Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Cotton candy & human sacrifice

When I was a wee lad, knee-high to a grasshopper, I went to a Sunday-school summer camp. Each night they would get the whole camp together & do church know, singing & praying, & there were these youth pastors who tried to make scripture fun & exciting for us, with varying degrees of success. Some of them tried to scare us away from the path of temptation, too. One fellow explained to us, with the assistance of a slideshow, that while AC/DC & Led Zeppelin were about as Satanic as ham on rye, British rockers Venom were devout devil-worshippers hellbent on recruiting followers through their music. Imagine my disappointment years later, when I went out & bought Venom's "Cast in Stone" anthology, only to discover that they were in fact very close to a carbon copy of Spinal Tap. I guess anthologies don't realy do an album justice, as a concept. But I digress. One guy at these little meetings stood out above the others. He was determined to put the fear of God into us brats...or should I say the fear of Satan.

He told us a story about how once he was preaching a sermon to a similar group of tykes, about how reprehensible this Lucifer fellow really was, & was about to really break through & get the message across, when the door to the church suddenly slammed shut, breaking everyone's concentration & pretty much disrupting the momentum of his lecture. It was only later, he told us, that a friend came up to him & said that he'd been near the flagpole out front, & could see that there was NO WIND blowing at the time. Boogedy!!! So the Prince of Darkness, on top of everything else, is remarkably inconsiderate.

Well that was just the chips & salsa before the fajita plate; his next story was something that I still think about, twenty years later. Years ago, there was an amusement park in Long Beach called The Pike. It's been shut down, bulldozed, & built on now, but back in the day it was considered "the Coney Island of the West". Apparently, this guy & some buddies decided to spend an evening at The Pike, not realizing the horror that awaited them.

First of all, as soon as they walked through the front gates, this guy immediately got a terrible, terrible headache. He wrote it off as a coincidence, but after spending some time taking in the sights, he came to an eerie realization. "Hey," he whispered to one of his friends. "Have you noticed that all the employees here.....don't blink?" It was true. The guy who sold tickets for the ferris wheel, the Hot-Dog-On-A-Stick girl, the carnies working the shooting galleries & ring-toss, even the animal handlers at the petting-zoo...none of them were blinking, at all, ever. It really gave this guy & his friends the creeps. The rides were kinda spooky, too...he remembered one roller coaster in particular that had a horror-movie sort of theme. At certain parts of the ride, mannequins dressed as monsters would spring out of the walls on the side of the track, & for some reason it scared him more than a goofy haunted-house ride should.

Well, it was no surprise that this dude's headache went away the second he left The Pike. And it was only years later, after the park was closed, that he was made aware of a sinister truth: the entire operation, he discovered, was run by a Satanic cult. The employees were all members, branwashed by the the Devil's unholy power. And...ready for this?...the mannequins on the haunted-house ride were REAL CORPSES that had been murdered by the cult, then callously recycled as stage props.

Now, I don;t know about you, but that sounds like an amazing place to spend a Saturday night! Sure beats Disneyland. Of course, I haven't been to "the happiest place on Earth" since before I went to that freakin' summer-camp. Maybe things have changed. But as evil as Walt Disney was, I don't know if he could compete with something that cool. Some things you just can't fake.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Career Opportunities

Yes, it's true...I work in the entertainment industry. While I oh so slowly work my way towards making a career out of private investigation, I've paid the bills for the last few years by helping rot the collective minds of America. When you're sitting around watching some lame-ass movie on TV becase there's nothing else to do in your God-forsaken town, you can thank me for being one in a series of middlemen who helped today's tepid, bland programming reach the drooling masses. Man, for someone who watches as much TV as I do, I sure am hard on myself! It's hard to explain the buzzkill one feels when you see your work, which already can't stand, being broadcast on that beloved medium. Well, I just tell myself that I watch the good stuff, not the steaming piles of crap I deal with at work...

-Rockford Files re-runs
-Going Tribal
-Dog the Bounty Hunter
-The Shield
-The Ultimate Fighter
-Miami Ink
-Arrested Development
-Columbo, baby! Monday & Friday nights.

Now that's good stuff. Anyways, on those days when my job seems like karmic punishment from a Caligulan past life, I think of the other means of employment I've weathered, for substantially less pay. It kind of, you know, puts things in perspective.

Now let's see...

Repossessing cars; I got paid $25 for every car I picked up, & $15 for every trip returning cars to the dealership in Fontana. What did I learn? Well, besides how to steal car stereos, I learned how to break into locked garages, how to climb barbed-wire fences, how to deactivate car alarms, how to sneak into gated communities, how to sneak into parking lots with electronically-activated gates, & how to deal with watchdogs. Ironically, I learned very little about stealing cars.

Working in a poster-bootlegging warehouse; before there was Napster, there were small companies that counterfeited posters & stickers. You know when you go to an independent record store & they have all thos goofy posters of goofy bands & goofy movies all over the place, & all those goofy stickers under the glass counter? They pay pennies on the dollar by ordering fake stuff in bulk. $6 an hour to pack & ship "Reservoir Dogs" & Limp Bizkit posters all day, out of a gutted office space near MacArthur Park. What did I learn? Be respectful to the local gang members but be sure to look them in the eye when you walk past them, & they most likely won't hassle you. Also, police may think you shoot heroin if you have tattoos on the insides of your arms. Good times!

Working in an porno theater; no, you perverts, I charged admission & changed the tapes in the projector between movies. $7 an hour isn't much, but they actually paid for meals on duty since we were stuck there for our entire shifts. Plus if we worked the closing shift they would pay for cabfare home. What did I learn? Don't get a job working in a porno theater, it'll lower your opnion of your fellow man.

Working in a bar/punk-rock club; $40 a night & free beer is actually a good deal, but hard to make a living doing 2-3 night a week. What did I learn? There're a lot of awful bands out there. I guess there're a few good ones too. Oh yeah, I also learned the right way to pour a beer, which is a skill I've used more in my day-to-day life than any others listed here.

Conclusion: I need to be self-employed. At least then, I won't have an excuse to bitch about my lame-ass job, right? Right.