Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Our Babies

Sugar Baby and Bailey On A Chair Posted by Picasa



Kelli and I don’t have children. While we would like to have children someday there are many factors which might make it difficult to do so (not to mention that it would be dangerous for her to get pregnant so soon after her surgery).

Before Kelli came into my life I had ambivalent feelings about pets. A pet fish seemed like too much of a commitment. While I would never be cruel to animals, I didn’t understand that I would become so attached to a pair of dogs.

Now I have two dogs who I talk to and sing to and do some amazing amount of running around for.

It’s amazing to me how, after a long day of work when I am sometimes not very fond of humans, two 20 pound bundles of fur and energy can be so excited to see me that I can’t help but smile. Oh yeah, then clean up the poop.

It’s nice to have Bailey or Sugar snuggle up to me on the couch while I watch a movie during my day off when Kelli is at work. They don’t seem to mind if I’m watching the Kevin Bacon movie “The Woodsman” or the John Waters movie “A Dirty Shame,” they’re just happy to wedge themselves next to my side and get a couple of scratches or pets here and there.



Bailey Snuggled On Her Pig Posted by Picasa


Bailey is a gray nine year old Miniature Schnauzer female. She was bought in a pet store in Anchorage. This was the last dog my wife will buy at a pet store. Pure breeds have more problems due to their over-breeding and pet store dogs usually come from “puppy mills” who over-breed like crazy. So Bailey is our high maintenance girl.

She’s a diabetic so we have to give her insulin injections twice a day and take her to the vet every two or three months for a glucose curve. She has chronic dry-eye in her right eye which has progressed to the point where she hasn’t made tears in that eye for years. We have to give her eye-drops and eye-ointment and clean out the goo in her eye with saline solution several times a day. She had cataract surgery in her good eye and for a while we had a complicated maintenance routine with that eye too.

Oh yeah, and the diaper? She sometimes loses bladder control in her sleep. Since she usually sleeps in our bed, we use Pull-Ups on her.

Yet, for all the maintenance, I wouldn’t trade her for any dog. She’s sort of a spaz and not all that coordinated but she’s so incredibly loveable. She’s the cuddler of the two.

Sugar Baby is our other mini-Schnauzer. She’s eight years old and pure white. She could have been a show dog (although being white used to make it impossible to show her because white schnauzers were considered “flawed.”) She was bought from a respectable breeder in Minnesota and has almost no health problems, save the time last year when she had hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) which could have killed her (and did a number on our bank account).

Sugar Baby Posted by Picasa

Sugar likes attention on her own terms. She’ll go off and sleep in the closet at night if it suits her. Or she’ll climb up and burrow under your arm until you pet her. Then she’ll put out a paw and slap at your hand as if to say “you’re not done yet!” Yet she’s just as likely to come up and snuggle against me if I’m feeling sick.

They are precious and I’d never have guessed that I’d fall in love with two dogs. They are indeed our kids. We take them to doctor appointments and they wake us up at all hours of the night and they get into things they are not supposed to. We have to bathe them and diaper one of them and make sure they get the best food (prescription food, of course).

It’s been amazing that having pets has made it impossible to get to far into my own head when I’m home alone. I used to live for great stretches of time “in my head.” Not in a freaky autistic way but it’s easy to get self absorbed when it’s just yourself in a room. Now I always have a dog or two in the room with me when I’m home and Kelli’s at work, which is a good thing. I don’t get too wrapped up in whatever I’m doing, which is good when what I’m doing is mind-numbing or tedious (housework, paying bills, etc.)

I can’t get too down and out when there are two fluffy bundles of joy here to give me some attention and distraction.

Scott Adams mentioned at the end of one of his “Dilbert Principle” books that people should get a pet because it will improve their quality of life. At the time I heard this on audio I dismissed it immediately. Now I think he was onto something.

Oops, I guess I gotta go let the dogs out now!

A Bad Year For Grandmas

It seems like everyone’s grandma is sick this year, some worse than others. My grandmother has bounced back remarkably since her latest “exciting event” and I count myself lucky. Ashley, a dispatcher who works the night shift at my PD, and Jocelyn from This Surreal Life both have grandmothers who are dying.

Yet out of pain and sadness something funny usually happens. This is one of those stories.

I work the opposite shift as Ashley. She’s relatively new and was never one of my recruits (how does that even happen? I swear I fight and scrap to train everyone I can get my figurative claws on) which is why I don’t know Ashley very well. I do know that she’s sharp as a tack and seems to have a great sense of humor under her quiet exterior. I’ll also point out that she’s never thrown a brick at me, but even if she had I’ve learned my lesson about saying something flippantly negative about someone using their real name (thank you again Sherry Dion!).

Ashley’s grandmother is in the hospital fighting a second bout of ovarian cancer. They did one surgery which turned into a second, emergency, surgery where they found more cancer. Due to the nature of this newly discovered cancerous material and to her overall health, she is not a candidate for further surgery. She is terminally ill.

Whistling past the graveyard, I am often known to say “everyone dies” in a flat tone which can seem cold or sad or frightening or all three. But while everyone dies, Ashley’s grandmother is dying now. It’s entirely possible she’ll die never having read this story.

That’s not the funny part.


The funny thing happened a few days ago at the hospital.


A woman from Ashley’s grandma’s church came by to visit. The parishioners had been told of grandma’s dire condition; there was no confusion. I will be perfectly clear on this point: everyone knew grandma was terminally ill. Also, grandma has a sense of humor but is not a circus clown or a stand up comedian. There are many words to describe grandma but no one Ashley has every met would use the words “wacky” or “kooky” in their first hundred choices of adjectives.


Yet into grandma’s tiny, sad hospital room strode a woman with a handful of greeting cards and a big mylar “Bon Voyage” balloon bouquet. She giggles and hands grandma three carefully chosen Hallmark cards with some words carefully scratched out and replaced with others.


Card Number 1 was a “Moving” card. Happy to hear about your move (careful addition): to Heaven!

Card Number 2 was a “Congratulations” card. Congratulations on your new job the end of your misery!

Card Number 3 was a “Graduation” card. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation (careful addition): to the afterlife!"

Ashley’s grandma is 67 years old, twelve years younger than my grandma but still from an era where ladies were taught to have tact and grace (perhaps in cotillion club). She smiled and said “How thoughtful and unexpected, thank you.” She was really thinking “Is this woman off her meds again?”

This surreal experience has given Ashley’s grandma a great story to tell every visitor since the church lady left the room.

I hope grandma gets to tell her “crazy church lady” story for quite a while yet.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

An Unacceptable Proposal

I met my wife only a year before I totally crashed and burned with the anxiety problem.

It was this time of the year in 2002 and I had just come back from a Dave Matthews Band concert in Portland where J-bro lives and had not completely recovered from the experience. Not only was I getting progressively more freaked out by big open buildings and stores but our DMB seats didn't help.

Picture your typical stadium. Now pick a seat on the floor level, directly opposite the stage. Now go up. Up past the second level, up to the highest level, up all the stairs to the last row of seats, then up to the concrete ledge behind the last row of seats on folding chairs. I'm not kidding. Dave looked tiny even on the huge video monitors. Agoraphobia + Vertigo = not so good times.

Allow me a quick digression:

Add to the vertigo the fact that they played about 6 songs that I had heard before, out of a 15 song set. I do my homework before going to a rock concert. I listen to the newest album. What I don't expect is to hear 9 songs from an album that has not even been released yet. That is crap. If you have ONE song that has won a Grammy, play that song at every concert. If you have new songs, great, but mix them with your whole catalog if you have an extensive catalog. End of rant.

Along for the DMB ride was one of Jason's best friends, Traci. Traci lives in Anchorage and goes to visit J-bro more than I do. She had visited for the U2 concert the year before and is always a kick in the pants but we didn't really hang out together in our own hometown. After DMB, she called me one weekend that I actually had an extra day off and we hung out and went shopping.

Traci had recently “met” a guy online but not yet actually met him in person. Most of this shopping expedition revolved around me trying to tell her not to get too caught up in this guy she had never met, employing the technique I am most successful with: listening carefully, asking questions until the person comes to their own conclusion, and then spending the rest of the adventure mocking them. Hey, it works for me. The last store of the day was the store in which Traci worked as a pharmacy technician.

That was a Saturday; the following Monday I got an email from Traci asking if I remembered the cute chubby pharmacy tech with the blonde curly hair who we saw when walking past the pharmacy. Traci said this girl wanted to know if I was single because she thought I was cute.

My response was a firm: “Fuck you! Just because I mocked you about your internet crush is no reason to be mean. I may have no soul but I do have feelings!”

Several emails back and forth between Traci and I lead me to believe she had not been kidding and that, furthermore, Traci would tell my mom if I didn’t at least come say “Hi” to this girl named “Kelli.” Well I certainly didn’t want my mom involved in my love life (no offense, mom).

Well, I screwed up my courage and took an extra half of an Ativan and went to the pharmacy, fully expecting to fail the “hello test.” We were both nervous and we both gave a very high speed “Hi, pleasedtomeetyou” before she scampered away back to the mysterious depths of the pharmacy.

I was smitten. Several days of emails, phone calls, internet messaging, and actual dates ensued. By February, we were living together and by April I had asked her to marry me. We joke that she saw me across a crowded grocery store and said to herself, Mmmm, I wants me one of them. And she got me.

While we had discussed marriage, I hadn’t formally proposed because I did not have an appropriate ring. I had figured that we would come up with something suitable at the last minute, which is my normal modus operandi.

I knew enough to not rely on my own taste when it came to jewelry. I never wore jewelry, seemed too much trouble. I did see a black titanium ring that looked pretty cool so Kelli bought it as my wedding band. It took forever to get used to wearing a ring but it’s part of me now.

Kelli had definite preferences: princess cut diamonds and yellow gold. Princess cut is in fashion but yellow gold isn’t. Everything is platinum these days.

Enter Hannibal, the pawn shop queen, who called me one Friday in July and said “come down to Alaska 1st Cash and look at this ring TODAY. It was a yellow gold ring with a .74ct diamond cathedral-set on top of a row of nine channel-set diamonds which gave the ring a grand total of 2.1ct. Bling freaking bling. (No, I don’t actually talk like that). The pawn shop had sent it out for a certified insurance appraisal which identified not only its approximate replacement value but a map of every flaw in the larger diamond. A $3500 appraisal and after Kelli saw it and gave the nod, I bought the ring for less than $1600. Yes, it’s a pawn shop ring but she loves it so.

After I did the deal (which sounds so much more dramatic than saying “Okay, we’ll take it; here’s my credit card.”) I handed it to her and said “okay, do you want to wear it out of here?” as if it was a new pair of shoes. She handed it back and said “No, actually you have to GIVE it to me first.”

Whoa boy. I had spent so much mental energy on figuring it out how to buy the ring and making sure we got it before anyone else bought it and how to get Kelli over to look at it so she could give the approval that I hadn’t thought of a big grand gesture in the actually giving.

We walked to the car and I got into the driver’s seat while she got into the passenger seat. I said. “Should I officially ask you to marry me while sitting in a car in a pawn shop parking lot?”

“That’s up to you. You already know the answer; you just have to ask the question.”

But I knew that proposing in a pawn shop parking lot would be unacceptable.

“Okay, buckle up,” I said and drove off downtown.

After about thirty seconds of driving I thought of a perfect place that would be romantic and special enough to serve as the location of this moment. I drove Kelli to the Delaney Park Strip Rose Garden.

The rose garden isn’t very big. It consists of a 40 foot square of rose hedges with several varieties of individual rose bushes planted inside with a path running through it. It’s pretty, but it’s more important than that.

My Grandmother’s older sister, Reva, was married to a man named George until his death 57 years later. Uncle George was a seabee in the Pacific theater in World War II, then worked for the City of Anchorage until his retirement. After retirement his main hobby was volunteering to tend the city rose garden. Each year he would help move the rose bushes from one of the empty Nike nuclear missile silos in Kincaid Park, where they were stored for the winter, to the Park Strip closer near downtown. He tended the garden all summer and was very pleased with his results, if rather humble about his role in the garden.

This was a special place to my family so this was the place I wanted to start my own family.

After walking ahead of Kelli to check the bushes for drunks sleeping in the shade, I led her by the hand to the center of the garden. On bended knee I asked her, very carefully, for the honor of being my wife. She looked into my eyes and said a very simple, eloquent “yes I will.”

Then I placed the ring on her finger and we kissed quickly then ran off back to the car because we were starting to draw some attention from people walking through the park. We’re both pretty shy and we don’t, as a rule, talk to people, so we beat feet to get back to our little cocoon of love.

November 14 of 2003 we were married and I have never for a moment regretted any of it. From “Hi, pleasedtomeetyou,” to “I do,” I have hung on her every word and my heart warms to see her smile, to look into her golden eyes, to smell her hair, to touch her skin.

We are actually quite uncomplicated and informal people but we both knew a pawn shop parking lot was not the place for an appropriate proposal.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Cotillion Carnage

co.til.lion \k-o/til/yen \ also co.til.lon \k-o/til/yen, k. o/t-e/ (y)-on\ n [F cotillion, Lit., petticoat, fr. OF, fr. cote coat] 1: a ballroom dance for couples that resembles the quadrille 2: an elaborate dance with frequent changing of partners carried out under the leadership of one couple at formal balls 3: To assemble a group of young people to develop, appreciate and respect their role in society through dance and social etiquette education.


My town has a cotillion club and I know virtually nothing about them. I would guess that, like many cotillion clubs, their purpose is to teach the many facets of etiquette and formal dancing to the children of upper class families. I think it’s primarily a southern thing but since a lot of southern oil workers moved here in the 1970’s during the big oil boom, cotillions survive and probably thrive here still.

My father is an engineer and worked for those same oil companies but in the 1970’s and 1980’s he was a mid-level guy and made a decent amount of money but nothing to buy a mansion with. Consequently we were living a nice middle class life at the bottom of the upper-class Hillside district.

I went to the high school that the other high schools thought was ‘snobby’ and it’s true. The most apt description of my high school was given by a girl who transferred to it in her sophomore or junior year. “It was a horrible school for outsiders. Everyone was either in a clique or had known each other since they were in elementary school.” Luckily, I fit into the second category because I certainly wouldn’t have fit into any clique. And I certainly would not have been asked to join the cotillion club.

I never saw any black, Hispanic, or Native cotillion kids. Perhaps I wasn’t looking hard enough. I’m an white guy myself although people often assume I’m Hispanic due to the fairly large amount of Greek in me. I’d prefer to be swarthy than freckled anyway, but that’s just me. I’m sure I’d get stares as a cotillion member.

Upon graduating I worked as a telephone operator at the finest hotel in town (just ask us, we’d tell you) which was sort of like high school. I wasn’t part of any of the cool groups but I made friends pretty quickly and, because my grandmother was my boss, I had to work my ass off so as not to earn the hatred of my co-workers. Luckily she and I look nothing alike so after a year or so no one outside the PBX department even suspected she was my grandmother and, though we never hid it, we didn’t fall all over ourselves volunteering the information either. I called her Grandma until I was 18, then for the next 8 years I called her “Lenora” exclusively.

Until I worked at the hotel I had never heard of a cotillion. Once I experienced them from the point of view of the hospitality industry, I grew to have a healthy dislike for them.

My long curly hair cut to just collar length to conform to the letter of the grooming standard (if not to the spirit) and my black motorcycle jacket with the fringe on it (which I called my ‘car wash coat’ since when it twisted from side to side the fringe would slap back and forth like the brushes inside an automatic car wash) told folks that I was still not cotillion material. To the fashion police out there, remember that this was the 1980’s.

Cotillion nights at the hotel were a tiny slice of hell. I worked the swing shift (three to eleven pm) and the cotillion generally lasted from seven to eleven pm. The lobby would be full of extremely white girls wearing very expensive dresses with opera gloves and very high heels. I guess extremely white guys attended too, but I didn’t pay much attention to them. They were wall to wall rented tuxes that looked like background anyway. Cotillion meant lots of drunk under-aged girls walking very tentatively down one of several stairways down to the lower lobby where the restrooms were located. They were usually followed or preceded by lots of drunk under-aged boys looking to do stupid shit or fight in their own bathrooms. There were chaperones but it there were inevitable problems. The stupid shit usually included stupid shit involving the house phones on both levels of the lobby. We dreaded cotillion.

Consequently getting off work after a cotillion night was an exhilarating experience. “I survived,” one might say to themselves as they walked to their cars, parked blocks away from the hotel at meters or free off-street parking (limited and inconvenient but who could afford to pay for parking on the wages we made?)

It was one such night that I found myself crossing the street south of the hotel toward my car two blocks away and saw the red and blue flashing lights of police cars ahead.

Wahoo, I get to see an accident! I remember thinking in nineteen year old enthusiasm.

As I got closer I realized that the accident in question was quite near where I had parked the used Honda Civic I had bought 31 days prior and that I was very fond of. Then I saw my car itself, parked oddly one spot behind the corner stop I’d thought I parked it at and looking odd in another way – the front end of completely crumpled up.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!”

I furiously strode up to the police officer, he wearing his own black leather jacket but without fringe, and said “hey, I own the gray Honda.” He looked at me like some dirtbag criminal and said “You – go wait by your car. I’ll get to you.” Freakin’ pigs.

As I waited I examined the accident scene. A large old Lincoln or Buick had slid sideways into my parked car, crumpling my bumper, bursting the radiator, smashing both headlight assemblies, and mashing up my hood. Did I mention I had owned the car for thirty one days? Shoved up under my car were half a dozen empty beer bottles and the cardboard container they came in.

When I saw the driver of the boat that hit me, it all became clear: Extremely white, red haired, red faced, and too polite cotillion kid in a blue tuxedo. Blue tuxedo! Later I learned he had gotten into a fight with his cotillion date, got kicked out of the dance, and drove away angry. He blew through a stop sign,clipped the back end of a Chevy Blazer, and slid into my car. The Blazer had no damage but they stopped because the passenger was an Allstate Insurance adjuster (thank Dog!). The Blazer occupants didn’t even know my car had been hit and if they hadn’t insisted on a police report the kid would have driven away.

The most surreal moment of the night came when the Horse Drawn Carriage Company detoured their carriage around to get a better look at the accident, on the insistence of the drunk and very happy carriage passengers. Had I been in the carriage I’d have asked the same thing, probably. As the carriage stopped at the stop sign near my car, a drunk man shouted “Hey!” to get my attention then said the words I will never forget, “you should have got a horse!”

I looked at this man, rage still boiling in my blood, then looked at the stern police officer who was still down the street dealing with the other half of the accident, then looked back a drunk horse guy, then back at the police officer. I actually calculated the punishment I might face if I climbed up and dragged the drunk guy out of the carriage and beat the comedy clean out of him.

I figured the police officer would be looking for any excuse to slap the cuffs on me (I was a child who watched Woodstock with rapt attention and had a problem with authority and government, amazing where I ended up) so I turned by back on the huge horses and the horse’s behinds in the carriage. Okay, so even then I thought it would look pretty funny from their view.

I called my best friend, Lina, for a ride and my parents to tell them I’d be getting a ride home from her. Everyone was happy that no one was hurt.

Blue Tux’s mom’s insurance company paid about $4000 to fix my car and I got a rental Subaru Justy for three weeks. Remember the Justy with the ECVT. What’s that? Electro-continuously Variable Transmission. Instead of gears it had, and I cannot make this up, a contraption similar to a big rubber band that constantly changed the gear-ratio. The whole thing was about as big as a roller skate so being run by rubber bands didn’t seem all that far-fetched.

My Honda experience is a whole story in itself but I traded it in on a Toyota Celica which served faithfully until I traded that in for my first brand new car, the Hyundai Elantra. No, I’ve never been able to attract chicks with any of my vehicles.

In the following years I also got rid of the car wash jacket, cut my hair, and took a job working for The Man himself. I never investigated who the stern officer was who told me to shut up and go stand by my car, but it was probably appropriate under the circumstances.

I’ve grown older and wiser but memories of the old days remain. Whenever I see young girls in prom dresses and opera gloves I get the urge to drag someone out of a horse-drawn carriage and do some carnage.

Get a horse, indeed.

~~
yeah, I jumped the gun a little on the story poll. keep voting for the next story!!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Soundtrack of Last Night

Tonight I’m ripping a bunch of my old CDs into MP3s with my old computer while blogging around with my newer one. Someday I’ll get rid of the old computer but it’s pretty useful to have two that I’m intimately familiar with at my disposal.

So while I’m ripping, I’m reminiscing a little about music. Here’s the soundtrack for my night:

A Day in the House” by Jeff Beck. On the issue of the environment, nothing is being done.” Truly. Jeff Beck is one of the best guitarists ever and I wonder how many kids today have ever heard of him. Who talks about guitarists these days anyway? Who are the new kids on the scene? I guess I’m too old to know.

Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits. They don’t give a damn about any trumpet playin’ band, it ain’t what they call rock ‘n roll.


Walk of Life” by Dire Straits. and after all the violence and doubletalk, there’s just a song in all the trouble and the strife. You do the walk, you do the walk of life Amen, brother.


Remember when the best bands were made up of the ugliest guys? Dire Straits: ugly. Blue Oyster Cult, ugly. The Cars. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Now it's all pretty people.


Livin’ Alone” by Bogert, Beck, and Appice. Livin’ alone is a lonely prospect, don’t want to let you go, no. Wake up at night with no one beside you, say don’t want to be, don’t want to be, don’t want to be alone Hello, ugly guys. Bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice were the rhythm section of Vanilla Fudge. Then there’s Jeff Beck again. BB&A were dyn-o-mite. Check out their album, especially their version of “Superstition” and the great song “Black Cat Moan.” While you are at it, listen to some Vanilla Fudge. All Goth music and most hard rock owes them a big sloppy thank-you kiss.


Willie the Pimp” by Frank Zappa. twenty dollar bill will set you straight, meet me on the corner now and don’t be late Classic. And long. And the singer (who I can’t think of quickly) has a Tom Waits thing going. Fantastic. Hot Rats indeed. And one forgets that besides being a genius, Frank Zappa was a hell of a guitarist too.

San Ber’dino” by Frank Zappa. She lives in Mojave in a Winnebago; his name is Bobby, he looks like a potato. Funky, masterful, fantastic. And you can’t help but sing along to lyrics like:


Best-est way that they can feel-o,
Out on the highway rollin' a wheel-o,
He's her Tootsie, she's for real-o,
Trailer park heaven, tt's a real good deal-o,
Real good deal-o, Real good deal-o, Real good deal-o,
The rest of their lives In San Ber'dino,
Gonna spend the rest of their lives in San Ber'dino


Bawitdaba” by Kid Rock. For the hookers all tricking out in Hollywood and for my hoods of the world misunderstood. I said it's all good and it's all in fun, now get in the pit and try to love someone Okay, so I didn’t like this song very much until I saw the first episode of “The Shield,” one of the best shows on TV ever. And they know how to use music, this song particularly. Yes, I’ll still think of Kid Rock as that trailer-trash guy with the midget but as it turns out he has a rather nice voice.

China Grove” by The Doobie Brothers. Well, the preacher and the teacher, Lord, they’re a caution; they are the talk of the town. When the gossip gets to flyin’ and they ain’t lyin’ when the sun goes fallin’ down Okay, it’s a huge transition from Zappa to Kid Rock to the Doobies but the guitar riff is great. The rhythm section is tight. They were a good band. Ditto Chicago. Remember when the Doobie Brothers were guests on “What’s Happening?” and Re-run tried to make a bootleg tape? Duane always saying “hey-HEY-hey.” Ah, good times.

Snowblind” by Black Sabbath.  My eyes are blind but I can see the snowflakes
glisten on the tree.
The sun no longer sets me free. I feel the snowflakes freezing
me.
Too many people I know lost too many years to cocaine. That being said,
you have to love Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi’s driving chords. And two fingers
on his fret hand were partially amputated in an industrial accident before his
Sabbath days. Freakin’ heavy metal, man.
 The Wizard” by Black Sabbath. “Never talking, just keeps walking, spreading his
magic.
Harmonica heavy metal. Sweet!
My cousin Joe gave me Blue Oyster Cult’s Some Enchanted Evening album and Sabbath’s 
Paranoid
album for Christmas one year when I was ten or eleven years old. Changed
my life. He was the one who introduced me to KISS years earlier than that, too.
Owe Joe a lot in the music department. And my uncle Jon who let me pour through his
record collection that he had left at my Grandmother's house. The deal was that I
mail them to him at his new home. Many many months later, I got them mailed, after
taping every Vanilla Fudge, Hot Tuna, and Grateful Dead album he had. That and
the Butterfield Blues Band, John Sebastian, etc. Lots of fantastic stuff in that
collection.
 Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen.  
 ”Everybody knows that the boat is leaking,
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows”
 
I know of poets who never edit their poems, the idea being that what they write
the first time is inspired and tinkering with it too much will destroy the magic
of the initial moment of inspiration.

Then there are poets like Leonard Cohen who will write a hundred lines for one
song and tinker and edit and shave and work and polish and mold each and every
word for months until the final piece is perfect. Leonard Cohen songs ARE
perfect. And being an old guy who was engaged to Rebecca freakin’ De Mornay.
Hello! You go Lenny!
 
The Tower of Song” by Leonard Cohen
Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey 
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
I'm just paying my rent every day
in the Tower of Song
Closing Time” by Leonard Cohen 
 “Yeah we're drinking and we're dancing 
but there's nothing really happening
and the place is dead as Heaven on a Saturday night
And my very close companion
gets me fumbling gets me laughing
she's a hundred but she's wearing something tight
and I lift my glass to the Awful Truth
which you can't reveal to the Ears of Youth
except to say it isn't worth a dime
And the whole damn place goes crazy twice
and it's once for the devil and once for Christ
but the Boss don't like these dizzy heights
we're busted in the blinding lights
of Closing Time
 
I guess it’s closing time for me too.  Tell me what you are listening to these days. 

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Easier Access and a Reader's Poll

Two things:

First: I've registered the domain www.thepanicblog.com so you can use that to reach my blog. The other domain name still works, you don't have to change your bookmarks. You can now also reach me by email at eric@thepanicblog.com and, again, the old email address will still work.

I did this because it's the incredibly geeky-cool thing to do and so it will be easier to direct folks to my site verbally. You'll also be able to remember the address better so you can check my blog from other folks' computers and in internet cafes and prison libraries - where my site has not been made a permanent "favorite."

Second:

Taking a page from Lois Lane (even great artists steal tricks from the masters), I’ve decided to offer you, the reader, to select the next topic for bloggage. Here are your choices. The post will appear sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Your choices are:

already posted: Cotillion Carnage

already posted: An Unacceptable Proposal

A Juggler’s Tale

Full English Breakfast

Eating a Pain-Dog

Uncle George’s Beaver Bumper

So choose wisely, dear reader. Which true story interests you the most?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Monday Morning Storm, Tuesday Evening Calm

Monday morning I was at work and manning a phone (we usually rotate between radio and phones). We’d been told that a local news story wanted to get some footage to go along with a story they were doing on the increased 911 service fee that pays for the 911 equipment (from $0.50 per month to $1.50 per month on one’s telephone bill).

I am arguably the least photogenic person I work with. When the news crew arrived and I looked back to see them, I immediately straightened my posture and looked intensely busy. Unfortunately, it was not busy so I was intently looking at my computer screens and opening windows just trying to give the impression I was hard and work and didn’t particularly want to be bothered.

I looked to either side of me, usually full of call-takers working as hard as I am, and see a vast wasteland of empty chairs. It was as if I’d let loose a macho-combo burrito fart. The stations around me were so deserted, I think I saw a tumbleweed roll by. Then the camera guy plopped down his tripod (not a euphemism) next to me and away we rolled.

I tried to answer other people’s calls, just to appear busy. About five minutes into it, a little “message” flag pops up and I open the message to see a ubiquitous note: “Medics are enroute 1234 XX St, Apt 123 for an ill female.” I close the window and then it dawns on me: that’s my Grandmother’s address. I pulled it up to double-check and my fears were confirmed.

Ill female” could mean a lot of things but the fact that medics were en route meant that she had thought it serious. I still had to look impassive and aloof, plus had to keep grabbing calls to look busy, all the while wondering if my grandmother was going to be okay. If there wasn’t a freaking news camera pointed at my big fat head, I’d have wheeled around and yelled “That’s my grandmother! What’s going on?” but I had to instead send a quick message to the original call-taker asking her what specifically was wrong with Grandma. But since the news guy was taping me, the call-taker didn’t want to send me a message that would pop up and say “diarrhea and dehydration” which might show up on the TV later.

When the crew left, my coworkers came back from their mystery special assignments away from me and expressed two things: “Hey, did they ask if you wanted to be on TV?” and “Jeez, I felt bad for YOU, TV boy.” At that point, I didn’t care about that. I was much more concerned about Grandma, so I called the medics and asked them to let me know if they were going to transport her to the hospital. She’s 79; they were going to transport her unless her complaint was totally unfounded. It wasn’t unfounded.

She had an irregular heartbeat, a rapid heart-rate, and low blood pressure.

They took her to the hospital where my mom was already waiting (my grandma had called my mom at work before calling the medics). Shortly afterward I arrived, having taken lunch early and an extra hour of leave.



Grandma during her April hospitalization

Cut to the end: She’s okay and they cut her loose from the hospital, but she still has an irregular heartbeat. They didn’t want to zap her again because they were afraid of breaking a clot loose and causing a stroke. They rehydrated her and gave her blood thinners and another drug to get her heart rate back under control.

This is all a temporary fix while they try to figure out what caused her to get out of sync in the first place. In the mean time, Grandma’s on a short leash. She’s okay to be on her own, according to the doctors, and she’s feeling good enough to stay on her own. We’ve given her strict orders to call 911 if it’s anything the least bit serious and call my mom or me if it’s anything else – immediately, 24 / 7.

Sorry, Grandma, we’re gonna yank your chain if you don’t drink your water and/or Gatorade.

Later that night I got to see my big fat head on the TV.

Unfortunately the story revolved around a very unfortunate incident that happened several years ago due to a glich in our geo-database. The whole story is here. It looks a little “Doesn’t this make you angry? Will money you are forced to pay really help you?” for my taste. They also played the voice of the male dispatcher involved in the unfortunate incident then showed MY face. No names were mentioned but it seemed a little bait-and-switch. But then again, that’s just my very biased opinion and I have bigger worries on my mind.

For instance, is my grandmother in serious trouble or is this just a bump in the road?

Changes one’s whole perspective, the stress without the hype. Not newsworthy, but weighs much more heavily on my mind than an extra $12 a year on my phone bill.

This morning high winds blew trees down all over town and caused several tree + wire fires simultaneously. Roads were blocked by trees; power service was out for several hours in several areas of town. People had to be told that “no, we don’t have enough cops to direct traffic at every intersection with dark signals; people with licenses should know what to do when the power goes out.”

Everyone had an emergency or six today. Mine were small. I can only hope they stay small.

Hoping all of your emergencies are minor ones,

E

Sunday, August 21, 2005

There Is No “U” in CSI

I’m not the spokesman for my department, my section, my city, or anyone but myself. That being said, let me give the internet community a dose of reality:

You love the television show CSI, I love CSI, everyone loves CSI (even Raymond loves CSI) but, dear readers, take it with a grain of salt. In fact, take two grains; they are small.

Last week a man called reporting an unknown subject or subjects had thrown a rock through his car window and stolen some of the contents while the car was parked outside of his residence. The man was transferred to our report taking section where efficient and pleasant clerks took the initial report information over the phone.

This was normally where the police involvement would end. This victim, like many others, requested an officer follow up to take fingerprints.

The responding officer looked at the rock and said it was doubtful he would be able to get a print off of a rock.

The complainant said “I watch CSI, I expected you to get out your super-glue tent and raise fingerprints that way.”

Two things:

A) Finger prints are mostly water based. Rocks and other porous surfaces suck it in. Rocks and dashboards are also hard to take prints off of because of their uneven surfaces.

B) If you watch CSI, you’ll notice that the crimes they deal with are HOMICIDES. You can pretty much bet that if bullets are not flying and /or people aren’t dead, you’ll not see a super-glue tent. Simple rule: Murder and Mayhem, yes. Stolen John Tesh CDs, no.

One more thought pointed out by a highly respected coworker “Officer Trainiac:” Even if an officer managed to get a crystal clear print from a tool or rock or a Grand Funk Railroad 8-track, the crime labs at all levels of government are so overwhelmed with evidence for cases that are going to trail that a technician would never even examine the print unless a prosecutor or DA requested it.

Furthermore, a DA/Prosecutor would never prosecute a case based solely on a fingerprint on a tool. The single print would not “prove” the print owner was the person holding the tool when the window was broken. They will not even request the print to be identified unless there is a suspect in custody. The print would only be used for supportive evidence to prove the guy who had been arrested was guilty.

To recap: If you are a victim of crime, even misdemeanor theft, report it. Documentation is necessary for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which to support a claim to an insurance company. Also, if the police do happen to catch the suspects (juveniles or hard-core drug addicts usually) with stolen property then they can return it to the rightful owners.

But please, don’t expect models in jumpsuits to come with lasers and electrostatic fiber collection equipment on every crime. Most jurisdictions have limited resources to solve the felony crimes, let alone the misdemeanors.

As smussyolay might say, "it's all about the Benjamins, G."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Have You Ever Googled Yourself ?

Sherry Dion-Wright did. And what did this wife, mother, and former police dispatcher find when she used a search engine to find her name? (she actually used Dogpile)

1.
the Panic blog: Daddy's Sacred Underwear
... Sherry Dion leapt at me from behind a bush and threw a brick at me. ... romance story I would have grown up and married Sherry Dion but this is not a ...

panic-e.blogspot.com/2005/07/daddys-sacred-underwe...
[Found on Google, MSN Search, Yahoo! Search]

Oh yes. The same Sherry Dion.

Sherry shared the story with her family then decided to write me a very nice email:

I enjoyed your story, although I can not recall throwing a brick at you? I am sorry if I did so. I am no longer a MEAN little girl.

(some personal details deleted for her privacy)

Once again, I am truly sorry if I made any of your childhood memories bad. I know I was a brat, but that is no excuse. I just thank God that my daughter did not inherit those genes from me.

Oh no.

Using Sherry’s real name was just a point of accuracy for my little story. I figured my family would remember the Dions (fondly of course) and enjoy the little detail of the brick (which is, indeed, true).

What I had not considered was that Sherry Dion, a real person with feelings and memories and emotions of her own, would stumble upon my story. It never even entered my mind.

We shot some emails back and forth this morning. I begged HER forgiveness for using her real name and assured her that I was not scarred by the masonry incident but that it was just a particularly clear moment in time way back when. And I begged for permission to write about this whole incident. That’s a lot of begging but she was very gracious and friendly.

Whew!

I don’t consider myself cowardly but I also wasn’t looking for a fight by writing ‘Daddy’s Underwear.’ It could have easily been Joe Dion with a metal lunch box showing up at my work to exact his revenge. Okay, Sherry suggested that Joe is much more even-tempered than that, plus working at the police station affords a certain amount of deterrence, but still. Sherry’s husband, a 6’6” 290 lb cop, would have no problem squishing me like a bug if he chose to do so.

I mentioned in one of the Sherry mails that thinking about those days had brought back a very clear memory of an incident involving her mother.

Mrs. Dion was our cub scout Den Mother. As a child I had a terrible stuttering problem. Naturally, the other kids would pick on me and call me stupid. Mrs. Dion handled the situation wonderfully: she simply told me to take a second to collect my thoughts and try again while at the same time telling the other kids that I wasn’t stupid at all but rather so smart that my brain worked faster than my mouth could keep up with. Brilliant! No longer was I stupid; I was now a genius spaz. I could live with that.

Mrs. Dion should be happy to hear that I overcame my stuttering. The tradeoff was that now my mouth works much faster than my brain. This results in clear and occasionally eloquent speech, all without being aware of “the line” until long after I’ve crossed it (see: The Line).


So a public THANK YOU to Sherry for the courage to write me. You have nothing to apologize for and never did; you were probably five years old. You certainly were not the last person to throw heavy objects at me.


This whole experience has reminded me about the absolute beauty of the internet. 25+ years later I can catch up with neighbors from my youth. It also reminds me to be a little careful about what I say. Thankfully Sherry was very nice and didn’t have any dirt on me to spread across the world. I won’t always be so lucky.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

To All the Blogs I've Loved Before

Dorene created a great deal of conversation in two day in my home with the comment on the Mud Flats:

“Dude,

It is not mud, it is silt from the glacier.

And I heard the helicopter story as well, and firmly believe that it is true.”

This comment caught me off guard for three reasons:
a)
she commented less than an hour after I posted so she was Johnny on the spot
b) it sounded a wee bit nit-pickey but then again I probably was a wee bit defensive
c) she called me ‘dude’

It’s not as if I’ve never been called ‘dude’ before. Fer sure, y’know, like, in the 80’s.

And ‘dude’ is actually an insult of sorts. It refers to an Easterner who vacations in the West: a poseur cowboy. Shiny new hat and aching feet from the new boots included. I’m not cowboy and, though I’m slipping into a crazy Alaskan-Alabamanese accent due to the influence of my wife, ‘dude’ is not something I am usually called. But rock on, sister! Keep it freaky fresh. Or something.

Which is not to say I don’t welcome the informal nature of being addressed as “dude,” it’s just that I didn’t expect it. I don’t even surf.

Which brings me to this comment by Bill German, writer of the great blog Walking on Scorpions. On my last post he asked the following question:

“do you climb the mountains in alaska, mckinley???”

Dude, I’m about two Chips Ahoy away from BEING a mountain in Alaska.

So no, sadly I’m not much of an outdoorsman. I don’t downhill ski, I can’t ice-skate, I don’t hunt, I am too scared of permanent eye injuries to fish. I’m a wilderness wuss living in a city right next to millions of acres of the great outdoors. Silly me.

I received John Cowart’s book The Lazarus Projects in the mail today and I’m diving in. I find it difficult to sit and read for any length of time, so it may take a week or so to finish it, but I’ll give you all a review when I’m done. John’s been so kind to my writing over the last months I felt duty bound to buy one of his books. I was going to buy one about the civil war but rumor has it that it’s riddled with errors. (I joke John!)

I am sometimes amazed about how many folks read my blog and I’m grateful for each and every one of you. For those who don’t have blogs of their own but have ideas, I offer you the opportunity to do a guest-post any time your heart desires. I mention this specifically to Bailey Pasta, Mr. Roof-Roof, J-Bro, and my lovely wife Kelli. Email me something and I’ll make it immortal (or at least I’ll post it).

I know there are blogs with much larger readerships -- some of my favorites: Smussyolay, Jaws, xTx (not for kiddies), Hotpants, the Shrinking Wop, and Lois Lane – but the idea that someone finds my writing worth reading keeps this little project going.

Thank you all!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Things that Are Big Fat Lies

For Dorene

I’ve eaten Lucky Charms for most of my life and have never won a lottery or a contest with a big cash prize.


Scotch Magic Tape is neither from Scotland nor, in any way, magic. It’s just tape. From Minnesota at that.

Dust Bunnies are neither rabbits, nor made primarily of dust. They are usually formed from bits of lint and hair.

Rainbow Trout have nothing to do with rainbows. Neat colors, sure, but no pot of gold at the end.

Buffalo Wings: sorry, made of chicken. Chicken Fingers – not fingers at all.

Angel Dust: It’s PCP, not from God.

Irregardless: I hate it; you probably hate it, but it’s made its way into the American English language. Get over it.

And the Turnagain Arm mud flats are made from water and glacial silt, not traditional mud.

As my wife loves to quote from her favorite episode of Frazier,
“You can put a kitten in the oven but that doesn’t make it a biscuit.”

Feel free to add your own big fat lies.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A Big Stick In The Mud

My hometown of Anchorage, Alaska is a coastal community, its western borders defined by bluffs overlooking Cook Inlet. Instead of beaches we have mud flats made of fine glacial silt. During low tide the mud flats can be hundreds of yards wide yet during high tide they are completely underwater. One year the telephone directories had a beautiful picture of Bootlegger’s Cove during low tide with the mud flats and tree stumps digitally painted to look as if they were beautiful blue water and white-capped waves crashing onto shore. Blue water? Cook Inlet is muddy under the best of circumstances.



Besides being decidedly unpicturesque, the mud sucks. Literally. I have heard many cautionary tales of people getting stuck in the mud and drowning when the tide came in. The most dramatic of these stories goes like this:

Many years ago a man walking along the mud flats found himself sinking. His struggling only caused him to become stuck further until he was waist deep in the mud and the tide started to come in. He managed to yell for help but rescuers were unable to pull him out manually. As the tide rushed in, a helicopter came to assist. They tied a rope around his waist or under his arms and the helicopter pulled. The rope pulled taut and it looked like the man was going to finally be free of the mud when – pop- he was ripped in half, leaving this hips and legs in the mud and his upper body swinging wildly from the helicopter’s rope.

I’ve heard this story my whole life.

The question is this: is it true?
The answer is: yes and no.

Yes, the mud kills folks. Or more precisely, people get themselves killed by getting stuck in the mud; it’s like quicksand. Your feet will get stuck and struggling will make you sink deeper until you can quickly be up to your knees, by which time you will need assistance to get out. Quick assistance.

The other interesting thing about the Turnagain Arm area of Cook Inlet is that it’s long and shallow which is the perfect condition for a bore tide. The Turnagain Arm bore tide comes when the tide starts coming in. The bore comes fast and large: a six to ten foot tall wave which travels at up to 15 miles per hour. You can go from being stuck in an inch or two of standing water on top of mud to being completely underwater in the time it takes to scream for help.

The urban legend about the helicopter likely stems from a true incident in 1961. A soldier from Ft. Richardson, Roger Cashin, got stuck in the mud while hunting along the bank of Wasilla Creek, north of Anchorage. Rescuers did tie a rope from him to a helicopter but the mud had such a grip on him that the rope snapped, not his body. Less gruesome but equally horrifying his rescuers ended up using the barrel of Mr. Cashin’s rifle as a breathing tube for him when the water reached over his head but they could do little but watch as he succumbed to hypothermia and drowned.

In September 1988, a newlywed husband and wife on four-wheelers took off across the mud flats bound for “the other side of the inlet” on a mining expedition (they were clearly not the sharpest cheese in the chandelier to begin with). One of the ATVs became stuck in the mud less than two hundred yards from the beginning of their adventure. The wife hopped off the ATV and onto the mud to try and push the machine loose. She quickly became stuck. The husband worked for two hours by himself trying to free her, then called for help. Emergency response from the Anchorage Fire Department and the Alaska State Troopers came quickly but they could not dig her out in time. When the tide rushed in they could do little but watch her drown.

Since then the Anchorage Fire Department developed special procedures for handling the mud flats and have a whole range of tools to extract people from the mud including hovercraft, high pressure hoses, and special “moon boots” which distribute the weight of the rescuers so they will not be sucked into the mud themselves.

The flats are dotted with signs warning people of the dangers of walking on them. This does not deter people. When locals see tourists walking out on the flats, they usually yell at them to get the heck back to firm ground. People don’t listen. Last week a woman had to be rescued by the fire department. Just today the fire department had to go out and tell someone to move it on back to shore.

Perhaps this is the valuable thing about urban legends: true or not, the helicopter-ripping-a-guy-in-half story stuck with me (pardon the pun) and kept me off of the flats.

Maybe that’s why the Bible has been such a best-seller. It contains lots of stories, some of them completely absurd but most teaching us lessons worth learning.

From Sodom and Gomorrah to the hook-armed maniac terrorizing Lovers Lane, legends are a good thing. They remind us to watch our step.


~~~~
Sources:
Monsterous Mysteries by Lynne Snifka, Alaska Magazine
Photo: http://parks.wustl.edu/eliana/index2.html

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Rappist Humor

Bailey Pasta tells the funniest joke I've heard in a while:

Q: Why does Snoop Doggy Dogg use an umbrella?
A: Fo' Drizzle.

Speaking of which, do this:

go to Gizoogle

then enter the web address http://www.whitehouse.gov

hit enter.

scroll down to read the Gizoogle translation.

You can try this for any website. Try your favorite blog. Then try mine. You'll laugh until your sizzles hizzle.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Dear Ad Execs at Burger King

Dear Sirs:

Thank you in advance for considering my idea for a new product line.

I appreciated your consideration of my most recently submitted Burger King tag line “We’ve been microwaving your food since the 1970’s” and I have the framed rejection letter hanging on the wall of my cubicle at work.

I am a great admirer of your Coq Roq advertising campaign and I have a humble, albeit likely very popular and profitable, addition to suggest.

If you can make formed chicken pieces into luscious fried sticks and call them “Chicken Fries” why not tie in a second new product and explode the formed chicken market?

Here’s the pitch: formed circles of chicken, breaded, fried and served like your onion rings. Here’s the hook: call them -

COQ RINGS!




Now there’s an advertising gimmick sure to draw international attention: free publicity while FOXNews and MSNBC pundits ask about morality and decency.

I predict you will overtake the dreaded M-word and again reign as the true King of Burgers.

Thank you again for your time.

Eric A. Anderson
The Panic Blog

photo courtesy of: http://www.appetizer.com/appetizer/products/breaded_or.htm

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Encore Presentation: Tastes Just Like Chicken

Originally posted April 12, 2005

Kelli and I spent last Christmas Day with my in-laws in Wasilla. Dianne and Creig both grew up in the deep south (Alabama and Louisiana) and told some great stories.

I would never have imagined sitting at a table listening to a story which began “I remember the first time I ate possum…” but both Dianne and Creig had possum tales. Those stories were interesting but not nearly as fun as the story of how my mother-in-law learned proper road-kill etiquette.

Dianne grew up in a rural area of Alabama and her family was relatively poor. She remembers that a typical Sunday family outing would consist of her father taking them on a car ride through the dusty winding backroads. On one such occasion their car crested a small rise and encountered a group of their neighbor’s Guinea Hens in the road. Thinking they had accidentally hit one of them, her father stopped and backed up to look for the dead hen. He explained that it was only right to find the dead animal and deliver it to the neighbor with an apology and with the news that the animal was freshly killed so they could at least get a meal out of it. He looked around, saw no obvious sign of road-kill, and they continued on their way. Later they arrived home and piled out of the car only to find the hen stuck in the grill of the car. Being far away from the scene of the accident, Dianne’s family took advantage and ate the hen for dinner.

Dianne remembered this incident years later when she was driving by herself and hit a chicken (apparently they do not always cross the road, no matter why). She knew the chicken belonged to a black family who was even poorer than her family and she felt duty bound to take the chicken to them. She approached the door to the family’s house and knocked. There was no answer and she found a note saying “Gone to the Sto.” Assuming this meant they were shopping, she left the dead chicken on their porch and hoped they would understand this was part of the rules of road-kill.A little later in the day, and after she’d gotten home, Dianne had a startling thought. A lot of black families in the southern Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana area still believed in Voodoo. What if the family in question had come home to find the dead chicken on their porch and interpreted it as a curse being cast upon them? They might very well simply move from their house as a result of this. This one incident could change their whole lives.To this day, Dianne has no idea what became of the family in question. She has not left a dead chicken on anyone else’s porch either.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Encore Edition of "Scruffy the Brain Eating Dog"

Lois Lane's latest masterpiece (click here) brought back fond memories. I'm still looking for an illustrator for my children's book. I'll split the whole deal 50/50. Heck, i'll even go 40/60 if I get to be listed as the author in big letters!


Originally written sometime in 2003. Originally posted 5/1/2005.


If i could draw or paint, I would turn this into a childrens book. I envision happy watercolor or chalk drawings with two paired lines of text on each page. But that's just me.

~~

When you are old and live alone
Except for pets inside your home

It comes as no surprise that when
Your life comes to its final end

The pets which you used to feed
Eat your face, to fill their need

Oh sure they’ll scrounge for real food first
Before you are left to quench their thirst

But sooner or later they’ll get to you
And on your face they’ll start to chew

They’ll eat your cheeks, your mouth, your nose
They’ll move on south as hunger grows

Now don’t get upset, it’s not malicious
These pets of yours did not turn vicious

they just needed to eat, and you are handy
they’d prefer something else, you don’t taste like candy

soon the neighbors will start to smell
the gasses which make your body swell

or a relative will require the Police
to do a welfare check, their minds to ease

your pets will be rescued and taken to the pound
while you will be buried six feet in the ground

and you wont mind when your maker you meet
that your pets had your own human remains to eat

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The line? Eric, look behind you – you’ve already crossed it.

Tonight Kelli and I took her parents to dinner because they are taking our high maintenance dogs for a couple days so they get some attention. I’ve been in class all week and will only get one day off in two weeks time.

Kelli and I shared prime rib and crab (well, she had a small piece of crab and about three bites of prime rib and I had access to the rest). Kelli asked her mom if she wanted a piece of meat to try. Kelli’s mom ate a bite of it and Mom said that it was probably the best steak she’s had in a long time. Kelli mentioned that she herself didn’t really like prime rib as much as other cuts of meat but it was easier to digest. Kelli’s mom countered with “oh it’s so tender.”

This is when I said “Oh yes, it’s so soft and buttery and melt in your mouth. It’s like eating a baby.”

Mom’s mouth fell open and she shuddered a bit before understanding that I was kidding. She then explained that when I had said it she could picture a baby spitted and rotating over a flame. I said “oh the hardest part is wedging an apple in its tiny mouth.”

Luckily, upon second thought, she thought I was pretty funny. However, the first thought was one of true horror.

This is, for good or ill, not an uncommon experience with me.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sarah Vowell



Go out and buy “Assassination Vacation” and “The Partly Cloudy Patriot,” preferably on audio so you can hear Ms. Vowell’s voice.

She is a great writer and tells a great tale. Her stories are informative, thought-provoking, and usually very funny.

When I grow up, I’d like to be her.

Well, actually I think I’m older than she and I’m happy being a boy.

Sarah Vowell, you rock!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Why the delay? Why nothing new?

A couple things:

1) After writing the Rwanda thing, I wanted to give it a day or six to sit and be read instead of being skipped past or buried under a a bunch of “What Peanuts Character Am I?” type of posts. Then I wrote “Daddy’s Sacred Underwear,” of which I happen to be rather fond. I wanted the underwear thing to sit for a day or six too.

I know that I have to keep updating my blog or the readership will fall off, and I don’t want that. I like the fact that a dozen or so folks check in on the blog every day or two. You readers are the very best!

2) After writing the underwear thing I got to thinking (often a scary thing). If I start with the premise that my father has been inexorably drawn to McCarthy since birth (or at least since his mother died) then I can use this thread to connect a whole mess of stories. Pretty much everything relating to the family could be connected without losing that thread and there are a LOT of family stories I can put together. It doesn’t even have to be about my Dad and McCarthy as much as MY watching my Dad and his steady progression toward McCarthy (it IS, after all, all about me). Add some fleshier history lessons about McCarthy, I think I’m capable of putting together a few hundred pages of hilarious (or at least amusing), potentially informative, potentially occasionally touching stories. I’m no David Sedaris but I’m pretty sure I can pull it off.

I’ve floated the idea past the family and they seem enthusiastic.

The question to my constant readers is this: Would you have any interest in such a thing? Would it be worthy of my time to try it out? Would you recommend I post parts of it as they come out (if I really want to sell it, would it be wise to give it all away to begin with?)

I’m eager to hear suggestions!