Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New Link: K.I.D.

Guitar Hero And The Ties That Bind

Last night, I arrived home from work at about 7:00 p.m. to find my family sprawled on the couch, sleeping. Oh, dear, I thought, it's going to be a late night. I was very tired since I took a nap Sunday afternoon and didn't sleep well Sunday night. As I was taking my jacket off, Doc stirred to life and welcomed me home.

We chatted for a bit and wondered if we should just go ahead and put the kiddies to bed. We decided to give it a try and Doc lifted Riley up to take her to her room and lo and behold, she woke up. She didn't want to go to bed, she said and scrambled down from her Daddy's arms and onto my lap.

She was hungry so I fixed her some PB&J with a side of Cheetos (I know! Great dinner, right?) and settled in to do the dishes. Shortly after her second sandwich, Lucy woke up with the most spectacualr case of bedhead I've ever seen. She had rolled over onto her face on the couch and started to sweat a bit. So her hair was this colden corona sticking out from all angles around her face. I'd put a picture up, but alas my camera battery wasn't charged and I couldn't capture the moment. You'll just have to take my word for it; it was adorable.

Very soon after Lucy woke up, she was standing in the kitchen kind of lost. She ended up just peeing all over the floor. I knew she didn't mean to; she's been really good about going to the potty. I know she just wasn't awake enough to realize what was going on. This upset her very badly, so we cleaned her and the floor up. And I took her into my arms and we sat on the couch together until she felt better. She loves to sit on my lap facing me and resting her head on my shoulder. Very soon, she will not want to do this much anymore, so I soaked it up.

After everyone had had a bite to eat and it was about 8:30 p.m., the girls started to get wound up. I knew I wouldn't have the energy to fight their energy, so I tried to convince them that they should dance while I played Guitar Hero. Wonder of wonders: they agreed. So, I jammed while they danced and screamed and rocked out. They were jumping on me, hanging from my arms, dancing around and jumping from the couch to the ottoman to me to the floor. Even with all of that going on, I never earned less than four stars on the Medium level.

At one point, Riley grabbed a ball of red, nappy yarn and began to wind it around my legs. She kept winding and winding until both of my thighs were completely immobilized. I was still able to jam, however. When she was done, I asked her why she had done it.

"If you were all tied up and couldn't walk, then you couldn't go to work and then you'd never have to leave!" she explained.

My heart melted and broke at the same time. I told her that everyone has to work and if we didn't work, we wouldn't have this nice house and all of our fun toys.

"We could live somewhere else," she countered.

"I'm sorry, baby, that's just the way it is."

This seemed to satisfy her and we went on with our rock show. Incidentally, when you are playing the Quick Play version and finish the song, you have the opportunity to write your name on the bathroom wall when you achieve a high score, which I always do. When you enter your name and hit Start, the urinal makes a flushing noise. This cracks Lucy up. Everytime it happened, which was after every song I played, Lucy would throw her hands up in the air and yell, "Oh, my gosh!" and laugh and laugh.

After I closed the show with Free Bird (of course), it was time for bed. The girls went to bed reluctantly but without much fuss at 10:30 p.m. I was exhausted. I felt bad because, I'd barely spent any time with Doc. But before you start feeling sorry for him, know that he was wrapped up in a game of Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 on the laptop most of the eveining. He was just in the kitchen and could still appreciate my rock prowess, though. I even dedicated "Message in a Bottle" to him.

Doc, recognizing exhaustion on my face, sent me on my way to bed. I got into my jammies and turned on the DVD of All Creatures Great and Small, a BBC TV version of James Herriot's stories of being a country vet in the Yorkshire Dales. I highly recommend both the TV series and all of his books. As the episode started and I was stretched out in the bed, I was awash in a sense of gladness. The DVD's were fresh, unwatched (I got them for free from the library), I was snuggled up under a brand new down comfortor, it wasn't too cold in the house and I'd just spent a lovely evening romping around with the kids. I was struck by the magnitude of this event as I don't ever remember feeling it before in my life. I mean, I've known happiness before, but it's always been tinged with doubt or pregret. For the first time that I can recall I felt pure gladness with no worries. Believe me, I have plenty to worry about, but for the first time ever, the worries were totally absent from my thoughts.

There are many reasons for this gladness: a combination of therapy, anti-depressants, strong, supportive family, prayer. But I think they are all a gift from God. It was Grace I was experiencing, I'm sure of it. And I'm thankful, very thankful.

And you thought fasting for Lent was a waste of time. OK, so maybe giving up Gold'n Krisp chips did not award me this moment, but at least there were no chip crumbs in the bed to sully the experience.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Trying On New Words

The other day, Riley found a book of Bratz paper dolls that her cousin had given her. She was so excited! She brought them into the kitchen and began to flip through the cardboard pages. I was starting to do the dishes and could hear her turning the pages. After a moment or two she started slamming the pages. She was mad.

I made my way over to the kitchen table and sat down. I looked at her face. Her eyebrows were furrowed and tears were starting to form in her eyes. Her jaw was set and she finally slammed the book closed.

"What's the matter, Riley," I asked.

"There are no goddamned paper dolls in this book!"

"What did you say?" I asked her pointedly.

She slammed her hands over her ears, scrunched down and said quietly, "I said there's no dolls in this book."

"Here," I said, "let me look."

I flipped through each page and indeed there were plenty of outfits but no dolls. "You're right, honey, all the dolls are gone."

"Will you make one for me?" she asked.

"Sure," I said and I did. Even though I really don't like the Bratz dolls (I find them slutty and misproportioned), I know she loves them. I felt bad that her cousin had passed this on to her sans dolls, though I'm sure it wasn't done intentionally. I was a bit shocked to hear her say "goddamned." However, she did use it appropriately, I must say. I use it when I'm mad beyond reason, or if I'm talking to Big Orange on the phone. So, I let it pass without mentioning it. It's been over a week now, and I haven't heard it again.

I'm sure she understands that that word is a "bad" word; my shocked and disapproving reaction probably demonstrated that to her. Let me just pat myself on the back here for a moment, though. I'm hoping that by not overreacting to this, I've removed the taboo of speaking bad words, so now, they are no big deal and she won't be using them to manipulate me. I'll let you know how that goes.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Drunken Post

Well, y'all, I've had two B&J's Pina Colada wine coolers plus one vodka and Italian ice. O sol o mio! I played giant Jenga and was clocked on the head by 37 foot-long two by fours. I went to turn on my iTunes and the entire library is missing execpt for my Ultimate Manilow album. Just so you know the gravity of this situation, I had 72 days of music loaded up. Fuck.

At the Copa! Copa Cabana! The hottest spot north of Havana!

I'm off to watch All Creatures Great and Small, Season Three and pray that my hair was enough to protect my brain from blunt force trauma.

And you know I can't smile without you. I can't laugh without you. If you only knew what I'm goin' through...I just can't smile, without you!!! Did you know this song would be a good song to strip to? It would! Listen to it. I know you have a copy. If you don't, ask your your mom or your mechanic if you can borrow it. Then do a striptease. It will work. I know it's a bit caberet/burlesque, but as long as Simon Cowell is not watching, it doesn't really matter, does it?
Edited to add: Hi, I'm logged on to the wrong user account on Windows. All my music is safe with my other identity!!! Huzzah!

A Musical Mystery: John Mayer

All indicators point to the fact that John Mayer is someone I should totally love. He's a guitar player, which increases a fellah's hottness factor by at least 78%, in my opinion. He's got the lugubrious good looks of Lancelot du Lac (at least how I would picture LdL). He's got a beautiful voice and heaps of charisma.

I like the sound of his music, though I'm not familiar with his entire discography. Some of his album titles appeal to me: Inside Wants Out, Room for Squares, Any Given Thursday, Continuum. His voice appeals to me very much. I like the tone and its expressiveness.

So why don't I own all of his albums?

Exhibit A: Daughters

The first time I heard this song, I was wandering around Best Buy with my daughters. We were looking at DVD's or something and it was momentarily quiet enough that I could hear the music playing through the store's sound system. I turned my head slightly to listen carefully to the appealing lilts of the guitar and the soulful and sincere sound of his voice.

Having been an instrumental musician for most of my life, I've developed the habit of hearing the voice as another instrument and, usually, I don't take in the words. Not that lyrics have not gotten through to me before, but on first hearing of any song, I am overwhelmed by the notes and really have to concentrate if I want to hear what the singer is trying to say. Usually, pop singers don't have much to say, in my opinion, so I don't waste a lot of time trying to suss meaning out of songs such as "Oops, I Did It Again." For example, I watched the entirity of last season's American Idol, where they did a sending off video for each contestent who left the show each week and that video, without fail featured the song, "So you've had a bad day". That means I heard that song at least once a week for two months and, when it came on the radio this morning, I could only sing along to "So you've had a bad day..."; the rest was all "la la la la". This is the case, even with songs I genuinely like and with lyrics that speak to me.

So, for a few moments, in Best Buy, I really enjoyed listening to John Mayer's music and I was about to start my search for this gifted artist's album, until the song made its way to the chorus and the words were made manifest in my mind. This is what I heard:

Fathers be good to your daughters;
Daughters will love like you do, yeah.
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers,
So mothers be good to your daughters, too.
Boys you can break,
You find out how much they can take.
Boys will be strong, and boys soldier on,
But boys would be gone without warmth
From a woman's good, good heart
On behalf of every man, looking out for every girl,
You are the god, and the weight of her world.
On behalf of every man whose looking out for every girl,
You are the god, and the weight of her world.
Fathers be good to your daughters,
Daughters will love like you do, yeah.
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers,
So mothers be good to your daughters, too.
So mothers be good to your daughters, too.

It's not that I don't agree with the sentiment here, but come on! Who died and made you Captain Wisdom? I was immediately turned off and disgusted. Musically, this song was so up my alley. Then he had to shit all over it with his Circle of Life fucking philosophy of child-rearing. I mean, couldn't he have used the music for this song and put in lyrics that weren't so holier than thou? Why not sing about flowers or something abstract. Jesus.

Perhaps it is ageism on my part. If Willie Nelson were singing this song, I don't think I would have had such a visceral reaction to it. Willie would give it a perspective of wisdom earned over a long life of observing human nature and hard living. But from such a youngster as JM, it feels like a sermon given by a college freshman who just finished his first psych class.

However, no matter who said it, it still begs the question: Aren't people supposed to be good to their daughters? I mean, that was my plan. But I wasn't going to be good to them so that they could "become lovers who turn into mothers". I mean, I'd like them to be mothers some day, after they finish school, college, and see the world. I'm not training them so that sleepy-eyed junior philosphers can take them as lovers and turn them into mothers. Keep your hands of my, daughters, Jack!


It never fails, though, when this song comes on the air, I am lulled into its trance. And then, as if I'd stepped on a rake, I'm slammed in the head with the unwarrented advice of Junior here and I feel betrayed anew. Stop making such nice music with such preachy lyrics, John Mayer. Either that or stop preaching and start scatting.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Amy Made Me Do It

Yesterday, Amy over at Mish Mash, challenged us to write a post to match this picture, after she tragically lost the text she had crafted. So I did. Here it is.

I'm Tired

As I'm thrown forth from the wheel of life to the side of the road, I wonder where it all went wrong. I sit here, treadbare and tubeless, contemplating the phrase: when the rubber meets the road. It's beginning to make sense to me now; sadly it's too late. My life is jacked. I feel deflated, flat, like there's a giant hole going right through my center.

I should be in a rubber room with whitewalls, trying to recall the goodyears with Michelin. Alas, I have not the energy to spare. So, I nuzzle the hefty bag at my side and think how someday, I might be like the hefty bag, pressed flat, stretchy and resilient, containing all that fed me forever and ever; my secrets tied up tight.

Until that day, I'll dream of donuts and hydroplaning through the countryside, hoping to retire as a flower pot.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Avetque Vale: Anna Nicole Smith

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to remember Anna Nicole Smith, who was taken from us too soon. Some believed that Anna Nicole was a flash in the pan, gold digging, drug abuser who lacked the good sense to come in out of the rain. You probably could count me in that group.

During her life, which was captured on a variety of media for the world to behold, I spent much of my time trying to ignore her. I noted that she was beautiful when she modeled for Guess? Jeans and then moved on with my life. When I learned that she married a very old, very wealthy man, I was not overly surprised or concerned. When she fought for every dime he had, I thought, good for her and returned to the task at hand.

When she was given her own reality TV show, I tuned in once. I was fascinated by the show The Osbornes' in its first season, and I'd hoped that Anna Nicole's show would hold as many surprises and wonders. Unfortunately, I just found it sad and intolerable. During an E! True Hollywood story, I was introduced to her family, who seemed to adore her. One family member even had Anna Nicole's face tattooed on her person. But, they lamented, they rarely saw her anymore.

Toward the end of her life, she seemed to be on a collision course with rehab. She lost her polish and tumbled about, spilling out all over. When her son died after the birth of her new baby girl, my innards cramped in sympathy at the pain of her loss. What misfortune! But, it seems these days, that celebrities are better able to pull themselves together after tragedy, addiction or behavior problems. The rehab network and AA sponsors surely are plentiful in Anna Nicole's world, I thought. I had confidence, that, like Madonna, Anna Nicole would be able to turn this around and make a success for herself.

Sadly, I was wrong. I had wrongly assumed that people such as Anna Nicole may adopt flakey or silly, or dare I say, stupid personas as their public image, but to be so successful, they had to be somewhat smart or savvy. Sadly, Anna Nicole Smith was neither of those things. She was a coarse, brazen, self-interested ninny who was surrounded by people who exploited her best. Even now, they circle her assets, looking for ways to get their hands on her money, her child.

Alas I cannot grieve for the loss of Anna Nicole. I did grieve for her losses as a mother, because stupid or no, losing a child would knock anyone to their knees. I am sad for her daughter, who is now property rather than person. Other than that, I can't really care about Anna Nicole Smith. When she died and the news of her death was all over the place, it still took me a couple of days to actually comprehend that all the anchor people were sqawking: She's dead! I had spent so much time blocking the reports of her movements from my consciousness that news of her death rebounded off my head out of pure habit of mind.

Perhaps we can be thankful that she slipped loose this mortal coil before drastic plastic surgery twisted her face beyond recognition, before her daughter suffered any damage directly from her mother's hands. Some have elevated her parting to that of Marylin Monroe's untimely death, but I wouldn't. Marylin Monroe was many things, but most of all a lady with a brain and some talent. Sadly, Anna Nicole was a one-trick pony in a celebrity world that recycles its own shallow glamour until it becomes a creature beyond recognition. From a once strong tree to rough, pounded pages in a pulp novel is our Anna Nicole.

God speed, Anna Nicole; may you do no further damage.

Beat Box Bliss

While I'm working on all the great suggestions my blogpals have given me for serious study and contemplation, I will share with you one reason why I will always watch American Idol, for moments like this:

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ennui Having Fun Yet?

Recently, my posts have lacked depth. I realize I'm not in the depth business, but still. I've skimmed so much surface, that I feel that I have left no waters unrippled. Now, ennui has settled in and the surface holds no glamor for me any longer. I am a dragonfly who wants to do the triple lindy.

Frankly, I don't have anything to really dive into. I'm not pissed off about the war; I'm beyond it. I can't get into wrestling or NASCAR. I'm over NCLB. Even American Idol and Survivor have lost their luster. Perhaps my anti-depressants are working too well. I can't seem to tap into the rage. My hot buttons are suddenly luke-warm. Maybe, if the elections were in full swing, I'd have a point of view worth chewing on. Sadly, I just can't think of one damn thing to be passionate about.

As a result, I've been posting a bunch of flotsam from the stream of consciousness. I've got a general malaise about this writing business. Maybe you could help. I realize I'm being needy here, but perhaps you could suggest some rant topics to me in the comments. I'll be glad to try them out for size and practice passion diatribes. Maybe that will give me the boost I need to go forward. Otherwise, my future posts may be nothing but things like this or this.

A Transcription Of A Meeting I Can Hear, Yet Am Not Attending

False pleasantries.

Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit. Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit?

Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit. I'll look into it.

Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit. Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit. Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit. Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit. I'd never thought of it that way.

Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit. Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, We need to get staff on board. Bullshit, Bullshit. Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit. Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit. Let's get the right people on the bus.

I've Just Had A Sudden Craving

My Mind Is Blank...Thank God I Was Tagged!

My dear Elizabeth tagged me. She wants me to tell you all six things about me that are weird. I will oblige, but I'm not sure if they are weird or just quirky. My dictionary says weird means:

  1. uncanny; supernatural

  2. strange; incomprehnsible

  3. connected with fate, archaicly speaking

So, here goes...

1. While I have faked psychic abilities in my past, I sometimes do have flashes of insight into the future. For instance, recently a friend of mine was going to pick up her boss to go to a meeting. At the last minute her boss called to say that he would pick her up instead. I had quipped, though not to her, that his sudden change of heart about driving was caused by his desire to throw her out into traffic; they have a strained relationship. Later I found out that her boss missed the turn to drop her off and ended up stopping in the middle of a busy street (not at an intersection) and made her get out in the middle of traffic.

2. I can do a split, in fact, am compelled to do one and other acrobatic feats after 1.5 beers.

3. If I ever get lost, I can usually navigate myself to where I need to be by instinct.

4. I can narrate the thoughts of Elizabeth's cat: Fezzywig. Of course, they are the thoughts I presume he has. I can't read cat's thoughts, other than "feed me" and "pet me" and "leave me the fuck alone."

5. I can speak to large groups of people with confidence and authority on most topics, even those I know nothing about.

Edited to Add: Number 6: I can't count.

So, now I tag other weirdos: Big Orange and Echo.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The First Annual Carlos Mencia Steal This Post! Call Me Mr. Tibbs...

Man! I am clearly having an identity crisis. Or am I? I don't feel misanthropic or needy. It's more like I can't get enough Diet Coke or feel enough good vibrations. Have I lost my mirth? Am I a lost soul? Or am I moping around? Who knows? Maybe it's that taste of freedom I'm getting now thinking about getting a tattoo on my ass. Whatever the case, I want to drink (fast) and play poker (hard) and get my kitchen remodeled (oh my), baby! Is that so wrong? Maybe I'll change my name to Zed. Hmm......

See the original here and the first rewrite here. Steal this post and re-write it to reflect your own sensibilities!

A Poem: When I Stepped Outside

Dedicated to Echo

When I stepped outside
I found the world had turned cool and green
The humidity blown away in the watches of the night

On 4 hours of broken sleep I headed off to work
Exhausted by the thought of the day
Wondering what ELSE I could do other than teach

At lunch I opened both my doors and let the air swamp out
With the lights off and the doors open
I felt my mind ease

I heard the yells of students and the babble of talk
Shouts from the playground out back
Kids playing in the clear blue air

I ate a candy bar and drank some sweet tea
In the cool dark of my room
And felt refreshed.

I suppose I could stay on for a day or so more.

Friday Desk Dance: Galang!

M.I.A. Galang

Her fashion sense is flea market chic, but the groove is infectious.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Best Book Burning I've Ever Attended

When we lived in the country, I often found myself in surprising situations. I had been raised in the suburbs of a small city and my experiences were very middle class, middle-American experiences. So, perhaps those surprising situations were merely surprising to me and probably ordinary to those people who'd lived in the country all their lives, such as:

  • It was status quo to own at least one gun and to fire it regularly.
  • Many people, particularly men, dipped snuff.
  • If someone was in trouble, stranger or no, you got off your ass and helped them.
  • Racially insensitive remarks were acceptable in polite conversation.
  • It was not unusual to buy a six pack of beer and crack one open on the way home.
  • If three or more people are together, a nice roaring bon fire is called for.

These things became ordinary for me too, though I never could get used to the racism. In fact, when my good friend called Martin Luther King, Jr. the n-word, I began my protest campaign. The racist talk stopped after a few of my interventions. Well, at least it stopped happening around me. Please know, though that these folks I knew and spent my time with, regardless of their politics, were truly nice people and fun to be around, for the most part.

When the weekends would roll around, we'd find out from Matt who was going to be where and we headed that way. One fall evening, we were invited to our friends Jamie and April's home for a bon fire. Jamie and April lived in one of a pair of trailers that sat high up on a hill in the woods. Their gravel driveway was very steep and almost unreachable without a four-wheel drive during the winter or when it was very rainy. It was a cozy setting and their home was always warm and welcoming.

When Doc and I arrived that night, it was very dark and chilly. There were already many cars parked on the driveway. We found a place to park and made our way over to the bon fire they were having to the side of the house near the shed. I found April sitting in a folding lawn chair sorting through a box. April is a petite little firecracker of a gal. She is very sweet when she is sober, which is most of the time, but steer clear of her if she'd had a few to many and a bone to pick. This evening, though, she was her true sweet self.

I greeted her and took the folding chair next to her. "What have you got there?" I asked her.

"Oh, a box of books," she said and began to pitch them two at a time on the bon fire.

"Oh, yeah?" I asked, my eyebrows nearly leaped off my forehead in shock. She's burning books! Never had I seen a book treated so disrespectfully outside of the movies or TV. Books are treasures to me and I was truly gobsmacked by what I'd just seen her do. I had definately just found myself in a surprising situation again and I was very unnerved. I had visions of Nazi's throwing books onto a fire and sieg heil-ing each other like crazy.

"Yeah," she said, "We cleared out a bunch of stuff from Jamie's parent's house and we found a bunch of these books no one wanted so we're going to burn them." Obviously, she didn't realize the historic implications of what she was doing or the trauma she was causing me.

"Ah," I said, still wary. I began to feel my self-righteousness stirring and began to form a lecture in my head about how books are gateways to other worlds and they bring us new ideas to stretch our minds and that books are sacred and should be treated with respect and so on and so forth. I was just beginning to take a deep breath and start my tirade, when I paused. Perhaps, I thought to myself, I ought to try a more diplomatic approach.

"Can I look through those before you burn them? I like to read and I'd be glad to take some off of your hands for you."

"Sure," she said, "Help yourself."

So I did. I reached in and pulled out a handful of books. I tilted their covers toward the light coming off the bon fire. The first book I looked at was a romance novel, a real bodice-ripper. The next one: a Reader's Digest volume of condensed books. The rest were more of the same. All of them were musty and made my nose quiver with anticipated sneezes.

My self-righteous anger began to cool and my sense of purpose awoke. Now, I have nothing really against romance novels. I've read them and they are a bit of a lark. But, if you've read one, you've probably read them all. Especially these old and tired looking ones. Certainly, I did not want to keep any for myself and I decided that the heat they'd provide us by being burned on such a great bon fire would far outpace the heat they'd generate in anyone's imagination. And Reader's Digest condensed books are almost unholy to me. I mean, I understand that some people aren't devoted readers and would rather not spend a lot of time getting to whatever point the author is trying to make. But, come on! How hard is it to get through a goddamn Grisham book?

"Here," I said, "Let me help you."

I took the books that I had in my hands and pitched them into the fire. And reached down for more. We pitched those books into the fire merrily and watched the blaze grow to ten or fifteen feet as we chatted amiably about other things. Box after box of pulpy trash and abridged travesties sizzled in this great bon fire, which drove away the autumn chill and lit our faces with a golden glow.

Later, when I reunited with Doc, we both shared our experience of being at first horrified by what we saw and satisfied in our participation in the act of burning these particular books. We agreed with each other: Some books are only worth their weight in fuel.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I'm Special

Last Thursday, I went to my doctor to get the results of routine tests. He declared that I had the healthy body of a 12 year old girl. I wanted to reply, but didn't, "Are you sure that was my blood?" Instead, I just grinned and thanked him for giving me a clean bill of health. It had been a long time since I've had a check-up and I hadn't realized how much I was worrying about my health. I felt like a load had been lifted.
He told me the only reason he'd need to see me is if I needed to see him. Then he announced I was to receive a pneumonia shot and whisked himself out of the room dashingly. A nurse came in and to give me the shot right in my upper arm muscle. We chatted about mundane things and then I was free to go. I practically skipped to my car with the lift the good news had given me.
I was also giddy because, I had decided to take a vacation day on Friday. I was looking forward to three and a half days of carefree leisure time. I spent the morning with the kids and around noon, I prepared to go to the Salvation Army and to see my therapist; it was a day to unload baggage of the real and metaphorical type. I took ten bags of clothes and dropped them off. Then I went inside and got Doc five pairs of pants and two vests for 30 bucks. The pants were all very nice and barely worn and labeled by the likes of the Gap, Levis, Eddie Bauer, Calvin Klein, and DKNY.
After I went to my therapist, I made my way home and spent a pleasureable afternoon hanging out with my family. Then, around five o'clock, I started to feel like all of my energy was sliding out of me through the bottoms of my feet. I went to lie down for an hour and woke up feeling a bit better. At around 9:00 p.m., we put the kids to bed and Doc went to the neighbor's house while I settled in with a book. I was laying on the couch reading for a couple of hours when I heard Riley get up and make her way to my room. I worried that she would get there and be upset that no one was in there, so I got up and joined her.
I needn't have worried, as she walked to our bedroom, climbed into Doc's side of the bed and cuddled up without ever waking up, it seemed. By the time I got to the bedroom, a definate chill had set into my bones. I popped in a DVD of All Creatures Great and Small and snuggled under our many blankets (one down comforter, one regular comforter, a wool army blanket, a quilt and flannel sheets) and tried to get warm. It wasn't happening. I waited to warm up for about an hour and called the neighbor's house to summon Doc home. My hands were shivering so dramatically, I could barely dial the number.
When Doc got home, I was in a near panic. I probably should have gone to the emergency room. But once I was warmed up with the extra body heat in the bed, I felt much better and was able to sleep. However, the next morning I woke up with the same problem, plus now my upper arm that took the shot hurt like it had been slammed in a steel door. I called my doctor and told him what was going on and that it had to be from the shot. He got defensive and said that they've given the shot to over 200 people and no one ever had this reaction. He avered that it couldn't be from the shot and told me to take two ibuprofen and leave him the fuck alone on the weekend. Well, he didn't say that last part, but it was implied. He told me if it got worse, I should go to the ER.
When I told my parents about this exchange, my Dad commented that a half percent of the people who have taken the shot have suffered, meaning me. After a scant two minutes searching on the internet, I found this out about the nefarious pneumonia shot:
A few people (less than 1 percent) had fever and muscle pain as well as more serious swelling and pain on the arm.
My Dad, he's a smart one. Each day, the swelling has grown and the fevers persist. The area where the shot was givin is now about three inches sqare and is hot enough to fry an egg on. I can't lift my left arm at the shoulder because of the pain that radiates out from my upper arm to the middle of my back. I'm still periodically getting fevers, but a little Tylenol at the right moment has helped me to avoid the chills.
So, the thrill is gone from my clean bill of health and the honeymoon is over with my new and once beloved doctor. I'm going to try to plow through this on my own, but I'd love to march into his office and reveal the blazing after effects of his alleged harmless shot. If today passes with more fevers and continued pain, I might just do that. In the meantime, I'll try to find a way to blame this all on Mel Gibson. Any suggestions?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday's Desk Dance: Home Edition

I've got a vacation time today, so this is what we're jamming to at my house. Grant Miller's Colder Than Ice.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hamish Macbeth: A Pure Like It!

I discovered Hamish Macbeth, a Police Constable in a small village in Scotland, at my local public library. I started listening to M.C. Beaton's books on tape that featured him as a main character. He's gruff individualist and a brilliant detective. He shuns credit for his work, lest he be transferred to the city, Inverness, and be forced to leave his comfortable country lifestyle, where there is little crime and plenty of fishing and camping. I've probably read a dozen or so of the Hamish Macbeth stories as well as Beaton's Agatha Raisin mysteries, which are also wonderful.
Last Saturday, I was delighted to discover that the BBC had made a TV series out of at least one of these characters. Hamish Macbeth, the show, is wonderful. It's full of great scenery, local color and compelling stories. One episode in particular, Wee Jock's Lament, was spooky and supernatural without breaking the bounds of believability. And Robert Carlyle is great in this show. I've sort have been luke-warm on his performances in the past, but he owns this role.
The story lines in the video do not seem to follow any of the books, but that is fine with me. This character is so well-defined and likeable that I welcome the new adventures. It seems that all of his quirks have been carried over to the show: his loyalty to his dog, his dead-on sense of right and wrong, his commitment to the village, his gentle treatment of the villagers, his bristling under the subordination of the detectives higher up the chain of command. It's yummy.
I hope that the library offers more than just season one. I don't think it ran for more than two or three years. My library has such an odd and eclectic set of DVD's to loan, including two copies of The Passion of the Christ (seriously, WTF?). And at my little branch, most of the movies are still on VHS format. So there is not much to choose from. But, bless them, they buy everything the BBC has to offer. And I'm there to gather them up and watch them for free. But when the pact ends, I'm buying all seasons of the Hamish Macbeth mysteries.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It Would Be Really Human Of You...

Lancelot Link
Labeled for the benefit of the Whipper-Snappers

If you haven't already, to listen to Amy's bullshit over at Mish Mash. I've added a link for your convenience and mine.

My New Dream Job: Tree Climber

Actual Flannery not pictured above
( I wouldn't be caught dead in those jeans)

Tree Climber

CUSTOM Tree Inc., is looking for a dependable and motivated climber with 3-5 yrs. exp. who is capable of managing a job and a crew. Apply at blah blah blah contact information.

This would be the perfect job for me. I've had at least seven years of tree climbing experience, albeit twenty years ago, and I'd be in charge of a crew! Wow. I'd better go adjust my resume...

Shop Teacher: Hot Rod or Blown Gasket?

Cast Your Votes In The Comments

I Have The Un-Midas Touch

Everything I've touched today has turned to shit. And it's only 9:00 a.m. Maybe this picture of the luckiest man in the world will help steer my fate in the right direction.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It's Time To Start Thinking About Lent, People!

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is creeping up on us; it's overindulgence looming. It is one last hurrah before the dark and thoughtful days that stretch across the gloomy, winter landscape consume us, punish us and make us really think about what it means to be a Siamese Cat, not a mouse, or a grouse. Not a rat or a bat. No...wait. Sorry I've been reading the wrong book. Lent is about...thinkin about...what it means...to be...Christian! That's it. It is forty days, approximately, in the Wilderness.

I am looking forward to wandering in the Wilderness for a while. I need to pray more. I am ready to deprive myself and forward the proceeds to the needy. Well, I'm willing to deprive myself. I'm not sure that I'll have time to forward the proceeds. I am going to donate a ton of clothes, though, so that might even the balance a bit.

What I am planning to deprive myself of is Golden Crisp Potato Chips. These are a local delicacy unavailable anywhere else in the world, including Google Image Search. They are made from potatos, salt, vegetable oil, and sometimes lard. That is truly how the ingredients are listed on the bag. And let me tell you, Lay's potato chips have nothing on these little treats direct from Satan's workshop. I will give you this advice regarding Golden Crisps: it is far better for the sake of for your inner thighs to walk on by a bowl of these babies than to have even the tiniest taste, because you won't be able to stop.

I know I'll be able to give this up because I have a secret to surviving the suffering of Lent. Here it is: Whenever you feel like you just can't survive without a quick bite of chocolate or a puff on a cigarette, or a slug of beer, just stop and think of being crucified. Nothing that you are giving up could be as painful as that. Edited to add: Except maybe watching it in gruesome detail, MEL GIBSON.

What's off your plate?

Hot Dish Or Cold Fish: Home Economics Teachers Edition

Cast Your Vote In The Comments

Monday, February 05, 2007

Hunk or Bohunk: Industrial Arts Teacher Edition

Please cast your vote in the comments.
Hunk: A sexually attractive man with a well-developed physique
Bohunk: Used as a disparaging term for a person from east-central Europe, especially a laborer.

My Superbowl Prediction: Proof That My Psychic Abilities Are Not 100% Reliable

I had a dream Saturday night that a black drag queen and I went to the Superbowl. The game was going to be played at Cleveland Browns Stadium for some crazy reason. When we got there, skies over the lake looked ominous and I wondered at what idiot would lose his/her job for greenlighting the decision to hold the big game here in early February.

As we sat down in la loge, of course, I told him that one of the things I must do before I die is go to see a live drag queen show and I wondered if I could go see his. He told me, no, this wasn't a kind of show that ladies would want to attend. He didn't go into any detail, but I had a flash of insight of a drag show being held on the set of a Rudolph Valentino movie (and in black and white) where my drag queen friend was dressed in seven veils, dancing gracefully under an arch on the third floor balcony overlooking a 1930's Hollywood idea of a Moroccan marketplace. Meanwhile, various hunks ala Charlton Heston and John Agar pole danced in togas around the columns. It was exactly the kind of drag show I'd like to see, frankly. Then he showed me a black and white photo of his totally ripped, white boyfriend.

We spent the rest of the time bitching about our respective jobs and eating gourmet nachos. Unnoticed by us, the Bears won game and we left feeling vaguely happy for all of those Chicago fans who got to celebrate their championship team.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Poor Man's Red Bull

2 for $3.00 at the Circle K

It tastes like piss and Spree, but at least I'm awake.

Friday Desk Dance

Today, I'm rocking out with the Michael Stanley Band, a Cleveland area rock ensemble that gained notoriety in the 80's with the above song. They even appeared on Bandstand! What with all the discussion about Midwestern literature and its merits over at Megan's place, I was inspired to do the back-breaking labor required to dig up these videos on YouTube.

I know most of my peeps will know the history of Michael Stanley and his Band, but I'll go ahead and give you other four some background. I believe they were discovered and presented on the local and nationally proclaimed WMMS, Home of the Buzzard. This radio station was named the best radio station in the country by Rolling Stones for much of the 70's. I may not have my facts right, as I was a very young person at the height of 'MMS's fame, so check the links, if you want a more accurate accounting. I'm not nearly as gifted a rock historian as Johnny Yen, Frank or Genn6 are.


After MTV was invented, their video for "He Can't Love You" launched them into fame. But then they quickly settled back to mere local notoriety, much like the Georgia Satellites probably did when their Southern hit: "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" began seriously to bug. Oh, let's hear it for old time's sake and to give "Southern Rock" one hit wonders equal air time:

Once the all the ado died down for MSB, they started playing around the state, then just the NE Ohio region. They started writing songs that praised their home town, emulating the Boss and John Cougar, I imagine. Instead of touching a nation's heart with it's homespun pluck and never-say-die spirit, it mainly caused the nation to stretch, yawn, and ask each other, "So, who do you think shot J.R.?"

Here is a sample of the cloying lyrics for "This Town (Is My Town)"

This old town's been home long as I remember
this town's gonna be here long after I'm gone
East side, West side--give up, or surrender
--been down,
but I still rock on...
Oh, and this town
is my town--alright?
Love or hate it--it don't matter
'cause I'm gonna stand and fight
This town--is my town
she's got her ups and downs
but love or hate it--it don't matter
'cause this is my town
This old town is where I learned about lovin'
this old town is where I learned to hate
This town, buddy, has done its share of shovin'
This town taught me
that it's never too late
This is MY TOWN
This is MY TOWN
This is MY TOWN...

So, yeah. Then they tried to reach out to the Midwest and did a song called "In the Heartland" (my time line might be off here, but please forgive for poetic license and whimsy). It's so awful, that I can't even find the lyrics to it. Don't get me wrong, though, MSB had some great tunes like "Strike Up the Band" and "Lover". They were sort of on the same level, fame/talent-wise as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. MSB's notoriety probably drew misinformed producers to make the lame movie Light of Day with Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett as siblings (!) who lived in Cleveland and were trying to make it as rock stars. They filmed it at the Euclid Tavern, a place I've actually gone to.

Anyway, Michael Stanley minus the Band, has become quite a local celebrity. He co-hosted on a lightweight TV talk show in the 80's (what was the name of that show? P.M. Cleveland?), he's a DJ and he and his new band, The Resonators (gag) do concerts in the summer time.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I almost knocked him over once. In college, Elizabeth and I were strolling down Detroit avenue. We were headed to the Detroiter, a 24-hour diner for an off-hour snack. We were talking animatedly to each other, as we are wont to do, and I slammed into a leather-clad shoulder. The owner of that leather-clad shoulder then slammed into a parking meter. I said, "sorry" and looked up to behold the bearded beauty of Michael Stanley himself. I looked at Elizabeth and said, "Was that...?" and she said, "Yeah!" and we turned to gape at him. He looked back and smiled. Then he strutted the rest of the way to where ever he was headed and we giggled our way to the Detroiter for some Chicken Strips.

PS: Isn't this a great album cover?:

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hedwig Says: Order It Or I'll Bite You!

I've reserved my copy, have you?

Whimsical Dictionary: Pregret

Pregret: (pree-gret) v. 1. To envision the outcome or consequenses of current actions and wish you weren't about to go through with it. 2. To mourn the end of good times while they are still happening.