Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

This land is your land, this land is my land


Continuing with the Guthrie family theme, here’s a couple of stories related to public property.

~~

December 12, 2004 (coincidentally Chris Achilles’ birthday): A citizen (who happened to be an off-duty employee from another municipal agency) called reporting a man had cut down a tree from a municipal park, loaded it up into his vehicle, and then drove off. The caller noted the plate number and description of the suspect vehicle and the description of the suspect driver. *

An officer (whom I like and admire for several reasons) arrived at the suspect residence later to discover the tree already up, decorated, and sitting in front of the front window.


The officer, feeling embarrassed for the kids at the house, asked the man about the tree. He said the tree had “already been knocked down” and he had “just cut it loose.” The officer gave him a stern lecture (well, not really all that stern, she felt bad for the kids) and told the man she had to write up the report. As far as I know he was never prosecuted.

It’s one thing to go out to the boonies to cut down a tree for Christmas but it’s quite another to go into a local park, in full view of other citizens, and stealing yourself a tree. Sheesh. "Public" does not mean "free for the taking."

~~~

On a similar note, Anchorage has a Community Garden program. There are two gardens in town but it’s the same set-up for both: For the fee of $30 for the growing season (pretty darn short in Alaska) one gets a 20 by 10 foot plot of land and water. The idea is that you can grow vegetables and fruit on your plot to eat and thereby a) lower your food cost and b) provide you all the joys of gardening. The plots are particularly attractive to the Hmong immigrants in the densely populated, land-poor Mountain View neighborhood. The Salvation Army picks up most of the cost of the plots for some families and the plot-renters visit their little piece of garden every day or two.

Pretty cool really.

Unfortunately once in a while we get calls from irate gardeners reporting cabbage theft and the like. I vividly remember one guy nearly raving mad because this woman was going from plot to plot and picking herself enough of everything for a salad. When confronted, the woman said “the sign says ‘Community Garden’ and I’m a member of the community” and kept on picking.

Aaaaaaaaaarggggggggggggggggggggh!

The trick is that once the vegetables are picked, what are we going to do? The damage has been done. I suppose you could put everything back in the ground and hope it continues to grow but if I had been tending a crop of asparagus and some chick came along and pulled them up, I would be nearly raving mad myself. Plus there might not be time to plant another crop.

Imagine all of your hard work ending up under Italian dressing at some anonymous ig'nant's dinner table.

Grrrrr.

So maybe this holiday season the lesson is to leave as few tracks in the snow as you can, so that others can enjoy the public lands as they were meant to be enjoyed: by everyone and as fresh today as they were yesterday.

~~
* Here's a trick for all of you trained observers out there: If you get a license plate of any suspect vehicle it's great but you need two more things. First you need a description of the vehicle bearing that plate. A lot of folks tend to transpose numbers or cannot remember them for a very long time (we're talking seconds here). If you come close on the plate but note the type, color, and any unique characteristics of the vehicle then you are a good witness. Second you need to get a look at the driver. The registered owner of a vehicle can easily claim to not have been the driver during the criminal rampage you witnessed. The better look you get, the better chance you'll have to place them behind the wheel when asked to point them out of a photo line-up.

~~
Photos:
Woody Guthrie
Christmas Tree Close-Up
Hmong Woman in her Mountain View Garden by Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News

Saturday, November 26, 2005

You Can Get Anything You Want

Yesterday I heard a Fresh Air interview with Arlo Guthrie celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Alice’s Restaurant.

First let me say that Fresh Air’s Terry Gross is fantastic. She has a low-key style (which SNL mocked) but she doesn’t ask those softball Larry King questions. She conducts a smooth interview (unless you are Bill O’Reilly or Gene Simmons) but isn’t afraid to ask the difficult questions and get interesting answers. I hated her style at first but now I much prefer it to all the shouting on some other “infotainment” shows. Let’s hear it for TG! Give it up, Philly!!!!

Ahh.. Arlo Guthrie. The world changed but he never did.

Which is good because the world has changed right back to where we need him: we are involved in an unpopular war, the country is divided between conservatives and liberals, and we all need a little reminder that we are all just folks trying to get along in the world.

The first time I heard Alice’s Restaurant was in the back seat of Chris Achilles’s dad’s car on the way to an arcade or a movie or some such adventure. He introduced us kids (maybe 9 or 10 years old) to both Alice (and her restaurant) and to the Motorcycle Song.

One of my best friends at work comes from Oregon and she grew up pronouncing the two-wheeled motorized menace as “motorsickle.” The first time she said that on the radio as a dispatcher she received nothing but mocking feedback. She still says “motorsickle” when she’s not on the radio but it’s with bitterness in her voice. And you don’t pronounce the non-motorized vehicle as a bye-sigh-kle. Think about it.

Which is what Alice’s Restaurant did for me: made me think. First, it was a great song for the 10 year old kid who soaks up complicated lyrics like a sponge. Chris and I and probably Sherry Dion’s brother Chris could all recite most of Alice’s Restaurant. Probably still can.

We used to make up different lyrics to all kinds of songs back then. This was back when Chris Dion’s “Pong” was the state of the art gaming technology. Being deprived (nostalgically so in my memories now – see “poetic license”) meant that a tape recorder and a tape of one of Chris Achilles’ novelty records (“Flying Purple People Eater” et al) could lead us to singing along and changing lyrics to all the popular songs of the day and generally being creative without the requirement of being “artistic.” Chris had natural musical ability which he later focused on the drums but I certainly had no musical inclination (see “guitars”) yet I remember a lot of making crap up and juvenile improvisation.

Doctor Demento tunes could transition into Beatles tunes could transition into Officer Obie’s twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on the back of each one telling what each one was, as sung by Arlo. Remember Arlo? This is a post about Arlo.

Alice’s Restaurant has great timing. It has lush imagery. It has humor that appeals to the young and the old, those knowledgeable in the ways of the time it was written and those who never lived through that time.

It’s so absurd that it has to be mostly true.

And the way he tells the story is so lovely, with the tangents twisting off and then coming back to reconnect. It’s an American classic and Arlo is an American treasure. Sure, his dad was an icon and that’s hard for a son to live up to, but I think Arlo’s done a fine job.

He bought the church. The one where Alice used to live and where they had Thanksgiving dinner back in 1965, after they took out the garbage.

It’s now an interfaith church, welcoming everyone who can bring their own God or just bring themselves.

Drop by his website: www.arlo.net or just drop by the church.

You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Poetic License

Both my mom and J-bro read my Elvis Log story and thought it was strange that I referred to the flaming log recipient as “the Southern Woman.” Better memories than mine remembered that it was actually a Swedish woman. Mom generously suggested it was my “poetic license” and thought it was intentional. I told both of them that it was really just faulty memory. Blonde + Elvis Lover = Southern Woman. Or not.

Another relative, when hearing my mom suggest it was clever “poetic license,” commented along the lines of “Eric uses a lot of poetic license in telling family stories.”

Movie producer and raconteur Robert Evans

reminds us “There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.”

That’s what it’s all about, folks. What I remember is what I remember. Feel free to comment on inaccuracies, grammatical errors, my hairstyle and complexion, and pretty much anything else you want to (except criticizing my wife, which is one thing I’m going to bounce off of here).

This blog is just this blog. It’s not THE TRUTH.

When I find the Truth, I shall spread it to the masses like butter on hot toast. Until then, you get this. Do with it what you will.

Happy Holidays!



Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Walking on Scorpions: Grannies gone wild.......

Bill German, without having read my Red Hat Sex Club conspiracy theory, took this picture (click on the title to go to his blog entry).

Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Pavlov’s Syringe

Y’know how some cats and dogs get trained inadvertently to come running to the sound of the electric can opener, thinking it’s dinner time?


Bailey comes a’runnin’ to the sound of my wedding ring clink against the side of the insulin bottle when I roll it to mix the contents before drawing a syringe.

She gets her shots with meals, so it’s a normal enough response, but it’s a little strange. It’s such a distinct sound – metal against glass. Industrial. Techno.

“Mister EA, Mister EA, Mister EA, please draw it up, draw it up, draw it up. Could you draw it up a little more, draw it up like that, please draw it up, draw it up, draw it up draw it up. Say Hallelujah peoples, say Hallelujah, oh yes, oh yes, and it was in my belly bitter but in my mouth it was sweet!"

Or someink.

~~
apologies to BT and M. Doughty. Go find "Never Gonna Come Back Down;" you'll be glad you did

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Stream of Holiday Consciousness

As I have gotten older the memories of the holidays of my youth have begun to blend together.

I remember at least two holidays in the winter when a flaming log rolled out of our fireplace onto the floor. Here is the top of the fireplace and the family in question. I'm the eldest child, J-bro is number two, and rounding out the top three is Drew.


Of these two flaming logs, the one which caused the greatest scar on the floor and the most vivid memory occurred during Elvis Presley’s “Live from Hawaii” concert. The Elvis log landed on the long black wool skirt of the only guest in attendance who was actually watching the concert, someone I will call “The Southern Woman.” None of my immediate family have ever been Elvis fans so I recall (perhaps only in wishful-thinking nostalgia) that it had served her right: I would have much rather watched The Love Boat or The Wonderful World Of Disney or whatever was on one of the three other channels in Anchorage at the time than the sweaty white jump-suited “King .”

On a prior occasion my dad was close by the fallen log and had reacted by simply reaching down and grabbing the log in his bare hands and throwing it back into the fireplace with no damage done. At the time I thought this was heroic. Now I realize that it was probably mostly instinctive and painful. Although that meets a certain definition of heroism I suppose.

The “Elvis Log” rolled out of the fireplace and onto the Southern Woman’s skirt while my dad was in the kitchen, far away from The King’s concert. He raced to the scene of the fire, picked up the log barehanded, and threw it back into the fireplace but by the time he arrived the carpet had begun to smolder. I’m not sure whether he happened to have a Stanley shop knife with him or whether he used some other piece of cutlery to cut a hole in the carpet to expose the underflooring, but soon it was cut and water was poured on the scorched wood.

And ugly green throw-rug sat on top of the ugly multi-colored green and gold 70’s carpet until it was replaced decades later.

During that time if one had folded back the rug and parted the labia of the split carpet, they would discover a dark burn mark that looked a little like this.

I’d like to think The King would have been appreciated it.

~~
Photos:

http://www.aperfectworld.org/
http://www.younameit.com

~~

Thanksgiving story coming. J-Bro, don't give away the commemorative punch line!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Happy Anniversary To Us





Kelli and I have been married two years today.

She’s been sicker than a dog the past few days (which in our house is saying something) but looks to be rebounding slowly. Darn winter cold/flu season anyway.

~~

On another note, I think I was a bit too proud of the Red Hat Society piece. I left it up on top for a week because, honestly, I thought it was near genius. After a week, it seems barely clever. And nary a mention from either Susie Bright or Simon and Schuster. I didn’t expect Ariel Levy’s editor to get back to me but Susie’s answered an email before. Oh well, I still think she’s the bees-knees. She’s just a busy little sexpert.

And it’s not supposed to work the way I daydreamed anyway. I shouldn’t be “discovered” and given a huge advance because I’m so stinkin’ funny. I guess I should be working my butt off and polishing and editing and then whoring, whoring, whoring it to anyone who will read it.

For what it’s worth I’ve amassed a good 250 pages of stuff just in the blog. Tying things together (if possible) or expanding on one or two that could be folded together nicely would still yield a good amount of material. We’ll see where it goes.

Imagine me, a guy who thought he could write a little and decided to start a blog which forced me to write more often, in under a year I’ve got all these delusions of adequacy.

Oh well, dream big or why bother dreaming, huh?

More soon.

To everyone reading this: you rock. Of this I am sure.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Red Hat Society = Women Gone Wild !


From http://www.redhatsociety.com:

While visiting a friend in Tucson several years ago, Sue Ellen (Cooper) impulsively bought a bright red fedora at a thrift shop, for no other reason than that it was cheap and, she thought, quite dashing. A year or two later she read the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, which depicts an older woman in purple clothing with a red hat. Sue Ellen felt an immediate kinship with Ms. Joseph. She decided that her birthday gift to her dear friend, Linda Murphy, would be a vintage red hat and a copy of the poem. She has always enjoyed whimsical decorating ideas, so she thought the hat would look nice hanging on a hook next to the framed poem. Linda got so much enjoyment out of the hat and the poem that Sue Ellen gave the same gift to another friend, then another, then another.

One day it occurred to these friends that they were becoming a sort of "Red Hat Society" and that perhaps they should go out to tea... in full regalia. They decided they would find purple dresses which didn't go with their red hats to complete the poem's image.

The tea was a smashing success.

Soon, each of them thought of another woman or two she wanted to include, and they bought more red hats. Their group swelled to 18, and they began to encourage other interested people to start their own chapters (18 women don't fit well around a tea table). One of their members passed along the idea to a friend of hers in Florida, and their first "sibling" group was born.

Sue Ellen's fondest hope is that these societies will proliferate far and wide. We have now held three successful Red Hat Society conventions — entire hotels filled with women of a certain age wearing red hats and purple outfits! Could world domination be far behind?

World Domination Indeed. Here’s where my conspiracy theory begins.

“Women of a Certain Age” Oh how I love that term. Now that very young girls have embraced what writer Ariel Levy calls “the Raunch Culture” and wear the Playboy bunny logo on belly shirts or “With These Who Needs Brains” tube tops, I find myself rather fond of “women of a certain age.” In an time in our culture when fun-loving Tara Reid simply looks like a burn-out train wreck waiting to happen any day now and when Drew Barrymore is the poster child of “oh I’ve been there, did that, and got the t-shirt when I was age 11 through 14,” koo-koo-ka-choo Mrs. Robinson has less of a scandalous air than when the movie first came out. Mrs. Robinson was simply a woman mature enough to know what she wanted sexually. Good for her!


I grew up in a culture where the media taught boys that when girls or young women had slumber parties it was all semi-nude pillow fights leading to the inevitable bisexual explorations. Mmmmmm. Oh, the lovely delightful soft- and hardcore perpetual fantasies of the feisty co-ed. Who am I to dispel this myth? Why would I even want to? Heck, I’m a guy who while I was single, desperate, and dateless, thought that Maxim and FHM magazine were on the right track. Well, until I saw the (now former) editor in chief of Maxim magazine on an infotainment “debate” on culture and realized that taking “how to pick up hot young loose chicks” advice from a guy who looks like Bill Gate’s geekier younger brother was probably a mistake.

Back to the Red Hat Society Conspiracy Theory.

Friends, this is about sex.

If the younger set is all trip-hopping, Bacardi Breezer swilling, skank-dressing, sex crazed, female chauvinist pigs then “women of a certain age” should get a piece of that action but in a much more refined manner.

Who are they kidding? “Red Hat” is obviously a reference to the head of a penis. Pink, red, or purple hats? It’s all a matter of the firmness of your grip, ladies. Accessorizing with a scarf is a matter of personal choice: wear one if you enjoy the look of an uncircumcised member or don’t if you prefer your penises cut into a crew neck instead of the traditional turtleneck.



The addition of feathers and other outlandish paraphernalia are the equivalent of those colored bracelets junior high school girls purportedly wear signifying what sexual activities they are willing to engage in.

This is an underground movement, gentle reader, and it’s motivated by unbridled lust of our elder stateswomen. Despite the crap that MTV and FHM and Maxim are trying to sell, hot sex does not end at age 29. You don’t have to go back to Mrs. Robinson to see that this notion is creeping to the forefront of our culture. I’ll bet you’ve heard of Stifler’s mom. I bet you are well aware that Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on. The youngest Desperate Housewife is 30 and the rest of them don’t take her seriously anyway. And unlike Sex in the City, DH is a show men watch too.

The grandmas have got it goin’ on too. The next time you see a “little old lady” wearing a big flowery hat, know it well that she’s looking for hot action. And I’m not talking about ‘grandma’s getting on the bang-bus.’ “Women of a certain age” will demand sheets with a high thread count as well as steamy hot lovin’.

Gentlemen, the Red Hat movement is upon us. You’d better get your shit together if you intend to keep up with this trend. If you are planning on going through a mid-life crisis where you get to divorce your long-suffering wife and date some “hot young chick with more boobs than brains,” well you go ahead. I suspect your ex will simply don a red hat and find a satisfying and varied adventure of her own.

If you are married and your wife is suddenly disappearing to lots of RHS “teas,” that’s your cue to start paying a lot more attention to her at home - and I don’t mean you need to clean the catbox more often. Get your ass out of the recliner and put a little romance back into the game. Treat her like you did when you were dating. Don’t just love her, LOVE her.

Also, losing some weight will make your dick look bigger. Or at least that’s what they say in Maxim.

~~

Photos:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Hat_Society
www.redhatsandmore.com
www.gawker.com

www.maximonline.com
Fiddlest

Oh and just a tiny word to those with no sense of humor: I mean no disrespect to the lovely ladies of the Red Hat Society. This is my attempt at satirical cultural commentary. Send hate mail about my writing, don’t bother defending anyone’s or any group’s honor, k?

Also, kudos to Susie Bright and her audible program In Bed with Susie Bright for bringing Ms. Levy to my attention.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Grow Up!

Okay, so I’m just as nerdy and geeky as anyone who maintains a freakin’ web log.
I freely admit it. But some things just go a little too far.

Witness this:


Perhaps if I felt a little… oh, I don’t know… inadequate in the light saber department… I’d want to wear a pair of Star Wars boxers.

Did I mention that I don’t wear boxers because of that whole “grandfather clock” thing?

Well, never mind about that.

But here’s where it goes too far. On the back of these boxers there is this graphic:





Well, I guess one person’s “dark side” is another person’s “fine bootay.” Or someink.

Maybe it's the cold medicine talking.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Oh... Now I Get It

Someone put brochure cards for a rustic inn in Willow, Alaska in the dispatch breakroom the other day. That’s cool, I’m always interested in brochures, if not necessarily spending any time in Willow. Nothing against Willownians, but there’s nothing in Willow that I can’t find in a hundred other locations in Alaska.

Well, maybe.


I am not a graphic artist, nor have I ever spent the night at a Holiday Inn Express, but I did take a two day seminar in graphic design which changed the way I look at things like brochures.


Here’s my assessment of this lovely piece:




You've got to admit, the name is strange. What the hell is a gigglewood anyway?
But I digress.



Calling Willow "the perfect midway retreat between Anchorage and Denali" is stretching things a little bit. If you are driving from Denali and get all the way to Willow, then not continuing on to Anchorage is just plain lazy. But it works for a selling point to the tourists, I guess.




The pictures are blended well and the whole thing gave me a good feeling about spending the night at the luxurious Gigglewood Lakeside Inn.

Except for the name. What the hell? Gigglewood… I did not get it.

Then my eye hit the bottom of the stairs. Oh my.

Get out! That thing has veins and stuff.

Well, at least it's pointed the right direction.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Easy Come, Easy Go


The State Of Alaska has this great thing called the Permanent Fund. The fund is currently about $30 Billion which is invested in companies outside of the state so that we’ll have a couple of sheckels to rub together once the oil is gone. The earnings of the fund are used partly by state government, partly reinvested back into the fund, and partly distributed as a dividend to the citizens. Getting at the principle requires a vote of the people, not just an act of the state legislature. It’s pretty stinking brilliant really.

There is a personal connection to the fund: My grandfather was a member of the board of trustees of the fund (he may have chaired the board briefly).

Anyway, what you folks from the Outside probably know of the fund is that each year Alaskans (currently defined as someone who has lived in Alaska for at least one year) get that dividend check each October. No one wants to lose that “free money” so I’m fairly certain the Permanent Fund is safe from a big spending spree of the state for some time to come.

The amount varies but this year each Alaskan got a check for $845. That’s $1690 for Kelli and I. Usually this means I pay off some credit card bills and Kelli gets the dogs’ teeth cleaned and checked, etc. This leaves us a couple of bucks to get myself a new MP3 player or whatever, Kelli gets herself some Fiestaware or whatever, and it makes Christmas shopping more fun and less stressful.

Yet each year something comes up. Last year it was $3000 of vet bills for Sugar Baby.

This year we got to take Bailey to the vet on Halloween. She threw up her dinner. For most dogs one would just say “ewww,” clean it up and move on. For Bailey it’s a little different. She’s an insulin dependent diabetic and so we had loaded her up with insulin as she was eating. By throwing up her food that means she was fully loaded with insulin but with no food. Bad juju.

Two days in the animal hospital and $985 later, she’s back and good as new. Sure we will have to keep an eye on her for a couple of days to make sure she doesn’t throw up. Oh and we need to make sure the poop is of proper poop-like consistency: not too runny but not so firm that she’s straining.

It’s a delicate balance.

I’m not complaining. Luckily the state paid for the vet bill (by way of the dividend) and both the babies are happy and back home.

While my friends are enjoying their new iPods and Fiestaware, we are reaping the benefits of two healthy dogs.

Until next year about this time.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Slips of the Tongue

Oh get your head out of the gutter.

Have you ever said something but even as you said it you wanted to reel it back in?

One of my lovely coworkers yesterday received a call about a motor vehicle accident involving a single vehicle striking and killing a moose (not an uncommon occurence).

In a moment which I completely sympathize with, she found herself asking the caller "Is the moose still dead?"

You cannot make up stuff like this. While it probably did not inspire a whole lot of confidence from the caller, it makes me laugh.