Monday, August 31, 2009

Another frontier is emabarked upon...

For the third time in the last 20 or so years, I've been asked to pee in front of an audience.

It seems that the boy is ready to use the facilities and I have been asked to lead the expedition. I shall take with me M&M's as provisions and use them as reward should a "buen exito" (Spanish for success and quite appropriate for the occasion, it seems) occur.

One other time I was asked to perform this service was in 1990 or so when I went to work at Wal-Mart for the summer. Yes, that's right, ALL the people you see working there PASSED a drug test. Anyway, after my resume checked out, I was sent to take the test at a local clinic. Helping me (and verifying my actual participation in the test) was a huge black lady who was delightful company (despite the circumstances) and joked that I should have brought some Budweiser when the inevitable stage fright occurred. However, with a monster ice tea from Wendy's, I was quickly on my way to cleaning up spills on aisle four and helping little old ladies carry 128 ounce boxes of detergent to their car.

The last time was in the Dominican Republic. The test was in Spanish, but I found the door marked "hombres" and was found to be clean.

But tomorrow I shall pee with more sincerity that ever previous. This is my offspring we are talking about. However, it is rather amazing to me I was asked to do this, since my aim (according to my wife) is less than what she hoped for when she said "I do."

I guess my reply should have been, "Well I do, but not a hundred percent of the time."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Review...the Juggling Boxer

Aiden Jones’ latest offering, The Juggling Boxer, is a uniquely crafted story of a fighter and his struggle with fading fame and his triumphant return to the spotlight.

Jones weaves the story of Mark Calnos, a boy from New Jersey who rose from a life as a circus performer to gain the heavyweight championship of the world, only to see it slip through his fingers, due to the evil guile of Billy, the half-man, half-horse.

While updating the circus website, Billy, who had become jealous of young Calnos’ success, began a rumor that Calnos’ was about to break off his engagement to the bearded lady.

In the hours that ensued, Calnos’ denial begins a public relations nightmare that led to him going into virtual hibernation in his home at Pedro’s South of the Border near Rowland, NC.

What was Calnos’ denying? His relationship? The engagement? The breakup? Was it a real beard? Was she a lady? As the story grew, it translated to disaster. Gillette dropped him as a sponsor and the National Organization for Women called for his title to be stripped. The World Circus Performer Boxing Commission (WCPBC), not wishing a scandal, did so.

But Calnos doesn’t give up. As the plot reaches a climatic finish, seven clowns, a ’73 volkswagen, the mercy of a fortune-telling gypsy, a unicycle and four lit bowling pins help him back to the spotlight.

A paperback version should be available by next week.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Don't hit me in St. Louis...

In Missouri, if you hit a road construction worker, you must pay a $10,000 fine and you lose your driver's license. There are signs everywhere telling us.

So there you go, Missouri road construction worker, you now know what your safety is worth to the state.

Was this a problem before? People had trouble weighing the plusses and minuses of clipping someone paving the interstate?

"Hey Bill, better be more careful to not hit that guy in the orange might have to pay a fine!"

"Oh, yeah Charlie, I'd hate to lose that cash."

Isn't just not hitting someone enough of a deterrent?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A true story…without the yelling and cussing

The fine people who sold me my lawn mower supplied me with my first tank of gas. Knowing this wouldn’t last, I bought a gas can.

This can, however, came without gas and this became a problem when I began to mow the lawn for the second time last Friday.

As soon as I discovered I was out of gas, I grabbed my car keys and went to the gas station. After putting gas in my new gas can, I was shocked to realize that I had no money with me. No ID, nothing, just my keys and an uneasy smile as I explained I’d be back later with the money.

(this worked…I love this town)

When I got back to the mower, I attached the nozzle to the gas can and began to refuel. After a few seconds, the nozzle fell into the gas tank of the mower. I could see it, but I couldn’t get my hand in there. I went inside and asked for a pair of tongs from Holli. Upon being given the tongs, I was reminded that my shoes where grassy and I was to take them off when I came back in.

The tongs fit in the tank, but I couldn’t open them to get the nozzle out…what I could do (and did) was push the nozzle further inside the tank, to where I could just barely see it.

After I got a wire coat hanger, I succeeded in pushing it to where I could only see it if I stuck my eyeball into the tank…which is not a good thing to do with your eyeball.

In the garage (I wasn’t going back inside…the coat hanger retrieval was met with another reminder of the unclean state of my shoes) I found a telescoping curtain rod. Quickly, I wished I hadn’t as now the nozzle was out of site and the rubber end of the curtain rod was also now in the gas tank.

With nowhere else to turn I took off my shoes and socks and went inside to get a different pair of tongs. (other things happened during this trip, but it is not to my advantage to give MY side of the story without allowing her to give HER side of the story, so I’ll just skip this part…let’s just say I wasn’t happy about having to take off my shoes to come into my own house and my attitude toward her may have been a bit poor…and this is MY side of the story)

I decided to fill the tank hoping the nozzle and rubber cap would rise to the top. They did, but floated to the other end of the tank. So I started the mower and parked it on an incline so the offending items would float to the mouth of the tank. Of course, I did it on the wrong side to start, but eventually got it to float to where I could see it. The new tongs worked. I gathered all my stuff (coat hanger, two pairs of tongs, curtain rod) and put them back in the garage, got in my car, went to the gas station, paid, and came back home.

Then, a humbler man, I mowed the lawn.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I’m pretty sure this isn’t a sign of intelligence, but books and movies sometimes have strange effects on me.

I’m reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” and in between reading it (work, golf, banjo, bathroom, yard work, etc) I keep coming up with creative ways to punish all those $@%$#@$#s who did bad stuff to me over the years. Also, I spend some time looking over MY shoulder too.

I don’t know if Edmond Dantes wanted to really punish those who did him evil or if he just wanted an apology. I think an apology might have been enough, but with him being a fugitive and all, asking might have gotten him locked up again.

For me, I don’t really want revenge, not in the sense that I deliver the crucial blow or anything. I guess the best revenge is them NOT living well and knowing that if they just hadn’t stolen my baseball glove (or whatever they did) they’d have had a happier life.

Strangely enough, the ones in my life who dealt the cruelest of blows are not in my visions of vengeance. I guess therapy works.

I don’t believe in Karma, as defined. But, I do believe you reap what you sow, it’s just that sometimes it just takes a bit too long for my taste. Well, in everyone else’s case that is.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"...can burp the alphabet."

Monday is the day I go to dance class with Grace. We hovering parents (I’m the only Dad in there-the rest are Moms) are not allowed to watch the kids dance…we wait in the lobby of the dance studio. We can hear what is going on, but not see it. All of which assures me that Dancing with the Stars will never been on the radio.

Anyway, I sit in the lobby. The first week, I didn’t take anything to do, figuring the magazine rack would suffice. This was a stupid move as the magazines in the lobby all have the word “dance” in the title. So I quietly sat there while the hovering parents talked about their kids.

(The most talkative parent in the room starts EVERY sentence with “Gracie is/did/does/thinks/has/went/said/vomited”…etc, etc. This is quite annoying. Her child is named Grace also...perfect)

The ladies talk about vacations, doctor visits (their kids), school teachers, cooking, and other things. Half of them are married and talk about their husbands and the other half aren’t married and talk about their ex-husbands, usually with more respect than the married ones show.

I take a book. I do not speak unless spoken to (three weeks…I’m still waiting). Last week, I was reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” while one of the ladies talked about how their yard is a mess and her husband wouldn’t do anything about it.

Meanwhile, in my book, Edmond Dantes is in prison, falsely convicted with no hope of mercy. And I couldn’t decide who I’d rather be…

Friday, August 21, 2009

Henry Hudson she ain't....

Kids, listen up. You're being lied to.

Dora is NOT an explorer, not by any definition. In school, we learned that explorers go to uncharted territory to find new things, like Ponce de Leon and his trip to Florida to discover Disney World. We went over Vasco de Gama, Columbus, LaSalle, Lewis, Clark, William Shatner and others. No one ever mentioned Dora.

On her TV show...all the ones I've watched (and I've seen a lot of them) Dora always has a map. Yes a map, a map, a map. This makes her NOT an explorer. You can't discover something already on a map.

(The other possibility that Dora is perhaps a member of the division of the Boy Scouts, is by definition, not true, with her not being a boy and even the Supreme Court agrees she can't join.)

The episodes I've watched always have Dora needing to go from point A to point B (with her map, the map, the map, the map, the map) in order to save someone from a tree, go to Carnival or deliver invitations to a girl's sweet sixteen birthday party. Is this something you think Magellan would have done?

No, it's not Dora the best it's Dora the Errand Girl.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Well, you can't cook about writing...

Holli and I went to a movie last Saturday night…which was quite an occasion since we hadn’t been to a movie since 2003 (at least).

We saw the movie about the girl who cooks all the recipes in the Julia Child classic cookbook, “How to Gain 320 Pounds in a Year.”

(actually, I think it was “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”)

Anyway, the movie went back and forth between Julia Child’s story and the girl who takes on this task, to be confusing, they called her Julie.

Normally, in a movie there are villains and plots (and the occasional sub-plot) but this movie decided to not do that. Now, there was Julia Child’s side of the story, which was her struggle to get her book printed, but since Julie was cooking from it 40 years later, we pretty much could surmise that she succeeded.

On the Julie side, she became semi-famous for her blog (which is harder than you think as being brilliant isn’t enough, trust me) as she cooked 500-some recipes in 365 days, (I would have suggested a leap year, but they didn’t ask me) at some point makes everyone mad at her and at the end, her husband is taking 570 milligrams of Lipitor daily. But she cooks all the sauces and reductions and cups and cakes and accomplishes her goal

But we knew she would finish, this was why they made the movie. If they made movies about people who set out to accomplish something and then quit, I'd be famous already.

For me, from about the middle of the movie, I was hoping the last recipe was a two-minute egg and I hoped it was coming soon as I was starving.

All of this, by the way, makes Julia Child really mad. Well, just the stuff in the movie. I don't think she cares what I think.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The five word monologue returns...

A friend of mine has revamped the "Five Word Monologue" get five words and must use them in a, you guessed it, monologue.

So, our words for the day were...contemptuous, dropper, Christopher Columbus, luster, fretting. The twist she has added to it is that they are her 5th grade daughter's spelling words for the week. So upon successful completion, I will be swollen with pride knowing I have the vocabulary of a fifth grader.

And today, since I have the creativity of a Budweiser beer executive, I will reprint what I posted to her last Friday.

"If You Don't Like It, There's the Plank"

Now, maybe I’m imagining it, but it seems to me that I get this contemptuous look when I pull it out. I remember the first time I played it for her, she thought it was interesting, but now it has completely lost its luster, and I can understand it, for the most part.

After all, fretting a new chord for a forward-reverse roll isn’t exactly a jaw-dropper. I just wish she wouldn’t go to the other room when I start to open the case.

But it could be that’s why Christopher Columbus became a boat captain…maybe he wasn’t looking for a short cut to the West Indies…perhaps he just wanted everyone to have to stick around when he played the banjo.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stream of consciousness marketing gone bad...

When I got home from work today I saw an envelope from Direct TV waiting for me.

The return address was El Segundo, California. This reminded me of a visit I once made to Escondido, California (I can't believe we found it, but anyway...) to see friends of my parents. Their kids and I spent the whole day playing football in the driveway...we had a great time.

Years later one of the kids I played with got an appointment to the Naval Academy and he did quite well there until some of his classmates apparently conspired to get him brought up on charges and he was dismissed from the academy.

Angrily, I threw the envelope in the trash. How dare Direct TV do this?

Monday, August 17, 2009

They were out of Brown, Soft, and Acrid...

I went to the store on Friday charged with buying apples.

To be fair, I think she told me what kind, but when I got there they had, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith and Red Delicious.

My choice was obvious. Isn’t it?

With 7000 kinds of apples out there (thanks, google) there is bound to be a variance in names, but what could be better than RED DELICIOUS? The other names were neither descriptive nor told one iota of information as to how it would taste.

Now, there was no “Malecent's Sleeping Beauty Special” nor was there an “Eve’s Knowledge of Good and Evil” brand. But names like “Ben Davis” or “Irish Peach” are both useless and somewhat confusing.

If you are an apple expert, fine, but if you are new to the apple buying…wouldn’t you buy Red Delicious? And if you are naming the apples, you put yourself into a long marketing campaign if you want people to buy something like the “Cripps Pink.”

Red Delicious. The name (and color) you know.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Now, I've got to block myself...

I got an email a few minutes ago from a good friend telling me she is now selling software at incredibly low prices. However, she isn't selling software and her spelling is better than whoever hijacked her email address.

Meanwhile, I also got an offer for the Acai Berry diet. From myself. So apparently, my email has been victim of the hijack also.

So...for all of you, I'd just like to let you know a few things.

1. You look fine. You don't need the latest hollywood diet craze.
2. I'm sure your choice of software for your computer is working fine and I don't think you need anything new, nor do you need to change.
3. For you guys out there...uh...I don't care, I don't care, I don't care. I don't want to know. I don't want to know. I don't want to know.
4. No, I'm not the deposed Prince of Nigeria with 3 million in a Swiss Bank account.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

So why does it have a cup holder?

My plans today were to write of memories of my visit to the Himalayas in college through a Sherpa-American exchange student program.

But then I bought a riding lawn mower and everything changed. I had to finance it, which tells you either of my current financial condition or tells you about the quality of the mower I bought. Truthfully, I paid less for two cars and four banjos (combined) than I did for this mower. But I got 24 months same as cash so it made no sense to pay up front.

In reading the owner’s manual, it appears that I am not to use alcohol or operate it while fatigued, killing my plans for midnight next Thursday.

I’d write more, but I have to go buy a gas can, an edger and a box of kleenex.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Something I'm sure everyone else has forgotten...I hope

Ten or so years ago, I threw up all over myself during church.

Well, that's what it felt like. This particular day, I made my public debut with a musical instrument.

I had played the banjo for a few years and practiced my song to be played during the offering for a few months. I could play it with my eyes closed, with a fox, in a box, or while reading clocks...etc, etc.

The morning of, things were different. I couldn't get it in tune. Fortunately, a friend quickly fixed that. I got in place and all of a sudden, it was time...and all of a sudden I was playing, missing notes and my timing was terrible. I was to play for three minutes, but by horrible providence (we are presbyterians...which takes luck out of it, but only adds to the cruelty of the situation when you consider God knew before the foundation of the world that I would be such a collosal failure) there was a second offering and thus, I was to play for three MORE minutes.

I just sat there, however...and my good friend Amy (the music director at church, who must have decided during the three minutes that I was NEVER playing again) saved me from further embarrassment and everyone else from further cringing by playing the piano for the three minutes during which I just sat there, numb.

I haven't played in public since. But I got a new banjo and I think I'm almost ready to go back out there into the great wide open.

But I'm going to try to get Amy to show up, just in case.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I come to the rescue...again.

Dear Aswana,

I got your letter yesterday about the 2.75 million dollars stuck in an account in Northeastern Botswana and have attached a document with my bank account numbers, social security number and passport numbers.

We really appreciate this opportunity to help you release the money from the account of your cousin, the former Prince of Moldavia. And we really appreciate you giving us 2.57 million for our help in releasing the funds.

We were a little leery of sending you our financial information (account numbers, etc), but even if you steal from us, the 2.57 million should cover any amount you could steal. We don’t have that much in the bank, so either way, we’ll come out ahead.

Thanks for everything!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Can't wait until next year...

Covered with mud and debris from the track, I exited the arena. We saw (and covered) a pure form of entertainment last night, something even John would enjoy…the Demolition Derby.

Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone" blared during the heats. And "Real Country" played during the breaks.

Eleven hopefuls in their already badly damaged vehicles entered the battle. It began with two heats, and the top six appeared in the finale…when it was all over only one car, the black 80ish looking Dodge Omni type car was the only one still running.

For his trouble, the winner got $1200 and bragging rights and stories that will long outlive the money. Second got $500, third $300. The rest got the thrill of crashing into someone on purpose or in one case, the terror of sitting stuck at the rail while two cars ran full tilt into him, spraying the MOTIONLESS crowd five feet away from the rail with mud from the track and water from the radioator.

And close to two thousand people saw it all, with perhaps thousands more hanging on the edge of their front porch steps listening on the radio.

And I have a new favorite “play-by-play” sport to do on the radio.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

And how will a redneck decorate his yard?

I’m no economist, but this seems pretty clear.

The 3 billion dollar “Cash for Clunkers” program is going to kill my dreams of owning an $1100 pickup truck to take trash to the dump or haul things I don’t want on the back seat of my car.

You either get $4,500 or $3,500 for your horrible excuse for a truck or car. These horrible excuses have their engines frozen and are crushed down at the crushing place, never to be driven again.

(at an average of $4000 a car, it some to about 750,000 vehicles no longer in the market place)

Now, if you have a beat-up pick up truck worth $500, you are going to go trade it in for the big payday and NOT sell it to a redneck-wanna-be like me. Or, you’ll offer to sell it to me for $3000 or something close to what the government is offering. So nasty good-for-nothing pick up truck prices will soar. And my 1980 Renault Le Car would now be worth 80 times more than what I sold it for in 1988. I knew I should have kept it.

Meanwhile, scrap metal prices are going to drop like a rock. And where do you put 750,000 crushed cars anyway?

Think of all the 8-track and cassette car stereos that will be eliminated forever from the face of the earth….

With no cheap cars left, poor people won’t be able to buy cheap cars. So…they’ll borrow more than they can afford for a car (since there will be NO cheap alternative) and we’ll be right back where we started with the housing deal.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I've always wanted to sell "no soliciting" signs door-to-door

An excerpt from the best-selling, Lies Salesmen Believe

Lie #14
When they say “no” it isn’t personal

Truth #14
You tell yourself this lie so that you can keep going, so you don’t give up. But actually, yes it is personal. The person on the end of the “no” answer doesn’t like you and hopes you drop dead. Not only that, but they think you are an idiot and a buffoon and even though they have plenty of money to spend, THEY AREN’T GOING TO SPEND IT ON SOMEONE LIKE YOU.

Lie #15
How they say “no” matters for a possible future sale.

Truth #15
This lie gives the pathetic salesman the hope that a polite “no” may turn into a yes in the future. Actually, people are either nice or nasty and it has nothing to do with the fact that they will say “no” forever. Also see Truth #16.

Lie #16
Ninety-percent of sales are made on the third visit or call by the salesman.

Truth #16
Not true. If they say “no” once, give up and never call them back. It’s a waste of time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Writer's roadblock...the streets should be clear now for awhile...

Closure is a good, but mostly unachieved thing.

Once upon a time, I had a friend that unintentionally caused great harm. In truth, the harm was only part of a bigger catastrophe…but while closure was mostly reached on the rest of it, the incident in question hung over the heads of everyone in future maintenance of the relationship.

So the relationship died. It may have died anyway, who knows, but it killed things off quicker than natural causes.

I sure the friend has forgotten it in the current circumstances to which I hear they are in now. And my silence toward their current circumstances is expected. It would be more odd were I to appear back into their lives, with more than the casual happenstance our “relationship” has become. They’ve moved on and have bigger challenges than worrying about an April day more than 10 years ago.

I still think about that day…but it was part of a terrible episode that has no remedy, other than the life lived since then. For them, and the others…the players on the stage (both the supporting cast and the antagonistic) of the drama that was larger than life for a season…it is a long since faded memory, I’m sure.

It’s hard to mourn with those who turned their back on you when you were down. So I’ll mourn from afar. I’m sure there are others who could do much better, but this is all I’ve got right now.

And maybe that’s all they had back then.