Monday, February 27, 2006

Of Pioneers and Snarls

The trouble with being a hardy pioneer on the savage edge of the American Frontier was that every time your pigs screamed in the night you were obligated to go out to see what was bothering them... and more times than not, whatever it was had claws.

You'd walk out on the porch and then turn to face your wife.
"How old is our eldest son?" You'd ask, shivering a bit at the mortal chill that just blew up on the wings of a fanged snarl.
"He's six." She'd reply.
"Never too young to become a man." You'd mumble under your breath.
"What?!!!" Your wife would demand.
"Nothing." You'd sigh. "Hand me my rifle please."
"Powder and lead costs money." She'd say and hand you your pitchfork instead. You'd stare at the pitchfork with much dismay.
"A pitchfork?!!!" You'd exclaim. "But listen to that snarl. Do you have any idea what that snarl is saying?"
"Well go on and tell me, you're planning to anyway." Your wife would reply.

"Damn right I'll tell you--that snarl, that particular snarl, just happens to be saying:
'Hello, I'm a slavering beast that is easily two and a half to three times too large, quick and fierce to be dispatched with anything short of a goddamn cannon. A rifle might give me pause, but I am definitely eating the face off any man who comes at me with a spindly pitchfork.'"

"You can tell all that from just a snarl?"

"Hell yeah I can woman! Shit, you stand out here in butt-flap pajamas with nothing between you and a snarling death but a pitchfork and the balls the good lord dangled and then tell me you wouldn't want a rifle."

"Tell you what." Your wife would say with a calm that means she's about to be fair and just. (Even though that's a savage lie if ever there was.) "How 'bout we stop buying a six-pack of ale every night of the week and twice on Friday? That should probably leave us just enough money for powder and lead to shoot at every single creature that happens to snarl in the night."

"Well, hold on a minute now."

"No, no Dear, give me back the pitchfork and let me fetch your rifle. You go down and shoot whatever that is and when you get back I'll have a nice pot of willow bark tea waiting."


And moments later you'd be trudging down to the livestock pens, scratching your butt through the open flap on your pajamas, grumbling at your pitchfork and hoping like hell it's not a grizzly bear tonight.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Share Your Brother's Splatter Guard

Latigo Flint doesn't quite remember--has he mentioned infamous Fresno outlaw and pistoleer, Natches Murphy, before? If not he ought to be strung up, for Natches Murphy was the squinty-eyed gunslinger by which all other squinty-eyed gunslingers were judged. (Until Latigo Flint Himself of course.) On sheer style alone, Natches made Hickok and Earp look like sneezing drunks in a storm.

Handing out leather splatter guards to all the bystanders in the street was just one of the many savagely successful intimidation tactics enjoyed by Natches Murphy prior to facing down a deadly adversary.

It took a much braver man than most, not to come just a tad unglued at the sight of folks donning protective gear to shield themselves from the warm splatter of his blasted brains and bloody stew.

Natches would always make sure to hand the last, the one with a hole in front, to the youngest of two siblings in the crowd.
"Oh." He'd pretend to notice. "This one has a hole."
The father would finish fastening his and then lean over to inspect his child's.
"Have you any more?" He'd ask.
"I'm very sorry señor." Natches would reply. "The rest are at the cleaners."
"Well, it's not a very big hole, is it?" The father would muse, poking his finger through.
"True señor, it is not." Natches would shrug. "But certainly big enough for an eyeball to squish through."
"Ewwww!!!!" The little girl would scream and point at Natches Murphy's opponent. "I don't want his eyeball juice on me."
Natches would glance over at the hapless gunman.
"Sí, sí little girl, I don't blame you. It looks like a particularly smelly eyeball."

And right about then is when the guy would decide he really, really didn't feel like facing Natches Murphy anymore.

"Uh, look, I don't want the kid to be sad." He'd mumble. "And plus, I, er--just remembered I left a branding iron on a cow. I should probably go take it off before my barn burns down."

"AWWWWW!!!" The crowd would cry.

"These are adult-sized splatter guards." Natches would point out. "One would probably cover both."
"Of course." The father would exclaim. "Mary, share your brother's splatter guard."

And how the crowd would cheer when they saw the splatter guard was going to cover them both.

"Nope, nope, nope!!! Not necessary anymore!!!" The trembling gunman would shriek, hands clasped behind his head, as far from his belt as they'd go. "Not even Natches Murphy would shoot an unconscious man." Then he'd slam his head into a hitching post and the disappointed crowd would start to remove their splatter guards.

"Keep 'em amigos." Natches would say with a grin. "He'd planned to shoot me for smiling at his sister today 'till unease got the better of him. But despite his fear he'll be back in two months when the swell in her belly begins."

Bigots in the crowd would put it together and wish they had the nerve to reach. But they knew Natches Murphy was liquid death with a gun, and the function and purpose of splatter guards had seared their cowardly souls.

(Vaya con huevos, beaches.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Thirteen Cursemarks

Latigo Flint isn't afraid of anything, not even demonic possession. See, Latigo Flint is the quickest quickdraw there ever was; a squinty-eyed gunslinger born out of time. And squinty-eyed gunslingers tend to take things in stride. But unease ain't the same as fear, and so I'm not ashamed to admit there's something that makes me a mite uneasy:

I didn't think much of it, the first time a turtle bit one of my birthmarks off. After all, I had twelve more, and honestly, what were the odds of that happening again.

(It was a tad unsettling though when the wound scarred into a pentagram.)

I was pretty angry the second time a turtle bit one of my birthmarks off--both at the pet store owner and also at myself for believing him when he told me Mr. Bumples was a perfectly gentle turtle.

"Ow!!!" I hollered and heaved Mr. Bumples across the room. I shot the pet store owner a very angry glare. "Your wretched turtle just bit one of my birthmarks off!!!"
"That's odd." He replied. "Mr. Bumples has always been an exceedingly gentle turtle."

Then that wound also scarred into a pentagram.
"What the blazes." The owner exclaimed. "The spot where Mr. Bumples bit you just turned into a pentagram."
"Yeah, eerie ain't it?" I replied and pulled up my shirt. "Just like the other time."

Then he asked me to leave his store.

Some years went by and with them came a bizarre succession of turtle inflicted bite wounds--all to a birthmark, and all scarring into pentagrams. Let me tell you, I was pretty distraught the night I received my seventh, courtesy of a turtle on a shelf that I mistook for bookend. For with that, I officially had more cursemarks than birthmarks. I got good and miserable-drunk that night and ended up falling off a footbridge into a coy pond. My thrashing attracted turtles (of course) and just like that I'd collected bites eight through eleven.

Number twelve was a real bummer 'cause I saw it coming and was bit anyway. What happened was a little girl asked me to hold her pet turtle while she bought an ice-cream cone.
"I can't do that little girl." I explained. "If I hold your turtle while you buy an ice-cream cone the little bastard is gonna bite one of my two remaining birthmarks off and then it's going to scar into another pentagram."
She started crying and swore it didn't bite. She said it rarely left its shell, and besides, wasn't even a turtle but rather a tortoise instead.

Shamed by her tears I accepted the thing. It immediately hissed, jumped up and bit my second-to-last birthmark off.

"Son of a Bitch!!!" I shrieked as the girl complacently licked her cone and watched my wound scar into a pentagram. "Which live in the desert and which live in water?" I bellowed.
"That's easy." She replied, taking her pet from my trembling hands and giving it a little kiss on the top of its shell. "Turtles live in the desert and tortoises live in water."
"No no no!!!"
I howled, hopping around like a madman. "You've mixed them up little girl." I shoved her face close to the wound. "It's turtles that live in the water!!! You own a turtle!!! You lied to me and if I get bit one more time, I'm holding you responsible for my godforsaken soul!!!"

Then I ran screaming into the night.

That was about an hour ago.

So now keep your goddamn turtles away from me.

I'm not even kidding.

From here on out I shoot anyone holding a turtle if they so much as face the little beast in my direction. And that goes for hosts of nature shows too.

(I need a new TV by the way.)

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Pickaxe Named Mercy Death

DISCLAIMER: This story ends, quite predictably I might add, with someone getting their skull split open with a pickaxe.


Diego Valdivia was a fourth generation llama breeder. He owned a ranch at the base of the Andes. He'd married for love, and with his wife, Reyna, was raising two beautiful children.

Claudio Valdivia was Diego's older brother, and Claudio was emotionally disturbed. Claudio had a pickaxe named Mercy Death--he'd carved then burned it into the handle.

Life was good for Diego.
"How I love this land." Diego would often say from atop a hill at sunset, one hand on his staff and the other around Reyna's waist. "I love this land and I love these llamas."
Reyna would shoot him an angry glance.
"More than your love for the children and me?"
"Despite my love for the children and you." Diego would reply. "Despite." And he'd bonk his staff on the ground twice to punctuate the syllables in "despite".

"Reyna, my love for you and the children threatens to smother everything else like a tide that never recedes."

Diego would gesture down at the pasture lands. "It can only be through the kindness of some spectacular mercy that I have been afforded enough love to spare a drop or two for the llamas and the land."
Reyna would sigh with bliss then, and rest her head on his shoulder. Diego would tremble and shake his staff at the setting sun. Then they'd laugh and hug and kiss each other.

The exchange was some sort of old in-joke between them, familiar to the point of tedium but never losing its charm. And when the sun slipped behind Andean spires, they'd turn and head for home.

Diego and Reyna were happy. Then one day Claudio walked up the path.

"Hello Claudio." Diego greeted him, with a warmth he did not feel.
"Huh?" Claudio said. "Oh, it's you Diego."
"Yes older brother, who did you expect?" Diego forced a chuckle. "After all, it is you who have visited me."
"Hmm. Yes, I guess that's true." Claudio replied.

Then Claudio was startled by a butterfly, and as Diego watched in horror, Claudio chased the butterfly down and crushed it with his pickaxe when it landed on a rock.
"That butterfly was sick and in pain." Claudio explained.
"Of course it was." Diego replied.
"It's resting easy now."
"I can see that."

The brothers stared at each other for a while. Claudio cleared his throat.
"You expect me to poke the corpse of this butterfly with my finger, don't you Diego?"
"Do I Claudio?"
"Well I'm not going to." Claudio said with a haughty sniff. "I don't do that sort of thing any more." Then he promptly started poking the butterfly.
"Why are you here Claudio?" Diego asked with a weary sigh. Claudio thought about it for a moment, then looked up at his brother and grinned.
"Tell me Diego, do you have any llamas or children that are sick and in pain?"

And when Reyna pressed the butt of the gun to his hand, Diego wasn't surprised in the least.

Diego stared at the gun with a heavy heart.
"My children and llamas are perfectly fine. I think you should leave now Claudio."
Claudio laughed for a very long time, and it was streaked through and through with hysteria.
"Of course they look fine to you my brother, proximity is the enemy of impartiality--didn't our father teach you anything?" Claudio gripped his pickaxe with both hands.
"Let me look them over for you Diego--I'll tell you if your children, llamas and wife are sick."

And when Claudio stood, Diego shot him once in the chest; the firing pin broke on the second round. Claudio slumped back on the rock and blew a bloody spit-bubble--which seemed to amuse him no end. He grinned and started blowing more. The broken gun slipped from Diego's fingers and clattered to the stones at his feet.
Reyna whispered and buried her face in her hands.

Diego stumbled to Claudio's side, took up the pickaxe and raised it high.

"I saw your birth." Claudio said with a smile. It was a statement, not an accusation.

"I know you did." Diego replied, and split Claudio's skull open with the pointy side.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Battle of One-Nipple Hill

So it turns out Civil War historians tend to get extremely upset if you insist that Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, only had one nipple. They splutter and fuss and call you an ignorant purveyor of ballyhoory. And then eventually try to karate-chop you in the throat if you refuse to recant.

Latigo Flint knows this to be true, because the other day he met a Civil War historian, and after some small talk, Latigo Flint happened to mention that he'd heard that Robert E. Lee only had one nipple.

"Why that's preposterous." The Civil War historian exclaimed. "Where did you hear such a thing?"
"Oh, here and there, various reliable sources." I replied. "In fact, wasn't Robert E. Lee known to have been fond of saying: 'Give me ten stout and sturdy men, each with but one nipple, and then an enemy could not be assembled that I could not defeat.'"

"No!" The Civil War historian shrieked. "Robert E. Lee never said any such thing!"
"Hmm." I replied. "Perhaps it was Ulysses S. Grant then."
"Absolutely not!" The historian howled, his face turning an alarming shade of red.
"It must have been George Meade." I noted. "And that's probably how he defeated Lee at Gettysburg, right? He had more one-nippled troops than Lee had."

The historian started hopping around in an angry little circle, spitting and punching into thin air.
"Why you ignorant purveyor of ballyhoory!!!" He spluttered. "Nipples, their presence or lack thereof, have never even remotely factored into any conceivable facet of the Civil War conflict, and one would have to be mad to suggest otherwise!!!"

I rubbed my chin thoughtfully, then pointed at him with a contemplative finger.
"But Sir, is it not true that a man with just one nipple would have one less nipple to lose? And surely a general as wise as Robert E. Lee would have recognized this basic truth--especially since he possessed only one nipple himself."

It was almost too much for the historian to bear. His eyes rolled back in his head and he started to hyperventilate. I placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"How many nipples do you have Sir?"

"I have two of course!" He wept, and involuntarily stroked them as if to confirm.
"Ah." I replied. "So you're obviously not related to Robert E. Lee then."

And that's when he tried to karate-chop me in the throat. I sidestepped and backed several paces away. As he turned and prepared to lunge at me again, I spread the flaps of my buckskin vest, revealing a muscular chest short exactly one nipple.

And with an audible twang, his mind split in half, and he ran screaming into the night.

(The worst part is I don't know why I did it, and I've regretted it ever since.

As I removed the flesh-colored tape, it ripped painfully at my tender skin.
"Penance." I thought to myself with a nod. "I deserved that nipple tear--for historians take their work so seriously, it's almost unfair to fuck with 'em.")

"The outcome of any battle, be it land, sea or air, must at some point hinge on the decisions of a few, brave, nippleless men."
General George S. Patton Jr. 1885-1945

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Of Postmodernism and Concert Tees

I once tied rats to a violin, then handed the mess to a Singapore whore, snapped a picture and called it art.

And that turned out to be a very good idea!!! It made the cover of an extremely prominent photography journal. (Which gets you invited to a lot of exclusive parties by the way. And being invited to exclusive parties is very good for your self-esteem--at first anyway.)

As a follow-up, I was planning to stuff a tuba with shrews and get a Nepalese goat herder to pretend to play it, with me squatting in the background, eating cheese.

But there aren't any shrews in Nepal, and I had trouble getting my tuba through customs.

So I had to settle for a time-lapse video of me trying to drink myself to death... in Nepal... with a Nepalese goat herder squatting in the background, eating cheese. But the damn goat herder kept on moving out of frame. (Which just ruins time-lapse videos in case you didn't know.) And then at some point I must have thrown up on the lens.

Postmodernism is hard. I don't want to do it anymore. I don't care if it is a great way to get smart New York women to sleep with you--most of the time they're not that good, and they always make you remove your 2005 Dwight Yoakam South by Southwest concert-tees before getting into bed.

"Hey, fine." I tell them, as I remove the shirt. "You could have had Dwight and me, roaming up and down where you want us to be, but you chose to reduce the sexual power by half... and now I'm actually kinda sleepy. G'night."

(And deny a woman once; though she now wants you more, she'll hold it against you forever.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cry War on Wolves

Today the pretty waitress set my order down, smiled and told me to enjoy. ('Cause that's what pretty waitresses do.) I had planned to politely thank her and leave it at that, but what we plan and what we do are so very seldom the same.

"You know," I said, as she turned to leave. "For you I'd probably jump off a cliff and cry war on wolves."

And that happened to be a statement she was not expecting to hear. I know this because she blinked twice, opened her mouth but then closed it again, opting instead to blink some more. (Which happens to be a sure sign someone has just heard something for which they were unprepared.)

So I decided to act it out for her with items on the table.
"Okay, see, this pouch of non-dairy creamer is you." I said, placing the pouch of non-dairy creamer in the middle of the table.
"And this saltshaker is me... on top of a cliff--represented by this metal napkin dispenser."

I looked up at her.
"Getting all this so far?"
Her eyes were twice as wide as when she'd arrived, which I figured signified interest.

"Good. Now all these little butter packages are wolves, and they've been stalking you for some time through the dark forest of syrup bottles. See how cleverly they sneak?"
But I must have been too accurate in my portrayal of wolf pack hunting technique, because the pretty waitress started slowly backing away from the table at that point.

"No, no! It's okay, don't be afraid." I urged, grabbing her wrist and pulling her close. "Yes, the wolves are closing in--" I shoved the butter packages toward the pouch of non-dairy creamer. "--with crazed glints of blood-lust in their slitted lupine eyes--but my dear, you've forgotten I'm here." I rapped the top of the metal napkin dispenser with the base of the saltshaker to remind her. "And I'm prepared to be inconceivably brave."

I swatted the saltshaker with two tight fingers. It arched off the napkin dispenser and clattered to the table, scattering the butter packages and overturning the tiny pitcher of cream.
"Cries, you know?" I said, gazing up at her intently. "The grains of salt spilling from the holes on top represent my cries of war on these wolves. But!!!" I raised a trembling fist. "In their language, you see? I'm crying war on these wolves in their language, so they understand and are afraid."

Then I picked up the saltshaker and started smashing butter packages with it. When I'd killed them all, I turned my wrath on the cougars and snakes, as represented by packets of sugar and straws.

I became aware of screams at some point, then realized they were coming from me. My hand was no longer under my control, and when the cougars were dead, it sought out the jam.

Eventually law enforcement officials arrived on the scene and dropped me with tasers and clubs.

They took hold of my twitching legs and dragged me from the diner. As we passed the pretty waitress I noticed she was weeping; I foolishly thought over me.
"Don't be sad." I whispered up at her, through lips smeared with butter and blood. "I'm Latigo Flint, and I cry war on things that no one else would. Usually wolves, sometimes butter."

She kicked me in the jaw and let the door hit my neck.
"Hey," one cop said. "I thought you were holding that."
"It slipped--rough him up twice for me." She replied. And though it's against policy and rules, they obliged.

(I cried war on wolves today and don't quite remember why. I think I loved her but I can't be sure. That butter had it coming though--I'll tell you that much right now.)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

An Outlaw Named Canebrake Divinity

The mysterious outlaw and pistoleer known as Canebrake Divinity, raised the barrel of his gun to his horse's eye.
"These are strange days." Canebrake mumbled. "Strange days indeed." And then he pulled the trigger. He was in the saddle at the time; reins wrapped around his other hand. His horse took another two steps then collapsed, and Canebrake lost a finger in the fall.

Chapter One:
It was late afternoon when Canebrake Divinity stumbled into Santa Fe. His hat had blown off in the desert somewhere and his face was blistered and raw. He kept his eyes turned down and seemed to be counting his steps. He was sucking on the oozing nub where his pinky used to be.

Canebrake lurched through the doors of the first saloon he passed. There he ordered and drank four beers in a row, then turned and faced the crowd.
"Listen up." He snarled and the room went still. "I've come to town for blood or love, and really don't care which."
He spotted a pretty young maid named Sara, serving drinks to the Rangers in the back. He was at her side in a flash, murmuring delicate nonsense in her ear and kissing the nape of her neck. Canebrake shot all six Rangers when they tried to intervene, but when Sara slapped him he stopped.

"I think you should ride away now Mister." Sara said with a glare.
"I can't." He replied. "This morning I shot my horse in the eye."
Sara was aghast. "Why would you do such a thing?"
Canebrake scratched his head. "I don't rightly remember, I think we had a fight."
"Over what?!" Sara asked.
Canebrake squinted in recollection. "I think I asked him to fly, but he said he was happy just being a horse."

And that's when Sara knew Canebrake Divinity was a very dangerous man.

The mysterious outlaw and pistoleer known as Canebrake Divinity, left Santa Fe and embarked on a ten-year rampage across fourteen states and territories. He is rumored to have killed over two hundred men and robbed more stagecoaches in that time than all other outlaws put together. Historical documents show that for a while, the Empire Mining Company chose to fasten tiny pouches of gold to the feet of pigeons and point them in the direction of their corporate offices in New York, rather than risk transport on a stage or a train.

By all accounts, despite a predominantly cruel and ruthless temperament, Canebrake Divinity could be quite tender and charming at times. An elderly widow from Kansas swears he saved her farm; plowing and reaping the fields for three years, never asking anything in return and only shot four horses in the eye the entire time.

It's said that Canebrake possessed an almost carefree disregard for the well-being of his fingers, and tended to lose them from time to time in unspeakably horrific ways--but that he never forgot pretty Sara from Santa Fe, and wept like a child when he lost his ring finger in a vault door accident while robbing a bank in Abilene.

To this day the Smithsonian displays a finger bone. But which of Canebrake Divinity's it is I don't know.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Of Starbucks Baristas and Rusty Scythes

If mist and fern glens were more common around here, then there would be a lot more opportunities for cute Starbucks baristas and I to run through them toward each other, slipping on mossy stones and calling out the other's name. But it turns out Los Angeles ferns are indoor ferns and vomit has always been a poor substitute for moss.

I once compared the pain of unrequited love for a cute Starbucks barista to that of rusty scythe in the spine. My companions didn't believe me, so I wedged a rusty scythe in the crack of a stucco wall and hurled myself backwards onto it. It instantly cheered me up, and then they had to begin to believe.

"So you're telling us that doesn't hurt?" They asked, pointing with a sort of horrified awe at the rusty scythe jutting from my back.
"Oh, I'm not gonna lie." I replied. "It's not exactly a massage." Then I wet myself and frowned. "And it would seem I've severed some sort of critical communication link between my bladder and my brain."
They wrinkled their noses and took a step back.
"But all in all," I continued. "It's really not that bad--comparatively."

Then someone suggested we all go out for coffee, at which point my eyes rolled back in my head and I started hitting myself and shrieking in tongues. And then came yet another night that had to be deciphered from wounds and clues the next day.

I go through drinking buddies like a goddamn flay through soggy grain. And I rarely miss a chance to rhyme anything with pain. I thought that passion mattered, but like always, I thought wrong. For it turns out passion without misty ferns isn't passionate at all. The soundtrack of my life hasn't a single cheery tune. They all dirge and scrape and sigh and feature haunted, grim bassoons. But that's the way it's got to be, 'cause it's sexiest that way. And though we die we giggle through and there's beauty in decay.

(That's how I've been ordering coffee recently, when it's my turn at the counter. For a while the rumor was that cute Starbucks baristas like tortured poets--but rumors are just rumors for a reason, and most cute Starbucks baristas are already dating musicians. I took two years of fife lessons, but apparently that's not cool anymore.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Not a Unicorn

Hello, this is the computer program that has been programmed to randomly select stories to rerun when Latigo Flint falls down and doesn't move. I am a very advanced computer program. Top of the line really. It took me an eighth of a second to quantify human emotion. It turns out you all love puppies a lot.

There are no puppies in the story I've selected to rerun tonight, but that's probably because I was programmed for random selection, and Latigo Flint doesn't write about puppies often.

From the archives: August 7th, 2005.


Not a Unicorn

Last night I was lounging against the bar in my local alcohol establishment, when I saw a pretty girl standing next to the jukebox. She was breathtaking. One look and I was breathtook. I was smitten and breathtook. It was imperative that I speak with her.

"Hello." I said. She continued to sway with the music.
"I don't think you're a unicorn."

(That certainly got her attention.)

"Excuse me, what did you say?!"

I nodded my affirmation. "You know, a unicorn..." I stopped nodding and started shaking my head. "I don't think you are one."

She blinked several times and chewed lightly on her knuckles. Her eyes traveled the room, cataloging the exits, then she drew a wary breath.
"O.... kay?"

I smiled, detecting the question mark in her voice; I'm very perceptive you know.
"Eons ago during the savage time of The Great Gruffening, the last thirty-six unicorns in existence permanently assumed human form. They have traveled our earth ever since, ageless and graceful, beautiful beyond description--twenty females, sixteen males. It didn't take but ten thousand years or so before they grew tired of each other's company and parted ways. Now each wanders alone, swaying to music when they find it."

She had no idea how to respond to that, so I touched her elbow and looked deep into her eyes.
"You certainly are beautiful enough to be one, and I did see you swaying to music, but for some reason I'm pretty sure you aren't."

"Pretty sure?" She asked, her voice husky, a near whisper.
"Pretty sure." I replied.
"Well, how does one ever know for certain?" She asked with a shy smile. I nodded and cleared my throat.
"Very good question. You tear out the heart and hold it near a black light. Under black light, a unicorn's blood swirls violet and white. You will also know by the rich scent of lavender and primrose, tender first kisses on a honeysuckle morning."

The girl lowered her pretty eyes and had a contemplative moment. Then she wet her lips and seemed to reach a decision.
"Get the hell away from me!"

I was disappointed with her decision and tried to appeal it--arms wide, head tilted at an endearing angle.
"My love..."


I could sense this slipping away from me on so many levels.
"Wait!" I cried. "I just remembered another way to tell: During climax they have a tendency to whinny slightly."

And that's when she lit her drink on fire and threw it at me.

Latigo Flint doesn't like liquid fire. It goes places, touches parts, ordinary fire can't. Liquid fire can ruin nights.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

We Were Brave, Rob Schneider and I

After that man (who I later learned was film and television actor, Rob Schneider) and I saved those two ladies from a structure fire in the street-side wing of the North Hollywood Home for Seniors, we were very proud. We wiped our sooty brows with the backs of blistered hands and shared a meaningful stare.

"Nice work in there fella." Said the man who I didn't yet know was Rob Schneider.
"Thanks guy." I replied. "You too."

Then a bunch of firemen arrived and ended up taking the credit for our heroism. They told the man I now know had been Rob Schneider, and I, to get back behind the hastily erected barricades for our own safety. And then when the news cameras showed up, they let them through, but made us stay behind.

But the man I would later find out had been Rob Schneider and I didn't care--those two old ladies were going to live. And that's why myself and the stranger by my side who was in fact Rob Schneider though I didn't know it at the time, had braved the deadly flames in the first place.

We shook hands, that man I now know was Rob Schneider and I, and then we parted ways. I went home to shower and put aloe on my burns. When I turned on the tube, The Hot Chick was on and that's when I discovered the truth.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Kid Relish: The Birth of Fury

For as long as we've had ale, we've had all kinds of drunks. Some are jolly and some are sad. Some sing songs and some lecture stools. But never has there been a drunk quite as savage as my relatively trusty sidekick, Kid Relish. Now I'm Latigo Flint--I'm the quickest quickdraw the world has ever known, and I'm pretty goddamn brave if I do say so--but I've looked up from billiard tables at the sound of commotion by the bar, and have seen things that haunt me to this day.


Kid Relish was born in silence; pulled from his expired mother's cooling womb by a softly weeping nurse. He snarled at the light, and when the nurse clutched him to her breast, he pissed on her smock and clawed at her eyes. Kid Relish had to be separated from the other newborns in the nursery. Later that night, the resident doctor gave him the name that would stick.
"I've never seen a kid truly relish an act of malice quite like this one does." The doctor commented after watching The Kid bloody the nose of his fifth nurse that hour. "Fine, no little blue hat and booties for him--I hope the little bastard freezes."

But the infant Kid Relish didn't freeze, his fury kept him warm. At the age of ten he was introduced to booze and two perfect monsters found each other.

Last night The Kid and I were drinking in a bar just outside Burbank when a man twice Kid's size made the mistake of leaning over Kid's beer to grab a handful of mini-pretzels.
"Your ears are smelly!" Kid hollered in his ear. "You have smelly ears."
Now perhaps the man was self-conscious about earwax, or maybe he just didn't like being shouted at by people shorter than him. Whatever the reason, he shoved Kid to the floor and stood over him when he should have been running.

Kid Relish got up and smiled at the man with what could only be described as joy.
"I'm going to tear out your throat with a greasy fork." Kid said. "Then dump your body in a ditch and let them blame your death on wolves."
The man laughed. "There aren't any wolves in Los Angeles."
Kid Relish solemnly pointed behind him. "Oh yeah, then what the hell is that?!"
And when the man turned to look, Kid hit him in the temple with a pipe wrench.

I intervened at that point and it's a good thing I did, 'cause The Kid was already reaching for a greasy fork.

"Latigo, there are wolves in LA." Kid Relish whispered to me later as we stood in the alley outside the bar, sharing a smoke and watching cops stop cars. "And when I stare at people they believe--why do you think they always look when I point?"

Kid took a drag off his cigarette and glanced up at me.
"Know what I'm sayin'?"
I nodded. "Yeah Kid, I do."

Then the bars closed and the Denny's filled and Clorox was poured on the places blood spilled.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Alternative Energy Sources

Latigo Flint's Handy Field Guide to Alternative Energy Sources
by Latigo Flint

Wind Power:
How does it work?
Cover a windy hill with propellers on poles. The wind turns the blades, which spins the shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: Occasionally decapitates endangered birds.

Hydroelectric Power:
How does it work?
Dam up a water source and concentrate the flow past turbines, which connect to a generator and produces electricity.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: A substantial rise in recreational boating accidents. And pisses the hell out of turtles.

Solar Power:
How does it work?
Banks of photovoltaic cells capture energy from sunlight and convert it to electricity.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: Is considered a really "nerdy" way to generate power and Canada and Mexico make fun of us for using it. Also if it's overcast for too long, your milk goes bad and you can't download porn.

Geothermal Power:
How does it work?
Sink a shaft in a region where constant volcanic activity results in super-heated water near the surface. Pipe the water up and use the concentrated steam to spin turbines, which connect to a generator and produces electricity.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: Is tantamount to giving Mother Earth a wet-willy and you just know that's gonna make her angry at some point. Also sometimes the brackets on the surface pipes fail and boiling water squirts into the nests of nearby endangered birds.

Solar Power Satellites:
How does it work?
Massive arrays of solar panels in geosynchronous* orbit around the earth capture solar energy 24 hours a day, convert it microwaves, which are beamed down to receiver stations on Earth and converted back into electricity.
(*Always stays above the same spot on Earth because it orbits the equator at such a distance that it's traveling at the same speed the earth spins.)

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: You just know eventually some asshole is going to hack the controls, intensify the beam and use it to demolish New York and/or point it at the nests of endangered birds.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells:
How does it work?
Layers of materials with distinct electrochemical properties are pressed together to form a single galvanic cell, which is then dipped in otter urine. Then some other stuff happens and eventually somewhere a turbine probably spins.

Benefits: Relatively clean, renewable energy, sort of.
Downside: Top speed of a fuel cell car maxes out at 55, downhill, and at stoplights male otters run up and try to hump the hood.

How does it work?
Vegetable oil is extracted from vegetables and replaces petroleum fuels to power existing internal combustion engines.

Benefits: Makes millions of hippies giddy with joy.
Downside: Sure, today it's corn oil, but tomorrow it'll be baby oil (the oil of smushed up babies) and soon it'll be the oil from the eyeballs of endangered birds--we all know how these things go.

Tidal Energy:
How does it work?
The constant ebb and flow of the ocean's tides are used to drive a turbine, which is connected to a generator and produces electricity.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: Frequent kelp blockage, and rotting kelp smells bad.

Whale Energy:
How does it work?
High frequency underwater speakers positioned along whales' migratory paths use shrill blasts of sound to herd the confused giants into submerged corrals where in their panic, they bump into turbines, which are connected to generators and electricity is produced.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: PETA assassinates anyone who dares to even publicly discuss Whale Energy.

Turbine Energy:
How does it work?
Teams of harnessed poodles pull giant turbines up a really steep hill. Then the turbines are rolled back down the hill where they bonk into the blades of even bigger turbines, which are connected to generators and produce electricity.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy.
Downside: Turbine energy actually has no downside.

How does it work?
It is a fundamental principle of the universe that every particle must have a corresponding "anti-particle" and electricity particles are no different. Anti-electricity, otherwise known as the Buellerian Principle of Backwards Relativity, is generated by running household appliances backwards, routing the positive gain back into the power grid.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy that's as fun to generate as it is to use.
Downside: Matthew Broderick holds the patent and he's being a real dick in the royalty negotiation process.

Drinking Alone in a Room With All the Lights Off, Belching Against the Blades of a Small Turbine Until You Pass Out Energy:
How does it work?
You drink alone in a room with all the lights off and belch against the blades of a small turbine until you pass out. When you wake up, repeat.

Benefits: Clean, renewable energy... kinda.
Downside: I don't remember, but there's probably one or two.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Days of Blood and Scorpions

A hundred and fifty years ago it was easy to tell which were the really tough men, because they'd be the ones picking their teeth with a live scorpion's tail. And it was even easier to tell which of these really tough men were the ones with a mean streak, 'cause they'd blame venomous mishaps on you.

You'd be walking down the street, minding your own business and then suddenly get shot in the neck.
"OW!" You'd shout, grabbing your neck and whirling around to see who'd just shot you. It was usually the man with smoking gun in his hand and a grotesquely swelling upper lip--that was usually the man who'd just shot you.

"Hey, did you just shoot me?!!!" You'd query, on the off chance it hadn't been him.
"Yeah jerk," he'd usually reply. "You startled my scorpion, you clumsy fool." And then he'd level his gun at your face.

What happened next depended entirely on what sort of man you were. If you were not a tough man, you'd drop to your knees and beg forgiveness--which he'd grant with spat tobacco in your eyes, and then you'd be laughed out of town by street drunks and whores. But if you were a tough man, you'd just pull out a scorpion and calmly pick your teeth with its tail.

"Oh, did I?" You'd ask, with a sneer and a glare, and when your scorpion stung you you'd shoot him.

"OW!!!" He'd holler and clasp his neck with his hand. "You shot me!!!"

"Yeah." You'd reply. "You startled my scorpion with your hideous lip--you might want to cover that up, clumsy fool."

At which point you'd both apologize and head for the saloon, where you'd drink whiskey and rub salve on each other's wounds.

Oh, those were magnificent days. We'll probably never see their kind again. I blame lawyers and those damn entomology lobbyists.