I met Craig J. Clark when the documentary I directed, I Don't Know Jack, played at the Philadelphia International Film Festival in 2002. He seemed interested in Pork Pony and began to submit stories. Craig's shared the same absurdist humor that PP was founded on, so he fit in perfectly. PP was barely a fraction of Craig's web presence; he's been creating Dada, a daily, web-based comic strip for years and it's remained consistently smart and funny. In this story, Craig mixes mushrooms, community theater, and organ-transplant humor to great effect. (CL)
April 2002 Archives
Oh sweet revelation! The rapture has occurred, the breakthrough I thought would never arrive. The Pork Pony staff has commissioned a theme song and they've chosen my words as lyrics!
The changes this has brought are immeasurable. Respect for my words, respect for my space, respect for my values. The clan seems to be dressing sharper and David Kendall's been drinking less. He's nearly cleaned up completely. 'Tis true! This may be a redeemable lot after all. I've probably been too harsh on them in the past. These young chaps work hard around the office, writing, editing, and web designing. Maybe they are a little ragtag, but who isn't?
I still haven't heard this ode to my words, but how could anything but joy spring forth from them? I'm sure it will be a melody of immaculate bliss and I'll certainly frolic about and sing it. I await it with breath most baited.
Life is a strange. When you think you're down and out and everything's wrong, something magical happens that turns it all around. My spirits have been lifted and I'm humbled. Thanks Pork Pony.
I've always loved garbled translations and self-help or advice given in English by people who just recently learned English. This piece is my attempt at a pamphlet written by a "wise man" who's new to either America or English. (CL)
Dear reader, welcome back. Have you noticed that I've cut back on my Pork Pony related slander? Does this please you? Do you wonder, "Is Stu fitting in? Making friends?" End all postulations for the answer is but two simple letters which form one simple word: no.
Here's a bit of catching up:
Pork Pony is: filth, drivel, poppycock, useless, used, inane, stinky, horrid, awful, wretched, dirty, sullied beyond relief. I loathe it and despise it.
That's all for now. I'm off to watch a PBS program about the revival of Verdi.
This is yet another of my Eli Lindy stories. My original idea was to use Eli Lindy as a psuedonym not only to expand the number of Pork Pony writers, but to write in a voice that sounded different from my own. I think that concept ended here. By the time I wrote this story, Eli Lindy and Chris Leavens became one again. I like this one quite a bit, actually. It's about the local eccentric and, the realitization that life's pretty boring without him. (CL)
It's that time of year again, Spring Break. Each year, the young and beautiful pack up their bathing suits and bikinis and head off to glorious destinations with infamous names like Ft. Lauderdale, Daytona, South Padre Island, Cancun, and Grand Cayman. What is the object of this massive seasonal migration, you might ask yourself? Apparently, each spring, our best and our brightest are overcome with an urge to venture off to some tropical destination so that they may practice hedonism on a scale that would make a Roman blush.
I sometimes look back nostalgically on my own hedonistic journeys south. The nights of ecstatic and feverish coupling with scantily clad coeds who, for one week only, had cast off all pretense of moral obligation. Waking up the next morning or afternoon to the breakfast delights of day old pizza and ice-cold Budweiser. Oh, those were the good old days.
Those would have been the good old days if I had actually gotten to participate in this heralded spring ritual, but unfortunately for me, I did not.
During my many years at university, the thought of traveling hundreds of miles to be a heathen for one week really did not appeal to me very much. I was a heathen every week. Spring break actually offered a much-deserved week off from drinking and womanizing. I could actually be alone with my thoughts and do things I never got a chance to do during the regular year like studying.
No, the time in my life when I most wanted to break out was my senior year in high school. This was the time when I was living under the oppressive rule of my parents and needed a carnival to repair my much-injured spirit.
I first became aware of the full delinquent potential of spring break when I was a fearful little freshman. I was "hanging out" in the student lounge with these two guys who, at the time, I thought were gods. As I look back on it now, I realize they were only seniors in high school. It's funny how no matter how old you get those guys will always be older and wiser than you ever could be. Anyway, I quietly sat in the farthest, darkest corner of the room so I could listen in on their conversation and remain unbeaten at the same time.
"Hardy finally got laid for the first time," one of the gods said as if he were talking about the weather.
"You're kidding." The other god responded nonchalantly.
"Yeah. By two chicks at once!"
"No kidding. That's awesome!"
"So, how was your trip?" The first god inquired.
"Great! I drank over two gallons of beer in one night and didn't pass out."
"What about yours?" The second god asked.
"Really great! This one night, a bunch of us were swimming at the pool, and then some girl pulled off my suit and . . . well, you know, one thing led to another and we all ended up . . .."
I couldn't listen to the rest of that story for all the blood rushing from my brain.
"I must go on this 'Spring Break!'" I exclaimed to myself. "I want to drink three gallons of beer and lose my virginity over and over and over and over!"
Well, a couple of years passed and I too was promoted to a god. I didn't feel very much like a god, but I wanted to have all the laurels befitting a god anyway. I wanted to journey to the Ithaca of the modern world. I wanted to go to Ft. Lauderdale Beach on "Spring Break."
So, I went to my dad to lay down an ultimatum.
"Dad, a few of my good, upstanding friends from school would like to take an educational trip to Florida this spring break. Do you think I might be able to join them for this spiritually uplifting journey?" I asked while striking my best estimation of an apostolic pose.
"No, son," my father said as he scooped up the remains of his newspaper and sauntered out of the room. My father is a man of very few words.
So picture this, it's the Thursday afternoon of the final spring break of my high school years. I am shoveling chicken shit into a wheel barrel when my father's red pickup truck pulls into the driveway.
"Go throw some things into a bag, we need to hit the road." my father said hurriedly.
"Where are we going?" I asked as I ran back to the house.
"Hollywood, Florida," my father said.
"Oh my God! Hollywood! That's a only a few miles south of Ft. Lauderdale." I thought to myself. "Could my father have finally seen the error of his ways?"
"We need to repossess a truck," my father expounded.
"Huh!" I responded with what must have been a dumb, contorted look upon my face.
My father simply looked back at me with his trademarked expression of "I already told you once, if I have to tell you again, you're gonna' get slapped."
My father's business was manufacturing truck bodies. Sometimes, people failed to pay and my father would have to go get the truck.
So, let us fast forward to twelve hours later. I am driving eighty miles an hour down the Florida Turnpike with the window rolled down, music cranked up, salt-water air blowing through my hair, and my father snoring away in the passenger seat. I pretended that I was heading towards the biggest beach party on earth: girls clawing at me, friends pouring cocktails down my throat, and me, absolutely powerless to stop it. When I finally awoke from my dream, I realized that I had been asleep for the last eighty miles!
I sat up straight, slapped myself around a little, and lit a cigarette.
I wasn't terribly over concerned by my condition. I was the best sleep-driver I knew. I drove forty miles to school every morning, and most days I had no recollection of ever doing it. One morning, a friend of mine, who had to make the same drive, was passing me on the way to school. He looked over and honked the horn to get my attention and found me fast asleep, head on my chest, drool dripping from the corner of my mouth, and still driving forty miles per hour in the middle of rush hour traffic. To this day, he says it's the craziest thing he has ever seen.
At 5:30 a.m., with the sun breaking over the Atlantic Ocean, my father and I arrived in Hollywood. My dad had the address given to him by the private detective and a key made by the truck manufacturer. We navigated the industrial section of town and found the truck parked exactly where the P.I. said it would be. My dad held out a hand with the key.
"Oh, no you don't," I said with panic in my voice. "It's your truck, you go get it!"
My father just gave me that look again.
"Damn it, Dad!" I said as I grabbed the key and climbed out of the pick-up truck.
"Try to be quiet," my dad added as I walked away. "A lot of times these guys have guns."
"Thanks for the tip!"
I quickly tip toed across the street to the truck and proceeded to unlock the door, all the time, keeping my head on a swivel for a pissed off truck owner with a gun. I managed to get inside and insert the key into the ignition. I turned the key to find the truck won't start. It just made that loud, screeching sound of an engine trying to turn over when it can't. I looked over to my father for some assistance and he simply put his finger to his mouth and signaled for me to hush!
"Damn it!" I screamed out as sweat poured off my face. I turned the key again and it still wouldn't start. "Jesus!" I frantically looked around to see if an angry assassin was coming my way. The street was completely deserted except for this older man sitting in a red pick-up doing absolutely nothing to help his son. I took a deep breath, offered up a prayer to God, and turned the key.
I quickly threw it into gear and tore out of that street as fast as I could. When my father finally caught up to me I was ten miles away and completely lost.
"Jesus, dad!" I screamed as I jumped out of the truck. "Do you think you can throw a guy a hand when he's about to get shot!"
"I had a gun." My dad shot back.
My father's confession was so incredible and so completely irrelevant that I couldn't think of a worthy response. I just threw my hands in the air, uttered a sound of total exasperation, and stomped off.
With my clothes soaked with sweat, I helped my father load the pick-up into the back of the moving van. We both climbed in and headed north. I was driving again on Interstate 95 when I saw the exit sign for Ft. Lauderdale Beach. My father was asleep again in the passenger seat when the truck just steered itself off the highway. We were in a beach parking lot when my father awoke.
"Where the hell are we?" He asked as he groggily looked around.
"Ft. Lauderdale Beach," I said firmly.
"What? He asked as he sat up. "Why?"
"Because I am going to have a spring break even if it's only for thirty minutes, damn it!"
I must have made my point because my dad said absolutely nothing. He just laid his head back, pushed his baseball cap forward to shield his face from the sun, and closed his eyes.
I climbed out of the truck and started walking towards the ocean. The smell of salt water filled my body with excitement. I have always loved the ocean. The sound of the waves striking the shore soothes me in a way that nothing else can. The sounds and smells somehow hearken back to something primitive and fundamental to being human. I always feel like I am home.
I pulled off my sweaty shirt, took off my shoes and socks, and rolled up my pant legs as far as I could. Van Halen's Beautiful Girls was blasting from a car full of screaming chicks who were cruising the beach. I smiled. They smiled back as they moved passed me in slow motion. As they disappeared into the ocean of cars, I suddenly became aware that I didn't belong here. I was merely a transient crashing the party for a quick beer.
I continued onward to the beach, found a suitable spot, and dug my toes into the sand. I let my head fall back and the sun's warmth penetrated deep into the skin on my face.
I opened my eyes to see a couple of guys my age laughing and throwing Frisbee amongst the waves. Gorgeous young girls in bikinis bathing in the warm spring sun. Airplanes flying overhead pulling huge banners advertising the hottest clubs in town.
My mind wandered to what could have been. Where were my friends? What stories would they have to tell? What adventures would I have had? I could only shake my head in wonderment. I stood up and slowly walked back to the truck, climbed in, and started it up. I drove back to the interstate and headed north towards home.
A day to pay or be paid. A day to break even or even to be broke. A day on which the post office is open until one, but only one person works there.
A day of silly scribbles and deductions and lies. A day of numbers, forms, papers, and lines. A day of Federal poppycock and outrageous bribes.
Ernest did his taxes in January, although he knew he owed. He believed in the state and its way of business and thought himself a champion amongst citizens. But, alas, tax day did pass and an auditor called. He wanted to check poor Ernie's books so they scheduled the date.
Kyle put it off 'til April 15. He had money a-flowin' down low. Location to be exact: near the table, but underneath. He had seventeen workers, all Mexican, he called slaves.
A young lass called Brenda did waitress with pomp. Her father pampered and prepared her papers for the IRS while she smoked half a pack of Kools with the gals from the shop.
Poor Stu, a man of extraordinary taste, is relegated to writing tax day-themed waste. He gets paid in hot dogs, Kool-Aid, nickels and dimes while the Pork Pony staff eats steak, couscous, and sips fine wine.
When I first met Kendall in college, it amused me to learn that he owned a funnel that doubled as an ordained minister. This was the funnel's secondary duty; it's primary: aid in supplying alcohol, specifically vodka, to college folk. Kendall reminisces about the long-gone days of one Reverend Vodka Funnel. (CL)
Weaver wrote two Time Canyons, this one and another that involves nunchucks. I honestly forgot how good this one was. Weaver and I talked seriously for a while about pitching Time Canyon as a TV show, but soon realized just how hard it was to write a good story about the Canyon. One episode idea Weaver imagined didn't even deal with time travel; instead, it covered an Evil Knievel-type stunt man jupming the Canyon on his motorcycle. If only TV could be so entertaining. (CL)
There isn't much to say about this film. It's Kevin Smith, it's very self aware, and it has a five minute long set up for a fart joke. If you can appreciate that, then your Citizen Kane has finally arrived. For added enjoyment, see it with your parents and watch them weep for your soul. On a scale of 1 to Club 11, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back gets a 7. Bong!
Dear reader, if you're anything like me, you love to prowl the library. I can spend hours upon hours amongst the stacks of musty books. Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress systems, I've mastered both of them. The library is my playground and the shelves, sections, and card catalogs are my sliding-boards, swing-sets, and jungle gym. It disheartens me, I must say to look upon the current state of the library system. Card catalogs are becoming digital, run on computers. The books are torn and the dreaded lot of you would rather drink your latte at the "pay library" known as Barnes and Noble than give the community a bit of money to restore one of our greatest public resources. And worst of all, librarians are getting smaller and mousier.
When I was a boy, librarians were a rugged bunch of women. Strong shoulders from hoisting books, strong minds from reading the same, these ladies were the apple of every Chaucer-reading lad's eye. When these husky Helgas would strut down the aisles of my local library in Massachusetts, I had to do everything in my power to keep myself from following their sacred, muscular rumps. On the few occasions during which I lost control and either stared or accidentally touched, these librarian lasses would administer the naughtiest slap to my own behind. I say, I liked the pain!
Now we only have weak, atrophied mice women. Glasses weighing their faces down, machines and immigrant workers filing the books, they've become naught but heady waifs. They sullenly move about, answering questions and the getting out of the way. They browse the Internet and strain their eyes while searching their databases. In essence, these women are about as appealing as a room full of Pork Pony writers.
My place of employment is filled with a bunch of louts and my playground, the library, has become a place for the homely and frail to sulk.
Frog, a photographer in east-central Pennsylvania, sent us these photos back in 2002. A giant Polish man plays the role of our Lord and Saviour in an Easter celebration, proving once again just how strange the anthracite coal region is. - CL
Among the Nuts is another one of my favorite stories in the Pork Pony canon. I realize Kornblatt will probably hate me for writing this, but he's among the most comedically-gifted people I know. This is his telling of a nut salesman's story. (CL)
Since I can't bring myself to pay $9 to see Blade II, I'm going to begin renting movies that I might actually enjoy reviewing. Hopefully, these intermittent older reviews will help us all get through another long summer of crappy movies.
The first movie that I rented was Magnolia, a film that shakes the Club 11 rating to it's core. I want to give it a "9" because it's extremely well-done. The acting, directing, cinematography, and comedic timing are all phenomenal. With the exception of the character relation between the little boy and his father, I felt that this movie was flawless in it's execution. However, I also want to give Magnolia the first Club 11 "0" because it is absolutely pointless. People are dying, abused, and unhappy, and we get to watch for three hours. Surprisingly, it's not as much fun as it sounds.
For whom was this movie made? If you don't already know that horrible things happen in this world that affect the way people act, then chances are that you're not bright enough to tie your shoes, let alone appreciate this style of filmmaking. Strap on your protective helmet, put your head on your desk, and check out for the next 30 years because you are a moron. Also, if you are an intelligent person who enjoys spending three hours basking in the misery of those who have been subjected to a lifetime of abuse, then you too should wear a helmet. This will help to protect you from the thorough beating that you so very much deserve.
Ultimately, Magnolia proves my theory that some art is just stupid. After watching this film, Blade II is actually starting to sound pretty good. On a scale of 1 to Club 11, Magnolia is pointless.
As winter fades away, a distant memory, its last flakes of snow glisten for they have been melted by the golden sun and are now drops dew beaded on blades of grass. Tadpoles who have recently garnered legs rush to land and join together in a chorus of peeps. Longer days strangle the night and elation absorbs one lad's mind.
This dandy we shall follow, for he is of great import to the remainder of this story. He is a man of letters, a refined chap, the kind who tips the shoeshine boy a dime on each morn. Hermetic and dedicated in his work, adventurous and curious in his play, our lad drinks the Spring! The smell of the flowers and their pollen is like God's breath to him. Trees painted amber with the glow of the sunset are pillars illuminated by the light of heaven. Our boy is life!
The dandy fears not frolicking. Skipping from one destination to the next, he'd paint the streets pastel if he could. The soft pale colors would warm the city streets and all would praise the lad and gambol behind him. Arias echo in alleyways as our boy passes through them, his smooth tenor a perfect compliment to this spring morning. A quaint house lies ahead. "Alas, my fair Clarisse," the dandy exclaims as he dances toward the doorstep of his favorite lass.
Does our lad care that the fair Clarisse is a bit taller than he? Nay. Is it of his concern that she is a bit brawny? Nay, he loves her the same. She peeks out the door as the boy approaches. Her shoulders (which are, admittedly, a bit broad for a feminine frame) are bare and her body is wrapped in a pale pink dress. The dandy's heart leaps as he espies her. "She is the prettiest of flowers," he thinks, "and the thorns on this rose only make it prettier."
"Have you come for our walk?" the lass inquires.
"Why yes, are you ready to bask in the joy that is April?" our lad adjusts his cravat.
"My body is ready to appreciate the beauty of the Earth's vernal state. Shall we?"
With a smart nod, the dandy moves toward his love, who kneels down next to him. The boy climbs atop her sturdy shoulders and, with muscular strides, the lass carries him away, the pair singing the sweetest springtime harmonies.