Saturday, May 07, 2005

( Are the stakes higher for a Spring Friday than any other Friday of the year ? Are Spring Fridays so delicious that a martini should be named after them ? Should Spring Fridays enter beauty competitions or would that be unfair to the ladies ? These were thoughts that raced through my Friday enhanced brain as I hopped on my bicycle and rode out to a friends’ back-yard barbeque yesterday after work. I wondered how excited somebody could get about Fridays and weekends.

When I sat down to write this however, in the sober state of Saturday morning, my story ended up going to the dark side. The flipside of fun. The sweaty desperation of weekday drones drinking their way to oblivion.

Optimism ? Pessimism ? Whateverism. Here’s the story...)


We don’t mind the fact that he shouts a countdown to five o’clock on Fridays so loud that our ears are sometimes left ringing. We don’t mind that he bumps into us as he races into the bathroom with his backpack stuffed with his weekend warrior costume. We don’t mind that when he comes out dressed in pink tights with a black cape and black mask, he hollers out, ”Are you ready to rumble, cause I won’t fumble the fun. We’ll get wasted till it’s done.” We don’t mind that he sometimes spits on us while he’s screaming out his prophecies of fun. We don’t mind that he sometimes borrows money to fuel his beer-holstered cap, the one with tubes that supply his mouth with“turtle-juice” (This is what he calls alcohol because it brings him out of his shell he says.) “Rah-rah-rah Turtle-juice, Rah-rah-rah Turtle-juice, Rah-rah-rah Turtle-juice,” we don’t mind that he sings this as we go to the local pub. We don’t mind that he’s weird and really stands out. We don’t mind that he stuffs his mouth with beer caps and tries to sing popular beer commercials. We don’t mind that people yell at him and call him “faggot”. We don’t mind that he drinks until he passes out into someone’s fist.

We don’t mind any of this as it provides us with conversation for Monday morning around the water-cooler.

What we really can’t stand, however, is you. Your questions that leave us wondering in pointless directions. Your cynicism about the future of mankind. Your income bracket that fails to provide you with trips to exotic locals that we can relate to. Your failure to grasp the fact that money is always the bottom line. Your denial of Friday fun.

But we don’t have to worry about any of that as the weekend warrior will soon be droning out any sounds of doubt with Friday afternoon hoots.

Friday, May 06, 2005

(I live one very short block from my Monday to Friday job of teaching English as a Second Language. There’s a coffee shop midway between work and home which provides me with the essentials. Today on my block-walk home from work I saw a missing animal notice which brought to mind the following idea: MISSING MULTIPLE-PERSONALITIED CAT: ANSWERS TO THE NAMES OF FELIX, MAX, SONNY, CHARLES THE SECOND, KARL VON WHAT’S HIS FACE, PACK-PACK PAPIN AND YONI.

Ideas pop up in little spaces like my daily commute.

As I sit down in my cranky swivel chair to write this, however, another idea has popped up.

Pop, pop, pop, pop. That’s my brain for you. A little pop-corn machine that runs on coffee.)


“I mean they’re great people to hang out with but they do fight every so often like meow-meows and whoof-whoofs.” Animal talk. She never uses animal names but replaces them with quack-quacks and moo-moos. This always gets on his nerves.

“People are animals too,” he says stretching a line of clear tape atop a piece of paper: MAN-SLAVE MISSING: 5 ft 10, leather mask, grunts, and begs for pain. Call Juliet at 604-34-smile. The black felted words stand out on the white paper, which in turn stands out against the black wall. Perfect. He smiles.

“What do you mean ?” she asks, no-nonsense style.

“People are animals.” He rifles through a stack of papers in his shoulder-bag.

“Yeah, so ?” Her eyes scan the street looking for virgin surfaces.

“You won’t say the name of animals but you say people but people are animals. You shouldn’t be saying people, you should say yap-yaps or blab-blabbers or something.”

He’s picking a fight like a kid picks his nose. Habit.

She spots clear terrain on the side of a mailbox and alerts him to this with the raising of eyebrows. He continues to search through a sheaf of papers as they cross the street.

Her pursed lips hold back words finding their order, words that come out like this: “Where do you get off legislating language ?!”

“I’m just pointing out the obvious. If you’re gonna be all meow-meow and woof-woof why arbitrarily stop there ? People should be yap-yaps or you’ll come across as pretentious.” He pulls out a MISSING: ONE CONTACT LENS, fell out on bus #10. Contact 604-536-3333. She snaps it out of his hands and tapes it up on the side of the mailbox.

“Fuck you.”

This is their weekly routine when they go out to poster the city in their pranks. The fighting fuels the fucking at the end of the day. The fucking keeps them together to create ideas. The ideas keep their project of putting up fake missing signs alive. Nothing is missing from their routine. Nothing.

They will fight their way to fame.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


(Several months ago - before I set off to England and Ireland- , I made a promise to the world, I swore that I would write in my blog everyday that I got drunk in England and Ireland. I lived up to half the deal. I got drunk everyday, but my drunk digits failed to find their way to the nearest keyboard to do a little drunken dance on the appropriate keys.

I never got to formally apologize.

I’m sorry.

On the upside, I just got home a little on the pissed side after four hours of drinking at the local watering hole in Gastown and I’m ready to make amends. I’m ready to write. I’m ready to raise some questions.

How much GREAT LITERATURE is saturated in booze ? We all know that Dylan Thomas was wasted through most of his career but what particular words were written whilst boozed up ? What sentences, paragraphs or chapters were composed through burps and pants-pissings by our most illustrious writers ?

This evening I’m not going to add anything great to world literature but I am going to filter a story through my beer soaked brains. The idea for the story came to me this afternoon when a student (I teach English as a Second Language) said that when she was a child she was excited about going to the Jew. She meant “Zoo”, but Koreans generally have problems with “j” and “z”. At that moment I thought to myself, there’s got to be a story behind children in Korea getting excited about going to see the Jew for some annual celebration. There’s got to be some story there.

Let’s go see the Jew.)


“We’re going to see the Jew, we’re going to see the Jew, high ho the dairy oh we’re going to see the Jew,” Kwang-Jae shouted out with his classmates. Every year the Nam-Jun Park Middle School went to the small town of Ung-Dung to visit the re-creation of an historic village. The bus was filled with children whose hearts were filled with excitement.

The history behind the annual field trip was of little interest to the students who were simply happy to have the day off from sitting in desks and writing in their notebooks. They would have shouted out anything sponsoring their day off The grade nine students didn’t really care that in 1823 several Chinese Jews had embarked on a trip to Korea to establish ties with this tiny kingdom. A small community developed in Ung-Dung where these Chinese Jews fell in quite comfortably with the local Koreans who were slowly convinced of the wisdom of their ways For a short period of time, a Jewish community emerged which was an anomaly in the homogenous society of Korea.

Kang-Jae sprouted beads of sweat on his upper forehead as well as where the undersides of his legs rubbed against the green plastic of the bus seat. He couldn’t wait until they got to run around the tiny Jewish community. There really was only one Hasidic Jew who was responsible for the attraction as times were tough for the town and most of the others in the community had moved on to more lucrative possibilities in the big cities .

Kwang-Jae would run around the town with a small kite made in the likeness of a Korean Jew.

Kwang-Jae would someday grow up to study English in Canada where he would pronounce “Jew” as “zoo”, leaving his teachers confused about the events of his childhood.

But we know better.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


(Okay, okay, okay. Here I am. This is not the voice of a man whose dark brown stools are hollow, or a terrorist in love with Bush in spite of himself, or a fireman struggling with his tendencies towards arson or any other strange character you've learned to love and expect in these short-short stories. This is me, Kevin Spenst. I suppose I've broken one of the unspoken blog rules up until today by hiding behind various narrative voices each day and not giving you any hint of me: Kevin Spenst. Not even a peep. Well I suppose the interest in a blog is the individual behind the words. In a number crunching machine connected to an impossibly large abstract entity such as the world wide web, I suppose it’s comforting for us to reach through all of that to touch the life of an individual. So starting today I'll try to add a little preamble before each story. A little genesis of how the story for the day came out of some corner of my life.

Today I’m writing about a man who has hollow stools which contain little kinder-surprise type toys. This idea came up in conversation with some friends a week or so ago. Whenever I hang out with M and A, our conversation jumps up and down on trampolines of absurdity. The hollow stool idea was one of a whole circus of blissfully stupid notions that we laughed our way through. The idea still cracks me up and I’m interested in finding some kind of story inside the hollow stool of some hapless protagonist. So without further ado, here’s today’s story.)


Matt and Laura moved in together with the usual expectations of love and comfort and cleanliness. Laura hoped that Matt would change his house keeping habits (or lack thereof) and Matt hoped that Laura would let him hang out with his friends more often. They both hoped that their love would grow in the usual, happy, normal way.

“Are you ready to go ?” Laura asked, rummaging about in her purse for her keys.

“I’m still making brown !!” came a shout from the bathroom.

“Thanks for all the details,” Laura hollered back. Laura was worried about Matt’s health. The man spent a good twenty minutes on the toilet everyday. At first she heckled him from outside the toilet door with the typical comments of “are you gonna be in there all day” or “are you dying in there,” but this gave way to a kind of worried acceptance. Perhaps he was suffering from health problems.

You learn things about one another when you move in together, Laura’s mom had once said to her in an ominous tone of voice.

Laura looked at her watch but Matt was still sequestered by bodily functions in the bathroom.

She puzzled her head over how to bring up this issue with Matt. She spun her jangle of keys around her index finger and swung her purse back and forth. A dozen or so kinder-surprise type toys rolled around inside. Someday they would be married, she suddenly thought to herself.

All the while Matt fingered through his hollow stool searching for the day’s surprise. For as long as he could remember, he found little toys and joys inside his stools. He’d given up wondering what it all meant.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


“When she gave birth to her third, my cousin fried hers up and ate it !! ” She oozes these words out of a mouth shaped by disgust. She shakes the look of disgust off of her face with peals of laughter. She ignites laughter in all of her guests. Therefore she is dissociated from the cannibalistic cuisine of her cousin.

Everyone continues laughing.

Everyone laughs except for one young woman who simply smiles as loud as she can. She clutches her handbag close to her. It is made out of the placenta from her first birth.

Therefore comfort is expelled from her heart.

Like an afterbirth.

Like a final sentence that emerges after a story has already been told.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Eulogy for a Man who Choked to Death on a Steak Shaped like Florida

We are all here today, not to point fingers and level accusations about who is responsible for this or that oversight on the basis of safety regulations regarding a public event which involved eating large pieces of meat, but rather we are here to remember the unique life of one man.

I didn’t know Marty as well as others. In fact when I started organizing “Martin’s Steak and Grill’s Eat a Streak in the Shape of your Favorite State Day” just three months ago I had the opportunity of meeting him for the first time. He was one of the first to call me about the event. Well actually he had dialed the wrong number but I could hear potential in the man’s voice, like he was capable of accomplishing great things. I could hear his appetite over the phone. Within five minutes I had all his info down and he was the first on the list.

Florida was his favorite state.

In the weeks leading up to the big day, I got to know him a lot better. I called to confirm that he was coming and well goddamn it the man stayed true to his word. I called him to check his mailing address and he was very obliging with a “yes” here and a “no” there. I even called to tell him about a special that we were having at Martin’s Steak and Grill’s and the man was there… on the other end of the phone …listening… intently.

I don’t know why but Florida was his favorite state. This much I was certain of and what is it that defines us more than our likes and dislikes ? Are we not simply a collection of likes and dislikes in a big sack of steak eating flesh ? Yes that’s what we are.

I think we would be wise to sum Marty up with a couple words, "The man's favorite state was Florida."

Sunday, May 01, 2005


He placed the calculator back down on the table, took off his glasses and ran his index finger and thumb over his closed eyes into a pinch on the bridge of his nose. He'd spent over two hours calculating his way to eight hundred, thirty-two dollars and fifty-one cents which he owed his home and native land.

Of the two certainties in life, this was by far the worst because you stayed conscious throughout the whole thing, at least death had the comfort of non-existence on the other side. A conclusion too singular for any need of calculations.

He looked at all the slips and scribbles in front of him and with renewed vigour, he set about finding any opportunties to reduce the total. Unfortunately that's when his nose jumped off his face and rolled around in the papers, making a mess of all his labours.

"What are you doing ?! he said through his mouth and a gaping hole in the middle of his face.

"What does it look like I'm doing ? I'm break-dancing. I'm mixing it up. I'm letting my hair down," the nose said in a tiny nasally tone.

He reached down to grab his nose and stick it back on his face, when it bit him hard on his index finger. (Noses have teeth which they clench to our nasal cavities to hold them in place.)

"Ouch !! What was that for ?"

"You don't let yourself relax. Let's just have a little bit of fun, like we used to. Let's pull out some old records and smoke a joint."

"I've got taxes to finish."

"I've got taxes to finish," the nose repeated in a mock sing-songy tone.

And that's when he flung his fight down on his nose and sent it to the hospital.