statement of intent

My chosen LJ Idol topic this week will be a combination of the topics from Weeks 1-4: "Saying goodbye in a moment of bliss to someone I mistook for someone I should've cared about, but didn't." I would invite all of you all to join me. Fair warning, though, I'm going to kick your ass.

Gary, should you chance to read this, a suggestion for our forthcoming "surprise:" Ban the letter "E" entirely from our Week 6 entries.

Has anyone else noticed that LJ has started selling banner ads to Scientologists?!

family values, mistaken identity, and poop chutes

here thar be votin'

“Mr. Bidness, I'm truly sorry if I've awakened you, but I was unable to sleep myself... so I thought I might talk to you about a few pressing matters."

Barely conscious or no, oh man... I would've recognized that totally creepy... scratch that, totally creepily sexy voice anywhere. What the hell was he doing calling me at this godforsaken hour?

“Listen, Dennis..." I whispered hoarsely and hurriedly, desperately hoping to defuse this awkward situation ASAP before my beloved Cherille at my side might be awakened from her deep, hot, anal slumber. “...Don't get me wrong, Dennis, you're a great guy, you were such a great butler for those eight or nine days or so, we had some good times together. I'm sorry it just didn't work out, man. It's kind of ridiculous, y'know, I really couldn't even afford to have a butler anyway, to be honest... and we both knew it even before the first paycheck bounced, I think... I mean, I was living in a shitty 1-bedroom on the south side... the place didn't even have a garbage disposal and the neighbors would sing along with Creed or Evanescence or something all the time through the kitchen wall... I mean, you must have known that this gig was a sham, right?..."

“Mr. Bidness, I... um... no, there's no need to apologize..."

“...And, no, I really shouldn't have had that much to drink that night, y'know, I was in a really weird place with my divorce... and yeah, ok, I was feeling kind of uhhh experimental that last night, sure, but I'm not like that, y'know, I really shouldn't have led you on like that... it got so completely weird after that, that's why I had to, like, fire you as soon as you, uh, finished me off... I kinda, y'know, quite literally 'came to my senses,' you could say... look, uh, really sorry about the uhhhh lack of reciprocation..."

“Erm, that's all well and good, Mr. Bidness... now, if you'll please just let me get a word in edgewise..."

“...Anyway, look, like I said, I'm really sorry, I'm just honestly not gay, not even bi-curious, really... I was just drunk, I'm totally straight... I swear I don't ever fantasize about that night, not anymore... well, um, at least not more than like once every couple of months, man... “

“Mr. Bidness, please, please stop talking now. It is vitally important that we discuss your poll standing right now."

“...I'm sorry, but we haven't talked in two or three years now, I thought you understood... I mean, I definitely thought you understood well enough not to drunk dial me out of nowhere at fucking 3am asking me to pull out my 'standing pole,' for crissake, Dennis. I mean, of all the times... I'm staging my Internet-star comeback and there's a lady in the hizzay. So, like, have a good night, but man, would you please lose my number now? I don't do booty calls."

I urgently reached over to slam the phone back into its resting place. It was then that I heard an aggressively impatient, yet unquestionably professional throat-clearing on the other end of the line.

“Mr. Bidness, this isn't 'Dennis.' It's Rev. LaRock, your recently-hired LJ Idol campaign manager. I am calling about your standing in the polls."

...Whoops. “...Whoops. Um... sorry, Rev." Oh well. I was sure he'd just forget all about this conversation in the morning. I mean, I wasn't gay. I just said so, right? “Please, uh, go on."

“...Yesssssss... well, Mr. Bidness, as you may know, your performance last week was drastically improved. Your popular vote count nearly doubled, and you shot up from a 22nd-place intra-tribe performance in week two of the race to 4th place. Along with a totally arbitrary shuffling of your direct competition, disorienting voters just enough in your favor at a pivotal moment in your campaign, well... it seems that posting an entry far too long for any sane human being to read caused many more voters to just give up and vote for you regardless. So that's the good news."

“Yeah, I'd heard about all this. Seems like it's looking up. So what's the bad news?"

“The shuffling of the race has made impossible for my team and I to track or make sense of the other campaign results in order to plan the next phase of strategy for you..."

“I just knew you were going to be upset about that, Rev."

“Yes, well, I admit I was quite disturbed by this development. For a time I was having a dialogue with a few old friends who could have made clauderainsrm... 'disappear' for his deep transgressions against our campaign last week. But on talking it over at greater length with my team, we decided this wouldn't ultimately benefit your campaign... at least not until we'd had a chance to hack into his LiveJournal account to secretly take charge of affairs ourselves..."*

The Rev cleared his throat and continued. “It's like my daddy used to say to me: 'Really, Li'l Rev, what good does it do to eliminate a bureaucratic issue up on the mountaintop before you can directly replace that issue with, say, the oppressive governance of a shadowy puppet body posing as the real thing, pretending to act in everyone's best interests but really only acting on behalf of yours?'"

“Yep, I know exactly what your daddy meant, Rev. I held exactly the same position once. Didn't file those divorce papers until I'd finally managed to set aside enough for a deposit on a Real Doll."

“Well, Mr. Bidness, I suppose we both digress. As I was saying, the results last week were quite hard to make sense of as part of any larger trend that would help us establish a strategy for victory. The capable and dangerous heykatie went from an even lower-ranking performance than you in your tribe the previous week to a well-deserved landslide victory. rm is no longer a direct threat to you at the moment, but foolonthehill has a similarly sized friend base and achieved quite similar results in the polling...

“...And, Mr. Bidness, you also had some stiff competition from people-- I won't mention any names here-- having the lack of shame, the nerve to write about their first girlfriends and stuff. It's quite hard to compete with this cynical, calculated, sickeningly-cute approach in a race so intensely fueled by estrogen as this one. Perhaps if you were able to post a video of you as a two-year-old child, saying 'Mommy, I done doodied!' to the camera while awkwardly holding a copy of Where the Wild Things Are and a squirmy yet very patient golden-retriever puppy, we might be better equipped to compete."

“Oh, Rev... I do know my mom has video of me beating a golden retriever puppy with a copy of War and Peace. I was about ten years old at the time, though. Would that work?"

“Perhaps, Mr. Bidness, perhaps. A lot can be done in post-production these days... cheap DIY CGI has really changed the whole game. Don't trust a tenth of what you see, Mr. Bidness. The most popular cute-kitten videos on Youtube actually started out as balding men in their mid-30s doing poorly-timed a capella covers of Snow's 'Informer' from their work cubicles.

“...But speaking of outright deception and animal abuse, Mr. Bidness, we've employed a few telemarketing firms in North Carolina to conduct some 'objective political surveys' by phone. This has been a highly effective strategy for many of our past clients, one that's won many hotly contested elections like yours.

“...We're now in the process of getting phone numbers for active LJ Idol participants and voters. Once we have a sufficient number of Idol participants to dial, we'll be calling around with our 'surveys' asking voters if they would, say, still consider voting for the likes of heykatie if they learned that she enjoyed hunting down baby bunnies from her solid-gold-plated personal hovercraft with custom-made, long-throw hydrochloric-acid spray guns."

“Um, gee, Rev... I figure you know your business as well as anybody, but I'd be careful when you go making up stories about a woman hunting down helpless animals from the safety of absurdly expensive aerial transport. It could backfire... you just might find the media calling her 'America's Sweetheart' the following week."

“Mr. Bidness, I assure you that we know exactly what we're doing. And naturally, we're taking a multifaceted approach to ensuring eventual victory for you. Since we don't know whether the polling in the new tribes reflects any kind of a trend at this point, and we aren't sure what kind of entries will play well with the maximum number of voters, we've decided to try a new approach with idol_hans.

“...In his latest entry, our automated-writing-synthesis software H.A.N.S. was given all of last week's entries from all 26 of your racemates in Tribe One. It then wrote a brief entry which strategically combines key elements and phrases from everyone else in your tribe. No matter which competitors your audience voted for last week, they have no choice but to love H.A.N.S.'s entry this week, because, well... it's all of those entries they voted for and then some."

“Right, well, I saw H.A.N.S.'s latest entry, Rev, and with all due respect, it looked like a lot of gibberish to me. Granted, I couldn't stop reading it, maybe because I recognized a lot of the shit it stole or something... but I really couldn't make much sense of it either. Irresistible, but why? Somewhere between Joyce and one of your more entertaining spam subject lines. And what's with that MP3 that went along with the entry? That was... really something."

“Ah yessss... the MP3 reading." Though quiet, the Rev's chuckle was one of the most forwardly evil-sounding things I'd heard from him so far. “Some of your LJ Idol competitors like to add custom MP3 readings of their Idol entries, you may have noticed. Well, in the guise of accessibility, we too have had H.A.N.S. do his own reading of the casserole-entry he penned. But there's a little extra... technology and research that went into that recording... y'know, some things that haven't exactly been publicly published."

“All I know, Rev, is that after I finished listening, my scalp itched horribly, and I desperately wanted to vote... for myself. I kept going back to the poll page like a moth to a flame, trying to click on my own name again and again, even after the poll closed. It was fuggin' horrible, Rev. What the hell are you up to over there, anyway?"

“Mr. Bidness, suffice it to say my team and I are in the business of winning races, at any cost and no questions asked. I would simply advise that in the future, you ignore the goings-on over at idol_hans. From time to time he'll be posting experimental materials that may, or may not, be eventually used in your own unfolding campaign. But I worry that you may be adversely affected by some of the experimental techniques we are using before we have a chance to really understand their effects on voters... on consumers. A smart 'religious leader' never drinks the Kool-Aid from the big bowl out front, if you follow. Now, tell me, Mr. Bidness, when you listened to H.A.N.S.'s MP3 reading, did it itch all over your scalp, or just in the front? That part's critically important. My team needs to know."

“All over, Rev. Horribly. For hours."

“Hrm. Well, sounds like we'll need to do a little more tweaking of the binaural beat rate and masking frequency to ensure maximum subject absorption if you're ever gonna win this thing."

“Great. Can I go back to sleep now, Rev? This entry's already over 2000 words long, for crissake, and there are some nightmares about an oppressive secret-police state awaiting me at the moment."

“Yes. We'll talk more soon, Mr. Bidness. For now, enjoy the company of your lady friend. Enjoy it well. It was very expensive company."

I hung up the phone and contentedly turned back over to spoon anew with my beloved Cherille. I gently cupped her ass. Yes, truly, I'd recognize the shape of that amazing ass anywhere.

Couldn't resist giving it a pat. Funny... she didn't budge or murmur or anything.

Gave it a squeeze. Kinda heavy... cold. A little rubbery... even for Cherille, with those ass implants of hers.

...Yeah, well, the blessing and curse with these Real Dolls is that they really do live up to the name... to the point where a groggy dude can't be blamed for being fooled when his beloved hot anal cheerleader ditches in the middle of the night and drops 120 pounds of latex in her stead. That's one major Real Doll issue, and then there's the the whole “tearing where it really counts" problem. But I've heard that can be solved with the very careful application of common silicone caulk.

* Please note: This asterisk'd paragraph, and its surrounding paragraphs, were written strictly for entertainment purposes / totally limp shock value and are not, in any way, shape or form, to be taken fo'serious by anyone anywhere ever. This campaign does not endorse nor shall it ever sponsor acts of LJ-related murder, terrorism, or illegal obstruction of LJ Idol justice. May democracy, or something vaguely resembling it, prevail. I am srs_bidness, and I endorse this message.

market research, talking points, and candied yams

You can vote for me here. By the way, someone completely shuffled the membership of all the tribes between the time I posted this entry-- which is more or less entirely based on the membership / prior-week polling dynamic of my previous tribe-- and the time the polls for this week were set up. Thanks a lot, Gary.

"God-DAMMit, Rev." I punctuated the second syllable, slamming the printout on Rev. LaRock's desk. My "goddammit" was so aggressive, so drawn out in its timing and pitch contour, it would have impressed even Bob Odenkirk. "Tied for 22nd place? How am I ever supposed to win back my sponsorship with numbers like these? Christ, Rev, I'm not even going to make it to week five at this rate." I laid my head down on the huge slab of glossy mahogany veneer and sobbed softly as visions of the week's single-digit percentage returns flashed in my head.

But Rev. LaRock just smirked, adjusted his JC Penney tie, stroked his neck flap gently and disturbingly. "Not to worry, Mr. Bidness. This race is just beginning... and so is our analysis. You got in touch with the right experts for the job, and did so just in time to save your campaign."

I managed to count my blessings and choke back my tears. "Rev, tell me what you know. How bad is it, really? Where did it all go wrong last week?"

"In some senses, Mr. Bidness, it's not nearly as dire as it looks. Of the 33 contestants in your so-called tribe last week, only six received greater than 20% approval from the voting base. And of course, it's difficult to ignore the fact that the winner of the round, rm, is packing no fewer than 565 mutual friends-- the largest friendbase of anyone in your tribe by a nearly 100% margin, and 21 times larger than your own 27-member friend list. If we adjust your polling result accordingly for this rm-friends-list differential, well, congratulations, Mr. Bidness! You've won the round handily, as you have just managed to win votes from 176.4% of last week's voters."

I spat and kicked his desk. "Christ, Rev... it figures. I haven't been around long, but seems in this business, it's never about who you know, is it? It's about how many people you know that are still pathetic enough to still be stuck on LJ in 2008. You know, all the people who are too nerdy or too insatiable in their comment-whore drive to have moved over to Facebook or something by now."

"Actually, Mr. Bidness, while rm's personal voter base is certainly awesome in terms of number, and this factor undoubtedly helped her landslide victory along as per usual, the top results from the first few weeks don't generally bear out such direct correlation of friend-list size to final measurable performance at the polls. baxophobia pulled down second place in tribe last week with only 141 friends, and kathrynrose was right behind her with merely 101 friends to count on. These are both well below the Tribe Five mutual-friend-list average of 184.73 friends, and most of the folks with 200+ friends placed solidly in the middle of the pack. Nearly identical results were seen in the first week of polling, too. So more friends does not necessarily equate to a higher polling rank, at least not at this stage."

"...Well, shit, Rev... your analysis just killed the convenient scapegoat of everyone who's gonna lose in the first ten rounds. So if it's not just a popularity contest this time out, then just what the hell is going on?"

"Mr. Bidness, my analysts believe that a more significant factor in your lackluster performance last week may involve your entry's unfortunate brevity."

"Look, Rev. I know I used to write more in my old entries, but thinking it over, most days, I really do believe less is more. And when I was a kid, my dad taught me something important. He said, 'Srs, once you go pointlessly making up lame fetish porn of any kind, end that fucking entry right away... before anyone's eyes pop out of their sockets from the uncontrollable rolling... and don't ever look back.'"

"Well, your father may have had a point, and in some sorts of races a connection with the adult entertainment industry can actually be more of a boon to poll performance than you might expect. But here's what we do know about last week's results.

"The bottom six entrants in the race-- at least, the bottom six who left their entries up for further analysis, as both heykatie and changed_4good removed their entries following the polling-- these entrants all posted entries having an average length of 435.33 words. You were right in line with that losing word-count number at merely 461 words. The top six entrants in your tribe, on the other hand, averaged 1117.5 words in length with their entries."

My eyes rolled. "Yeah, Rev, I fucking noticed. Talk about an epidemic of tl;dr. Seriously, who the hell in today's troubled economy has the attention span to skim over 1118 words, let alone to actually comprehend or read any of it? You mean to tell me that the readers are just mindlessly voting for the entries that look like the most serious writing, just because they require scroll-wheel cruise control? This competition is nothing like the LJ real world. I once shot and killed a man for putting more than four consecutive paragraphs onto my friends page without an LJ-cut."

"Well, hrm, yes... it's actually true that there is a point of diminishing returns here, Mr. Bidness. The top three entrants averaged only 702.67 words-- still markedly more than the average length down at your losing end of the tribe, but not excessively so. As we move down into fourth, fifth and sixth place-- spydielives, lilmissmagic71, monkeysugarmama-- the word count goes up sharply into the 1000+ word range, with a direct correlation between more words and lower placement.

"It's because of this research," the Rev said cautiously, "that my fellow analysts and I think that there may be a magic length of entry that perfectly fits the expectations of an LJ Idol reader, and causes them to automatically associate the entry with good writing. It's early in the game, but we're starting with the hypothesis that an entry with the maximum chance of receiving votes should be exactly 702 and 2/3rds words in length."

"Wow. That sounds perhaps, um... less than credible scientifically... sort of like this 'intelligent design' thing I heard about a couple years back. So anyway, how are you planning to test out this hypothesis? Are you expecting me to sit there and count out every word I write for the next round?"

"No, Mr. Bidness. We would never use a paying client as a guinea pig. Using last week's top six ranked performances from within Tribe Five, we used our Markov-chaining speechwriting software to analyze the texts. This particular software package, while unable to write prose that can persuade or compel a listener of above-average intelligence, has written some carefully-modeled speeches that have proven very popular with Joe Six-Pack lately. We told the software to fully parse these six winning entries of the round, and then write an entry that has the appeal of all six winning entries through its own study and emulation-- an entry exactly 702 and 2/3rds words in length.

"If our theory is correct," the Rev continued, "then LJ Idol voters should be helplessly drawn to this synthetic-composite entry like a moth to flame. They will comment helplessly, finding meaning and universality in the prose, saying things like, 'This was SUCH a moving entry,' and they won't know why. They will find themselves adding our software to their friends list, as if an invisible force were controlling their hand in front of a touch-screen voting machine made by Diebold. They may even demand that clauderainsrm begin to include idol_hans as a mid-season write-in candidate. If this strategy proves successful enough with the polling base on our independently-operating platform, we can begin to incorporate some of these theories and technologies into a sure-fire winning campaign for you, Mr. Bidness."

"It really sounds like your team has thought of everything, Rev." I really was in awe-- compared to Morty, Rev. LaRock and his think tank seemed like the ultimate in consummate, and consummately sinister, professionals. "Is there anything else I should know going into the third round?"

"Yes, Mr. Bidness." At this, the Rev looked down sheepishly at his pile of bar graphs. "As we have been familiarizing ourselves with the happenings so far, the members of my team have noticed a certain... negativity in your campaign. Now, we also realize that this has been part of your platform from your very first press release in the previous season, and certain kinds of... 'dramatically' negative campaigning are certainly par for the course in the world of LiveJournal."

"Tell me about it," I chuckled. "Only two rounds into this thing and I've already OD'd on reading Darkly Profound Personal Confessions. I swear I haven't hated the world or wanted to off myself this badly since Disintegration dropped in '89. And I was in fucking high school when that happened."

The Rev was not to be derailed. "...However, Mr. Bidness, your unique brand of cynicism has grown more pronounced this season, and we worry this may not be playing well with voters in your key demos. We think something needs to be done to lighten the mood generally in your campaign... perhaps... well, perhaps something needs to be done to you."

Sure, OK, what do I have to lose, I thought. I've always wondered, personally, if an old-fashioned lunch-hour lobotomy might do me some good. The door to the right of the desk opened up, and I cringed, expecting to see perhaps an ex-televangelist with a sterile icepick in hand.

Instead, it was... OMFG, it was Cherille. CHERILLE!

She had always been my favorite Hot Anal Cheerleader®. And now, some time had passed - hell, she might actually be past the age of consent now.

I'm sure that my eyes lit up the entire office. "Rev! How did you know? How did... how did you get this through HR? They have strict policies, these exclusivity agreements..."

The Rev smiled and put his hopefully-recently-washed finger to my lips. "Never underestimate the power of Rev. LaRock. You can thank me later. Just enjoy her... and use this energy for your campaign." He flicked his neck flap slightly, leered at Cherille noticeably, and then left us in his office to ourselves.

Cherille beamed at me, did the splits backwards on LaRock's desk, and perkily placed her poms in such a fashion as to direct my attention to the hidden yet willing cavity I'd had the chance to trace so intimately in our too-brief secret moments the previous season. Then she fell backward into my arms.

Our endless love, with all of its giggling and jiggling, had been forbidden back then. Well, just the love was forbidden, of course... the anal sex was sorta unofficially part of the whole endorsement deal.

And as my first "moment of bliss" in... waaaay too many months unfolded deliciously right onto my lap, I couldn't help but be amazed at the Rev's strategic blunder. If I had Cherille, well... what the fuck did I care about getting back to endorsing

See the data behind this entry: If you don't have Excel, just Google-and-grab OpenOffice already, or you could just try to read the delimited text version.

i'm working, but i'm not working for you

Don't get me wrong, people, there's a lot to be said for comprehensibility, linearity and following directions. I suppose if I had been better at writing clean, directed essays of the intro-point-one-point-two-point-three-conclusion sort, I might have actually won that Daughters of the American Revolution scholarship, or perhaps even just the year's supply of Count Chocula.

But I'm a complex man, with complex feelings. Honestly, ask me to list the things that I probably should give two shits about, and "Oh, y'know, all of 'em TEE HEE" is actually a valid and honest response. It's not me pulling my best impression of America's favorite vapid Sephora-enamored sow; since it is now almost a full week on from the instant invention of the spin-term "gotcha journalism," that shit is officially old meme as it sits. And besides, you sure as hell aren't going to catch Sean Hannity rubbing one out to looped replays of my response over the bathroom-stall monitors.

But let's start, in fact, with this presidential race. Perhaps we could also mention the supposed financial crisis. Throw in global warming. The state of my 401k. Net neutrality. LJ Idol... or these days, LiveJournal in general. Gainful employment. Your favorite band. Whether my date's ass looks big in those jeans. The hopefully matching set of index finger and thumb that have been sitting, unexplained, in a baggie in my freezer since roughly St. Patrick's Day '06. Or perhaps the story behind said digits, of which I haven't the slightest snatch of detail, aside from the fact that they sure as hell aren't mine.

None of these things are of any real concern to me. And I could list a lot more things I don't care about, if I cared enough, which I don't. Call me an asshole, that's fine. You'd be at least half right.

So since we've established that I care about any number of important things maybe only slightly less than the average contemporary American, let's turn an already highly questionable theme on its head. What's left, then? What does an Internet ex-celebrity of my former stature concern themselves with on a daily basis?

In the interest of brevity and clarity, I'll say just this: my collection of amateur wrist porn.

It's an archival-quality collection. When I pass on, some lucky museum-- I haven't decided just which one yet, but I've narrowed it down to MOMA, the Smithsonian, or maybe the Living Bible Museum in Mansfield, Ohio-- is going to absolutely shit themselves when they see all these lurid wrist depictions.

I'm accepting further additions to the collection in the comments. But I'm afraid I can't offer much compensation. I'm really pretty firm on the whole "amateur" requirement.

Say Goodbye

My Father was expecting company. He was always one to pride himself on his adherence to the values considered important when he was a young man. He liked to cook, he liked to dress neatly, and he liked to keep a certain order in his surroundings. Tonight he had gone to great lengths to produce an exquisite meal for himself and his guest, which was almost ready. He was dressed opulently and would have been amused to see himself constantly adjusting his jacket, if he'd noticed. The table was prepared, the flowers had been set out, and the drinks were ready on the sideboard.

Sitting in his chair, meticulously double checking each element of his surroundings, my Father's eyes fell upon the clock. He had been patient, and it would be soon. He would often reflect on his curious journey through life and the patience he had to endure to simply move with it. A gregarious man who loved his friends who had long since lost contact with him. A family man who loved his wife and children whom he hadn't seen for years. Happy with his lot, and then moved to another place. The meticulous state of his house was a testament to his ability to completely adapt to any circumstance, and yet he still felt incomplete.

As my Father mused upon his circumstances, there was a shout in the distance. Not startled, he arose and walked into the kitchen.

I shouted in dismay when I walked into the hospital room. I had only been asleep in the common room for a few hours when I was roused by the nurse, who told me my attendance had become urgent.

My Mother had been ill for a number of years and she now lay close to death in front of us. The invasive tubes and equipment, I suppose, denied her a great deal of dignity in her final seconds, but then dignity was the last concern I had at that moment. "Say goodbye, children," I whispered to my family, trying to distract myself from my own feelings of pain, of loss, of anger, of despair, and of emptiness. I had not endured this kind of horror since my Father had died when I was quite young, thirty years earlier, and now I suffered the same horror again as I watched my Mother take her last breath.

There was a knock at the door. My Father allowed himself a half smile. He had waited thirty years for this moment, and everything was ready. He adjusted his jacket, turned on his heel, and went to answer it.

ljidol IS srs_bidness

For those of you who weren't following LJ Idol last season and are new to this dangerous little game, I left the contest on the eve of the top 50 in a special, contestants-only vote. My peers decided they had had enough of me, which was a bitter pill to swallow. As an entertainer whose star was beginning to rise, it was a near fatal blow. I went from the walk of stars to skid row over night. I lost all of my sponsorship deals. Do you have any idea how hard it was to give-up my VIP status at Granted, there are stories worse than mine. One night, I was walking the streets trying to make sense of all of this, when worldofcharlie crawled out of a dumpster and offered me a $5 hand job. I heard spydielives spent some time "resting" in a private facility up north. If I could say one thing to the n00bs coming into the contest this season it would be this: Idol will swallow you whole and then spit you out like a bulimic high school girl giving head with a poor gag reflex and doing ipecac shots with her retainer still in her mouth. This ain't for nancy boys and prima donnas, junior. This shit is real. We go where eagles dare and I ain't no goddamn son of a bitch. You better think about it, baby.

Ah, but this is supposed to be an introduction. So who is srs_bidness? I'm sure some people view this journal as a thorn, even a cancer. Some people think this journal is merely fiction and that humor is an ineffective vehicle. Some people think this journal shits where it eats. Some people don't get it and probably never will. Hopefully you will. After you've read your 50th entry about someone's harrowing experience at the hands of an abuser and "I Will Survive" is playing as a soundtrack in your head on repeat, as it undoubtedly will if it hasn't already in this round of introductions, you can always come here for a good laugh and some quality writing, or at the very least, a run-on-sentence that just barely made its point. I like to think of this journal as the occasional conscience of LJ Idol in a jester's outfit. It's a place where things are absurd, a mirror image of the contest in which it resides.

But this year I have a strict "No BiPolyPaganGeek" policy in effect. It's become so cliché. I'm still down with the blind chicks, though. They really know how to party.

mistakes were made

In the months since The Previous Competition ended for me, I have been thoroughly, irreversibly transformed.

At first, my impossible shame and unrelenting sorrow led me back, again and again, to the very first moment I knew. I allowed myself to be shattered over and over. But at some point it could no longer really affect me. After all, how deeply can one quaff from a bottomless chalice of despair?

Not to mention... everything looks endlessly black and blackly endless (oh-so-deliciously sweet or not) when you're trying to finish off that bottle of Prestone 50/50 prediluted. But no matter what the bottle says, you do get your sight back eventually. And I'm living proof.

The final result: I am now leaner, now meaner, perhaps excessively so in both cases... like a Weight Watchers frozen dinner (two points) as personally served to an utterly tone-deaf, morbidly obese individual by a nic-fitting Simon Cowell.

With this transfiguration from mere mortal to an unfeeling and most likely unstoppable force of nature, some might make note of my present machine-like traits and tendencies.

In fact, since the incident, I've had a few passers-by come up to me and say, "Hey, I know you... aren't you that TRS-80 in my parents' basement?" You wouldn't believe how often this actually happens now.

I woke up one morning in June. It was then I realized that I had learned how to stop feeling... how to stop feeling everything... except the smoldering, barely controllable rage, of course.

And just when I thought I couldn't go any lower, Bennigan's went under. I fucking loved me a Monte Cristo.

It was at that point that it all made sense... that the surprisingly obvious course of recourse became surprisingly obvious.

Here we are, folks.

Now, don't get me wrong, since I last rapped at ya, it's not been all about staring directly into the abyss, listening to Gorecki's 3rd (or, at the worst of it, Conor fucking Oberst), aimlessly sucking down pack after pack of Kafka Spirit unfiltereds. I took the time and the breach-of-contract settlement I won from Howie's Tanning Salon and Bait Shop, went and set me up some focus groups. I've got all their notes now.

And, well, between the undeniable power of marketing and my hot, new, PTSD-inspired sociopathic stylings, I guess this all means you can expect a few things to be different this time around. You'll see.

You'll all see.

And when you're all snugly eGathered around me @ the winner's circle, folks, the first round of Prestone's on me.

happy trails

"So, what did you think?"

Curtis was in his usual Thursday night spot, the beanbag chair in my living room.

"I can't believe you made me watch that instead of Lost. I mean it was funny and all, but, I mean... c'mon! LOST!"

"Yeah, but what did you think about the movie?" I asked again.

"Dude, if I wanted a story full of thous and thees I could've just read the Bible. And it was confusing. They spend the whole movie trying to figure out who they and what they're doing and then they die for no reason." I smiled at Curtis with a hint of compassion that was lost on him. "Did they even figure out which was which?"

"It would seem that Gary Oldman was Rosencrantz and Tim Roth was Guildenstern. But they never really said for sure. It doesn't even really matter, that wasn't the point of the story."

"If you ask me, bro, it was pretty fucking stupid. Everyone knew who they were when they appeared magically out of nowhere. And what was with all the Hamlet shit?"

"Think about it, Curtis. Delve"

Curtis started laughing, then said in a really bad English accent, "When's he going to delve I kept asking myself?" He switched back to his normal accent. "That was pretty funny."

"Seriously, Curtis. Didn't it seem... familiar?"

"Well, dude, it was full of Hamlet, of course it seemed familiar."

I sighed, then decided to use Guildenstern's approach with my Rosencrantz. "Curtis, what's the first thing you remember?"

"Well he was flipping a coin over and over and it kept coming up heads....."

"No Curtis, I mean... what's the first thing you remember. About you."

"Ohhhh, like they did in the movie. Ok, ok... I'll play. Uhhhh, so like, my very first memory? After all the things I forgot?

I smiled again and nodded, trying not to visibly cringe. This was going to be hard.

"Pale sky before dawn, a man standing on his saddle to bang on the shutters... I'm just fuckin' with you. Ummmm...."

Curtis became quiet. The familiar, inexplicable light which filled his face drained as the silence grew. It was gradually replaced with confusion. The silence became uncomfortable but finally he spoke again, haltingly.

"I... I remember meeting you at the hotel in Niagara Falls. This is weird, it's like... like, I've got these vague impressions of high school. Something about a roller rink and a Cutlass Supreme... but... dude, this is freaking me out. Does this happen to everyone that watches this movie?"

"That's why I wanted you to watch this movie with me Curtis. You..." I swallowed hard. "You're kinda like them."

"Bro, have you been dipping into the sauce again? What the hell are you talking about?"

"Curtis, why do you think your first memory is the first time you appeared in my journal and the only thing you remember about your younger life also appeared in my journal?"

Curtis was quiet. He reclined backward in the beanbag chair, pulling his knees into his chest with his arms. He looked at me sadly and with disbelief.

"You mean I'm..."

I cut him off. "No Curtis, don't say it. Don't even think it, because it's not true. You mean a lot to me and to quite a few other people who have gotten to know you. You're just... a different kind of person who existed in a specific place in a specific time, which when you think about it, is no different than anyone else."

"So... like this was my time and my place. Your friend for this LJ Idol bullshit?"

"Well, I did give you the best lines. I made a better straight man."

Curtis was quiet again for what seemed like an eternity. He finally broke it to say, "Is it getting cold in here, bro?"

I nodded at him. "The lights aren't on us any more."

"You know this sucks. It really, really sucks. So like, Howie? Morty? Randi?"

I nodded again.

"How did they take it?"

"Well, Morty and Randi knew from the beginning. Randi took it kind of hard since she never got a chance to really grow before our plug was pulled, but she's okay with it. Howie, well... techincally Howie's been gone for a while."

Curtis sat up in the beanbag chair. "Dude, you had all those other plans. Another Howie commercial, the voodoo dolls, the whole stalker gambit. What a shame." Curtis thought for a moment then added, "Maybe like, I could get my own thing you know? Call it 'Curtis' and get that chick from The Sopranos to play my sister and move to L.A. Or, or... 'Srs Loves Curtis' or, wait, that'd be kinda gay. 'After Srs' maybe?" Curtis chuckled a bit to himself and I grinned, glad to see a little of his spark back. He became solemn again for a moment and looked at me. "I guess this is the way I was meant to be and didn't have much of a choice. I could have never existed at all, I suppose. Of all the people I could've had for a best friend, I'm glad I got to be yours, bro."

I was starting to get a little choked-up, but I managed to get out, "I'm glad I got to be your best friend, too."

"So... like, is this it? The last one?"

I nodded.

"Is this... is this going to hurt?"

I shook my head. "No Curtis, you won't feel a thing."

"Ok, so how do we do this? Do I get any final words?"

"Do you have something you want to say?"

"Not really. I just feel like, you know, there should be a blindfold and a cigarette. And a Tombstone pizza."

"Nope, it just ends when it ends. So.. are you ready?"

"Wait wait wait... can I tell a joke?"

"Sure, Curtis."

"Ok. Back in World War II, I was stationed in a small town in France where I was dating a local opera singer. Nearly all ofthe men were off fighting the Germans so most of the civil offices were filled with nuns from the nearby motherhouse. They were doing the daily clerical tasks of keeping the municipal bureaucracy working. The opera house was closed due to the war, but my girlfriend liked to practice in the evenings after working all day in a factory to support the war effort. An ordinance was in effect, however, which prohibited 'excessive' noise after 7pm. After receiving a couple of fines for practicing her singing, she decided to go to the local courthouse with the intent to bribe a local official. I went with her for moral support and waited on the steps of the courthouse while she went inside. She emerged from the courthouse and let out the most beautiful aria I'd ever heard. I said, 'Is that a nun in your pocket or are you just happy to C me?'"

I groaned. "That was a long way to go for a Mae West pun. You sure you want that to be the last thing people remember you for?"

"Actually, there's one more thing. Roll credits!"

satisfy your needs with just one stop

Life is full of people who try tell you what you are, who you can be, and what you should do. This is especially true when you purposefully stray from the pack or stick the triangular piece in the round hole, just to see what would happen. Someone is always there to remind you that you're doing it wrong, only because you're not doing it the way they would like, not because there's only one way it can be done. It can sometimes be a challenge to stay the course you've set for yourself. When you show your resolve and refuse to back-down, you're written-off as having nothing to offer. I savor these moments, in fact, I frame them and hang them on my wall.

The photo is of a LiveJournal comment from LJ user clauderainsrm, where it says, among other things that I 'bring nothing to to the table'.  The link supplied will take you to the actual comment.

That's not my biggest challenge, though. Oh no, dear reader. That shit's a walk in the park. You know what's a challenge?

Morty called me last week. It seems that Howie was willing to have me back as the official spokesperson, provided I would agree to do a series of television spots for his shop. No big deal... I thought. I gave Morty the go ahead to sign the contract and on Monday I flew to Austin for the recording session. I was thinking there'd be some lame script which I'd fight with the director over and win their hearts with improv takes that would make the final edit.

No one told me I was going to have to sing. With a full band. And a backing group. I'm an entertainer but I'm not a song and dance man, that's for damn sure. So, unless this gets sucked into the void left by lacombe's unexpected exit from LJ Idol - submitted for your amusement:

hey little sister what have you done?

When Curtis didn't show-up last night to watch Lost I was worried, so I went over to make sure he was okay. I got out of my car in front of his house. The street lights flickered ominously as I made my way up the sidewalk. I rang the bell, but no one answered. The house was dark and quiet.

I stepped off the porch and walked down the driveway along the side of the house. Hot, white light emitted in a burst from one of the basement windows then faded slowly. I could see Curtis through the window in what appeared to be... a white wedding dress and yellow rubber gloves up to the elbow. He was standing over a table draped with a sheet. I tapped on the window and he looked up at me, obviously startled. He pointed toward the ceiling, instructing me to go back to the front door.

I walked back around to the front of the house and waited. Soon a light came-on in the living room and the door opened. It was a wedding gown, and it had been cut down the front with three big buttons sewn to the front, making it look like an overcoat

"You ditch me for a hot date tonight?"

"What time is it?" Curtis asked. "Oh dude, I missed the show didn't I?"

"You didn't miss much. The newbs are still boring, Sayid killed a bitch. So are you going to tell me why you're wearing this dress? Months of mocking are already in order, which I figure can stretch to years with the why."

"I didn't have a lab coat, but mom's old dress was in the attic so it had to do." Curtis showed me inside. "I guess time got away from me. There's only a couple of hours left and Valentine's Day will be over." Curits turned and headed toward the basement door. I followed him, understandably curious. We descended the steps and nothing could've prepared me for what Curtis said next. "I'm building a woman."

"Uhhhh..." I started, not sure how to reply to that.

"I know it sounds," the tone of his voice dropped drastically, "mad," then went back to its normal pitch, "bro. But, I hate not having a girlfriend on Valentine's Day."

"Join the club," I muttered.

"Yeah but, you've got all those Idol groupies, bro. You sat at home alone and watched TV because you're a looooooooser."

"And building a girlfriend in your basement is... healthy? Besides, most of the LJ Idol groupies are, how should I say this? Fucking psycho?"

"I was just fucking with you. Are there really LJ Idol groupies?"

"Sad, but true. Actually, I think one of them is stalking me."

"No shit?! That's awesome. What's her name?" Curtis had led me through the basement during this exchange. We were now standing beside the table with the sheet draped over it. There was something under the sheet, running the length of it. Beside the table was a desk with a computer and some other pieces of electronic equipment. Wires ran haphazardly betweem then and under the sheet. I was lost in thought, looking at the surreal display before me. Curtis asked again, "Dude. What's her name?"

"Ummm, Randi."

"It's a dude?"

"No, Randi with an I," I said absent mindedly. "What do you have under there, Curtis? You haven't been grave robbing again, have you? You remember all the trouble you got into last time, right?"

Curtis chuckled, "No, I'm still on probation from that." Curtis, for a time, had tried picking-up girls at funeral parlors. He'd scan the newspaper for rich people who had died then go to the visitation claiming to be an old friend. He was convinced that openly weeping at the side of the casket would make him seem attractively sensitive and vulnerable. He had been to two different visitations that day. At the second one, he accidentally dropped the phone number he got from a girl at the first one into the casket. Later when he couldn't find it, he took it upon himself to retrieve it. "Don't tell me you wouldn't have done the same thing."

"She was hot," I admitted. "Wasn't she the one who turned you in?"

"Yeah, I had told her a story about how me and her dead uncle had bought matching ties at the mall and that it was hard to see him being buried in it. So when I went back to get the digits, I grabbed his out of the casket while I was there. Thought it'd make a nice touch to the story some day, you know, to wear the 'matching' tie? I wore it to her sorority formal. Who has their ties monogrammed? I thought it was the brand name or something." Curtis picked up the yellow kitchen gloves that were laying on top of the sheet. He snapped them on dramatically.

"If you don't have severed body parts under there Curtis, why the gloves and the, uh, lab coat?"

Curtis looked at me like I was the crazy one. "Dude, there are rules about being a mad scientist. Like, lab coat, rubber gloves... and electricity. I wasn't lucky enough to have a thunderstorm tonight so I took apart the 220 volt socket behind the dryer, spliced one of those heavy duty orange extension cords to it. Then I took the switch out of the breaker box and hard wired the incoming current to that socket.

"That would explain the street lights flickering."

Curtis began laughing, that deep cackle of a mad scientist. "That fucking rules. So, like, is 'Randi with an I' not a babe?"

"Dude, she's like 15."

Curtis looked at me silently, like he was waiting for more. When I didn't say anything he asked, "Yeah, but, is she hot?"

"Curtis, didn't you go to jail for that, too?"

"How the hell was I supposed to know she was only 14. She looked at least 16." Curtis, for a time, had tried picking-up girls at roller-skating rinks. He'd wear his old highschool class ring and skate backwards a lot. Then, during the couples-only songs, he'd stand alone looking sensitive and vulnerable in the blacklight and disco-ball sparkle. I'm not telling the rest of this story and it's a good thing the back seat of his Oldsmobile Cutlass couldn't talk.

"You don't... have a live, willing participant under there do you?" I asked.

"If I had a live, willing participant I wouldn't be building a woman." Curtis grabbed the sheet and ripped it off the table with a flourish. Lying on the table was a collage of images, representing various body parts, pieced together with Scotch tape over the form of a female mannequin. Where the breasts were, Curtis had balanced two large canteloupes and there were wires coming out of them, leading to the hardware on the desk.

I gasped audibly. "Dude, that's... scary, but in an awesome kind of way."

"I know, right? Bro, check it out. I've got Debra Messing's hair taped at the top. You see if you can guess the rest."

I looked over the photos. "Ok, the nose is definitely Elizabeth Montogomery."

"Right on, bro. Could there be any other nose on the perfect woman? I think not."

There was a photo of bikinied breasts over the canteloupes. "Heidi Klum, right?" I asked poiting at them.

"Rock on," Curtis said beaming with pride.

"The knees are Scarlett Johansson, I know them anywhere. Those are aren't her thighs though?"

"Maria Sharapova, dude."

"Holy shit you're brilliant Curtis! And the calves?"

"Jane Russell. She's on the hips, too."

"I'm surprised you didn't put her on the canteloupes. The mouth is... oh shit what's her name? Um... Claire Danes?"

"Yup. I always melt when she does that little frowny-smile thing."

"I notice you have the eyes and cheekbones as a single photo. It looks familiar but I can't place it. Great eyes."

"Imagine a mask over it."

I gazed a little longer. "Dude! Earth Kitt?"

"Meow!" we said in unison.

"You can't see it, but Beyonce's ass is underneath the mannequin."

"Excellent choice. So what's the plan here, Curtis?"

Curtis looked around. "Well, I think everything is ready to go. I was doing a power test when you tapped on the window." He handed me a pair of welder's goggles and began putting on his. "You ready for this, bro?"

I placed the strap over my head and put the dark lenses over my eyes. "Totally," I said and stepped back from the table. Curtis reached for a switch on the desk and flipped it. The hot, white light I had seen from the driveway flashed and filled the basement. A large buzzing sound accompanied it for maybe 10 seconds then there was a loud POP and the light was gone. All the lights and the equipment on the table went out as well. Judging from the darkness of the basement windows, the power was gone from the whole block.

I removed my goggles. The smell of cooking canteloupe was overpowering and small orange flames danced on the table as the pictures curled on the mannequin in the heat. In the light of the fire I walked over to Curtis and patted him on the back of his white wedding dress.

"Well Curtis, tomorrow is another day," I said. "A nice day to..."

Curtis shook his head at me, daring me to finish.