Monday, November 12, 2007

My MP3 Player Is Having A Crisis

The following is a transcript of a talk I had with my MP3 player, Thing_2, this morning:

Me: Good morning, Thing.
Thing: Is This It? (1)
Me: Uh...what do you mean?
Thing: Stand By Me (2)
Me: Um...OK. Sure.
Thing: You Wear It Well (3)
Me: Why, thank you. I just got this shirt last weekend.
Thing: I'll Stand By You (4)
Me: That's awfully nice of you.
Thing: Goodbye Stranger (5)
Me: What? Wait - I thought you were going to stand by me. Where are you going?
Thing: Heaven, Hell or Houston (6)
Me: OK - interesting itinerary...
Thing: Talk Dirty To Me (7)
Thing: Negasonic Teenage Warhead (8)
Me: Hey, let's not start with the name calling!
Thing: Rhinosaur (9)
Me: Now, cut that out! Let's try to steer this conversation back into friendly territory. Have you seen any good movies lately?
Thing: Fame (10)
Me: What a feelin', huh? Actually, I've never seen that one. Not my bag, baby.
Thing: No Excuses (11)
Me: No, really. Just not big on musicals & dancing.
Thing: You Take My Breath Away (12)
Me:'re very nice, too.
Thing: Come Dancing (13)
Me: Sorry, I'm not much of a dancer.
Thing: Serenade (14)
Me: What, exactly, are you getting at, Thing?
Thing: I Love Rock N' Roll (15)
Me: Quit changing the subject!
Thing: Strangelove (16)
Me: Wha?
Thing: Fake Friends (17)
Me: No, Thing. I am your friend. Really. Anyway, let's play a game. Let's find out your pr0n star name, OK? Your last name would be the name of the street you grew up on. What was that?
Thing: Fascination Street (18)
Me: And your first name would be the name of your family pet.
Thing: Louie Louie (19)
Me: So, your name would be Louie Fascination. OK, that didn't turn out as funny as I'd hoped. Whatever. Oh, I'm such a bad host - I didn't ask if I could get you anything.
Thing: Coffee & TV (20)
Me: OK. Anything else?
Thing: Let's Dance (21)
Me: I've already told you, Thing, I'm not into dancing.
Thing: Reason (22)
Me: I'm just not very coordinated.
Thing: Amateur (23)
Me: Oh, way worse than that.
Thing: Have A Cigar (24)
Me: Thanks, Thing, but I don't smoke.
Thing: I Summon You (25)
Me: No, Thing, I do not want a cigar!
Thing: There There (26)
Me: Sorry. I guess I got a little worked up there.
Thing: Get Over It (27)
Me: Hey, now...
Thing: I Touch Myself (28)
Me: Dude, I so did not want to know that...
Thing: Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? (29)
Me: Um...You're very nice looking, as far as small electronics go.
Thing: Creep (30)
Me: Hey! You asked me!
Thing: No Surprises (31)
Me: What's that supposed to mean?
Thing: Wish You Were Here (32)
Me: Thing, I'm right in front of you. Let's try to get this conversation back on topic - any topic! I'm thinking about taking a trip to Constantinople some time...
Thing: Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (33)
Me: Oh yeah. They changed the name a few years back, didn't they?
Thing: Loser (34)
Me: Stop that! I'm nice to you - I keep fresh batteries on hand; got you a cozy little protective case...
Thing: Save Me (35)
Me: Why? What's wrong?
Thing: Insane In The Brain (36)
Me: Well, that explains a lot about this conversation. Hey, I'm booking us a room for our next trip. Any preferences as to where to stay?
Thing: Hotel California (37)
Me: Nah. I've heard checking out's a bear.
Thing: Stupid Girl (38)
Me: Hey, I'm neither of those!
Thing: Crazy (39)
Me: I'm thinking that describes you more than me, my friend.
Thing: Simple Man (40)
Me: OK, that's enough! One more time & I'm gonna start using those cheapie Ray-O-Vac batteries in you!
Thing: Last Nite (41)
Me: What about it?
Thing: Love (42)
Me: Do I really want to hear about this?
Thing: So Lonely (43)
Me: Sounds like a personal problem.
Thing: Hold My Hand (44)
Me: don't have any.
Thing: Am I Evil? (45)
Me: No, Thing, not at all. You just lack appendages. There are a lot of people out there without hands. The inability to operate a doorknob does not make one evil.
Thing: Heart & Soul (46)
Me: Yes. That's what makes a person a person. Hands are just a perk.
Thing: Stop (47)
Me: Sorry, Thing. I was just trying to make you feel better.
Thing: Say It Isn't So (48)
Me: What, Thing?
Thing: Cry (49)
Me: Aw, Thing, don't cry. You'll short yourself out.
Thing: Don't Stand So Close To Me (50)
Me: Sorry. I'll give you a little space.
Thing: Every Time You Go Away (51)
Me: You're sending mixed signals, Thing. Do you want me to go or not?
Thing: They Don't Know (52)
Me: Who? What are you talking about?
Thing: 2+2=5 (53)
Me: What's wrong with you? Are your batteries going out?
Thing: Keep Talking (54)
Me: Alright. Um...lessee...this past weekend, we went to the Griffith Observatory, then to Hollywood & then to dinner on the pier at Santa Monica...
Thing: Why Can't I Be You (55)
Me: Aren't you happy being you?
Thing: Is She Really Going Out With Him? (56)
Me: Is that what this is all about? A girl? Is that why you've been so needy & clingy?
Thing: I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues (57)
Me: It's OK. How are you feeling right now?
Thing: Constant Craving (58)
Me: Hmm...what did you think when you first met her?
Thing: The Search Is Over (59)
Me: Aw, that's sweet. What kind of work were you doing at the time? What was your job title?
Thing: DJ (60)
Me: Oh yeah - chicks dig DJ's. How'd things go when you started seeing each other?
Thing: Touch & Go (61)
Me: And later?
Thing: Heavenly (62)
Me: That doesn't sound so bad. Where'd you go on your first date?
Thing: In Your Room (63)
Me: Wow. I suddenly feel the need to change the sheets on my bed. What'd you do later?
Thing: Learn To Fly (64)
Me: You took flying lessons?
Thing: Crazy Little Thing Called Love (65)
Me: Uh...yeah. It’ll make you do some weird things. Did you ever just spend nights in, just watching TV? What was your favorite show?
Thing: Heroes (66)
Me: Cool! Mine, too!
Thing: Wise Up (67)
Me: Talking to you is like riding in a car with a beginner driver...
Thing: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You (68)
Me: See? That's what I'm talking about! Back to the topic at hand: did you watch anything else?
Thing: Twilight Zone (69)
Me: Interesting taste in shows. By the way, what was her name?
Thing: Maggie May (70)
Me: That's a nice name. Did you have a favorite place to go when not watching TV? A favorite restaurant, perhaps?
Thing: Sunset Grill (71)
Me: Oh yeah - I've heard they make a mean fajita. So, you dated for a while. What was your impression of her towards the end?
Thing: Stone Cold Crazy (72)
Me: Ooo, been there, done that, my friend. I know you're still a bit torn up about the whole thing, but, have you tried seeing anyone else, even if it's just a rebound kinda thing?
Thing: Stacy's Mom (73)
Me: Yeah, she's got it goin' on. Is there anything you can say that you learned from you brief relationship with Maggie May?
Thing: Don't Look Back In Anger (74)
Me: Sage advice, my friend. Sage advice. Anyway, other than Stacy's mom, are there any other prospects?
Thing: Living Dead Girl (75)
Me: Oh. I didn't know you were into the Goth look...
Thing: Super Freak (76)
Me: You'd better be careful with that one.
Thing: Love Hurts (77)
Me: I know it does, Thing, but you'll be alright. Things look dark now, but they'll get better. I promise. The memory of Maggie May...
Thing: Still Remains (78)
Me: Well, I'm sure it does, but what I was going to say was that the memories will fade soon.
Thing: Lovefool (79)
Me: Don't be so hard on yourself, Thing. We all go a little crazy over someone sometimes. Maybe I can help you out a bit. Being a DJ seemed to help you with the ladies. What other jobs have you had in the past?
Thing: Piano Man (80)
Me: Really? I would've never guessed it, what with having no hands & all. How long did you do that?
Thing: 14 Years (81)
Me: How'd that pan out, ladies-wise? What kind of women go for a handless piano player?
Thing: Crazy Babies (82)
Me: Really?
Thing: Truly, Truly (83)
Me: So, why'd you decide to quit that line of work?
Thing: Changes (84)
Me: What'd you do when you landed the DJ gig?
Thing: Jump Around (85)
Me: That's impressive, considering you have no legs. What'd you feel?
Thing: Joy (86)
Me: That's nice. Hey, it's getting late. Do you want to go do anything?
Thing: Take Me Out (87)
Me: OK. Just let me call T; she might like to go along...
Thing: Just The Two Of Us (88)
Me: Uh, let me check with her, anyway. Is there anything in particular you want to do?
Thing: Rock This Town (89)
Me: I see - looking to sow a few oats, eh? Anyone in particular you're looking for (wink, wink)?
Thing: Sheep (90)
Me: Uh...sheep? Do I want to know what for?
Thing: Master & Servant (91)
Me: I shouldn't have asked. Is there actually a place where you would find sheep for that purpose?
Thing: Feel Good Inc. (92)
Me: Do they have anything else there that's not so nauseating?
Thing: Sexy Hypnotist (93)
Me: Hmm...anything else?
Thing: The Rover (94)
Me: more, please.
Thing: We Belong (95)
Me: You might, my friend. Not me.
Thing: My Darling (96)
Me: I told you to quit calling me that!
Thing: Mr. Jones (97)
Me: That, too!
Thing: Ruby Soho (98)
Me: OK, that's it - I've asked you time & again to quit with the names! I'm going to go now.
Thing: Kiss & Say Goodbye (99)
Me: How about a firm handshake? Oh yeah – I forgot the whole ‘hands’ issue…

(1) The Strokes; (2) Ben E. King; (3) Rod Stewart; (4) The Pretenders; (5) Supertramp; (6) ZZ Top; (7) Poison; (8) Monster Magnet; (9) Soundgarden; (10) David Bowie; (11) Alice In Chains; (12) Eva Cassidy; (13) The Kinks; (14) Steve Miller Band; (15) Joan Jett & The Blackhearts; (16) Depeche Mode; (17) Joan Jett & The Blackhearts; (18) The Cure; (19) The Kingsmen; (20) Blur; (21) David Bowie; (22) Hoobastank; (23) Aimee Mann; (24) Pink Floyd; (25) Spoon; (26) Radiohead; (27) OK Go; (28) The Divinyls; (29) Rod Stewart; (30) Radiohead; (31) Radiohead; (32) Pink Floyd; (33) They Might Be Giants; (34) Beck; (35) Remy Zero; (36) Cypress Hill; (37) The Eagles; (38) Garbage; (39) Gnarls Barkley; (40) Lynyrd Skynynd; (41) The Strokes; (42) Sixpence None The Richer; (43) The Police; (44) Hootie & The Blowfish; (45) Metallica; (46) Huey Lewis & The News; (47) Jane’s Addiction; (48) Hall & Oates; (49) Faith Hill; (50) The Police; (51) Paul Young; (52) Tracy Ullman; (53) Radiohead; (54) Pink Floyd; (55) The Cure; (56) Joe Jackson; (57) Elton John; (58) kd lang; (59) Survivor; (60) David Bowie; (61) The Cars; (62) Grant-Lee Phillips; (63) The Bangles; (64) Foo Fighters; (65) Queen; (66) David Bowie; (67) Aimee Mann; (68) Sting; (69) Golden Earring; (70) Rod Stewart; (71) Don Henley; (72) Queen; (73) Fountains Of Wayne; (74) Oasis; (75) Rob Zombie; (76) Rick James; (77) Nazareth; (78) Stone Temple Pilots; (79)The Cardigans; (80) Billy Joel; (81) Guns n’ Roses; (82) Ozzy Osbourne; (83) Grant Lee Buffalo; (84) David Bowie; (85) House Of Pain; (86) Tim Hughes; (87) Franz Ferdinand; (88) Bill Withers & Grover Washington, Jr.; (89) The Stray Cats; (90) Pink Floyd; (91) Depeche Mode; (92) Gorillaz; (93) Luscious Jackson; (94) Led Zeppelin; (95) Pat Benatar; (96) Wilco; (97) Counting Crows; (98) Rancid; (99) The Manhattans

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Check It Out!

Waaaaaay back in March, I set up my own B-Movie site, PelĂ­culas Peculiares (Spanish for "peculiar movies"). It's not much (the first two reviews are from here), but it's a start. To commemorate the grand unveiling, I've actually put up a new, never before seen review. Hopefully, I'll shake the dust off of some of the dozen or so reviews in various stages of completion & post them, as well.

Go on - check it out! See what a site looks like before its author slacks off on the postings!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Because I'm Flaky Like That, Yo!

I saw the MI:5 thing over at Amy's about a zillion years ago & signed up to join in the weekly fun.

Since then, I've done one. I think.

So, in an attempt to shake off some of my flaky crust, I've decided not only to participate in this week's (lucky you!), but to also try to catch up with a few of the previous weeks questions. So, for your reading enjoyment, here you go.

Last week

No real theme:

1. Do you like roller coasters? If you do what is your favorite part? If you don't? Why not?
I love, love, LOVE roller coasters! The speed, the loops, the feeling of impending death - it's all good, my friends.

2. What is your favorite traditional treat you find in a Halloween bag?
Hmm...Reese's are always good. Kit Kats, too. My favorite hard candies, though, are jaw breakers. Yummy yummy yummy...

3. When was the last time you went to the dentist? Was it routine or was something bothering you?
I dunno. Probably my last check up. Which was for, in dental parlance, a check up.

4. What was the last book you read that you would recommend?
Honestly, I have about a dozen books in various stages of completion (the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Lake Wobegon Days, Fahrenheit 451, The Lost World [the old Sir Arthur Conan Doyle one], Edgar Allan Poe's writings, etc.). The amazing thing is that I can pick up any one of those & start off right where I left with little or no having to go back & refresh myself on the story. Simply amazing, I tell ya.

5. What is the theme song to your life right now?
Usually "I'm Too Sexy" because, well, I am.

The Weeks Beyond

I tried to come up with a "theme" but nothing came to me. The following are just some random thoughts/questions.

1. Hectic and crazy are often how we describe our daily lives. If you had to pick the moment of each day that you felt the most serene, when would that be?
Lunch time, when I work the late shift (my cellmates go to lunch at noon, leaving me able to listen to my MP3's & be generally unaccosted) & on the drive home.

Well, when the Moron Patrol isn't driving 15 miles under the speed limit with their blinker on.

2. What “habit” has been the most difficult for you to give up? Why do you think it’s been so difficult for you?
The oxygen habit. Try as I might, my body just can't get enough of the schtuff.

3. If you could relieve your spouse (friend, family member, significant other) of one burden in life, what you take away?
Hmm...having to work, instead of working simply because they wanted to.

4. If a psychic offered to tell you anything you wanted to know about your life, what is the thing you would least like to know?
Um...wha? Are we talking about things in my past? Because I really don't need a psychic to tell me that.

5. What has been the hardest transition you have had to make in life? And how did you do it – what helped?
These things are making my head hurt. Next...

Bonus Question – How about those Red Sox! Are you a true blue fan, loyal through the ups and downs? Or do you follow them only if they are in the World Series?
Honestly, I didn't even know the Series had ended until a week later. How's that for a guy whose father lived & breathed the sport? I'm a bad, bad son.


I have a suggestion for the 5 if no one has jumped on it yet - If someone has - tuck it in the *In case of emergency* MI5 file.

1. What story are you writing with your life right now?
A cautionary pamphlet entitled "Things You Shouldn't Stick Your Finger In."

2. If you could ask God for one thing, what would it be?
Idiot Repellent.

3. What does your heart long to be involved in?
Wow...that's deep. Unfortunately, I'm not at this time. Next...

4. It is said you learn something new everyday. What are some things you’d like to learn to enrich your life?
The lyrics to 'Louie, Louie.'

5. Everyone has a mantra even if they don't outwardly express it - time to make yours public
"Why the heck do morons congregate around me?" Wait - that's more of a question than a mantra, isn't it?

I guess "Kill 'em all & let God sort it out" would work.

Why are you all looking at me like that?


(Sorry this is so early! I’m going to be away more than I am going to be home next week, so I’m sending this now while I’m thinking about it. (Just for clarification: Jim’s MI-5 are for TODAY, my MI-5 are for next Friday, October 5.)

As I am away traveling this week, I thought I would do a little “Travel MI-5”.

1. My sweetie and I are going to Bar Harbor on an overnight. If you were to plan a realistic overnight getaway for your sweetie or a best friend, what would it be? Where would you go? Where would you stay? Where would you eat? Any special activities?
Geez, that's all five questions in one!

1a Well, if it's a realistic overnight getaway, then I guess the answer would be a realistic overnight getaway.

1b Probably up the coast a bit.

1c In a low cost, but, hopefully, roach free travel lodge.

1d At a restaurant, most likely.

1e Nunya bee's wax, mister.

2. My family and I are going to Virginia for a long-weekend. If you were to plan a realistic long-weekend getaway for your immediate family, what would it be? Where would you go? Where would you stay? Where would you eat? Any special activities?
Waitaminute...didn't I just see these questions?

3. Have you ever read a novel set in an exotic locale? If so, tell us a little about it. Would you like to visit there?
As Middle Earth doesn't seem to have any running water or shower facilities, I'd have to say, no.

4. When I go away, I really look forward to eating at restaurants that are not here where I live (Golden Corral, Sonic & Cracker Barrel). Are there similar restaurants that you like to frequent when you are away?

5. I have only been to one Broadway show (“Cats”), and I would like to go to another. However, it would consist of quite a bit of travel to get there. Since I probably won’t be attending anytime soon, tell me something about a Broadway show. Have you ever been to one? Have you heard about one that peaks your interest? Is there a Broadway show that has music of which you are particularly fond? Do you hate even the thought of Broadway? Why?
Let's try the 'Question 1' approach again, shall we?

5a I don't know of any.

5b No.

5c Nope.

5d Not so much.

5e I really don't have an opinion one way or the other.

5f Because I have never taken the time to formulate one.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lessons Learned

"Exactly how 'roughing it' is this trip going to be?" asked T one night.

"It'll be fine. It'll be an adventure! I mean, what could possibly happen?" I replied.

Lesson Learned #1: Never, ever ask that question.

The trip to our campsite, located just outside of Independence, CA (Population: 534), was a pleasant, uneventful trip. We caravanned up with another couple & their daughter & grandkids (who referred to me as 'Mr. J' the whole weekend - T was referred to as 'Mrs. J', 'Ms. T' &, inexplicably, 'Ms. 10' & then 'Ms. 8' [she'd been demoted for some reason]) & made our way up the 395, through the Owens Valley &, finally, at about 530p, to our site in Gray's Meadow, which, being located on the arid side of the Sierra Nevada’s, was neither particularly gray nor very meadow-ish. So much for truth-in-advertising.

We unloaded the vehicles & began to set up camp. Our hosts told us that, in addition to reserving the site & providing all of our food for the next couple days, they also had a tent we could use.

Lesson Learned #2: Whoever designed our tent & decided that it could hold three people was being woefully optimistic. Or smoked crack regularly.

Having the car parked right next to us was nice, as we had all of our schtuff right at hand & didn't have to haul everything out. Which was really good, as we didn't have room to turn around in the tent, much less have a duffle bag big enough to carry a human body in there with us. We inflated our mattress & then went over to the main part of the site that would wind up being our kitchen/dining area/living room & proceeded to have the first of many tasty meals, again, provided by our gracious hosts. After cleaning up, we retired to the fire ring on our side & chatted a bit before hitting the sack. We crawled into our spacious accommodations & drifted off to sleep.

Lesson Learned #3: Purchase our own tent before we go camping again.

We awoke a couple hours later to horrendous pain in our shoulders & hips. This was due largely to the fact that, over the course of that short amount of time, our mattress had deflated & we were lying on the ground.

Lesson Learned #4: Test out your air mattress for leaks by sleeping on it at home before you take it out to the middle of nowhere. It's better than finding out in the middle of the night. Trust me.

We attempted to inflate the mattress again, but to no avail; our mattress had gone to Inflatable Mattress Heaven. In between rolling around, aching, hurting, swearing under my breath & dozing off, T had to use the l'il girl's room - at least 40 times (though, she'll say it was only twice).

Lesson Learned #5: When choosing a camp site, keep in mind the size of your wife's bladder versus the distance to the bathroom.

As it was dark & we were in "Active Bear Country," I escorted T to the facilities. I assured her that if a bear came charging out of the woods, I'd run & get help as fast as I could. She didn't find the humor in that. I didn't find the humor in being awakened from what little sleep I could get whilst laying on terra extra firma. I'd say we were even.

Returning to the tent, I proceeded to make an attempt at softening things up a bit, all the while telling myself "It's an's an's an adventure." I finally got our accommodations as comfortable as I could & tried to go to sleep. Unfortunately, I had Toby Keith's "Who's That Man Running My Life" (or whatever it's called) stuck in my head & kept pondering how in the world Mr. Keith expected me to feel sorry for his predicament when, according to the lyrics, he up & left his family & never bothered coming back. Then, when he did come back, he just ended up hanging out outside the house, whining & moping about not seeing your kids. Cripes, he even left the dog! What kind of country singer is he?!?

Anyway, after spending the better part of an hour alternating between the stupidity of a Toby Keith song & debating whether or not to just climb into the car & call it a night, I finally fell asleep by amusing myself with changing some of the lyrics to the song (don't ask). Five minutes later, the sun was up.

Lesson Learned #6: Toby Keith has no one to blame but himself.

Packing a change of clothes & my toiletries into my backpack, I headed to the bathroom to freshen up for the day. Unfortunately, the sink only had one spigot - the cold one. Taking a deep breath, I poured the coldest water I have ever felt over my head. Immediately, the fuzziness from the previous night's lack of sleep changed to such a startling clarity with a ferocity that quite nearly knocked me backwards. I was more awake than I'd ever been in my life.

I returned to the camp, trying to shake off the self-induced instant hypothermia. T asked me if I'd help her with washing her hair, to which I agreed. Apparently learning from my stupidity, she grabbed a pitcher full of hot water that was being heated up to do the dishes later.

Yeah. I'm a bright one, all right.

Anyway, as I have short, spiky hair, I can get away with a towel drying & some hair goop. T, on the other hand, has longer, fine hair that requires a bit more attention. She needs things like a brush & hairspray & a blow dryer.

Lesson Learned #7: A 2006 PT Cruiser can be turned into a 150hp, 4 cylinder hairdryer. Just turn the heater up on 'high.'

While we were cleaning up camp after breakfast, I experienced the first of many assaults on my person by Nature, as I felt what I at first thought was a large bug nailing me on the top of my head. That would've been preferable to what it really was. It turns out that, out of the acres upon acres of wilderness that surrounded us, a bird decided to drop its load right where I was standing (the first of two times). The real kicker is that I wasn't even under a tree - I was out in the open!

After cleaning up, we headed toward town to go hunt down a replacement mattress for us. On the way to Lone Pine, we stopped by the Manzanar Japanese Internment Camp, a sobering reminder that our country is capable of some incredible acts of stupidity. To hear the stories of these people - American citizens, no less - that had everything taken from them & were imprisoned, under the "this is for your protection" guise makes some of the things that the government is currently pulling on us all the more concerning. I'm not some conspiracy theory wing nut, but I do believe that history can repeat itself for those who don't learn from the past.


After that somber trip through history, we made our way to Lone Pine, which, despite being a town of about 7 people, has three sporting goods stores. The first (&, as it turned out, only) establishment that we entered was a sporting goods/hardware store that looked as if someone took every item that they thought that anyone might want, stuck them in a building, then shook the building, mixing everything up with no rhyme or reason.

Lesson Learned #8: Be very specific when air mattress shopping. There is a difference between a camping mattress (which basically amounts to a pool floatation mattress) & an air mattress.

Twenty minutes later & nearly $70 lighter, we left with a box full of the hope of a good night's sleep. We returned to camp &, after lunch, I set about inflating our new mattress.

Lesson Learned #9: Wal-Mart's Ozark Trail brand of outdoor equipment sucks. How did I come to this conclusion? The piece of crap first mattress, a folding pocket knife that wouldn't lock in the closed position (leading to, I'm sure, a wonderful stab to the leg at some point) & the later discovery that our host's tent ripped when it was pulled a little more that the stitching could handle (which wasn't much) have all left a bitter taste. We'll be sticking with Coleman from now on, thank you.

T & the others piled into the cars & headed to another site about 3,000 feet higher than we were. I opted to give the new mattress a spin by taking a nap. Ah, & what a glorious nap it was! While I nodded ("nearly napping..."), I got the first hint at the weather that was about to make its presence known, as several gusts blew through the area. I thought at one point I'd open the tent flaps & find a dead witch underneath it & a bunch of freaky midgets poking out of the foliage. After that, it started to sprinkle. Fortunately, our tent wasn't an Ozark Trail product (see Lesson Learned #9) & it held up quite well.

The others returned eventually & we closed out our last evening with a good dinner, a campfire & s'mores.

Lesson Learned #10: Nature hates me.

I learned the previous lesson at about midnight, when not only did the gusty, Wizard of Oz type wind start back up, it also started to - you guessed it - rain. T yelled out to God, saying "All right! We get it! We're not supposed to be out here!", while I started laughing at the thought that, if it rained hard enough, at least our mattress was holding up & we could stay afloat on it.

Lesson Learned #11: Nylon is not only waterproof, it also has amazing water absorbing abilities.

Once again, T had to go use the facilities. This was where the rather small dimensions of our tent really made themselves known. For, you see, there wasn't enough room for us to comfortably put our shoes on & trying to exit the tent by standing up (instead of the tried & true method of crawling out on all fours, due to the soggy ground) proved to be an exercise in balance, contortion & coordination. Fortunately, we were both able to get out of the tent without divorcing.

We crawled back in &, as our wonderful mattress was holding up (thank you, Coleman Company!), we soon were on our way back to Dreamland.

Upon waking up a little while later, I put my hand on my pillow to adjust it a bit & found it to be wet. A quick feel of the sleeping bag that was up against the tent elicited the same result.

Lesson Learned #12: Don't put your bedding up against water saturated nylon.

We were met the next morning by a beautiful, blue sky & snow dusted mountain tops just a few thousand feet above us. It was the first clean air we'd breathed in a week, due to the 2007 SoCal Marshmallow Roast going on all around us. We went down to the creek & poked around a bit & I followed some deer tracks up a hill until my innate dislike of being bitten by a rattlesnake kept me from following further through the brush. Not that there was a rattlesnake; I just wasn't going to chance it, given Lesson Learned #10. We returned to camp, wrung out our gear & set to the task of loading up the cars. A short time later, we said our goodbyes over lunch & then made our way back home.

When we got back closer to home, we stopped at Rubio's (we had a hankerin' for some fish tacos & chicken burritos). Neither of us being springtime fresh, T was concerned that we might run into someone she knew from work. I jokingly told her that Rubio's is the one place where I will almost always run into someone from work.

It was then that we ran into Scooter from my department.

Lesson Learned #13: Sometimes, it's just better to shut up.

So, we survived. We weren't eaten by bears or trapped & forced to live off the carcasses of our dead co-campers. No poison berries were consumed. I daresay we did pretty well for our first time out.

And we learned a lot, too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Silly Things

I keep staring at the monitor, but nothing happens. Maybe if I try looking intently at the keyboard…

Nope. Nothing.

Why was I blessed with such incredibly good looks instead of telekinesis? Why couldn’t I have both, maybe with a bit of independent wealth thrown into the mix? Oh well. Can’t have it all, I suppose.

Guess I’ll have to use my fingers instead.

The other day, I was talking to my older sister, trying to finalize the headcount for Birthapalooza 36 next Sunday (count so far: Me, T, The Boy, & my mom – a rowdy bunch we are). She informed me that, sadly, she would be otherwise engaged next weekend & would be unable to make it (apparently, seeing Genesis at the Hollywood Bowl trumps seeing your brother’s slide down the downhill side towards 40). Stifling a sniffle & trying my best to not let on how utterly crushed I was that she’d rather spend her time watching a pasty, balding Englishman try to recapture his former glory, I told her that it was OK, that, barring being hit by a bus, the invitation was open for next year. This led to the following topic:

Do people say “barring being hit by a bus, I’ll do such & such” because the likelihood of them being hit by said bus is relatively low?

Think about it – do you ever hear someone say “If I don’t blink my eyes at some point in the interim, I’ll do such & so forth”? I mean, you really can’t do much about blinking, at some point, over the course of, say, 12 months. Being hit by a bus, on the other hand, is something that you do have a bit of control over. Unless the bus is a stealth bus, you usually will see one coming in your direction, giving you enough time to move out of its way. Maybe if you’re particularly dense, you might stand a better chance of being hit, in which case, do the gene pool a favor & stay right where you are. Not to take anything away from those poor souls who have accidentally been hit by a bus; it just seems like when you use that as a potential out for doing something in the future, you’re aiming kind of low. (Although, imagine the irony if you actually were hit by a bus at some time. I mean, after your bones mend & all, of course.)

We went on to discover that there are other things that have an even lower chance of happening & thus keeping one from making it to their little brother’s birthday, such as being eaten by a shark. Living about 70 miles inland from the Pacific, I feel confident that, on an average day, the odds of me meeting & being consumed by a great white are low. In fact, I actually do have a better chance of being hit by a bus.

This issue went further when we considered that the likelihood of being run over by a bus driven by a great white was even lower than being attacked by a shark in the middle of the Mojave Desert. We did determine, though, that, while buses do not have a mouth &, by default, lack teeth, you could still get your hand ‘eaten’ if you stuck it in the engine while it was running, in which case, please see my comment about doing the gene pool a favor.

So, here’s the ranking of things that might keep one from joining their youngest brother on his birthday next year, from highest to lowest:

Being hit by a bus

Being eaten by a great white shark

Being eaten by a bus

Being hit by a bus driven by a great white

Monday, October 08, 2007

Per Request

Note: I wrote this last Friday. The contents of my pockets have changed a bit, but I wasn't about to rewrite this whole thing, so...



Wow...this place got dusty. Look at all the cobwebs. Kind of gives it a little seasonal ambiance, I think.

Anyway, Amy is apparently starved for some good quality entertainment & requested that I write something - anything. Even about the contents of my pockets. Well, Amy, since I aim to please here at MLCotW, I bring you -


Let's start with the Right Front, shall we? First up, my key ring. My key ring is a fascinating collection of keys of various make & use. On the first ring, we have my non-descript apartment key; my mailbox key (an Ilco); another Ilco brand key (I have no idea what it goes to, but it balances out the ring that it's on); my YMCA membership fob (sadly unused as of late - but, hey, no naked men stories; that's a plus); my Air Force dog tag - hey! I'm a B Positive (a funny story - the tag is stamped with your religious preference. I had a friend who didn't choose a specific affiliation, so his was stamped NO DENOM. If you looked at it quickly, it looked like it said NO DEMON. OK, maybe that wasn't so funny. You can blame Amy for asking me to write again); & lastly, a brass key fob with an eagle & my favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 40:31, inscribed on it: "They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run & not be weary; they shall walk & not faint." The second ring is home to my car keys, which, since T took the new car (Yay! We got a new car!), adds up to two - one, an official GM key & the other a copy (yet another Ilco - did they corner the market on key copies?). The third ring is simply there to hold rings one & two together. Just functional, not flashy.

Anything else in there? I had a dollar, but spent it on a Dew this morning, so, that's it for the Right Front. Oh, wait - the Watch Pocket, probably the most underutilized pocket on pants today. Not in mine, though, for I carry an actual pocket watch. On a chain! It classes me up a bit, y'know?

Moving along to the Left Front, where we'd usually find a wad of receipts (I refer to this pocket as my "filing cabinet," as I keep any important scraps of paper that I know I'll need later in there), but, I cleared all those out this morning, leaving just my MP3 player, which you wouldn't normally find in there. I've since moved it back to the safety of its padded case, where it's all snug & sound.

Making our way further east around the equator, we find the Left Butt Pocket. This is home to my work badge (I get work related discounts just about anywhere I go, so it pays to have my badge handy). I also use this pocket for pieces of paper that are too bulky to fit in the Left Front. Fascinating, yes?

We end our tour of the compartments of my pants with the Right Butt Pocket, home to my wallet & my ever present ink pen, complete with a rubber band around it to keep it from committing suicide & jumping out of the pocket all the time. My wallet is about 1 1/2 inches thick & about 3/4 of an inch of it I could probably get rid of. The current inventory consists of the following:

• My ATM card
• A Fantastic Sam's 12 for 11 Club card (only 4 more to go!)
• A business card from my bank
• A GameStop 'Edge' card (10%off used games! Woo hoo!)
• A Harry & David Preferred Customer card
• An outdated ATM card
• My medical insurance card
• A Superstar Video card
Another outdated ATM card (I'm thinking I need to clear those out)
Yet another medical insurance card - geez!
• A Park 'N Fly card
• A Hollywood Video card that I haven't used in about 5 years
• A Schlockbuster gift card that probably has about $.43 on it
• A business card from a city worker
• Another Superstar card (each location has its own card - is that retarded or what?)
• A business card from the pastor that met with us when my dad passed away
• A business card from the deputy that took my report when someone broke into one of the cars last year
• A business card from one of the thousands of local thrift/antique (read: old crap) stores in town
• My license
• The Boy's ATM card
• Pictures
• About 153 more business cards
Another friggin' medical insurance card!!!
• Lint

So, there you have it. I hope that Amy & anyone else who still comes here in the vain attempt to find something new has enjoyed it.

As for me, I've got some ATM & insurance cards to shred.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Maybe I Should Lay Off The Caffeine

I frequently think of things &, sometimes, blurt them out, like I have some uncontrollable need to purge the words & thoughts from my body, lest I combust. Since I don't drink, I chalk it up to Tourette's Syndrome, which does give me a free ticket to swear, if I so choose.

Anyway, since I'm feeling that compulsion again (to blurt out weird thoughts, not swear) (yet), I thought that instead of getting weird looks from my wife & co-workers, I'd put them here on MLCotW, since (A) I can't see any of your amused/horrified/repulsed/befuddled reactions & (B) nobody comes around here anymore anyway. Enjoy!

* I had a dream the other night that I was autopsying the torso of Charlie Sheen with a female assistant who'd contracted an STD from Angelina Jolie. Don't ask - it's probably better that way.
* I once sat on an ant pile - on purpose - just to see what they'd do. Do you know what ants do when you sit on their hill? They bite. A lot.
* It was then that I learned that the phrase "You've got ants in your pants" wasn't so funny.
* Miguelito was whining about not having any confidence with the ladies since he's tried to quit drinking, although he found that at least carrying a cup of cranberry juice around helped a bit. I sugested that he start carrying a "Crunk Cup" so as to give him an 'in' when trying to strike up a conversation. My wife informed that that was one of the dumbest things she'd ever heard.
* I stand by my idea, though.
* My new cellmate, Mumbles, is trying to kill me with carmel mocha frapachinos frappachinos frapaccinos coffee Slurpies loaded with extra shots of espresso. I think this is in retaliation for gluing her mouse to its mousepad, among other torments.
* I wonder if Luke Skywalker ever has times where he's jealous of Princess Leia. I mean, she was adopted by a rich senator's family on the lush & relatively temperate planet of Alderaan, lived a life of luxury, spent her days debating in the Young Imperial Senators Club & her nights going to parties, trying to avoid Dax Dev, a nine-armed, 12-fingered exchange student from Dantooine. Luke, on the other hand, was raised by a cranky moisture farmer on the desert planet Tatooine (where rainfall totals are measured by decades instead of yearly), spent his days sweating profusely & his nights picking sand out of his belly button. I'd say he got the bum end of the whole adoption deal.

I think I need to get out more...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mini-Review: Ratatouille

Hey, here's something I haven't done in awhile...

No, not updating my site. Shut up.

I mean a review of a recently viewed, currently-in-the-theatre movie. In this case, the latest offering from our friends at Pixar, Ratatouille.

In my usual fashion, I'll start with the couple trailers that I can remember off the top of my head.

First up - Underdog, yet another in a long line of bad ideas from the bottom of the barrel. And I don't say that because of the subject material, but rather the ill-advised (& repeated) attempt by Hollywood to take 10 minute cartoons & make them into 90+ minute live-action features. *sigh* Did they learn nothing from the Garfield train wrecks? Anyway, the one thing this one's got going for it is that Underdog is voiced by Jason Lee, who could read the ingredients on a Twinkie wrapper & have me rolling all over the floor.

The only other trailer that I can remember (I lapsed into my happy place after this one...Wee!) is for a movie that looks so horrible, so awful, so incredibly stupid that words simply fail me in describing how truly terrible this movie will be (I've got to get a bigger thesaurus), except to say that this is the first time a movie preview has ever driven me to contemplate suicide - Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you Bratz. Yes, a movie about spoiled, self-absorbed, empty-headed, hydrocephalic dolls.

Oh. My. Word. This movie alone makes me so glad that The Boy is both too old & the opposite gender than that of the target audience. In what I can only assume was an attempt to keep parents from throwing themselves over the railing of the front row of the upper level seats, plummeting to their deaths (or at least into blessed, semi-unconsciousness) 4 feet below in an effort to escape this cinematic crap pile, the makers of the trailer tried to pummel the audience into submission with a flurry of "OMG!" lefts, "BFF!" rights & a few "squealing girl" uppercuts before showing the title.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Satan.

Seriously, if I would've had a razor in my pocket, I wouldn't be here writing this. Are there really children in the world that are as vapid & braindead as the characters that assaulted my eyes & ears on that fateful evening? Please, for the love of all that's good & holy, sterilize them! Do not let them into the genepool!

Hey, reliving that little bit of trauma shook loose the memory of another trailer for a Pixar movie coming out next year that looks really good about a robot that gains sentiency that's called...URG!!! I can't remember it now!

Curse you, Bratz! CUUUURSE YOOOOOOOU!!!

Anyway, the memories of screaming 'tweens juming up & down to horrid faux-rock music were soon put to rest (until I started writing this - see what I do for you people?) when the short before our feature presentation began - a little gem called Lifted, about an alien abductor-trainee, his demanding instructor & a million buttons. I can't remember the last time that I laughed so hard in a theatre. I honestly thought I was having a heart attack as I started getting shooting pains in my left arm. I would've gone out on a high note if I'd keeled over right there. In fact, this may have backfired on Ratatouille, as the laugh bar was raised almost out of reach.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you all know the premise of the movie, so I think I'll skip going into great detail about it. Suffice it to say, this wasn't one of my favorite Pixar flicks, ranking above A Bug's Life, which is on the low end of the rating spectrum. That's not to say that it's an awful movie (neither was A Bug's Life,, really). A sub-par Pixar movie is far, far superior to crap like Hoodwinked or Happily n' Everafter or Shark Tale (man, I hate that one).

The animation, as usual, is incredible. I swear, every movie that Pixar puts out amazes me (visually) a hundred times more than the last. The fur on the rats (as well as the hair on the humans), both wet & dry, looks realistic. The cityscapes & backgrounds are breathtaking. Little details, like rusty old sewer pipes & the wood splinters in the joists of a house after they've been peppered by a shotgun & even the old, black & white television show clips seen in the early parts of the movie, flesh out the world into which we're peering into. Ratatouille is a visual feast. And any movie that can make a character voiced by Janene Garaffalo look good is working some serious CGI magic.

So, if it's such a visually stunning work, what's the problem then?

Well, as we all know, watching a movie is only half the experience. You've got to have an engrossing story & engaging characters that you actually care about. This is Ratatouille's shortcoming. Remy (Patton Oswalt), the long tailed star of the movie, is a little...well...boring. You get it that he's a rodent with a refined palette. You get it that he'd rather starve than eat another piece of rubbish. But, we have no background on him, really, other than that he's his nest's poison tester due to his sensitive sniffer. And he can read. And understand French & English. How did he get that way, though? Is he a mutant? Did he escape from NIMH? We don't know. It's never explained

The other problem is Remy's human puppet, Linguini, voiced by Lou Romano (the poor-man's Ray Romano); he's even more boring than Remy. Romano's voice is one of those that's okay in small doses, but in 110 minute batches, it gets a little grating. I just wanted him to shut up & do something - anything - other than talk & whine.

The primary antagonist, Skinner (Ian Holm), is hysterical to watch, as he's about 3 feet tall (& if you've read anything I've written, you know that midgets make me smile). Many a time, all that's seen of him is his toque cruising by people at bellybutton level. He's a little man with a major Napoleon complex & it's milked for all of its comedic worth.

The peripheral characters are all more interesting than the main players, though. (I'd love to see a back story on Skinner's second-in-command, a man with a shadowy past who apparently killed someone - using only his thumbs) The supporting cast (the rats, the rest of the kitchen staff, Antono Ego (Peter O'Toole), the sadistic restaurant reviewer), much like the little visual touches throughout the movie, add a lot of flavor*, picking up some of the slack left by Linguini & Remy.

(*I just noticed the abundance of food related words/phrases that I've used in this review. I promise, it wasn't intentional. Hey, at least I haven't resorted to using any 'salty' language!)

(Sorry. That was bad.)

So, what'd you really think?

As I said before, a so-so Pixar offering is better than most of the other CGI junk out there. Ratatouille isn't a bad movie by a longshot. In fact, just for the chance to laugh myself retarded watching Lifted over & over, it'll probably find its way into my video shelf. All in all, though, it's just kind of like watching a cooking show - you've just seen something incredible & that you know you'd never be able to make.

And you're still hungry.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Anniversary #3

T & I decided that we didn't want to spend money on cards for our anniversary, & she instead to write her a poem. Unfortunately, she's never seen my attempts at making words rhyme. It's not a pretty sight. And I'm not kidding. Apparently, being a distant cousin to Longfellow (no, really, I am!) doesn't automatically make one good at writing prose. So, in an effort to schmooze her with words that not only convey my love & adoration for her, but also sound nice together & don't start with "Roses are red...," I've decided to leave the rhyming to the experts.

I love you Beautiful. Thank you for three wonderful years. Here's to a lifetime more.

Looks like we made it
Look how far we've come, my baby

~Still the One, Shania Twain

I'm gonna love you forever
forever & ever, Amen
As long as old men
sit & talk about the weather
As long as old women
sit & talk about old men

If you wonder how long I'll be faithful
I'll be happy to tell you again
I'm gonna love you
forever & ever
Forever & ever, Amen

~Forever & Ever, Amen, Randy Travis

Sometimes it amazes me
How strong the power of love can be
Sometimes you just take my breath away

Your beauty is there in all I see
And when I feel your eyes on me
Oh don't you know you just take my breath away

~You Take My Breath Away, Eva Cassidy

I've found a dream
that I can speak to
A dream that I can call my own

I've found a thrill
to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known

~At Last, Etta James

The smile on your face
let's me know that you need me
There's a truth in your eyes
saying you'll never leave me
The touch of your hand
says you'll catch me
if ever I fall

~When You Say Nothing At All, Alison Krauss

So sing with me softly
As the day turns into night
& later I'll dream
of paradise with you
I love you
& good night

~Anniversary Song, Eva Cassidy

Friday, April 06, 2007


I've known you since the moment you were born.

I watched you take your first steps. Heard you say your first words.

I've seen you at your lowpoints & have seen you soar to great heights. I've watched you, with a mixture of wonder, curiousity & pride, as you've explored your world.

And now - I've seen you cross the threshold into becoming a young man.

I'm watching you take your first steps into the big, wide world. I'm hearing you talk less like a child & more like a young person finding his way.

I'll still be there for you when you wander into the low valleys of life & I'll be there, bursting with joy as I see you achieve the greatness that you are destined to reach.

I'll still watch you with a mixture of wonder, curiousity & pride as I see you explore this strange new place called 'adolescence'.

Never forget that, no matter hold old you get, how much you learn & acomplish in this life, no matter what path life will have you take - to me you'll always be that little blond haired boy in overalls, blowing on dandelions, getting excited at the sound of trash trucks & fire engines & racing his three-wheeler around the park.

You'll always be my little boy.

Happy Birthday

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Curse Of An Overactive Imagination

Have you ever been walking down to the laundry room or the mailbox or taking out the trash & thought to yourself "If there were zombies coming across the park, what would I do?"

Do you find yourself going into an indepth comparison of the footspeed & stairclimbing abilities of a Romero-esque zombie versus a '28 Days Later' type?

Do you then find yourself figuring out how fast you could get your keys out & unlock the front door?

Do you look to see which neighbor's apartment you could run to for safety or try to determine if the laundryroom door, barricaded with a washer & dryer, could hold back an attack from the undead?

Have you contemplated whether zombies can swim & if jumping into the pool would be effective?

Do you walk up the stairs, front door key at the ready, & quickly close & lock the door behind you when you get inside, panting for breath?

Have you actually thought out a survival plan for a sudden undead uprising, while still having not gotten around to getting an earthquake survival kit together?

C'mon. Please tell me I'm not the only one.

*sigh* I really am weird, aren't I?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hey, It's A Workout Story That Doesn't Involve Nekkid Old Men!

Ed. Note: It occurred to me that more people might find my stories amusing if I - oh, I dunno - actually posted 'em after writing 'em.

It's just a thought.

I have no proof that my stories are any more or less funny if I post them or not.

The town that I work & go to the gym in is small by comparison to, say, LA or New York. Since The Company is the second largest employer in town, I tend to run into a lot of people from work. Most of the time it's not a bad thing; I recognize them & they haven't the foggiest notion of who I am, which is fine, as I don't make it a habit of running up & greeting them anyway. Sometimes, seeing co-workers (or, in this case, former co-workers) can be a bad thing, though.

Like when I'm at the the gym & I run into Crazy Paulo.

As the name implies, Crazy Paulo's not what I would classify as 'mentally stable'. I mean, I'm not a psychiatrist or anything, but this guy is just a little tetched. He's one of those people who, if you were unfortunate enough to start a conversation with him, would give you not only got a complete rundown of his personal history, but his personal history about three inches from your face. That, in & of itself, doesn't make him crazy, I suppose (more irritating than anything).

No, the thing that tips you off to the fact that he might be a few clowns short of a circus are his eyes. He's got 'crazy eyes', kind of like Brad Pitt in '12 Monkeys', just without the twitchy thing going on. When he talks to you, he looks at you with this intense gaze, & you half expect him to start extolling the virtues of aluminum foil deflector beanies in keeping the gub'ment's mind control rays from getting to you or tell you about how the flying elves with their pointy toes are out to get him. You're afraid to make any sudden movements for fear that he'll freak out on you.

Yeah, that kind of crazy.

So, you can imagine the unmitigated dread that I felt when I entered the gym one night to find Crazy Paulo walking my way. You can probably also imagine how quickly I darted the other way to avoid having him see me. So far, I've managed to avoid his crazy gaze. But, I can see the hamster wheel a'turnin' in his head, knowing that he remembers me from somewhere, perhaps some hallucination he had once. I'm just waiting for the day to come when the lightbulb finally flickers on & he remembers me.

'Tis a day I'm not looking forward to.

So, if I ever go missing for an extended period of time, direct the police to Crazy Paulo. He might just know where to find me.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Oh. My. Word.

It's like someone reached into my mind & pulled out my worst nightmare:

Nudists sweat it out at Dutch gym

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Sick Day MI:5

I kept seeing these 'MI:5' memes over at Amy's place. Being the curious sort, I asked her what this was all about & was informed that the memes are filled out by a group of bloggers every weeks (Hi everyone!). Each week, someone's tagged with coming up with some themed questions, sends them out to the others & tags someone else to take the next week. (That last part may be a little tricky for me, as I only know of Amy...hmm). Anyway, that long-winded intro was my way of saying "Here's my first entry in the MI:5 thing-a-ma-bob."


1. When was the last time you were sick? What was wrong? [Earlier this month I had a bout of bronchitis. I don't get colds anymore; I get bronchitis]

2. Have you ever been in the hospital? Why? [When I was about 7 years old I had to have an operation on a hernia. The thing that sucked the most? When I was finally able to eat food again, the nurse gave me a menu for breakfast the next day. And, of course, I was discharged the next morning - before breakfast]

3. What is the one food that almost always makes you feel better when you are feeling ill? [It depends on the illness. With a cold, I can't get enough of anything to eat. With a stomach bug, I can't even look at food]

4. When was the last time you had a headache? [About three minutes ago. But now that my boss has left the office, I feel much better]

5. Do you have any alternative remedies you try when you are feeling under the weather? [Mega-doses of Vitamin C (I don't care what the 'experts' say - it works) & Ny-Quil. Lots & lots of Ny-quil]

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


It's Valentine's Day once again.


As I've been going about the past few days, trying to ignore the barrage of signs & commercials telling me that I just have to go spend a bundle to show my wife how much I love her (which is something that I should do, & I do, all year long) with expensive jewelry & flowers & whatnot, I think back to my school days. Ah yes, spending the night before cranking out valentines to everyone in the class until your hand cramped up. The gross glue on the teeny little envelopes. The myriad paper cuts. Nasty little chalk-like candies.

Yes, I am a Valentine's Grinch. And darn proud of it.

I remember, early on, when everyone exchanged cards with everyone else. Then, at around 5th grade or so, people started getting a little more selective. Some still gave cards to everyone in the class, but the amount of kids who were a bit more picky with their valentine dispersal caused a noticeable decline in the card count. You could always count on getting one from the one kid that smelled like old milk & whose signature looked like he signed his cards with his feet. And your best friend, which was a little weird, looking back now. Of course, if your best friend happened to be the smelly kid, well, you were out one card.

Now that I think about it, if your best friend happened to be the smelly kid, that was probably the only card you'd be getting. *sigh*

Anyway, I can remember the last year that most of the class exchanged cards, which was 6th grade. This was the point in my young life when I started to become a wee bit girl-crazy. Oh, I'd loved the ladies well before then; now, though, it was more acceptable around the guys to notice a cute girl, albeit still in hushed tones in the far reaches of the playground.

Before, you'd look at the cards &, if they had a puzzle or maze on them, run through them & move on to the big haul - the ones with suckers & candy taped to them. Now, you scrutinized the cards a bit more, looking for subtle hints imbedded in the message on the front of the valentine. You took every "Bee Mine" featuring a bee sitting on a heart or "You drive me wild, Valentine" with a picture of two teddy bears driving an old, flower covered Model T with heart shaped exhaust coming out of the tailpipe as a potential secret message, indicating that the girl had finally, finally come to her senses & seen what your mother had told you all along: that you were the most handsome boy in the whole school & worthy of the girl's undying love, devotion & attention.

More often than not, though, we boys ended up reading too far into the message, not unlike Ralph Wiggum with the pity card that Lisa Simpson gave to him. Apparently, some of the girls knew how stupid we were & decided to help us out. One of these girls - Joan - took great pains to make sure I understood her true feelings, in no uncertain terms.

Joan had given me a valentine with a cartoon goldfish in a bowl, talking on the phone. The card said "Drop me a line, Valentine." On the other side, underneath the obligatory "To:" & "From:" was a note -

"I don't really mean what the front of the card says."

And thus began my hatred of Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Just Because...

Just because, Beautiful.

I love you.

Sometimes it amazes me
How strong the power of love can be
Sometimes you just take my breath away

You watch my love grow like a child
Sometimes gentle and sometimes wild
Sometimes you just take my breath away

And it's too good to slip by
Too good to lose
Too good to be there
Just to use
I'm gonna stand on a mountain top
And tell the news
That you take my breath away

Sometimes it amazes me
How strong the power of love can be
Sometimes you just take my breath away

Your beauty is there in all I see
And when I feel your eyes on me
Oh don't you know you just take my breath away

And it's too good to slip by
Too good to lose
Too good to be there
Just to use
I'm gonna stand on a mountain top
And tell the news
That you take my breath away

And it's too good to slip by
Too good to lose
Too good to be there
Just to use
I'm gonna stand on a mountain top
And tell the news
That you take my breath away

You Take My Breath Away ~ Eva Cassidy

Monday, February 05, 2007

Heroes, Week Twelve



Yes, it was quite entertaining. Please excuse me while I go clean the geek drool off my face.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Things That Are Smarter Than The Idiots People I Deal With On A Daily Basis

Dryer lint

Tiny rocks

Bread crust

My socks


Twist ties

Zip-Lock sandwich bags

Fingernail clippings

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Apple Cheddar Cheese Spread

[Note: This marks the first time that I actually had a sucker patsy witness to a bad food tasting, which, given the nasty schtuff that I've eaten in the past, may be a good thing, just in case one of these things turns out to be lethal.]

This lovely little entry into the Pantry of Horrors came to assault my tastebuds quite by accident. Y'know, as opposed to me actually inflicting it upon myself, like the Squeeze Cheese or the Potted Meat Product (I still get a chill when I think about that schtuff). This was initially part of a gift to my niece, Queen Lauroo, who, very foolishly bravely tried out this processed atrocity with me.

Let's hop into the Wayback Machine to last month, when T & I were Christmas shopping. Feverishly trying to find just the right gifts for my nieces & nephew, we came across a locking canister with chickens* emblazoned all over it - the perfect gift for Queen Lauroo. Plainly displayed (& promptly ignored) was a label telling us that there was more inside. After she opened the canister, I'd wished that I hadn't disregarded the tag. For, residing inside of a very thick plastic bag, was a substance of such foulness, the likes of which the world has rarely seen.

And its name was Apple Cheddar Cheese Spread! *shudder*

[*Although she vehemently denies it, Queen Lauroo loves, loves, LOVES chickens; we've told her so. We do worry, though, that she's on the fast track to becoming that weird lady that every street has. You know the one - all the kids speak in hushed tones when they pass her house, talking about the one kid that dared to retrieve his ball from her yard - & was never heard from again!]

Upon first glance, the whole thing looked like a cheese-filled water balloon.

A very full cheese-filled balloon.

See for yourself:

Note the ingredients - Mmm, mmmm...that's some good eatin' right there!

Upon cutting open the plastic, I prepared myself for what I thought would be an all-out assault on my nostrils, but was quite surprised (& a little disappointed) to find that there really wasn't much of a smell at all. The only thing that I can equate it to would be wax. Plain, old, unscented wax. This caused me to momentarily lower my defenses & think that this may not be as bad as I thought it would.

My defenses were quickly back up to full strength when I applied a dollop of the schtuff to a cracker & I could swear that I heard it scream. Take another look at the first picture - the cracker on the counter in the background? It was actually moving closer to the edge of the counter in an attempt to throw itself off & end its misery.

Despite the uneasiness that a screaming cracker can cause, Queen Lauroo & I decided to still try a bite. This is when things started to get weird. Y'see, much like the smell of this...this...thing, the flavor wasn't immediately bad. In fact, the taste never even came close to Potted Meat Product status. The taste, you could say, was quite literal, for, as you chewed, the flavor alternated from apple to (kinda) cheese & back to apple. I kind of imagine it's what the full course meal gum in 'Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory' would've been like, only gross. And, thankfully, we didn't turn into a giant ball of Apple Cheddar Cheese Spread.

The worst thing about this affront to humanity is that to this day, nearly a month later, I can still taste it. In this area, it takes the Potted Meat Product to school, because, while that was probably the single nastiest thing I've ever willingly put into my face, I was able to, eventually, get the taste out of my mouth & block its memory from my mind. This, though, I can still conjure up. And I'm betting that Queen Lauroo can, as well.

So, while the Apple Cheddar Cheese Spread was lacking in out & out horrid taste & smell (don't get me wrong - I'll not be trying it ever again), it stands head & shoulders above the rest when it comes to the tenacity with which it has stuck in the memory of my poor tastebuds, thus securing its rightful place in the Pantry of Horrors.

Monday, January 15, 2007


With the arrival of the new year, I've renewed my resolve to get back into the swing of working out. So far, I've made it back about three times, with two of those times being this past week.

Since I started back in October, I've mentioned several of the psyche-scarring sights that I've been subjected to in the mens locker-room, most of them involving naked, hairy men.


A few nights ago, though, as I entered the locker-room, trying not to breath in the nasty, bowling alley-shoe-disinfectant air, I was greeted by a vision that will haunt me for the rest of my life: a 350lb man standing on the scale. That, in & of itself, was not so terrifying. The part of this encounter that almost caused my eyes to push themselves back into my skull in an attempt to save them from the view that lay before them was the fact that this rather large man was, of course, totally naked.

Yeah. Naked.

I dubbed him Hugh.

Hugh Jass.

So far, I've named three of them, although several people share the names: Hugh Jass, Harry Butt-Ochs & Old Man Dangly Bits.

I've told T that I'm going to start changing in the womens locker-room. Unfortunately, though, Old Man Dangly Bits wife, Old Lady Dangly Bits, likes to let it all hang out as well.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Jabootu 3.0

As promised many months ago, the Supreme Potentate of Jabootu, Ken Begg, has brought himself out of his mini hiatus & given us Jabootu - the Bad Movie Dimension - or Jabootu V.3. (...and there was much rejoicing. Yay...)

If your movie tastes run along the same lines as mine (ie horribly bad & extra cheese), go now & check out the new digs. Look around. Sit a spell. You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Year That Was's 2007 already? That was fast. It seems like ever year, the calendar companies take a few days off of the calendar here & there. Just look at February - you can't tell me that it originally started out with 28 days. I smell a conspiracy here between the calendar makers & Hallmark to gradually get rid of every month except December in an attempt to get people to buy Christmas cards 'year-round'.

For the days last year that Hallmark didn't quietly do away with, a few things did happen. So here, for your perusal, is my year in review.

Get comfortable - a lot happened!

The year started out pretty quiet & stayed that way for the first few months. Then my dad decided that he wasn't getting enough attention & got really sick. Unfortunately, he took the getting sick thing a little too far & Dad passed away on April 8th. (If you found that to be in poor taste, well, tough. My family has a very skewed view of death. Better to laugh in its face than tremble in its shadow) My sister & I managed to get up to Shasta to see him before he died, & although he was never conscious while we were there, I'd like to think that he knew we were by his side.

He was a good man. Not a perfect man by a long shot. But he was kind & always wanted to help others, to a fault, usually. It's sad that he was taken advantage of his generosity, but it never deterred him. He was born in Montana &, because his dad traveled from place to place working, led a bit of a nomadic life before settling in the mountains of San Bernardino. He wanted to be a professional baseball player (actually tried out for the San Diego Padres), but that was sidelined, first by WW II, where he was a radar operator, & then by an injury that took out his pitching arm. He never lost his love for the game (Go Cards!), but he did have to choose another career path as a result. That career ended up being in the printing & graphics arts, where he started out as a printer & eventually made his way up working for the Wall Street Journal, adapting his job as the technology changed.

After retirement, he was stricken with emphysema (see what smoking does to you, kids?). It slowed him down a little, but never really stopped him. After a few too many close calls with his health, one of his brothers offered to let him live with he & his wife & Dad moved from Denver to the Mt. Shasta area of Northern California. He spent his last few years there & I believe he was very happy & content there (I can't thank my aunt & uncle enough for taking Dad in & making him comfortable & happy in such a beautiful place). It was during this time that we became closer (it's not like we'd been estranged or gone for years without talking, but he hadn't raised me) & we developed a better father/son relationship. Thankfully, T, The Boy & I were able to go visit him in the summer of '05 & to see him again that October.

Take care Dad. We miss you!

Shortly after Dad's passing, T & I celebrated our two year anniversary in May with a trip up the coast to Morro Bay. After having reviewed a few of the inns/hotels in the area, we decided on the Bayfront Inn. The reviews on were more or less favorable & the price was right, so we made a few calls & were on our way.

The five hour drive up there was gorgeous. The Pacific coast of California has some of the most beautiful sites of anyplace that I've ever seen. Granted, one of the places that I'm comparing it to would be Tijuana, so anything would be an improvement...

Anyway, we found our way to the inn, which, as the name implied, was on the bayfront. Several things that the name didn't imply, though, were things like little, tiny 'king-sized' rooms, holes in the mini-blinds, paint peeling everywhere, smelly, dilapidated fishing boats & power plant smoke stacks. I guess those just aren't as much of a draw, so they don't mention them in their advertising. Morro Bay itself, though, was very nice & we definitely will go back. We'll just stay at a different place is all. Y'know, one with less 'renovating' going on.

June proved to be a busy month. It started off with seeing the radio variety show 'A Prairie Home Companion' live at the Hollywood Bowl. The show is usually performed in Minnesota, so I jumped at the chance to see it without having to buy plane tickets or freeze to death. The Bowl itself is a great venue, although the parking is atrocious (we parked at the LA Zoo - six miles away - & hopped a bus to the Bowl; an hour later, we arrived). As an added bonus, since this was basically a press junket for the not-yet-release A Prairie Home Companion movie, Meryl Streep & John C. Reilly were also there. I look forward to seeing the show live again.

Immediately after that, T's brother & sister-in-law came out to Cali to run a marathon & then see us. Unfortunately, a case of bronchitis that I thought I'd kicked a month ago came back & put a damper on things. Still, we were able to show them some of the sites of So Cal, including Hollywood, Beverly Hills, some of the less than savory parts of LA & its world renowned traffic. Then we all headed out to Palm Springs for a restful few days (thanks to the Calla Lily Inn for their hospitality & for making accommodations for us when we decided to stay a little longer). It was a much needed rest for T & I.

Of course, this was also the site of the infamous Hamburger Mary's incident of Aught-Six. Let this be a lesson to you, Loyal Readers - if an establishment's mascot looks like a cross dresser & you find yourself in the minority when it comes to male/female couples, then you might just be in a gay hamburger restaurant.

In the last part of July, I was surprised to learn, two days before the fact, that my cellmate Irene was flying the coop. This came as a shock, but also, wasn't completely unexpected. I guess she'd had enough of dealing with the garbage that went on around the office on an almost daily basis that she decided lounging about in Mexico was a better alternative. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Unfortunately, this vacuum left a hole that was temporarily (thank you, Good Lord!) filled by quite possibly one of the most unpleasant people I've ever worked with. She started out with a lot of promise, but soon we figured out that wasn't a good fit. And by that I mean that she frequently picked fights with Miguelito & didn't want to do much else than complain about her old office & ask me the same questions fifty thousand times over. For once, our Clueless Leader heeded our pleas &, soon, the temp was told that we no longer required her services.

August was fairly low-key, with the exception of T's birthday &, something that's becoming something of an annual trip for us, Harvest '06. The lineup was great (the night we went we saw Mercy Me & The Newsboys) &, having learned our lesson the year before, our seats were better, too. It's nice to be able to take The Boy, even when he's in 'surly teenager' mode, to an event where I don't have to worry about foul language or idiot drunks causing a scene. If you live in the So Cal area, I highly recommend going.

My favorite time of year rolled around & October once again found us attending the Sleepy Hollow Dance at Riley's Farm in Oak Glen. Even thought T was a bit under the weather & we didn't get to dance, we still had a great time. The Boy even won the pie eating contest, without so much as a speck of pie on his face, prompting a complement from Brom Bones, even. With the exception of a few morons who seem to think the world revolves around them (when we all know that the world revolves around me), this is another fun thing that you can take your whole family to & not worry about them being exposed to the dregs of society.

In November, T surprised me with tickets to see Grant-Lee Phillips down at Largo in Hollywood. This was the second time that we'd made the trip on down there & it proved to be even better than the first time. You see, Largo is a little hole-in-the-wall kind of place that seats only about 120 people, maybe. The cover charge is $10 & there's a minimum $15 order from the dinner menu. And they have a strict 'no talking, no standing' rule while the show's on. In order to get in to the place, you need to call to make a reservation. If you get one, you then have to be at the establishment between 830p-845p, otherwise they give your reservation to someone else. Unlike the first time we went there in '05, we didn't hit traffic & managed to get there early. When we got to the entrance & paid for our seats, which, it turns out, were front & center. We were literally about four feet from the stage. After the show, Mr. Phillips was talking with who I assumed were some friends, as well as some of the audience members. T dragged me over to where he was standing (I didn't know how to approach him without looking like a total doofus) &, after the slightly inebriated man before us finally finished his list of all the places he ever seen Mr. Phillips play (or he may have been reciting US capitol cities), T & I introduced ourselves & shook his hand & all. The night so rocked!

After I'd finally come down from my little celebrity high, the month wore on, culminating with Thanksgiving at my sister's house. It was weird, as it was the first Thanksgiving where we didn't have a kid's table. Very strange, this whole growing up business.

December found us back in Arkansas for the Third Annual Thanksmas Get Together & 5k Fun Run (although it was too cold, so the Fun Run part of it was cancelled). It was a nice, relaxing trip - well until Wednesday, when the rest of T's family arrived, making the Normandy invasion look like the Teddy Bears picnic. I spent the rest of the week trying to maintain my sanity & find little oasis's of quiet. I also spent the entire time trying not to freeze to death. It seriously never got above about 35 degrees the whole time. (To add insult to injury, the very day that we left started a week or so of 70+ degree weather there. Go figure) I spent some time helping T's dad work on his 'pole barn', which looked more like an ark than a barn. I could've sworn that I saw animals mingling about the place, two by two.

It truly must be seen to be fully appreciated.

The rest of the month was spent gearing up for Christmas, which we ended up having at our house. A good time was had by all &, thanks to us deciding to go the make-your-own-sub-sandwich route, the clean-up was minimal. And that's always a good thing.

So, there you have it. Not too shabby of a year, if I do say so myself.

Well, except for that whole Dad-passing-away part. Yeah, that was kind of a downer.

Anyway, I hope that you & yours had an awesome 2006 & here's to an even more...uh...awesome 2007!