Friday, September 30, 2005


Here's the most counterintuitive idea in the world: a device that you fill with water, put you feet in the water, and plug it into the goddamn wall! Am I the only person in the world who thinks this is crazy? They've been selling these things for years, and each year around Xmastime they hit the shelves again, and each year I'm surprised to see that they're still on the market.

This particular beauty was given to me by a friend as some sort of 'gag gift' or something, maybe about 10 years ago. I never had the courage to try it out until today. You know, it was one of those days. Those days, that is, that sucked. And all I wanted was to either relax in a big way, or end it all. This seemed like a good way to accomplish either or both of those goals.

It's a heavy blue "Foot Fixer by Clairol". It offers "massage", "heat", or "massage and heat". It also features "off". It was probably bought from a thrift store, may or may not be functioning correctly, and the ten years since couldn't have made it any safer. There was no manual, no safety recall information, no instruction at all, aside from a sticker that said "Water Fill Level". I might be safer using a 1940's orgone accumulator than a 1980's Foot Fixer.

Since I was alone at the time, the first thing I figured I should do is leave some sort of suicide note in case things went horribly wrong. I couldn't do something this stupid and have everybody thinking it was an accident, right? How embarrassing that would be! It turns out that my house is the paperless office of the future, so I couldn't find any paper to write on. I typed the suicide note in Windows Notepad instead. I didn't really think about it at the time, but I was plugging it into the same power strip as my computer, and if I had been electrocuted, it might have taken my computer (and the suicide note) out with it. But obviously I wasn't killed, so it didn't end up mattering.

The stereo was playing "The Devil is Dope" by the Dramatics. I filled it with water, plugged it into the power strip, put my feet in, turned it on, and didn't die. I didn't really expect the thing to work at all, but I really didn't expect the "massage" feature to rattle the entire house. I found that if I pressed my feet down on the little massage pads than the deafening rattling would quiet to a tolerable level, and the "massage" effect would be going straight through my entire body. It was incredibly unpleasant, like driving fast on dirt roads, and if it wasn't for my dedication to you wonderful Bosch readers I would have stopped it right then. But I had to keep going, so I could report back to Bosch's HQ whether my feet were 'fixed' or not.

I guess this might be a good time to describe my feet. There's nothing particularly wrong with them, and maybe that's the problem: the didn't need any fixing. They didn't get any more tanned, and that's probably the biggest problem with them. However, after about five minutes of this inconvenience, I couldn't really feel them anymore. Had my feet been covered with scales or extra toes or painful sores, I might consider this numbing action an asset, but I realized before long I'd be more likely to acquire blisters if I kept it up. I shut it off. Before the Foot Fixer, my feet were just feet. Now they were numb, wet feet. Whee.

How old do you have to be to enjoy one of these things? What kind of laboratory did they use to develop it? Was it the attic of a spooky old mansion during a violent rainstorm? Did Clairol team up with Doc Kevorkian to develop a final solution to the octogenarian problem? I don't think I can recommend this device to anyone except extreme sports enthusiasts and very old people.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Postum Challenge (by Gus Mellobar)

Where to begin? As I recall it, I was either staring down the barrel of the BBQ sauce challenge (with it ahead of me) or giddy with the results (having just completed it). Whatever the case, it happened very much like these things usually do. Bonefish and I were discussing various foodstuffs and I ended up making a casual remark/half hearted boast about whatever it was we were talking about. In this particular case, it happened to be Postum. As we were both quite familiar with this horrible non caffienated coffee "substitute", we had a lengthy discussion about its (de)merits. The discussion finally came to a head with me saying that I thought I would rather eat a can dry than drink the equivalent amount in its prepared liquid form. Just as with the BBQ sauce, this resulted in Bonefish's reply of "you're on". A pact was sealed. I had sold my soul to the devil for the third time (the first being for a stack of comic books when I was about twelve...).

With the official Bosch release party looming in the immediate future, what better time than that to "reel out the Gus"? "Rules" for the event were established, as always, beforehand. They went something like this: I would attempt to consume an entire "standard" sized can of Postum in it's natural dry state, I was to be assisted by only one glass of beer (this being the choice over cold water due to the fact that old George Post, the creator of Postum, was something of a health nut...), and that there was no set time during which I was to consume the stuff; only that I should try to do it as quickly as possible.

While there wasn't an official theme song for the Postum Challenge, it seemed quite clear that I would be attempting to "Get Right Back" (to where I started from) just like the Maxine Nightingale song. By this I refer to the earliest origins of all this Food Challenge business; an origin which my older brother was kind enough to remind me of. It seems that when Ole Gus was but a wee lad, he and his big bro had a peculiar sort of game. This involved each brother taking turns mixing up a horrible concoction (usually involving ingredients such as garlic, milk, orange juice, chocolate syrup, raw eggs, various spices, and even Postum) for the other guy to drink. The whole idea was to mix up something so awful as to make the other person puke. Why would anyone do this willingly? Well, as I see it, it was for many of the same reasons that young boys play football, ride motorcyles, or force each other to drink large amounts of alcohol. To wit: to prove to all that you are indeed BAD ASS!!! But unlike the aforementioned physical bad ass activities, this particular challenge was intended to demonstrate a certain internal strength. "Mind over matter" much more than "kick ass". Only standing to add intrigue to the hype surrounding Postum was young Gus's continuos marvelling at his older sister and mothers love of the stuff. Many a night was spent watching them drink it and lip smack at it's yummy molassesness. All that the perplexed Gusling could think was that Postum was just a horrible tasting coffee substitute which contained none of the caffiene essential to the enjoyment of any hot beverage.

All the factors had been building for many years and it finally came time to show my stuff on Saturday July ??. This time instead of a local coffee shop, the challenge went down at a local wateringhole on the eve of the Bosch newspaper print version's release. There were to be many essential B's in effect that evening including (but not limited to) booze,broads,beer,bands,barfing,bragging,boasting,boogeying, bogarting. After a bit of preshow MCing by the Tuna Can Man, the first of several bands hit the stage. Tuna Can dispensed more of the love and wisdom he is highly regarded for and introduced yours truly as a between bands attraction. Nothing can be more boring than watching someone eat, so I enlisted my good pal Wonderboy to whoop up the crowd with his patented crowd pleasin' banter while I dug in to my Postum. As the band that was set to follow the challenge was through setting up and I wasn't anywhere close to being "done", it was decided (through the good graces of those in the band) that Ol' Gus would be sharing the stage with the members of Clock. With this, the challenge continued.

So what is EATING the stuff actually like? Let me just say that it was considerably more of a physical challenge than a mental. The flavor was horrible, of course, much like eating dry coffee grounds. Unappealing flavor being something that I consider easy to get past (an issue of mind over matter), the REAL issue here was in the physical properties of the stuff. With the issue (or non issue as far as I was concerned) of taste out of the way, let me ask this: Even if dirt or sand tasted like chocolate, would they be any easier to eat? That would be no. I could no sooner take just a spoonful of dry Postum into my mouth then to have it physically gummed shut once it mixed with the saliva in my mouth. It stuck to front and back of teeth, lips, roof of mouth, and tongue like the unholy roofing tar of "Ol' Scratch" himself. Needless to say my original one glass of beer was three quarters gone by the time I got to the second or third gritty spoonful of granular hell. It was clear early on that it would be physically impossible to proceed without further liquid aid. Quite fortunately for me, my improbable plight must have been quite apparent to several fearful onlookers who blessed me with more liquid beverage before I could choke down a fourth spoonful. Had this not happened, it certainly would have been somewhat less than likely that I could have proceeded. Sure, I guess if I wanted to stick to the original rules regarding beverage restriction I could have downed maybe another spoonful or two before blowing clumpy black icor all over an otherwise peaceful crowd. But what kind of fun is that, I ask you? Much better to get some water and beer in me to mix with the predigested goo!!! In anticipation of a much higher projectile rate as a result of a higher liquid ratio, I proceeded.

As Clock continued through a fine set of tunes, I continued to stuff tablespoon after tablespoon of Postum into my gummy black Gushole. About two thirds to three quarters of the Postum was actually making its way down my throat at this point (aided in large part by beveridge assistance). The rest was being gleefully and unceremoniously scraped off the roof of my mouth and flicked at random either off to the side of the stage or directly at those sitting near the front. Occasionally some globules would break loose and proceed to mix with saliva and/or water or beer and be spat “chewin’ ‘tubbaccer” style onto a nearby copy of Bosch. The crowd seemed to become more and more disgusted and/or sympathetic to my plight as the spectacle continued.

By the time Clock had finished their set, I still had not consumed the entire container of Postum. While I COULD have continued on my quest, I considered a few factors: The next band playing may not be as willing to soil their performance with the residue of my antics, the waitstaff of the Neurolux were seemingly annoyed with the mess that I was making, and finally it WAS becoming increasingly physically impossible to continue. So I decided to cash it in. After it was all said and done, I had made my way through nine of the jar’s twelve ounces of dry Postum.

As I ambled from the stage to the bathroom to squeeze more Postum from both ends of me (I had to make room for further liquid refreshment and lessen the odds of “blessing” others with the after effects of copious Postum consumption), many people expressed their repulsion and curiosity at my blackened, seemingly toothless mouth. The staff of the Neurolux also responded in two distinct and opposing ways. While one waitress was concerned that I was feeling o.k., a second gave me a scowl and asked: “So, you’ll be cleaning up the mess, right?” “Of course,” I replied and then proceeded to mosey first to the bar and then directly off into the sunset of another Gus challenge.

Post Script/Author’s note: The first three quarters of the previous article were written immediately after the events described (i.e. several years ago). The remaining portion was fresh yesterday.

Gus is like Peach Schnapps; stomach-turningly sweet and fruity, yet ultimately weak and ineffective.