What to Get Me for My Birthday (2014)

by Michael Channing


Carpentry Tools

Bowed toyshelf.

I want to make things out of wood. I envision bookshelves and toy shelves and nothing else. Just shelves. Flat surfaces may be the full extent of my ability. As you can see from the picture above, I can't even achieve a horizontal plane right now. But with the right tools, i.e. not just a screwdriver that I also use as a hammer, I'm sure I'll be shelving it up in no time. One day, as historians pore over my archive of writings and lists of enemies, they'll also marvel at the craftsmanship of my shelves and assume that in my time, I--having mastered prose, poetry, and right angles--must have been like unto a god.

A Stand-up Arcade Machine

Old-school arcade.

When I was small I had small dreams. I wanted to meet E.T. I wanted parachute pants. I wanted cool hair. While all those things have come to pass, the most impossible of dreams still eludes me: owning a for-real arcade game. In '80s TV shows, an arcade game was the icon of affluence for well-to-do characters. You knew that guy had it made; there was a Pac-Man machine in his living room. I have way better games now and no time to actually play them, but the little boy with a dumb haircut and dungarees I used to be still stares at me teary-eyed through the swirling tunnel of time as it to say, "Where did I go wrong?" I don't want to let that little boy down. I want him to have his arcade game. It doesn't have to be Gauntlet or Golden Axe. I'd settle for Burger Time or even a Mappy game inside a Rally-X cabinet. Something that says, "If this were 1983, you'd be so jealous right now."

A Microphone Used by Henry Rollins

Rollins channels all his anger into a mic.

They're out there, scattered across America, totems of power, rusted with Rollins sweat, still vibrating from the rage channeled through them. The ones used to beat back skinheads are the most prized of all. I've wanted one ever since I saw Rollins for the time at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. He picked up the mic and wrapped the cord around his fist like a boxer lacing up a glove. I thought, that's my weapon of choice.

Legend has it that if you combine seven Henry Rollins microphones, you will create an artifact of pure awesome and unleash a 24-7 block party jam upon the Earth. All ignorance will be banished, mediocrity will disappear, and the people of the world will groove forever on James Brown, The Ramones, and Led Zeppelin.

Reconstructive Surgery for Fozzie

Fozzie Bear, chewed and maimed.

Fozzie was the victim of a dog who did not know the difference between her toys and my toys. I feel guilty every time I see him on the shelf above the door. He deserves a place of honor, in full view of everyone, but instead he hides behind Groucho glasses, turns his deformity to the wall, and cries the silent tears of a clown. His life in the spotlight was cut short, his sit-com with Smokey canceled before it even went to pilot. All because I didn't know how to lock a bedroom door. I'm sure there's a doctor who can help restore Fozzie to his former glory. It's quiet up on the toy shelf. I haven't heard a "Wocka wocka" in years.

Time to Read

Make time for Clockwork Angels.

I love to read, but finding the time for an extended sit down with a book is getting harder and harder. So if it's within your power to grant me more time, please do so. By whatever means handy. A pocket watch from the Twilight Zone, a necklace from Hogwarts, or just a good old-fashioned nuclear holocaust and a bunch of extra pairs of glasses.

I promise not to spend your time on frivolous things. I will travel from library to library in search of all the Choose Your Own Adventure books I never got to, and I'll finally have time for the classics of Dickens, Shakespeare, and Stein.

More Things I Like


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