Wife of the Year

I love Linette. Not only did she yell at the Sear’s repairman today and make him fix our dryer (the one we bought two weeks ago, but has yet to dry one sock), but she got this site up and running! Who else has a wife that great? No one I know. Sorry, guys, but it’s the truth. Linette rocks!

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In a Plain Martha Wrapper

Linette and I went to Borders yesterday. The plan was to stop in and buy a guidebook for Italy (where we dream of going, when we can afford it) and then to head over to Starbucks for a coffee (which we like to drink when we can afford it).

When we first walked in to Borders, I scanned the place as I always do, I suppose subconsciously looking for fire exits, ex-girlfriends, physical threats, and other things of interest. In the process, I noticed a guy sitting on a bench to my immediate left, in the corner, with his back to the wall. He was an average looking guy, clean-shaven with short brown hair. He was probably about 30. He was wearing a green jacket and pants that looked like Dockers. He had loafers on his feet and his legs were crossed at the knee. There wasn’t anything suspicious about him in particular, but I kind of stopped when I got to him, as he was on my immediate left and I’d just completed a right-to-left scan of the premises. At that exact moment, he reached over the scratch his knee or something and I saw that inside his copy of Home Beautiful, or one of the many Martha Stewart Global Enterprises publications. He was looking at hard-core porn.

Just as I had been able to clearly see the renovated, ivy-covered guesthouse on the cover of the magazine, I was able to see what was inside of it.

And the kind of stuff that I saw wasn’t anything like what I’d seen before. It caused me to wonder what had been happening since I was last in the market for adult reading material. Definite evolution had taken place. It was completely insane.

“Is this what kids today were getting to look at,” I thought. “Damn.” My dad had “National Geographic.” I had “Cosmopolitan” and the rare copy of an early edition “Playboy” and now, apparently, someone had discovered a peephole into a place that Charlie Sheen would be afraid to tread.

There were things magnified to comic proportion. I think I saw a chrome bolt going through a clitoris the size of a standard index card. I don’t want to get too graphic, but there was something that looked like the canal system on Mars. The only thing that made me almost sure that it wasn’t was the giant, ejaculating cock in the background.

“At Borders?” “What the hell?” I headed over to the adult side of the magazine rack in front of me. I actually positioned myself in front of the home computer magazine section and cast a sideways glance into the neighboring section. There were the regular titles, like “Playboy” and some kind of tame-looking tattoo and motorcycle porn-hybrid magazines. Nothing looked like what this guy had though. I was expecting to see something in a lead case called the “8th Circle of Hell” or “Xtreme Caligula,” but I didn’t see anything like that. It couldn’t possibly be that I was looking at “Playboy,” could it? It’s weird, but I’d just read an article a few weeks ago in the New York Times business section about “Penthouse” and their going out of business. It seems as though they went too far toward hard-core, showing penetration and urination(!), and in the process alienated their client base, the guys who just loved the skanky, gynecological beaver shots. Could it be that “Playboy” was heading down that same road?

The alternative was even worse to consider. Had this fellow brought his own porn from home? Could it be that he somehow got off on this kind of activity? As I sat there and contemplated how I should mention it to Linette, a woman and her two kids came buzzing through the doors. There was a boy of about seven and a girl of about ten. They stopped right in front of me, right between me and the guy on the bench, and the mother, an exasperated soccer-mom type, pointed to the bench and said, “Sit there and wait for me. I’ll be right back.”

At this point, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think the guy was going to grab the kids and run off, but I also didn’t feel comfortable letting them just sit there on either side of him as he further explored the wonderful boundaries of his fetish. Perhaps they were just in time for the public exposure portion of the show.

“Fuck, am I going to go ahead with my shopping, or am I going to stand here by the magazine rack and play masturbation guard until their mom comes back?” I decide to tell Linette to go on without me while I continue to “look at magazines.” I make eye contact with the guy, so as to let him know that there’s not going to be any funny business on my watch, and he responds by pulling his magazines a little closer to his body. He continues to sit there and look at his magazine, while the kids talk around him to one another, without apparently noticing anything unusual. The mom eventually comes back with her paperback romance and I’m on my way.

On “M” and free reviews

Actually, this is an odd segue. I want to write a review of the 1932 Fritz Lang film “M,” but it’s about a serial child killer. Can I go from a story about a creepy man sitting next to kids right into a review of “M”? Will this blog get flagged by the FBI or, worse yet, attract a loyal readership of serial child killers?

For the record, I do not advocate serial killing of any kind, whether it be of the old or the young. (I should probably post that right up front, at the top of my web-page, just so people are all clear on that. And, just in case you can’t tell, I also think that terrorism is bad.)

Actually, maybe I don’t want to give you my review of “M” anyway. What if I review it and do such a good job that you go to Amazon and buy the DVD? Here I’ve done all of this work for Amazon and I don’t see a penny of the profit. I’ve heard that there’s a way I can do that though. Amazon has a system that apparently rewards those of us with web log for doing the dirty work of sales.

I heard that Wil Wheaton does it. He gets paid every time you follow one of his links to Amazon and it leads to a purchase. Shouldn’t I be able to do that too? Don’t I deserve the money just as much as effeminate space-boy Wesley Crusher from “Start Trek the Next Generation”?

Wil Wheaton’s site, now that I’ve mentioned it, is actually pretty good. It’s especially good when he writes about two things; 1) being a struggling actor in Hollywood, and 2) being a part of the Star Trek television family. I found it particularly amusing when he once related a story about negotiating for a raise during one of his last seasons with “Next Generation”. Apparently, instead of a raise, they offered him a promotion. Yup. Instead of giving him, the actor, they offered to make his character an officer in Star Fleet. That was one of the goddamned funniest things I’ve ever read in my life.

So, I’m tempted to say, “No reviews until I tap into the Wil Weaton cash stream.” After all, I deserve the money more than he does. He can do Start Trek conventions for the rest of his life if he has to, and, believe me, there’s no Brown Jug Restaurant Line Cook convention out there for me to fall back on.

Fuck it. I will spit in the face of greed and I’ll review the damned film. I like the film “M”. I liked it a lot. I ordered it from Amazon on a whim and I’m glad that I did. It’s about a serial child killer on the loose in a German city at the end of the 1920s, so it’s not based on the most pleasant of subject matters, but it’s very good. Actually, I should be more specific. It’s a good movie for adults. I would think that, given the subject matter, kids might enjoy “Spy Kids” better, or just anything where kids aren’t being murdered.

“M” was made in Germany, in 1932, during the reign for the Nazis. It is a classic example of German expressionism, directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre (both of whom would later have successful careers here in the US). It’s in German, but the subtitles are nice and crisp. (I tried to think of a good compliment to pay the subtitles and that’s the best I could think of; they’re “crisp”!) Anyway, it’s a very interesting film and the print used in the Criterion Collection DVD version, is very good. My only criticism is that there isn’t a commentary track on this disk, and I’ve kind of come to expect them on DVDs by the folks at Criterion. It’s something I can live without though. (Actually, I just got back from a used book store where I bought a biography of Lang, so that I could learn more about the production of this film.)

To think that this was done in the early 1930’s just blows my mind. The haunting imagery, the juxtaposition of scenes, the terrific shadows and camera angles, the use of sound and silence, the subject matter itself; it all seems so much ahead of its time. And, although he doesn’t speak until close to the end of the film, the performance by Lore is the best of his career. I could go on and on, but I’m tired.

So, if you’re looking for an old German film on child killing, I’d recommend this one.

Let’s see Wil Wheaton give away a review like that.

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Behind the Comedy Times

I’d like to thank one of our readers, a Mr. Brian Brewer, for confirming that, yes, SubPop is in fact planning to release a comedy album in the next few months. According to Mr. Brewer, the album will be by David Cross, one of the two men behind the former HBO series, “Mr. Show.” I have never seen “Mr. Show,” being as I am occupied with tracking down the distant relatives of Don Knotts and former co-workers of Andy Kaufmann for interviews, but I understand from friends who are a bit more “with it” that this show of Mr. Cross’s was something quite special. At any rate, it looks as though we will be running an ad for Mr. Cross’s new SubPop album on the back cover of “Crimewave USA” #14. (If the good folks at SubPop would like to send me a copy, well, I’d be more than happy to review it here.)

As long as I just mentioned Brian Brewer, I think it’s probably worth noting that he had, until very recently, never heard of Mark Maynard and I had, until just now, never heard of him.

Isn’t the internet great? I just launch a page and ask a question and within hours, if not minutes, I receive an answer back from a person I did not even know existed one minute earlier. And all of this happened for free, and without advertising. I just put this page up on blogspot and people, I imagine, found it at random. I find that fascinating. I know it’s not “shit your pants funny,” but it’s interesting.

I’ll try to come up with some “shit your pants funny” stuff tomorrow. I promise.

The important thing to keep in mind now is that SubPop is going to cut me a check. That’s good news for me, and what’s good for me, is good for America.

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Technical Difficulties

I’m trying to get this blog moved over to another site, but I handle computer issues about as well as OJ Simpson handles rejection.

Here’s where we are right now… I bought www.markmaynard.com about four years ago and never did anything with it. I just bought the name and sat on it, I suppose fearing that another Mark Maynard, or, worse yet, one of our ever growing number of enemies, might get a hold of it first. I knew I eventually wanted to do something with it, but I just didn’t know what. Then, a few weeks ago, I decided to visit Blogger.com and set up an account on a whim. As with most other things, I got kind of obsessed and I started leaving long, boring posts every night. Now, however, I’m settling into a more healthy pattern of posting and I’m beginning to think about long-term issues, like what purpose I want this to fill and how these goals, once set, can be accomplished.

Right now, I’m thinking about using Blogger to as a tool to post material not to the free www.markmaynard.blogspot.com, as I have been, but to markmaynard.com, the site I own but have never used. Toward that end, I just now signed up with PowWeb, so that I’d have someone to host markmaynard.com. Now it’s time for me to pull all of the pieces together and I’m fucking clueless.

I just thought that I should share that with you.

Actually, it’s looking now as though a majority of the real work will be shouldered by my wife, Linette, and my friend, Dave. They both, I think, have grown tired of my complaining and have offered to assist. What I could do poorly in years, they could do well in hours. Linette is designing the page right now and it looks great. Dave will help coordinate getting all of the pieces working together on-line.

Oh, one of the reasons that I want to get this moved over to markmaynard.com is so I can have a guestbook where people can leave me notes as to how much they do, or don’t, like my writing. Since that apparently isn’t going to happen for a while, you can send me an email if you like. My email address is markmaynard@mindspring.com.

Would You Sell Your Daughter to be on TV?

I just got the following note from my friend Jen in response to the review I wrote a few days ago of NBC’s new summer series, “Meet My Parents.” I thought I’d share it with you as it goes on to further bolster my argument that we are, without a doubt, living in the end times. If I thought there was the least bit of hope that we could pull back from the brink, I’d suggest a letter writing campaign to NBC. I think it’s already much too late for that though. When a father straps a man to lie detector and asks him on national television not only if he intends to fuck his virgin daughter but if he would videotape said fucking without her knowledge, we are all already well down the long and winding road to hell. That’s way the fuck worse than “cats and dogs lying down together” in my book.

“I was unfortunate enough to catch the end of an episode of “Meet My Parents” this week. I saw the part where the last two guys remaining were given the lie detector test in the garage. Apparently, there had been some editing earlier in the episode that made guy #1 seem gay, so the father needed to rule out this possibility. It culminated in a suspenseful slow-motion shot of the polygraph guy giving a thumbs-up when guy #1 said he wasn’t gay. Whew, that was a close one! Otherwise, Dad would have had to consider letting his daughter go to Hawaii with guy #2 who failed miserably when asked if he would videotape the daughter having sex with him without her knowledge. I just love it when a show makes it crystal clear that nothing is worse than being gay, not even a lying cad that flirts with the wife of a married man and would be inclined to deflower his daughter on hidden camera and share it with his friends. Can you imagine the pitch for this show to the NBC execs?”

What the Fuck?

Speaking of bizarre network decisions, can someone tell me why right now on ABC they’re showing back-to-back reruns of Charlie’s Angles, a TV show that went off the air over 20 years ago? Have I entered a Blog-induced coma, or is this really happening? I just checked the ABC website and it says that I should be seeing the Sandra Bullock film, “Speed 2: Cruise Control.” Did someone at the last minute decide that “Speed 2” was to “edgy”? Did they opt for good, old-fashioned, mid-seventies family values over the gritty realism of cruise ship terrorism?

Police Blotter: Local Crime Updates

– Sarah S., the woman whose name was on the Ritalin bottles that were thrown into my backyard, has not yet responded to my email. As I sent it to a Hotmail account that she referenced in a two-year-old guestbook entry that I found on-line, it is likely that she no longer uses it. You need to prepare yourselves for the very real possibility that we might never learn the truth as to what happened that night… (see former story for details)

– Linette, later in the same day in which we had the “HOR” car towed, saw a woman at the other end of our street walking around as if looking for a car. Linette walked by her and heard her mutter, “Who would tow a car from here?” As she wasn’t looking in front of our house, we’re pretty sure Charlie, the ex-boyfriend, moved it into our driveway so we’d tow it. Linette said she saw the woman at 2:30 PM. She said that she was about 20 years old and white. When I asked if she looked as though she was wearing clothes from the previous evening, Linette said that she did. I doubt we will ever have more information on this case either… (see former story for details)

– While the above two cases are growing colder by the day, the case of the murdered Blockbuster manager here in Ann Arbor has apparently been solved. According to the police, it was a 19 year-old employee who was apparently caught in the act of raiding the cash box by his boss. He cut her throat with a knife. He was caught because he was seen entering the store on video surveillance tapes taken by neighboring businesses of their shared parking lot. It’s hard to hide from video surveillance these days.

Crimewave USA Sells First Full-Color Ad

I just got a note from Steve at SubPop and they’ve decided to buy the back cover of our upcoming issue, “Crimewave USA” #14, our first issue to feature full-color covers. My hope is that he’s not pulling my leg, but he did say that the ad would be for a comedy album. Does that sound suspicious to anyone, a SubPop comedy album?

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m very pleased to tell you all that we have Tad in the audience tonight. Tad, why don’t you stand up say hello to everyone… Oh, I’m sorry mam. I’m sure you can understand my confusion, what with the greasy hair and all that flannel. How much flannel does it to take to cover something like you anyway? I’m guessing you could do it with three bolts. Is that about right, three bolts? I could make lederhosen for the entire Von Trapp family with that and still have enough left over to make capes for Mud Honey. Maybe you should consider laying off the deep fried, barbequed spotted owl, and just stick to the heroin, like everyone else.” (OK, I’ve exhausted my vast repertoire of Pacific Northwest grunge humor.)

So, I’m going to get on the internet and see what’s going on. SubPop has been good to us in the past, so I think it’s probably legit, but you never know. Steve could have been fired a few weeks ago and his old boss might be answering his incoming emails, just fucking with little people like me.

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The Columbo Made Me Not Do It

I was going to write an article last night, but then something unexpected and wonderful happened; an episode of “Columbo” came on. Superman had his kryptonite and I’ve got my “Columbo.” That show has a power over me that even my dear departed grandmother’s country ham and red eye gravy couldn’t match.

If you ever want to destroy me, this is all you need to know.

When I see Peter Falk in that rumpled, old raincoat, I become an absolute invalid. I just sit down, wherever I am, and I fall silent. If I were more paranoid, I might suspect that I was hypnotized at an early age in one of those covert CIA/NBC mind-control experiments. (Someday, no doubt, the phone with ring and I’ll pick it up and hear Peter Falk’s voice. “Mark, it’s time. Your country needs you. Your assignment is to run over Ralph Nader with a Lincoln Navigator. Do you understand me, Mark?” “Yes, detective Columbo. I understand. Must kill Ralph Nader with SUV.”)

“Columbo” renders me impotent as a husband, worthless as a friend and undependable as an employee.

The Taliban could be pasting beards on my children and readying them for jihad, and I’d let it happen if an episode of “Columbo” were on. A priest from Boston could be helping my son try on swimming trunks, and I’d be OK with it, so long as I could hear Peter Falk’s voice.

Putting a price on Peter Falk’s Head

While we’re on the subject of Peter Falk, I’d like to take this opportunity to put a $5 bounty on his head. No, I don’t want him dead. I just want to interview him for “Crimewave.” And, if you can help arrange that, I will pay you $5 cash. So, if you know Mr. Falk, or know someone else who knows him, please try to set something up. I have wanted to interview him for some time now, but our paths just haven’t crossed. (I have in the past issued a similar bounty on Don Knotts and it lead to an interview with one of his close relatives (see “Crimewave” issue #12), so this does actually work.)

I would, if I had to, settle for an interview with someone who knows him well. Failing that, I would even settle for someone of casual acquaintance; perhaps a relative, gardener, waiter, camera operator, script supervisor, dog walker, etc. (Unfortunately, I can not pay $5 for such interviews, but I would be happy to send you a free copy of the issue of “Crimewave” in which the interview appears.)

Toilet Tank Tombstone

Yesterday, I think that I may have heard a man almost lose his life in the bathroom of a local Mexican restaurant.

As I was standing there, minding my own business at the urinal, I heard the door behind me burst open with unbelievable force. Before I could even turn my head to see what was happening, I heard a series of loud, beast-like clomps pass behind me and felt a “whoosh” of air, the force of which almost pushed my torso completely into the urinal.

By the time the bathroom door had come to a close, what I assume was a man was already secure within the walls of the stall next to me, apparently contorting himself out of his clothing. I heard elbows hitting the thin, red metal walls on each side of him and the sounds of what I think were three belts being undone. There was real emotion coming through in his performance too. Whatever this guy was doing, you could tell his life depended on it. It sounded to me like what it must have sounded like to the friends of Harry Houdini, standing on the shore of the Niagara River, as he, in a straight jacket was placed inside a metal box and lowered beneath the surface of the water. I just stood there, mesmerized by the drama of the incomprehensible groans and the sounds of limbs being twisted from their sockets.

As I was dismounting the urinal, I heard what sounded like a net full of wet eels being tossed onto a tile countertop from the height of about five feet. It was, no doubt, the sound of his wet ass hitting the ceramic seat and forming an airtight seal. With that, I decided to forego my extensive post-peeing cleansing ritual in favor of quick scrub, and headed for the door. My paper towel-covered hand was just about to reach for the doorknob when I heard the man begin to sob and whimper as though he were begging for his life. I’ve seen psychotic women go into labor without medication, in their own bathtubs (Linette has forced me to watch “A Baby Story” with her on TV) and this was way, way worse than even that.

With that, I paused for a moment, waiting for what might come next. I harkened back, in that split second, to my days as a bellhop and the dead body of the hotel guest in Cincinnati that I had to try to resuscitate all those years ago, the man who died on the toilet. The paramedics had told me, once they finally got there, that lots of people go that way. I was thinking that I might be called on once again to try to save a giant, shitting man.

Then, without much of a warning, I heard a muffled explosion. The best I can describe it is to say that it sounded like what an M-80 might sound like if it were set off a few feet from you and if your head were in a bucket of water. With that, there was a sigh of relief from us both and I left.

I was tempted to wait outside and see who this was, but I felt as though I might be crossing some sort of line. I ran back to our table and turned my chair so I could not see the door. I didn’t want to know who it was that I’d been ready to save.

On Fat and Money

I’m afraid to look, but I think we spend more on eating out than we do on our mortgage each month. On a related note, I think I visit the Big Boy up the street three times more often than I visit the gym across the street from it. Sometimes I head out for the gym and end up at Big Boy. It has never happened the other way around.

I was going to go to the gym this morning, but I chose to sleep until 11:00 instead. I really should have gone this morning too. The gym is closed for the next two weeks for repairs, so this was my last chance for half a month to get my fat ass into a rowing machine.

Judging by what just happened, I’m sure the next fourteen days aren’t going to be pretty either. I didn’t set out to do it, but I just consumed the entire contents of a 16-ounce glass bottle of liquid cheese while lying on my couch, watching reruns of “COPS.”

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