Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Badasses of Songdom: Triangle Man v. The Wizard

Hiatus is over: we're back on track, baby! What can I say? Sometimes karma smiles on you. A wealthy patron swoops down and posts Triangle Man's bail — says it's the least he can do, after T-Man made him a killing on the Bungalow Bill bout.

Turns out BoS has sprung a big secondary gambling market, notwithstanding our relatively low Internet profile. Who knew? The upshot for now is that Triangle Man is back in the swing of things. We've lined up The Wizard to take him on this week. Black Sabbath's Wizard, not L. Frank Baum's. I feel like there's potential here. The challenger's got karma. A while ago he endorsed a consumer electronics chain in New York — and from what I hear, nobody's beat them since.
Big shout-out to Geezer Butler, by the way, who I hear is with us today in the crowd. Where are you, Geez? Stand up, give us a wave. That's right: love your gig, my man.

We're outdoors today — set up at the old battlefield, because at this point we're homeless. The Shriners canceled our contract. Worried about liability. Go figure. Shitty auditorium, anyway. Screw 'em. But wouldn't you know it? The weather sucks today. It's a misty morning — clouds in the sky. Of course it'll fucking rain on all of us today.

Mithridates reminds me there are families in the crowd. I should tone down the language, he says. Oh, right, Mr. Upstanding McPerfect. I don't see you doing the frickin' writeups.

All right, all right. OK. I'm sorry. I'm just in a mood today. I feel like a bad vibe has set in over the BoS series. It's poisoning the atmosphere. I've got an attitude; the crowd doesn't seem particularly interested. The Wizard isn't here yet. He's twenty minutes late, and the boo-birds are taking over. A rotten tomato just flew over my shoulder. It hit the elm tree behind me and splattered. Smells horrible. You wonder how crowds always get hold of rotten tomatoes. It's not like you can buy them rotten the day of an event. Seems to me like that's something you have to plan for, and you'd have to be loser to go to the trouble.

That's right, asshole: that was me calling you a loser. You got a problem with that? Well, bring it on, pal!

So yeah, I'm thinking that with all the bad feeling here, that tomato could have rotted right on the vine, just this morning. Pfft. Cell phone text from Geezer: WTF? WHERE IS HE? Text to Geezer: Wizard's UR guy. U tell me.

Triangle Man's here, of course. Been here since 8 a.m., and he's feeding off all the bad energy. It only makes him stronger. He's looking ripped. Word is he did nothing in his cell but sit-ups and push-ups during his week Upstate. They say Solitary can break you, but it can also focus your mind. I wouldn't want to be The Wizard right now.

And that, in a nutshell, might explain why The Wizard hasn't showed up.

I give this guy five more minutes before I shut this down. The skies could open up any minute, and this Wizard is jerking my chain. Folks bring their kids out into the cold, they're disappointed and crying. Four more minutes and I call a washout. What an unreliable stoner SOB, this guy.

Three minutes. Two . . .

I hear a tinkling bell. I don't see a tinkling bell, but I hear it. The sound is in my head. Clear as day, and loud. And suddenly, The Wizard is here. I mean, that's gotta be him, right? With the funny clothes? Long, black robes with big open, droopy sleeves. Hooded, with a beard tapering down to his knees. Can't really see his eyes. I swear this guy appeared without warning, and then — pow! — there he is, in front of me. Just walking by. The crowd just frickin' erupts.

The Wizard has arrived. Finally, I should add. But I don't, because I'm just so ecstatic he's here. I've completely forgotten the last two weeks of grief I've had over Triangle Man, the scheduling, the beef with the Shriners. All these grudges, worries, and petty preoccupations I've been carrying around: they're just gone. It's like a wash of good feeling has flooded over me and purged me of negativity. I'm filled to the brim with love, heaped over with joy. I can't even tell you how I feel right now.

I chase after him, like some silly fan-girl running down John Lennon in A Hard Day's Night. "Hey, Wizard — you rock, man. Whoo-hoo!"

He doesn't answer. He doesn't even see me. He just keeps walking, making arcane gestures with his hands. Weaving his spells. He passes through the heart of the crowd, which parts ways to accommodate him. All the people give a sigh. They're all — well, they seem happy, like I do, when The Wizard walks by. Out of the corner of my eye I see Vercingetorix turning cartwheels, and it doesn't even occur to me to laugh at him. All cynicism is gone.

Standing in The Wizard's path is Triangle Man. The clouds have gone, and the sun beams down on these two solitary figures: Triangle Man, the demon, standing stock-still, and The Wizard, who just keeps walking — right up, it seems, into T-Man's grill. Triangle Man seems worried. Just when The Wizard might have collided with him, Triangle Man steps aside. The Wizard just keeps walking, past Triangle Man, across the field and into the woods, spreading his magic.

What? That's it?

"CALL IT!" Mithridates cries out. "Triangle Man stepped aside. The Wizard wins!" The crowd roars its approval.

I'm not sure. I'm not as susceptible to spells as M'dates, V'torix, and the drooling masses. All that magic baloney wears off over time — and for the likes of me, it seems, it happens pretty quickly. The Wizard has left the field of play, and I'm not feeling quite as rapt and enthusiastic as some of the other weaker minds out here. Triangle Man's not so thrilled, either.

"Triangle Man, Triangle Man," he chants. "Triangle Man hates The Wizard. They should have a fight. Where is he?"

"You blew it, T-Man," Mithridates shouts. He has tears in his eyes. "Hooray for The Wizard! Hooray!" (Could M'dates be any more dorked out than he is right now? I've never known him to say the word "hooray.")

"Look, it's just a Jedi mind trick," I tell Mithridates. "From where I'm sitting, it's a forfeit. The Wizard left the field. He walked in — and late, I might add — then walked out. We paid him a truckload of money, and he was here for what — three minutes? He didn't even talk to anyone."

"Hey, man, whatever. Your call. I'm just SO FRICKIN' HAPPY right now. I don't care."

"Look: you make a good point. The Wizard did pacify Triangle Man. Or at least intimidate him. But the forfeit case is at least as strong. And I think that in a case like this, a tie goes to the champion. That's Triangle Man."

"Dude, have I told you? I AM SO HAPPY."

That should do it, then. Triangle Man in an uncontested barnburner, if ever there was such a thing.

The crowd roars once more and carries the indicted and victorious Triangle Man off on its shoulders.

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