Wednesday, September 27, 2006

There is Nothing Funny About a Root Canal

Guess who had a root canal today. Go on, guess.

Already, I am tired of this game. It was I, Storchy, who had a root canal today. Probably lots of other folks had root canals today, too, but I don’t care about any of those bozos. This installment is about me and my root canal, and if any of you chuckleheads out there want to cry like whiny little sissy-babies about your root canals, you can go and get your own goddamn blog. Now, get outta here. Go on, beat it.

Due to my keenly developed ability to maintain my composure under even the most trying of circumstances, you probably haven’t noticed that today’s ordeal has made me a bit peevish. Though my time in the chair today was not the reenactment of Marathon Man's dental torture scene that I imagined it would be, neither was it the equivalent of an herbal facial. Unless herbal facials involve needles, and drills, and unpleasant grinding noises. Which they well might. As I have never had an herbal facial, I probably wouldn’t know one if it poked me in the eye. Eye-poking, come to think of it, might well be an integral part of the herbal facial and I wouldn’t know it. Really, the whole herbal facial thing was a just crappy analogy, and I wish you’d all just stop harping on it. I have never claimed to be an expert in flowery wordsmithery, nor am I a clown for your amusement.

While the peevishness dissipates even as I type, I feel that today’s root canal experience has permanently and drastically altered my worldview in countless ways, not the least of which include the following:

1. I would NOT rather get a root canal than sit through the Broadway musical, Cats.

2. I would NOT rather get a root canal than listen to a Joan Baez record.

3. I would NOT rather get a root canal than watch an episode of Third Rock.

4. A root canal is NOT more pleasant than a poison ivy rash on my ass.

5. A root canal is NOT more fun or interesting than Statistics 151.

My shifts of position on some other matters were not as extreme. For instance, I used to think that having a root canal would be far more pleasant than listening to small children singing or playing wind instruments. Now feel that it’s six of one, and a half-dozen of the other.

Much to my surprise, there was relatively little pain involved in the root canal process. They shoot you up full of Novacaine so all you feel is a fat numbness in your face that makes you wonder idly whether you’d have a chance at being cast as Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man.

What gets you is the noise.


The dentistry noises suck ass. I tried all manner of tricks to block them out. Initially I attempted to focus on Dr. Furst’s humming. He has a nice little hum. He started by humming When the Saints Go Marching In. That was swell. Then he began humming Speak Softly Love (the Theme From The Godfather). This, I found disturbing. Later, as he got more into his work, he started combining the two songs into one, which was both disturbing and confusing and left me focusing on the familiar drill noise for comfort. This would not do.

So, as the drilling progressed, I retreated into my head. I searched for a comfort song. Unfortunately, the first one I thought of was The House of Love, a song by Squeeze, which features an electric carving knife sound effect between verses. You’d be surprised by how much an electric carving knife can sound like a dentist drill under the right circumstances.

After considering and rejecting several songs by the rocque-and-rolle noblemen, The Upper Crust, I settled on Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Taxi. It’s an innocuous song just pleasant enough to be distracting, while allowing the dental tool noises to work with it, rather than against it, in the background. Once I’d settled into Tijuana Taxi, my toes were a-tappin’ while my fists were a-clenchin’.

Still, I feel strongly that the dental tool noise issue is one in serious need of attention. I know that all sorts of dentists out there are putting headphones on their patients in effort to drown out the drill noises with music. I actually tried this once, and found it quite stressful. I fretted that the dentist would say something like, “Whatever you do, don’t swallow right now,” but then I wouldn’t hear him because I was getting down to Loose Booty by Funkadelic, and I’d end up with one of those bendy mirrors and a latex glove in my gullet.

If it were up to me (which it seldom is for reasons that I cannot fathom), I’d change the noises that the tools themselves make. And I’m not talking about wimpy little tweaks, such as making their foul noises quieter. What I have in mind is something more along the lines of a Total Noise Overhaul.

I came up with the concept of the Total Noise Overhaul right after I’d realized that I could calculate the square footage of the root canal room by counting the 2-foot ceiling tiles and doing a little multiplication. The size of the room is neither here nor there, but I was just proud that I’d found an unexpected practical application for math.

After I’d determined that the root canal room measured 110 square feet, I thought of an idea that would revolutionize modern dentistry. I mean, what if root canals could be funny?

I started trying to think of things that make me laugh. You know what makes me laugh? People getting hit on the head with a plank. That’s a friggin’ laugh-riot. But I dismissed this idea once I realized that a few folks might associate pain with getting hit on the head, and associate that pain with dentistry, which would be bad. I am not a sadistic monster, after all.

Back to the drawing board. After a bit more ruminating, I said to myself, “Self? You know what else is funny? Farts are funny.”

It’s true. Farts are like the comedy Esperanto of bodily functions. I’ve seen enough foreign films to know that everyone in the whole world thinks that farts are HI-larious. In fact, it would not surprise me if Mel Gibson were to switch it up with a comedy next time that was done all in Fart, with subtitles.

So, that would be one option. Instead of the dental drill going, “ZZZZzzzzZZZZZTTT! SQWEEEEEEEEEEEE! SCRONCH! SCRT! SCRT! SCRT! VVVVZZZZZRRRrrrREET!” it could instead make rude fart noises. This would help patients to keep their mouths open wide, what with the laughing and all. It would also discourage them from swallowing at inappropriate times, thereby preventing the ingestion of bendy mirrors and latex gloves. That idea is a keeper.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I have another idea that I think is absolutely brilliant. Instead of trying to mask the foul drill noise with music played through headphones, why not design a drill that makes a pleasing musical sound as it’s working? After much consideration, I’ve decided that the instrumental intro to Georgy Girl, by The Seekers, would be ideal for this purpose. I mean, who could possibly be annoyed by the sound of those first few, perky measures being played over and over and over again as their teeth were getting bored out? No one that I can think of. Certainly not I.

Well, there you have it. I, Storchy, went to the dentist and took one for the team. But I did not sit passively in the chair while a complete stranger drilled holes in my head. Instead, I made the most of my time, devising a plan that will make the world a better place for Everyman. I encourage all of you potential root canal candidates out there to do the same, because nobody likes a whiny little sissy-baby.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Eight Wonders of the Ancient World

Thousands of years from now, I believe the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" list will have been revised thusly:

The Eight Wonders of the Ancient World

1. The Great Pyramid of Giza
2. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
3. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
4. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
5. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
6. The Colossus of Rhodes
7. The Lighthouse of Alexandria
8. The Abandoned-Refrigerator-With-the-Door-Off of Butner

Somewhere in Butner, there’s a refrigerator lying on the side of the road. Some dumbasses needed to unload the thing and were too lazy to take it to the dump, so they just said “This-here’s a good spot” and they flung it into the ditch for the deer to bang their shins on, and to fake out any possums looking for large metal objects to flatten themselves with.

Now, this in itself is unremarkable. Dumbasses do stupid crap like this all the time. The “wondrous” part of this particular choice in dumbass ditch design is that these dumbasses had the presence of mind to take the door off, so that little tow-headed Billy-Jimbo, skipping along the highway in his knee-breeches, wouldn’t climb into it, shut the door, and smother to death while dreaming of sugarplums and fatback biscuits.

The abandoned-fridge-with-the-door-off phenomenon presents something of a conundrum, as it displays equal parts imbecility and intelligence on the part of the Goobers what left it in the ditch. If it never occurred to them that there might possibly be something wrong with flinging an appliance into a ditch and leaving it there, what made them go all publicly-aware and do-goodery on the fridge door issue?

I have a theory, and that theory is . . . television. Think about it. Where do dumbasses learn literary quotes such as “git-r-done” and philosophical puzzlers like “Where’s the beef?” Why, television, of course. Television.

Remember Bert the Duck-and-Cover Turtle? I don’t, but I can sing the whole damned “Duck and Cover” song for you.

There was a turtle by the name of Bert
And Bert the turtle was very alert
When danger threatened him he never got hurt
He knew just what to do!

He’d duck. . . *Fwooshhhht!* . . . and cover!
Duck . . .
*Fwooshhhht!* . . . and cover!

He did what we all must learn to do
You and you and you and you

Duck . . .
*Fwooshhhht!* . . . and cover!

That there’s an effective ad campaign for you. Why, I’d like to crawl under a desk right now. So, here’s what I figure. Somewhere in the deep recesses of Goober A and Goober B’s collective brain, lay the residual teachings of an old TV public service campaign reminding folks to remove fridge doors before abandoning them on the side of the road. I believe it went something like this:

If you’ve got a fridge to ditch
and you like kids
and you don’t want them to smother

Then pay some attention to this good advice
and you’ll help out someone’s mother!

Before-you-take-off . . . *Vvvvvvrrroooom!* . . . take the door off!
Before-you-take-off. . .
*Vvvvvvrrroooom!* . . . take the door off!

A Norge can look like a lot of fun
To a tyke who’s too young to own a gun

Before-you-take-off . . .
*Vvvvvvrrroooom!* . . . take the door off!

Alas, “Take-The-Door-Off”’s follow-up campaign, “Don’t-Leave-Your-Crap-On-the-Side-of-the-Road”, didn’t generate the financial backing it needed, and therefore ended up with an inferior jingle that did not win the hearts and minds of all the Goober Q. Smiths out there.

Don’t leave your crap on the side of the road
on the side of the road-ode-ode!

Don’t leave your crap on the side of the road
on the side of the road-ode-ode!

Don’t leave your crap on the side of the road
on the side of the road-ode-ode!

What a flaming turd of a campaign that was. It actually prompted folks to leave junk on the side of the road just to spite the irreparably jaded writers.

Now that I’ve worked out this little mystery, it’s my duty to perform a public service of my own. In the distant future, a team of archaeologists tramping through the forests of Butner will trip over an abandoned fridge with the door off. They, as I once did, will scratch their heads in befuddlement until they find a printed copy of this blog installment taped inside the left-hand drawer of the vegetable crisper. After unanimously agreeing to revise the Seven Wonders of the World list, they will likely feel overcome with the urge to crawl under a desk. They might even feel compelled to leave some crap on the side of the road. But they will never, ever abandon a fridge in a ditch without first removing the door.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Rock and Roll is Sometimes Quite Possibly Noise Pollution

So, the other day I'm driving to school and listening to this great '60s pop compilation that my friend Jeff Hart (Hi, Jeff!) let me borrow. First I'm breezing along to the "Theme from 'The Avengers'". Then the Kingsmen's raw, garage-y version of "Little Latin Lupe Lu" comes on and I'm digging that, too. So, when "Ridin' on the L & N" kicks in, I'm feeling giddy as all get-out. I'd never heard this one before. It's a gritty, rockin' little blues shuffle, sung by a guy who's doing a spot-on imitation of Mick Jagger. Think "Let It Bleed", but peppier and not as polished. When I get to the next stoplight, I check the track listing to be sure that I'm not listening to some great lost Stones' track.

"Bintangs?" says I. "Never heard of 'em."

At this point I'm about a third of the way through the song and realize I haven't been giving it my full attention. I bounce back to the beginning so I can wallow in the muddy rockin'ness without distraction.

It starts off strong with a couple of quick snare-and-cymbal crashes and some harmonica blasts over the top of it. Oh yeahhhh. In my mind's eye, my new Toyota Matrix has just morphed into a 1967 Pontiac GTO convertible. I slouch back in the driver's seat with one hand draped casually across the 12 o'clock position on the steering wheel. Then Pseudo Mick Jagger Guy starts a-snarlin':

Round the bend came the L & N
Loaded down with a lotta men . . .

Then there's a couple of lines that are more or less unintelligible except for the phrase "throw the switch", and now it's time for the chorus. . .

Ridin' . . . ridin' on the L & N
Hitchhikin' . . . I'll be ridin' on the L & N . . .

Aaaah! It's a tribute to the grand old hobo tradition of train-hopping. This song just keeps getting better and better. I'd been feeling a little uneasy about those lyrics I couldn't make out, but I can now assume that they related to highly technical aspects of the freight train's inner cogs that I'd never have been able to wrap my tiny pea brain around anyhow. I am relieved, and resume grooving to the rock and roll music with an unclouded brain. It is good.

Just then, someone cuts me off without signaling. "Ha-HA! Bully for you and your devil-may-care approach to driving!" I cry. "Carry on, my good fellow, and Godspeed!" This is how much the rock and roll music affects me.

I've missed a few lines, which (I will learn later) introduce Quinn, the train's engineer, whose ability to stretch his forename into a rhyme with "L & N" and "bend" obviously made him a shoe-in for the job. With that bit of exposition out of the way, it's back to the chorus. . .

Ridin' . . . ridin' on the L & N
Hitchhikin' . . . I'll be ridin' on the L & N . . .

We've reached the part of the song that's a natural breaking point for a solo. I have a two-handed white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel while the harp player pipes in for a couple of measures. He is no doubt warming up for what is about to be a crankin', testosterone-drenched, nut-busting, ass-shakin', balls-out thrill-ride of a --

flute solo? Christ on Acme springs.

My tires catch the outer edge of the asphalt. I drop into the shoulder and kick up gravel for about 30 feet, until I get a grip and yank the car (a Toyota Matrix once again) back onto the road.

Meanwhile, Flute Guy is still blowing on his friggin' pipe. You can hear the spit flying everywhere. He's gasping and wheezing like an asthmatic Trekkie after an extended swirlie. Through the smoky haze of my brain, I can just make out Flute Guy's band-mates behind him, jamming and chin-jutting to the blues groove. A hairy fellow with sweat rings under his man-boobs shoots them a confident thumbs-up through the sound-proof window of a mixing booth. Everyone is feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, thinking that the rock-and-roll flute solo is a pretty swell idea. Yeah. All riiight.

But it wasn't a good idea. It is never a good idea. You know that Ian Anderson guy from the Jethro Tull band? It wasn't a good idea when he did it either. It was a terrible idea, with the flute, and the tall boots, and the Pan stance, and those wretched plum smugglers. A terrible, terrible, awful idea.

Well, after the flute solo, the rest of the song is kind of a blur. There's some guy who's sleeping on a pile of clothes, and a doctor, and some more words that rhyme and blah-blah-blah. Whatever. I am numb. I sleepwalk through my classes. On the way home I turn to the right side of the FM radio dial for comfort. I sing along. "I've got a peacefuuuuul, easy feeeeelin'. . . ."

But that is a lie. I am tormented by the rock-and-roll flute solo. I feel compelled to learn more about The Bintangs, these men who lifted my spirits to staggering heights only to dump them onto a concrete slab and send a 500-lb. safe screaming down after.

I do a quick Internet search when I get home. The All-Music Guide is a dead end. I search Google and hit pay-dirt:

"The Bintangs Website. . . Bintangs, the leading Rhythm and blues band of the Netherlands."

I click on the link and prepare to learn all there is to know about The Bintangs, these men whose rock-and-roll flute stylings nearly ran me off the road. The next thing I see is this:

"Welkom op de Bintangs website

Ontdek de wereld van de Bintangs

Hartelijk welkom bij de Bintangs, we hebben meer dan 85 pagina's met informatie uit heden en verleden voor u samengesteld over Frank Kraaijeveld, Jan Wijte, Maarten Ibelings, Gerben Ibelings en Dagomar Jansen. En natuurlijk ook info over oud Bintangs. . . ."

Darned if these rock-and-roll flautists aren't crafty little buggers. It's in code! But in the bottom left-hand corner of the page is a photo of a fellow with his lips puckered over a flute. It appears as if he might once have been a young guy in the '60s. Oh, I'm on the right track all right.

So, I find a Bintangs page that is written in English. I learn that The Bintangs were very popular in the Netherlands in the '60s. The band had a revolving door of guitarists, drummers and keyboardists, all of whom were no doubt driven mad by the adjacent revolving door of rock-and-roll flautists. They recorded songs by Muddy Waters, Brownie McGhee, Willie Dixon, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Bo Diddley.

Frankly, that's a lot more than I ever expected to learn about the Bintangs, but there's still one nagging question to be answered. Just how in the hell high do you have to be to take a classic blues song, stick a flute solo in it, and decide that it sounds pretty damn good to you?

As I ponder this question, I put in another disc of that '60s collection. It starts with a poppy little Kaleidoscope song. . .

Jenny Artichoke lived in a boat
Down by the sea with a baby
And she didn't know much about anything
But she was oh so nice to me . . .

Now that's a song. I'm feeling better already. . . .

Jenny Artichoke lived in a boat dressed like a queen
You should have seen
And she didn't care much about anyone
But she was oh so nice to me. . .

You know . . . maybe the Bintangs aren't such bad guys after all. Maybe the rock-and-roll flute is just a cultural thing I'll never understand, like mint sauce or ladies' armpit hair.

Jenny! Climbing up her flagpole!
Jenny! Looking through her porthole!

Yeah, that's probably it. I mean, who am I to get down on folks who are just trying to express their culture and originality through song? Man, I'm kind of an asshole. So, bully for you, Bintangs, and your devil-may-care approach to blues music! Carry on, my good fellows, and Godspeed!

Jenny! With her hair on fire!
How could anyone ever pass by her?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My New Cyber-Buddies

I am a creature of habit. Every morning I peel myself out of bed around 10 or so, shuffle downstairs to get coffee, and drag my tired ass back upstairs to check my email. As I am resistant to any change that upsets my morning routine, it is always a relief to find that my inbox contains messages from yet another batch of folks who are eager to make my acquaintance. I love making new friends. So much so, in fact, that I have made a list to honor the nice new cyber-buddies I've made over the past few weeks:

Constable L. Kitchen
Designation S. Hooker
Dinette B. Compress
Foxhounds E. Convention
Godly E. Constipating
Hellenistic U. Scarabs
Pelvis L. Porter
Remington R. Dysfunctions
Roommate H. Lighters

I apologize if I've left anyone out. I have been quite touched by the outpouring of support and advice these kind people have given me.

For example, my friend Dinette B. Compress has just explained how I can increase my sperm volume by 500%. While it is certainly nice to have this option open to me, it is one that I have chosen not to pursue. I am not particularly coordinated or athletic, and I doubt that I could handle such an unwieldy load without putting innocent bystanders at risk. My life is complicated enough without having a bunch of one-eyed victims of my ineptitude weighing heavily on my conscience. But thanks just the same to Dinette (is that a family name?), whose unshakable faith in my abilities never fails to bring a joyful tear to my eye.

One of my other new friends, Remington R. Dysfunctions, has slipped me an insider tip about a "Sen'sationall revoolution in m'edic'ine" that would enable me to "E'n'l'a'r'g'e [my] p"enis up to 10 cm or up to 4 in'ches!" It took me a little while to get used to Remington's thick, Eastern European accent, but once I'd absorbed the gist of his message I was quite excited by the news. I'd previously thought that an appendage enlargement this dramatic could only occur as the result of a poisonous reptile bite or scorpion sting. I'm pretty happy with the plumbing I have now, but if I ever acquire a penis that I'd like enlarged another 4 inches or so, it'll be nice to know that I can do this without the intervention of Poison Control. Thanks, Remy!

Looking back at my list of new friends, I've just noticed how fashionable the middle initial has become. It also appears that there exists a whole generation of parents who took a rather unconventional approach to baby naming. Assuming that my new cyber-buddies are chips-off-the-old-block, it seems likely that their elders had insider access to some cutting-edge research about baby names and their effect on the psychological development of individuals. Well, bully for good ol' Mom and Dad, I say! If my future son, Shoehorn K. Hairclog, turns out to be half the man that Godly E. Constipating is, I will be one damn proud parent indeed.