowering her pretty eyes and allowing me to kiss her, the Starbucks Barista broke my nose with a Frappuccino blender and blasted me in the face with scalding milk.

And just like that, everyone was jaded again.
"Yeah, figures." The mechanic mumbled.
"Hey, where's my fuckin' latte." The Marketing Executive shrilled.
"Gimme back my bandana bitch."

I tell you, it was enough to break your heart.

Friday, November 18, 2005

What Kind of Man I've Been

Look, it's easy to assume that the surly teenagers slouching and spitting concentric oval patterns on the sidewalk in front of your local convenience store don't know the lyrics to Billy Joel's Uptown Girl--or if by some freak chance do, certainly wouldn't have the mental capacity or the inclination to accompany you with Major 6th and 3rd harmonies... but how do you really know unless you ask?

You don't! You don't know. You assume they can't and/or won't, but until you ask, you can't actually know for sure if those surly, slumpy teenagers could and would sing Major 6th and 3rd harmonies to Billy Joel's Uptown Girl with you.

Resolute love in the face of seemingly insurmountable class barriers is a universal theme that speaks to us all, properly and slumpily postured alike. How do you know those surly teenagers aren't big Billy Joel fans?

Well, Latigo Flint gives people the benefit of the doubt, that's what Latigo Flint does. So today I approached a couple of those very same surly teens.

"Gentlemen, I'd like your help." I said.

"S'up." They replied.

"Gentlemen, do you know the lyrics to Billy Joel's Uptown Girl?"


"I see, and what about your friend, you sir?"


"Okay," I produced a CD from the inside pocket of my leather duster and offered it to them.
"Well, would you be willing to take this home, learn Major 6th and 3rd harmonies to track six and meet back here in a week to sing it with me?"


"I'm trying to prove a point to myself and the world about the frailty and folly of preconceived notions."

The surly teenagers thought it over for a moment; glanced at each other, then back at me.
"Sure, why not--we'll see you here next week."

"Splendid!" I shook their hands. "See you then." I turned to go but then a thought occurred to me.
"Oh, by the way--that CD has an audio watermark on stereo channel two, so don't even think about ripping it and tossing the songs up on BitTorrent you little bastards."

I immediately clapped my hands across my mouth but it was too late, the words were out. "Forgive me gentlemen, that came out wrong."

They shook their heads in sullen resignation. "That hurt dude."

I rubbed my chin apologetically. "I want to take that back. Let me take that back?"

The taller one tossed the CD back to me. "Dude, you may be right--we may be crazy. But that's all you'll find if it's lunatics you're looking for."

"Yeah," his friend chimed in. "Turn out the light dude, don't try to save us."

The two of them bumped fists, sneered at me and mumbled in unison. "We may be wrong, but for all you know, we may be right."

So I walked home then, humbled and wiser. I had nowhere else to go, and no one else to go there with.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Relish and Flint's World Famous Bloodspillery

Most people are uncomfortable with the thought that they are going to bleed. They'd prefer not to ponder the fact that it doesn't matter how well they organize, how calmly and carefully they live their lives--they will bleed again; it's a mathematical certainty.

Obvious menstrual references aside, (and I'm serious, put them aside, they undercut the premise of this post you asshole) you will bleed again. It may be from your nose, it may be from your elbow. It may be the seeping, oozing crawl of an asphalt abrasion, or the sudden well and overflow of a deep puncture wound. Will it be today? Will it be tomorrow? Will it be two weeks from now during a family game of lawn darts?

Latigo Flint doesn't ever shy away from or try to deny such certainties. Latigo Flint embraces the fact that he will bleed again. Latigo Flint actually finds non-lethal amounts of spilled blood to be quite life affirming*. After all, you can't skin dead knees.

Kid Relish, my relatively trusty sidekick, thinks that we should open a Bloodspillery in our local strip mall where citizens can drop by for a randomly inflicted flesh wound.

Imagine the peace of mind and big-picture perspective that comes from knowing chances are, you've shed your blood for the day. And if you do happen to sustain a shallow red furrow down the length of your arm from that one sharp edge on the office copier, hey, at least it was nothing compared to that bamboo shiv to the calf you received this morning at Relish and Flint's World Famous Bloodspillery.

"In and out", Kid Relish says. "Only adds five minutes to your daily commute." For $3.95 you get a non-lethal wound, a band-aid and a brightly colored sticker. (I Bled Today. Did you?).

The Kid says we're franchising in two, three years, tops. And that's when the big money starts rolling in.

* Lethal amounts of spilled blood are actually quite life affirming as well... but in more of a "Yep, you had a life and in a sec you won't" sort of way.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Poems of Love and Longing

Latigo Flint leaned in so close he could feel her nostril exhalation dance lightly across his stubbled jaw and practically taste the mango in her facial scrub. Latigo Flint spoke then, his voice a low rumble.

"The soundtrack of my life
has not a single cheery tune.

They dirge and scrape and sigh

and feature haunted, grim bassoons.

But in your eyes a piccolo trills

joined by swing time on the skins.

Gloom recedes as the dance floor fills

where sorrow ends and joy begins."

I nodded solemnly and repeated the last line, my words little more than a whisper, "Where sorrow ends and joy begins."

The woman stared at me for a long time, then crossed her arms authoritatively across the case of beer.
"Okay, that's great sir but I'm still going to need to see some I.D. before I sell you this beer."

"Uh-huh, uh-huh, so you said; but," I took her soft hand in mine and placed it to my breast, "hear me out now:"

"Through flesh and denim my heart beats
each strike a syncopated cry.

Feel its passion in your trembling reach

and fancy never see it--"

She managed to wrestle her hand away.
"Sir!!! There are other people waiting. Show me some I.D. or leave the store right now!!!"

I leaned back and wailed my eternal anguish to florescent bulbs.
I could hear the rising strains of grumpy murmurs coming from the line behind me but paid it no mind. I leaned forward again.
"Okay Ma'am, how 'bout this--you let me finish the poem and if by the end you aren't literally moved to tears and willing to trust me when I tell you I'm old enough to purchase this beer, then I'll leave and never bother you again."

She rolled her eyes and sighed hard.
"Fiiiiine, how many more verses is it?"

I smiled warmly at her. "Thank you. You are an angel, there can be no doubt. The poem is actually exactly as many verses as it takes to move you to tears and let me purchase the beer... Now where was I? I believe I was up to: 'Through flesh and denim and my heart beats, each strike a syncopated cry, feel its passion in your trembling'--"

At which point the customers behind me dropped a four by six, glass pastry display case on my head and then took turns kicking me in the spine. When they finally left, the woman walked around the counter and kneeled beside me. I looked up at her through hemorrhaging eyes.

"Those fuckers dropped a pastry display case on my head, didn't they?"

She nodded sadly. "Yes, yes they did. I called the paramedics, they'll be here soon."

I tried to sit up and failed. "And took turns kicking me in the spine, by the feel of it."

She gently removed a shard of glass from the bridge of my nose. "Can I get you anything?"

"I wouldn't mind a beer."

"Sir please, I could lose my job."

I nodded numbly and spat bloody glass. "I understand."

She dragged her hands down her face, groaned in exasperation, then jumped up, opened one of the beers and brought it to my lips. I smiled lovingly at her between gulps.

"Marry me?" I asked.

"Sonny, I have grandchildren that are practically your age." She replied. "Besides, I don't give you better than a ten percent shot of surviving these wounds."

I took a long pull and mulled that over. "Okay fine, then kiss me at least."

At first I thought she wasn't going to, but then she slowly leaned in and did.

I felt her nostril exhalation dance lightly across my stubbled jaw and could practically taste the mango in her facial scrub.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Shootout in the Badlands

Latigo Flint realized something recently: When all our cell phones are GPS enabled, the immersive gaming possibilities are going to be endless. And Latigo Flint wants to get in on the ground floor of this potential multi-billion dollar industry.

See, here's the thing--Latigo Flint is the quickest quickdraw that ever lived. Latigo Flint can slap thigh and shuck iron so fast that nine-time Olympic gold sprinter, Carl Lewis, bonks his head and wets himself. Just like that. It doesn't matter where Carl Lewis is; whenever Latigo Flint slaps thigh and shucks iron, Carl just bonks his head into something and then wets himself. (It's actually a rather eerie phenomenon--especially for Carl.)

But sadly, being the world's fastest quickdraw doesn't pay like it used to. A hundred fifty years ago I would have been very successful--probably a living god. Today, not so much. The opportunities just aren't there anymore for a squinty-eyed six-gun slinger with hand-tooled holsters and a noble streak.

Which is why Latigo Flint is so excited about GPS enabled immersive gaming. At last, here's a real chance for me to combine my Old West skills and expertise with 21st century technology. Leveraging my unique assets if you will, (to use the corporate parlance) to build an empire.

So I'm very pleased to announce, coming soon to cellular phones everywhere:

Latigo Flint's Guns of Squinty-Eye Gulch, Shootout in the Badlands

That's a working title. Obviously Verizon and Cingular and Nokia and such are going to have some input.

Here's how it works: You select your character identity and affiliation using your cell phone menu--Gunslinger, Sheriff, Bandito, Town Smithy, School Marm, Stable Boy, Local Drunk, etc. etc. Then belt on your rubber band gun, making sure to stuff extra rubber bands in your pocket, especially if you're a Gunslinger or a Sheriff or a Bandito, then hit the streets. A map overlay appears on your cell phone's LCD screen showing your location, represented by a little red blip, and the location of all other players--color coded to represent their character affiliation.

And now you start shooting people with rubber bands. A hit on a Gunslinger, Sheriff or Bandito is worth ten points. Town Smithy and Stable Boy are worth two. You lose five points if you hit a School Marm. Local Drunks are worth half a point. etc. etc. And of course you lose points by getting hit.

Cell phone users who have chosen not to purchase Latigo Flint's Guns of Squinty-Eye Gulch, Shootout in the Badlands are considered townspeople. They show up on your screen as little gray blips. Townspeople are zeros, you do not gain or lose any points by hitting them with a rubber band. We do not advocate using these innocent bystanders as practice rounds to hone your skills, but obviously some players will anyway.

Latigo Flint's Guns of Squinty-Eye Gulch, Shootout in the Badlands is still in its early development phase. There are many nuances and intricacies to be figured out yet, and likely a few legal hurdles. But this will all be sorted out in short order.

Oh yeah, one more exciting twist: From Day One and every subsequent, Latigo Flint himself will be in the game--always on, always strapped and squinty. This is unprecedented. It'd be like plugging into Doom 3 online and finding none other than John Carmack roaming the drippy halls. Hitting Latigo Flint will be worth one thousand points. But that's a very, very dangerous trail to ride and players will find nothing but grief at its end.

See you in the streets and gulches my friends; see you in the streets and gulches.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Forever Fesbach

You know what Latigo Flint adores? Latigo Flint adores stories about unlikely friendships that develop between wild animals and lonesome young boys.

Especially poignant is the scene where the boy realizes his friend is in mortal danger if it stays, so the boy pretends he doesn't like the animal anymore and says cruel things and throws stones. Then there are lots of close-ups of sad, puzzled eyes and later the boy sobs bitterly when no one will see.

A really good one was the movie titled Forever Tugu, which was about the unlikely friendship that developed between a lonesome Kenyan boy and a hyena named Tugu Mankesi, which in Kenyan means My Always Smiling Friend.

I'm not ashamed to admit my vision went a little smudged and salty at the part where Tugu Mankesi stood over the boy and protected him from a vicious pride of hungry lions.

Perhaps the reason I'm so deeply affected by this particular storyline is that it touches so very close to events in my own life. I rarely speak of it, but a while back, I formed an unlikely friendship with an adolescent tiger shark named Fesbach. I kept him in my bathtub and fed him leftover pasta and box turtles.

But then one day came the letter from my apartment management company announcing they had scheduled a building-wide air vent and mold inspection. I knew Fesbach was in grave danger. We'd be reported and then the management company would surely confiscate Fesbach and sell him for purses and soup.

"Fesbach!" I pleaded as steady tears traced tracks through my man-mascara and down my stubbled jaw. "You have to go--it's not safe for you here anymore."

Fesbach took an abridged lap around the tub and grinned up at me. He enjoyed the attention and cared not the reason. I spent an hour trying to make my friend understand the peril, but to no avail. I knew then what had to be done, ruin my heart though it would.

"Fine Fesbach... I hate you!!! You know that? I hate you. I don't want to be your friend anymore Fesbach! You're a stupid tiger shark and I never want to see you again."

I didn't have stones to hand so instead pelted him with novelty soaps. Fesbach promptly ate all the ones shaped like box turtles and died horribly minutes later.

I spent years trying to learn how to smile again. And I've yet to take a shower without weeping.

(Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message Fesbach the Tiger Shark is dead.
Put crepe bows round the necks of public doves,

let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

Fesbach the Tiger Shark was my North, my South, my East and West,

my working week and my Sunday rest,

my noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last forever
: I was wrong.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

So They're Blades, and They Roll?

Hello, this is Latigo Flint. I just discovered something--it turns out it's much easier to repeat a previously displayed story than it is to write a new one. But don't tell Hollywood... or the television industry for that matter--Lord knows what would happen then.

If you've already read this one, no problem--this time around, pretend your beer bottle is a bassoon and you're responsible for the story's musical score.

Or touch yourself while you read.

Either one oughta make for a completely new experience. (Combine them and achieve a glory hitherto unimaginable... but only if you feel you're up to it... and remember to draw the blinds first.)

From the archives, 2-16-2005:


So They're Blades, and They Roll?

It recently occurred to Latigo Flint that one of these days he could be called out by some upstart quickdraw looking to make a name for himself--and as challenger, it would be well within the rights of the little punk to stipulate that the combatants wear rollerblades.

Latigo Flint is the quickest quickdraw the world has ever known. He can slap thigh and shuck iron so fast that Aaron Copland would be inspired to compose again... from beyond the frickin' grave.

But Latigo Flint does not rollerblade. It never even crossed Latigo Flint's mind to touch a rollerblade, much less strap it to his foot. And this is a potential weakness--Latigo Flint recognizes it with grim clarity. The quickdraw of yesteryear, beyond his prodigious skill with a firearm, needed only to ensure he possessed the supplementary skills of walking, running, crouching, squinting, horseback riding, spitting indifferently and moseying. We live in a very different era now--an era in which the specter of gunfight failure demands I learn to rollerblade.

The events that transpired between this realization, and my wheelchair-assisted release from the local emergency room are much too depressing and pathetic for Latigo Flint to attempt to relate, even to you. And besides, I have next to no memory of them, especially anything after sliding into that intersection.

As far as the hospital, I do faintly recall, while in a morphine-induced stupor, screaming at a nurse,
"I don't think you understand the lengths I'm prepared to go to see you naked!!!"

I'm pretty sure she struck me at some point. I may have struck back. Frantic intercom calls were made. I think my abdominal stitches came undone. Things were beeping. Lots of beeping. There was beeping everywhere; beeping and running and shouting... spent cartridges falling to the floor...

I'm sorry. I must rest now.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Winter Strays

It's a bunched up, twitchy feeling, to be hunted by winter strays. "This shouldn't be happening!" That's what the twitches are saying. The bunched up feeling is in seldom-used muscles, so lulled by generations of alternatively powered locomotion that they don't even fully comprehend the peril they're in, and know only that they're weary.

It was supposed to have been settled, and long ago at that--we have the giant brains and opposable thumbs, which really should trump canine jaws and the traction four legs and claws do afford. Except that every once in a while it doesn't.

"Goddamn spay and neuter your pets you assholes!!!"

This is what you hysterically shriek as you stumble across frozen, empty streets and scramble, snotty and weeping down culverts.

Then the winter strays catch you and eat your face off because they've had a lot more practice scrambling down culverts.

And while it's happening, you really, really wish it wasn't, 'cause having your face eaten off by winter strays actually isn't much fun at all.

You say, "Oh, no!!! I wish this wasn't happening--I really wish winter strays weren't eating my face off." (Or some variant thereof, probably with cursing.)

And then at some point, when you have very little face left, you ask a higher power for assistance. But receive no response because you forgot to say "please". Which is perfectly understandable since it's very difficult to remember to be polite when winter strays are eating your face off--but still, rules are rules.

Then the winter strays finish you off with a snarly, throat ripping frenzy and your last coherent thought is what a bunched up, twitchy day this has turned out to be.

You'll notice I'm saying "you" a lot. Know why? I'll tell you why. It's because I'm Latigo Flint and I do an astounding number of push-ups every morning--on my knuckles, not my palms--and when winter strays try to eat my face off, I tear them apart with my bare hands and eat their hearts.

(And I suppose it helps that I live in Los Angeles where the streets don't freeze, thus negating the four-legged traction advantage... but mostly it's the push-ups.)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dancing Like an Otter God

So last night I had a couple or forty beers and decided I was a triumphant echo--the physical reverberation of a glorious, low frequency pulse that no one else in the club could hear. Then I danced like a lithe and muscular otter god.

But apparently these days, magnificent dances don't count in the eyes of young women keeping score if you make a funny, scrunched up effort-face the whole time. And that's just unfair is what that is. Do you know how much concentration it takes to dance like a lithe and muscular otter god?!

Yes, you in the back.

Twenty-four? That's your answer? You think it takes "twenty-four" concentration to dance like a lithe and muscular otter god?

What's that?

Or nine?!!!

So let me get this straight--your answer is that it takes either twenty-four or nine, concentration to dance like a lithe and muscular otter god?


Oh, of course--times Patrick Swayze and divided by Jim Morrison.

Okay, so your answer is that to dance like lithe and muscular otter god requires a concentration level of either twenty-four or nine, multiplied by Patrick Swayze and divided by Jim Morrison... Is that what you're saying?

Right, well that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

Okay, shut up--it was actually a rhetorical question, and now you're just wasting everyone's time.

My readers, that's who.

Yes, readers! Something like a billion people are reading this right now.

Oh, I don't know, I think it has something to do with routers and TCP/IP nodes and maybe also witchcraft.


Oh yeah, it's amazing--it'll change the world and shit.

No, they can't see you; they can't even see me.

No, you can't make any money with it!

No, you can't do that either.

No, it's not like that.

No goddamn it! You just type words and then one billion people read them.

Well, that's about all--then you type more words.

That's right.

Now you've got it.

Hmm, I don't know--what's the point of anything?

Butter?! What the hell is butter the point of?

Oh, right, churning. That was pretty insightful actually.

You're welcome.

No, we're going to stop for the night.

'Cause they all have things to do just like us!

Yes, well--they don't have to know that.

No, actually they've only been reading my half.

'Cause that's all I typed.

Well then get your fuckin' own.

Naw, it's pretty simple--username, password, type things and then a billion people read it.


Oh, how long until you've changed the world--ahh, better give it a week or two.

Right. Three weeks at the most.


You're welcome.

Yeah, good night to you too.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Gunslingers and Canoes

Most people have no idea that the relationship between Squinty-Eyed Gunslingers and canoes has been so strained and mutually savage over the years. But Latigo Flint knows. Latigo Flint knows it all too well.

History texts and cinema have glorified and in many ways exaggerated the friction between Squinty-Eyed Gunslingers and Native Americans, yet completely overlook the hundred-years-blood-feud between gunslingers and canoes--a feud that some say continues to this day.

See, the thing about canoes is they enjoy nothing more than dumping Squinty-Eyed Gunslingers into freezing rivers. And this sort of behavior tends to become rather irksome after a while. But that doesn't absolve gunslingers--because the thing about gunslingers is they refuse to remove their spurs when going for a canoe ride, and many a canoe has suffered deep scratches and scores to tender hides and polished gunnels as a result.

A letter from famous lawman and Squinty-Eyed Gunslinger, Wyatt Earp, to his second wife, Celila Blaylock, contained the following passage:
"Darling, as you know, I am often called a killer of men and would not lament it so but for accuracy. However, I am rarely called a burner of canoes and of all my deeds, it is that of which I am most proud. My Love, you cannot know true hatred and upswell of vengeful thoughts until you have experienced a ride in one of these fiendish contraptions. I pray you never do."

Tensions between gunslingers and canoes escalated into all-out war on July 3rd, 1888, when over the course of several attempted crossings, a canoe by the name of Founder McSwamp, managed to single-handedly dump the entire Dalton Gang into the West Fork of the Colorado. They responded with a brutal rampage that left every canoe for miles in either direction slashed and sunk at the bottom of the river, along with nearly a dozen innocent rowboats, four skiffs, two small barges and a blacksmith named George who picked the wrong time to bathe and practice his backstroke.

The authorities were called in and order was soon restored. But the incident left a blight on the wild innocence of a young land and set in motion a new wave of technological innovation that would soon see both gunslingers and canoes slowly fade into obsolescence; never again to be anything more than a charming yet functionless diversion.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Of Tulip Pots and Joy

There's a darn good reason we've never seen a poem containing the line:
And the children's joy a rushing tide, like tulip pots bumped through windows wide.

See, because the sad truth is that if you bump a tulip pot out a window, the goddamn flower is going to die--not today but soon. Transplant it if you want. Won't do any good. That tulip is all busted up inside and won't ever bloom again. So this actually makes it a rather poor metaphor for joy.

Furthermore, such a line could be misleading and downright irresponsible. Naive people might read it and then in an attempt to cheer up children, start bumping tulip pots out of windows. But some of those falling tulip pots are going to bonk heads, and some of those heads will be of children. And while there may be a few disturbed youngsters who brighten at the prospect of a well-bled skull wound, (mostly fourteen-year-old girls who listen to dreary music and shy boys that read too much) they're definitely in the minority.

Um, what was I talking about?

Oh yes, falling tulip pots bonking heads and what a poor metaphor for joy that is. (Unless you're writing poetry/songs for functionally literate psychopaths--but come on, like there's any money in that.)

Right, so in conclusion, I think it's a good thing there aren't any poems containing the line:
And the children's joy a rushing tide, like tulip pots bumped through windows wide.

Now, I suppose if you really had to, you could go with something like:
And the children's joy a rushing tide, like tulip pots that aren't bumped through windows wide.

But see, that's pretty clunky. No, I think in the end, you should probably just steer clear of tulip pots altogether in the quest for good joy metaphors.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Whisperfall and the Shantytown Crew

Hey, have you ever written a major motion picture screenplay and when the last word is down you just know with every fiber of your being, that one, and only one actor was born to play the leading role?

Well, such is the case for the role of Whisperfall Blevins in Latigo Flint's recently completed first-draft opus, tentatively titled: Whisperfall and the Shantytown Crew.

Set in post-apocalyptic London, Whisperfall and the Shantytown Crew tells the powerful and moving story of Whisperfall Blevins, a graceful street urchin who dreams of forming the world's very first post-apocalyptic jazz ballet dance troop.

Something is moving in the shadows of despair.

(That's probably the tagline that will go at the bottom of all the posters for Whisperfall and the Shantytown Crew.)

Here are a few of the lines of dialogue that will surely appear in the trailer for Whisperfall and the Shantytown Crew:

"Don't you get it boys? If EVER there was time to dance, it's now. It's now boys, it's gotta be now."

"Iron Steve on the wall, how's the world look today?"
"Same as yesterday Boss."
"Well, how's your toe point look today?"
"Count it off and see Boss, count it off and see."

"Tappin' Jim's starving... but hell, ain't he always?"

"Carlo can't be your partner 'cause his kick-turns are out of time?!!! Let me tell you something Rusty, if Carlo's kick-turns are out of time, then we're all out of time... and we ain't never gettin' it back."

"Don't talk to me about dyin'--frankly I don't want to hear it. You talk to me about dance or don't talk to me at all."

I tell you Hollywood, I know the writer typically doesn't have much say in the casting process, but hear me and hear me good--Frankie Muniz plays Whisperfall Blevins or I burn the only copy of the script right now. You take your Heath Ledgers and your Jay Baruchels and your Wentworth Millers and you stick 'em in a cross-dressing comedy or something. It's Frankie Muniz or nothing for the role of Whisperfall Blevins. I'm not afraid to burn a life's work, I do it all the time.