Sunday, February 20, 2011

Turning Picnics into Prizefights

I'm not really sure where to begin on this one, so I'm going to just kind of write whatever comes to mind, at least at first, until some sort of cohesive narrative emerges. The reason I sat down to write this is that I have managed, in spite of a morning filled with very promising personal developments, to work myself into a full-blown mangry depressive freak out, and I figure I'm better off tossing my negative thoughts and energy to the winds of cyberspace than the alternative, which might just involve winging my empty coffee mug across the room and concussing some unsuspecting undergraduate.

What's eating me this particular morning is hard to pin down. I woke up sore and tired, but didn't let those conditions keep me from enjoying a slow, steady and invigorating eight mile jog. From there, I jumped into my car and sped to my weekly adipose reckoning, where I logged a weight of 256.6, a new personal low. After getting home and showering, I went poking around in my closet to see if maybe there wasn't a pair of pants from an earlier, slimmer time in my life that I might be able to wear again. Lo and behold, a pair of size 40 corduroy jeans slid right on and fit just fine. Now exercised, weighed, scrubbed and stylishly appointed, all that remained was to hit up the local coffee house and spend an hour or so knocking out HBO-special caliber stand-up writing. Of course, if you've read this much of the post, you realize that things didn't quite proceed according to plan.

The thing is, I can't quite seem to accept the positive feedback of my daily existence. See, that jog was fine, but I could have run much faster, if only I weren't still so damned heavy. And yeah, 256.6 is great, but it's a mere 0.6 pounds less than last week, and still over 50 pounds away from my goal. Further, the weight may come off, but the guy I see when I stare into a mirror won't ever be the right weight. Those pants fit, but just barely, and my saggy gut still hangs depressingly over the waist, hiding the button and the first inch or so of zipper. So pretty much, while you were reading the first couple paragraphs and watching a morning full of personal empowerment and great news, I was hunkered down in a category 5 hurricane of self loathing and insecurity.

It's not all doom and gloom, however, no matter how hard I try to paint it as such. These past few weeks have seen some pretty high-grade strides and breakthroughs for me, including the decision to start taking my performance schedule seriously once more, and my campaign to open and sort two full years of unopened mail (yeah, I know. Look, I'm working on it, OK?). The broader theme seems to be that I no longer wish to exist in the kind of survival mode that I seem to have adopted some time around 2005.

For the last few years, I've been ducking and covering, avoiding personal responsibility like one of those weird Moony flower peddlers who roam the restaurants and bars hawking wilted roses. For me, the pain of several losses and the traumas of my early development snowballed into a vaguely defined melange of guilt, rage, shame and bitter solitude, and after a time, became too big for me to even look at directly, let alone manage. That my inability to face down these demons only gave them more room to grow bigger and uglier is one of the sharp little ironies of this period.

It seems that after more than two years' worth of semiweekly couch time and who knows how many hours' reflection, I'm ready to pick up the shovel and start digging out. The mail is one indication, my resolve to take care of myself is another. For a man in my position, an act as seemingly mundane as daily flossing is a minor act of revolution.

But of course, before I get too carried away patting myself on the back, I should point out that I trust absolutely not one tiny bit that any of this will last. See, I've had these moments of transcendent personal motivation before. The last serious effort was around 2003, when I first decided to take a shot at the weight loss. There have been middling attempts in the interceding period, some more successful than others. There was a grand alpine adventure, lasting almost a month and encompassing 400 miles of solitary Sierra wandering.

After each moment of personal pride has come a fall, each feeling harder than the last. Build a grand temple, then set it alight and smile darkly as I watch it all burn. Panic at the thought of it being gone. Out of this anxiety, hatch a plan to make my great escape from all this, and to build a new cathedral. Repeat as necessary until my 20's have passed. After several such cycles, I'm just a bit skeptical about my odds of achieving some kind of lasting balance.

So where does that leave us in this rambling diatribe? Well, for starters, this little catharsis has caused the anxiety to subside. But there's one more thing I think I need to touch upon about all this. It's one of those "my therapist would be so proud of me" observations. I am suddenly ashamed to admit that I'm excited by the thought of my therapist even reading this, but of course I'll post it to fucking Facebook without a second thought. The voice in me that is causing these meltdowns is screaming now even as I type that each word written pushes me one more perilous step closer to the dread exposure, to the naked public display of my weirdness and unlovable freakishness. A part of my brain, and a deeply powerful one at that, is striving to protect me from being seen. As I'm moving from survival to thriving, I'm dragging this little guy along, and his heels are leaving grooves in the floor.

And that's the whammy, the one key difference between this momentous change, and all that have preceded it. Where in years past I would scarcely have noticed the anxious shift toward self-destruction and the trip around the dark side of the moon, I'm now able to see it coming, write about it, and perhaps if I'm lucky AND good enough, stave off the worst of it.

I don't feel that this post is finished, or any good for that matter. But screw it, I'm posting it anyway. Take that!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Winter has officially blown the first rain storm into the Los Angeles basin, and with it float into my mind some thoughts on this most anti-climactic of American winters. See, Los Angeles being where it is, we don't really get a winter, at least not one you'd picture when that word is mentioned. The temperature rarely drops below 60 degrees fahrenheit, and the only other discernible change in the weather involves the somewhat novel presence of rain.

This rain is the topic of the day. Rain does a number of things in my town that I'm guessing it doesn't do in yours. Firstly, being a novel meteorological occurrence, rain causes a generally panicked pre-emptive response from your average Angelino, wardrobe-wise. In the last 24 hours, I've seen confused citizens sporting everything from bulletproof wellingtons that could withstand a toxic mud event to (and I'm not exaggerating this one bit) a fur hat with earflaps tied securely beneath a very, very stupid chin. Knee high boots are one thing, but really dude, fur? Apart from the fact that it NEVER reaches temperatures to warrant that kind of garb, how in the name of Poseidon's nipples did you get from "hey, it's raining lightly, dress accordingly" to "gee, a fur hat. Now that'll stop the drops!" The only thing missing from this misguided attempt at rain gear was like, a suede vest or something.

This level of unpreparedness bleeds nicely into the next quirky little effect of a good LA rain: the vehicular sh*t storm. The collective motorist response to a light dusting of moisture is, to paint a familiar picture, the fur hat of reactions. People across the board lose their ability to safely and sensibly navigate even the most basic of thoroughfares. It's odd. Odder still, when you stop to think that a great proportion of people in LA, and an even disproportionately larger number of people in the neighborhoods I frequent, are not even from Los Angeles. I mean, chances are these folks used to live somewhere with weather, right? Maybe driving in any sort of conditions other than monotonous perfection is like a muscle, and the drivers in the LA basin are just suffering the ill effects of atrophy.

Or...maybe it's that all the goddam street lights are broken. That's right, another funtastic fact about LA: Even the slightest meteorological disturbance, and the next day half the city's street lights go dark for about a morning. This one just absolutely baffles me. Look, I realize that rain isn't exactly a frequent occurrence, but it is an annual thing. As in, something that happens every year. Every year. You'd imagine the city would be able to plan around that kind of clock-like regularity. I've given thought to another possibility, that maybe the rain falling here has been mutated, through exposure to air pollution and other local factors, into a substantially more dangerous liquid than that which regularly touches streetlights in cities across the globe. But if that were true, then wouldn't the rain in, say, Beijing, be so fouled that it would be like burning through the hoods of peoples' cars? No, that explanation doesn't pass the smell test.

So we're left with another conclusion to draw: the second largest city in the US, one of its (gack) cultural centers, and home to just a shade under 10 million people, was not constructed with enough forethought to withstand a drizzling rain. Kind of gives you pause, vis-a-vis the Big One, no? If an all-to-predictable sprinkling of rain is capable of taking out half the f*cking grid, what's a 7 pointer going to do, unleash the goddam Kraken?

Whoa, got kinda dark there for a minute. OK, apocalyptic geology aside, my by-far-favorite thing about an LA winter is driving up into the mountains ringing the city. I don't do it because I love nature (though I do) or because some part of my Midwestern brain is homesick for a snowy day (though maybe it is), I do it to witness a rare but exquisitely stupid Los Angeles tradition: Snow Collecting.

See, Southern Californians don't have access to traditional winter weather, so snow for them remains something of a novelty, like an empty freeway, or a white bus boy. Basically, the ritual goes like this: you pile the wife and kids into your huge gas guzzler of an SUV or truck, and truck the whole fam damily up the Angeles Crest Highway, a winding bluetop mountain road connecting the valleys that lay on opposite sides of the San Gabriel mountain range. You just drive up that sucker, and when you hit the snowline you're there.

From here, you stop your "car" on the side of the road, and while your kids dart in a fun-AND-safe random pattern into and out of the road right in front of a blind curve, you busy yourself by taking the snow shovel (which you brought with you) and shovel snow onto your car. As much as you can pack. In the case of a pick up truck, the job is easy: just fill the bed. If you're working with an SUV, you have to be a little more creative. Pack the white stuff onto the roof rack, the hood, or if you want to play the game on hard mode and make your vehicle an absolute JOY to drive behind on the trip out of the hills, the roof rack AND the hood. Presto, you're good to go. All that's left is to discard any empty energy drink canisters and hamburger wrappers onto the freshly denuded shoulder of road, and you're off to the suburbs to impress your (if this is even possible) even stupider neighbors.

A couple questions come to mind. First of all, where exactly in Southern California does one even buy a snow shovel? Do the Home Depots here have a section for hilariously inappropriate housewares? "Excuse me, sir, but could you point me to the snow shovel section?" "Oh, sure, no problem, they're in aisle 18B, right between the and the rain gauges and the DIY tornado shelters."

The other thing that comes to mind is just how alien it is to me, and my hearty Midwestern composition (and NO, that is not a euphemism for fat), to shovel snow ONTO anything that you own or need to use. Every time I see a hulking SUV full of Angelinos rolling back down the hill in a snow covered Hummer, I think an old Hungarian man in Ohio dies of a heart attack.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm going to post more. Starting now.

Ugh, so the thought of posting regularly to a blog kind of makes me want to punch myself in the dick. I mean, I've long held the jaded position that the blogoshere is little more than an over-hyped nexus of open diaries, a place where people wanting for actual problems in their lives can gather to whine, and listen to other people whine, about the trivial bullshit that plagues their Starbucks existences. That, and I sort of feel like blogging is an activity that just smacks all to loudly of honkeyism, a pernicious ill bound to disrupt the very fabric of American culture. Then again, I'm pretty much the whitest whitey I know, so maybe my reluctance is just a weak attempt to protect myself from becoming all too enmeshed in the song of my people. One a scale of one to ten, one being not terribly white and ten being The most blinding whiteness imaginable, I rate in at about a Weezer. I'm whiter than a croquet match in a Trader Joe's parking lot. So I guess I should just shut the f*ck up and make with the blogging already.

See, this exercise in regular blogging is really just about consistent and regular writing. Which writing, I'm hoping, will improve steadily as the days turn to weeks, allowing me to eventually overcome an embarrassing lack of production, joke-wise. Fun fact: if you google my full name, you'll find a link to my most recent youtube video, now almost two years old. The bulk of the jokes on that video are at least twice as mature. I really haven't written all that much new stuff in the last half decade. Of course, if you read the post that directly precedes this one, you will see that I've been kinda busy not losing weight. Pretty much a full-time job. Oh, that and my full-time job. So I'm thinking that what's really called for here is to just open the flood gates, to let out all the dogs and see which ones come back carrying something edible. I'm hoping for ducks and pheasants, but right now I'll settle for the odd squirrel. By which I mean that even the hackiest cheese-it of a one liner is more than acceptable to me at this point in my life. This honest acceptance of whatever comes next, regardless of its quality, is the key to getting back in the habit of thinking along creative lines. As my sister would say, it's a muscle, and you've got to exercise it to make it any stronger. And just like I'm sure nobody would really want to watch me huff and puff my way through an hour long run, I'm OK with this little blog not necessarily always yielding the most awe inspiring results.

Oh, and a note on the new (and interim, I should add) title: I had to change it. Remember how the TSA started grabbing everyone's nuts this month? Now remember that dude in San Diego who filmed them reacting to his refusal to be groped? Yeah, that all went down on his fucking blog, the title of which you may be able to surmise. Yeah. So, that happened. Barring some attention-whoring publicity stunt on my part, I guess I'm leaving myself open to more blog doppelgangers. So be it, but I'll be ready with a quick name change next time.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy Fativersary to Me!

Today marks the seventh anniversary of my first trip into a weight watchers meeting. For seven years, I’ve made time each Sunday, with a regularity that would be the envy of all but the most devout of churchgoers, to go step on a scale, and to sit in a room filled with people who’ve just done the same. It’s interesting to note that although I remembered this anniversary while sitting among my fellow watchers, I didn’t volunteer the information to the group. I suppose I’m a little ambivalent about the occasion, an attitude I justify with the lack of any apparent progress in that period. I weighed in, for the first time ever, at 276.8 pounds. Today, after seven years of off-again, on-again journaling, countless pushes to motivate myself, one 400 mile walk through the wilder spaces of Central California, and combined losses and gains by now tallying in the Oh-God-I’m-sure hundreds of pounds, I tipped the digital scales at 270.0 lbs. That’s 6.8 pounds in seven years. At this rate, I’ll reach my goal weight of 189 lbs just a few months before my 115th birthday. Good thing I’m eating healthy.

Seven years. A time that has seen two presidential and four general elections. I’ve been fighting to lose weight longer than the US has been fighting in Iraq. The Lakers have somehow won nine championships. I can’t do the math on that one either, but I know they win every year, and I think there were a couple of lagniappe titles in there somewhere. I’ve launched, slowed, stalled, resuscitated, stalled (again), and resurrected a halting career as a stand-up comic in that time. Relatives and friends have died; new relatives and friends have joined us. The Red Sox won the World Series, and the Saints won the Superbowl. Apocalyptic fantasies of Y2K, now defunct, have given way to even more paranoid delusions based on urban legends about the Mayan calendar. The Earth is still warming. Republicans are still denying it. OK, maybe some things are still the same.

The point I’m trying to make here is that a rather large amount of time seems to have slipped by without my notice, weight watcher-wise. I mean, if you’d asked 2003 me what he expected of this whole campaign for fitness, I’m not sure what he’d have told you. But one thing of which I’m certain is that he didn’t imagine himself, the better part of a decade later, still just trying to fight the good fight, still just trying to get the weight off for good. I have not succeeded in this campaign, and by the same token, I have not failed. At least insofar as I still attend the meetings, still consider myself someone who is "losing weight."

The problem is that after a certain amount of time, and I'm not exactly sure what amount that is, I began to have a problem defining myself as one who is in the pursuit of weight loss. It began to ring somehow false; it took on a hollow tone and I frankly stopped believing it myself. It might be interesting to note that it was around this same time when I began to have the same feeling every time anybody asked me "what do you do?" and I replied with "I'm a comic." The same part of me that incredulously rejects the term "losing weight" without any actual weight loss seems to balk at "being a comic" without any actual comedy shows. I bring it up only because I feel that this part of my personality is very near to, if not the top dead center of, the core of my problems in the first place.

See, everybody has a part of them that says "you can't do that." That voice, in my head, is broadcasting from a PA system on top of a very tall mountain. On a loop. In five languages. And since this message is on blast, as it were, for 24 hours per day, it has changed some very basic aspects of my point of view. For example; one could view the seventh anniversary of a struggle to lose weight as a hugely positive mark on the calendar, a testimony to endurance and staying power. But in my internal world, warped as it is by the constant, blaring warnings of inadequacy and its attendant risk of failure, each day that passes without significant weight loss just solidifies the experiential case against my chances at ever actually succeeding. "Look, dude, if you were gonna lose weight, you'd have done it by now. So can we please just stop this tired act and go get a pizza?"

Oh yeah, that's the other super-awesome part of that voice(why, oh why, is there no sarcasm font? There should be a sarcasm font. Italics are just too ambiguous): It totally pretends to be on my side. An ally, after all, only looking to soothe, to comfort. Insidious little bugger, if ever there was one. Incidentally, this tactic also works wonders when contemplating the consumption of whiskey, cigarettes, and prescription benzodiazepines. Not to mention the spending of time playing playstation and jerking it to internet porn. To be fair, this is a part of me that does know how to have a good time.

What it knows how to do better than just about anything else, though, is keep me from changing a thing. This voice, this all-too-prominent part of my personality is like that smoke monster from Lost, and it's only mission is to keep me from leaving Fat Island.

It begs a few questions, not the least interesting of which is this: why? I mean, this voice is me, basically. I invented him. He has got to serve some kind of useful purpose, right? Otherwise why would I have ever gone to the trouble of constructing this island, and hiring on this smoke monster, in the first goddam place? The answer isn't simple. I think it has something to do with my mother. Well, at least, my psychoanalyst has submitted that it has something to do with my mother. Then again, if you're spending time and money seeing a psychoanalyst and he doesn't bring up your mom, you're probably wasting both. As luck would have it though, it's not a bad suggestion, and it's worth a quick exploration.

See, I've known pretty much forever that my mom substitutes food for love, warmth, and comfort. I even used to joke, in an unintentionally ironic foreshadow of my adult problems, that my mom is the root cause of all fatness. But the facts speak plainly here. First of all, I was born, if I recall correctly, almost a full two months before I was supposed to be. In 1979, this represented more of a challenge to the medical community than I'm told it does today. Like, a challenge on the order of magnitude of "no, you can't hold him, ma'am, and we'd strongly advise you not to take any pictures, 'cause it'll just be too sad..." kind of a problem. I'm told that I was on life support, and that it was a bit on the touch and go side for a while. All of which, you might imagine, was enormously traumatic not just to my freshly post-uterine little brain, but to that of my already anxious and possibly clinically depressed mom. So what does a mom like mine do for a kid who was born weighing just a tad less than a bag of flour? She feeds him. If he's eating, then he's hungry. If he's hungry, then he's growing. If he's growing, then he's moving farther from dying. So feed him. And feed him some more. If he cries? Cookies work well. Throws a fit? He really likes spaghetti-os. Oh dear, it seems he's getting a little...husky.

So maybe this voice, gentle and comforting as it is violently oppressive and suffocating, is my mom's. Not really hers, mind you, but the version of her voice that was always so racked with the fear of losing it, of losing a kid, of just plain losing. It's a warming thought that this influence, as self destructive as it may have been for so many long years, is in fact nothing more than a misguided attempt to share motherly love and affection. If this voice, so filled with fear and despondent loneliness and so misunderstood that it has to blanket everything around it in sadness and defeat, is coming from a place of love, then I can stop feeling so angry at it. I can give up another quest, now much older than seven years, to destroy or drown it. I can learn to live with it, work around it, maybe even love and think fondly of it.

Because, you see, there is another part of me that needs to be considered. After all, the reason the doctors were so sure that I was an almost lost cause on my first day is just that so many like me had been born, only to spend a few anguished moments here before expiring, life support notwithstanding. Hooked to the same machines, and watched over by the same trained experts in the thwarting of death, many had nonetheless not survived their first week on this odd little planet. But I did. My heart, with a little help from a warm damp washcloth patted gently on my tiny chest, refused to stop beating. For a long time, I've entertained the depressing notion that I'm only here today because of those machines, that perhaps the natural order of the universe, if left un-f*cked with by the hand of medical science, dictates that I shouldn't exist at all. It plays nicely as an accompaniment to a narrative of self defeat. But it wasn't the machines that kept me around. If it were, then there would have been no need for such morbid precautions as keeping me from my mother's arms, of forbidding photographs.

No, the reason I'm still here is because there's a part of me that just refuses to die. This part of me doesn't have a loudspeaker, and most of the time you can hardly hear his voice. But he's there, patiently walking this path with me, refusing to let go. It is to this voice I now must appeal. This is the child who needs to be nurtured, who needs to hear as many times as it can be said how amazing, and how strong, of a person he really is. If I am to succeed, at weight loss or at anything else in my life, it will be this guy standing behind me, cheering me quietly onward.

This guy will not be defeated, no matter how loudly he is told to. This guy will get back up each and every time he gets knocked into the dirt by rejection, self loathing, booze, donuts, shame, and/or any combination thereof. This guy has showed up, without much to show for it on paper, to almost every weight watchers meeting for the last seven years. And if seven years seems like a long time, just remember that this guy has been showing up every day, without anybody even asking him to, for more than 31 years now.

By now, I realize that this guy, and I alongside, are fighting for more than just a smaller pair of pants. In a real sense, he’s fighting for my life. And this is not just a struggle to end obesity, which will if left unchecked kill me of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. etc. This is about the time in between now and my own personal expiration date. It’s about recognizing that I get to choose how I spend that time, and that I get to write the story from here on, not just read it a day after it happens.

In alcoholics anonymous, they tell the, uh, new arrivals, to pray every day for a month. I asked somebody who has been there what one is to do in the absence of a conveniently placed man-in-the-sky fantasy, and she replied that maybe you don’t have to pray to a god every day, that maybe you just pray to the best version of yourself; offer up a thought of gratitude, and ask help in getting through one more day of sobriety. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so different in the life of a person trying to lose this weight, and to keep it lost. And if I am to offer up a prayer, I offer it to that brave little guy in my head, the one whose heart beats in defiance of all the scary, dangerous hurdles that come his way, no matter what.

Thank you, so very much, for sticking with me these last seven years. I’m sorry you haven’t gotten more press. You deserve all that anyone can give, and more. Please, walk with me through each day, and help me fight this fight. I know you’re going to do it even if I don’t ask you, but may it strengthen my resolve to know you are there.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

An Expository Essay on the Arrangement of International Commerce

This is a series of emails set off by an ad I posted on craigslist looking to sell my bicycle. Basically, some scammy little schemer replied with a bizarre series of requests. They try to disguise themeselves as standard purchase enquiries, but you can usually tell the scams from their bizarrely incorrect grammar. Kind of like those first generation terminators with the rubber skin. I've bumped into this particular scam a few times since this one, but have yet to figure out what, exactly, a scammer has to gain from this particular trick. In any case, what follows is an actual email conversation. Incoming emails are blue, and outgoing messages are orange

Greetings, i am Claudy , i was looking for a bike
like yours and i got your AD on craigslist over your bike for
I am really interested on it as i need the bike as soon as possible.
Please get back at me as soon as possible with the answer to
following question below so that we can proceed to payment.

1 what is the condition of the bike
2. your final selling price
3. method of payment
4. reason why the bike is been sold.
5. a contact phone number were i can reach you.

Please get back at me as soon as possible., i will also appreciate it if you could email me some few more pictures of the bike.



1. The bike is in excellent condition, in need only of the occasional maintenance tune up at the owners' discretion.
2. My final selling price is $300.
3. I will accept cash.
4. I'm selling this bike because I need the money.
5. I don't give out my contact number to buyers any more. If you wish to speak with me, reply with your number and I'll call you
I've attached an image of the bike for you.



Thanks for your mail,the price is reasonable and i also love the bike,Well i would have loved to come and pay cash and take the bike from you but i will be on my way to UK for my daughters wedding,I have just contacted my shipper right now and i was told he is out of town.So i will send you a cashiers cheque of $800,as soon as you receive it,exchange it for cash at your local bank and take your money out and send
the rest of the money to my shipping agent in south Africa via MONEY GRAM money transfer ,who will come over for pick up andalso pick some other furniture and wedding materials i bought from a friend for my daughter and have them shipped to South Africa for me. Please get back at me with your name,address and contact phone
number so that i can send the payment before i leave tonight.
Waiting to hear from you.

Splendid! Looks like we have a deal. Sadly, I've chartered a tuna skiff to Mumbai, and it leaves tonight from pier 34 at the stroke of midnight. I have taken the liberty of notifying Goodwin, my man Friday, of the pending transaction; he has graciously agreed to act as liaison in this affair.

To proceed with the sale, send your $800 cashiers cheque via pack mule to Union Station in East LA. Have the accompanying Sherpa drop the cheque, sealed in a tattered manila envelope inscribed with the word 'carbuncle,' into the third trash bin from the rear wall of the main concourse. Goodwin will be waiting disguised as an blind epileptic wino with kidney failure. Can't miss him.

Once Goodwin limps, in character, back to the compound, he'll redirect your payment via a series of carrier pigeons to my offshore bank in Abuja, Nigeria. Upon verified receipt of the funds, the banker will make the hand off of the excess funds to a trained pedigree racing gorilla. The gorilla (whose name is Clobert, pronounced kloh-BEAR) will knuckle walk your cash right to your doorstep in South Africa.

The moment these cursory steps have been taken, we might proceed with the transfer of goods. I've contracted the services of one Rolf Sorenson, the Danish cyclist and 1996 olympic silver medalist, to transport the bike from Los Angeles to Dade county, Florida. There the bike will be loaded onto a container ship whose destination is Bermuda. After making landfall, Rolf is instructed to ride the bicycle, while dressed in the customary knee length tube socks and much ballyhooed shorts bearing the islands name, to the designated drop point. Here will he leave the bike loosely tied to a crooked lamp post situated in downtown St. George on the Northeast corner of the intersection of Duke of York street and Old Maid's lane. I'll have posted a trustworthy guard nearby. Tell your shipping agent to look for the Indonesian leper with the glass eyeball wearing a blood soaked clown suit. Again, can't miss 'em.

That should do it. I look forward to doing business with you. In order to make sure all goes smoothly, however, I'll need some cursory personal information about you. Please reply with the following:

Full name as well as any known pseudonyms, aliases, and noms-de-plum.
Date of birth with accompanying zodiac signs(both standard and Chinese)
Blood type
Affiliations with any and all secret societies(if applicable, leave blank)

Hope to hear from you soon!