Random Manny Furious Journal Entry: Really good tortillas and posted-up cholos….

I’ve lived in Pueblo, Colorado for a little more than a year-and-a-half now. It’s an interesting place. Lots of vagabonds and hoodlums, and the locals are all overweight and smoke. Drug use runs rampant, and it’s one of those small towns you see on the evening news every so often for having an obscene murder rate. In fact, we made the national news the past couple of months, once for the arrest of a white supremacist who was planning to blow up a synagogue here, and more recently for a murderous rampage some dude went on with a literal axe.

Denver Broncos paraphernalia abound, with flags hanging out of every other home on Sundays, and mailboxes and automobiles all decked out in a blue and orange ugly, pissed-off horse. All of the milquetoast east coast and midwest transplants to Colorado avoid this place almost as much as they avoid having personalities.

All of which is to say, I enjoy Pueblo immensely on most days. But one disappointing aspect has been the dearth of worthwhile Mexican restaurants. This problem isn’t unique to Pueblo, by any means. 20 years ago, Colorado was rife with delicious Mexican-American food. You could get distracted and somehow end up in a shithole restaurant with a hot, delicious plate of chile rellenos and beans sitting in front of you, unsure of how it happened. But in the interim, something has happened and now you can’t find a decent Mexican restaurant even with the help of word of mouth and a GPS. Colorado Springs is, unsurprisingly, more moribund than Pueblo on such matters. But the real disappointment is Denver. Denver is of course large enough to have, by sheer probability, a handful of decent Mexican restaurants, but it’s pathetic how few and far in between they are.

You settle for “okay” or “fine” Mexican-American offerings, but The Soul Remembers. The Soul Remembers that there used to be something called, “Decent Mexican food that wasn’t made at home” and it remembers that you used to eat it, and it remembers that it felt good. And so it’s never quite satisfied when you pay actual money for “fine” or “okay.” It knows something is missing, and it wanders the spiritual realm without you, scouring and hoping for any semblance of what it Remembers.

These enchiladas–

I keep chewing and chewing

but all the flavor

stays trapped inside somewhere

my teeth can’t seem to get to

Anyhow, there is a “decent” taqueria in town. Adolfo’s has a northside location and southside location. They’re, in a philosophical sense, the same restaurant, but the southside location tends to be “pretty good” while the northside location is just “pretty decent.” They both have really good tortillas, though. My issue with the southside location is that everything time I go there, there’s some creepy-looking cholo posted up outside of the restaurant, I’m assuming trying to look hazardous. It’s not the same guy every time. It’s always a different dude. But it’s the same vibe. Usually he’s wearing a big, puffy coat, smoking and trying to evoke an air of toughness. He wants to be intimidating because he is better at violence than you are. He may be selling drugs, but mostly these guys just stare at you and make you want to go home and take a shower and check the sex offender registry. You walk past them when you go in, and you walk past them on your way out, and they don’t say anything or do anything. they just stand there and be fucking weird.

And there’s more than one of them.

I have no point. Just that, it’s hard to get to get some quick, easy Mexican food, and in order to do so you have to deal with these weirdos.

Anyway, the best Mexican place I’ve been to in Pueblo is Garlic and Onions. But I haven’t been to all of them yet.

Cloudy Pueblo day–

Some geese fly overhead and

sing traveler’s songs….

Pizza in his mouth

–a neighborhood squirrel

runs across my fence.

Lazy Sunday morn–

All I want to do is watch

porn and write poems. 

Cognitive Restructuring….

Today was one of those stone-cold bummer days at work. Everything was wrong. Everything went wrong. Everybody hated me and everything I stood for. Nobody hesitated to let me know about it.

None of it was personal, of course. It’s always business, never personal. That’s the truth. Life isn’t personal, it just feels like it is sometimes. But being middle-management means I have to enforce the stupid rules that I have in no way influenced, and I have to get yelled out by the people below me who have to adhere to those rules.

My job is I’m a counselor who supervises other counselors at a community mental health agency. This means the vast majority of our clients are impoverished. This means that counseling is not really going to fix most of these people’s problems. No amount of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is going to help someone pay their rent. No amount of Cognitive Restructuring is going to make sure their next door neighbors aren’t gang-bangers and drug dealers.

Stuff like that.

Lazy day at work

I look outside my window

Watching the Snowfall


Drive outside of town

To watch some porn on my phone

During my lunchtime

Anyway, I had to work late. It was a typical early December evening. It was pitch black when I left the office at 7:00pm. There was leftover snow throughout the parking lot and on the tree skeletons that lined and dotted the parking lot at weird and only semi-coherent intervals. It’s a huge parking lot. Three times, at least, the size of the actual building I work in. And the building I work in is fairly large. It houses the department where I work and the 30 employees therein, a computer lab, a pharmacy, four medical clinics, the entire billing, business information and quality improvement staffs, and a 60-day inpatient substance abuse program.

Anyhow, I was about halfway through the parking lot when I realized I had been running late earlier, and had parked much closer to the building than I typically do, and I shifted directions to make a sharp turn toward the location of my 2012 Nissan Rogue (a grandma’s car if ever there was one), I stepped absentmindedly onto one of the concrete medians separating rows of parking spaces from each other and smacked my head onto the lower branch of one of those tree skeletons.

A punch of snow fell onto my head and onto the ground. The pain was immediate and it felt as though my neck had actually taken the brunt of the impact. I became woozy and ill. It took me a moment to come back fully to life, and I once the coolness of the snow melted, I felt something warm on my skull. I placed a finger there on the warmth and when I removed it, a dab of blood ran down my finger.

I had managed to cut my head on the tree.

It was the perfect end to such an imperfect day. I got into my Rogue and completed the thirty minute ride home is as much silence as I could maintain.

Ice on the roadway

Hidden under the darkness

–I court my own death

Memo from the Empty Suit re: Wearing Superhero-themed Socks with Work Attire….

Good Morning and Happy Monday, All.

This email is to remind you that here at Rio Frio Medical Center we pride ourselves on the professionalism and high-end care we provide to our consumers. They are, and always will be, our number one priority. In fact, it is our mission to provide holistic, integrated, coordinated, evidence-based services to the people of Rio Frio County and its surrounding areas. As long as they have medicaid. Remember that, too, because some of you think we take regular insurance here, and we don’t. Only medicaid. If they don’t have medicaid, they are not a consumer and can go get care somewhere else.

With all that said, part of providing professional and skillful care to our consumers is by presenting ourselves in a professional manner. Part of being a professional is looking the part. Hence RFMC policies such as no visible tattoos, no visible piercings other than on the ear, no jeans, and no hiring of anybody too good looking because that would just be distracting. The exact policy is Addendum 7.23 in the Policies and Procedures Manual and can be found–just as a reminder–prior to Statute 6.69 where we discuss why anal sex is not allowed by any RFMC employee who is not on the executive team. All such policies were encouraged to be implemented by Haskell and Associates, the consultation firm, you might remember, we paid $120,000 last June to come and tell us how to make more money.

Of course, there are gaps in such policies, as it is difficult for even a literal empty suit like me to foresee all the unprofessional behaviors staff will try to get away with. And, as such, please be advised that the policy has been updated to include superhero-themed socks as prohibited work attire. Subsection 2.46 specifies that all of the following non-superhero-themed pop-culture intellectual properties are included in the prohibition:

Start Wars

Harry Potter

Lord of the Rings

Looney Tunes (Please note that sub-subsection 1.23 includes Merrie Melodies under this definition.)

The Simpsons

Family Guy

Breaking Bad

Japanese or any non-American animation of any kind

Bernie Sanders

Disney princesses and Game of Thrones themed apparel will be allowed on Fridays, as part of casual Fridays, because myself and the rest of administration all enjoys these properties.

Staff who fail to comply with such policies will be placed on a Professional Improvement Plan and if they continue to neglect adherence, will be staffed for termination.

Please remember that we on the executive team respect and appreciate all that you do. You, the staff, are the engine of this company. We are a team, a tribe, a family and I would like you to keep in mind your role as a family member whenever you’re asked to work more than 40 hours a week without pay.

Thank you and Merry Christmas.

–The Empty Suit, MS, MBA, PH.D.

CEO, Rio Frio Medical Center.

The Fourth Time Manny Furious saw Lemon Crush….

Rio Frio Medical Center is a designated 401c3 nonprofit, “Community Medical Center” offering “comprehensive”, “holistic”, “coordinated”, medical and mental health, and preventative care, primarily to residents of Rio Frio and its surrounding counties poor and impoverished enough to qualify for what, in the year of our lord 2016, was called “medicaid” benefits.

What all that means is that the institution received (and continues to receive)millions of government dollars in the form of “medicaid capitation” and another million or so dollars in the form of various government and private grants.

While ostensibly a noble task, in practice its a little less so. What such a set-up does is funnel all the poor and impoverished people into one place to get their healthcare needs met. And since the amount of money the institution receives in medicaid funding–its primary funding source by several million–is directly related to the percentage of people receiving medicaid benefits in the Rio Frio region who enroll for services at Rio Frio Medical Center, the real goal of the institution is to get as many poor people into the door as possible. it is a medical care factory. industrialized, efficieny, streamlined, corporatized, consumerized. Getting an industrial amount of people into and out of healre is done under the guise of “providing proper care” to “consumers.” But, its purpose is neoliberal in nature–it’s really about capitalizing on a market demand to make vast sums of money for “the system.” So, in the defense of the Empty Suit and its flunkies, they, themselves, are not raking in the millions for themselves. All that sweet, gushing government money goes back into The System, so that The Systm may perpetuate as long as medicaid dollars exist. And when that change… then–and only then–so too will The System.

The Empty Suit and its cronies are not totally blameless or innocent, however. They all make six figures for the sole purpose of keeping The System satiated and health and capable of its asexual form of reproduction, which, in the terms of the business is called “expansion” or “growth.” They are nurses, caregivers for the system. They foster it, nurture it, and keep it alive and thriving. They do this by not actually being in the office very much. Instead, they are out and about attending conferences and state senate meetings where they eat steak and rub shoulders with politicians and other legislative/philanthropic geeks, whom the Empty Suit and its groupies will attempt to seduce into loosening up their economic sphincters and shitting out even more money to feed The System.

The–the Empty Suit and his minions–even get company cars and private jets so that they can rush back from such meetings to put more pressure on the healthcare provers to somehow see more patience, document more thoroughly, bill more substantially, and pledge fealty to The System more dogmatically–all in the same amount of worktime and same pay they’ve had since the turn of the millenium when workloads were far less draconian.

All of which leads to high provider burnout and turnover. Most of the best therapists, for example, will do a two year sentence at Rio Frio Med to get the proper professional licensing credential, as well as any relevant professional training paid for, before leaving to go start a private practice (cash only) or try to work at a college somewhere. Meanwhile their positions at Rio Frio Med (RFMC) are filled by over-their-head novices and/or apathetic burnouts who lack the creativity to do something different with their lives.

Then, on top of all that, providers are limited in what kind of services they can provide to clients/patients/”consumers”, because medicaid (the government) of course doesn’t want to pay for any of this, it’s its own system, with its own survival instinct, so you can’t ever provide a service that might be helpful, if it’s not “evidence based” for a particular malady for the simple fact that medicaid won’t pay for anything medicaid doesn’t want to pay for, and RFMC doesn’t want that, obviously.

Hence: compromised and not-as-effective-as-it-should-or-could-be medical/mental health care.

So…the poor people do what the system wants them to do best–be exploited. Make money for others. Provide gristle for the mill, as it were. The system needs calories, and it will gladly take it from the marrow of the poor. And the cheaper, the better.

I bring all of this up as a rather longwinded, roundabout preamble for emphasizing just how utterly and inexcusably superfluous and gratuitous RFMC’s yearly Hard Cider Fest fundraiser is. Held every July, it is a popular social and networking event in the greater northwestern New Mexico region, bringing visitors from the nearest four counties, at least, and from as far away as Farmington and Taos.

Even so, after calculating for the literal monetary costs of putting on the event–including the costs of paying for the manpower, venue and prizes–it, on average, going on its 10th year, now, clears about $75,000 each time. That’s about 1/80 to 1/100 of the yearly operating budge of RFMC, and, roughly, would pay for the salary of one nurse, if that’s what they used the money on.

Therefore, it seems self-explanatory about what the event is really about–smug self-congratulation. And, also, I suppose, for the affected, awkward attempts of the administrative staff–the Empty Suit and its cronies, and their cronies of the cronies (pure, distilled American Mediocrity down to their khakis, pink skin, phony smiles and forced nonchalant allusions to Malcolm Gladwell dropped mid-conversation)–to act human.

Furious was a recovering alcoholic, of course. But he attended the event his first year working at the medical center out of a modest curiosity, and slightly less modest boredom.

Over 40 types of hard cider were served the year he went, from more than a dozen cider mills–pear, apple, peach, currant, plum, even pomegranate. There were ciders that supposedly paired well with brunch prime rib and lunch quiche and dinner fish–but none, Furious noted, that paired all that well with is grim hate and self-loathing.

In his drinking days, Furious didn’t drink much cider. He always enjoyed the flavor, but he was an American Male back then, even if he denied it, and thus insecure. Having a penis and testicles and the general feelings of just being male wasn’t enough. Like all American Males, he had to prove to himself he was a man. And so, something as innocuous and irrelevant as drinking alcohol that didn’t taste like something that was trying to kill you sent shivers through his delicate sense of masculinity, and he avoided mixed drinks, wine and any other alcohol–including cider–that tasted ok.

Now, back at the Cider Fest, he found himself enjoying the food–hors d’oeuvres of bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers, bacon-wrapped scallops, bacon-wrapped smoked vienna sausages, bacon-wrapped turkey bacon, etc. Robust offerings. As manly and masculine as finger foods could be.

He was standing at a table serving dessert ciders, because that particularly table was also serving bacon-wrapped yogurt pretzels.

He felt himself leaning. There was a source static electricity of sorts in the air, somewhere, and it was pulling at his arm, leg and head hairs like a charged balloon. It was subtle, but it was present.

And soon it was getting stronger. He felt as if he was going to be shocked. As if someone had just slid down a plastic slide and was hovering somewhere behind him.

Was this an anxiety attack, he wondered. A stroke? What was this feeling? This vague nervousness?

Just then, he knew it when he saw her. Lemon Crush was present and had made her way over to the dessert ciders.

“Ooooh,” she cooed. “this one’ smy favorite.” She held up a bottle of Floraison, a cherry cider that was brewed three hours north in the San Juan mountains of Colorado.

She was gorgeous, Furious thought, in that exact word–gorgeous. She was wearing a short red dress that accentuating the turns of her curves, and her hazel eyes were extra green that evening. But, again, it wasn’t just her appearance. There was a holistic gorgeousness to her, and, as far as he was concerned, it a brazen act of the Universe.

He froze looking at her. Her beauty was gorgonizing, but not from any magical serpents writhing form her skull. Her beauty wasn’t blinding, per se, but, sure, it was arresting, like a summer sunset, when the summer’s air starts to cool, and the sky seems to be infinite shades of orange and purple and pink.

It wasn’t just some physical, primal, evolutionary reaction of a sort. At least, it didn’t feel that way. There was a spooky energy between the two. Furious swore the very air around her changed hues ever so slightly when she approached, and on his end, he felt a subtle buzz throughout his body, as though he had gone swimming in a pool that had been slightly electrified by a short in one of its filtering systems.

“Hubba-da,” Furious mumbled.

He glanced a the bottle of cider Lemon held up. He was familiar with the brand and the flavor of it. if that was really her favorite, he thought her taste was too basic, too inelegant, too unrefined. It was a far too sweet of a cider. One may as well drink straight cherry juice, or a cherry soda, even, for at least the sweetness of those drinks would be sullied by the slight wince of alcohol.

But he couldn’t say that out loud, of course. Even he knew that. Don’t besmirch a beautiful woman’s choice of drink.

Or should he?

Wasn’t this what “negging” was about? Establish the high ground with her, by slightly and playfully insulting her. he had read that somewhere, some time, neither of which he could remember. And he had been repulsed by the idea, but–

“What are you drinking?” Lemon interrupted.

“I’m not drinking.”

“Yes you are,” she insisted slightly incredulously and nodding toward the drink in Furious’s hand.

“It’s just seltzer water.”

He wanted to say something smooth, clever, funny. but all he heard in his mind was a bewildering darkness. His mind was so devoid of thoughts that when he attempted to search for any, all he found was a colorless, soundless, tasteless void. In retrospect he would wonder if Lemon had accidentally put him in the mythic Buddhist state of Samadhi.

In the meantime, Lemon smushed her face together and the skin on her nose crumbled into rolls. “Why are you drinking seltzer water?”

“It’s a long story,” said Furious.

But it wasn’t a long story at all. He had a drinking problem. He was an alcoholic. He was in “recovery.” Any which way he chose to tell the story would be quite brief.

“Well, what are you eating?” She asked. The server was filling her glass with the deep, royal, maroon dessert cider.

“Bacon-wrapped something or another.”

“Sounds yummy.”

Furious shrugged.

“Here, taste this,” Lemon offered Furious her own glass.

He looked at the glass.

He looked at Lemon.

He looked at the glass.

He looked at Lemon.

“Take it, silly,” she said. “My arm’s getting tired.”

“Also,” the server at the table added. “There’s a line of people, and you’re holding it up…sir.” He motioned to the line of about 15 people pretending to be patient, as they waited on some moron not drinking cider at the Cider Fest to take a drink of cider being offered by a beautiful woman at the Cider Fest.

Furious took the glass and took a drink.

“Tastes like cherry juice,” he said, trying to somehow make a declarative sentence into a joke.

Lemon took the glass back and said, so excitedly she almost growled, “I know! That’s why I like it.

“Tootles,” she cooed as she turned and walked away.

Furious watched her as she ambled all the way back to the table she was sitting at. She shared the table with several of the RFMC administrators, women i nevening dresses and men in slacks and ties with job titles like, “Assistant Associate Director of Supervisors of Quality Compliance,” and “Team Lead of Managers of Business Information and Analytics.”

The MBAs had long since gotten their bloody little claws on nonprofits, and here we were.

But he didn’t see Captain Colt Crush anywhere. He stared for several moments and assumed he–Captain Colt Crush–must’ve been working a shift that evening.

“Sir,” the server stated. He was wearing a maroon vest and bowtie with a white button-up and black slacks. He looked familiar, but Furious couldn’t place him.

“Yeah, I know,” Furious replied, distractedly, still attuned to the movements of Lemon. “I’m holding up the line.”

“Well, sure, but…you’re gonna fall, I think.”

Furious’s mind returned to itself, and he realized he was once again leaning toward her vicinity in that physics-defying, anti-physiologically possible manner that only Lemon could summon.

He leaned himself back into physiologically-coherent position, cleared his throat and went home.

Feats of Derring-Do….

Fat Milo was one of the greatest rap lyricists you would have ever heard. But he was a five-foot nothing, 100 pound, light-skinned/haired egghead from Rio Frio, New Mexico and all of that made for about the exact opposite of what is required for successful hip hop endeavors. Manny Furious always felt silly insisting to people that Fat Milo was one of the greatest living rappers, but it was the truth, and he meant it. Furious was the type of person who enjoyed the idea of supporting your local artists–whether painting, music, movies, whatever– until it was actually time to do so and then he realized most local artists suck. He always wanted to support local artists, he really did, but he would’ve also like them to be good. Milo was good.

Anyhow, Fat Milo tried that for several years to construct something of a career rapping, even managing to hook up with various crews and outfits from throughout the Rio Frio region, but with no success. Then he went into a downward tailspin for about two years where all he did was smoke weed and work at a gas station and have sex with the type of women who liked to drink Bud Light Lime-a-ritas and who found feminine looking men attractive. That’s also around the time when he started gaining weight.

“People call me fat,” he said, “but I only weigh 180 pounds.”

“Yeah,” Furious said. “But you’re five-feet tall and you’re almost twice the person you were. You’re kind of fat, dude.”

“What can I say, they brought a Taco Bell to town.”

Then, one day he woke up after a long night of smoking weed and watching MMA fights, and had a realization. He had seen on TV a man with a tattoo that said, “Playing it safe kills your soul.” The man was good looking, well-built, adventurous. Milo figured the man probably had little trouble getting laid so he immediately came to idolize the man. He took the message of the tattoo to heart. He immediately posted the quote on his facebook page and his twitter account.

He broke up with his girlfriend of two years, whom he had met some time when he began his spiral, and whom had been about three levels beyond his league. She was a robust vixen. Curvy in all the right places. The physical embodiment of sensual pleasure who performed feats of such sexual derring-do and sophistication that most men would’ve killed to switch places with Milo. And several did try.

“Staying with her was simply playing it safe, bro,” Milo said.

Then he dropped out of school. Always a kid of greater intelligence than most, he was prevented from fulfilling his academic potential only by his natural laziness. An attribute that was only exacerbated by the chronic, several-times-daily dalliances with Mary Jane. A habit which he claimed to have kicked in the past year.

“Staying in school was simply playing it safe, bro,” Milo said.

After he dropped out of school, he decided if he couldn’t be a rapper, he’d be a professional MMA fighter. So he joined Mario Suazo’s Taekwondo class and made El Crow and Lone Wolf tag along with him, because he was too insecure to go alone. They hadn’t hung out in several years, since before Milo got sucked into the vortex of marijuana and very unrighteous hip hop. But he had no one else to turn to.

“Not trying to be an MMA fighter is playing it safe, bro,” Milo said.

“Don’t you need to, like, be in good shape to be a professional fighter?” Furious asked.

“I’m working on it,” Fat Milo said.

Promises were made….

This year Manny Furious will turn 35 years old. I wish I could say he’s learned something meaningful over the past 3.5 decades, but he hasn’t really. Or maybe he’s learned things, but he doesn’t really integrate what he’s learned into his behaviors or thinking in any real, substantial way.

I bring this up because he’s 34 years old, suddenly and unexpectedly finds himself a single father, and he still fucking hates going to Walmart. He hates shopping in general. When he does it alone, he’s a man on a mission. He knows what he wants, he knows the general vicinity where what he want is, and he knows every official and unofficial exit available to him. Of course, this particular aversion is neither unique, nor interesting, nor warranted. One of the things I can say he’s learned over the years is that Walmart is a great place for spiritual practice. Not because it requires patience or compassion or understanding to get through a trip in one psycho-emotional piece. But because he doesn’t trust any “guru” or “spiritual” teacher who doesn’t at least, on an intellectual level, understand the miracle of the $5 DVD bin. All Walmarts are overlit with toxic artificial light. All of them are overrun with some of the most miserable, misanthropic dipshits walking the earth. All of them stink and are dirty and don’t really sell anything of value (the Stores, not the dipshits). But…BUT… at the end of the day, it took an almost infinite amount of miracles and mistakes, on a Universal scale, to make the $5 DVD bin possible. There are almost certainly–over the entire unconscionably vast geography (is that even the right word) of the known Universe–more majestic mountaintops in existence than Walmarts, and that will almost certainly stand true for all of Time.

So, yeah, go ahead, climb another mountain, but in the big picture, Manny Furious knows your shitty, neighborhood Walmart is actually the bigger miracle. Sure, nature created a rather sublime, breathtaking, unspeakable view from the top of, say, Mt. Blanca. But nature also created the guy who dropped his guts in the Walmart bathroom without flushing, and that Walmart bathroom is indeed the rarer.

And, yet, even knowing all of this–nay, even having learned all of this–he still fucking hates going to Walmart…. Triply-so when it’s cold and icy outside.

Black Ice patches on the road

Deep chill in the air

Neighborhood dogs won’t shut up.

Staring out the sliding glass door

Pepper the chihuahua

sees snow on the lawn.

–So, it only makes sense to

take a poop in Issa’s room. 

Anyhow, I only bring all that up, because Manny Furious, almost aged 35, had to go to Walmart today for their sale on Soy milk. He’s been drinking soy milk on an almost daily basis for almost three years, now. He puts it in his smoothies, his homemade iced-chai lattes, his granola–he’s a regular New Age geek, and, yet, he still hasn’t turned into a woman. He’s disappointed. Through the miracle of the Tao, and of soy-induced estrogen, Manny Furious was supposed to transform into a completely different sex. PROMISES WERE MADE. He doesn’t even have boobs. He’s not even a “soy boy.” He can still do crazy “manly” things like pushups and pull ups.

Lame.

It’s almost as if insecure idiots who concern themselves with thoughts of “Alpha” and “Beta” males don’t really have any idea what they’re talking about. Who’d’a’thunk?

January evening–

For some unexplained reason

the fog is brick red

Brick red fog tonight–

Somewhere through the thick of it

the dogs keep barking

Lazy day off work–

I read too much Ovid and

watch way too much porn. 

Perpetual Perturbation….

From a very early age, Manny Furious was grumpy. If you picture young Manny Furious at all, you must picture him at, say, five years old, with a persistent and inconsolable case of bed head, and a perpetual look of perturbation on his face. And squinting, lots of squinting, because it would be several more years before anybody realized he couldn’t see without glasses.

The haze of perpetual perturbation, though–that followed him everywhere. It was a signal of how he just didn’t get on with reality. He couldn’t fathom why existence would exist if everything was so uncomfortable all the time. He couldn’t conjure a point or a reason for it.

Fear. There was also lots of fear within that boy. Though grown-up Furious, himself, doesn’t actually remember this aspect of his early youth, credible sources who were there at the time maintain that Young Manny Furious was afraid of his own shadow. Literally. But Furious always figured this must’ve been before he was five years old, as he does have a lot of memories of being five, but none of them include him entering the fight or flight response at the sight of his own penumbra.

Anyway, fear, too is uncomfortable. So while he may not have walked around in a state of persistent psychological trauma, he was just, again, uncomfortable all the goddamned time. And, as such, he became a sucker for relief. If you wanted to convince or coerce him into doing something, all you had to do was put him in a situation where you were in a position to increase his discomfort, make him fear that even more discomfort was on its way, and then offer him some kind of relief… or at least some kind of promise thereof.

For example, let’s take a look at how Young Manny Furious, age 5, was convinced to attend his first day of kindergarten. First, he was awoken before he desired or was even ready to be awoken. But, also, his lovely mother, Mama Furious, would not allow him to fall back to sleep. This combination of being forced awake, without being allowed to fall back asleep, of course, was placing him in an uncomfortable situation. Therefore, when Young Manny Furious insisted on resisting his wake up call and to get ready for school, Mama Furious had successfully placed herself in a position to agitate his discomfort.

“If you don’t get up and get ready to go to school on time…” she said, skillfully allowing the mystery and tension of the rest of the threat to accumulate. “Santa WILL NOT be bringing you presents for Christmas, this year.”

Holy Shit! Young Manny Furious thought to himself. There was no worse fate you could possibly imagine. A Christmas with no presents? No Ghostbusters action figures?! No Ninja Turtle van?! No Jean Claude Van Damme movies?

Was there anything more uncomfortable than not getting Christmas presents?

Was there even a point to living if such discomfort was all there was too look forward to?

The point here, though, is you see Young Manny Furious’s mother implementing stage 2 of getting Manny Furious to do something–tightening the screws and suggesting that if he did not do the uncomfortable task of getting up, getting ready and getting to school on time, there would be even more, even larger, even crueler discomfort in the form of a lack of Christmas presents.

Frankly, at this point, the job was done. Mama Furious could’ve just let the idea of no Christmas presents waft about the empty, stupid recesses of the weak, fearful mind of Young Manny Furious for a few moments. It would’ve been enough to rouse him out of bed and into school. But, being his mother, she was already well-aware of his fragile psychology. She already knew that even if she had left it there–with the idea of no Christmas for Young Manny Furious–it may have gotten the desired result, superficially. But there would’ve been a certain motivation, or a certain impetus, missing from his actions. He would simply be going through the motions of getting out of bed and into school with the least amount of effort or investment he could muster.

In order to cultivate the most engagement and investment possible, Mama Furious implemented Stage 3 of getting Manny Furious to do shit–she gave him some sort of promise of relief.

“Listen,” she told him, as he began to rouse himself out of bed. “If you get up and got to school, when you come home, you can stay up a little late and have some New York Seltzer.” 

Finally–RELIEF.

Or the promise of it, anyway. By that age, Furious had yet to have any actual soda, with sugar. His parents didn’t allow any in the house. So, New York Seltzer was what his dumb, little imbecilic mind thought of as a “treat.”

So he uttered a few “motherfuckers” under his breath,  got up, got dressed and went to school. (NB that this would pretty much be his morning routine for the next 60 years or so.)

And when he got home, he was allowed to stay up until 10:00pm and there was a bottle of Root Beer flavored New York Seltzer waiting for him in the kitchen.

A few months later, Santa did indeed bring him a toy version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles van, AND, a poster of a half-naked Jean Claude Van Damme flexing in a karate pose of some sort, his joy at which, looking back, probably convinced every member of his family that he was gay. A conviction that still seems to linger in the minds of some….

Needless to say, he learned his first lessons about discomfort and motivation from that experience. But there would be many more.  

Holiday Prep…

Barber: This time of year is the calm before the storm. Gets crazy busy right before the holidays. Just busy every minute of every day.

Manny Furious: (trying to be sociable and funny for once in my cursed life) People want to look sharp while they’re shoving a shit-ton of turkey in their mouths, amirite?

Barber: (observably repulsed and peeved by this idiot customer with no sense of sincerity) Well, no. They want to look sharp for their family who they haven’t seen in a year. Sometimes longer.

Manny Furious: Oh.

Poetic criticisms….

Pedolo had seen and forgotten more movies in an average six month span than most of us will watch in our lifetimes—of the “adult” variety and otherwise. In fact, he wrote highbrow, slightly pretentious essays for Cinemateste (cinemateste.com) a website that was a direct, bizarro rival of Evan Mariachi’s, Movies, Fuck Yeah (moviesfuckyeah.com). Well, Pedolo didn’t purposely write highbrow, slightly pretentious essays for Cinemasteste. Really, he (or perhaps the Sentient Head Wound at the top of his skull) was just writing 15,000 word rants in a language he only half understood, but the overly-educated editors and readers of the website looked upon those discursive, blathering, chaotic, only semi-coherent screeds as if Pedolo were the heir apparent to such theorists as Foucault or Derrida.

Pedolo had cultivated such a following, though, that the New York Circle of Unified Intellegentisia Legions (NYCUIL) awarded him Film Critic of the Year sometime during the early 2010s.

Pedolo could not afford to travel to New York for the ceremony, as he had spent the majority of his monthly government-supplied stipend of $1012 on cases of Dr. Pepper and bags of Russet potatoes, both of which he stacked haphazardly and sloppily in his kitchen pantry. The sheer amount of Dr. Pepper and potatoes staggered the visiting nurse that checked on him twice per week to ensure he was cleaning himself and eating in such a way that didn’t aggravate his Condition.

“Jesus Christ, Pedolo,” the nurse would complain during every visit. She was sincere in her incredulity every time. She was a youngish thing, blonde, pretty in an unobtrusive, non-aggressive way. She had taken the gig thinking that going to people’s homes and telling them what to eat and how to clean was preferable to wiping shit and piss and bile from the elderly patients at the nursing home she had worked prior. She was mostly right, except the two times per week she was to waste her time trying to talk Pedolo into trying to stay alive by, at the very least, eating less potatoes. “You can’t be eating this shit. No potatoes. No soda. You don’t want to eat a salad, fine, but you keep eating this shit and you’ll open another hole in your body that’s going to sing or something next time.”

“Hey,” the Head Wound protested. “Why do you make that sound like such a bad thing?”

The fact that Pedolo couldn’t make it out to New York was probably a good thing. He didn’t own even a single piece of wardrobe that didn’t feature prominently/intrusively some combination of anime characters in the midst of a fisticuffs. Hell, he probably didn’t own a single piece of wardrobe that was less than a decade old and which had been washed within the eight months prior to the award ceremony. But who knows, perhaps he would’ve somehow fit in in his own spooky way with the bohemian hordes that malinger in New York’s cinematic social circles, and if not, perhaps they would’ve attributed such peccadilloes as the attributes and mostly harmless eccentricities of a genius. There is a “thin line” after all….

Anyhow, since he couldn’t be at the ceremony in the flesh, he scribbled down an acceptance speech and delivered it to the NYCUIL. And on the evening of the ceremony, the President of NYCUIL, one, Garcie Mainer, a graduate of NYU Film School and, at the time, social media manager for Megawatt Lassi, read the text aloud (without Pedolo’s Belarussian mew, of course).

Like all of his writings, it was overlong, over-wordy, vague, obscure and possibly accidentally brilliant. The tone, tenor, timbre and essence of the speech (and of Pedolo’s writing style) can perhaps best be summed up in its opening paragraphs, which were, as follows:

Good Evening Movie Friends and Fiends,

It is a pleasure to accept this NYCUIL award for best cinematic criticism poet. That word might not be in the title of the award, but it should be, as all critics are poets.

Critics are poets because it is the critic’s job to elevate-elucidate what is only tangentially discoursed upon or hinted at by the cinema. Such a dynamic may seem to be contra-oppositional to the poet, as poets are generally regarded as being great hinters. Poets are the hinters not the extrapolators. This is verified. However, poets are really attempting to annotate, say, the flower they are writing about. Just the same, the cinematic critic explicates a film, or group of films. Films are the flower, the critic is the poet.

So poets insinuate about flowers, and critics intimate about movies.

Intimate it is the proper word-choice there. In that witnessing a movie is an intimate act that must be intimated to be understood. It is sexual, really. The cinematic literature must thrust-penetrate the mindframe of the viewer. The art must enter the inside of the witness, and inject its ideas into the mindspace. Inside the mindspace of the viewer is an egg of philosophy. This egg holds all of the ideas and associate-images of those ideas already present in the ego-essence of the viewer. This egg is waiting for outside stimulation and ideas. It is fucking. Watching movies is a form of fucking. And when the cinema sperm of ideas enters the viewers egg of philosophy, a new child is conceived. This child is a new perspective created in the world. The ego is an illusion. There is no “I”, there is only “perspective.”

This is what art does. This is what literature does. It creates new perspectives. In cinema, it is a synthetization between the perspective of the movie with the perspective of the witness to create something new in the world. Like a baby, this baby was once absent from the world, and when the cinematic fucking happens, this perspective suddenly appears. Out of seemingly nothing. It’s crazy dude.

And on and on. I will spare you the remaining 6,000 words of the essay, but you get the gist. This kind of pontification is preposterous and nigh unintelligible nonsense, but it was reported (and confirmed) that when Ms. Mainer finished reading the speech, a large contingent of the NYCUIL audience was reduced to tears, and a room-wide toast was given in honor of this great critic-poet.