The Art of Penmanship (or Microchips and Bullchips)

The microchip has reduced me to a quivering little simp unable to read my own handwriting because very few things are written anymore since it’s all gone digital. That calligraphy lesson when I was a kid still sticks with me and I know how to scratch out a pretty nice lower case “a” but that’s about it. So if I’m not inputting or texting I can’t decipher whatever scratchy symbol my awful penmanship happened to produce.

The place where I used  to work had an old-timey cash register that pings and dings and has non-LCD lights and each time the keys are plunked, wet ink is typed onto tape that winds around a spool for evidence and reference. This old register weighs about 100 pounds purely of solid state machinery that chugs on elbow grease and constant commerce.

People who work in places that sell goods or services should know the prices of their product but chips in computers have made store clerks and bartenders ignorant and lazy. Convenience is a strange animal to pursue because the animal has no idea what costs what. Now this particular animal rapidly taps a touchscreen like a musician or savant.

Unrelated: I’ll tell you what’s convenient, a bullwhip hanging from my hip for whenever I see injustice occur at about 8 feet away.

State Express 555

There is a delicious brand of English cigarette here in Vietnam called 555. They come in a yellow box and I smoked them for a few months until I stopped about 3 months ago. For many years I’ve had an ongoing affair with cigarettes and the hanging guilt,  late-night tirades and me picking up my belongings up off the front lawn may never end.

Lately as I walk past the many cigarette stands in Saigon I’ve noticed that 555’s now come in a badass black and silver box, as if Darth Vader were in a biker gang going to an Oakland Raiders game to smoke a bunch of cigarettes.

I really want to try these fascinatingly new cigarettes. I ‘m one of those susceptible sheep that once I see some tired product wrapped in new clothes I’m in love all over again.  I think being in a mysterious black box will make these 555’s quite tastier and give me the much needed nicotine and minerals my body needs. Much more than that sissy yellow box ever could.

I have yet to ask for a pack. For all I know the black box could mean “Super-extra-ultra-light cigarettes that increase estrogen levels”  but I’m pretty sure it means “You better buy a bottle of whiskey and a big-ass stick because if you smoke these you’re going to need them both to beat the women off you.”

Instead, what I’ve done is take the money I would be spending on cigarettes (here in Vietnam a pack of 555’s go for about a dollar) and buy vintage cigarette art instead. I’ve saved about $150 so far and once I get home Marlboros will cost about 4 bucks and that’s $120 a month for crazy stuff like this.

Beats chemo.