Got Them Ol’ Tryptophan Blues

Friday Morning, Two A.M.

I am writing this post from flat on my back on Cot 137 in the Gastric Recovery Unit at Durango General Hospital. It is the place where those who are suffering from eating way more food on Thanksgiving Day than the human stomach was meant to hold are sent. Think of it as hospice for gluttons. You are assigned to a cot, rolled into some sort of gymnasium, and left to either get better or perish. The ER staff could really, I mean really, care less. They are having their own problems with that rarest of medical syndromes, pumpkin-spice burnout.

From my cot I can see the dim outlines of my gymnasium-mates stretching on for a hundred yards, and we are a pathetic sight. I feel sorriest for the kids, the young ‘uns who are here for the first time. Bewildered, disoriented, and wearing what they ate for dinner, many of them are crying out: “Mama, Mama, I didn’t mean it! I didn’t even like their pie, I don’t know what got into me. Please, Mama … come and take me home.”

For myself, this is not my first rodeo. I’ve seen it all, believe me. Today marks my 64th tour. They don’t tell you at the recruitment centers about scenes like this. No one would ever sign up. We all like to think of ourselves as tough and above this sort of behavior, and then somebody … someone who you used to think of as a friend … slides you a slice of pumpkin pie the size of a trashcan lid and in you go, knives and forks blazing. Next thing you know, you wake up in a place like this.

It’s brutal, it’s disgusting, it’s nearly unbelievable. But it is life in the gustatory trenches, and we’re better off facing the truth, I think. Excuse me, they are passing the antacid tray, I’ll catch you later.

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, by Warren Zevon


From The New Yorker


This morning I read an article about the state of the art in driverless trucks. With all the fuss in recent years about autonomous automobiles cruising around the country and occasionally running into harmless citizens I had never thought about a driverless Kenworth or Mack. How could I have missed these stories?

It gave me a chill.

It all started long ago with a short story* by Stephen King entitled “Trucks,” where a group of people are terrorized by evil semi-trucks operating by themselves. Ever since then, any mention of an 18-wheeler on the road without anyone visible in the driver’s seat is an automatic nightmare for me. There was a film made from this story back in the 1980s which was called “Maximum Overdrive.” I did see the movie (one so poorly done that Stephen King apologized to Emilio Estevez for directing him in it), but it was the original story which is a permanent implant in that pudding between my ears.

Imagine for a moment that you are seeing this in your rear-view mirror. Imagine that you have just realized that they are purposefully threatening you. Imagine that when the sun is just right that you see that there is no one at the wheel. Imagine that it is dark out.

Now go have your own nightmares.

So I am not kidding when I say that if it takes another twenty years to get these self-driving monsters on the road, that will be just fine with me, thank you very much. By that time I would hope that those I love have wrenched the car keys from my withered grasp and I am off the roads for good. I care not a whit how much commercial sense driverless trucks might make.

And BTW – when all of us are replaced at our jobs by robots and computer programs, who will buy the crap that the machines are making and the trucks are hauling? Moneyless people?

* The story is in the book Night Shift, King’s first published collection of short stories.


Below is a graphic from an advertisement for the movie, Maximum Overdrive. Perhaps you can get the feeling for why reading the short story might be a better use of your time.

Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man, by The Byrds


Last evening I spent an hour talking with a friend who is a devotee of Quentin Tarantino and of his movies. At the end of it all I felt like the small child in the fable who says “… but the Emperor has no clothes on.”

As far as I can see this director made one or two movies that were interesting in a way (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs), but even they were marred by an obvious adolescent infatuation of the director with gore, torture, and rampant profanity. The next seven are copies of the first two in those same regards. It was blood for the sake of blood and the N-word for the sake of saying the N-word, along with f-bombs for those moments when he couldn’t come up with something more original. And this means a ton of f-bombs in each film.

Not one of his movies has a heart or a moral sense, which makes them little more than repetitious and uninteresting splatterfests. But, like I said, maybe it’s just me, and Tarantino really is wearing those beautiful robes that get so much print notice. But all I see is this middle-aged schlockmeister in the buff.

Wait … there’s at least one more of us who feels this way, the other being the author of a piece in the National Review entitled: “Quentin Tarantino is the Most Overrated Director in Hollywood.”

Recently Tarantino announced that he will be making only one more movie, and then he is going to quit. The choruses of “Oh Dear God, Quentin, say it isn’t so,”are making entertainment news these days. His fans wonder why … why?

I’m going to make a guess, and this is probably not the case, but I can imagine him waking up one morning last month, looking in the mirror and saying to himself : “Wait a minute! I just realized that I have spent my whole creative life making dreck! Well, it’s off to the monastery for me! I need to do some serious penance and to beg the forgiveness of the moviegoing public.”

Like I said, probably not the case.


From The New Yorker


I came home from the gym feeling decidedly overweight and unfit. Mocking myself, I turned to Robin with my arms akimbo and said: “What you may not realize is that beneath this jiggly layer is the body of a Greek God!”

Without missing a beat or cracking a smile she said: “I know that. I’ve always thought so.”

How many times can a guy be smitten?


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