Sundae Bloody Sundae

I wrote this very short story about four years ago. It was inspired by my sister’s insatiable appetite for McDonald’s hot fudge sundaes. It was requested that I post it. Originally, it was posted on Livejournal. Remember Livejournal?

McDonalds brings unparalleled bliss to billions upon billions of satisfied customers. We’ve all read the signs that seem to verify these stats, Over 99 Billion Served. Never do we question this impossible claim. Sure, it most likely means that they count repeat customers, but what if that were not the case? There are fewer than seven billion humans on the planet, and many of those do not consume fast food of any kind. So who are these others? Where are these others? And most importantly, what do they really want?

On a warm Sunday afternoon Mary felt a strong urge to consume a hot fudge sundae from her favorite fast food joint, McDonalds. She grabbed her keys

, brushed her hair, and convinced her massively obese teenage brother to tag along. (It really didn’t take much convincing.) They hopped, well, she hopped, and he struggled into the minivan. Completely out of breath, Tim asked her the most important question of the day.

“Do you think…the…machine is…gonna work?”

“It damn well better be working, or there’s going to be a massacre.” She could not have known at this time that her statement would become prophetic.

They started on their journey with the best of intentions; simply two hungry, innocent siblings with a hankerin for some frosty deliciousness. Unbeknownst to them, and the rest of humanity, their craving would lead to a series of unprecedented events that would determine the fate of all peoples.

Mary pulled into the parking lot and asked her jovial brother if he wanted anything besides a sundae.

“Another sundae and a Big Mac stuffed with a fish sandwich.”

“A Big Mac stuffed with a fish sandwich. I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that and just get you one sundae.”

“Hello, welcome to McDonalds, would you like to try a value meal?” said the voice from the loudspeaker.

“No thank you. I’d like to have two hot fudge sundaes with nuts please.”

“Two nuts?”

“Yes please. And two sundaes.”

“Oh, I’m sorry our ice cream machine is broken.”

On a normal day this would have simply aggravated Mary, and she would have driven off without incident, but something was stirring inside of her that would not accept “no” for an answer.

“Can I ask why it is broken? It seems to break often,” she asked.

“I’m not at liberty to say. Would you like anything else?”

“No, but I do want to talk to your manager.”

“Oh boy, pull into the parking lot and come inside then.”

Mary parked the minivan and went inside with her brother close at hand. Nothing is more intimidating to a McDonald’s staff than an overweight teenager, and she planned to use him as leverage. The manager stood at the cash register completing an order for an elderly couple. They left him in a state of frustration after paying with nickels and dimes.

“Excuse me sir, are you the manager?” Mary asked.

“Yes I am Miss. Is there a problem?”

“I wanted to ask about the broken ice cream machine. Why is it so often broken?”

“I uhhhh, I don’t know why. It just breaks down from too much use once in a while,” he said nervously. Mary reached over the counter and grabbed his tie.

“I am so sick of this shit! Who are you? Who the hell are you? You’re no one!”

“Ma’am please.”

“Ma’am? What is this garbage?”

“Mary, settle down,” Tim pleaded.

“No, I will not settle down!” She pulled out a pistol and pushed it to the manager’s forehead.

“Oh my God she has a gun!” One of the pimpled face employees cried.

“Who wants to add Ed here to the menu? Who wants a side of Ed with a Big Mac stuffed with a fish sandwich? Now, let’s see just why this machine isn’t working.” Mary pushed Ed, the manager, toward the ice cream machine.

“I I I I I I ca ca ca ca can’t do this,” Ed said.

“What?!?” Mary shot Ed in the left knee. A female employee fainted. “Open it!”

Ed, writhing in agony, reluctantly inserted the key that would unlock the belly of the beast. As he slowly opened the door, Mary wiped the blood from her face. Then she beheld something terrible.

Inside the ice cream machine was a tiny goblin-like creature with yellow eyes. It screamed louder than a jumbo jet, and made a mad dash for Mary. Her reaction was to shoot, and shoot she did. The creature blew into a million pieces.

“No! You madwoman! Do you know what you’ve done?” Mary did not reply, for she was still working out the recent unexplainable events in her head.

“What was that thing?” Tim asked.

“That was a Barlmarg from the magic ice lands of Buttjig. His name was Crawkbar the Lenient,” Ed replied.



The Sexual Purity of Luke Skywalker

Here is an angle of Star Wars that you have probably not encountered. Today, we will be looking at Luke Skywalker’s sexual purity.

First, I should address the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Of course I am referring to Luke and Leia’s brush with incest. By the end of Return of the Jedi we know that Luke and Leia are both children of Anakin Skywalker. This is all well and good, except Luke had the hots for her in the first two films. Chances are Leia also had a thing since she kissed him in every movie.
It’s easy to blow this whole thing out of proportion. Let’s calm ourselves and look at this situation as reasonable people.

At no time in the films does the level of attraction between Luke and Leia enter into the realm of the sexual. What do I mean? If you really look at how they interact, they much more closely resemble platonic friends than lovers. The only possible exception comes at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back when Leia kisses Luke on the recovery table to spite Han. That kiss looks sort of passionate. But remember, it’s a response to her passion for Han (even if it’s passionate anger). I can let it slide. Besides, neither of them knew they were related at that point. I think we can get past this whole thing. Please, try.

Perhaps some of the appeal Star Wars has for young boys is Luke’s lack of a love interest. Girls aren’t super appealing when you’re 6. This makes Luke more relatable to the young audience. He isn’t driven by love for a woman. He is driven by a hunger for purpose, adventure (at least initially. Before Yoda got to him), friendship, and destiny. Just think of all the movies where the protagonist is trying to get the girl. Often times, this is his major motivation. Luke is a man on a quest. His friends Leia, Han, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca are his closest relations. It’s simple. It’s Star Wars.

Juxtapose Luke’s purity with Anakin’s uncontrollable desire for Padme. First of all, it’s annoying. You could gag a maggot with those mushy scenes from Attack of the Clones. Anakin and Padme are that annoying couple that think they’re the greatest couple in history. Second, this romance goes against the way of the Jedi. It is a conscious act of disobedience. Not only is it a symptom of Anakin’s deep character flaws, but it is also a major step toward the Dark Side. It is ultimate attachment, and largely selfish. Anakin is merely fulfilling his desire. In the end, he chokes her. Then she dies in a really lame fashion. Her heart breaks. The only good thing to come out of it all are the children. And really, they are the result of nature more than the fruit of their love.

For me, it’s refreshing to watch the original trilogy. It isn’t complicated by romantic relationships, and it isn’t defiled by adulterated passion. Luke is a little boy’s hero.

Satan’s Hands

I work at an R.V. dealership. The business is divided into two sections, the store and the shop. I work in the shop. This means I work with technicians. For all of you who know me, this must seem like an odd arrangement. I’m not a mechanical guy. It’s an alien world to me. Nevertheless, I inhabit this realm. The realm of Satan’s Hands.

I will call him Jack. His real name will remain a secret. Jack is my co-worker. Some of you know him as “the guy who may have killed people.” Jack started about a year ago.

Jack has long brown hair. Actually, it’s gray, but he dyes it brown. His hair reaches the middle of his back. He has many tattoos. They cover his arms and chest. He is in his late thirties with a 14yr old son, and a wife. He also has a mustache and short beard. Jack smokes often, and says if he goes too long without a cigarette he will hurt people. He is a social drinker, but not an alcoholic. He is about 5’10”. Jack lifts weights, and is, from what I’ve seen, very strong. Also, he only ever wears steel toe boots.

Jack used to be in a biker gang called the Outlaws. When he started a family he wanted to get out, but the only way to do that without getting killed or severely beaten was to start his own gang (or club as he calls it). This is the origin of Satan’s Hands. Satan’s Hands is now composed of over 100 members (Jack claims over 200 but I think he exaggerates) . What does Satan’s Hands do? Well, from what I’ve gathered they deal in vigilante justice. Jack shared with me a story about a guy who beat his girlfriend. Someone in the gang let them know and they tied him to a chair and beat him with hammers. Jack has told me on more than one occasion, “If you need someone taken care of, tell me.” Don’t worry, I don’t subscribe to vigilante justice. Not now anyway. There are other stories, and more disturbing, but I’ll spare you.

Jack has also done things on his own. He went to jail for shooting into a Home Depot. A woman was threatening his family somehow so he saw this as just retribution. He has ripped more than one person out of their car and beaten them. And he even tried to beat up his martial arts instructor. He says all he remembers of that is his teacher saying, “Say Goodnight”. Oh, and he drove his car into his high school when the principle pissed him off. It should also be mentioned that Jack also won a million dollars in the lottery, but had to use most of that as bail money.

What is really surprising is that Jack talks with me about God and religion more than anyone at work. He’s the only one. We have talked about Jesus and what the Bible says many times. Usually, Jack tells me that he’s beyond forgiveness. He tells me that he needs to see a miracle before he can believe. Jack is the only person at work who wanted to read the magazine I edited, Logos. He read both issues and loved them. One time he gave me his friend’s Jehovah’s Witness version of the Bible and asked me to find where it’s different. We talked about that for a while. Jack even shared a deeply personal story about a time in his life when he was homeless, and at the moment he was going to jump into traffic, an old friend saw him and took him in. After that, he got his life back together. I told him, “That’s your miracle!” But he didn’t see it that way.

Jack has a good personality. He is easy to talk to, and actually pretty bright. He always has my back at work, and more than anyone, tells me when he thinks I’ve done a good job. He asked me to join Satan’s Hands a few weeks ago. I told him, no. The reasons should be obvious. But at least I can say that I was offered a position in a bad ass biker gang.

It’s an unlikely relationship, but I get along with the leader of a bike gang called Satan’s Hands. And honestly, it’s kind of awesome.

Feline Ambivalence

I will now explain my position on cats; not the musical, but the animal.

First, it will help to know my history.
I grew up in the presence of a little orange cat named Pammy. She came from the mean streets of Northbridge, a tired wanderer searching for rest, and probably cat food. Finding our garage suitable, Pammy decided to set up shop and declare war on anything with four legs. She fought back encroaching rodents for over 14 years. Then, one night, I heard a group of cats fighting in the yard. The next day Pammy had cat scratches all over her face. It was the wild cats. They wanted her food, and perhaps her hunting grounds. Three days later, I found Pammy dead under a tree in the neighbor’s yard.
In my late teens, another stray cat came to us. This one was black. I named it Richard before I found out she was a girl. I kept the name. Then a woman picked her up and claimed that Richard had bit her. She demanded a rabies test. Unfortunately, you have to kill the cat to perform the test. Richard didn’t have rabies. But Richard was dead.

Now I’m going to throw some sentences at you!
Black cats are bad luck.
Cat tongues are like sandpaper.
When a cat rubs up against you it is marking you as territory.
A cat scratched me once.
This is Bob Barker reminding you to have your pets spayed and neutered.
There are crazy cat ladies but you’ve never heard of a crazy dog lady.

I have loved cats, but I mostly hate them.

Willy Wonka is a Fine Wine

How often have you re-watched a television show or movie that you loved as a child only to be awfully disappointed? I have experienced this tragedy countless times, and I’m sure you have as well. But once in a great while…from time to time… a childhood favorite becomes far more moving and meaningful after we’ve grown up.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of these movies.

Why I Used to Love It: Every kid loves candy. To watch a movie about a magical candy factory is quite a…treat. Sure, the scenes in which the naughty children are maimed and tortured were slightly disturbing, but they deserved it. And of course I loved the songs, “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” and “Pure Imagination”. Charlie is the good one, and he wins in the end. This is how it should be. I was well pleased. Except that “Cheer Up Charlie” scene sucked. I always fast forwarded through it.

Why I Love It Now: After watching the Tim Burton remake, I discovered a new reason to love the original; Willy Wonka is an adult. Johnny Depp portrayed Willy Wonka as an immature man with daddy issues. Gene Wilder portrayed him as a man who at first seems eccentric and perhaps untrustworthy, but in the end reveals that he was in control of himself and his factory. He is worthy of our respect and adoration. He is worthy of Charlie just as Charlie is worthy of him and his factory.
There are a number of moving scenes that I never appreciated as a child. When it is reported that the last golden ticket has been found, the Bucket family discusses Charlie’s certain disappointment. Grandpa Joe tells them not to wake the boy so he can have one last dream. And Charlie is shown to be listening in his bed with tears in his eyes.
The “Cheer Up Charlie” scene means more to me as well. After Charlie expresses to his mother that he has no chance of winning the ticket (“You can count me out!”) we see a mother’s hope for her son.

Look up, Charlie
You’ll see a star
Just follow it and keep your dreams in view
Pretty soon the sky is going to clear up
Cheer up Charlie,do
Cheer up Charlie
Just be glad you’re you.

By far, the most powerful scene in the film comes at the end. Charlie and Grandpa Joe have reached the end of the tour and expect Wonka to give them the lifetime supply of chocolate. Unfortunately, Wonka informs them that they broke the rules.

Watch this clip from 6:20.

All hope seems lost. Grandpa Joe reacts as any adult would. He even calls Wonka an inhuman monster. “How could you build up a little boy’s hopes and then smash all his dreams to pieces?”
And finally, he tells Charlie, “If Slugworth wants a gobstopper, he’ll get one.”
Charlie has nothing. His family needs the money that Slugworth promised. So, when he gives Wonka his Everlasting Gobstopper it is an entirely selfless act. He gives his wordly life to Wonka, and then Wonka gives him everything.
You have to see the theological implications here. Slugworth is the devil with his promise of worldly pleasures and comfort, but Wonka is concerned with the heart of the children (just as God is with His children). Charlie loses his life to gain the kingdom (Wonka’s Factory). Wonka even calls Charlie, “My Boy”. The relationship between father and son.

I am now able to appreciate this film on all of these levels. It is a true classic.

Short People Got No Reason To Live

Take it away Randy Newman

This song pissed some people off when it first came out. They didn’t understand that Randy Newman was commenting on how ridiculous our prejudices are. It’s not like short people are actually discriminated against. Right?

Here is a link to a study that finds that tall people not only earn more on average than short people, but it also claims that tall people are smarter. (Short End)
Apparently, for every inch gained in height a person earns an average of 2% more.

Here is a link to a study that claims that tall people are happier on average. (Why Tall People Are Happier Than Short People)

It seems even nature has it out for short people. This study finds that short people are at an increased risk for heart attacks. (Short People 50% higher risk of heart attacks)

And here is another one that once again says taller people earn more, and also get more respect. (Workplace Rewards Tall People)

I found another source that reported the #1 complaints of short men and women. For women, it was a lack of respect in the workplace. For men, it was difficulty finding a romantic partner.

So what am I getting at? I’m not the shortest person in the world, but I’m certainly not the tallest. On a good day I’m 5′ 6″ and most of these studies consider short to be 5′ 3″ or less. That being said, I still deal with being short, or at least shorter than the average 5’9″ male. So here are some thoughts and observations I have regarding short people.

The first thing I’d like to address is the issue of the Napoleon Complex. This basically says that short men try to compensate for their inadequacy by being overly aggressive. Little Man’s Disease applies to the same concept. So when a short guy gets all red in the face you can chalk it up as some deep seeded insecurity about his stature. Like the Native American belief that inside a corn kernel is a tiny man who gets super pissed when you heat him up until he eventually explodes (I heard this once a long time ago, so I can’t verify that Indians actually believed this).
Anyway, what this implies is that if a short person (especially a man) were to express frustration at being short and discriminated against, he would not be taken seriously. Even now, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking, will people draw the conclusion from all this that I’m simply insecure about my height and therefore cannot be taken seriously? Hmm.

The truth is, I’m usually perfectly content with my stature. It’s not something I think about often. But, when my shortness is called out by someone, or when I have to accept that I’m not tall enough to accomplish a task that a taller person could, I do have to deal with insecurities.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that some women seem especially insensitive to how a man views his own stature. For instance, when a woman comments on how she is attracted to a tall man (the classic tall dark and handsome type) it’s the gender equivalent of a man telling a woman with small breasts that he prefers a woman with large breasts. In my own experience I’ve dealt with many unintentional slights.

With the findings from these studies and my own experience I want to give a voice to my vertically challenged brethren. Victims of discrimination on all fronts, yet afraid to speak out and be labeled a little Napoleon. Caught in a cultural Catch-22.

Height is relative. Tell that to the short, lonely, sad, poor man dying of a heart attack.

Making Sense of Smell

Before I dive into today’s subject I want to point out a small milestone in the life of the blog. This will mark my 50th posting. Now, in the world of blogs 50 postings is far from noteworthy, but it shouldn’t hurt to celebrate even the little accomplishments. My friend and fellow blogger, Katy Staley, author of the always entertaining, katydidwhat, recently celebrated her 100th posting. That seems like a much more impressive number, and I commend her for being so consistent. I’ve always admired sticktoitiveness.

It has taken me way too long to think of a good transition into the main subject matter so I’ll get right to it. I have a terrible sense of smell. To be more specific, I have a poor sense of terrible smells. And to put it yet another way, I smell good things, but have trouble smelling bad things.

If you know me well, you already know this. Let’s face it, if you know me well, you already know almost everything about me. I’m a fairly open person. Not many dark secrets.

I believe that this all originates from a dare. My sister once bet me a quarter that I wouldn’t smell her awful smelling feet. Of course, I took the bet. Since then it just hasn’t been the same. Every time someone comments on a skunk I smell nothing. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled skunk. I don’t know what skunk smells like! The same goes for gas, body odor, and even smoke.

The odd thing is that I can smell good things without much trouble. I can smell candy and flowers and perfume and cut grass and cookies and many others. This leads me to believe that maybe this goes beyond a physical abnormality. Maybe I have a type of selective smell. Maybe it’s the next step in human evolution. Probably not. It doesn’t make much sense for survival to have someone who can’t smell gas, smoke, or any number of deadly warning smells.

But in a world ripe with bad odors, I like to think of my little abnormality as a gift. While others are devastated by foul aromas I will be able to keep a clear head. That is, until the deadly gas goes to work on my nervous system.