It’s important to take time to ponder the eternal questions of life. I’m lucky that my job often gives me a great amount of time to think, like take for instance last week when I was chopping tree stumps and roots with a hatchet. I discovered that bewildering thoughts go through a person’s mind when they’re swinging a hatchet for a couple of hours.

BY: Noah Regan

If you think swinging a hatchet is similar to swinging a hammer, you’d be wrong. There is something intrinsically unsettling when you’re kneeling on the cold ground viciously chopping at things. The first thoughts I entertained were fairly innocuous. I thought about George Washington chopping down a cherry tree as a child even though he wasn’t supposed to, and how he admitted that he did it to his father…George H. W. Washington, I guess. I thought about how one must have a certain level physical strength and endurance to accomplish such a feat. Then I reminded myself that George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree because that story is completely fabricated, and yet it is told to us as children in the public school system. Much like how Lincoln could never tell a lie. Of course that isn’t true. Really they should tell kids about how Abraham Lincoln had his dead son, Willie, exhumed twice so that he could look at and hold him one more time. Now that is interesting stuff.

Then after some time of bludgeoning tree stumps and roots, I began to feel fatigued. That is when the weird thoughts started creeping to the front of my mind. Thoughts like: I bet it’s really taxing to chop up a body. People probably underestimate how tough and sinewy the human body is. And the bones! I bet a femur is a bitch to chop through. A saw or serrated knife would probably work best. People don’t know how much work it is to dismember a body because anybody that does it isn’t going to go around complaining to friends and family about how much work it is. They’re never to going to grit their teeth while rotating their shoulder and complain that their arm’s a bit tender from hacking a teenage runaway to bits last night. You’d need a certain amount of endurance to completely dismember a body. Although, I recall reading that while Jeffery Dahmer dismembered his first victim he stopped twice to masturbate atop the corpse. So obviously he had much more excess energy than me.

It was Chuck Palahniuk that suggested parenthood was the opiate of the masses. To a certain extent I think he’s right. If one fulfills their biological obligation to the human civilization then you have at least that laurel to rest upon. Also, you have much less free time to think about yourself. Your mental priorities completely shift to your offspring, and your thoughts are less about “Why am I here? What is the meaning of it all?” And are more like, “I need to find a good daycare for my child.” or “I’m pretty sure my son is gay.”

With my bachelor lifestyle, I have far too much time to center upon myself and where I fit in the grand scheme, and the series of accidents that occurred in the past that made all of our existences possible. Having too much time to think can be a dangerous thing if done incorrectly…

One of the reasons I enjoy drinking whiskey is the fact that it allows me to center my thoughts intensely on individual things. It impairs my mind to the point where I mentally delve deeply into any topic without being distracted by any outside influence or unwanted, random thoughts. I recommend you try it. It’s akin to immersing yourself into a sensory deprivation chamber, except this is just a bottle of whiskey, a recliner, and a dark, empty room. It’s a brilliant experience. You’d be amazed at what you’ll think about. Just be sure not to drink too much. When that happens, my evening is less about sitting in silence entertaining cerebral musings, and more like the intro of Apocalypse Now when Martin Sheen is doing underwear Tai Chi with The Doors’ This is the End playing in the background.

First, I consider the concept of finding pleasure in restraint, and the law of diminishing returns. I convince myself that I’ll have just two drinks, achieving the perfect buzz, and then cut myself off.

A half a bottle later I feel a bit cramped and decide to stretch out my limbs.

I then stare intensely into my mirror and convince myself that I can actually see myself age before my eyes.

…and then act accordingly.

Then I have one more drink before calling it a night.

And just before I bed, I come to terms with the futility of life, and how there is no point to anything.

One isn’t supposed to spend too much time pondering the big questions of life. If you spend too much time simply thinking about life, you’re not living it. So put down your proverbial hatchet, and stop sinking in the quicksand of your thought. Instead, relax and enjoy the ride. Assume that all of life’s questions will eventually be answered.

I’m the sort of person who is very uncomfortable discussing such topics as toilet usage. I wish I was a more evolved human who didn’t have to partake in that disgusting daily ritual. Sadly, reader, I am human just like you. Though, I have a ritual entirely all my own when I expel waste from my body. First, I cover my head with a gunny sack or “cowl of shame” before I partake in this unholy abomination against God and man. Secondly, I whisper supplications to any and all gods of every religion, pleading for their forgiveness as I silently weep from being overcome with a feeling of self-reproach and repugnance. And lastly, I lash my bare back with a towel bar in an act of self-flagellation in order to inflict a certain level of physical pain that will mirror the emotional pain I feel at that pitiful moment.

I’ll be the first to admit that it gets a bit weird.

BY: Noah Regan

In all seriousness, what follows is a true toilet story that occurred last Friday. Though, more accurately it all started last Thursday night while I was writing my weekly blog entry. I was seated before the warm glow of my laptop screen while soaking my brain cells in Milwaukee’s Best, hoping that some pearls of wisdom or comedy may shake loose. It wasn’t happening. If you didn’t read last week’s post, don’t bother. It was far from my finest.

Before I knew it, it was going on one o’ clock in the morning and there I sat inebriated before my computer, tearing apart my weekly essay and eroding my self-esteem with such thoughts as: Sheesh, Noah, are you honestly making fun of the poor saps who share their writing at community events? Isn’t that essentially what you do? What makes you think you’re any better? Oh, wow! Now you’re making fun of that wheelchair guy? Way to pile on a paraplegic—real classy. Go ahead and dig your own grave, buddy. Remember this as the entry that you officially crossed over from playful cynic to insufferable asshole. At least all those great jokes you weaved in will be this entry’s saving grace. Oh, that’s right. There aren’t any—just petty cracks at people who are no different from you. This entry is shit. Hang it up and post a “Monkey Rewind” like you did a week before.

So there I was drunk and despondent before my computer while my conscience implored me not to post the entry. Instead of listening to my conscience, I instead further drowned it with a steady cascade of cheap domestic beer, all while convincing myself that the entry wasn’t that horrible.

The next morning I awoke bright and early and navigated to work through bloodshot eyes, an egg sandwich with black coffee swimming in my stomach, and residual alcohol still coursing through my veins.

The morning went fine given my condition. I was working solo, giving the interior walls of the spec home I’m working at a second coat of paint. I spent the morning taping off baseboards and window trim while the clock slowly crept to twelve bells. It was just before noon that the debauchery of the previous night was letting itself be known in my bowels. I knew something wicked this way comes.

I considered taking care of business at home during my lunch hour, but considered that I would be running the risk of one of my roommates coming home for lunch—exposing them to my disgusting penance for downing a twelve pack the night before.  I instead opted to use the basement bathroom of the spec house I was working at. I mean, I had the place to myself after all. And afterward I could take off for lunch, thus giving the bathroom an hour to “heal”.

After completing the unspeakable act, I stood before the sink washing my hands as the unmistakable sound footsteps on floorboards creaked above my head. I cringed and realized that my sister must have shown up to clean the house on her day off. I quickly climbed the basement steps to cut her off at the pass before she could descend the steps in search of me. But instead of being greeted by the familiar face of my dear Sis, I instead saw some strange woman peering over the edge of the banister saying, “Oh, there you are. I’m just here to show a couple the house. We’ll try to stay out of your way.”

I looked up at the random realtor from the landing of the basement steps with a distant, deadpan expression on my face. I managed to mumble, “Sure…sure. I was just taking off for lunch.” My eyes suspiciously darted between her and the basement as if I were a teenage girl nervously talking to her father while her boyfriend hides beneath her bed.

I walked back into the settling fog of ground zero and wondering how I was going to remedy this disaster. I turned on the bathroom’s exhaust fan for a brief moment before quickly turning it back off—deciding that it was far too loud—and that I would be admitting guilt and responsibility if she knew I turned the fan on. I then thought, “I bet she knows what happened. I bet she heard me flush the toilet…twice.” Out of options I began flailing my arms like a one person wave at the world’s saddest baseball game while I heard footsteps and stranger’s voices just over my head. Realizing that I was simply displacing my putrid stew and that my frantic effort was all for naught, I decided that my only option was to the adult thing and flee.

With the deftness of a nimble ninja, I ascended the staircase as the group that was touring the house rounded the corner into the main floor bedrooms. If there was any time to get away it was now. And like a Syrian refugee, I escaped with only the clothes on my back, and hope in my heart… hope that the realtor didn’t remember my face.

I wouldn’t go as far to say that I queered any prospect of selling that house to that poor, innocent couple looking to purchase the home of their dreams. Though, I’m willing to bet the nice couple and realtor didn’t spend a great deal of time admiring the fixtures in the downstairs bathroom.

I’ve been to a few poetry and book readings over the past year. The ones I’ve attended took place in two different places. The first being on the UNI campus and the second is at the James Hears Center for the Arts, both in Cedar Falls. When it comes to the UNI reading, usually, there are only few people there. It’s sort of sad in a way because its takes place in a decent sized room where there are only a handful of us, the “audience” seated scattered amongst the chairs and the featured speakers were usually pretty good.. Before it begins, the person doing the reading is often making polite conversation with the people that did show up, all the while keeping one eye trained to the door…waiting…always waiting for more people to show up.

BY: Noah Regan

The other place I go to (but not for a while. The last time I went it was snowing, so, do the math on that one) is the James Hearst Center for the Arts, just a few blocks from where I live. This place garners a much wider swath of society—from young to old—there are usually about twenty or so people in attendance. At both the UNI readings and at the James Hearst readings, I’ve run into the same bearded gentleman in his early sixties who isn’t fond of showering. He looks like the stereotypical “nutty codger”. He has a beard that’s more salt than pepper. He’s fond of wearing filthy jeans, threadbare flannel, and long underwear tops…no matter what season. While I’m surrounded by people whose dreams of becoming the next T.S. Eliot or Emily Dickens weren’t fulfilled, this bearded guy scans the crowd and invariably gravitates toward me. Don’t ask me why. We hardly look like kindred spirits. I try not to think about why he chooses to talk to me. I’m afraid to wonder. I’m afraid that I’m going to find out that I remind him of the person he was at the age of thirty. If he is the future that I have to look forward to. Is he trying to befriend me? I haven’t made a new friend in over seven years. There’s a painstakingly long interview process before I let you into my circle. Not to mention, I don’t believe a guy who looks like a nineteenth century forty-niner would fit in well with my clique.

A bit of a side note, have you noticed that there is a whole class of middle-aged guys with grey beards, long hair and are of suspect hygiene? All these men seem like alcoholics who would have difficulty holding a steady job. They commute two things, and only two things: thirty-year-old trucks with muffler problems, and thirty-year-old bikes they ride while wearing blue jeans. Alright, I’m going to get off this subject. It’s bumming me out. I feel like I’m describing myself in thirty years… see ya then folks.

The Hearst reading nights feature forty-five minutes of open mic poetry before the featured speaker. Listening to amateur poetry, you deal with damaged individuals who parade their mental maladies before an indifferent audience (much like I do every Friday on this website). Imagine me sitting in the audience as I’m subjected to a hapless, portly man in his fifties who shares a poem he about his deceased mother. Alright, I’m interested—let’s bleed some hearts. But, before the man begins his recitation, he proceeds to hand out Xeroxed sheets of paper that feature the nature trail he was hiking while he mused about his dead mom, and marked on the map, the various locations where each musing  took place. It was a nice testament in theory, but glancing at the map while he was describing the marmalade toast she’d make for him before school, I realized that we were going on minute five and we weren’t even to the halfway point of his tedious journey. I only hoped that Nana’s journey across the river of Styx was going quicker.

I’m not good at feigning compliments. While I’m pouring coffee into a Styrofoam cup and eying which sugar cookie I’m going to snag, I can only muster a curt head-nod as the guy with the dead mom lingers by the refreshments table for compliments from any and all strangers who were subjected to his maudlin poem.

Another guy who sometimes attends the readings is who I’ll refer to as “wheelchair guy”. Why? Because he was an Olympic high-jumper in Barcelona ‘92. Just kidding. He’s simply a guy confined to a wheelchair. Wheelchair guy is a guy in his forties who seems irritated and temperamental—the way I imagine most people are who have to sit down for the rest of their lives. He’s often short and dismissive with people who try to make pleasant conversation with him, but not with me because I don’t talk to him. I realize that he’s a damaged man (in more ways than one) and attends these readings for the opportunity to share the displeasures that he feels (much like what I do every Friday with this Godforsaken blog). This guy attends the UNI college readings where there is no open mic. At one point while we were all sitting dismissively in a semi-circle waiting for more people to show up for the poetry reading, one of the UNI professors asked if anyone would like to share any of their own poetry. We all scanned the room with our arms collectively crossed, seeing if anyone was going to step up. Then the professor said, “Wheelchair guy (he didn’t really say that, I just know his real name) I know you write poetry. Would you like to share any?” Wheelchair guy said something like, “No, no…I don’t think so.” “Come on, we’d love to hear something,” the professor urged him once more. Then Wheelchair guy proceeded to mumble that he really didn’t want to, but apparently he did in fact have something because he dug his fingerless gloved hand into his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. But, just as wheelchair guy brandished his paper soul, the UNI professor (not knowing that wheelchair guy was about to share with us his poetic paraplegic plight) said to the featured speaker, “I don’t think any more people are going to show up. You might as well begin.” The featured speaker got up out of her chair and stood before the flickering halogen lamp to begin her reading. Wheelchair guy let out an audible exhale and quickly shoved his sad piece of spiral paper back into his pocket. Sure the featured speaker went on to read her passionate poems, but the most poetic moment of that evening was me watching Wheelchair guy rise to the occasion only to be inadvertently shot down.

It was both awkward and exquisite.

My weekly entries all seem to have a certain shtick. Each tends to be from the perspective of an introverted misanthrope who has irritating interactions with the society that he finds so tiring. Therefore, I have very little interaction with said society, which, sadly gives me very little to write about. Sure, I leave the house to go to work, shop for groceries, and I’m a familiar face at the random gas stations where I pick up my beer. But beyond that you’d be hard pressed to see me anywhere else.

There’s something a little embarrassing about being the guy who stops at a gas station habitually to pick up either a twelve pack or a tall boy. I especially don’t like it when the clerk becomes familiar with me. There’s one clerk in particular that’ll say, “Hey man, good to see you again.” or “Hey man, haven’t seen you for a while.” or “Hey man, where you been hidin’?” If this clerk would simply ask his coworker standing next to him, he would be informed that I stop at their store with stunning regularity—he’s the one who’s rarely there.

BY: Noah Regan

I’ve often thought about my deteriorating reputation in the eyes of the clerk who sees me purchase my poison every day, but then I remind myself “What do I care?” It’s not as if I’m a congressman, school teacher or the pope. I’m just a random schmuck they have the displeasure of interacting with on a daily basis. That is, until I spot a clerk from one gas station working at a completely different gas station. That I admit is embarrassing. There’s me just one day prior buying a tall boy of Busch Light from her, and now here I am standing before her again the very next day buying a can of Busch Light on the other side of town. At first I was simply embarrassed, but that embarrassment soon turned into irritation. I wondered what the hell the deal was. Is there some kind of convenience store exchange program so that privileged cashiers can experience what it’s like to sit behind a different counter and look lackadaisically at a whole new set of regular customers? Or in my case, the off-putting, familiar face of a boozer who likes to spread his patronage throughout his community.

For the record, I’m in and out of those places. No small talk, no eye contact. It’s as if I’m purchasing herpes medication. You don’t see any customers leaning against a pharmacy counter clutching a box of Valtrex while exchanging pleasantries about the recent chilly weather, and the breathtaking colors of the autumn leaves.

No, I’m in and out. Sometimes I utter a curt “thanks” and split before the clerk can even give me my change. I leave the lowly clerk like how Batman leaves Commissioner Gordon standing solitary on a cold building top—holding three pennies while quizzically staring at the empty space where I was just standing not two seconds before—scratching his head in confusion.

As I said, I’m not the type of individual who loiters in a convenience store. I quickly make my way to the back of the store, passing the pull-tab machines with the depressing black stool positioned beside them to accommodate the people that spend great lengths of time before the money-stealing machines. With the familiar suction sound of the cooler door opening, I grab what I need and I’m on my way. I simply want to get in and out, yet occasionally I’ll get the person ahead of me in line who’s addicted to scratch tickets.

For starters, I’m not of the sort who believes in luck, only cosmic coincidence. And, if by chance there is such a thing as luck, I don’t got it. And neither do the sorry saps that stand before me in line purchasing lottery tickets. Ironically, the people who subscribe to the idea of luck appear to be the least lucky people in the world. It’s usually a woman in her late forties who appears to weigh 105 pounds soaking wet with bottle-bleached blonde hair with dark roots, clownish mascara and lips slathered in a garish shade of red lipstick. She’ll stroll up to the cash register wearing stretch pants and an ill-fitting tank top that accentuates her bony shoulder blades that protrude like a Stegosaurus’s back.  She’ll look at the kid behind the register and croak, “A hard-pack of Winston 100’s” as she rummages for her change pouch in her denim purse. This then makes me wonder when was the last time I ever saw a soft-pack of smokes. It must be like at least a decade right? Perhaps I should tell this woman that she doesn’t have to be so specific.

Here’s the kicker: the woman will then add a little addendum to her order: “Oh yea, and three Extreme Cash Bonanza tickets and a couple Super Cashouts.” I can appreciate the way she feigns remembering that she needed some scratch tickets as she stood at the counter. We’ve all been there. We’ve all remembered that we were supposed to pick up a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk while we’re standing before the convenience store clerk—only in this woman’s case it wasn’t milk or bread but rather tens of dollars worth of scratch tickets.

The clerk will then clarify her order by asking, “Two Super Cashouts?” To which she’ll reply, “Make it four, please.” And then just before the clerk returns to his post behind the register she’ll toss out one more, “…and a Lucky Diamonds”. The clerk will then roll his eyes and turn back around to tear one more ticket from its perforated edge—separating it from its spool of loserdom. The clerk then rings up the smokes and tickets and the bill will come to forty-six bucks and some-odd-cents. The woman doesn’t even bat an eye. In fact she doesn’t do anything except stand as still as a statue before she forks over the cash—never once allowing her gaze shift to her rear as a sizable line has formed behind her while she was busy feeding her beast.

I stand just behind her wondering what makes this woman feel that she is in any way lucky. She sure as hell doesn’t look lucky. It’s looks as though Karma has been taking a crap on her for the past two decades. What in her history makes her think that this roll of the dice will come out favorably? And, when was it that she first decided, “F@#k it, I’m dedicating half my days wages to lottery tickets in the off chance it may catapult me from this crap-hole of a life.

She doesn’t dawdle after receiving her thick stack of cardboard crack. With head lowered, she breezes past everyone in line behind her and quickly exits to her ’98 Navigator. I’m sure she reassures herself that she was just swinging past the convenience store to pick up smokes. She didn’t make special trip just for scratch tickets. No, that would be a sign of an addiction. But hey, I can hardly judge because next in line is me holding a silo of Busch Light as the clerk says, “Hey man, where you been hidin’?”

It has been in my experience that Halloween is much more enjoyable as an adult spectator, than a child participant. I was never too fond of the holiday growing up. When I was young, Halloween was always cold and rainy, and my costumes were a combination of hand-me-down costumes from my older siblings. One year I went as a cowboy gorilla. Why? Because we had a gorilla mask and a free straw cowboy hat from attending a rodeo. I wish I could travel back in time to tell seven year old Noah what a jackass he looked like.

BY: Noah Regan

One of the last times I went out trick-or-treating was when I was in the fifth grade. I decided to go as a vampire. Nowadays that would be cool, what with Twilight and all. I could have combed my hair back, furrowed my brow, been enigmatic and brooding and I would have captivated all the pasty, lip-biting tweens. But, since this was nearly twenty years ago, my only option was the plastic-fanged, black caped, Transylvanian accented vampire. My sister applied white powder makeup to my face, and dark lipstick to my lips, and I was good to go. That is until my mother said that Dad needed help carrying debris from a shed that was recently pushed down, to an adjacent hole. With little time before my friend Jason’s mother was to pick me up, I changed into my work cloths, and my father was greeted by the sight of his youngest son wearing white, powder-puff foundation, and lipstick. He glanced at me and shook his head in disappointment and didn’t utter a word about it.

Those are my special Halloween memories; dressing as a gorilla who had an affinity for western apparel, and gay Dracula.

But now as an adult Halloween is so much better. I can stay inside that night and watch spooky movies and hand out candy to all the kids that have cool, discernible costumes. Of course the best part of Halloween as a child was the candy. But, now that I’m an adult I don’t have to walk door to door like a chump. I can just go out and buy it myself. Hey, you can too! Do you ever think about that? You want a bag of fun size Kit-Kats and Whoppers? Hop in your car right now and pick up a couple hefty sacks worth, plant yourself on the couch and go to town. It’s great being an adult! You can do whatever you damn well please. Eat all the candy you want, wash it all down with a Bud Light, and light up a Marlboro to finish it all off. You deserve it, because you bought it.

Remember how scary horror movies were when you were young? Well, fret no more. Watch one of those thrillers now. Pop in Poltergeist, Friday the 13th or Pet Cemetery. You may be entertained, but you won’t be frightened. You’ll instead think, hey, isn’t that the father from the Munsters? You can even take it up a notch and watch it in one of your childhood friend’s homes, and then sleep in a strange bed. You won’t have to ask your friend’s mom to call your parents to pick you up because the movie was scary and you’re in an unfamiliar environment. Nope, you won’t have to do that because you’re an adult and you won’t get scared of a silly old movie. The only people that will be scared will be your old grade-school friend’s parents because you broke into their home to watch Nightmare on Elm Street, drink beer and eat candy.

Another reason why Halloween is better as an adult is the fact that when you were ten, girls didn’t dress like prostitutes. When you were young, girls actually dressed like witches, devils and princesses. Now, as adults they dig up those tiny costumes out of the back of the closets and re-wear them a dozen years later. Only this time it’s slutty- I mean SEXY.

So, being an adult on Halloween, you can now leave the house to ogle the aforementioned women at the bars where they get drunker than usual because they’re dressed like sluts. Why? It’s because when a gal leaves the house on Halloween wearing next to nothing on a 40 degree night so she can stand in a crowded bar of strangers where she’ll be ogled by creeps like me, she’s going to feel very apprehensive and insecure which will lead her to drink more alcohol at a faster rate to alleviate said apprehension.

Also, women (as well as men) get massively drunk at the bars on Halloween night because of the proximity of their beverage to their mouth. It’s simple science. The closer you keep your alcoholic drink to the hole you’re pouring it into, the quicker you’ll consume it. Bars are packed on Halloween, and for the most part its standing room only. That leaves you situated amongst a crowd of strangers with your glass of draft domestic hovering at chest level which you will proceed sip from with the consistent pace of a metronome. Conversely, if you’re instead sitting at the bar and your drink is placed comfortably on the sticky surface before you, you drink it a little slower. And lastly, if you’re standing and your drink is sitting on a tabletop behind you and you must reach back to snag it every time you need a drink, you drink even slower.

That is why I play it safe when I’m drinking in a crowded bar. I pace myself by keeping my beer in the bar restroom balanced on top of the urinal. Every time I feel compelled to take a drink, I must walk across the bar and into the bathroom to take a sip. Yes, you heard me. That beer that is always sitting on top of the urinal in the Men’s room is mine. Don’t touch it.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Working on a construction job site I’m continually subjugated to classic rock music. Our poison of choice is 97.7 KCRR. This station likes to make bold proclamations in the bumpers between songs that say things like, “It’s not classic rock until we say its classic rock!” And then they’ll proceed to play George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone”. Really!?!? This is the crème de le crème from two decades of rock music? A meandering song by a hack—a song that claims that he is such a bad ass that just after he was born the nurses gathered around young George and came to the conclusion not to mess with this helpless, feeble infant. That in fact this child was bad to the bone and shouldn’t be trifled with.

I rarely say that I wish to punch a newborn child in the face—rarely do I say it. But, I would make an exception for that big-mouthed blowhard.

BY: Noah Regan

Another song I hate from George Thorogood is “I Drink Alone”. I should like that song. It’s probably the most relatable song ever written in rock history. I love to drink alone. As I’ve said before, there is no greater company than me with myself. But somehow the song misses the mark. First of all, he constantly repeats the line, “I drink alone. Yea, with nobody else.” The second half of that statement is redundant. You can cut this excruciatingly tedious song in half right then and there.

Pour Some Sugar on Me is a classically bad song from the classically bad band, Def Leppard. Here’s a taste of their poetic lyrics…

“Step inside, walk this way

You and me babe, hey, hey.

Listen! Red light, yellow light, green light go!

Crazy little woman in a one man show”

Yes, there it is. Take that Leonard Cohen, you hack! When I was first introduced to this song it irritated the hell out of me. But, as I grow older and wiser in my years, I now know that this sweet number is made specifically for people that have suffered massive head injuries and are learning simple rhyme schemes. And, it’s also written for incest survivors who take their clothes off for a living. Why dance on a stage naked to this abortion of a song? Well there’s some simple science behind it. You see, the unyielding guitar riffs and bombastic percussion drowns out the little girl voice that’s screaming within the stripper that’s pleading to her to seek therapy instead of resorting to gyrating nude against a lowly sweat-pant-clad sexual offender who ventured out of his mother’s basement to get glitter and cheap perfume ground into the pores of his forehead.

Fun fact: The drummer for Def Leppar, Rick Allen, has only one arm.

Fun fact #2: The music of Def Leppard is slightly more tolerable if you have only one ear drum.

Here’s a song that you may be familiar with that 97.7 plays EVERYDAY, Aerosmith’s Love in an Elevator. Yet, few people know Aerosmith’s less popular song, Love on an Escalator. It’s a song about being fellated on an escalator in the middle of a shopping mall. The song isn’t as cute as the title may imply. The first half of the song is what I previously described, and the second half is about a lengthy court battle where Steven Tyler and Joe Perry try to clear their name after their major PR disaster.

I particularly feel bad for the individuals who spent their formative years in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s who listen to classic rock radio everyday—trapping them in a terrible time capsule as they live their day-to-day lives working at dead-end jobs. They don’t even get to appreciate any deep cuts from the artists they adored from their youth. No, they instead have to listen to the same forty-three songs that were played yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that.

You have a craving for Zepplin? How about the beautifully understated song Thank You or Tangerine? Nope! F@#K you! Here’s Black Dog.

You’ve got a hankering for a little Bowie. How about his classic opus Life on Mars or (my favorite Bowie song) Time? Nope! F@#k you, you get Fashion.

How ‘bout a little Stones? Say Heart of Stone or Street Fighting Man. F@#k you! Here’s Satisfaction.

That’s essentially what the DJ is saying to you when he plays the same crap he played the day before. Classic rock stations don’t have any love or respect for classic rock. If they did, they wouldn’t play mediocre songs to death.

I think the classic rock DJ should do really specific hypothetical dedications to the poor souls who have to listen to their inane chatter and terrible music selections every day. It could sound something like this…

“This song goes out to the woman on the cusp of forty who’s toiling away at a pork processing plant and pulling a double-shift to cover for the woman who lost her fingers in the unforgiving metallic teeth of the sludge grinder because she showed up to work high on methamphetamine and thought she saw the face of Jesus in a pile of pig intestines. You, with the gray roots sprouting from your head, and the thirty extra pounds around your mid-section, you’ll remember this classic gem from your not-so-recent past, it was echoing through the static-filled speakers of a big rig the night you gave your virginity to the red-headed carney who worked the Gravitron at the County Fair that sweaty July night back in 1988. You remember little from your carnival courtship, but small details still remain: his sly, artful dodger smile, his seemingly translucent flesh, your sensitive sunburned back, and the smooth acoustic rhythms of the song I’m about to play. Your sixty-second-suitor promptly hit the highway the next morning leaving you with only memories in your head, and a bastard child in your belly as you’re hopes and aspirations broke like the promises he made to you so long ago. Well, twenty-four years have passed, and each year has added a wrinkle to your face like a ring to a red wood tree. You’re still looking for your Mister Right, but let’s be honest, no one wants to spend the rest of their life with a premature grandmother who spends her evenings sniffing rubber cement while watching TiVo’ed episodes of Days of Our Lives. Well, chin up, this song will take you back to more innocent days, specifically the day when your life tailspinned out of control and left you picking up the pieces of your shattered existence. Here’s Poison’s Every Rose has its Thorn…and as always…f@#k you.”

Sorry all, there’s isn’t a new post, it’s been a hectic week. Though, not to leave you with nothing, enjoy these fake promotions I made for a certain church. It’s not as though I personally subscribe to their ideology, I couldn’t help but notice that this particular church was in desperate need of a PR overhaul. These are some samples. Enjoy.

A good way to gauge if you’re successful in life is if you wear new clothing, or, if you are forced to wear threadbare fabrics that have been abandoned behind a secondhand store in a strip mall. Sadly, I fall under the latter.

Right out of the gate I want to treat you, reader, to the creepiest thing I’ve ever discovered at Goodwill. It was a pair of wrinkled, little girl panties that were carelessly abandoned on top of miscellaneous pieces of luggage. It was like I came upon a crime scene. I feared that the owner of those panties was stuffed inside one of the duffel bags.

BY: Noah Regan

It wasn’t wholly apparent to me that it was a pair of child panties. They were coiled in a twist as if wrung dry of murky river water and then clenched tightly by ham-fisted, middle-aged adult. Initially, I thought that it was a handkerchief and I pinched a corner of the faded, flowery fabric and slowly lifted it before me (don’t ask me why). Soon the tangled cloth unfurled and I thought, “Oh god, little girl panties! My DNA is now on them!” I quickly dropped them back atop the pile of travel bags, and briskly walked away. As I put some distance between me and Exhibit A in a murder trial, I thought, “There’s a very good chance that those panties are going to end up in the wrong hands.” In fact, judging by the breed of people that shop at Goodwill, I guarantee it.

Occasionally there are some decent finds at Goodwill. Take for instance this fine piece of art that I bought for a song.

It took this picture for me to realize how dusty my lamp dusty, I didn't do anything about it.

It hangs conveniently above the chair in my room where I like to reenact the portrait.

But these gems are few and far between. More likely you’ll find tacky oil paint reproductions of quaint cottages that look like they were painted by Thomas Kinkade’s double-amputee brother. And, the vast majority of the framed art are movie posters from at least a decade ago. So, if you want a plastic-framed poster of Speed 2: Cruise Control ironically hanging on your dorm room wall, well then this is your place.

The best piece of art that I found at Goodwill was an 8.5×11 framed caricature drawing of a complete stranger. Who the hell would buy that!?!? I wish I had. I wish I bought it and hung it on my living room wall just for the off chance that the guy who donated the caricature portrait of himself from his family vacation to Adventureland in 1993 might possibly see it featured above my mantle.

A few months back I spotted an acquaintance at Goodwill (well, barely an acquaintance, more a friend of an acquaintance that I really don’t talk to). As soon as I spotted him I bent slightly at the knees to make myself smaller. I then proceeded to search the racks upon racks of button down shirts and suit blazers of deceased WWII vets, all the while keeping one eye trained on him to ensure that he wasn’t heading in my direction—which would force a conversation. Though, to be honest I don’t think he’d actually want to talk to me either. It was two o’ clock on a Tuesday. We were surrounded by depressed, unemployable minorities in a store that reeks like a giant, musty closet. Do you really want to stroll up to me and ask, “How’re things going in your life?”

“How are things going in my life? Well let’s see. I was eying the one-sided waffle iron pretty hard, but I just can’t seem to pull the trigger on that purchase. Also, I was considering adding some additional porcelain cat statuettes to my menagerie but then talked myself out of it since I’d only end up breaking them because I have the tendency to get drunk and pet them for hours until their heads snap off. And currently in my life, I’m standing before the 50 cent used book section where Tony Robbins practically has his own section. Do you grasp the bitter irony of that!?!?”

I occasionally donate goods to Goodwill as well. Though, to say “donate goods” is being overly altruistic. The quality of items that I’m dropping off is perhaps better suited to be donated into a dumpster. I fret a bit when I pull up with my cargo of crap. But, I always breathe a sigh of relief when I see the mentally disabled fellow step up to my car to assist me. Though the guy has the menial of menial jobs, he seems happy as hell, which only serves to irritate me because I wonder what the hell he has to be so happy about, and why he’s a million times happier than I’ll ever be.

With the addled employee assisting me, it’s now become a “judgment free” zone. This gentleman gladly grabs my garbage with a glazed-eye grin while making awkward, polite conversation. His amiable remarks about the weather are met by curt, monosyllabic responses from me. It’s not because I’m an asshole (well, sort of), it’s because I’m still a bit shamed for doing (ostensibly) a dirty deed as I carry my trash into their fine establishment. It would be like trying to make conversation with me through a stall door while I sat on the toilet. Excuse me if I’m a bit tight-lipped.

After the transfer is made, they always asks me the same question: “Would you like a receipt for taxes?” By this time I’m sliding over the hood of my Mazda like Bo Duke, and peeling out of there before they realize I saved a trip to the city dump.

I always wondered how the whole “tax receipt” thing worked. Would we go through the individual items of junk to determine their worth so I could write it off come April? Let’s see…this electronic dartboard is $18.99 new, though I lost the power cord, there are no darts included, and some of the plastic panels are smashed. I’d say that knocks the price down to $14.50. Now the tea stained Lordy Lordy Look Who’s Forty mug is a precious family heirloom. You’d be foolish to sell this for less than thirty dollars, sir. Let’s see here…as for this Presidents of the United States cassette tape, they’re rock legends. Toss this tape into your Pioneer stereo deck and it’s like having a private concert in your mom’s basement. Just a heads up, side two is a series of random songs that I recorded off the radio, so you get a nice eclectic taste of mid-nineties alt rock. I’d say this musical time capsule is worth no less than twenty-eight big ones. The bike pump? I’m glad you asked. The gaskets are dried and cracked, therefore it can’t even collect a baby’s breath of air. And yes, I do understand how the crimson pit-stains of those white under-shirts would lead you to believe that my armpits sweat blood, but I assure you that the stains are from refusing to wash the shirts for unbelievably long periods of time. All in all, I’d say this treasure trove of gently-used goods would sell at a Christie’s auction for ten grand on the low end, and potentially forty to fifty grand on the high end if the right bidders are present. So yes, to answer your question, I’d love a tax receipt.”

Have a good weekend, reader!

Do you ever sit and think about all the unspeakably embarrassing things you’ve done in your life? I sure do. It all starts with remembering one embarrassing misstep that I’ve made within my 30 years, and then tangentially, I’ll start thinking about all the other moments of toe-curling embarrassment. It’s what neurotic people like me do. It’s horribly crippling.

Though, I’ve now reached the point in my life where I now place my “treasured” reputation aside, and no longer care anymore about the asinine things I do.

BY: Noah Regan

Recently, I was visiting Hobby Lobby and I was standing before the mat cutting section. There was a family that included a couple young girls and their mother who was confined to a wheelchair. They made their way down the aisle while I was intently reading the backs of X-Acto knife packages and learning about “blade cutting depth” and “knife precision”. As the family approached me, the young girl pushing her mother politely said, “Excuse me.” And me—being the overly polite sorts—turned my head, made eye contact with this young girl and said, “Excuse us.” I don’t know why I said it. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t get a lot a sleep the night before, perhaps it was because of the “boredom beers” I drank before leaving the house, but I flubbed my lines all the same.

The immediate thought that passed through my head was that I came off as some pedantic asshole that was correcting this young girl. “You mean excuse us—us being you, your chubby sister, and your paraplegic mother. Yes?” I cringed slightly, but I reminded myself that I no longer let minor follies bother me. But then I thought that perhaps her interpretation when I said “excuse us” was that I was some crazed Norman Bates-like character who was not only excusing me, but also my invisible companion while I gazed intensively at the sharp instruments that hung on the shelf before me.

“What’s that mother? Yes it was very rude of us to block their path. Say again, mother? You think that we should test the sharpness of these razorblades on their soft skin? Why, I don’t think that would be very nice of us, do you? Yes…yes, I know that I shouldn’t disobey you mother, or else you’ll serve my porridge cold.”

Still, these minor indiscretions that I commit on a seemingly regular basis no longer affect me. Though, as I mentioned before, I have a rich history of embarrassing myself and reminding myself of it constantly. When I was a sophomore, I had to take a class called Basic Communication. I don’t remember much about the class outside of the fact that we had to give a great amount of speeches—something that would kill me now. Presently, I’m an anxious wreck at even considering the notion of standing before people and delivering a prepared speech, but, for some odd reason fourteen years ago it hardly affected me. I enjoyed it greatly. I had a history of giving funny speeches that my classmates seemed to dig, and I loved hearing their laughs.

On this particular assignment in Basic Comm, we had to do a pantomime. A pantomime is merely a grandiose term form “mime”. My classmates and I had to individually stand before the class and act out something, and at the end of our respective performance the class had to guess what we were miming. Like for instance, one of my classmates, Kirk Deal, pantomimed in (considerable detail) the excruciatingly long process of changing the water pump of a two cylinder tractor. Not surprising, no one in the class knew what the hell he was doing.

Picture Gomer Pyle meets Marcel Marco.

I chose to pantomime the act of driving a truck through “Rubber Road”. For those of you not from Allamakee County, Rubber Road is a rutty dirt road located behind a cemetery a couple miles outside of my hometown of Waukon. Rubber Road got its name because it was a popular spot for the young and the restless to park and engage in the sweet act of love amidst the romantic ambiance of a graveyard. The term “rubber” came from what was discarded on the dirt road after the eight second act of teenage coitus. I’m sure if you went back a couple generations, it would have been referred to as “Sheepskin Road”. But, to my friends and I who weren’t getting laid in high school, this road was nothing more than a perfect place to test out the four-wheel-drive capabilities of a Chevy Blazer.

When it was my turn to perform my pantomime, I made my way to the front of the classroom. There were already snickers and chuckles before I even began. I loved the feeling. I loved that my classmates viewed me as a funny guy who was about to deliver another hilarious performance. I grabbed a chair and took a seat. I began to pantomime driving a vehicle over rough terrain. I even mimed shifting gears, even though I didn’t know at that time how to drive a manual, but I thought that it would better convey what I was trying to portray. With my right hand on the invisible shifter, and my white knuckles on the invisible steering wheel, I began to convulse and shake on my plastic driver’s seat. I wanted to sell this act. I went the whole nine.

While I was bouncing (seemingly) uncontrollably, the left arm (or temple) from my glasses separated from my frames and began to swing like a pendulum from my ear—luckily enough on my left side, facing my audience. Why did the temple piece from my glasses break while I was before my peers? It’s because my glasses broke weeks before, and since the prospect of getting new frames didn’t even cross the minds of my frugal parents, I super-glued my plastic frames back together. Well, it conveniently worked out in my favor. My Jerry Lewis-like sight gage had the entire class in stitches. I didn’t stop for one second. I drove my mime home, with the broken plastic arm of my glasses swinging from my ear for the rest of the trip.

After I finished, and floating on cloud nine for receiving such a great reception from my peers, I victoriously strutted back to my desk. Just after I took a seat, one of the hottest girls in my class turned her magnetic gaze upon hapless me and asked, “Did you mean to have your glasses break on purpose?” And me, being eternally honest, looked back at her and said, “No, it was a complete accident.” I said this while doing the brief expel of air through the nostrils as if laughing move, and managed to blow snot out of one of my nostrils and onto my upper lip…a lot of snot.

In my dim-witted mind I thought that if I embarrassingly covered the huge booger that hung on my lip, she’ll definitely notice that I blew snot on my face. So, instead of excusing myself and retreating to the box of Kleenexes on Mr. Stephan’s desk, I pretended that nothing happened and unflinchingly answered her question, “No, it was a complete accident.”

Now that I think about it all these years later, my answer coincidentally explained not only my glasses breaking, but the horrible turn of events that occurred afterward.

The poor girl that was exposed my disgustingness was kind about the incident; with a frozen wide-eyed expression, she pivoted her head to the front of the classroom with the steady smoothness of an oscillating fan. With her green eyes no longer centered upon me, I turned away, cowering, so that I could drag my fingers across my face, capturing the mucus mess, and because I had few options, I simply gripped the slimy goo within my clenched fist for the rest of the class.

What should one take away from this experience? If there is a God, he hates pride. I can imagine him seeing lowly me delivering an unexpectedly good speech and gaining the reverence of my peers and him thinking, “You know, I think that Noah Regan’s head has gotten a bit too big in the last three minutes. I’m afraid he might develop confidence. I think it’s time for an “encore” performance. This should do it…Boogerus Expellus—Kablam! Ha! That should take him down a few pegs.

“Say Adam, you’ve got a boogie hanging there—oh, you’re just gonna point back…that’s cool”

Let’s see…so in conclusion I’d better wrap this thing up. I’ve once again far exceeded my self-imposed “word count cap”. So thanks for your patients and for hanging in there with me. See ya next week!

Those who are the self-loathing breed like me feel a certain apprehension when someone decides to break out the camera and take a few shots while you’re minding your own business at a gathering. Don’t let the commissioned oil painting of me fool you, I don’t like pictures of me. I’m not the photogenic type. Perhaps you are. Whenever I see a picture of me, I think, well, that’s a terrible shot of me. So is this one. That’s a bad angle, my right side’s better. Eventually I came to the conclusion that it’s not the poorly shot photos of me that are making me look weird, it’s simply me seeing myself for what I truly look like.

I recently read in Parade Magazine’s “Ask Marilyn” section the reason why you think you look strange in photographs. The answer goes as follows…

“Because you’re photographed face looks backwards to you. What you see in a mirror is your image reversed from left to right, and you’re familiar with that look. A photo, however, shows you what others see. When you see your face that way, it looks strange to you—you notice every asymmetry and imperfection.”

BY: Noah Regan

There’s a photo of me taken just this last summer at my young niece’s birthday party. The photo is of me standing alone on my parent’s porch, casually smiling at the camera. I’m wearing a short sleeve button-down shirt that is adorned with a pink Hawaiian lei. I’ll be the first to admit that I drop a little too much weight in the summer, but upon seeing this photo of myself, I realized how gaunt and skeletal I get. I looked like if heroin-addicted Macaulay Culkin had a child with the corpse of Amy Winehouse.

So what became of this unflattering photo? My mother decided to feature it on her refrigerator of course. Why? I don’t know. The photo elicits gasps. I look like I’m terminally ill. My mother might as well make up a back story to explain the chilling photo. She could tell people, “This is a picture of my youngest child, Noah, six weeks before he was claimed by AIDs. Look at his serene smile. He was stoic to the end. The newspaper was kind enough to print ‘passed from a long illness’… our priest thought it would be best.

I don’t get down on my looks. It’s not like I’m some Quasimodo. The fine residents of Cedar Falls aren’t chasing me through the streets with torches and pitchforks. And, I realize that I’m my own worst critic. I figure that I fall somewhere in the middle of the attractiveness bell curve. I, like most people, are what I refer to as “normies”. We’re not turning any heads or making any memorable impression on the strangers we encounter in our day-to-day lives. We’re simply forgettable drops in a sea of faces.

I’m just thankful that I don’t look like Steve Buscemi. Though, Steve Buscemi is so strange looking that he actually exceeds ugly and crosses into “eccentrically alluring” territory. Like a pug, Steve Buschemi is so disfigured that he is strangely alluring to many women.

Can you tell the difference? I can, but only because I labeled the file names.

It’s funny, while I was referencing Steve Buscemi as being ugly, I Googled his name to find some pictures to use and found a shot where he looks remarkably like yours truly.

So, I take back everything I previously wrote about Mr. Buscemi, he doesn’t look like a freak at all.

Want to know how messed up I am? I think so little of myself that if a pretty woman finds me attractive, I’m completely confounded. I’m not talking about being modest or self-effacing like, “Who? Me? Get out!” *wink* No, I’m talking about finding the concept of an attractive person of the opposite sex being attracted to me as being illogical. I even go as far to wonder if there is something wrong with that woman. If perhaps she has some sort of gross deformity that is covered by her clothing. I assume that there has to be a catch. It’s like seeing a used Mercedes GL at a dealership for $9,999. You’d be skeptical right? You’d think things like, it must have like a million miles on it. Or, it probably burns oil like a Kawaiti refinery.

“How many men have been inside of you?!? Answer me dammit!”

After realizing that there is nothing at all physically wrong with her, I’ll begin to wonder if her self-esteem is disastrously low. Perhaps she’s going through some sort of depression. I will then go as far as to think less of her for being attracted to me!

That’s the ridiculous logic I can’t help but follow! If a woman suddenly seems obtainable, I’ll view her in an unflattering light. I’ll rapidly find her less attractive and think, “Hmm, she finds me desirable? I guess I thought she was better than that.”

I’ve been doing some thinking and I figure the only way to combat these negative inklings is to find a woman who will hold me in a masochistic-like regard, and in doing so, this woman can then remain elevated in my mind by treating me like dried dog shit that’s trapped between the treads of her running shoes. That way I will continue to adore her because she’ll make me feel undeserving of her affections. Makes sense, right? Well, it’s either that or seek therapy.

I wish I was one of the beautiful people. I don’t mean simply being cute. No, I’m talking about jaw-dropping gorgeous. I’d even go as far to say that I’d sooner like to be a gorgeous woman than a gorgeous man. Gorgeous women have a smoother road to travel in life, and receive more stuff because their looks than gorgeous men. And on top of that, if you’re a gorgeous woman, the world is your singles bar and everyone in it a potential suitor. If I were a gorgeous woman I’d be a HUGE whore…just a gigantic lesbian whore. No lie.

But, gorgeous women aren’t a slow burn by any means. Twenty years tops is all you get, gorgeous women. It starts when you’re fifteen and the mustachioed manager at the deli counter gives you a gratis half-pound of sliced parmesan to go with your black forest ham. You smile and simply think he’s a nice fellow. On your nineteenth birthday, your boyfriend—who’s five years your senior and works as a landscaper while he takes night classes to become a police officer—will fear that you will leave him. In a desperate attempt to keep you, he’ll propose to you at Red Lobster. You’ll accept and will envision your life with the man that you love. After some thought you’ll think that it’ll be too ordinary of a life for a woman of your rare beauty. You’ll break up with him and pawn the engagement ring he maxed out his credit card for. After random hook-ups while in cosmetology school, you’ll have a series of serious boyfriends who will pay for your car insurance, cell phone bill, and rent. You’ll have a brief modeling career and will even be featured in ads for Buckle (only once, and on the online catalogue only, but you leave that part out).

By the time you reach your late twenties, you’ll feel the need to settle down. You’ll do that settling with a middle-aged investment banker who is average in the looks department, but he lives in a million dollar house and goes on exotic vacations. He’ll finance your designer purse shop downtown. The store never makes a dime, but it gets you out of the house for four hours a day (On weekdays only). After six years you’ll notice his adoration for his trophy wife fading. His lingering stares will be shorter and the compliments will be fewer and far between. You’ll be served with divorce papers by your family friend/family lawyer just before your thirty-fifth birthday. Your soon-to-be ex has set his gaze on the young mocha-skinned receptionist…and she was sooo nice to you at the office party. After the divorce is finalized, the lopsided prenup leaves you with a monthly stipend that puts you up in a modest two-bedroom apartment in what you consider the “seedy” part of town. While you’re picking up the pieces of your life, your old friends and acquaintances are happily raising their children in their ranch homes…living the “ordinary” life you thought was beneath you.

Twenty years, gorgeous girls, that’s all you get.

Now as for gorgeous guys, sure you’re not getting your rent paid and an Escalade to drive, but you on the other hand will be even more gorgeous when you turn thirty-five. And, you’ll be handsome and distinguished up until the end. I’m convinced that Cary Grant’s death rattle came just after he rattled the bones of some prime hospital orderly.