Saturday, January 31, 2009

Antarctic Volcano Base Assault Part 1

Covered in four inches of bacon fat and stuffed into a wing suit, we jumped out of the zeppelin. That was just Douggy and me, though, squimonk don't need wing suits. I thought that was pretty fortunate for them because I felt like a goldfish in a bag full of jello. Every time I moved or shifted my weight any, bacon goo warmed by my body would ooze a little out of all the suit openins. Every time that happened, I thought about the 84 packs of bacon I had to eat to get to this point and I felt a little green around the gills. But the squimonk didn't have to put up with that. They were always wearin their wing suits and so we couldn't get bacon grease stuffed inside of them. I suggested a way they could do it without eating it, pointing out they had another bodily cavity in which bacon could enter, but they didn't take that suggestion very well. One gestured towards the ceiling of the zeppelin with his longest finger and asked me what I thought about that. I guess everyone would get a little grumpy after bein stuck in a zeppelin with no showers and fryin bacon for a few days, particularly if those people are preparing to dive into an active volcano. Most of that was solved after we jumped, well, the part about bein stuck in the zeppelin, anyways.

As soon as I was out the door, grumpiness and discomfort was changed into a new feeling; total, complete, heart stoppin, foot stompin, whiskey backin, leg shakin, dog yelpin, war whoopin, nose runnin, cryin so hard you give yourself the hiccups like when you was nine and you broke the cookie jar tryin to get out another oreo without your ma seein ya because she told you you was havin a special dinner and you'd not only ruin your appetite but you'd be all covered in chocolate when the people from the church came over and they'd all think she didn't know how to raise an obedient child and then they'd get all Leviticus on her an talk about how ifn' that rod is spared the kid end up with cookie all over his face and you get a floor full of oreo and jar shards and so while she's upstairs takin a shower and you just want one more cookie because one cookie isn't really enough if you're nine and you have poor impulse control and so you reach up into the cookie jar and it's gotta shift just a little and then it shifts a little too much and the jar comes crashin to the ground and you don't know where the broom or the glue is and so you run and hide in your secret spot which turns out not to be secret and your mom's got her hair all in curlers and her face all red and she looks like a Medusa with pearl earrings and you sure as heck ain't no Hercules and so all you can do is sit there and cry out how sorry you are in tears big enough to drown a hamster in and then you think about your hamster drownin and that just adds an extra level to anything and you can't cry any harder and finally you end up givin yourself a headache and your stomach cramps up and you end up just pickin at the meatloaf your mom makes and the church ladies get worried about you not eatin so they start sending over a casserole once a week or so and it's always got chopped eggs in it for some reason and you hate eggs so you never eat it and you and your mom always gotta try to sneak it out to the garbage without anyone seein you and then ten years later the church ladies finally do catch you and you're standin there with their casserole poised over the trashcan and you're scrapin furiously and you know you're busted and now you're gonna have to listen to a lecture by these ladies just because you wanted a cookie and you don't like eggs, abject terror. This was twistin my guts all up but I didn't have much time to think about it.

Before I knew it, Douggy was tuckin his arms in for the final dive and I followed his lead. I must've been goin a mile a minute when I hit the crust of the volcano. I squeezed my eyes shut tight, rememberin that time I set my coffee down just a bit too quickly and I splashed a little bit of hot coffee into my eye. It stung and burned and I had a red spot on that eyes for a week. For a moment there, I thought I was goin blind because everything went white, but it turned out that was just the half and half I put in the coffee. Since that time, I always been real careful about settin my coffee down. It's not always easy, I tell ya, because sometimes I'm watchin that guy on the tv and he gets me real mad. You know, the one that's always yellin at people who disagree with him, oh, what's his name? He's the guy who's always a jerk to everyone who has anything to say to him, but it's just sort of in his character to do that and he makes good money for his channel through advertisin and tours and everything. It's that same channel that claims to be fair and even handed, but really and obviously isn't. I know that name, it's on the tip of my tongue. Let's see, he's the guy with the funny lookin hair and people are always tryin to reason with him but he just keeps gettin more angry and more angry. That's it! Oscar, Oscar the Grouch. That little guy really gits my blood to boil. When that happens, I gotta be extra careful about settin my cup down because I don't want another case of coffee eye. All this was swirlin around my head and I know that lava is at least five times as hot as that coffee is so I sure as shootin didn't want any in my eye.

The moment I touched the lava with my face, everything started sizzlin like a frog in a cast iron skillet. The heat pushed in on me like it was a cash-strapped bride and I was that store in New York that has a wedding dress sale every year. Then everything was white light and soft pillows and rollin around to get the fire out and bacon, still the smell of bacon. I just couldn't take it any more so I threw up a little in my mouth. I tried to play it off like it was a burp or somethin, but I'll admit to you now, a little bacon came with the burp. I managed to get it back down, but it wasn't a sure thing there for a minute or two.

When I'd gotten over my gastronomic battle of the titans, I looked around and discovered we was in a big room full of overstuffed pillows, bean bags, stuffed animals, goose down mattresses, puffy coats and faux fur blankets. Looking up, I saw that there was a kind of diaphragm above us, keepin the lava at bay. The lava seemed to heat and light the room, givin everythin a reddish glow like that there red light district I've heard about in Amsterdam. I turned to Douggy and asked, "Where are we?"

He sighed, "Pat, we've been over this. We're in Amelia Earhart's Antarctic volcano base. We're rescuing Jared, remember?"

"I knew that," I protested, "I meant, within the confines of the previously mentioned Antarctic volcano base, where are we. That is to say, where are we relative to Jared?"

"I'm not sure." He pulls a map out of his pocket and then goes over to a map on the wall.

"It's mighty convenient for there to be a room full of pillows under the volcano entrance to break our fall," I note. "It also seems suspiciously convenient that there is a map of the volcano base here in the room we landed in that seems to have everything labelled."

"That is true," said Alistair, "perhaps that will come clear later. If it doesn't, that's just bad writing."

"What was that?" I just wanted to make sure I heard right.

"Bad writing," he reiterated, "It's just bad writing of the plan on our part if we there's something out there we didn't expect. We should prepare for that just in case."

Because we didn't bring any thread with us, we unravel some of the pillow cases to make a thread that will help us find out way back if we need to. While we were doing that, Douggy marked our path out on the map. We were tryin to get to the throne room, which appeared to be between the Mervyns and the Frogurt place, if the map was accurate.

For the first five minutes, things seemed to be going swimmingly. We passed the Buckle and then checked our path towards the Build-a-Bear workshop. There was something off about the stores, though. Not only were there no customers, but all the employees appeared to be penguins wearing name tags. Not only that, but both name tags I saw read "Gunther". Now, I don't deny the possibility that there may just happened to have been two penguins who happened to be named Gunther working at that particular Build-a-Bear Workshop, but somethin about it didn't seem right. It seemed my companions had the same feelings and we stopped to consult.

"This is creepy," began Douggy.

"Yeah," said Alistair, "why the heck does it look like a mall?"

"I dunno," responded Douggy, "but I don't like it. There's something not working about this scenario."

"Well," I asked, "what should we do? Go back or press on?"

Before we could decide what to do, the lights went out with a thud. Off in the distance, there was a spotlight or somethin shinin on us. Then we heard the laughter. It started as a low rumble, like a tank left in neutral while the soldier went to pee but the soldier didn't know the tank was on a hill and so he's peein and he gits this sneakin suspicion somethin is wrong and then he feels the ground shakin under his feet. It sounded like that moment, and just like that soldier, we were filled with impotent panic. The rumble grew into an avalanche and finally, like a bit of pineapple in the middle of jello, a voice rose.

"Pat O'Neil," it echoed around us.

"Uh, yeah?" I wanted to be friendly. "What can I do ya for?"

"Not so smart now, are you, Pat O'Neil?"

"Well," I reckoned, "It would seem not. But I don't think I was so smart then, whenever then was."

"The contest, Pat O'Neil! The Makin Stuff Up Championship! That trophy was mine and you stole it from me! Now I shall have my revenge! I've been watching you travel through my fake mall, Pat O'Neil. Little did you know that I have stocked all my stores with a penguin army. And I can assure you, Pat O'Neil, that they are all quite mad. Quite mad indeed. Ha ha ha!" She didn't actually laugh there, she really just said "Ha ha ha!" I've never heard anything like it. I didn't have much time to think, however, because, right at that moment, the lights came on and we were inundated with penguins.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Editorial note

I've gone back into all the old posts and created paragraph breaks. I've been meaning to do that and now I have. Now I can mean to do something else for a month. Also, I've been thinking about having a squimonk design contest. Let's give it a whirl. If you would like to conceive of and then render a squimonk in some fashion and then send it to me electronically, I will consider that a contest submission. If I get one that I would like to put on a t-shirt, I will send you a free t-shirt first. I guess I have to put the legal stuff here, but I don't know how it goes. I'll just say that if you send me stuff, you agree to let me put it on shirts and possibly make money off that design and you'll get a free shirt out of the deal, but won't make profit off the shirt sales (it's minimal anyway). I won't put a date or anything on the contest, I'll just put the first one I really like on a shirt and that'll be that.

Also, while I'm writing, would some of you readers mind clicking on the ads? You don't have to buy anything from them, but I'm tryin to raise some beer money for myself and maybe get some money to buy my wife a nice birthday present. If I don't get her something sparkly, she'll hit me. She's asian, and they know how to hit people. They're all born with this Kung-fu know how. It's awesome. We had to fight actual ninjas one time, and she kicked them all in the face with one foot and in the butt with another ALL AT THE SAME TIME! I wish I'd taken a video of it, but you usually don't think of video cameras when you're being attacked by ninjas. So, in short, if you don't want me to be a bruisy face/butt guy, please just click an ad after you read and before you hit the "stumble" button.


PS, those submissions can go to

PPS If I get anything in there about getting a new mortgage or improving my *ahem* manliness, it will be deleted without even looking. Just to be safe, put something from a Pat O'Neil post in the subject line.

No more bacon!

I think I will never have anything to do with bacon every again as long as I live. I will eat no more BLTs, no more bacon cheeseburgers and quite indubitably no more bacon chocolate chip cookies. Now, I ain't never thought I'd reach a point in my life where I'd be swearin off bacon like it was tobacco and I was a canary running on a treadmill in an asbestos lined coal mine, but that's exactly what I am doing starting yesterday. So, goodbye bacon. You were my friend once, but now I got you pegged for what you truly are; foodstuffs of the devil.

No, bacon, I don't mean that. I just got all worked up. I can't let you go, bacon. Even if you done me wrong lately, I gotta take you back. It's like you, bacon, are a hot twenty-year-old blond with shapely gams and I'm a wheelchair-bound octogenarian with a billion dollars and a bottle of Viagra, no matter how bad you treat me, I gotta take you back. Except in this case, you're not a hot twenty-year-old blond with shapely gams, and you are, instead, a smoked, cured meat product.

I apologize, people. I seem to got a little ahead of myself there. I didn't want for you to be a part of my breaking love affair with bacon, but I had to get it off my chest right up front. As you'll see, bacon has done me wrong over the weekend and I aim to get it back somehow. Maybe I will get my revenge by eating a pack of it a day from here on out. I seen on the tv where there was this 108 year old man that eats a pack of bacon and smokes a pack of tiny cigars every day and he's still goin strong. I figure that's the right kinda diet for me. I could do that one. It would certainly have to be better than the "eat only oranges and mucilex" or whatever diet Frank is on this week. There I go gettin distracted again.

I suppose y'all may want to know how the whole Jared situation shook out. I just wanna warn ya up front that there's gonna be some more adulty-type stuff in this one, but nothin too dirty. If it were a movie, I'd call this one pg-13. Now ya know what's goin on right up front, you can't blame me for this later. If you don't care for that kind of stuff, I'm not hurt, you should just skip ahead to the last paragraph of the next update. If you are all right with that kind of stuff, read on, because the kind of stuff I've got in here that made me warn you about that kind of stuff is exactly the kind of stuff I was talkin about. Just so we're clear, we're talkin a little nudity, nothin graphic, and some vomit here.

After Jared disappeared, we were frantic at the shop. Alistair began the search usin some of them latest investigative techniques like you can see on CSI, except this was real and didn't use them weird CGI shots. Actually, if you were watching it, maybe it would have them shots, but I was involved and didn't get to see them edited in later. Even with his super Nasa space technology stuff, he couldn't find anything. Apparently, ninjas don't really leave traces behind. I didn't know that before, but you learn somethin new every day. They wear gloves so they don't leave fingerprints and their heads are all wrapped up so the don't drop any hair or nothin. Alistair told me that when I was gettin too nosy and a little too CSI about what I was askin, he explained that what he was really lookin for was vegetative spores that would give us a clue as to where the ninja who took Jared was comin from. It took him a couple hours and work with some of the tiniest, cutest tools I've ever seen. I wouldn't suggest tellin a squimonk his tools are cute, though, unless you want to wake up with a squimonk pulling out one of your nose hairs with his tiny little pliers yellin, "Who's got cute tools now!?" If that's your thing, though, go right to it.

After gettin nothin on the whole spore thing, Jared's mom came by the shop. She was there to pick him up after work. She was askin where he was and I said that he had to run down to Wal-Mart to get us some more powdered sugar for the donuts. Then she told me she had just come from the Wal-Mart and Jared most certainly wasn't there. So I told her that he had to take my truck and they won't even allow my truck into the Wal-Mart parking lot these days and she asked me, "The rabies thing?" and I responded, "Yeah, the rabies thing." But then she pointed out that my truck was in front of the shop and I ran out of things to tell her at that point. As I was reaching into my magical sack of hot air, she closed her eyes and fell right to sleep. I thought she was either tired or a narcoleptic. It turns out that it was actually the tranquilizer dart in her neck. It was put there by Douggy. When I discovered it, I looked up at him and he just shrugged and told me, "Half ninja," as if that explained everything. What was done, was done though, so we trussed her up, and kept her on a steady drip of knock-out drops until we could figure out where her black-nailed kid had gone.

Following another coupla hours of waitin, the squimonk found their first clue. Even though they hadn't found any plant spores, they did find animal droppings. They sent it through some special analyser or something and finally had an answer.

"Penguin poop," Alistair announced.

"Really?" I was surprised. I'd never really had a penguin in the shop. One day last week, a seagull flew into the window, but I don't think that counted. "How do you know?"

"First of all," he explained, "we found an unusually high level of mercury in the droppings, which led us to thinking it was a marine creature or fed on marine creatures. Second, we analysed the substance of the droppings and found that the mercury was coming from herring, which is a favorite of all types of sea birds. Finally, we checked composition and found that the scat itself was black and white, leading us to the penguin."

I learned yet another new thing. "Penguin poop is black and white?"

"Oh certainly, penguins are the only purely monochromatic species in the world. Scientists used to believe that Zebras were also entirely monochromatic, due mostly to their striped poo, but, since the advent of the color camera, we have discovered that Zebras are red inside, putting them in the 'partially monochromatic' family of animals with polar bears and orca."

"Wait, wait, wait! Penguins are black and white on the inside, too?"

"Oh, most definitely," he stated evenly. It was at that point that he lost his composure and started laughing. "I'm sorry, Pat, I couldn't resist trying to get one past you. Victoria bet me ten dollars I couldn't do it. Regardless, we just analysed the DNA and found it to be penguin."

I was shocked. He was pretty convincin at that makin stuff up stuff. It's a good thing he's on my side. I asked him what this meant for Jared and he didn't know right then so he went and did some additional research that proved fruitless. We then had to call Lindbergh, who put all of his computers and his spy network towards the effort of finding Jared. On Saturday, he called us back to tell us he had discovered that Amelia Earhart kept a secret snow base a mile below the antarctic, the only entrance to which was through a volcano that only she had the control to.

I thought it looked hopeless, but Alistair and Douggy felt that we just needed the right plan. After some pretty serious back and forths, three of which ended in blows and one of which ended in a balloon animal making contest, it was decided that, in order to penetrate the volcano, we needed to drop in on it from above, falling fast, while covered in some sort of combustible material that would burn off as we torpedoed our way though the lava. Ideas were bandied about as to what the combustible material would be. It would have to be something that we could coat ourselves with, but nothing toxic. It would also have to be something that would not freeze in the antarctic air that we were falling through. I only knew of one material that had those properties, and that was bacon grease. I do regret saying anything about it now, but at the time, it seemed like a good idea.

The final plan was this: we would fly the stealth zeppelin to the Antarctic, jump from a mile up wearing only flight suits and a four inch thick layer of bacon grease. We would then plummet through the heart of an active volcano, going fast enough that we would penetrate into Amelia Earhart's secret lair before the bacon grease was burned off and we were consumed by fiery liquid magma. Then, we would attack the ninjas, find Jared, see if we couldn't steal some secret plans or something while we were in there, boogie out and get back home in time for Idol.

There was one small snag to the plan. I was informed, just a little too late, that squimonk are vegetarian creatures who cannot stand to see any food wasted. This meant that only two of us going on this mission had to eat all the bacon we had to fry up in order to render it for its fat, and those two were Douggy and me. For the four days it took to get here, Douggy and I did nothing but fry bacon, eat bacon and regurgitate bacon. Now, we are preparing for our assault on the Antarctic Volcano base. Wish us luck.