Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Twizzler Fairy

On Sunday afternoon, wiping the sleep from my eyes, I opened the back door and, lo! there on my back porch was a three-pound plastic tub of individually-wrapped strawberry Twizzlers. You don't see that every day, believe me, at least not in these parts. Well, I did a little research and found out that, in all likelihood, the candy was left there by the Twizzler Fairy. There was an extensive article about her at Wikipedia. Apparently she flits about the towns and villages looking for people with sad faces and overgrown lawns. Usually the people she gives her Twizzlers to also tend to have an inordinate enjoyment of sweets, are likely to be seen wearing unkempt clothing, they have unclean kitchens, strange musical tastes, flat feet, slight hearing loss in one ear, dull social lives, and leaky pipes in the basement. I don't see how it is then, that she happened to stop at my house. After all, my hearing is just fine.
I like the Twizzler Fairy and hope she comes back again, because my Twizzlers are nearly gone. According to Wikipedia, she can be enticed into coming back again by stocking the refrigerator with Corona and Hershey Kisses.

Unrelated Links:
Wacky Packages
Snakes on a Plane
Sick Goldfish
Darwin Awards
Weird Converter

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Just Say No to Drugstores

It has come to my notice that the big drugstore boom of the 1990s has again reared its ugly head here in Lakewood town. Maybe you recall that during the late '90s the large drugstore chains decided that every single corner lot in every single town in America needed one of their large drugpusheries. So we now have the Rite Aids and the Walgreens and the CVSs and the various other chain drugstores taking up all the prime real estate in the United States.

I suppose they are entitled to put their stores wherever the market will bear, but the problem is that in doing so they got rid of much of the character of the neighborhoods they moved into. For example, one of the best restaurants on the west side was Georgio's on Detroit Avenue near West 117th Street. That place had some seriously competent chefs. I mean these guys and/or gals were so good that I even ate their escargot. The atmosphere was very Mediterranean, with murals on the walls, cheerful zither music in the background (that might be a false memory), an extensive wine list, zealous, friendly waiters and waitresses (with clean fingernails), plenty of light coming in through the windows. Imagine the white-hot rage that welled up inside me when I heard that the whole block that included Georgio's was going to be torn down and replaced by a Walgreen's. Meanwhile, a block away, and across the street from an existing drugstore, they closed Slamjam's, which was a decent grill and bar, and was before that the venerable Blue Fox restaurant. In it's place they put a CVS drugstore, for those who are so desperate for Vioxx or Plavixxx or Vicks Vaporub that they just couldn't make it all the way to Walgreen's.

That was the kind of thing that went on all over the place during the 90s. I think that in Lakewood alone, there were seven of these overpriced drug emporia built. And I frankly don't know how any of them stayed in business. The CVS nearest me was established directly across the street from the long standing Discount Drug Mart, and in the ten or so years since it has been there, I think I have seen a total of four customers inside.

After the new drugstores had been around for awhile, some of them began to close up due to oversaturation of the market. My joy at the demise of some of these behemoths was tempered by the fact that the damage had already been done to the character of the neighborhoods into which they had lodged themselves. But I could at least take solace from the fact that the drugstore boom was over at last.

Or so I thought. This past year another Walgreens started construction about two blocks from the new CVS and the Drug Mart. They chose a corner that housed a paint store, and a scuba diving supply store and a much-loved tavern and tore it all down for their great big cookie cutter drugstore. I don't think it will hurt CVS' business though, because if they can survive on four customers, they can certainly survive on two.

But the problem is that between the two drugstores there is over an eighth of a mile of nonpharmacized territory. There are four unutilized corners that cry out for a big ugly drugstore. I wonder if maybe the city can demolish the houses in between the drugstores and build some kind of monorail system connecting them. In fact, why not have this monorail connect all of Lakewood's drugstores, and indeed, all the big drugstores in the county? That way, one can always be moving toward the blessed relief provided by overpriced Chapstick lip balm and overpriced Odor Eaters, and overpriced pretzel rods and overpriced greeting cards, and especially, overprescribed medication.

I'm going to write a letter to the mayor of Lakewood and suggest this to him. I'll need a pen though. CVS, here I come.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Trucker Talk

As I was motivatin' down the road the other day, I started thinking of the truckers dutifully carrying America's stuff all over the fruited plains, mountains, deserts, forests and other topographical features of this great land, fruited or not. Without the big rigs rolling down our highways and byways and other kinds of ways, we would be in a sad state. Practically everything we eat, drink, wear, sit in, walk on, throw away, steal, waste money on or give away comes to our neck of the woods on a truck. Those 18 wheelers transport basic necessities like building materials, furniture, industrial parts, oil, rock, and all sorts of stuff like that there. But, some trucks are carrying things we don't normally think of, items of a more ignoble or unglamorous status. Recently, this point was driven home to me as I sat at a truck stop eating something resembling a sandwich, listening to the conversation of some of the truckers around me. Here is that conversation, as nearly as I can remember it:

Trucker 1: Hey, Poindexter, pass me the ketchup, will ya?
Me: Hey, pal, you wanna rephrase that remark?
Trucker 1: <grabbing my nose with his large, remarkably apelike hand> Oh, yeah, sorry. Hey, Poindexter, pass me the catsup, will ya?
Me: <wiping the mustard off my throbbing nose> That's better, sir.
Trucker 2: Hey there, what you haulin' buddy?
Me: Why, I've just got a few cartons of Preparation H for a friend of mine and...
Trucker 2: I'm not talking to you, Pencil Neck. I'm talking to the man next to you.
Trucker 1: Oh, I got a load of rubber vomit I'm takin' down to Indianapolis.
Trucker 2: Rubber vomit, eh? Did ya hear that, Pencil Neck?
Me: Sir, you're spitting on my liverwurst...
Trucker 2: That's great. I've done that vomit run to Indy a few times myself. And just last week I took a load of whoopy cushions down there. That's a fun city, Indy.
Trucker 1: Yeah, it is. What you carryin' today?
Trucker 2: Nothin' now. I just delivered my load to Pittsburgh.
Trucker 1: What was it?
Trucker 2: I had a double trailer I took from Seattle Washington. One trailer had itching powder, and the other one was filled with those fake ice cubes with the plastic fly inside.
Trucker 1: Those are great. I nearly choked to death on one a those once. Are you going back for more?
Trucker 2: No, I'm supposed to pick up a load of sporks going to Texas somewhere.
Trucker 1: <slapping my back with his remarkably large, hairier than average hand> Hey, Poindexter, you got a spork there yourself!
Me: <ignoring the searing pain in my upper back> Well, I'm afraid this liverwurst sandwich is a bit runny, and..
Trucker 1: That's great. Hey, there, buddy, I was in Texas last week. Took a load of Cheez Whiz to Austin.
Trucker 2: They do love Cheez Whiz down there, boy. Let's see, last time I went to Austin I had a trailer fulla tooth blackener. It was around Halloween time.
Me: I see you put some on yourself there, sir. Oops, my mistake...
Trucker 2: I remember last Halloween I took a few days off. Then I had to haul a load up to Nome, Alaska, and when I got half way up there, this godawful blizzard struck. It was terrible drivin', let me tell you. I couldn't see barely past my headlights. I almost drove off the road at least a half dozen times. Man, the wind was roaring, snow was everywhere. But I had to get the load up there, them folks was waitin' and I couldn't let 'em down.
Trucker 1: Geez, that's awful, bud. What'd you have in the trailer?
Trucker 2: Pixy Stix. I was a couple hours late, but I got them their Pixy Stix, and man, I really felt like I done somethin' worthwhile, ya know? What the hell is that drippin' all over my boots?
Me: Sorry, sir. It's the liverwurst.

That's about all I remember of the conversation, but it was a real revelation. I now look at our nation's truck drivers with a whole new set of eyes, although, since the swelling has gone down, the left eye is still a little blurry.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Bridge of Peace

Constructed in 1929 over a span of just six months (roughly the time it takes for the Ohio Department of Transportation to widen one of the on-ramps between I-77 and I-480), the Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest suspension bridge in the world at 1,053 feet above the Arkansas River. It was built specifically for tourists and not as a means of transportation, and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state of Colorado (why the Arkansas River is in Colorado I'll never know.) From what I have heard, the view is positively breathtaking.
One day I would like to take a trip to Colorado to walk out onto the Royal Gorge Bridge. Despite my dislike for high places, I would go to the very center of the great span. Once there, I would look around to make sure I was alone. Then, reaching into my rucksack, I would pull out my Epson printer, raise it over my head, and hurl it down into the mighty gorge with all my might. Only then would I achieve peace.

Unrelated Links:
The Sheep Market
Mount Everest
Sidewalk Art
Stupid Travelers

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Salad Night

Last night I got home late without having eaten dinner, so I searched for something that could pass for dinner food. What I came up with was a bag of salad that I bought the day before. Salad. Why not? From what I hear, salad is good for you. It contains green things and vegetables and it isn't fattening. I dumped the whole thing into a salad bowl, added some croutons and balsamic vinagrette dressing and looked forward to a healthy meal. It was quite a lot of salad, enough for three salad eaters, but I figured that I could handle it and feel better for doing so. So I took the salad into the living room, turned on the tube and proceeded to get healthy. It took a while to finish, but it wasn't bad, and I felt that I had done something good for my nutrient-starved body.

Unfortunately, on the same coffee table with my bowl of green goodness was most of a bag of Twizzlers which I had opened the day before and forgotten to return to the pantry. So, having had such a light, healthful dinner, I figured I would treat myself to a few Twizzlers as a dessert of sorts. Well, one twiz led to another, and soon, and with some effort on my part, the whole bag was gone.

Now the question is, does the consumption of 30 Twizzlers somehow cancel out the healthful effects of the large salad? Or does the salad neutralize the effects of the Twizzlers?