by RIP RENSE
July 17, 2008
I’m screwed without
caffeine, as this column will reveal.
Caffeine makes me feel
young and interested again, instead of aging and jaded. Jaded? My
general interest in things has been sandblasted by human idiocy and betrayal. I’m sure I have
ADD, ADHD, PTSD, manic-depression (and not too much manic), a
hairball, and beriberi.
By the way, isn’t that the prettiest name for a disease? Beats the hell out
Give me caffeine, and
birdsongs are gorgeous again, the blue of the sky makes me cry, my fellow
man seems merely clumsy, not malevolent, and Louis Armstrong and a choir of
cartoon chipmunks sing “Wonderful World” in my head.
If I had caffeine, this
labored verbiage would come to life like Dracula after a good neck, Villaraigosa in the presence of some
hot TV news poontang, Cindy McCain on
illegal prescription uppers. But as you can no doubt tell,
I've had no caffeine. My
words are as flat as Obama’s speeches. And McCain’s. Combined.
Gimme a dose of
tea, though, and I become one sparkly, companionable fellow. Happy, intrigued,
caring, prolific in my work, even. . .amusing. (Well, people laugh, and who
can account for taste?) It can last many hours---long past the time that
everyone else is asleep and I am left to make merry with the cats and TV.
Which is why I ain’t havin’ no caffeine this afternoon. I want to sleep
So here I sit, irony personified.
I'm parked with my laptop, caffeine-less, in a goddamn Peet’s Coffee in Westwood, staring
helplessly at ridiculously undraped, hormone-dripping UCLA girls, listening to a jackass with a foghorn voice behind me talking about his
script. Or his novel. Or his computer game design idea. Or his comic
book. . .
Whatever it is, it will
make him money. I can tell. His foghorn voice projects confidence the way
Godzilla projected fire---no, not exactly confidence. It projects that
unquantifiable je ne se qua that conveys incipient, certain, runaway,
gooey-drippy, blunderbuss success. I don’t know what you call it, exactly, but
I know it when I hear it.
Foghorn speaks it, he reeks it, and others of his
kind speak it and reek it. They all get together and speak and reek until
products and money just appear. They’re all over the place, these guys.
Me, I like to pass the
time talking about The Beatles, or any other kind of music. Or why
newspapers are dying. Which in itself is really a dead pursuit.
I tune out Foghorn as
well as I can, which is not very well, so I put on headphones and try to
drown him out with the Grateful Dead. That lasts five minutes until the
batteries in my CD player die. So I keep the headphones on anyway, and then
only the occasional foghornish “world trade” and “cool” leak through.
I’m writing here today,
if you call this writing, because the cats drove me out of the house. I
spent a couple of hours with Winky the Criminal
Cat at the vet (oh, and
$300) this morning to find out why he pukes every time after he eats, unless
I pick him up and rub his stomach. Got no answer outside of “He eats too
fast,” which makes me wonder why his sister never pukes, though she eats
faster than women speak into iPhones.
Anyhow, once back home,
Winky was so discombooberated that he would not leave me alone. “Give me
something to eat,” he demanded, followed by, “No, I don’t want that---give
me something else,” followed by “No, not that goddamn Petromalt crap again,”
followed by “Scratch my head again, will you?” followed by, “I’m
constipated---what do I do?”
He’s quite conversant,
you see, not to mention demanding.
So I escaped here to
Foghornland, and ordered some kind of dumb decaf vanilla soy latte which I did
not notice was made with “non-sugar-sweetened” vanilla (translation:
laboratory-produced synthetics guaranteed to give you cancer of the small
left toe.) The net result: my mouth has a vile bittersweet chemical aftertaste,
kind of like rotten cherries and onions, and my brain is as foggy as the American public.
Add to this a complete
lack of creativity, not to mention caffeine, and we have here a recipe for
Actually, I was going to
try writing a piece about the big NYT
front-page article about how satirists
and comics can’t find anything funny to say about Obama. I was going to
prove that Obama is really very funny, after all. I was going to note that
it is a scream, for instance, that he says “tuh” instead of “to”---just like
Bush! But then, that doesn’t strike me as too amusing, really, as I think it
is quite possible that Obama does this deliberately to cultivate folksy
appeal. I mean it. He is that calculating.
So the NYT article
says that everyone seems to be afraid to crack jokes about the O-man for fear
of looking like crackers. Well, they have good cause. There was a
last week in Dallas where city commissioners were all gummed up because
one (white) comissioner referred to their traffic ticket accounting office as a “black hole.” As in “deep space
phenomenon.” As in “impossible to comprehend concentration of dark matter
that sucks everything around it into oblivion.”
Never mind. Commissioner John Wiley Price
(black) went nuttier than Amy Winehouse in
that "black hole" was a racist comment. Really. That’s one dark matter, all right.
Soon there will be no "black humor," "black bottom pie," and "White Christmas"
will be banned from the airwaves. No wonder Bill Maher and
Letterman are timid about
wisecracking about the
O-man. But maybe they are missing a bet. Obama is half-white, and it’s long been safe---really
required among comics, especially black ones---to make fun of
white people. (Like this
snotty young woman.)So maybe they can just
joke about half of him.
You know. . .What does
Obama do after a long day lecturing black America?
He goes home and has
himself a nice mayonnaise sandwich on Wonder and plays a spirited game of
Yahtzee with Mrs. O.
Nope. Guess not. The
NYT is right.
So maybe I’ll just sit
here and complain a little, instead. That’s what non-caffeinated people do,
Complaining, after all, is the poetry of idealism. (You may quote me.) And
boy, do I have things to complain about, yessirree. Consider this alone: my first
novel, “The Last Byline,” seems to have been stolen. Yes, ten years of causing my
brain to behave in extremely unnatural fashion in yielding this
500-plus-page work. . .pffft.
and on-line booksellers seem to own it. And they seem to be selling it all they want,
without having to give me so much as a hearty handclasp.
I wonder. . .did they secretly exert some sort of long-distance
CIA-style mind-control, rendering me, the writer, a mere puppet doing their creative work,
while all along I was thinking that the characters, story, dialogue originated
with my brain? (That would be well in line with much
American thinking today.)
I mean, never mind that I
own the copyright on the book, and always have. In today's Fanny-Freddie
USA, how can such things carry any weight?
It all started, friends, when I
cancelled the book with the “publisher,” Xlibris. Oh, why do I use quotes?
You’re right. Much too gentle. This publishing house is operated by The
Three Stooges taken to exponential extremes. The Three Stooges as Pi. Yet
after I cancelled the book (a revised version is coming soon on this
website!), it suddenly sprang up for
sale on various other websites, including the titanic Amazon.com. Brand-spankin'
new copies. I know. I just bought one myself. The snake eats itself!
And this is all despite the fact
that Amazon.com “executive customer relations” told me many months ago that
Amazon was not selling the book, would not sell the book, and that the
Amazon.com store page for the book on would soon disappear! But hey, this is Renseworld, where Foghorn Boy and constipated cats and unwanted chemical
sweeteners get drunk, play pinochle, and pass out on my couch. There it is
for sale--- “The Last Byline"--- with the words,
Amazon.com,” as sure as I dreamed last night that my sadistic 10th grade
geometry teacher, Mr. Boyer, was shaking his crooked finger at me and
accusing me of cheating on a test.
Is there a lawyer in the
Ah, yes, then there is my
quixotic, quizzical, sine qua non-y periodic effort to go “back to school”
and finish my degree. This is a good one. Suffice to say that I did not finish it, approximately
two eons ago, because a comet wiped out my species and left only me behind.
Through the years, though, I’ve had teaching offers, but without a diploma,
couldn’t take them. (That’ll teach me!) As there was no
Wizard of Oz around,
I figured on going back and getting the stupid sheepskin. Funny thing,
though---they changed the rules on me!
Follow this: to finish
the two semesters for my fantastically useless journalism degree---now more
useless than ever---I would have to take one or two years of math. Yes,
math! Something that is not a part of my culture, history, or neural tissues. The how and why
of this no more merits explanation than why the federal government buys up
bank mortgages and gives them cutesy-wutesy names. But---
Rejoice! I was recently
told that I could finish without math, if I am accepted back at school (CSUN)
under my original catalogue. I rather like this concept, as it reminds of me
of Dracula carrying around his own soil. Here’s the funny
bit: no one in the journalism department ever told me of this option! An old
pal did. And when I asked the journalism department about it, I got an
e-mail in response that said, “Talk to admissions and records.”
And---you know where this
is going---when I obediently talked to “admissions and records,” I was told.
. .to talk to the journalism department. The snake eats itself!
Now why in a pair of squirrel’s nuts, you are thinking, does Rense want to
finish his idiotic degree anyhow? Well, Rense really doesn’t, especially as
it would mean more staring helplessly at half-draped co-eds dripping with
hormones. I just had some idea about
teaching journalism---evidently, no one else is---but of course, it turns
out that journalism teaching jobs are almost as scarce as newspaper jobs.
So once again, my life is
essentially one large version of W. C. Fields trying to get to sleep. (If you
don't know what that means, please see
Hell, I might as well
just hang out at a goddamn Peet’s Coffee and type meaningless stuff for my
website for no money at all.
Ah, bring on the
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