Restricted Content

So I got an e mail from the “YouTube Community” alerting me that one of my videos had been “age-restricted” because it’s “not in line with our community guidelines.” No one who is logged out or under 18 can now view it.

This is the video, in case you are over 18 and logged in.

A tutorial on how to put two tennis balls in a sock and use it to massage/adjust your back. That’s all you see. Me in gym clothes, two tennis balls and a sock. At one point I do describe the resulting device as “vaguely obscene-looking,” but…. really, YouTube?

This is why the Internet is a trash fire. I’ve been spammed like 100 times by Twitter hoes inviting me to look at their XXX pictures, and even “YouTube” frankly sounds like some kind of silicone male masturbation device, but some robot thinks adjusting your vertebrocostal joints with a couple of tennis balls is problematic. FFS, I have videos up of my cats in flagrante delicto, one of them titled “Torvald Does Teenage Jailbait” (Aggie was in heat awaiting her spay and Torvald was neutered at the time, but tell him that). You don’t know how many hits that one got.

I doubt this is worth the bother of disputing. Odds are no one under 18 needs their back adjusted that badly anyhow.

Bath Bombs

I dreamed I was giving a massage to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. There was nothing salacious about this. Bodywork is my skill, my calling, my career. I fix stressed, injured people. Probably it was easy for my dreaming mind to imagine that Mr. Mueller could use some destressing. The odd thing was that I was using the dining room table that lived in the house(s) I grew up in, one that was made for the family by a Maine artisan related to a family friend, out of solid oak, not a nail or screw in it, all wooden pegged with a longitudinal strut that I used to sneakily rest my feet on. No clothing was off. I kept getting interrupted between this extremity and that, so that when people started arriving expecting to be served some sort of repast on that table I hadn’t done Mr. Mueller’s feet yet. I held out. Feet are important.

One of the chattering, irritating, girly arrivals had come with a supply of “Bath Bombs,” I’ve read of the things, blobs of bath salts or bubble stuff with usually obnoxious aromas. These, though differently colored and composed, were all pecan-scented.

My Southern relatives, whom I repudiate to the extent that I would carve their DNA out of myself with a blunt knife if it were possible and survivable, owned many pecan orchards. They would probably vote for Roy “Lolitaphile” Moore if they were still living. Don’t know about subsequent generations. I cut them off.

There’s just something wrong about dreaming politics. I’m glad the next segment of the dream involved an old client of mine coming into possession of a hot pink convertible.



Side Effects

The odd utterances interrupted my last massage appointment of the day — a longtime client and, fortunately, cat person, the epitome of the chunky IT guy in sandals and geek tee shirt. Which he was not wearing, being on the table at the time.

“That sounds weird,” he said; “you want to go and check?”

I went and checked. Mr. Ferguson, still on meds for his curious bladder condition, had cornered his long suffering wife, Mrs. Nickel Catmium-Ferguson, in my business office and was addressing business, astride her hindquarters, nipping her scruff.

I have not seen this in a while. Darby and Joan as they are, their salad days seemed to be past them. Only at the moment Fergie is full of assorted meds for his, well, condition.

The vet ended by giving him something called Prazosin, which is apparently appropriate for anxious humans with urinary issues.

“One very rare side effect of prazosin is priapism,” says Wikipedia.


He seems okay now, having been competently ju-jitsued by Nickel, who as a Bengal does not fuck around.

You can get a massage at Massage Envy or the like, or you can come by my pop stand and get the full entertainment value.

Day Of The Minotaur

With apologies to Thomas Burnett Swann.

It was Minotaur Night again at the House of Sled: the intermittent Friday when my Olympic lifter client shows up to have his huge flanks and rump tenderized with my fists, my elbows, an electric powered Thumper, and a two by four. (Just kidding about that last.)

This always seems to happen on the same day as capital-S Shit: shit happens teefor example, this morning, departure to the gym was complicated by the whiney chiming of my super-duper digitally programmed washer, telling me that the tub wasn’t draining and to check the hose and filter already. Some man — I am sure it was a man — designed the filter compartment so that, when you open it, water glurts helplessly out onto the floor because the access panel is too low on the washer to let you slide even the shallowest of receptacles in front of it. A mop became involved. This always happen when you are in a hurry.

For example: on returning, I opened the back screened porch and the massage room only to find that the slightly opened windows at both locations admitted a reek of petrol that suggested a Molotov Cocktail operation was in progress on the premises. Investigation revealed that my dipwit gardener David had neglected the agreed on storage system for his lawnmower fuel supply, and a couple of canisters were afloat in an old recycling bin just under the porch. Do you know how many times you have to wash your hands before they stop smelling of gasoline, once you wrangle a mess like this? With someone undressed and on the table?


About Thomas Burnett Swann. I have a few of his cheaply published Ace mass market paperbacks from the sixties and seventies, delectably romantic mythic yet quotidian stuff. He was dead by the time I read them, I think. I don’t even have to go back and pry the volume off the bookshelf to remember his colloquy involving  a Cretan woman and a rural farming couple (think American Gothic) from the distant exurbs: “Rouge your nipples, dear?” (Cretan fashionable dress at one point exposed the breasts; cosmetics followed; human nature.) The farm wife catches her husband’s eye, implying desire for a smart outfit that would allow similar adornment. “Some things is best left indoors,” grunts killjoy (or realist) spouse.

Later novelists admired him.

He called on us to re-imagine a Golden Age and long for it. On days like this I am totally down with him.

bird of fire

Massaging The Minotaur

Every so often the Minotaur who manages my gym — three hundred pounds of beef who routinely locks out four hundred pounds of weight over his head — goes into training for another competition, and books Friday night appointments three or four weeks in a row. I have to put extenders on the table for this motherfucker. Seriously: they make side pieces for massage tables that slot into the frame, adjusting a bit toward the head or foot as needed. People asked me, back in the day, why I was ordering them when I bought my stationary table. “You know where I hang out, right?” I said.

I cannot close my hands around the Minotaur’s upper arms. Don’t even try to imagine his thighs. I use fists and elbows, mostly. Up either side of his spine are hummocks that suggest a large mole tunneling under there; he does have a neck, but it takes Filipino finger surgery to distinguish it from the mounds of trapezius that bridge the distance between his skull and shoulders. Both of his hip joints make succulent popping noises and shift tangibly when I traction his legs. We talk a lot of shop while I’m working, which makes me notice that I am breathing hard.

My ripped-up, fascia-torn leg — still going from “no problem” to “God kill me now”  in a regular rhythm — has been playing merry hell with me for over a week, except for the Friday nights that I work on this guy. After an hour and a half of pummeling what feels like Goodyear tire rubber, my hair is coming unpinned, my glasses are sliding down my nose and instead of broadcasting disabling waves of kicked-balls, hot-wire pain into every reach of my body, my leg feels fine, just fine. (Yeah, I realize I have no balls, as such, but I’ve had the pain described to me eloquently, as one which leaves you sucking wind and unable to focus attention on anything else. For the apogee of the misery that engulfs everything from my sacroiliac joint to my ankle when this thing starts to flare, it will do as a simile.)

I don’t dare tell the Minotaur this, even though part of me just wants him to book time every evening until I figure out what is going on here. He pays me the ninety minute fee, considering I can’t get through that vulcanized bulk in any less time, and I need the money.

Career Paths

I’m not sure I’m ready for this yet, but you know, if I get grouchy enough…

Your experience begins with you naked and kneeling…

A leather collar is placed around your neck, padded cuffs on your wrists and ankles.  Your eyes are covered with a soft, fur-lined blindfold.  Lightly secured to a luxuriously padded massage table, you allow yourself to sink deeply into your body as specially selected music plays through your headphones.

You are now ready to surrender and release the mundane world completely.

Video interview here.

T-Shirt Friday, March 2010: Can You Find Yours With Both Hands?

This shirt was another seat-back cover for a while, but I rescued it before it had attained macrame status. A good thing, as the clever saying is on the rear.

I picked it up at a massage convention in 1998, where I also sprung for some Jacknobbers, a couple of books on hand care, and a continuing-education course on massage for breast cancer  patients that I could have taught more competently than the instructor. That was the beginning of my resolution to take low-priced mail order courses that didn’t fuck up my life and make my fingers itch to get around someone’s neck. I can still remember that useless blatherer telling us all about everything except what to do for a person lying on your table who’s had a mastectomy, saline implant, lumpectomy or soft tissue reconstruction, all of which I’d already confronted by that time. My field is way too full of bullshitters.

Anyway, your piriformis is nowhere near your breasts. You will find it deep in your butt cheeks, at any hour of the day or night. Runners who have a sore ass all think they have “piriformis syndrome,” which is the only cause most sports medicine doctors recognize for a pain in the ass, even though you have also got the gluteus maximus and minimus, two obturator muscles, two gemelli, and the ever wonderful quadratus femoris back there, the last a dab hand at squishing your sciatic nerve, which I know because I tore mine once; and then of course we get into the people who think any pain in their asses is something called “sciatica,” which they really couldn’t define.

But it is good to know where it all is anyway.

Purple Parts

Purple petalsThe gym is turning into a casualty ward. The location manager, a gargantuan Olympic lifter who looks kind of like the Thing in the Fantastic Four comics, Clobberin Timeonly less cheerful, has been working around a torn glenoid labrum for a while (that’s the gasket that holds the arm in the shoulder socket, but since the muscles crossing it are the size of mastodon steaks, nothing is going to go to pieces just yet). Another one of the regulars has a less destroyed shoulder on the same side and after hearing him bitch for weeks I finally walked up to him and said “Are you gonna let me fix that?” I just couldn’t stand hearing about it any more. It was like those places that radio dispatch someone to fix your windshield or bang out your dents right there in your condo parking lot. People stopped to watch.

I did something similar on our favorite trainer, Mr. P., a while back but it didn’t take. Shoulder Guy made a few appointments and is feeling a lot better, but Mr. P. — a veteran of a nearly fatal car crash some years ago that broke his pelvis and left him with a nasty limp — is too freaking cheap and has been living on ibuprofen instead. Last time I saw him he was complaining about a bellyache; The Thing, who’s been training cheek by jowl with rock-biters for decades, recognized the cause immediately.

I don’t go hokking people a tshynik; I’d already grabbed the guy’s ass once and demonstrated that I could knock the pain down. You want me to grab your ass twice, you have to ask nice. Maybe I should have, I don’t know, the next thing I hear, Mr. P has a bleeding ulcer and is reporting to medical venues to have undignified things done with endoscopes. Some people are slow learners.

Even with all my recent rug-rolling, I am in way better shape than most of the insaner bastards who populate that place, and we are all (except for Mr. P., I guess) less impaired than the cautious civilians who never do anything that hurts whatsoever. (Anyone who took on The Thing, thinking “Well, he’s hurt…” They make Hefty bags for the results of that kind of confrontation.) They painted the friggin’ place purple when they went franchise; I guess we inevitably accumulated, not exactly an assortment of Purple Hearts so much as Purple Parts. This shoulder and that elbow, and my left eleventh rib which still hasn’t quite seated back after running when I shouldn’t have.

And then there’s Mr. P. I guess you would say he has purple passages. We’ll find out how they are, if he gets back in there soon.

Knowing Your Ass From Your Elbow

HilaryThis sort of news coverage makes me nuts. Okay, Hillary Clinton fell and broke her… elbow. What’s wrong with that, you say? Well, the elbow is not a bone; it would be just as accurate to say that someone fell and broke his or her ass, which while an evocative phrase that I have used often, does not constitute precise medical reporting.

Come on, CNN — did anyone bother to ask? You’ve got a humerus, a radius and an ulna converging in there. Which bone was it? More than one? Are we talking sling only? Jelly cast? Ulnar nerve channel spared? How is Secretary Clinton’s shoulder? Has anyone checked? Inquiring minds want to know.elbow-joint-lateral

Maybe it is just me since I work with busted people all day long and trying to pry out of a client what diagnosis they received on damage to their own bodies that they are walking around in can sometimes be like asking a toddler to repeat a phone message. They have no clue and don’t realize that it matters, or else prefer to believe they are solid inside, like a potato, instead of filled with complicated and icky stuff. CNN itself ran the recent news story which described how depressingly few adults of normal intelligence know where their hearts, livers and other chitlins are located.

Also, I broke my own elbow once. I was nine and running around at dusk, to a children’s birthday party, carrying a nominal gift that kept me from catching myself competently when I tripped on a rusty wicket fence (I couldn’t see for sour owlshit even in those days). I did a one-point landing on a flagstone with my left elbow and chipped the end off my olecranon process. All I knew at the time, of course, was that my elbow hurt like hell and I had better hide it when I got home or the screaming would never stop (we all know about parents like this, I had one, nuff said), but eventually it became apparent that I couldn’t straighten my arm out and I went through the whole miserable trek to the dispensary (as the clinic serving military families was called in those days) and various other medical locations, over a period of weeks.

What nobody did was think through the collateral damage — when you fall like this, your shoulder joint, a loose shallow joint that allows you a big range of arm motion, gets jammed like no one’s business, and the damage lingers, not so much in joint tissues themselves, but the muscles that got strained and torqued when the jolt passed through. Nine years later I had a mean nerve impingement that made my whole left arm feel like it was going to fall off and pain in my left hooter so sharp that I ran it by a gynecologist. It took a fresh-from-school chiropractor to start sorting it out, when no lord-of-the-earth MD could offer me anything more specific than Valium, and after that one thing led to another and today I fix busted people because someone has to.

A little over two years ago my older massage buddy, Sister Age, dragged me to the pool when she was rehabbing her own fractured tibia and made me swim laps with her for 45 minutes, and that was when I finally tore loose the last adhesions from that old fracture. I had to ace-bandage the elbow for about a week, but it finally straightens out at an angle indistinguishable from the other one.

I suspect Secretary Clinton gets a massage and probably from someone good. I hope so. Someone who knows biomechanics, or their ass from their elbow.

Hans Sachs

I love my craft of massage, and I don’t think I could make a decent living doing anything else. Anyone who has seen me in action knows that my nostrils flare and an unholy light comes into my eyes when I encounter someone limping or bitching about their sore shoulder, and at the end of the day I have money in my hand and the pleasant recollection of people saying “Oh my God, it doesn’t hurt anymore.” What’s not to love?

Except, well, I do this to pay my bills, including on the days when my own back hurts or I wish I could be writing something (I have, I confess, had one hand on a client’s back and the other surreptitiously dashing down notes with a felt pen; the resulting novels only sold locally but writing them was better than any sex I have ever had. Really). Tonight in the shower, after a weekend that included referree-ing a cat fight and pruning a rose bush, I reached for the pound jar of salt mixed with oil and scrubbed my hands but good, this being the best therapy for the gouges and scratches that my work had forced back open all day long. You feel nothing at first, then when the rinse water hits you gloves of fire lap over your hands. Lamaze time! On the last huffing breath I let rip with Hans Sachs in my best baritone.

Hans Sachs is the shoemaker in Wagner’s Meistersinger, and before that was a real person, who was both a master cobbler and a master poet, and he humbles

German bass-baritone Hans Hermann Nissen as Hans Sachs

German bass-baritone Hans Hermann Nissen as Hans Sachs

me because he left a body of work that still commands respect while, it seems, banging out shoes well enough to earn a solid station in his guild. Wagner makes him a middle-aged widower, who cherishes the pretty girl and could win her according to the terms of the song competition her father sets up, but leaves the field to the young firebrand he knows she really loves. In the opera’s second act he sings his song to a bout of late-night cobbling:

Gäb’ nicht ein Engel Trost,
If I weren’t comforted by an angel
der gleiches Werk erlos’t,
who’s been chosen for the same work,
und rief mich oft ins Paradies,
and calls to me from Paradise,
wie ich da Schuh’ und Stiefel liess!
How I’d drop the shoes and boots!
Doch wenn mich der im Himmel hält,
And when I think myself into Heaven,
dann liegt zu Füssen mir die Welt,
The world lying under my feet,
und bin in Ruh’
then in complete peace
Hans Sachs, ein Schuh-
macher und Poet dazu!
I’m Hans Sachs, not just shoemaker, but bard.

In the third act of the opera, the young guy wins the prize and gets the girl, but every voice in Nuremberg opens the act with one of the songs the real Hans Sachs wrote. I know who I’d rather be.

And I bet he made damn good shoes. Only in these Kaliyuga days do we cherish the delusion that people can only be good at one thing.