Sunday, April 29, 2007

A man of my word.

What can I say? In my quest for college funds...I set a price list - oh, the things I'll do for money. One of the items was "$500 and I'll cut my hair." Well, someone has met my price.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Cheerleader and the Quiet Car

.""You haven't heard about the Cheerleader?" Skidmark asked with obvious glee.

"Oh no, not that story again." Jokeman whined.

"No, tell it!" Jamaica begged "It's a good story and she doesn't know. She wasn't ridin' den."

Skidmark assumed storytelling position, "Alright, alright. Gather 'round."

"Wait, wait." Jokeman opened a beer, "You want one Pahl?"

"No, I'm good."

"Okay, I'm ready."

"There was this guy...." Skidmark started in a timid voice.

"Fez!" everyone cheered.

"With a 23 inch . . . No, seriously, there was this girl about two years ago, who..."

"No it was longer than that," Pahl interupted "because Mitch was still riding when it happened and he hasn't been . . ."

"It doesn't matter! Who's telling the story anyway? Come on. So, anyway, a while back -- is that okay?" Skidmark glared -- "A while back there was this hot, hot, hot girl riding the train from D.C. All the guys noticed her because she was wearing THE classic sexy cheerleader outfit."

"I noticed her too!" Insisted Jamaica.

"Okay, all the guys and you."

"I didn't notice her."

"Okay, Jamaica and all the guys except Jokeman."

"Jamaica, I thought you liked the Amazon-type women." Jokeman asked.

"I can like more than one type of girl." She defended, "As long as dey're breathin.'"

"Well this chick was no Amazon" Skidmark continued "-- more like your classic helpless female type. You know, the kind you see in horror movies. So, apparently, she'd spent a long day in the city and decided to sleep in the quiet car on the ride home."

"Horror movie, helpless Cheerleader." The newbie summed up, "Okay, I can see where this is going."

"Nobody knows if she knew it was the quiet car 'cause we'd never seen her before. All we have are sightings of her there, draped - rather indelicately - across three seats.

"I almost got sat on once when I did that." Pahl threw in.

Skidmark plowed on, "These are confirmed sightings, because the way she was laid out provided quite a view. And when we heard about it, some folks had to make a few trips to the restroom in that car just for, uh, exploratory purposes."

Pahl continued, oblivious, with his own story "It was by Big Joan - the one who wears the pink coat all the time - looks like an elephant from a kid's show? I would've died, I know it. You ever see the cartoon of the big woman putting up posters for her lost dog and you can see him stuck in . . ."

"Anyway . . ." Began Skidmark impatiently.

"Sorry, but she really is . . ."


[Eye roll.]

"So anyway, her bag and stuff was stowed up on the overhead rack, and she's laying across the seats asleep, which was already earning her some angry looks from the quiet car folks. But then her phone went off."

A gasp of disbelief escaped the lips of the regulars with a good mix of "No!" and "Oh my God."

"But wait! There's more. She was asleep and didn't hear the first couple bars of her ringtone. Some obnoxious pop song, I think. Everyone else heard it, though. ALL eyes in the car were instantly open and shooting daggers at her. And a few of them started to stir and groan, like zombies rising from the graves."

"When she finally heard it, it was too late. It was in one of the overhead bags. It really was like one of those horror movies. The phone music was still going off and she was fumbling with her bags trying to find it, and she doesn't notice all the while that the quiet car zombies had started moving toward her. Slow. Menacing-like. Groaning and reaching for her."

"And I think" Skidmark reflected "that if she had just turned the thing off when she found it, things might have gone differently."

"What?" Asked the newbie nervously, "What did she do?"

"She, are you ready for this?" Skidmark paused and looked around. "She answered the phone."

Again, the crowd gasped, this time mingled with cries of disbelief, "No!"

"Yes!" Said Skidmark. "She answered the phone. 'Hello? Oh, HI Susan!' or something like that, and THEN she noticed all the zombies were closing in and she stopped talking. I don't know if she stopped on purpose or 'Susan' was talking then or if she suddenly understood the danger she was in. But she's not talking, she's backing up, because zombies are crammed in the aisle and pushing toward her while others are climbing and reaching over the seats to get at the cheerleader with the phone."

"They sort of herded her to the little alcove at the end of their car next to the engine. A witness on the scene . . ."

"Who?" Asked Pahl.


"Who was the witness?"

"Andy." Said three or four regulars at once.

"Andy?" Jokeman looked around in disbelief. "Kwazy Andy, the guy that quacks to himself under his breath?"

"Yep. And this is probably why he's 'Kwazy Andy' - because he used to be a quiet car regular. He saw the whole thing."

"Wow." Whispered the newbie.

"Yeh. He said he only caught a final glimpse of her through the mass of bodies and reaching hands and it looked as though she was about to scream but then the train whistle blew and he couldn't see her anymore."

"Wow" came the wide-eyed whisper again, "What did they do to her?"

"Nobody knows and Andy never said. She just...disappeared. We didn't see her get off at any of the stops. And we've never seen her since

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Partial Scholarship

Scholarship n. Finanical aid awarded to a student.

I got a phone call yesterday from the University.

25% of my tuition has been waived because of my outstanding GPA !

Woo hoo!

There's still a long way to go, and you can still help.

Click on the PayPal logo over on the right and send a donation to the Chuck Walker Scholarship fund at

You can also send some positive energy my way. I've been going in circles with the admissions office.

I'm transfering quite a few old credits to complete my English/Education degree. (The goal is high-school to adult English teacher.) With the transfer credits, all but a couple of the oddball general requirements are done. Now I've only got to take English (Lit.) and Education classes.

That makes it tough to fill up to the max on per semester credits. (Usually a schedule is dotted with core classes then fleshed out with general requirements.) This coming Fall there are only one or two ways for me to get an 18 credit load out of the courses being offered because of conflicting schedules, limited sessions offered, and so on.

What makes it even tougher, is current continuing students are registering NOW for seats in the pitifully few classes from which I have to choose. (Studies in Chaucer and Milton has already closed! AAAGH!)

Transfer students don't even get to talk to anyone until JUNE! That's when I'm assigned an advisor (a harried stranger who glances at my case for the first time) and (I think) can register. So, I'm sitting here watching the available seats dwindle and there's NOTHING I can do about it. Grrrr.

Must . . .relax . . .

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Quiet Car

As I have said previously, regular commuters tend to find and use the same car of the train every time they ride. These cars, then, become known by a certain name and by its own peculiarities. I, for example, ride in the Loud Car, also falsely known as the Party Car. The actual Party Car is another portion of the train who perhaps used to party hearty, but not nearly as much as the Loud Car does now. Logically, if there is a loud car, there is also a quiet car. This is actually a train-approved practice to designate one car as THE quiet car. There are signs and announcements and everything.

"Welcome to the ssskkkrtttch train headed to skrtttackleshh will stop at shhhkreetech. There are two restrooms osshhkererrtrain one is in the last car one shhshrt next to the motor. The quiet car is the car next to the motor. Once again thsskehrkt....."

Now the kinds of people who ride in the quiet car have an AWFUL reputation. It's quite probable that they are very nice people but you wouldn't know it. A simple sneeze or audible (albeit unexpected) passing of gas is enough to get the most evil of looks from the sweetest of ladies. A whispered conversation will get you a "SHHH!" from fellow passengers and, oh, you'd better hope you remembered to turn off your cell phone. It's like the library, only in Hell.
I've ridden in the quiet car a couple times - just when I'm feeling anti-social - and I don't find it very relaxing at all. The hostility is palpable and it's not really that quiet being right next to the engine and whistle, and with the announcements at each stop and the constant stream of people coming through to the restroom. "Is someone in there?" "SHHHHH !"

For the most part, the folks in that car tend to quietly glare or sleep with their heads back against the seat and mouth agape. (I often wish I had the nerve, the aim and a little toy gun to shoot Tic Tacs in their mouth as I pass by.)

Picture it--The Quiet Car Regular sleeps fitfully, mouth agape, dreaming of the next mob riot, and all of a sudden ZZIPP!! "GACK! HACK! COUGH! I think I swallowed a minty bug!"

Coming soon, the story of the Cheerleader in the Quiet Car.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In Transit

I've added a new feature to this blog, over on the right, below the picture. It's a countdown! It counts down to my last day commuting to D.C. for work. It should reach zero as I begin my two-hour journey home on that day.

But I have to tell you, as much as I won't miss the commute, I might miss some of the characters on the train. It's five improv (not for children) performances a week, Monday through Friday, starting promptly at 4:55. Get there early so you can get a good seat.

As creatures of habit, regular commuters tend to find a particular car and ride in it every time, creating a melting pot of personalities --
-loud, quiet,
-black, white, tan
-gay, straight, indifferent, homophobic, closeted,
-effervescent, abrasive,
-thoughtful, thoughtless,
-lawyers, waitresses, cubicle drones,
-generous, poor,
-old, young, new --

Take all of these ingredients, add alcohol, train delays, out-of-order restrooms, unreliable HVAC, and frequent light-hearted and sometimes filthy insults.

Pour into tight quarters on the upper gallery of a Chicago car.
Sprinkle the mix with unsuspecting, infrequent commuters who sit down below--

- the occasional tee-totaller who glares at the freely-passed bottles of beer or liquor

- the woman who thought she'd sleep all the way home

- the prude

- the sourpuss

(It will stir itself).

Finally, just for color, garnish with a hot college girl next to the homosexual.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Prissmas is coming! Prissmas is coming!

Prissmastime is almost here. So unclench and get ready for a stream of "I told you so!"

You may not know that each year, for several years now, we've been celebrating Prissmas in April. Traditionally, Prissmas falls on the Saturday nearest Hitler's birthday. We make this reference not because of any affinity for Hitler, but because it's fun to point out that Lady Prisspott shares the same birthday - perhaps even the same year, we can't be sure, (there's an eraser hole in Prisspott's birth certificate).

"What," you ask, "is Prissmas?"

Prissmas is the celebration of the spirit of "I told you so."

You told your dear, dear friend the Dorothy Hammell look went away with the previous century, but did she listen? No. She went and got the awful bob and is now telecommuting until her hair grows out. You've been tactfully supportive and understanding, but now it's PRISSMAS! Call her up and scream "I TOLD YOU NOT TO GET THAT HAIRCUT!" then bask in a warm feeling that's reminiscent of peeing in the pool.

Let's get you started on YOUR Prissmas celebration.

Traditional Garb:

An apron and lei. You can wear other things in addition to the apron and lei, but it's not required.


A dead tree branch, painted pink. Stick it in the ground outside and adorn it with rats and crabs. The original Prissmas tree also had plastic martini glasses and orange ribbon.


Anything that can be cooked in a bonfire that would at first cause one to think, "Hmmm. No. I'm not eating that." But in actuality, really isn't half bad.

Mountain Pies: Two slices of bread, slathered with anything, enclosed in a pie iron and stuck into the bonfire.

Pre-Packaged Stuff: Bags of chips, cookies, easily shared finger foods in burnable packages.


Liquor. There's no explanation necessary. Liquor is liquor. You know what to do. Besides, it'll help loosen your tongue. "I told you those pants made you look . . . fatter."

Beer. For those who have to drive.

Other. It doesn't matter which. In fact, don't even bother. If someone needs to drink 'other' beverages, they're probably not at your Prissmas gathering.


Prissmas Bonfire: It's not Prissmas without a bonfire. And it's not a Prissmas bonfire unless it's secretly doused with gas before some unsuspecting fool lights it (THWOOM!) More than a few eyebrows have been lost in this manner. For many months we've been carting our scrap wood and burnables out to the field at Prisspott Manor and piling high the Prissmas pyre.

The Bonfire Ballet: You set your chairs up around the, as yet unlit, bonfire and chat and gab with your 'friends.' Of course (ala Musical Chairs) there's never enough chairs for everyone, so some have to stand around and chat. THWOOM! You get up from the ground, shield your face from the fire while reaching for your overturned chair to pull it further away from the fire to a more comfortable temperature. (Like, say, Cleveland.) Those without an original chair can take this moment to snag a chair from one of the other people who haven't yet come to. The fire begins to burn down a bit and you start to notice the nip in the air. So you scootch your chair closer. You might take this opportunity to refill your drink - or, if you're drinking from the bottle, to open another. Again - people without a chair can take this refill time to commandeer a seat for themselves. Rinse and repeat.

The Who-Catches-On-Fire-First-Pool (Also known as Flaming Queen): This is probably self-explanatory, given the details of the Prissmas Bonfire. In our circles, we can't actually have the betting pool, because everyone predicts it will be Lady Prisspott. Clearly, she's a crowd favorite, what with the tree incident, and the flaming gas can incident, and, well, these would just take up an entirely different blog entry to explain. Suffice it to say, she's a shoe-in to win every year. (Sometimes, when the spirit of Prissmas hits us, we even try to set her on fire at other times of the year. What fun. Good times.)

Liquor Spitter: Take a swig of cheap, gosh-awful-tasting liquor straight from the bottle. Swagger as close to the bonfire as you (safely?) can. Spit the liquor into the bonfire. The bigger the FWOOSH!--the more right you are when you said 'I told you so.' You'll need others to watch, because after the FWOOSH, you're either getting sick from the icky booze or running around screaming "MY EYES! MY EYES!" like a big sissy.

Walk the Plank: You did it when you were little, why did you ever stop? It's the let's-see-how-this-burns game. Take those little plastic soldier men and afix them to the end of a stick, then put him in the fire! "I'm melllllltingggg!" Empty wine bottle? Most of them melt (some may even explode - or so I'm told by old One Eye). Place it in the perfect spot of glowing embers and argue with the others who try to move it with the stick to the OTHER perfect spot. (The next afternoon, you can collect from the ashes anything that didn't entirely burn up and make jewelry!)

Prissmas Carols: Bore your friends to tears by singing EVERY LAST Prissmas carol in your own Prissmas Carol Book. Here's the first ever Prissmas Carol.

Prissmas is Coming
(To the tune of Christmas is Coming - and can be sung in a round!)

Prissmas is coming
We’ll rub it in your face
Time to bust your chops and
Put you in your place

If you’ve had a lapse in judgement
(A small faux pas will do)
If you’ve made a slight mistake
You know that we’ll tell you
We’ll tell you!

The Burning of the Prissmas Tree:

After you've removed your keepsake crabs and rats, the Prissmas tree is 'uprooted' and with great whooping and fanfare, tossed onto the bonfire. You may even choose to sing O Prissmas Tree.

O Prissmas Tree
(To the tune of O Christmas Tree)

O Prissmas Tree O Prissmas Tree
We’re so much more superior

O Prissmas Tree O Prissmas Tree
You can kiss our posterior

We’ve come to say “I told you so!”
And lift our thumbs up to our nose.

O Prissmas Tree O Prissmas Tree
We know that you’re inferior.

The greatest compliment that can ever be bestowed upon a Prissmas event hostess is -- "You've RURNT Prissmas!" And it must be pronounced 'rurnt.' (It means ruined.) If someone says this to you at Prissmastime, it means you've sufficiently shattered any hopes that some faux pas they've performed over the past year has been forgotten. You've crossed the line then. It's progressed from a frivolous outting of light-hearted, friendly jabs to the true meaning of Prissmas, self satisfaction that you were, indeed, right. And now, everyone knows it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Thank you for your generosity !

My hopes of a smooth transition to college life is becoming a reality. The donations have started pouring in from all over the country.

Well, THE donation has poured in and it should put a dent into the price of some books.

I promise that everything donated to this college endeavor will be used for college.

So, pull out your change jars and dig in the sofa. Pennies make dollars!

And I swear, we will NOT eat Dora.