Thunderation! There is a veritable monsoon occurring right outside my window. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm glad I chose to live in an apartment complex, and not a lean-to in the forest. Sure, there are some nice aspects of the lean-to (you can get a nice breeze going in there, plus you can go to the bathroom pretty much wherever you want), but there also the negatives, such as rabid coyote attacks. Now don't go using that bit of logic to attack yurts, because that's a totally different housing structure. In fact, I knew a guy at college who sold his stuff to go live out in a yurt in the wilderness. Here's how the conversation went when he told me his plan.
Me: Wow, so where are you going to live?
Him: In a yurt.
Him: No, a yurt. It's a little tent type thing.
Me: Yogurt tent?
As usual, I was hearing what I wanted to hear. All of that 'getting back to nature' stuff doesn't appeal to me, since I'm largely fueled by antihistamine and Chicken McNuggets. In fact, I go the other way entirely and attempt to get away from nature by pretending I live in outer space. If you see a man in a space suit, tearing ass through the streets in his lunar rover, throw some money at him because it's probably me. Don't attempt to engage me in conversation unless you're fluent in Jupiterian, or you happen to be an intergalactic prostitute.
Speaking of intergalactic prostitutes, I have the world's strangest lunch planned tomorrow. And if you think I'm merely attempting to be humorous by connecting two unrelated things there, you better hush up before I spank you with the Van Allen belt. If I reveal any more, my cover will be blown. Perhaps I will explain on Sunday! Commander Powell, signing out.
Have I mentioned yet that next week, I'll be going back to the dog track to revisit the humiliation of last summer? The dog track is a place of mystery: weird people doing weird things with weird names, and losing lots of money while doing it. If I ever discovered a big ball of diamonds in my bowl of cereal, I'd use the money to establish a dog track/casino on a beach in Mexico. Then I'd move down there and be like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, with all of the natives living in a combination of fear and awe of the crazy, fat ass white guy. Hopefully I'd be a little less violent than Col. Kurtz, but any promises I make there are bound to be empty; the doggies get me riled up sometimes.
When I was at that track last year, I noticed they did something called Fifty Cent Mondays, where drinks, food, and beer were all fifty cents. If there's ever a place where you want to wear your galoshes, I'm guessing it's fifty cent beer night at the dog track. They could probably wrap a neat promotion into that and give all the attendants a complimentary eye patch, since someone is bound to need one by the end of that evening. Unfortunately, next Monday is not the day I'll be there, since I have to work. I could try to arrange for Monday off, but I'm worried that if word got out that I was skipping work to go to Fifty Cent Night at the dog track, my college diploma would immediately burst into flames.
In other news, the Appetizerathon at work has been rescheduled for a day when I'll be here. I'm still leaning towards not entering, because I am a petulant baking competitor, much like Bobby Fischer. My coworkers tried to play me for a fool by rescheduling at the last minute, but the only person who'll be laughing will be me, when I guffaw at the pathetic assortment of bean-based dishes. In my best Soup Nazi voice, I declare, "No pork and bean surprise for you!"
The Democratic Convention is currently taking place in Boston. The Democrats invited a lot of famous bloggers to cover the event, and I was not one of them. There are two reasons for this. First, I beat to death the last person who referred to me as a blogger. Second, I probably scared the Democratic faithful away when I proclaimed that political parties have been a farce since the Whigs disbanded. Nevertheless, I can't help but imagine what it would've been like had I been invited to this soiree.
Monday, July 27th 8:30 AM
Woo, made it to Boston! The flight in was a boogerbear, since George Stephanopolous insisted we play his Travel edition of Yahtzee the entire time we were on the plane. It was all fine until he started losing, at which point he threw his bag of peanuts at the stewardess and demanded a little bottle of vodka.
Monday, July 27th 1:10 PM
Just had lunch with Al Sharpton. And I thought I hated mayonnaise! He insisted on swapping iPods with me, so now I have nothing to listen to but Prince b-sides.
Monday, July 27th 7:45 PM
Al Gore just got done speaking. He made some good points, but I have to wonder where all this antipathy towards the President comes from. I guess I know one guy who wasn't invited to the White House Ice Cream Social!
And so on. I should note that if the Democrats need me for a last minute keynote address, I could make myself available. I don't want to give too much away, but I would definitely use the line "Let's PUSH BUSH into a bowl of MUSH!" That'd get the grassroots people all riled up. This same offer applies to the Republicans and their convention, where a typical line would be something like, "John KERRY is a HAIRY STINKBERRY from the PRAIRIE!" Imagine the buttons you could print up with that blurb. I should note that I'm not opposed to speaking at both, possibly through the use of a disguise. Just drop me a line, folks, and let me know if I need to rig up some crap in PowerPoint.
Ricky Williams, pro football star, retired suddenly yesterday. Apparently, he thought the entry yesterday about my future dominance of the Tour de France could also be applied to the NFL. Good thinking, Ricky, although such conjecture would be immediately dismissed by anyone who witnessed the Cody Powell era of Corey Elementary Football. If you needed someone to eat all the orange slices while sitting on the bench, I was your man. When it came to the tackling, running, and catching part, not so much. In retrospect, I had a lot more to gain by practicing my citrus appreciation skills than I did with football, since one of those arens is a lot more conducive to short, slow wusses like myself than the other. In closing, you may come back to your sport, Mr. Williams, where I promise you'll be safe from a dreaded encounter with Pigskin Powell.
It looks like right now, the Tricentennial is set to fall on the weekend of the ACL Festival. Maybe if I play my cards right, that can be Elvis Costello's puke stain in my living room. If he's anything like fellow British superstar Warwick Davis, we shouldn't be stocking up on the 409 quite yet. But really, any musical superstars are welcome to crash here that weekend. It just seems silly to blow $40 a night for some fancy room at the Best Western when they could throw down a pallet on my living room floor for free. Did I mention that everyone who stays here gets FULL X Box priviledges? Make your reservations early, because this bitch is filling up real quick-like (note: air mattress reserved for the Pixies).
Anyway, I'm super jazzed about ACL Festival this year. Last year was great, although I spent a large part of the day completely separated and lost from Danza and Dumpasaurus. Surprise surprise, when I found them, they were making out by the port-o-potties. It's called will power, gentlemen; I suggest you look into it. Despite that, I'm definitely doing the three day thing this time. I won't even leave to sleep. I'll make myself a bed of dirt and spilled beer, and become one with Zilker Park. I'll be a cult hero by the time I'm escorted off the grounds.
Lance Armstrong, a fellow Austinite, just won a record sixth straight Tour de France. It should be noted though that I didn't compete in any of these. If I had, I have a sneaking suspicion that things would've gone a little differently. I'd hang in the middle of the pack for the first few stages, then make my charge when we got to the mountains. Anyone foolish enough to get in my way as I powered up the peaks would get run over or slapped ferociously about the arms and hands. The other riders, grown weary of my domination, would have hits put out on me. The hitmen would make all of these elaborate preparations for my death, only to catch a glimpse of me in action and be moved to tears by my riding prowess. They would drop their sniper rifles en masse to start up fan clubs for me. The other riders would realize their errors and attempt to join these fan clubs, only to be thrown out on their ears for their offenses. Don't let this happen to you, Lance; retire with your dignity.
In slightly more intriguing news, we're having another baking contest at work, this time for appetizers. As soon as I heard of it, I began to think what I'd do with a second victory spoon. However, I soon came to find out the contest is scheduled during one of my vacation days. Hmm, interesting! I wonder how much my competitors had to pay to arrange that; I can only hope it was a lot. There are three courses of action I can take.
1. Go along with this, acting as if I have no problem with the contest being held while I'm away. Make lots of jokes during the week about what a shame it is I won't be there. Then, on the day itself, I will storm into the office with my dish right as the contest begins. Their ruse exposed, the other competitors will flee in terror, handing victory to one Cody Wayne Maxwell Powell.
2. Realize this contest is a farce and act accordingly. Avoid the office on that day as planned, and when the winner is announced, send a telegram reading, "Savor the flavor, chump. I take back my crown on Monday morn."
3. Take the high road, wish the entrants the best of luck, and hand over my crown gracefully. Anyone familiar with the way I operate can tell you just how preposterous this idea is.
There are many reasons to envy me: my debonair good looks, my outrageous amount of success with the ladies, my lengthy undefeated streak in lumberjack competitions. However, one area where Cody Wayne Maxwell Powell seems to be lacking is the wardrobe. At least, that's what I gather, since three people over the last month have told me I dress like a hobo. Well, maybe not a hobo, since my clothes are free of booze stains and poo poo odors. Actually, what they said is that I seem to wear the same things over and over again. Presumably, this means I dress more like an apathetic poor person than a hobo. I don't know if this criticism is valid, since I happen to be an apathetic poor person. If anything, I should be congratulated for not trying to fool anyone.
There are two very valid reasons for my limited wardrobe. The first is that I'm neither a woman, nor a gay man; looking at it that way, it's a minor achievement that I own anything besides sweat pants and Ultimate Warrior t-shirts. The second is that if you had the kind of shirts I had, you'd wear the hell out of them too. Variety could be an asset if you buy all of your crap at Old Navy and Gap Kids, since all of your clothes would then be boring. That's not how I play it, though. My clothes have character, and they should be shown off accordingly. Let's take today for an example. The shirt I'm wearing right now was brought back ESPECIALLY FOR ME FROM A LITTLE PLACE CALLED THAILAND! If the boo birds had their way, this wonderful gesture would remain hidden, only peeking out of my closet once a month. Poppycock, I say, I shall wear it once a week at a minimum! Each shirt in the daily rotation has a similar story. Think of it less like a wardrobe, and more like a scrapbook composed entirely of cotton and polyester.
Even though I'm definitely in the right here, I have begun to buckle under the pressure. Last night, at Target, I bought another shirt. In all fairness, it was $9 and it has Alfred E. Neuman on it, so it may not be the fashion statement people were looking to inspire. Nevertheless, I will wear it tomorrow, and see what happens. If a greater than average amount of women throw themselves at my feet, perhaps I will give more consideration to the subject of "new clothes". If it's a colossal failure like I expect, I will track down the Target employee who stocked the shirt and hunt him for sport. The wardrobe of Cody Powell is not to be trifled with.
I have a little bit more to write about video games. Actually, I have a lot more to write about video games, but most of it will be enclosed in a letter addressed to Ms. Pac Man. Yes, I do plan on spraying cologne on that letter and enclosing a picture of myself, but I'm getting off track here. Anyway, some of my distinguished colleagues have remarked how amused they are that I, a most serious man of letters, still gets so excited about video games. Well, last night in my X Box baseball game, I threw a perfect game with Chan Ho Park. In the event you're unfamiliar with Mr. Ho Park (hey, isn't that where your mom works?), he spends more time in the stands selling Lemon Chills than he does engaging in anything that could be charitably described as sport. If single-handedly turning Chan Ho into a slayer of worlds isn't worthy of excitement, then you can take your fancified notions of "excitement" and tell it to the turkey.
Did the last part of my final sentence intrigue anyone? I've been thinking about making "Tell it to the turkey!" a new catch phrase. It'll work extra well if you happen to be near a live turkey or, failing that, a container of smoked turkey lunch meat. If you want to add some flair to that line, let loose a deafening gobble at the end of it. Not only will you let others know that you're a loose cannon who's not taking any guff off of anyone, but you'll also impress them with your knowledge of animal life.
Actually, you could use that phrase with a variety of different creatures. Let's think of a few examples, shall we?
Tell it to the mallard! At this point, you'd quack, then start to flap your wings.
Tell it to the lion king! At this point, you'd roar, then begin singing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?"
Tell it to the minotaur! At this point, you'd dress up like a half man/half bull, and get killed by Theseus.
Tell it to the hyena/coyote mystery creature that's haunting the suburbs of Maryland! At this point, get down on all fours and start sneaking around your neighbors' back yards. Then exclaim, "Science can never explain me!" and run away to the forest.
Man, I am sick of video games. I remember back in the good old days, when everyone's best friends were Soda Poppinsky from Punch Out and Simon from Castlevania, where most males briefly entertained the idea of marrying the Princess from Mario Brothers. Now, it's all Final Fantasy: Trip to the Beauty Parlor and Digimon's Makeover Party. The last time I went to Best Buy, I perused the gaming section. One accessory caught my eye, and reminded me of a little something something from the glory days of Nintendo. Eventually, I found an employee of the joint and said, "Is that like one of those pads they used to give out with the Track and Field game?" "Oh no," he said, "that's a dance pad for a new game." If video games require dance pads now, then let's just go ahead and turn the keys to the country over to the Hillary Duff, because we're all just a bunch of lame little girls.
Where's the soul? Where are the button combos you hit to make someone's pants fall down? Somewhere, we gamers of the world have lost our way, but I will get us back on track. You see, I have come up with the next great game; it will be called: Uncle Coleslaw's Day at the Racetrack. In it, you play the titular character of Uncle Coleslaw. Your day begins as you search for your lucky pair of suspenders (hey, don't forget to check the trashcan!). Once you locate those, you take the bus to go get your racing form, then spend a few hours at the Waffle House picking your ponies. To answer a common question, yes, you will most definitely have to watch out for gravy spills. Then, the game kicks into high gear, as you have to sweet talk the fry cook to get a ride to the track. From there, anything goes. Relish the thrills of being a high roller, or make that goddamn jockey pay by stubbing your cigar out in his eye. Pick your horsies right, and that may be you eating the 10 foot hot dog at the end of the day with the bikini model. If things don't go your way, you'll find yourself crawling around the bleachers, searching the discarded tickets for any winners and weeping uncontrollably into your Diet Pepsi.
Will this game be too real for the youth of America? Yes, most certainly. But if you ask me, they may just need a dose of the gritty face of small stakes gambling. Drastic times call for drastic measures, and drastic measures call for some quality time with Uncle Coleslaw.
They're fielding a softball team at my apartment complex. I thought about signing up, but then knowing my mastery of the sport, the team name would quickly change from the Madison Muddawgs (or whatever stupid name we'd have) to the Cody Powell Traveling Athletic Revue. You see, that's irony because I'm widely considered to be the worst baseball player ever. I'm pretty bad at most sports, but I manage to emit a super potent form of ultra crappiness for baseball. If you're fielding teams and your last pick comes down to a bed-ridden leper or me (which it ALWAYS does), just pick the leper. At least the leper could draw a walk or something, while the only sure bet with me is that I'd stab myself in the head with my cleats.
Okay, so softball is out. What else can I do to win over my neighbors? Here are a few ideas I came up with.
1. Macaroni and cheese club. We'd meet once a week, make mac and cheese, then see who can eat the most of it. It sounds fun, but I predict it'd get a little messy, plus we couldn't include the lactose intolerant.
2. Battleship club. We'd meet every night by the pool for a round-robin Battleship tournament. The games would last for hours, ending just in time for everyone to go to work the next morning. Once 5 PM rolls around, the boards come back out, as we attempt to decide that night's Intergalactic Battleship Champion. It sounds like this could evolve into a cult very quickly.
3. Roller Coaster club. I don't know if there are such things as roller coaster clubs, but what would set ours apart is that it's not about riding roller coasters, but building them. There's a large wooded area behind the complex, so once we collect a $2500 materials fee from each member, we could set to work. I recommend we don't plan it out at all; let's just get the saws out and see what happens. Note: the Roller Coaster club is not responsible for any maimings that may result from our labor of love.
I'm a little biased, but I'd much rather do one of those than join some stupid softball team. I urge my neighbors to cast aside their mesh caps and their signed Lenny Dykstra gloves and join me out in the parking lot. All you have to lose is your fingers, your job, and your love of macaroni.
Today was a day of triumph. Not only did I get a legitimate chance to wear the outlandish straw hat I got in Mexico, but I did it while endangering all of central Texas. My bosses at work are both members of this shooting club where you shoot these old timey cowboy guns at all these complicated targets. I went along with them today, and a conclusion was reached: if terrorists ever invade the USA in the form of stationary metal targets, area code 512 is safe in the hands of Cody Powell. If there's movement involved, it could get a little more complicated. In that case, I'd probably just throw Octopussy at them and barricade myself in my apartment. In any event, I consider myself the first and last line of defense, and I expect all of you to pay tribute accordingly.
Lately, I've been trying to create jokes. I'm talking about traditional jokes here, with a set up and a punchline, as opposed to neo-comedy, which Goulash is. What is neo-comedy? Well, the jokes don't make any sense, they aren't funny, and they're all about mastadons. As you can see, I'm the undisputed master of this form. But anyway, here are the jokes I've created so far. In the event you hear someone repeating them and then taking all the credit for their genius, grab them by the shirt collar, take a big sniff, and then declare, "Smells like death is in the air!"
What did the cashew tell the 911 operator?
Help, I've been assaulted.
The beauty of this joke is that it works for all nuts, pretzels, and margaritas.
What did the philosopher sweet potato declare?
I think, therefore I yam.
The beauty of this joke is that I confront the taboo subject of vegetable philosophy. We'll never get past this issue unless we can discuss it in hilarious fashion.
The next time you go on a date, make frequent use of these and then prepare for outrageous amounts of fornication. Then find the best thing in your house and send it to me, because jokes don't pay for themselves.
Toodlepip, I'm almost done with recapping the first two days of my vacation last week. If I weren't dead-set on finishing up this quasi-story, I'd set my computer on fire, change my name, and get a job in Estonia as a ferry pilot/driver/whatever the correct terminology is. Okay, so let's get this crap out of the way so I can talk about the good stuff.
We made our way into La Opera Bar. I made an interesting discovery at this point. Apparently, in Mexico, opera doesn't mean 'fat lady singing arias', but 'deafening, horrific karaoke attacking my mind from all angles'. I fashioned two ear plugs out of corn tortillas and sat down, intent on enjoying myself. Due to the abundance of corn in my ears, I had a hard time following what was happening before me, but it looked like my cousin and the waiter were performing some old timey Abbott and Costello routine involving a menu and salsa. Then again, she may've been asking him to point out the best food in the joint. Really, who can tell? Whatever the case, the end result was that a great deal of food was brought to our table. Before breaking the bread, I made a silent prayer that the karaoke dj be incapacitated. JC must've got the message, because before I knew it, the karaoke was off and a mariachi was strumming his ass off in front of our table. Ahh, Mexico!
The food was incredible. Really, it was just extraordinary. If my enemies ever conspire to have me thrown on Death Row, my last meal will be the garlic shrimp from La Opera Bar, along with a Mr. Pibb and a jar of pickles. In addition, the mariachi knew a thing or two about strumming his banjo. The entire affair amounted to a delightful meal. I briefly considered trying to construct a cabin under my table where I could live until my death, but I couldn't find any caulk OR insulation, so I followed my family back out to the streets.
One of my favorite things about Mexico is the people on the streets trying to sell you stuff. In their version of the world, us Americanos are positively insane about yarn hammocks and hair weaves. I normally abstain from purchasing anything in these instances, but on this particular trip, something piqued my interest. On the sidewalk in front of the bar, someone had set up a table that was full of Star Wars statues. Since I'm both an idiot and a nerd, I wandered over and inquired about the price of a certain Darth Vader statue. After all, if there's one thing bordertowns are known for, it's the high quality of their Sith Lord figurines. The man told me it was $15. Now, I'm no jiveturkey; I know how these games are played. Although I would've gladly maxed out my visa card to get Darth, I snorted dismissively, and walked off. When I reached the corner, the budding entrepreneur yelled out, "Okay, only $10 for you!" Before I knew what was happening, my wallet was a few grams lighter and I was striding through the streets with a sack full of the Force.
A few minutes later, we came across another vendor selling some straw cowboy hats. Maybe it was the Vader talking, but I wanted one badly. However, I had already spent roughly $18,000 in this brief foray into Mexico, and no matter how outlandish the hat was, I'd have a hard time justifying it to the court in my bankruptcy proceedings. Luckily, my uncle is no stranger to taste and wanted one for himself. He managed to swing a package deal for the hats and a pair of sunglasses. If I'd been keeping a tally at this point, it would've been lik ePowell Family 234785, Mexico 0. After this, we slowly made our home, pausing long enough for me to buy a bottle of gin.
High off of Mexico, the ride back to our hotel was silent. Between the hat, Darth, and the beer, all I could do was sit quietly and ruminate on how much I loved our neighbors to the south. Eventually, we made it back to our lodgings. We'd loaded up on goodies on our trip, so all hands were full on the elevator ride up. Crowded into an elevator, everyone packed down with goods, I wasn't too surprised when a bag slipped from someone's hands and hit the ground. However, this nonchalance evaporated when I saw Darth Vader's head roll out of the bag. Vader had been dropped, and decapitated due to the impact. It took all of my effort not to pull the Emergency Stop on the elevator so that I could sit there and weep for the loss of my friend. Rationality then took over. How much can one expect from a $10 Darth Vader statue? And really, once I got a little super glue, no one would know of his brief flirtation with headlessness. Even if worse came to worse and I couldn't get the head attached, I knew exactly where to go for a replacement.
Click the Continued link for selected photos.
Our hero at the bridge.
Turkey Leg, the Jeweler, Van Halen, and myself, cradling our tour guide.
The hat. May its glue never dry.
So, day 2 of vacation arrived (and I promise to devote substantially less time to sunscreen for the entire rest of my life than I did yesterday afternoon). My incredibly strange sunburn had put the kibosh on normal vacation activities, such as swimming, searching for buried treasure, and making life-sized replicas of the Parthenon from sand and seagull feathers. In fact, I could only summon the strength for one activity, a trip to the only place in the world where I belong. A place where I hope to have a statue erected upon my death of me riding a big, fat burro. A place where, sometime very soon, I see myself getting married to a hooker, then freaking out and trying to obtain an annullment, only to get stabbed in the eye during a disagreement at the notary's office. For the weinerbiscuits in the audience, I'm talking about the M-E-X-I-C-O.
The family was so down with this idea, they didn't even wait for me to bring it up. Before I knew it, we were packed into the rented Taurus, jamming out to a playlist of songs about Mexico on an MP3 player, headed for a bordertown called Nuevo Progresso. In keeping with my usual trips to Mexico, my pockets were filled with one dollar bills, fruit roll ups, and emergency rations of Penicillin. As soon as I could see the international bridge, I unbuckled my seatbelt, tucked myself into a ball, then opened the door and rolled out. When I regained consciousness, I found my family members had carried me across the border. The trip was shaping up to be a goodie.
Nuevo Progresso is a very small bordertown, mainly there so people can take cheap prescriptions back to America. As an old veteran of Nuevo Laredo, I almost went into shock when I realized that no shady characters were going to come up to me and ask if I were interested in getting drunk and then having sex with a midget. In order to acclimate, I needed some alcohol. I unleashed my war cry and ran towards the nearest bar, family members in tow.
It was called Arturo's, and it was everything a bar should be. It was dark and velvety, with everyone dressed in tuxedos. In the corner, a man played the piano. If it hadn't been for the leper in the bathroom, I would've thought I'd been transported to Monte Carlo. At first, I drank like a reality tv star, quickly and loudly, trying to inspire my family to do the same. Roughly 30 seconds later, I realized they needed no pointers from me. With Raul the bartender, we socked it to Arturo's for a good while before we succumbed to the grumbly bellies. To paraphrase Napoleon, an army of awesomeness travels on its stomach.
We lurched from the cool confines of Arturo's back to the streets, where it was as hot as the devil's spaceheater. I decided I would take the lead on this one and locate someplace great. Through the use of several Streetfighter 2 style dragonpunches, I cleared a path for us down the sidewalk. After a few moments of aimless, alcohol inspired wandering, I found myself in front of a place called La Opera Bar.
"Do you have food," I asked the guy at the front door man.
"Mmmmmm!" he said in response.
Oh yes, we were going inside this place.
Tomorrow: La Opera Bar gets crowned as the greatest place in history. I actually get to the part of the story about the hat and Darth Vader.
Oh, vacation! Only during a vacation could I acquire the world's strangest sunburn on the first day, thus completely endangering any idea of fun, only to rally back the next day, in a scene of mass rowdiness better suited for a post-Stanley Cup victory riot than a family outing. Nevertheless, that is what happened, and this is my story.
Somewhere, in the back of my mind, the idea probably made sense. It went a little something like this: "Okay, I just got here, I'll be staying for a few days, and I am notorious for improper reapplication of sunscreen. HOWEVER, if I don't spend 10 hours on the beach on the first day, I may as well go put my dress on now." Yes, it was foolhardy, but it could've worked had it not been for the Bullfrog.
A few years ago, my dad decided that due to my inherent pastiness, ordinary sunscreen was not enough. Instead, he insisted that I lather myself with something that I believe was originally devised for water-proofing the hulls of tugboats. However, this concoction was probably too nasty for even the stinky, drunk sailors of the world, so someone in marketing said, "Oh hell, just bottle that crap up, label it as industrial strength sunscreen, and call it Bullfrog." There is no other substance in the world that strikes fear into my heart like Bullfrog. I would rather douse myself with the devil's pee than apply Bullfrog. Nevertheless, it only takes one coat of the stuff to deflect bullets, so it does come in handy in combating the brutal South Texas sun.
Since it's nasty but effective, I can usually manage to grit my teeth through putting it on once. All bets are off on applying it again, though. Allow me to illustrate why. You're all salty and sandy and seaweedy from various aquatic ass-grabbery, then someone comes up and attempts to coat this layer of beach funk with a layer of goop that looks disturbingly similar to clear pancake syrup. Hey, why not just try to prevent sunburn by wearing a suit made of garbage and human refuse? If I had to make a choice between reapplying Bullfrog and eating a big bowl of mayonnaise with a rabid possum, I'd start putting on my bib immediately.
And so, at the midway point of our day of excessive beachitude, when I faced the grim prospect of putting on Bullfrog again, I gave myself the most half-assed sunscreen rub down ever. I knew I'd probably get a little burned, but I was ready to sacrifice. What I did not foresee was how weirdly and awkwardly I'd get burned. Looking at the burned pattern on my chest, it was like Jackson Pollock had been in charge of the sun tan lotion. When I awoke the next morning, one thing was very clear: I wasn't getting near the beach or the Bullfrog that day. No, we had to do something else. Luckily for us, the best something else of all was only an hour away.
Tomorrow: we hit the border town, I get an awesome hat, and Darth Vader's head falls off.
Those of us in the Powell family are an easy-going, agreeable sort, not too likely to get worked up about anything. However, there are two passions that all of us share: an inexhaustible hatred of mayonnaise, and an overwhelming love for the beach. Tomorrow, we pay homage to the second of these with our annual pilgrimmage to the land of seaweed, fat guys in speedos, and washed-up condom wrappers. If you've noticed a shortage of SPF 45 at your local Wal-Mart, it's because we haven't been able to contain our excitement.
We've done this every year, me with my dad, sister, uncle, and cousins, for as long as vacations have been vacated. The locale often changes, but not my blue swimsuit or my uncanny ability to confuse clumps of seaweed with man-eating giant octopi. In fact, twenty years from now, I fully expect to find myself scouring the Motel 6s and campgrounds of North Austin, trying to round up my illegitimate children so we can go get some family time. It's going to take one hell of a rolodex to get those bastards together, but I don't have 3 PDAs for nothing.
With such an enduring legacy, each year emerges with its own story. Last year's trip got started with a bang when, on the first night, I was awakened during a nightmare by the sound of someone trying to enter our hotel room. In a fit of sleepy insanity, I jumped up from my bed, ran to the door, began screaming, and came perilously close to hurling a lamp at the intruder, who just so happened to be my dad. Not one of my prouder moments. There are many scapegoats I could blame: screwy genetics, a harrowing encounter earlier that day with a man-o-war, the squid tacos I had for dinner. Instead, I will take the high road here and blame Mexican tap water for the whole encounter.
I certainly have my work cut out for me if I want to top that episode. However, I am, as they say in baseball, a clutch-hitter, and I manage to save a few inspired bouts of insanity for the one time of year when everyone is supposed to be relaxing. I'm putting money that I either get kidnapped by mermaids, or activate some old pirate booby trap and get an arm chopped off. I'm confident that with a combination of beach + Mexico, I can put together something compelling. I will be back on Tuesday, sun-burned and delirious from jellyfish venom. Goulash will resume at that point. Until then, I ask the law enforcement agencies of the USA and Mexico to give me the benefit of the doubt: I'm on vacation.
I still haven't seen Fahrenheit 9/11. I've tried to go two times, and each time, the theater has been sold out. Now that I think of it, maybe the showing wasn't sold out; the theater could just be controlled by the vast right-wing conspiracy, which wants to insure that I remain a complete idiot when it comes to politics. Perhaps they reckon I'd see that movie and then vow to use Goulash as my bully pulpit. Gone would be the days of Haim vs. Feldman, replaced by pictures of me shaking my fist at Capitol Hill, with captions saying nasty things about Medicare. Well, no worries there, shadowy government-like entities; if I can't convince Octopussy to stay out of my room at night, I have very little chance of toppling the Establishment. Not only that, but I save most of my spite for those who attempt to argue with me in the "Who'd Win in a Fight Between Bebop and Rocksteady?" thread on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle message boards. My point here: just let me see the movie.
Now, a disturbing new revelation: I have lost the ability to spell. For a long time, I was like the Sudsy Monchik of spelling: I certainly wasn't world-famous for my mastery, but the true afficionados appreciated me. As recently as a few months ago, I still had it. I watched the Spelling Bee on ESPN, and during the last few rounds, I got like 70% of the words correctly (I'll have to find my score sheet from that night to get the exact percentage). Then, sometime in the last month or so, I started slipping. Goulash came first. I had formerly relied on my immaculate command of my mental dictionary to balance out the idiocy I unleashed here, but all of that was lost the first time I let "accomodate" slip out. Since then, it has been nothing but down.
Friday night, I reached the very pits when I, formerly the golden boy of spelling, couldn't correctly spell snorkel. To be fair, I was drinking and I had to spell it backwards. Nevertheless, it is increasingly clear that I'm in the tail-end of a Flowers for Algernon-like decline. These last few days of coherency must be savored, so I will be hunkering down in Powell Manor, feverishly trying to get down on paper the Tao of Powell. If, a few months from now, you happen to see a guy who looks like me wearing a Nascar shirt and eating mustard packets, shed a tear and look away.
Woah buddy, leave it to the Fourth of July festivities to prove that I should never, ever do anything remotely physical. I tried to get out there and live the active life for one afternoon, only for all of my muscles to rise up in rebellion and yell, "Go to hell, weinerbiscuit!" I just need to be pushed around in a stroller from now on. I've had 23 years of upright locomotion, but I think we can all admit that the magic is gone. This matter is settled.
Okay, something else before I have to go to work. First, grab a hold of your undies, everyone; we're almost halfway to the Tricentennial. I'm curious to see if this time, we can move past destroying the things in my apartment to destroying the apartment itself. Everyone's having a good time one minute, then someone steals a bulldozer and suddenly I have no place to live. If there's a way to go down, that is it. But anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I have already identified the subject for the Tricentennial interview. It should come to no surprise to any of you this person is none other than a certain 400 pound hunk of burnin' love, Big Elvis himself. Obviously, he is a busy man; he can't just sit around doing interviews every day for websites that no one reads. This is why I will sweeten the pot by offering him the one thing that no one on earth can resist: Mystery Pie. I love it when a plan comes together.
A sad fact of civilization is that we have very little photographic evidence of the birth of genius. Just think how cool it'd be if someone had been there to document the first time Mozart tickled the ivories, or Bruce Vilanch said something sassy. I've made it my personal mission to correct this. When I was a wee lad, I decided that I would exhaustively chronicle any field I made a foray into, just in case I happened to be really good at it. My first attempt at competitive baking was no exception. Now that the competition is over, how did I do? Well, to determine that, you'll just have to read on a journey through bake-off heartbreak and exultation.
When the Bake Off was mentioned at work, I knew that it was my destiny to enter. That wasn't enough, though; I had to do whatever it took to win. Whether that was through legitimate means or the ruthless crushing of my foes, it didn't really matter to me. However, I figured that for appearances only, I may as well enter something for judging. This posed a problem, as I know as much about baking as I do about Latvian zoning laws. I was going to need some help.
As I do when anything gets difficult, I immediately sent my mom an email. Luckily, she is well aware of my incompetency when it comes to pretty much everything, and so she sent me the best-tasting, easiest-to-make dessert recipe in the Powell library. Note the name of submitter for this recipe; dessert is in my blood!
After I received the recipe, I chose to ruminate on it for several days, until the night before the Bake Off. Then, like a tiger who just woke up from his nap, I sprung into action. First step, buying ingredients.
In a development that should shock no one who's ever been in my kitchen, I had none of the ingredients. I made a flying trip up to Albertson's, loaded up on all of the crap, and took it to the cashier. Then the following transpired.
Cashier: This little box of pecans is $7.99.
Me: Sweet Jesus, the pecan cartel is at it again! I need it for my recipe though, so I guess I'll buy it.
Redneck dude behind me buying a 6-pack of Icehouse: You don't got a pecan problem, buddy, you got a man problem!
Me: Boy howdy, do I...
I still have no idea how to interpret that guy's comment. In any event, I bought the stuff and took it home. Here's a blurry picture of the receipt, showing the pecan price, that I had to touch up due to blurriness.
Okay, the igredients are purchased. Step 1: mix some stuff together, coat the bottom of the pan with it. The mixing went well, but when it came time for spreading, I ran out. This did not bode well. See the shortage for yourself.
At that point, I made the executive decision to triple everything in the recipe and see what happened. I mixed up a lot more of the crust stuff and shoved it in the oven.
Step 2 involved me adding another layer onto what I had begun to call Mystery Pie. At this point, it was looking so good, I had serious problems with not eating it all then.
Step 3: another layer. I did not think it was possible for Mystery Pie to look less appetizing, but somehow, I found a way. I present to you Mystery Pie with intermittent white clumps. I put it in the oven anyway.
Somehow, through a judicious use of chocolate pudding cups, I managed to pull this project from totally disgusting to vaguely disturbing. Huzzah! The finished product.
Today at work, I brought up the Mystery Pie. I made it very clear to all of my coworkers that my food, while interesting to look at, may not be safe for consumption. Then I looked at the Bake Off ballot. In the category for pies, which was the nearest approximation for what Mystery Pie resembled, there were only 3 entries. "Hmm, I've already got the bronze," I thought to myself. I began to scheme of ways to move my way into second, or perhaps even first.
When the time of the Bake Off arrived, I was at my most vocal, saying things like, "Ohh, what a delicious mystery!" My other coworkers in the software division were used to my idiocy, and brushed my commentary aside. Nevertheless, I thought that maybe I could influence some of the people from marketing who rarely encountered Cody Wayne Maxwell Powell, and probably never came face to face with his Mystery Pie. It got a lot of stares, a few whispers, and surprisingly, lots of samples. I was hopeful of one legitimate vote for it, aside from all of the people I had commanded to vote for Mystery Pie.
An hour after the bake off, when all the votes had been tabulated, I was called to the awards ceremony. I hovered near the other entrants of the Pie Category and smelled the stench of fear. I was beginning to think today may just be Mystery Pie's day in the sun. And then, the head poo-bah announced it: First place in the pie category, Cody for Momma P's Mystery Pie (I decided to give my mom some props in the dessert title). I hadn't just won, I had dominated, with 70% of the first place votes. My prize? A certificate, a big wooden spoon, and something to be carved onto my tombstone.
Immediately after the convocation and my subsequent speech, I made the drastic decision to retire from competitive baking while my record was still unblemished. Having been at the pinnacle of the field, I could not now endure the depths. The recipe has been shredded, the wooden spoon has been packed up. The remains of the Mystery Pie, however, will linger in my fridge, to serve as a memento, and also because I'm not really sure whether it will go down my garbage disposal.