LOST: Season Three Preview.

LOST: Season Three Preview.

Well, it’s about damn time. Welcome back, kids.

On Wednesday, October 4, Lost is back for Season Three. All of the speculation, theories and cliffhangers from Season Two are back into play, along with new castaways and flashbacks as the show takes another change in direction and theme. We all got to enjoy a summer of independent thoughts and actions, perhaps even limited contact with friends and loved ones. But it’s time to park ourselves back in front of the television once again, and embrace our faithful Master.

Let’s take a peek at where we left off. Here’s the skinny of the Season Two finale, courtesy of Lostpedia. Any spelling errors are their fault and I refuse to read it:

THE SKINNY.

Hey, it's Desmond!
(Desmond packed light, opting to only bring along 48 back issues of Maxim magazine.)

The episode begins with the group of funeral-goers being distracted by the appearance of a sailboat moving towards the shore. Jack, Sawyer and Sayid swim to the vessel and pull pistols upon boarding. Closer inspection of the cabin door is met with gunfire, apparently from within the boat itself complete with bullets punching through the wooden cabin ending with the clicking of an empty magazine. The door is opened to reveal a drunk and otherwise surly Desmond, obviously upset about ending up back at the island (seeing the survivors confirms this).

Back at the camp, it is night. Kate quizzes Jack on what has happened: the other survivors want to know. Jack tells her to tell them that Desmond’s back. Jack asks Desmond why he came back, and Desmond says he was trying to sail towards Fiji, and he should have been there in a week. However, the first piece of land encountered was not Fiji-it was the island. He states bitterly, “And you know why? Because this is it. This is all there is left. This ocean and this place here. We are stuck in a bloody snowglobe. There’s no outside world. There’s no escape.”

In a flashback, Desmond is released from a military prison and dishonorably discharged from the British military. Outside, in a rainstorm, he is picked up in an automobile by Charles Widmore who is the father of Desmond’s estranged girlfriend, Penelope. Mr. Widmore reveals that he has intercepted all of Desmond’s letters to Penelope and that Penelope is to be married to another man, and offers Desmond a large sum of money to stay away from Penelope and just run away.

Sayid proposes a plan to Jack involving the use of Desmond’s sailboat for a flanking maneuver on the Others’ camp. Sayid will scout the area before Michael’s party arrives. He will then light a signal fire with black smoke when the coast is clear. He cautions Jack not to tell Michael that they know he is lying, and not to tell the others, either.

Hey, it's Charlie!
(Charlie realizes that he only had three lines of dialogue last season.)

Locke finds Eko at the button and tries to convince him to let the timer run down. They debate the point as the four-minute warning begins to beep, Locke saying that pushing the button is nothing but a psychological experiment and Eko insisting it is important to continue pushing the button. They eventually come to blows when Locke attempts to smash the monitor. Eko throws him out of the room.

On the beach, Jack, Kate, Michael, Sawyer and Hurley meet to organize the meeting party, and depart on their trip across the island.

Sayid meets Desmond as he prepares to launch the sailboat. Sayid says that he doesn’t know how to sail it. Desmond suggests he find someone who does. Later, we see Jin approaching Sayid and Sun, who are discussing things on the beach. In Korean, Sun tells Jin Sayid wants Jin’s help with sailing the boat. Jin does not want to leave her, but she tells him that she is going with them.

In another flashback, Desmond ends up in the United States. He meets Libby (with a more conservative haircut or wig) in a coffee shop when he realizes that he has no American currency on him and she kindly offers to purchase his coffee for four dollars. He jokingly asks if she has $42,000 more. They sit and have a conversation where she asks Desmond why he needs the $42,000: he says he doesn’t yet have a boat. She reacts with a start, and confesses to him to have been recently widowed and oddly, she offers him her deceased husband’s boat, the Elizabeth, so that he can enter a race around the world sponsored by Charles Widmore himself, explaining that David, her husband, would have wanted it that way. Desmond thanks her and says, “I shall win this race for love.”

Midway on their hike to the meeting with the Others, Kate stops Sawyer from triggering one of Rousseau’s traps. They discuss what Sawyer knows about Kate’s getting caught in the net, and Sawyer realizes that Jack and Kate were literally “caught in a net” and did not have sex.

Hey, it's Claire!
(Claire wasn’t completely hysterical that day, so naturally, nobody listened to her.)

Suddenly, a large green bird swoops down and squawks the word “Hurley”, which disturbs Hugo. However, Sawyer is cynical and doubts that the bird was actually saying “Hurley”. Michael tries to shoot at the bird, but he notices that his gun is empty. He questions Jack about it, and Jack says that he forgot to load it. Jack gives him a loaded clip for the pistol, but Michael is already suspicious.

Elsewhere, Locke is fighting with what he thought was the faith that would pull them all through this. After seeing the Pearl station for himself he cannot believe that the island was ever what he had perceived it as. Charlie comes across Locke weeping in the jungle and informs him of Desmond’s return.

Jin and Sun tell Sayid they will accompany him on the sailboat. Desmond tells Claire the vaccine is useless as she prepares to give it to Aaron. They discuss the father of Claire’s baby, which triggers the third flashback.

In the flashback, Desmond is preparing to run out in the stadium. Jack runs by in the background. Penelope is there waiting for Desmond, and she tells him she hasn’t set a date yet for the marriage. Penelope asks Desmond what he is running from. He evades the question, answering “I have to get my honor back…and that’s what I’m running to.” The flashback ends as he runs away.

Desmond is drinking at night on the beach. Locke approaches and explains his lament to him along with the conviction that NOT pushing the button will have NO effect on anything. He describes the Pearl and we see appropriate clips from the Pearl Orientation Video. Desmond says “you’re lying,” and Locke shows him the tape cassette, and asks him to sober up and take a walk with him. He says that tomorrow they’ll find out what happens when the button doesn’t get pushed.

Hey, it's Eko!
(Eko, upon remembering that he has Superpowers, flies off the island.)

The meeting party is in the jungle at night. Sawyer offers food to Hurley but he declines. Michael is off by himself, and is accosted by Jack. Michael thanks him for coming with Michael to get Walt back.

Out on the ocean, Sayid, Jin and Sun are sailing. Sun is sick over the side of the boat. Jin arrives and says she shouldn’t have come on the boat with them. She tells him it’s not seasickness. Jin says he knows. Sayid is searching the shore of the island, and sees what appears to be the remnants of a statue: a giant, foot in a sandal. Sayid comments “I don’t know what is more disquieting – the fact that the rest of the statue is missing, or that it has four toes.”

Eko is working in the hatch, carving on his stick. The lights flicker and he gets up to investigate, finding that a fuse has been removed from an circuit panel and crushed on the ground. He hears the lockdown countdown from the speakers and rushes back to the computer. He does not make it, and we see that Desmond has triggered a false lockdown by manipulating wires to keep Eko out of the control room as Eko is set on entering the numbers. Eko pleads with Locke, and the fourth flashback begins.

There is a flashback of Desmond in a storm on the boat. He descends to the cabin and pulls out “Our Mutual Friend”, placing it in a Ziploc bag and inside his garment before running up to the deck and getting knocked out. There is a blurry montage showing him washing up on shore and the blurry images of a man in a yellow HAZMAT suit that picked him up off the beach and brought him inside the Swan Station. The man is Kelvin who, then enlists Desmond as his Swan Station partner. Kelvin shows Desmond the orientation film. Desmond asks why there are missing parts in the video, and Kelvin replies that his partner Radzinsky “made some edits.” Kelvin shows Desmond a vial of “vaccine” and an injector, and admonishes Demsond to inject himself every 9 days.

Back on the island, Eko climbs out of the Quarantine hatch, (seeing the wrecked hatch and reading the QUARANTINE label) and heads into the jungle. He runs to the beach where Charlie is playing guitar. Eko asks Charlie how the Quarantine door was opened, and finds out that the castaways used dynamite. Eko enlists Charlie to help him get inside the control room.

Hey, it's Hurley!
(In the distance, Hurley spots a tree made entirely of Slim Jims.)

In the jungle Hurley and Sawyer discuss the possible identity of the Others. Kate spots two people following them. She and Sawyer open fire and kill one. At this point Jack loses his cool and drops the plan that he and Sayid had agreed upon- to allow Michael to continue to feel as though he is in control and not to tell Sawyer, Kate, or Hurley of Michael’s plan, and demands that Michael tell the group what is going on. Michael admits that the Others already know that they are coming and that he is the reason they know this. Michael further confesses that he did indeed kill Ana-Lucia and Libby as a means of persuading the group to meet with the Others and to free Henry Gale as per the Others’ demands. Hurley and Sawyer wish to head back upon hearing this shocking revelation, but Jack argues that they’ve gone too far to turn back, and that he wouldn’t have brought them here anyway without a plan. Sawyer asks what the plan is.

Jin spots the rock formation with a hole in it that marks the Others’ camp, and Sayid prepares to go ashore. Back at the camp, Charlie and Eko enter the Swan. Charlie tries to get Eko to reconsider, but Eko is unyielding. Charlie warns Locke that Eko is going to attempt to blow the blast door open. Desmond is sure the door will hold, saying “It would take an atom bomb, brother. Tell him not to bother.”

In another flashback, Desmond triggers a fake lockdown, but blocks the door to the control room with a cart, leaving enough space to duck under and access the control room and living space. Kelvin is painting the map seen by Locke in “Lockdown” with detergent. He then tells Desmond that his partner, Radzinsky, was the one who had the idea to make the map and the one who figured out how to fake a lockdown. Kelvin also reveals that Radzinsky killed himself with a shotgun. When Desmond asks if he can go outside, Kelvin replies apologetically that he must stay and push the button. Desmond claims he can handle himself, as he was in the army. Kelvin replies by saying that Desmond was kicked out because he “couldn’t follow orders.” Desmond asks Kelvin why he left his army, and Kelvin replies that he left because “men followed my [Kelvin’s] orders.” He also rues having joined the DHARMA Initiative, mocking the polite and friendly tone heard in the Orientation Film.

Outside the blast door, Eko rigs the dynamite as Charlie pleads with both Locke and Eko. Eko shoves Charlie against a wall, rips off Charlie’s belt, and throws it against the magnetic wall, saying “Is that a joke?”. The fuse is lit; Eko braces himself against a wall, and Charlie attempts to run out, as it detonates with a huge explosion.

Hey, it's that crazy, dead one!
(Libby’s bangs do a good job of hiding her lobotomy scars.)

Desmond then has a flashback about a drunk Kelvin under the floor of the control room with a key and fail-safe lock marked “Caution: System Termination”. Kelvin explains that behind the wall is as a source of electromagnetism, “geologically unique”, stating also that the Incident was ‘a leak’. “So now the charge builds up and every time we push the button it discharges it before it gets too big.” Kelvin questions whether Desmond would have the guts to blow the Hatch up.

Inside the control room, Desmond comments that “I think your friends just blew themselves up, brother.” The two talk, and Desmond asks Locke if “the reason you’re letting that clock there run all the way down to the very last tick — is it because you need to look down the barrel of a gun to find out what you really believe, John?” Locke replies that he “looked down the barrel of the gun and I believed. I thought it was my destiny to get into this place. And someone died — a kid (Boone). Because he was stupid enough to believe that I knew what I was talking about. And the night that he died for nothing, I was sitting right up there, all alone, beating my hand bloody against that stupid door — screaming to the heavens asking what I should do. And then a light went on. I thought it was a sign. But it wasn’t a sign. Probably just you going to the bathroom.”


As Locke describes this, Desmond apparently remembers that night, as he has a look of recognition on his face.

Sayid climbs to the Others’ camp, and searches the huts, finding them all abandoned. He proceeds to open the Others’ DHARMA station, The Door, and finds only a rock wall behind.

The meeting party stops when Kate sees a large mound of plastic containers in front of a tube protruding from the ground. Upon closer inspection we see that it is actually the pneumatic tube containers with the notebooks from the Pearl Station. Clearly, there are at least 2 or 3 years worth of notebooks that ended up in the middle of nowhere being the end of the pneumatic tube.


Sawyer finds Locke’s copy of the Blast Door map.

Jack sees black smoke of Sayid’s signal, but miles away. He realizes that Michael has been leading them in the wrong direction. He confronts Michael about it and he admits that he was told to bring them here instead. They start to hear whispers from all around, clearly uttering the name “Elizabeth,” and suddenly Sawyer is shot in the neck with a dart and hits the ground in a convulsive state. Hurley freezes, Michael stares around and Kate and Jack run for it. Kate is shot and then Jack. The Others appear and take the party captive with their mouths gagged and their heads covered with hoods.

Hey, it's Locke!
(“Damn, it’s been hours since I’ve stabbed something!”)

Back in the Swan, Locke is insistent on NOT pushing the button as he believes that the purpose of the Swan is nothing more than a psychological experiment. Desmond in turn asks Locke if he’s sure he doesn’t have the theory backwards- maybe it is the Pearl Station that is the psychological experiment, not the Swan. Locke gives Desmond the printout from the Pearl station and Desmond frantically scrutinizes the logs.

In Desmond’s flashback, Desmond notices that Kelvin’s “quarantine suit” has a noticeable hole while Kelvin is preparing to go outside. Thinking that he is being deceived, Desmond follows Kelvin outside the hatch. Desmond follows Kelvin, and sees him going to Desmond’s sailboat.

Kelvin reveals that he was going outside to repair Desmond’s boat to leave, using the guise of an infection on the island as an excuse for keeping Desmond in the Swan and pushing the button once Kelvin left. Desmond becomes enraged upon seeing his boat and accidentally smashes Kelvin’s head against a rock, probably killing him (unclear). He takes the fail safe key and sprints back to the hatch where the countdown has reached zero. The hieroglyphs have locked in on the timer. Alarms are sounding with the words “SYSTEM FAILURE” heard over and over, and the same phrase appears repeatedly on the monitor. Desmond desperately struggles to input the number sequence. The entire hatch appears to being trembling as though at the center of an earthquake, and everything metal is moving or flying towards the magnet wall area. He finally is given a prompt and enters the full sequence, causing the shaking to stop and the timer to reset.

In the present, Desmond asks Locke when they arrived on the island. When Locke replies “September 22nd”. Desmond finds this date on the printout, listed as “922044:16”, followed by the words “SYSTEM FAILURE” repeated many times. Desmond reasons that he caused Flight 815 to crash by not entering the numbers in time and causing a system failure.

The meeting party is walked down a pier among the Others. The pier has a “Pala Ferry” sign on the roof. The four survivors are made to kneel and their hoods are removed. Kate tells Mr. Friendly (through the gag in her mouth) that she knows that the beard is fake. Mr. Friendly does not understand, so Ms. Klugh says, “She says she knows the beard is fake, Tom.”, accidentally revealing Mr. Friendly’s first name. A relieved Mr. Friendly takes the fake beard off and mentions that it is itchy and uncomfortable. Annoyed that Ms, Klugh revealed his name, he reciprocates by revealing Ms Klugh’s name, “Bea”. She remains impassive. The same boat that was involved in Walt’s kidnapping pulls up and “Henry Gale” gets off, barefoot. He greets the meeting party and asks Friendly why he is not wearing his beard in an authoritative tone and seems to be the one in charge here. He says to Michael, “Alright, let’s take care of business, shall we?”.

Hey, it's that actress I've been stalking!
(“…Because I’m leaving you first. I’m seeing a skinny white guy from Wisconsin.)

Charlie regains consciousness outside the door. He finds Eko lying unconscious and bloody nearby, and tries to wake Eko up. Inside, Locke is dubious and still believes that nothing will happen when the button isn’t pushed. Desmond becomes frantic as the timer gets closer to zero. He tries to input the numbers but Locke smashes the computer monitor. Desmond panics, opens the blast doors, and bolts to the bookshelf, finding his copy of “Our Mutual Friend”.

Desmond has a flashback on the table in the Hatch, on which is a gun and a book. He finishes a bottle of alcohol, and opens the Dickens book. Upon opening “Our Mutual Friend”, an envelope falls out. It’s a letter from Penelope that was written before he entered prison. It explains that she has hidden the letter in “the one place you would turn to in a moment of great desperation”. She also writes “All we really need to survive is one person who truly loves us. And you have her. I will wait for you. Always. So far away from her, this enrages him and he starts to tear the room apart, despondent and suicidal, when suddenly he hears someone pounding on a wall and screaming. It was Locke, pounding on the hatch asking why Boone had to be killed. He looks up to the where the hatch is and flips a switch making the hatch window light up, placating Locke, and giving Desmond hope as he presumes a replacement is on the way.

The flashback ends and Desmond is frantically looking for the same book, as the hieroglyphics lock in and another system failure starts. Upon finding the book, he removes the fail safe key and runs for the trapdoor to get to the fail safe. He explains to Locke that he now knows that it was he who was pounding that one night that he had given up on life, thus saving his life, and now it is his turn to save Locke’s life. Charlie manages to get Eko on his feet, but Eko brushes him aside as he goes into the control room, leaving Charlie to try to escape on his own. A despondent Locke acknowledges his cataclysmic mistake to Eko, stating simply, “I was wrong”.

Back in the Basement, we see Desmond insert the key into the failsafe. After pausing to think of Penny and her letter he speaks under his breath, “I love you, Penny”. He turns the key and the screen fades to white.

Hey, it's Kate!
(“Wow, is that a tree made entirely of Slim Jims? Hurley, get over here!”)

The island is engulfed in a bright white/violet glow accompanied by a loud low droning sound causing Sayid’s group, everyone at the dock, and everyone at the camp to cover their ears in pain. It lasts for several seconds and then slowly fades back to normal. Henry Gale is the only person seen here that isn’t surprised by the Discharge. An object falls from the sky to the beach just missing Claire, Aaron, and Bernard. It is the hatch door that says “QUARANTINE”. Charlie returns to camp, still partially deaf. Bernard asks where Locke and Eko are. Charlie seems surprised that they’re not back yet.

At the dock, Henry Gale explains that Michael can leave on the boat, that Walt is aboard, and that Michael will find rescue if he holds a bearing of 325 degrees. Michael asks Henry how he doesn’t know he might tell people about where he was. Henry says “Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. But it won’t matter. Once you leave, you’ll never be able to get back here. And my hunch is you won’t say a word to anybody because if you do, people will find out what you did to get your son back.”

Michael asks, “Who are you people?” to which Henry Gale replies genially, “We’re the good guys, Michael”. Michael and Walt leave in the boat, passing by the hostages. Hurley is also told that he can leave and that his job is to tell the people from his side of the island not to ever come to theirs. Jack silently encourages Hurley to go. What’s left of the meeting party is given one last (possibly meaningful) look at each other before their heads are covered with hoods again.

Later that night, Claire asks Charlie what happened “out there”, but he doesn’t seem to take her seriously, stating, “Nothing happened”. He appears to be surprised by the Discharge. After examining a wound on Charlie’s arm, Claire proceeds to kiss him. We see the Camp of Survivors preparing for the night, unbeknownst to them the full events of the day.

Hey, it's that guy that killed those people!
(“I swear to God, Michael. You murder one more person, and we’re taking your gun away.”)

The scene suddenly switches to a landscape of snowy peaks in blizzard conditions. We come to focus on two Portuguese-speaking men in a small shelter with equipment and clothes hanging from lines. When playing a game of chess, one of them suddenly notices their computer beeping and a message on screen, reading “>\ 7418880 Electromagnetic Anomaly Detected”. They seem to have witnessed it before, as one of them is shouting “That’s it, isn’t it? We missed it again” The other guy forces him to “make the call”. He picks up a yellow telephone and dials a number.

We then see a bedroom table on which is a picture of Desmond and Penny. A woman awakes and picks up the phone and the researcher says “Miss Widmore. It’s us…I think we found it.”

Well, there you go. I’m sure you all read that; I know I did. Let’s move on. Some of this information has been mined from producer interviews and used without permission. Come and get me, nerds; I’ll be waiting for you.

THE NUMBERS.

Hey, it's Tom!
(Santa Claus in June.)

1 – It goes without saying that this season of Lost is going to be different. When I say “different,” I mean “it might annoy people and question the judgment of the producers.” This is expected, as with a show as fan-obsessed as Lost, any changes in the formula will be met with disapproving clucks, as nerds like me will talk at length about how they could make the show better if they (I) were in charge.

There are going to be new castaways, new Others, new flashbacks and new storylines. The mythology of the show will take a backseat to the more soap-opera and character-driven plots of the series. Sure, there will be sex, violence and bewildering smash-cuts, but trust me, it’s going to be different. My opinion was that the Interactive Lost Game that ran during the summer was a way to wring out the last few drops of the DHARMA mystery, in order to focus more on new characters and less sci-fi.

Some people might like this (Mr. Eko? Yay!). Most people won’t (Ana Lucia? Boo!). There will still be more mysteries and cliffhangers than any other show on TV, but I honestly don’t expect to get too many answers to some of the weirder happenings on the island. What’s new?

Season Two was all about the hatch, and the constant mysteries within. This season’s mystery will revolve around the Others’ association with the island. While I don’t think anything will ever match that feeling of “What in the hell?” that Season Two gave us, I still think there are plenty of things left to be revealed to keep us calm and quiet.

2 – This has been discussed to death, but we should talk about the way ABC has decided to air Season Three. Apparently, the network and the producers listened to the “No more reruns!” pleas of their audience and worked out a compromise. The good news is that this season will be rerun-free; but the downside is a huge, 3-month gap in between episodes 6 and 7.

The first 6 episodes will run as sort of a mini-series, bridging the gap between Season Two and the remainder of Season Three. The writers claim that almost all of the lingering Season Two mysteries will be solved by the end of Episode 6, which is another clue that Season Three will ultimately send the series into a new direction and attempt to “burn the bridges” of their previous work.

After episode 6, Lost is off the air for the entire Winter. During that time, we can spend time with loved ones, celebrate Christmas and clean out the basement. Once Lost returns in early 2007, we’ll get 17 straight episodes, with no repeats.

Again, there will be no reruns this year. Don’t send me e-mails asking if there’s a new episode on. They’re all new.

Hey, it's WAAAALLLLLT!
(WAAAAAALLLLLLT!)

3 – At this point in the show, some critics and fans have grown concerned that Lost has been making up too much of the story as they go, but during a recent interview, Carlton Cuse remarked that, “We have an endpoint for the show, we have an overarching mythology for the show,” though within that, “there’s a lot of room for improvisation, to try to keep it organic and reacting to what we see on screen.”

Damon Lindelof then insisted, “We never ask a question on the show if we don’t have an answer for it,” but pointed out the Michael/Jin storyline as an example of altering something due to the actors; in this case, they had originally intended Michael and Jin to remain enemies all first season, but the chemistry between the actors led them to change the storyline so that they became friends.

Lindelof talked about the show having what he saw as a logical endpoint, and balancing that with the network likely wanting the show to go on for several years, saying, “We have four, maybe five awesome seasons planned out, and after that we’d have to start tap dancing, which is something we don’t want to do,” and pondered telling the network, “Fine, you can do more episodes of Lost, but we won’t have anything to do with that.” Ultimately, Lindelof observed, “The reality of ending it on our own terms is unrealistic, so we have to work around that.”

4 – When asked about the fact that each season only seems to cover just a few weeks of time, Lindelof responded with, “You’re making a basic assumption that they’ve been there as long as they think they’ve been there,” and hinted that perception may be changed in Season Three.

This makes a lot of sense to me. The castaways shouldn’t trust their watches or even the setting sun, for that matter. They might have been on this island a lot longer than they think, which might account for Walt’s growth or the fact that Sun already had her baby.

That was a joke. Sun’s baby is going to look a lot like me, though. Bank on it.

5 – The producers also spoke of writing the characters with the actors in mind, and how Terry O’Quinn’s dissatisfaction with Locke’s role last season became reflected as Locke became increasingly frustrated pushing the button in the hatch. Lindelof recounted O’Quinn saying, “I want a knife in my hand, and to kill stuff!,” and then added, “You’ll get your knife back, John Locke.”

This is good news for me. John Locke in Season One was the coolest guy in the freaking world.

6 – There is a strong implication that an underwater hatch might exist, and that it might be explored this season. The producers say the hieroglyphics on the timer translate to “underworld.”

7 – The monster will be a part of Season Three, as will the polar bear. People are asking what happened to the polar bear, so we will be doing some polar bear stories. Also, the smoke creature and the “security system” are one in the same.

All these unanswered letters to Santa...
(“Dear Penthouse Forum. I never thought I’d be writing to you, but…”)

8 – In Season Three, we will understand the real ramifications of Desmond activating the failsafe and what that did. The central issue of Season Three will be what did happen. The island was visible afterwards, but only for an instant. It was also visible for an instant on 9/22/04 when the plane crashed.

9 – The foot statue represents the history and archeology of the island. Season Three will explore what happened on the island before Dharma arrived in the late 70’s and who was there.

10 – Lindleof says, “Libby’s got this mysterious backstory, of which we’ve only given you the tip of the iceberg. We know she’s spent some time in the mental institution with Hurley, and the idea of killing her before she had an opportunity to explain how she got there… we have a master plan for how we’re going to tell that story, but it’s all posthumous. You’ll start to learn Libby’s moves through flashbacks over the course of the next season.”

Interesting. Let’s move on to the preview. Spoilers ahoy!

THE PREVIEW.

Season 3 – Episode 1: “A Tale of Two Cities.” (Jack-centric)
Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Jack freaks 'oot. Again.
(Jack does his best Mime routine to impress the Others.)

4 – Desmond, Locke and Eko are (obviously) okay. We’ll find out what happened to them, but not right away. Much like the opening of Season Two, that question will be answered in episodes 2 and 3. The main point of the premiere is the captivity of Jack, Kate and Sawyer.

8 – In Jack’s flashbacks, he suspects his wife is having an affair with his dad. As long as I get to see more scenes with Jack and his dad fighting, I’m a happy guy.

Sawyer's in jail. Again.
(“You can’t lock me up! Don’t you know how sexy I am?”)

15 – We will begin to find out exactly what the castaways are up against with the Others. How long they’ve been around and what they intend to do with them, for starters.

16 – Desmond will be naked in this episode. Mark my words. I think the explosion might have blown his pants clear off.

Henry freaks me right the hell out. Again.
(Henry Gale’s MySpace photo. Funniest caption ever.)

23 – Desmond and (fake) Henry Gale are signed on for the entire season as cast regulars, so expect to see flashback episodes concerning them, along with continued interaction with the main cast.

42 – Speaking of the main cast, expect to see the return of Boone, Shannon and Libby within the first 6 episodes.

I’m tingling with anticipation. Thanks for reading the Season Three Preview. The very first LOST FRIDAY of the season is next week, and I promise it will be much better than this.

Sound off in the comments section or send me an e-mail at communistdance@yahoo.com. If you want to make a donation or buy some great CDP swag, check the links at the top of the page. Cheers.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time – #1.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time - #1

“My First Job.”
(Originally published 02/05.)

During a large part of my teen years, I worked at a Gas Station/Co-Op in the small Wisconsin town I grew up in. Even before I left the place for good, I knew I wanted to write a book about everything that happened to me there. It was these short stories that inspired me to start the CDP in the first place; a free and easy way to tell funny stories to people I didn’t know.

Three years later, and I’m still here, telling slightly less-funny stories to even more people I don’t know. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks, and enjoy this three-part essay.

PART I – “Death.”

In my life thus far, I’ve been pretty close to death on a number of occasions. I’m sure we all have, really. Close calls with cars on the highway, one misstep away from a 10-story fall, kitchen appliances gone awry. When you consider how fragile and tiny life really is, you start to consider yourself pretty lucky when you find yourself on the “not dead” side of these incidents.

When I was about 7, my family went on vacation in Florida. There, I had an honest-to-God near-death experience in a hotel pool. I couldn’t swim (still can’t), and I ventured a little too far into the deep end. For the next eternity, it seemed, I tried to find my way back to the surface, taking in huge amounts of water with every wasted breath. I still remember every second of that ordeal, and each time I feel instantly claustrophobic. Water is really my only big fear, which explains why I haven’t bathed or showered in years.

The interesting thing I’ve noticed with all these instances is that I never thought I was going to die when they happened to me. You only think after the fact that you could have lost your life. Come to think of it, there has never been a single time in my life where I honestly thought I was going to die.

Except for once.

I had been working at the Co-Op for a couple of years at this point, and I was 18 years old. I shuffled in a few minutes late as always, positioning myself behind the counter for another typical Wednesday. I stood there for a few minutes, opened the store for business, and wondered where all the employees were.

After about 15 minutes and a dozen customers later, my boss finally emerged from the back room, where the 2 other employees seemed to be hiding as well. He was looking around every isle on his way up to the front counter where I was standing, and he didn’t look right. Todd, my boss, was a kind-but-tough man, boasting scarred arms and a black, David Crosby-like ‘stache. I’ve seen him lift hundreds of pounds over his head and put out fires with his bare hands. Today, however, he looked…well, he looked scared. Something wasn’t right.

After checking the store for any customers, he escorted me away from the huge window at the front of the store, to a seasonal isle full of rakes and garden gnomes.

Hey,” he said to me, “There was a message on our machine this morning by a guy who said he was going to come in and kill somebody today. We don’t know if it was a prank or not, but the police are coming and we’re not taking any chances.”

I thought to myself, “Not taking any chances? Great! We’ll close the store up, and I’ll go back home. Hell, my bed’s probably still warm. I’ll just grab my coat and….”

“Keep your eyes peeled.” Todd said to me, and he hustled back into the storage room with the other employees, closing the door behind him.

I crept slowly back in front of the giant window, very much alone for the remainder of the day. Apparently the rest of the staff had a lot of things to do away from the main floor of the store. I’m sure their thinking was that as soon as they heard my dead body hit the floor, they could easily sneak out the back with little to no confrontation. I knew I was going to be on my own.

I tried to keep my wits about me. About 98% of our customers were down-home regulars who probably wouldn’t hurt anyone unless they were black. It was just the aimless drifters that I had to keep an eye on. Living in Small Town Wisconsin, trucks came pre-equipped with gun racks, and everyone was capable of taking a human life if only slightly provoked.

As the customers started to file in, I did my best to check them out as soon as they entered the store. I had a small axe behind the counter that I once used to chase a child out with (true story), and I was ready to split anyone’s melon should they come in with shifty eyes. I did this for a while, and when the action died down for a couple minutes, I excused myself into the office.

There, I listened to the answering machine message myself. Perhaps I could figure out who left it, or if they were just joking around or not. I’m pretty good at detecting sarcasm, and I can usually match voices to faces. I pressed play just as the cops arrived.

“I’m going to come in there and kill somebody tomorrow!”

I didn’t recognize the voice, and I wasn’t about to assume they were kidding. The cops took the tape with them, and I was back on my own. Honestly, where the hell did all the employees go?

Anticipating your own murder is really something amazing. You start to wonder if you’ve lived a decent enough life at the age of 18. I couldn’t believe that I was going to be killed behind the counter of a gas station. I helped myself to a few free sodas and candy bars. It was the least I could do.

Eventually, I started to take the defensive. If someone was going to come in and shoot the store up, it was my duty as an employee of the Larsen Cooperative to kill him first. With each strange customer, I clenched the small axe in my hand, looking insane and ready for a killing spree. In normal work situations, your supervisor wouldn’t take too kindly to their cashier wielding a hatchet at every smiling face that entered, but he was in hiding and there was no time for rational thought. I was sweating all day, I couldn’t stop circling the counter and I wasn’t in the mood for talking. Anticipating my own murder soon turned into me anticipating murdering someone else.

(Cue fantasy sequence.)

I had it all figured out. The car would pull up, probably an older American model. The muffler would be loud, and the rust would be creeping up along the edges of the forest green paint. The shooter would wait in his car, looking straight ahead, pausing to look around in wait for the store to empty itself out. Once the last customer had left, he would emerge from the vehicle slowly, looking left and right with squinted eyes. He would slink quickly to the front door and make his way inside, thinking he was home free.

But what he doesn’t know… is that I’d be on to him.

He’d take one look at me, and draw his rifle from the front of his pants. I’d catch it from the corner of my eye, glistening under the sickening fluorescent lights. All at once, I’d swing myself in his direction, the butt of the small axe swinging with me. The butt of the axe would make direct contact with the barrel of the gun, sending it careening down the Fertilizer isle. He’d turn in the direction of the rifle, taking his eyes off of me for one second too long.

I’d step out from behind the counter as he scampered down the isle for the gun. Like a Cherokee warrior, I’d throw the axe end-over-end, sinking it deep between his shoulder blades. He’d hit the ground and slide about 2 feet, just 6 inches short of the rifle. The axe would still be sticking out of his back as I slowly walked past him, Doc Marten boots stepping on the hand that was so desperately reaching for the gun. I’d pick it up with gloved hands (I said I was prepared), and he’d look up just in time to see me aiming the barrel right between his dilated pupils.

“You need to control your temper.” I’d say to him calmly.

My finger would wrap tightly around the trigger, and he would close his eyes with a grimace, bracing for the final impact. Just then, the police would bust in, take him away to jail and slap a medal of honor on my Co-Op uniform. The next day, the headlines would read, “Local Teen paralyzes nutjob; George W. Bush drinks self to death.”

From then on, I’d continue to work at the hardware store from time to time, but I’d receive enough money in shoe endorsements to live comfortably in Paris with the Missus and Kate Winslet.

I was ready to roll.

(End Fantasy Sequence.)

The hours ticked by, but I never let my guard down. If someone came in that I knew, I’d try to keep them around for a while, knowing that I could use them for a crude bullet shield when the carnage began. I was especially friendly to the heftier folks. If a straggler showed up, I hustled them out quickly, fingers sweatily wrapped around my axe. They didn’t ask questions.

It should seem obvious to you by now that no shooter ever showed up. Eventually, 4pm rolled around, I punched out and headed back home. We later found out that the message was nothing more than an angry customer thinking out loud while the answering machine was recording. He was mad that we weren’t open, and made an ass of himself. We never found out who it was, and no charged were ever filed. Things went back to normal at the Co-Op, and we never talked about that day ever again.

I learned a lot about myself that day. Morally, I learned that life is a tiny gift that should be enjoyed as much as possible. Weather or not we’re significant or holy means nothing sometimes.

I also learned that it doesn’t take much to go primal every now and then. I consider myself a pretty stable person, but when faced with my mortality I all but scalped the locals to stay alive. I usually frown on mob mentality and mass-hysteria, but I had a one-man breakdown that day because I thought I was going to be killed. I felt vulnerable, weak and irrelevant.

The ultimate irony was that I was never in any danger whatsoever. All those other near-death instances happen to me every day and I never bat an eyelash. But in anticipating something nonexistent, I overwhelmed myself with fear to the point of insanity. It’s happened to all of us at one point or another.

So, that’s my story about the time I was almost killed by a crazed madman.

PART II – “Explosion.”

Working at an establishment that specialized in highly flammable liquids and gasses, you can tell that I’ve experienced my fair share of things getting blown straight the hell up. Here’s a trilogy of Co-Op explosion stories, told in increasing order of destruction.

Explosion #1 – “Butane.”

Chad worked in the automotive department as a mechanic. He was a gentle giant with ice blue eyes; a hulking young man that could lift a pool table while simultaneously telling Ford jokes. He invited me and my wife to his wedding, which was incredibly thoughtful of him. Anyways, Chad came over to the hardware store, like he did every morning, to purchase a Mountain Dew and a handful of candy bars.

In between me and him was a large rack of about 100 Bic lighters, all color coordinated and facing the same direction (you’re welcome, customers). Not one to turn down a chance to try something fun, Chad dropped his purchase on the counter and began to play with the lighters like a small child.

Each row contained about 15 lighters, and stretched to about an arm’s length. Just then, I could see that Chad had some sort of bad idea brewing. Already tired of playing with just 1 lighter, Chad decided he wanted to ignite the entire row all at the same time.

Before I could explain to him the physics behind fire and oxygen (I did see Backdraft, after all), he laid his arm down across the row, pressing down on all 15 red buttons with his forearm, releasing gas as one. He then lit the first lighter in the row with his free hand, and waited for the fire to spread to the remaining gaseous lighters.

It worked. Sort of.

Instead of the flame gracefully sliding across the row, it formed a small fireball and shot straight up him arm.

For a split second, Chad’s entire arm was on fire, oil-soaked uniform and all. I stood there, slack-jawed and bewildered, as he windmilled his arm around and batted at the flame. A second later, it was out and the ordeal was over. Chad stared at me, and I stared back at him, both of us feeling pretty embarrassed. As he quietly reached for his Mountain Dew and candy bars, he mumbled, “I singed my arm hair.” He brushed the burned hair onto the floor and slunk away.

It was never discussed again.

Explosion #2 – “Air.”

It was a calm, spring day. The parking lot was empty, no customers to be seen. I sat on the counter of the store, reading Sports Illustrated and drinking a can of Mello Yello. I was still addicted to caffeine at the time, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why I was drinking such an inferior citrus soda that day.

Nevertheless, the 2 other employees (Jon and Dave), were busying themselves in different isles, facing and sorting inventory, just keeping themselves occupied on an otherwise boring afternoon. A customer eventually came in and needed a propane tank filled, so Jon walked across the street to the massive tank we use to refill empty cylinders.

Looking back, I can’t believe that I never had a problem working in the vicinity of this tank. It was essentially a bomb the size of a semi trailer, and I parked my 1986 Buick next to it every morning, whistling a happy tune and never thinking for a moment that if it decided to malfunction, they wouldn’t so much as find a fingernail with which to identify me with.

I spotted Jon by the tank from my perch across the street, and turned back to my magazine. I looked over to the clock for a second to see what time it was, when…

BOOM!

The explosion was so loud I fell off the counter. It was deafening; I’d never heard anything like it. I got to my feet, but remained ducked behind the counter because I had no idea what in the hell had just happened. Furthermore, I was in no shape to peek over and see pieces of Jon splattered all over the front window.

Forget Jon, what about my car? It took a few seconds, but I worked up the nerve to look out the window to see…

Nothing. The giant tank was fine, Jon was fine, my car was fine. So what happened?

Meanwhile, Todd was in the back of the store when this mysterious explosion happened, and I’m sure he thought that the tank had gone off as well. I say I’m sure because no sooner did I peek over the counter, when Todd burst through the saloon-style doors of the back room and run full speed down the isle and out the front door. Had I not been so confused at the moment, it was probably the funniest thing I’d ever seen.

With my ears ringing and Co-Op employees starting to peer out the windows, we all tried to figure out what had happened. What blew up? Then, staggering out of the shadows, emerged our culprit.

A customer was taking advantage of our “free air” hose, and over-inflated a truck tire to the point of explosion. When he saw what was about to happen, he turned away just in time to not be seriously injured by flying rubber and shrapnel. His ears, however, weren’t so lucky.

What happened?” I asked him as he walked into the store.

He didn’t respond. Partly because he was still stunned to the point of a solid pants-crapping, but mainly because he was now stone deaf. After looking at me sideways for a few seconds, he said;

I think I need to go to the Doctor. I can’t hear anything.”

True to his word, he got in his truck and drove off, fragments of his spare tire still littered in our parking lot. I never saw him again.

Explosion #3 – “Gasoline.”

Our main parking lot was getting more and more torn up with each passing winter day. Snow chains and plows were removing hearty chunks of concrete every hour on the hour. Something had to be done.

The first nice day of April, we had the lot re-sealed. It was another slow day (every day was, really), and I was passing the time by watching these driveway-sealing professionals smoke by the gas tanks and accomplish nothing in 5 whole hours. It was brilliant to see these people in action, and I model my work ethic after them to this day.

After completing a very small task, they placed their tools on the ground and had yet another smoke break. What follows is a Rube Goldberg-ian string of events and dumb luck that almost turned Larsen into an instant ghost town. Let me break it down step-by-step:

Dumbass mistake #1 – The driveway crew left a lit blowtorch running in the parking lot. I swear to God.

Dumbass mistake #2 – This lit blowtorch was unattended, and sitting less than 10 feet away from our gas tanks. Luckily for us, we had the gas tanks roped off with signs that said “Out of Order”.

Dumbass mistake #3 – Most of our customers cannot read. No less than 30 seconds after this torch was set down, someone drove their car right through the yellow tape, chose the pump right next to the open flame, and began to fill up. Luckily for us, gas pumps are equipped with an automatic shut-off switch to prevent overfilling and spillage.

Dumbass mistake #4 – This customer chose to only put an inch of the gas nozzle into his tank. Due to his rubbernecking at the progress of the driveway sealing, he left the pump unattended, the tank overfilled, and gasoline started to pool under his car.

I looked out the window and quickly figured out what was going on. All I could do was shake my head in disbelief as I saw the puddle of gas inch closer and closer to the open flame.

I was the only one who could see what was happening, and instead of doing anything about it, I quietly got into the fetal position behind the counter. I was wondering how much of the town would be left when the Co-Op disintegrated. I was also wondering how my family would feel about my death being honored in the Darwin Awards. I really didn’t think I was going to die, but I knew I didn’t want to live once the wave of fire washed the skin from my bones.

So I waited.

And waited.

I peeked over the counter (which was something I was getting used to doing), and saw the driveway repair guy holding the lit torch over his head, screaming at the inattentive customer who, was in turn screaming back at him.

Laughing quietly, I walked to the back room to grab a bag of that pink sawdust that cleans up after vomit and gasoline spills. “Nobody’s going to believe this“, I thought to myself.

Sometimes, I still can’t.

(You may be saying to yourself, “That last explosion story wasn’t really an explosion at all! You’re a liar!” Well, that may be true, but sometimes anticipating the explosion is better than the explosion itself. Let that be a metaphor for life, kids.)

PART III “Customer.”

On my last day of work at the Co-Op, I did a quick equation to see if I could figure out how many customers I’d checked out over the last 4 years. The number was in the 6-digit range, yet it seemed like I knew everyone that came in by name. Truth be told, it was usually the same 100 people, day in and day out, for 1500 straight days.

I would like to tell you about one customer in particular. Let’s call him “Chet”. I’m protecting his identity strictly for my safety, for you see, “Chet” is completely insane.

Here’s a little backstory on Chet. He has an alcohol problem, a smattering of psychological problems and an anger management problem. He represents the Holy Trinity of what a serial killer profile looks like. Speaking of what he looks like, that did a lot as far as his frightening image went. He looked like Ed Norton in American History X, with the eyes of Marty Feldmann.

I’m not kidding. He was that scary. I’m almost positive that he had the same tattoo.

Doing a circuit court search on Chet revealed a large sheet of offenses:

4 separate DUI charges (with heavy fines)
3 times driving with a suspended license (including jail time)
1 count of driving an ATV on the highway (with suspended license
3 restraining orders
3 counts of disorderly conduct (including jail time)
1 count of domestic abuse (including jail time)

Most of these charges happened just before or just after leaving the Co-Op on any given day.

I first met Chet on the 2nd day of business at the Co-Op. All of the employees were still figuring out how everything worked, and the computer system was chock-full of bugs. Chet walked in and bought some candy and a sledgehammer. I had no idea who he was, and nobody took the time to tell me to be careful around him. I began to ring him up, when the computer decided to lock up on me.

Thinking he would be decent about it, I told him that there was a slight problem with the system, and I’d be more than happy to check him out at the next available computer.

This apparently was too much for Chet to handle.

He stared me down for about 20 seconds with those crazy-ass eyes, then proceeded to berate me for being an idiot. I felt horrible, and worse still, I couldn’t defend myself whatsoever. I was terrified of the guy, and he was holding a sledgehammer. In retrospect, there are so many things you would like to say to guys like that, but in the end you just nod and accept the gentle criticism.

He eventually left, and 10 minutes later he was arrested for using the sledgehammer to smash up his neighbors car.

That night, I wanted to quit my job. He gave me a very poor impression of the types of people I would run into, and he also freaked the holy hell out of me. I never wanted to see him again.

But of course, I would see Chet every few days. He would show up just before closing time and buy a ton of things that would take forever to individually ring up (a giant bag filled with 60 different kinds of PVC attachments, for example). He’d mumble constantly, and when you’d ask him to repeat himself, he’d yell. If you didn’t ask him to repeat himself, you’d hear him wrong and have to start the transaction all over, and again he’d yell. There was no winning with this guy.

Within a few months, Chet lost his driver’s license due to him being a filthy drunk. Always the resourceful fellow, he got into the habit of driving his lawnmower to the Co-Op with a flat trailer attached to it. I could literally hear him coming from a mile away, and I had 15 minutes to get ready for his arrival. All of the other employees would casually disappear whenever he walked in. It was pure torture.

On one particular day, he bought an armload of candy bars and soda, several bags of ready-mix concrete and 12 bottles of ammonia. As he putted off into the distance, trying to steer while drinking a Mountain Dew and eating a bag of chips, he turned hard into a ditch and tipped the lawnmower over. I didn’t get the chance to see it, but the mental image alone was enough to make me tear up with delight.

An hour later, the cops were at his house because he had filled his ditches with concrete and covered his driveway with sod. He said he did this to keep the frogs out of his garage.

Chet took his “sod” case to the town board, where it abruptly ended with him making a death threat to one of the head members. The police were notified.

Still, he fought against these frogs, renting a Caterpillar and quickly crashing it into our gas pumps, nearly incinerating the town. I don’t think you’re supposed to operate heavy machinery when your constantly inebriated and have no license.

The problems and verbal abuse continued for several more months. It was becoming too much for anyone to handle. Something had to be done before he finally killed somebody, probably me. I was honestly considering quitting my job because of him, and getting up for work in the morning was becoming almost impossible.

One night, before going to sleep, I wished out loud that I would never see Chet again, knowing full well that tomorrow would bring another day of his intimidation and bullying.

I got to work the next day, and my manager was the first one to run into me. He told me that the night before, Chet was (once again) arrested for driving drunk with a suspended license, and he was going to jail for 4 months. Along with that, he was forced to attend all sorts of rehab classes, and take scores of pills for his various problems.

I couldn’t believe it. My wish came true.

About 6 months later, a car pulled up to the Co-Op, and out of the passenger side emerged Chet. He was accompanied by his brother, who was now his legal guardian.

Chet looked like he had gained at least 50 pounds (because of all the pills he was taking), and was nothing more than a glazed-over shell of a man. He said ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ was soft-spoken and polite, called me ‘sir’ and looked like he had absolutely no idea as to what was going on.

Apparently, he went through the system, and this was the best that the system could do for him. Instead of hurting other people and himself, he was now incapable of even functioning without someone living with him.

That was the last time I ever saw him.

So long Chet, wherever you are. Ya’ crazy bastard.

TOMORROW:
LOST – SEASON THREE PREVIEW.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time – #2.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time - #2

“Lost Friday.”
(Originally published 09/2005 to 05/2006.)

LOST FRIDAY.

If it wasn’t for Lost Friday, there would be a lot less people reading the CDP right now; I can’t deny that. Catch up on the entire last season, and prepare for the Season Three Preview on Friday. The countdown ends tomorrow, yo.

SEASON TWO – SEASON FINALE REVIEW
SEASON TWO – FINALE EDITION 2
SEASON TWO – FINALE EDITION 1
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 22 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 21 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 20 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – CLIP SHOW EDITION
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 19 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 18 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 17 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – TEMPORARY EDITION
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 16 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 8
SEASON TWO – RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 7
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 15 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 14 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 13 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 6
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 12 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 11 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 10 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 5
SEASON TWO – RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 4
SEASON TWO – RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 3
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 9 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 8 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 7 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 6 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – RERUN EDITION: VOLUME 2
SEASON TWO – RERUN EDITION
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 5 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 4 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 3 REVIEW
SEASON TWO – EPISODE 1 REVIEW
SEASON TWO PREVIEW

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time – #3.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time - #3

“The Loud Neighbor Sextet.”
(Originally published 01-11, 02-09, 02-16, 02-22, 03-06 & 04-11-06.)

The following six-part post is rated TV-14 for sexual content and dialogue. It’s also one of the funniest and most enraging things to ever happen to me. It’s not every day that you wage a psychological battle with neighbors that have sex 18 times a day. You’ll like it because it almost drove me to murder.

Please read and enjoy.

PART I – “Would You Be Mine? Could You Be Mine?”
PART II – “Take It Sleazy.”
PART III – “Skyrockets In Flight.”
PART IV – “Man Your Battle Stations.”
PART V – “Lock & Load.”
PART VI – “Return All Keys Before Checkout.”

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time – #4.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time - #4
“Worst Album Covers Of All Time.”
(Originally published 03-20-06.)

Here now, a small sampling of the worst album covers ever.

Much like the ‘Random” Facts About Chuck Norris and ‘Shockmaster” Incident’ posts, the ‘Worst Album Covers Ever’ post was a long time coming. Sure, I didn’t really discover any of these, and the same terrible covers have been tossed around forever, but I felt I needed to bring a similar post to the CDP.

Why? Well, because some people might not have seen these covers yet, and also because I’m fresh out of original ideas.

Away we go.

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#15 – Wolf: Wolf

When you put a vicious, snarling animal on the cover of your album, you’re normally trying to invoke a sense of fright or danger. You know, let the kids know that you mean business and are capable of getting biz-zay frequently and sufficiently. In the case of this Wolf album, you’re left with the theory that the artist was attempting to draw a wolf, but decided to turn it into a gorilla wearing a trench coat and a Freddy Krueger mitt at the last minute. While I respect his or her decision to go with their gut, I don’t think it’s possible to come up with something less intimidating.

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#14 – Country Church: Country Church

This photo was clearly taken at a local Sears or Citgo station, purchased with the money those two guys won at the World Beard & Moustache Championships. How they managed to take a break from life on the farm long enough to pick up matching outfits is beyond me, let alone record an entire album. Now, the gentleman in the middle has his hand on the girl’s shoulder, which would explain why he was mysteriously murdered later that day and replaced with her husband on lead tambourine. Furthermore, when members of a church start dressing the same, it is officially a cult.

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#13 – Joyce: Joyce

Ah, Joyce. You lovable, lonely woman. No doubt, this albums contains tracks of love and loving lovers lost, with just a dash of hope for the future. Joyce seems vulnerable yet self-sufficient, holding a single rose as if to say, “Look at me. I’m distraught and alone, and that’s okay!” Her once empowered female fans were generally upset and confused with the release of her sophomore album, “I Am Totally Down With Being Tyrone’s Ho’.” She was nominated for a Source award that year, but sadly lost to MC Lyte.

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#12 – Roger: The Many Facets Of Roger

For all the ‘facets’ that Roger seems to have, something tells me that they all end up the same way. Sweating through yet another jumpsuit in the dressing room of a smoky disco, cutting up a rock of coke so big I could set my television on it.

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#11 – Mike Adkins: Thank You For The Dove

I found out that this was a spiritual album (really?), which raised a lot of moral questions with me. First off, has God ever dropped your own personal dove from the sky? Ever? If He did, would you keep it? Secondly, I’m completely convinced that Jesus would never listen to about 99% of the crap people write about Him. I could see the Almighty listening to Sufjan Stevens or All Star United, but He wouldn’t stand for this. No way. At least, not the Jesus I know. Also, the Jesus I know smells like sandalwood and pine, and never tires of my endless tirades about the government and student loans.

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#10 – Manowar: Anthology

Oh, no.

Let’s talk demographics for a sec’, kay? Who is this appealing to? Male metal fans? Nope. Female metal fans? Well maybe, if there were any. You know who this cover appeals to? Manowar. That’s all, nothing more and nothing less. Furthermore, that’s up with the one guy who’s not shirtless? Did he have a no-nudity clause in his contract? Maybe he thought his moustache was statement enough, which is totally true. Everyone should know by now that the only people you attract with naked men are other men who like naked men. Stick with the scantly-clad ladies that got you here, Manowar.

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#09 – Devastatin’ Dave (The Turntable Slave): Zip Zap Rap

First off, Devastatin’ Dave is not a DJ. He looks more like a professional wrestler. In any regard, he could almost certainly get his ass trounced by ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper, or ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund for that matter. It would also appear that Dave is an African-American fellow, which would make his use of the term ‘slave’ very odd at the least. Also, did you notice that the word ‘zap’ is directly placed on Mr. Slave’s embarrassingly tight pants? Is that supposed to be some sort of subliminal message? That all being said, I’m quite certain that anything in my pants could spin records better than Devastatin’ Dave. In fact, my pantal contents are challenging Dave to a spin-off later this afternoon.

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#08 – Mike Crain: Karatist Preacher – God’s Power

Mike Crain is a triple threat. Not only is he a singer as well as a man of the cloth, he’s also a black belt! That’s more than I can claim, so I can’t bust on this guy too much. Say what you will, but when was the last time you saw a preacher smashing bricks with his palms in church? Maybe if there were more guys like Mike Crain around, I’d go to church more often. You know what? This might actually be the best album cover ever.

“The power of Christ compells you…to break these bricks of Satan! Yaaahhh!”

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#07 – Jim Post: I Love My Life

As much as it pains me and my ‘stache loving friends to say this, Jim’s super-thick ‘stache is what ruins the cover. You know, a whole lot of album covers have the lead singer standing naked under a waterfall or frolicking in a Finnish sauna, but they normally don’t sport a crumb catcher that can absorb a good 9 quarts of liquid. Look at the damn thing! Can you imagine how much that mass weighs right now? Brutha’s gunna have a stretch mark on his philtrum. After some digging around, I found out that Mr. Post now does side work as a Mark Twain impersonator (really).

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#06 – John Bult: Julie’s Sixteenth Birthday

Oh, hell no.

John, what are you doing? There’s nothing even close to legal with this situation, whatsoever. You took this girl to a bar; now you’re drinking a beer, smoking a butt and holding her hand. Who’s going to drive her home when you pass out? You could have at least taken her to Chuck-E-Cheese so she could be around people her own age. Maybe if you got rid of that lousy hat, you could find someone over 16 that wants to be seen in public with you. Thank you, John Bult, now I need a shower, maybe two.

Upon closer examination of the cover, you can see that the Julie in question is gazing longingly at the cigarette and mug of beer (probably Blatz, possibly Billy). So maybe, just maybe, the concept of the album isn’t rampant pedophilia and a pending child molestation charge, but just that Julie’s depressed she’s too young to smoke and get smashed.

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#05 – Freddie Gage: All My Friends Are Dead

You can take the title of this album one of two ways. One, you could see Mr. Gage as an unlucky and depressed fellow who has seen his most beloved people parish in this cruel and unpredictible thing we call life. Or, you can see it for what it’s worth. That Freddie Gage is an unstoppable serial murderer and you should avoid being his friend or acquaintance at all costs. What could this guy possibly be singing about? Smiths covers, I assume. And if all of his friends are dead, who’s buying his albums?

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#04 – Jeff: Something Special

You know what? Forget it. I’m not touching this one.

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#03 – Mike Terry: Live At The Pavilion Theatre – Glasgow

This is the only cover on the list that makes me laugh every time I lay eyes on it. Mike Terry appears to be having a great time playing his piano. Oh, and he’s also stuffed like a beef sausage into a suit that Liberace gave up for being ‘entirely too gay.’ I can only imagine what the cover of Volume One looked like. Furthermore, look at his neck. It looks as if the costume is on backwards, dangling dangerously and clinging onto his waddle for dear life. Maybe he’s wearing a spandex jumpsuit under this, and he tears it off during a rollicking Scottish rendition of ‘Great Balls Of Fire.’ (roll tongue on the word ‘great’ for maximum effect)

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#02 – Ken: By Request Only

Oh, don’t act like you don’t know what time it is! This is Ken, man!

The two things about this cover that strike me the most are 1), the shot on the right is most certainly in an outhouse, and 2), the shot on the left is a crude, carved stone figure of the man on the right. This is widely regarded as the worst album cover of all time, and just sleeves of this album go for big money on Ebay. Something tells me that ‘By Request Only’ means his set list consists of about half a song before he’s quickly escorted back to his customized barstool, where he’s fed vodka tonics for the remainder of the night. Then at 2am, he’ll stumble back into the ballroom, fart into the mike and fall off the stage.

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#01 -Heino: Liebe Mutter…

Okay, there’s something you need to know about the cover of this album. The translation reads, ‘Dear Mother…A Bouquet That Never Wilts.’

Thanks, Oedipus. Way to expand your fan base.

Can you imagine what this album sounds like? Really? For my money, all the booze, weed, shrooms, smack, rock, ice, airplane glue, gasoline, Knightmare Juice and shoe polish in the world wouldn’t even get me in the same ballpark. Thank you, Heino. This is truly the funniest and most unsettling album cover I have ever seen.

So, there you have it. Sound off in the comments section about your favorite album cover, and feel free to submit your own.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time – #5.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time - #5
“Intro-Feedback-Setup-Punchline-Repeat.”
(Originally published 11-08-05.)

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A Lifetime Of Laughs: The Boycott Unity Retrospective.

Immediately following the 2004 Presidential Election, I had what friends and loved-ones would remember as a “freak-out of embarrassing proportions.” The phone was shut off, the CDP went on hiatus and I wore nothing but black to work. I shut the television off; sat down, and thought about all the work I had gone through over the last few months to ensure that what happened… didn’t happen. It was a huge feeling of failure and deflation, like when I got kicked off of the golf team in High School because I was failing Geometry.

I sucked and everyone knew it.

Every day felt like I was drowning in thick gravy, and not the good kind that Grandma used to make. Everyone in Madison walked around town like they had just been punched in the gut. I came to the quick conclusion that me and the Missus didn’t have enough money to leave the country for good, so I settled on the next best thing.

I started a political cartoon.

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Boycott Unity was born. If anything, it was a way to cheer myself up, sling some mud and act like I was actually making a difference. I couldn’t draw, and Paint was the only program I was proficient in, so I took pride in the fact that it looked like hell, and just focused on the dialogue.

Boycott Unity centered around 2 main characters. They didn’t have names, and were told apart only by the size of their mouths. The small-mouthed fellow was the self-intelligent liberal. The voice of progress and sarcasm, logic and reason, but always quick to realize his place in the big picture. He knew what was wrong and how to change it, but he normally sunk his energy into things that mattered none to his future. He’s a lot like me.

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The larger-mouthed gentleman represented everything that I dislike about the right wing, and everything logical conservatives dislike about the right wing, as well. He talked without thinking, conversed without listening and believed the unbelievable. He was essentially the worst conservative ever; a composite of everything that keeps you from talking to men in suits.

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Without question, these characters were satires of both ends of the spectrum. People like this don’t really exist, although everything they said came from somewhere in reality. It just made sense for me to use two political representatives who really had no business giving their opinion. I think that this cartoon summed this mindset up perfectly.

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Most of the time, Boycott Unity focused on current events and world happenings. Around the time of the strip, the war in Iraq was picking up more steam and critics, and George Bush was re-elected to office. The debate was hot over the concept of pre-emptive strikes.

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Already, people were talking about who would bring the Democrats to glory in 2008.

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For about a week, I had a storyline where our Conservative friend attended the President’s inagural ball.

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A lot of strips focused on misconceptions we have concerning opposing political parties. The idea that we like to mash together everything we hate about conservatives or liberals and assume that they all think that way is foolish and irresponsible.

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As was shown in the 2004 elections, some Liberals take things for granted, they don’t work hard enough to invoke change and they focus too much of their time on things that make no difference whatsoever. This angers me, mainly because I’m living proof. These strips were mostly about how mad I am at myself, because I’m slacking off on doing something important.

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I wrote this strip shortly after the death of my Grandfather. It cheered up my family as much as it could have.

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Other times, I removed politics entirely from the strip, and just let the characters screw with each other. Every now and again, you had to remember why they enjoyed each other’s company in the first place.

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The song he’s singing here is “Mama Said Knock You Out,” by LL Cool J. It’s funnier when you know that going in.

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Sometimes, things were written directly out of problems I was having in my own little world. Things like work, relationships and family would eventually make their way into a Boycott Unity cartoon.

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Every once in a while, the bad news and mud got so deep I couldn’t help but get serious for a second. Well, you know, as serious as a stick figure can get, I suppose.

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This was one of the most commented cartoons I’ve ever done. It generated a lot of positive feedback, and for that I am proud.

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Well, this one may have actually received more feedback, now that I think about it.

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People always asked me, “why are they friends?” My answer is that they need each other. One can’t exist without the other in the real world, and people often forget that. Everyone needs a counter weight, and everyone needs someone to fight with. Otherwise, the imbalance would destroy them. They knew that they needed each other, and they were willing to accept that.

After about 70 of these little 4-paneled turds, I decided to call it quits. First and foremost, I didn’t like doing them anymore. You’d be absolutely amazed at how much work goes into something as simple as this cartoon. Try creating a few of them, and you’ll drive yourself insane. You’ll try to remember what life was like before you had to make a joke every fourth line of a conversation. I felt like I did what I wanted to do, and it was a good time to knock it off before the strip started to really suck.

Another reason I gave it up was that not a lot of people seemed interested in it. The CDP was getting good traffic, but it was like pulling teeth to get people over to Boycott Unity. I was feeling frustrated, which led to this; one of the last strips I did.

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Looking back one year later, I found myself actually enjoying these; probably a little too much. For some reason, I took a lot of pride in these damn things. Once I pulled the plug on the strip, I removed all of the comics from the interweb permanently (until now, of course). Afterwards, a few people told me that they missed them and wanted to see them again, which made me feel fuzzy.

It’s funny how angry I was a year ago. Either that, or it’s sad how jaded I am one year later. People get used to their surroundings, and for better or for worse, that has pretty much happened to me. Sure, the news still makes me sick, I refuse to engage in debates anymore and the Fox News Channel needs a severe keelhauling, but I don’t feel the need to take it to the streets too much anymore. I haven’t given up, I just temporarily forgot what I was fighting for.

I’m not an angry Liberal. I’m not a Conservative hater. I’m a concerned, smart-ass American who can’t draw. As you’ve hopefully noticed, I don’t talk politics on the CDP anymore, because it’s neither the place nor the time for such discussion. Rather, I hope that this entertained you somewhat, and perhaps reminded you of where we have been in the last year.

At the very least, I think they’re pretty funny.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time – #6.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time - #6
“The Homecoming Quadrilogy.”
(Originally published 04-24, 04-25, 04-26 & 05-01-06.)

Here is a four-part story about one of the most stereotypically teenage nights of my life. Someday, I will turn this into a screenplay and make millions with the CW network. If this countdown were up to me, this story would have been closer to #1, but I was shot down by the Voting Academy. Links have been used as to not clutter the main page.

Please read and enjoy.

PART I – “Love Tha’ Player, Hate Tha’ Game.”
PART II – “J. Crew & The Mystery Girl.”
PART III – “Brace For Impact.”
PART IV – “Three Strikes, You’re In.”

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time – #7.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time - #7
“You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine.”
(Originally published 04-14-05.)

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“Time Sharing Is Sharing Time” – By: The CDP.

I couldn’t believe my ears.

The loud man on the other end of my phone was trying to explain it all to me nice and slowly. Apparently, while waiting for a veggie sub at Cousin’s last week, my wife had dropped her name into a drawing to win four round-trip tickets to almost anywhere on the continent. Today was our lucky day, and I was skeptical.

You see, today is never my lucky day. It just doesn’t work that way. My name (or my wife’s name for that matter), doesn’t get chosen from a rotating plexi-glass drum for any reason whatsoever. Not for money, not for a vehicle, not even for a car wash. My streak of mediocrity and sheer immunity to good luck was something that my wife knew about long before she married me, and it was beyond me why she even exerted the energy to fill out the contest card.

Nonetheless, the loud man assured me that her name had been drawn and the tickets were ours to pick up.

“Oh, just one more thing,” the loud man said, as I braced myself for the impact. “All you have to do to claim your tickets is sit through a 90-minute presentation on the benefits of timeshare ownership. Sound good to you?”

It most certainly did not sound good to me, but it wasn’t my decision to make. I put my wife on the phone, and six days later we were on our way to the Fairfield Resort in the Wisconsin Dells.

The game plan was simple, and we rehearsed it for the entire drive there. We were going to smile and nod, politely refuse, collect our tickets and get the hell out of there. The official letter clearly stated that there was no obligation to buy, and if we just stood our ground, we’d be the proud new owners of nothing but four free tickets to Honolulu.

The trick to “winning” these contests has nothing to do with folding your entry card a certain way or stuffing the ballot box. The big thing is that insignificant line that impolitely asks you what your annual income is. The higher the digits, the more phone calls you’ll receive. They don’t want to pitch timeshares to people who can’t afford them, so make sure you check the highest box every time. Sure, they’ll run a credit check just to keep you honest (and ask you about fifteen times), but sometimes it’s just funny to screw with them a little bit.

We arrived there a little early, made a solemn vow not to sign anything, and entered the building with our checkbooks and credit cards safely back in the glove compartment.

The second we opened the doors, we were hit with an atmosphere of psychological warfare the likes of which I had never seen. The XM Satellite radio station was cranked to a specific station that played nothing but “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang, and the room was so cold I couldn’t help but dance. I glanced at my watch to see if the 90 minutes were over yet, as young businessmen laughed loudly and high-fived in front of a huge dry-erase board full of sales figures. I was already more than happy to give up the free tickets just to go home.

“Bill” was the salesman handpicked just for us (the single black woman in front of us got the only black salesman in the building, the elderly couple got the elderly one, and we got the youngest). Bill had massive, Kip Winger-esque teeth that probably made the “ting” sound when he smiled, had it not been for the loud disco music drowning it out. His breath was minty-fresh, his handshake was firm and he knew exactly where we were coming from.

“I know exactly where you’re coming from!” Bill yelled from across the table. Why wouldn’t he? We had been friends for 15 seconds now, and he made me feel right at home.

“Coffee?!” he screamed, as I kindly declined.

For the next 45 minutes, we talked about absolutely nothing. Bill used this time to establish some sort of bond by asking us questions that were none of his business. He would later use the answers to these questions to try to snare us into writing him a $30,000 check.

To his credit, Bill certainly knew what he was doing. When he realized that I wasn’t budging, he began to ignore me and talk solely to my wife. I would chime in with a good reason as to why a timeshare wasn’t for us, and he would cut me off in mid-sentence and ask her how she felt about it. When she became aloof and indecisive, he pounced on her, pummeling her with loaded questions and double talk. He would berate her until I was inches from taking a swing at him, then he would turn his focus back to me, allowing her to catch her breath and leaving me disoriented for the next round of interrogation. He was putting up a good fight, and I respected him for not going easy on us young newlyweds.

After the first question-and-answer round, we were whisked away to a screening room to view a short movie about the timeshares in question. The movie was nothing more than paid testimonies from people who could obviously afford something as useless as a timeshare. They hit you with every demographic, ethnicity and excuse in the book.

In one testimony, a single mother sat on a couch with her 3 young children. “The world isn’t secure anymore,” she said as she held her kids tightly to her. “I just like to have something in my life that’s secure.” If that wasn’t jaw-droppingly awful enough, the last one did me in for sure.

An elderly couple was talking about how they were going to include the timeshare in their will, as to “pass on a legacy to their children”. Sandwiched in between these bleary-eyed confessionals was stock footage of couples enjoying the good life together (walking on the beach, snowmobiling, siding a house), most of which I had remembered seeing used in a commercial for personal lubricant some years ago. The video concluded and I wanted to vomit, but there was plenty more to see on the tour.

It should be noted that at no time during this sales pitch did we ever give Bill the slightest inclination that we were going to buy anything from him. There was many times where I thought he was going to throw in the towel, especially all those instances when I said “We have no intention to purchase anything here today.” Bill just smiled, swayed to KC & the Sunshine Band, and took us to the next leg of the tour.

Finally, 155 minutes after we arrived, we got down to business. He laid everything out on the table for us, and played his Trump Card. He showed us a cartoon image of a small, crowded hotel room, complete with unhappy, crowded people. Next to that, there was a cartoon image of a large, sprawling timeshare, complete with happy, sprawling people. He showed us the prices in comparison, and tapped his pen impatiently onto the cartoons, making it clear how insane he thought we were for turning down such an amazing money-saving opportunity.

As we had discussed in the car, we politely told him that we liked the crowded hotel room better. We also tried very hard not to laugh when the blood vessel burst in his forehead.

Bill had finally run out of replies. There was no way he could argue against something so completely ludicrous. He looked up at us like we had sprouted extra arms and legs, and watched his commission evaporate. Ever the professional, he told us that we had “decided to file our future under the word ‘someday’”. He composed himself and shook our hands, crumpling the paper and throwing it over his shoulder in a trademark huff he had used on hundreds of others.

Five minutes later we were clutching our free plane tickets.

On the way back home, we couldn’t help but feel a little bad for people like Bill. Even though he would just move on to the next group of suckers and forget our names, we felt a bit guilty for making him work for two hours to no avail. Come to think of it, timeshare ownership certainly is a money-saving opportunity. Maybe we were too closed-minded to see the true value in what he was selling. Maybe we’ll go back there someday and listen with a more open ear.

Screw it, I’m going to Hawaii.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time – #8.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time - #8
“No Scents Whatsoever.”
(Originally published 03-15-06.)

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As you can probably imagine by looking at photos or recklessly fantasizing, I smell great.

I mean, I always smell great, regardless of whether I just stepped out of the shower or a condemned bait shop that’s on fire. It’s one of my few gifts (along with my ability to eat a 16-inch sub in 39 seconds), one which I truly respect and treasure. Sure, I sweat and get filthy like everyone else, but it takes my body mere seconds to attack and destroy the foul perversions of cleanliness, leaving nothing behind but the fresh scent of pine and cinnamon. If you ever were to meet me, you’d be enthralled and encapsulated by my pheromones, unable to stand more than 4 inches away from me at all times.

My current cologne of choice is Swiss Army. While this particular scent isn’t the most popular in the world, you can find at almost any department store. It’s about $60 for a thimble-sized amount, but it’s totally worth it to smell original. I haven’t met a lady yet who wasn’t completely smitten with it. It’s a secret weapon that I trust you not to share with too many guys. My reputation is at stake. Some of my other favorites include Cool Water, Preferred Stock and Polo, although most of these have been collecting dust under my bathroom sink for some time now, shuddering with awe in the presense of the Army. I have a Cool Water air freshener in my car, too, in case you wanted to know that the Wild Stallion smelled like. I know you did.

Scents are important, and are the closest thing to a time machine us (we) humans have. Scents instantly transport us back to the most memorable time we last took it into our lungs. It’s crazy the things you can remember when floored with the right smell; or sometimes, the things you would rather forget.

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(According to legend, my Grandpa designed the wolf still used as the team logo. No foolin’.)

When I was a freshman in High School, I wore traditional Old Spice aftershave and cologne, mainly because it was already in the house and I didn’t want to go buying anything else. Besides, there was something about the red sailboat on the bottle that screamed ‘manly!’ to me, even at such an oily and adolescent age.

One night, before a big football game, I slathered it onto my tiny 14 year old body with the ferocity of a man on a mission. Well, a little boy on a mission, at least. It was going to be a big night for me, as I was all set to make my move on a friend I had been sidling up to for a while. While I don’t recommend attempting to turn good female friends into possible mating partners, sometimes you just gotta go for it, and let the Old Spice do all the heavy lifting.

So, there I was, sitting in the bleachers next to her. We’ll call her ‘Margaret.’ I was insanely overdressed for a football game, sporting the single best outfit I had in my arsenal. Unfortunately for me, my best outfit in 1996 was an extra-large plaid collar shirt and super-tight pants. I hadn’t yet learned that when I picked out things to wear, other people would actually, you know, see them.

Besides, that’s what was popular in 1993, and I hadn’t gotten around to buying any new clothes since then. My mom figured that I’d be an extra-large someday, it was only a matter of time before the plaid fit me perfectly. My pants, however, shrunk every day with my ever-growing puberty frame. I felt like the Incredible Hulk, pants tearing up the seams, rivets popping out like old Chevy pistons.

Denim squeaking and tugging with every shift of my buttocks on the freezing cold bench, I got closer to Margaret as we talked. In the distance, a friend got my attention and remarked that my outfit was “Lookin’ good!” Of course, he was almost certainly making fun of me, or too far away to even make out who I was. Come to think of it, that guy wasn’t even talking to me.

Me and Margaret talked about school and whatnot, getting closer with each break in the conversation. My braces and oily T-zone glistened off of the floodlights as I pulled out every joke and 1970’s celebrity impression I could think of (I do a mean Richard Nixon).

She took it in like I was the Toronto skyline.

At the exact same time I made my move to hold her hand, the almost toxic scent of Old Spice wafted into her nostrils like an unleashed chemical weapon. I could tell she was investigating what the odor was, and it was only a matter of time before she became drunk off the fumes and passed out into my lap, begging me to take her to the backseat of her mom’s Chrysler LeBaron.

“Oh, you’re wearing Old Spice,” Margaret said, looking directly into my eyes with a kind of calm urgency.

“Yup, that’s right,” I fired back, smooth as a silk pillow.

“Well, my dad wears Old Spice,” she said, slowly looking down and letting go of my hand.

I was ruined. It was all over. Nobody wants to think of their own father when they’re in a situation like this. Out of all the colognes and aftershaves in the world, I had to choose the same one that her stupid dad liked to wear. In the distance, I could hear him laughing and slapping gallons of Old Spice onto his neck and cheeks, content that he successfully chastised me from over 35 miles away.

In less than five minutes, Margaret was gone, talking to that guy who made fun of my outfit. The football game hadn’t even started yet.

Cradling my head in my hands and trembling with defeat, I looked around for a friendly face. I found some friends that were sitting in the top row of bleachers, and took a seat. I told the guys what had happened, and they did their best to cheer me up and take my mind off of the situation.

Now, when most guys are faced with this sort of monumental rejection and humiliation, they normally do something monumentally stupid to compensate for it, and that’s exactly what I did. My friends had this horrid idea to take off a piece of clothing every time our team scored a touchdown. Thinking that the game would be a blowout in the opposite direction, we all talked big and swore that we were game for the stunt. Bear in mind that it was probably 35 degrees out that night, so if we didn’t get kicked out, creeping death would come knocking eventually. If this wasn’t bad enough, someone had plastered me with maroon lipstick at some point, which were our team colors.

As you would assume, this happened to be the night our team scored 63 points.

Off came the giant plaid shirt, down came the painted-on pants. A small mound of shoes, socks and baseball caps started to form under our bench. There I stood, in front of Margaret and about 500 of my new best friends, making sure everyone knew that I could handle rejection and teenage defeat with amazing bravado and charm. Bare feet freezing to the bleachers, my nipples rock-hard and blue with frost, I made a stand. If anyone was going to make me look like an ass, it was going to be me, or at the very least, my friends.

We were asked to leave before it all went terribly wrong, but know that I would have finished what I started.

Shivering and clutching my clothes, still radiating Old Spice in all directions, I walked into the parking lot and waited for my Mom to pick me up. Adding insult to injury, the lipstick that I was wearing caused an allergic reaction, swelling and cracking my lips to Jolie-like proportions. I looked like I had been robbed of my clothes, repeatedly punched in the face and left for dead in a freezer. On the inside, however, I felt toasty warm with pride.

And that’s what I think of when I smell Old Spice.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time – #9.

CDP Top 30 Posts Of All Time - #9
“The CDP’s Guide To Vegetarianism.”
(Originally published 06-12-06.)

Here Comes The Preachy-Preach.

Hello. My name is the CDP, and I’m a vegetarian.

Hold on, don’t leave! We’ve got to talk; me and you. It’s important. It’s about the age-old debate between carnivores and herbivores. You know, if the dinosaurs would have just sat down and talked about their differences like rational beasts, they might still be around today. Hell, we might have even had a Brontosaurus as President. Sweet.

I offer today’s post as a public service to carnivores, vegans and everyone in between. By shedding some insight into what shapes people’s beliefs, you have a better understanding of what shapes the world around you, and what causes people to make certain life choices. Also, I fancy talking about myself, and I’m quite skilled at it.

First off, there are some things you need to know about me:

Moo Snoot.

1. I’ve been a vegetarian for 5 years now. After trying and failing a few times, I finally gave up meat for good when I found myself sitting alone in a Culvers booth, sneaking in a bacon cheeseburger while my wife was at school. This troubled me, as I was now faced with the truth that I felt guilty about eating meat, so much to the point of actually hiding it from the Missus. I didn’t give up meat because of the Missus, mind you. I gave it up for many reasons I’ll explain later, culminating with the depressing Culvers epiphany.

2. I’m not trying to convert anyone to vegetarianism. In fact, I’d rather you didn’t convert, because it would make us herbivores much less of a novelty; therefore, much less cool.

3. I loathe hippies; cannot stand them one damn bit. I don’t do drugs, I don’t own tie-dye and I don’t participate in any marches, regardless of the cause. If you are standing in between me and what I want, chances are that I don’t like you.

4. I hate PETA with a blistering passion. Their marketing campaigns and tactics have done nothing but turn people off of a vegetarian lifestyle, and caused a lot of meat-eaters to get a very negative view of vegetarians. They should be using their donated money towards better things than naked protests at circuses and throwing paint on supermodels. Screw you, PETA; you’re ruining it for everybody.

5. I grew up in a meat-eating household. My dad was (and still is) an avid hunter, trapper and fisherman. I’ve been hunting on many occasions, and participated in the murdering, cleaning and gutting of many deer and small mammals. In my youth, I killed many pigeons and vermin for the fun of it. I also spent most of my childhood on a dairy farm, which cares about cows only as a source of revenue and profit. I’ve seen some nasty things concerning these animals, but I don’t look at any of those things as ethically wrong. Business is business, and dairy farmers are only doing the job they were raised to do. I’m just trying to hammer the point home that the meat-eating and country lifestyle are not lost on me; that was my life for 19 years.

6. I’m not anti-meat, nor am I anti-hunting. I’m not an idiot; I know that steak tastes good, and many people refuse to deprive themselves of such a luxury. Fair enough. I also refuse to deprive myself of a lot of things that I enjoy, but some people find evil and wrong (such as television, gambling, alcohol consumption, death metal and snuff films).

Growing up in rural Wisconsin, I also know that deer hunting is an almost vital and necessary tool in controlling and re-populating forest areas. However, when deer hunting, I believe that your kill should be used for something other than sport; I.E., you should eat the meat or donate it to food pantries. If you have the balls to kill, clean and serve an animal to your family, you deserve to eat it, and we all wouldn’t be here today if that wasn’t the case.

7. When I was a teenager, I experimented with different diets to see how they would affect my health. One week, I ate nothing but chocolate-themed items. Another week, I only took in things that were the color green. Yet another week, I ate nothing but foods containing meat (it damn near killed me). In my blue-haired punk days, I spoke against vegetarianism, boasting my position at the top of the food chain.

Clearly, I’m not your stereotypical vegetarian. So, why don’t I eat meat?

Chick Box.

Well, for vegetarians, there are three main reasons why you avoid meat. They are:

1. Moral/Ethical.
2. Health.
3. Religion.

I consider myself a little of all three.

Morally, I no longer place humans above animals in the dominant chain. This is either because I’ve grown to love and appreciate animals more, or my disdain for human life is growing stronger. Show me a cow that’s minding his or her own business, and I’ll show you something that’s not bothering me. I now know that you don’t need to eat meat to live a healthy life, and I’m not down with the concept of mass murder, human, chicken or otherwise. The treatments, business and sanitation procedures involved in the process of getting a hamburger to my plate is about as corrupted as a stream of Barry Bonds’ urine, and I refuse to be a part of it.

I care for and respect animals, and I’ve done enough bad things in my life without having more guilt on my conscience. More important than my love for animals, however, is my disdain for greedy people. For me, avoiding corporations like ConAgra foods is the same as me avoiding a Wal-Mart. If you’re against what someone does, you disassociate with them, and that’s what I do to protest.

As a side note, I always find it funny when I see some punk or anti-establishment person smoking a cigarette. Here’s this person who refuses to be a cog in the corporate machine, yet he’s puffing on a product manufactured by one of the largest and most vile conglomerates on the planet. In my opinion, you might as well be wearing Nike shoes and spooning with Sam Walton’s corpse, because you’re an idiot.

Health-wise, eating meat isn’t all that great for your body. We all know that, but we don’t really like to bring it up. True, things like fish and poultry are far healthier and beneficial than red meat, but it’s not like we’re comparing apples to lard, here; it’s all filler. Eating red meat causes heart disease, slows your body down and clogs damn near everything in your chest. Vegetarians are far less-likely to get heart disease, certain cancers and many other serious illnesses. Now, I don’t have the exact numbers and percentages on hand, but please look them up if you think I’m way off. I’m not.

Religion-wise, I’m not down with murder; plain and simple. When I look at my cats, I see animals that are pretty much without sin. I don’t see cats cutting me off in traffic. I don’t see puppies taking forever in line at the bank. I also believe that Heaven isn’t just for humans, and you’re going to have some pretty awkward afterlife moments when you run into all those animals you killed.

I know what you’re thinking. “But we don’t eat cats and dogs! Everyone knows that’s wrong!” Obviously, that’s not true for the rest of the planet. The animals we choose to civilize are the same animals that other ethnicities dine on, and vice versa. Who are we to pick and choose what animals deserve to be spared and which ones require worship? Sure, you may think that eating a cow is more ethically sound than eating a cat, but the billion-plus population of India would tell you otherwise.

We see this all the time in the media, as well. Whenever there’s a story where a domesticated animal dies, people put more emotional stock into it than if it were a human life. Meanwhile, millions of other animals are being fed to the woodchipper without so much as a whimper from the dog and cat loving Americans.

Finally, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that my wife was a factor in the equation. She wasn’t a big factor, but certainly someone who made me realize how big of a hypocrite I was being to myself. She’s got this knack for making me feel crappy about myself, which in tune instigates a huge change inside of me for the better. I’d have divorced her a long time ago if she wasn’t totally right most of the time. She’s been a vegetarian for longer than me, and she was responsible in opening my eyes to all of the things you don’t see when it comes to getting a hamburger. I’m not one to be easily manipulated, but when someone dangles the honest and raw truth in your face, it’s hard to contest it.

I mean, I knew that it was wrong; I could feel it deep down inside, but I kept shutting it up for fear I would have to…you know… do something about it (much like a lot of meat-eaters on the verge of changing). It was that lonely night at Culvers that changed me for good. I came to the obvious realization that I wasn’t being honest with myself, and needed to mature to the point of making difficult decisions for the greater good of living with some honor.

So I went home and committed ritual seppuku. Gutted myself like a fish and died, right then and there.

Now, I know that a lot of my readers are meat-eaters, and perhaps some of you are considering making the Big Switch. Here then, a starters guide to vegetarianism: How to start, why to start, what to eat and how to deal with your relatives.

Fresh Off The Wing.

1. You don’t need meat to live. This is the big thing people need to know. It seems foolish that anyone would actually think this, but sometimes it needs to be spelled out to remind you. Meat is a food group, yes, but it’s not vital. There is nothing in meat that you can’t get in other foods (or, at the very least, supplements). That being said, don’t obey the food groups. Anything institutionalized by the government in the 50’s and never updated cannot be what’s best for you.

Case in point; I’m doing just fine. I’ve been off of meat for almost 5 years, and I’m in the best shape of my life. I look and feel better, I’ve participated in distance running and greatly expanded the amount of healthy things I put into my body. When I ate meat, I was sluggish and needed caffeine to function (I’ve actually been away from caffeine longer than I’ve been away from meat). I got sick more and needed more sleep to feel rested. I had slight asthma problems and couldn’t breathe deeply. That’s all changed now, and it’s not because I’m a tremendously healthy eater.

Remember, this is just my own personal story and results, but it’s all true. Except for that ritual suicide thing.

2. Stop looking away.

Most meat-eaters don’t want to know how their food is prepared. They don’t want to know how it gets to their plate, pressed into a nice circle with fake grill-marks on the patty. They don’t want to know because they do know it’s a nasty process, and if they did know they’d have to do something about it. People are ignorant and lazy in general (we all are), and feel that if something is out of sight, it’s out of mind. Never mind the slaughterhouse kill-floors, never mind the holocaust-style feed lots, never mind the legal allowable amount of feces contained in the burger you’re eating. Hell, if you knew all that, you’d probably spoil your appetite.

Yum!

Quick Tidbit: If you took all the farmland that was being used to simply house the cows we eat, we could grow enough vegetables and crops there to feed almost everyone on the damn planet. Imagine that. If you truly want Bono to shut up once and for all, stop eating beef.

Did you know that the burger you ate last night wasn’t just one cow? Nope, it was essentially scooped from a conglomerate vat of usable cow meat, and when you eat a burger at McDonalds, you could in theory be taking in the meat of over 50 cows. Trust me, not all of them were healthy and clean when they got killed in the rendering plant. In fact, I bet that a few of them were rather unpleasant looking.

Also, there are legal standards as to how much animal feces and rat hair can be contained in your food, and trust me, it’s not zero percent. I’m not trying to freak you out with scare tactics or anything, it’s just the truth. Believe me when I tell you that when you eat a hamburger from a fast-food chain, you’re taking in feces, among other things you wouldn’t even see on Fear Factor.

People tend to ignore things when they bother them or make them feel bad. It’s the same reason we turn the channel when a commercial comes on for the Christian Children’s Fund. It’s the same reason nobody watches the Jerry Lewis Telethon. As long as you stay uninformed about what you eat, you don’t have to question what your morals and ethics are, and everything stays normal for another day. Why change? It’s much easier to stay in the dark about it.

You’re probably getting agitated and annoyed with me right about now. Antsy. Squirmy. You probably want to stop reading. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. It’s how I felt at Culvers. It sucks.

3. There’s plenty of food out there.

Oh, man. “What do you eat?” I get this all the time. My answer? “What don’t I eat?” Listen, meat is just a small percentage of what you should be putting into your body, so if you eat meat exclusively, you’ve got bigger problems than what I can help you with. Remember, I tried that diet and almost went belly-up at age 17.

For just about any meat product you can think of, there is a soy and veggie alternative that tastes really good. Trust me, I’m a notoriously picky eater, and I’d tell you if something tasted like crap. Companies like Boca, Gardenburger and Morningstar Farms make meatless equivalents of practically everything that’s in your freezer right now (depending on if you have human body parts in your freezer, which is entirely possible, I suppose). Here’s what’s been in mine over the years:

Gardenburger Chicken Patties
Morningstar Farms Breaded Chicken Breast
Morningstar Farms Sausage Patties
Boca Sausage Links
Boca Chicken Nuggets
Boca Lasagna
Gardenburger Burgers
Gardenburger Ribs
Morningstar Farms Meatballs
Morningstar Farms Hot Dogs
Morningstar Farms Corn Dogs
Morningstar Farms Sloppy Joe Mix
Morningstar Farms Veggie Burgers
Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger
Morningstar Farms Tomato and Basil Pizza Veggie Burger
Morningstar Farms Fajita Burgers
Morningstar Farms Philly Cheese Steak Veggie Burger
Morningstar Farms Cheddar Burger
Morningstar Farms Mushroom Lovers Burger
Morningstar Farms Bacon

These are just 20 of the many meatless products you can use to transition into vegetarianism. I can assure you that all of these products taste quite good, look and smell just like the real deal. Only these are full of soy and proteins, they don’t harm animals and they contain all the healthy parts of real meat, without the bad stuff. They can be microwaved, grilled or put in the oven, used as a side or a main course. My freezer is chock-full of these things on any given day.

Quick Tidbit: Critics will tell you that veggie and soy substitutes are higher-priced than raw meats. In my shopping, I’ve noticed little to no change, seriously. Furthermore, if you could instantly improve your health and ethical mindset for pennies a day, wouldn’t you do it?

Also, Tofu sucks. Whoever started the smear campaign that said vegetarians only eat tofu and rice was an ass. I’ve had it on about a dozen occasions, and I’ve probably been impressed once. It’s all in the preparation and can pretty much taste like whatever you’re making it with, but don’t think you have to eat it to survive. Nope. Not even a little bit.

You don’t need to eat salads and green vegetables every day, either. Personally, I still don’t like green vegetables all that much. Obviously, with all these vegetarian substitutes, your diet doesn’t need to change very much at all. If you want a burger, you can eat a veggie burger. If you want tacos, you can use the shredded veggie hamburger as a base, and it tastes exactly the same. Same goes for ribs, chicken, sausage and bacon. Don’t be afraid to make the switch because you’re afraid you won’t have anything to eat; you can eat everything you’re eating now. In fact, your diet will expand to include things you never realized you enjoyed. Like beer.

Boca=

4. What’s the best way to do it? What do I tell Mom?

If you finally want to get off the meat wagon and make the Big Switch, I would recommend doing it in stages, taking baby steps. For starters, rid yourself of the meats that you eat the least. For example, if you only eat fish once a month, drop that first. You won’t miss it too much, and you’ll still have other meat items to chow down on. After a couple weeks of that, drop another type of meat. Then another, until you’re done. While you’re doing this, continue to substitute what you’re getting rid of with their vegetarian equivalents. After a month or two of this, you’ll realize how easy it was, how smooth the transition was, how much you don’t miss real meat, and kick yourself for not doing it sooner.

That’s another thing. You won’t miss it. Really, you won’t. You think you will, but you won’t.

In recent years, I’ve seen celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Julia Stiles talk about falling off the vegetarian wagon and going back to meat, describing the transition as ‘orgasmic.’ Not only does this set a horrible example for those trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, it also paints these people as weak, moral-less losers who only gave up meat because it was trendy in the 90’s. It’s not like you’re giving up meth or anything. You won’t be convulsing on the floor or begging people on the street for bacon, I swear it.

Honestly, the most annoying part about being a vegetarian is the conversations you have with ignorant people who should know better (which is sort of why I’m doing this post). Normally, I don’t bring this up unless I absolutely have to, and 8 times out of 10 I get some sort of crap for it. These people think they are clever to wave a steak in front of your face and ask you if you’re jealous, not knowing that they’re about the brazillionth damn person to do that to you. The trick is to keep your cool, answer their questions without exposing them for the shallow turd they are, and make them realize that not all vegetarians are pansy, bleeding-heart fools. Pity them, for meat has driven them mad and rendered them sterile.

(It should be noted that I’m in no way calling meat-eaters idiots. It’s when you start mocking non-meat-eaters when you start looking foolish. In fact, whenever you start mocking anything you don’t understand, you run the risk of exposing yourself as a fraud.)

5. Don’t preach.

Okay, so this entire post has been preaching. However, like I stated before, I don’t care if you switch or not, I’m just helping out those who want to switch.

If and when you decide to go vegetarian, don’t go around flaunting it over anyone’s head. They will resent you and take you off the Christmas card list, and you’ll deserve it. You don’t want to come off like an angry young man or woman at a pride parade, sporting a sign that says “We’re here, we’re meatless, get used to it!” because that will only turn people off to the cause and make them squirmy. Be classy about it, try to only bring it up when asked or when discussed in conversation. It’s not like you have to keep a secret or anything, just don’t be annoying.

Quick Tidbit: In my five years as a vegetarian, I’ve been able to find a decent meal at every restaurant I’ve eaten at, with the exception of one. This includes literally hundreds of eateries, including steakhouses. Darn near every burger joint on the planet offers a veggie burger substitute, and you can order just about everything to be cooked to your specifications (potato skins without bacon, pasta dishes minus chicken, etc.). When those around me choose where to eat, I never fret and neither should you; you’ll find something good.

In conclusion, I think this post has been a long time coming. If you’re already a vegetarian, I hope that this reaffirmed your cause. For those on the fence, I hope that this convinced you to make the dive. For those of you who continue to support the meat-eating lifestyle, good for you. Seriously. Don’t let anyone tell you what’s good for you, but make sure to always listen to your brain and heart before you listen to your stomach.

Questions? Concerns? Arguments? Anything I left out? Sound off in the comments section, or e-mail me at communistdance@yahoo.com. If you have something to say, say it; either in the comments section or via e-mail. Peace.