Saturday, December 27, 2008

Yule Never Understand It

So I'm all nestled in the in-law's guest room the night of Christmas Eve, all full of turkey and Christmas cheer. I'm flipping channels on the TV, trying to find something that will help me fall asleep.

Hey look! It's the Yule Log!

For those who don't know, a couple channels suspend their usual programing for a few hours around Christmas and instead show a close-up of a fireplace. I suppose with the right eggnog this can be strangely hypnotic.

I'm about to turn the channel when I notice they're using the audio from "It's A Wonderful Life."

That's kind of strange, I think. I guess they're trying to set a scene, like you're falling asleep in front of a fire while somebody's watching TV on Christmas. That's kind of coo- what the hell?

This version of the movie was taken from a live screening with some sort of mics on the audience, so every couple minutes you'd hear a roomfull of phantom people laughing.

So I keep getting hypnotized by this log and trying to follow along with the movie, which is pretty hard since every couple of minutes a roomfull of Christmas ghosts start laughing at me.

I wasn't the only one. A co-worker happened to catch it at the beginning and thought that the two burning logs were the voices of Clarence the angel and God.
Apparently, this year's grand experiment caused all sorts of controversy with dedicated yule log watchers, who I guess were used to Christmas carols or something as the audio.

Me, I'm itching to catch this psychedelic Christmas show again next year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Guess Who Stopped By Work Last Week?

Everybody's Christmastime friend, The Gingerbread Man!

Aw, look! He's hanging out with that nice librarian lady! How sweet!

Aw, Gingerbread Man is making that developmentally disabled fellow happy!

How sweet, now he's hanging out with both of them. Hey, wait a minute, what's that guy about to do to your neck? Get out of there, Gingerbread Man! That dude looks like he's eaten quite a few of your friends and family in the past! This can't end well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, Have You Reached a Verdict?

Yes we have, Your Honor.

Weighing all available facts, this jury has determined without a doubt that Book of Love's "Boy" is the greatest '80s New Wave song ever. Those church bell sounding synthesizers, drum machine, snaky keyboards and those breathy 'uh-huh' vocals, all in the service of a sexually ambiguous song (is the singer upset that she can't go to where the boys are? She does seem happy after accepting the fact that she wasn't born a boy and thus has to stay at home and play with her toys, whatever that might mean) never fail to get me smelling clove cigarettes and leather jackets.

Also, James Brown's "Let's Make Christmas Mean Something This Year" is quickly entering the top 5 Christmas songs of all time. And this is from a judge (wait, wasn't I the jury?) who has noted his distaste of modern Christmas songs in the official record.

Let it be noted, let it be so.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fun at Work

Librarian: "So when are you starting your tough guy bookclub?"
Me: "Well, I w - wait, what?"
L: "You know, like you said in that last staff meeting."
M: "See, this is why we need somebody taking notes at those things. I said if it looked like we weren't on track to hit our bookclub goals by the middle of the year, I'd throw together a guy's bookclub or something."
L: "I don't know, I had a pretty vivid image of you in the middle of a bunch of guys in leather jackets and white T-shirts reading Charles Dickens."
M: "Heh, that's pretty funny. The first rule of the tough guy bookclub - you have to sit backwards in your chair."
L: "Switchblade combs must remain in the locked position."
M: "No doo-wop songs until the club is officialy over."
L: "Members can only yell out, 'Oooooh Ayyyyyy!' once during the meeting."
L: "Hey teach, why we gotta read about this Shakespeare stuff anyway?"
M: "Well, Big Eddie, lemme tell you a story. See, there's this cat who wants to take over his gang. He got the idea from these crazy witches, then his old lady keeps pushing him to off the leader."
L: "Hey, that's alright."
M: "Well, Big Eddie, I just taught you Macbeth by William Shakespeare."
L: "No way! Ay, teach, you're alright. Hey guys, let's give 'im a song. Bababab bopadopadop."
M: "You know what's really funny about all this? The fact that when we think of tough guys, instead of thinking of skinheads or wrestlers or Green Berets or something, we immediately conjur up Sha Na Na."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

AP History

For some reason tonight we had a revolutionary war soldier guy in the library. Some kids saw him and yelled out, "Hey Napoleon! Look out for Hitler!"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Went down to Gainesville for Thanksgiving with the in-laws. I wasn't in the best of moods, as Christie and her mom convinced me that they were having a ham for Thanksgiving. I sort of suspected they were messing with me, but the more they stayed on message, the more worried I got.

Was I going to have to be a dick and not eat any ham? I like ham alright, but ham on Thanksgiving? Unacceptable. Was I going to have to call Homeland Security or Martha Stewart and drop a dime on my commie in-laws who were blatantly showing their hatred of America by serving ham on Thanksgiving?

Luckily, it was all a joke and we had a wonderful turkey. I don't especially see what's so funny about joking about Thanksgiving, but I'll let it slide. This time.

My mood improved a bit after I got a tour of my friends Pat and Cindy's swank new pad. To make things sweeter, Pat gave me a couple CDs - one of which I'm listening to right now called "The Get It: Raw Funk of '67 - '69."

I don't think any genre compilations have burned me more frequently than funk. At least with reggae or country or rockabilly or garage comps, you'll find a couple keeper tracks buried alongside the doo-doo, but I don't know how many damn funk comps I've bought that promised "raw, greasy funk" with a picture of some cool looking dudes in matching suits, only to hear a bunch of ballads or half-assed disco.

But man, Pat must have been out of his mind to let this one go. Everything is tight, raw and funky, and I haven't skipped over a track yet. You know when the songs include titles like "Shake a Poo Poo" or "Finger Lickin' Chicken" you're getting something good. A good 3/4 of the songs start with some guy saying something like, "This here's a new dance called the ___" and feature lots of shouts and grunts.
This is gonna get played weekly once cookout season starts up again.

Pat also included this cool little thing:

Check it out, it's a mummy choking two explorers who were foolish enough to disturb his slumber. Apparently Michaels, a store I get dizzy in just crossing the threshold has a ton of stuff like this if you want to build your own spooky train set or Halloween town or whatever.

So for these treats, and the fact that we actually had turkey like normal people, I am eternally thankful.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mustache Rides!

I had a little puddin' ring goatee for about a month. One morning I looked in the mirror and saw a redneck Burger King assistant manager looking back at me, and realized it had to go. But not before some mustache sculpting!

Look One:

Yeah, I got some drugs. How bad you want 'em?

As you can see in this first photo, I tried to keep up what my idea of a sexy face throughout. Jesus, that seems to look better in my imagination than in real life. I'm sorry, ladies.

Look Two:

This was supposed to be my Tom Selleck/Burt Reynolds look. By this point my wife had stopped taking pictures.

Look Three:

The Shemp-like hairstyle really adds to this one. Although the "I've just had a stroke" sexy face is what keeps 'em coming back.

Look Four:

I've always wanted the Prince/Little Richard/Vincent Price/John Waters little bitty mustache, but I don't think this really works. As stated earlier, my wife stopped taking pictures after look one. I could tell that she was getting jealous of all the ladies that were going to throw themselves at me. As an understanding husband, I realize it is better to shave it off completely than to have to put up with all the affairs I'd have to undertake. So I let her win this one.

Overheard Walking to Lunch

Crazy guy to bored looking mailman:
"You ain't the only goddamn fish in the sea!"

This was only a few hours after I saw a guy dressed as a banana walking out of city hall:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Health and Happiness

There was a health fair at work this weekend. I decided to brave my needle phobia and get my cholesterol tested.

About a month ago I was told my cholesterol was high. Not super-high, but I still figured I needed to get that stuff under control. When I went to my regular doctor to see how to lower it, I got to wait in a freezing room for an hour and a half flipping through golf magazines from 1998 under a poster of dissected lungs so he could give the following advice:

"Just don't eat food with a lot of cholesterol in it."

Thanks, doc. Glad that cost me twenty bucks. I hope Obama socialized medicines your ass.

So for the past month I've been watching what I eat, taking these terrible fish pills, and generally avoiding dairy and cutting way down on the sweet, sweet meat.

I was supposed to see my real doctor in January, but since they were stabbing people with needles on a floor below me for free, I figured I could at least see if any of this crap had made any difference. And if it didn't, I was gonna be pissed. You know how much fun stuff I've had to pass up this month?

Anyway, it takes forever to get there in front of the lunch lady-looking nurses sharpening their needles when one of them says, "Are you OK? You look kind of pale."

I assure her I'm going to be alright and get stabbed without passing out or feeling dizzy, which might be a personal record. I should mention that this is a diabetes health fair so they're also testing for that, and I am terrified that I either have or am going to catch diabetes.

I'm not really sure where this fear comes from, possibly just the idea of getting poked with needles daily and giving up on the sweet, sweet treats is such a horrible idea of Hell that it terrifies me.

I wait around another 15 minutes or so and another lunch lady gives me my results.

"Are you taking medicine for diabetes?"

"No, I ...what?"

Somehow this was her lead-in to tell me that my glucose levels are great and I don't have anything to worry about. What the hell? Is this some sort of nurse bad news first thing they're supposed to do?

"Do you have any final words prepared for your mother?"

"Yes, I need to see her and..."

"Well, that's good, because you won't be needing them for a long time. She's perfectly healthy."

After toying with me the nurse points out that I am now the proud owner of some new and improved low cholesterol blood. Only problem is that in my zeal I've also lowered my good cholesterol.

"So what can I do to raise the good?"

"Do you eat fish?"

"My stomach is like the briny sea."


"Every morning."

"Olive Oil?"


"What about exercise?"

"I'm riding my bike 10 miles a day and going to the gym three nights a week. I don't think I can squeeze anything else in there. And come on," I said, ripping off my shirt. "Does this torso look like it needs any more exercise?"

Then the nurse let down her hair and took her glasses off. It was kind of like a Van Halen video.

"Well...there is moderate alcohol use."

"Well, OK! I think we're done here."

So I've beaten cholesterol and the doctors told me I've got to get drunk regularly to avoid a heart attack? Man, they're gonna love me at this year's Christmas parties. I'll be the guy with one of those Henry VIII hunks of meat in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Does This Sort of Thing Happen to Normal People?

So I'm riding home Monday at 6:00, just when it's starting to get dark. About a block away I see this little black dog running pretty fast. Then I see a boy of about 10 years old chasing after the dog.

"Mister, please help me," the kid pants. "Please help me catch my dog."

Well, I can't really refuse that. I park my bike and figure the dog will see a new person and come up to see me, then either me or the kid can catch her.

Nope. The dog runs at me, then takes off in the other direction.

"Come on, please get off your bike and help me catch her."

I get off and put my bag down on the sidewalk and start running for this dog. The dog is running on to porches and then running away at full speed. Every time I sort of start to half-ass it after the pooch, the kid seems like he's about to burst into tears and urges me to catch her.

Finally the dog goes into a back yard. The kid starts closing the gate and pleads with me to close the other one.

"Yeah, I don't know if we should mess with someone's gate like this."

"Please, please, please," the kid wails, so I close my part of the gate and figure with the kid and the dog in the yard, my work is done. Plus, I was sort of getting tired of the chase, what with little Vince Lombardi there telling me to keep hustling after the world's fastest dog.

Naturally, as soon as I close the gate an SUV pulls up.

"Hi, um...I'm sorry about this, there's a kid back there trying to catch his dog. He chased her back there and I'm really sorry about messing with your gate and..."

The woman was actually very understanding and thought the whole thing was funny. If I had pulled into my driveway and seen some helmeted guy coming towards me after closing my gate, one hand would have been on the final 1 in 911, the other hand would have been wrapped around a gun, and my foot would have been poised on the gas pedal ready to floor it.

I guess that's the sort of thing you get to miss driving to work.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Health and Healing Tour, November 2008

My dad had heart surgery last week. Actually more like artery surgery. I decided to take a week off and go up to North Carolina to help my parents out since he can't really do much of anything right now. Oh yeah, he's fine, thanks for asking.

I also planned to spend the night at my grandma's house, since it's on the way and I really need to get up there more. As I was loading all my crap up Sunday morning, I found out she passed out in church and broke her arm, but still wanted me to come up. I tried to get her not to cook or do anything, but she ended up using her one good arm to make me a feast of chicken and dumplings.

The picture doesn't really do it justice, trust me.

I love my grandma's cooking but felt bad that she had done all this and wouldn't let me do anything at all for her. Actually I got to set a clock back and open a jar, but that was it. Oh, and all that news the next day about Obama's grandma dying after she had done everything for him and made sure he got an education? I really didn't need to hear that all damn day.

I always thought I sort of hated driving, but what I forgot was how awesome it was driving alone at nightfall, watching the sun set behind me as I headed down to my grandma's, with the cotton on the ground looking like snow.

I also figured I had a license to speed since I was
A) visiting my sick grandmother who
B) passed out in church

I mean, what could the cops say?

I headed off to the parents the next morning. I suppose I should mention that I have a terrible sense of direction. Hell, I'm surprised I make it back home every day. To add to this, a good 90 percent of this trip was off the interstate, driving on little highways, usually stuck behind a tractor going 20 MPH.

Yep, I'm lost.

I was behind this tanker for like a million miles.

This is the front of the University of Georgia. I should not have been here. Oh yeah, WHOOOO! GO GATORS! WHOOOOO!

One of the advantages of driving alone was that I could do stuff like take pictures out the window while steering with my knee. Look, mountains!

Once I got into north Georgia the roads started going crazy. Remember in "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" when Pee Wee was driving at night and the signs get more and more ridiculous? Well, add a couple falling rocks signs and that's what I was dealing with. Oh yeah, add this every half hour or so:

"Holy shit! Is Jethro really trying to pass me on a blind curve? Doesn't he see that it's like a thousand foot drop with no guard rail? Why the hell did they have to make all these curves? Why didn't they make the Irish drill some tunnels or something?"

But it was really pretty when I wasn't almost getting killed.

I had a pretty good stay with the parents, even if I didn't get to do all the work I had planned to help them with. A lot of that had to do with the fact that the sun sets at like 5 PM.

Check it out, this is what it looked like while I was raking leaves.

The last day we lit our Pagan bonfire to ensure a bountiful harvest for the next year. Oh wait, that's one of those family-only things I'm not supposed to talk about.

Oh yeah, election day was that week. It was sort of like the Super Bowl and Christmas to my parents, as George Bush has turned them into hippies.

My parents have pretty much adopted Barack Obama as their Kenyan son. A couple times I wanted to point out that their real son was the one raking and cutting up trees, and maybe they should call their boyfriend Barack to help them out, but that would have been rude. Watching the republicans get their asses handed to them, the family came together as never before, although not before a few conversations like this:

Mom: "McCain 56 %? I thought you said this was going to be a landslide."
Dad: "It's 15 after 8. That's like 1 percent of one state. Just wait."

Both the speeches were good - if McCain had spoken like that throughout the campaign instead of all that "Joe the Plumber says the terrorists are going to spread your taxes" crap, maybe he wouldn't have gotten his ass beaten so bad. Oh, but what was that weird sad Darth Vader music they played when he walked off the stage?

And Obama paraphrasing Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come," which coincidentally was the song I was listening to as I pulled into my parent's driveway (Otis Redding version)? Awesome. My mom cried during it, and I gotta admit, I was getting that "It's a Wonderful Life" I'm-not-really-tearing-up-I'm-just-adjusting-over-here feeling as well, especially when he was talking about the old lady voting. Hey, grandmas and old ladies are a weakness of mine, alright?

Then it was on to Lawrenceville to stay with Todd and Leila and Baby Eloise, who actually isn't a baby anymore. You know how Lou Dobbs and all those other cable guys are always going on and on about immigration? Well, what they don't mention is that all those immigrants are bringing their treats to Georgia and turning it into Shangri-La. Holy crap, Lawrenceville is like an EPCOT full of food and treats and I vowed to eat my way through most of it.

Hey, you know what Jacksonville needs? A place that makes bubble tea. I was told this was a jackfruit, which I'm pretty sure is a made up fruit to fool white people. Anyway, it sort tastes like 40 percent pineapple, 40 percent coconut, 40 percent vanilla and 80 percent awesome. This is what angels drink in heaven when they run out of egg nog. And those little tapioca balls are chewey bits of heaven.

I took like 2 pictures of my dad, but ended up taking a gazillion in this Asian market, mostly because of signs like this.

Coming home I ended up in a traffic jam outside of Atlanta that lasted like an hour, but other than that I had no problems. Now I have a million work emails to catch up on and 3,000 miles to do on my bike to make up for the eating tour of Lawrenceville I undertook.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Lessons

For some reason my wife decided Halloween night was the perfect time to go to Target, leaving me all alone to hand out candy. Away from her supervision, I got to be the Halloween Judge.

We get carloads of kids with no costumes driven into the neighborhood who don't even say 'trick or treat,' they just knock on the door and stand there. Well tonight I wasn't having it. And seriously? Murray Hill? That's the neighborhood you're going to for the big candy payoff?

Knock Knock Knock.

"Who are you supposed to be?"


"Yeah, you can do better than that."


Actually in the beginning I was a bit more lenient and would just give them some of the crappier candy after my psyching them out but once the candy supplies started running low I had to administer some Halloween justice. Christie came home and said that some of the kids could have been poor and couldn't afford costumes, but hell, they can put a bag over their head or something.

And nobody did anything to the house, so looks like my rod of correction taught those kids a lesson, even though I swear some of them were like 19 years old.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Public Has Spoken

At work we have to answer comment cards filled out by our wise patrons. This just might be my favorite:


The apostrophe up there in DVD was actually backwards and upside down, I suppose like a reverse comma, which just adds to it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The King is Dead

Rudy Ray Moore, The Godfather of Rap, the King of the Party Records passed away today at 81 due to complications from diabetes. Though never the household name he deserved to be, Rudy influenced decades of rappers (especially the Beastie Boy's "Paul's Boutique" album) and comedians, as well as nerds like myself.

I can't remember exactly when I became aware of the awesomeness of Rudy Ray Moore. I remember my pal Curt and I watching "Dolemite" over and over again in late high school. The movie (along with Moore's other films) has elements of such homemade, ramshackle charm to it and was so underground to suburban white kids like us that it became a sort of cultural touchstone to us, and a big part of my brain is still filled with Dolemite lines.

I finally got to see Rudy about 5 years ago in Atlanta. He would have been in his mid-70s, but put on a hell of a show. If you would have told me at 19 that I would have been five feet away from Dolemite himself as he recited "Shine and the Great Titanic," or sang a Sam Cooke song, I would have called you a liar, but secretly wondered how I grew up to be so damned cool.

While the Rudy Ray Moore movies might show their low budgets, Rudy's throwing himself into them (literally, in the case of the nekkid jump down the hill in "Human Tornado") transcended budget and acting limitations and were joyful, if foul-mouthed, celebrations of life.

And isn't that really what art should be?

If you disagree, you're a no business, insecure, junkyard motherfucker.

Rest in Peace, Rudy.

Early Voting

Stood in line about 45 minutes this afternoon to early vote. I'll be out of town on Election Day, but I love early voting anyway just because it makes me feel smug.

"Oh you're finally getting around to voting now? It was a whole lot cooler when I did it like two weeks ago."

For the first time in quite a while it feels like I might be backing a winner, although as my dad said last night, "There's still time for them to pull some GATdamn tricks."

I also got to listen to two old church ladies almost come to blows over the whole 'don't let the gay people get married' bill, so that was worth it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

True Tales of Wilderness Survival

I pull into the Baldwin Trail this morning a little before 8. I get all my stuff together and before I start down the trail this guy says, "Hey, mind if I ride with you for a little while?"

What? I come here to get away from people and clear my head. If I wanted people around I'd ride the bus or something.

"Uh, yeah, sure."

So the guy stays with me for a while.

"I've seen you out here before and you're always alone."

Yeah, well that's the way I - waitaminute! Didn't Keith tell me that this place's bathrooms were a notorious gay pickup spot? What does he mean he's seen me here before? I've seen hundreds of people on the trail but I wouldn't remember any of them. Damn these ruggedly handsome good loooks!

The guy looks to be about my dad's age, with a bald head and a moustache. He keeps up with me for a couple miles, talking the whole way while I respond with 'yeah,' and 'uh-huh.' He tells me how he is a home inspector and wait - didn't he say he worked at the bulk mail place down the road?

I wonder what this guy's deal is? He hasn't really said anything sexual, but he's starting to give me the creeps. I suppose if it came down to it I could take him. He's not wearing a helmet, so I could headbut him, then give him a punch or two and take off. Wait, when was the last actual punching fight I was in? 20? 19 years ago? And he probably has some sort of special super pervert strength he'll use to drag me off the trail.

"I saw this thing on the TV last night where that ACORN deal paid this black kid a bunch of beer and wine to vote 58 times for Obama."

"What? Early voting isn't even open yet. How could anyone vote? And also, they've been looking for voting fraud for years and haven't come up with anything substantial yet. I flipped through the New York Times and the Washington Post online this morning. Seems like they'd mention something like that."

"Yeah, well I just heard it on the radio yesterday."

Wait. I thought he said he saw it on TV. Holy crap. He's got the Jesus fish on his shirt. Republican talking points, Jesus shirt, moustache. Those are the guys that are always caught in rest stop bathrooms with Cub Scouts after railing about family values. Alright, I've been polite too long, it's time to get out of here. What the hell, normally the trail is like Grand Central Station on weekend mornings, now that I'm riding with Talky the Rapist the place is dead.

"Well, you'll understand when you're older, but I've got to go relieve myself. Good talkin' with you. God bless you."

"Uh, nice meeting you."

And with that, he pulled into the little restroom hut thing at the six mile marker, I guess to wait for someone else to molest.

As I got to the end of the trail I remembered that he asked me how long it usually took me to finish. Maybe he wasn't a pervert after all, but using that as a cover to ride back to my car and break in. I doubt he'd want an oxidized Honda Civic with 200,000 miles on it, but I did have my new cell phone hidden under the seat. Shit, I hadn't even figured out to use half the stuff on it, now that dude was going to break in and take it, probably ending up by calling all my contacts and talking their ears off before going to their houses and molesting them.

I made it back to the car in record time and naturally nothing was amiss, but man, did that dude ruin my morning.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I Did Not Understand This, But That Does Not Make It Any Less Awesome

Overheard conversation at work:

Kema: "Howard, when you think of Halloween, do you think of ghosts or werewolves?"

Howard (very quickly): "Ghosts. I think of werewolves every night."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Dental Damn

Had a dentist appointment really, really early this week. Apparently, time snuck up on me and I hadn't been in a couple years. Hey, I've been busy.

You can add an extra three months on to that since I've had two appointments with this dentist fall through. I was going to pull out of this one since I specifically stated I needed a Monday morning appointment that wasn't too early which they interpreted as 7:45 Wednesday morning.

After waking me up a couple times, the dentist and cleaner lady tell me I've been grinding my teeth in my sleep. If you are reading this and are someone I work with, my wife, my family, or possibly a friend of mine, this is all your fault.

Actually they mentioned this the last time I was there and tried to sell me some $500mouth guard thing that isn't covered by insurance. Like any problem over $100 or involving health, feelings or effort, I put it way, way in the back of my mind and proceeded to forget about it. I've found that this novel compression of stress and worry to be an effective way of...hey. You don't think that would have anything to do with the whole tooth grinding thing, do you? Yeah, me niether. I think they're in some sort of scam with the insurance company.

This time the dentist and cleaner lady (and why do I always get the old lady cleaners? Is my wife involved in this somehow?) showed me how my teeth were getting looser and looser, which sort of freaked me out. Maybe they weren't making this all up after all.

Now our TV blew up a couple months ago, which brings me to a decision. Should I use the money for a new TV or for my teeth? I'm getting kind of tired of watching stuff on the laptop, and TV has provided me with much enjoyment in the past, but I guess not having my teeth fall out would be OK, too.

Although I do like pudding.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Stop! Thief!

This weekend I completed what I hope was one of the final big days of yardwork before fall comes. I ended up with two bags full of trash and a sunburned neck.

As I pulled into the driveway Sunday afternoon after running some errands, I noticed something was different somehow. Yes, something was definately off, but what was it? Hey! Somebody took one of the garbage bags.

Now, I've seen dudes driving their trucks around the night before garbage day picking up appliances, furniture, or anything else that might be able to be resold (At least I guess that's what they do with all that crap). But what the hell would anyone do with a garbage bag full of yard waste? And why did they take just one bag? If you're going to take my trash, take all that crap. The whole thing sort of freaks me out, sort of like those stories you hear about freakazoids breaking into houses just to make a sandwich or make the bed and leave.

I hope my garbage thief is happy with his bag full of branches, weeds and cat crap.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Work Party

I love a work party. Well, at least I used to love work parties in our old department. Pretty much the whole department took that stuff seriously. No bags of plain potato chips or store-bought cookies. We had homemade bean dip, these awesome little ham sandwiches, deviled eggs, a pork loin one time, this awesome pie made up of chocolate pudding, candy bars and something else; man, those days were awesome. Not only would I not have to bring a lunch, I could step outside my office periodically and grab some treats throughout the day.

Work parties are different at the new library. Sure, my department always does it up right, but the building-wide parties are a bit disappointing. First of all, the whole, "Hey, you guys are awesome, you deserve a party. Now sign up to bring food" thing is sort of weird, but whatever. Hell, we're getting rid of bottled water, you can't really expect a fully paid for spread.

Then there's the fact that most of my department never goes to the things, which is just sort of weird. I mean, free food!

So we had a party a couple weeks ago. I made a cake. I gotta say, my cake is pretty bad-ass. The actual cake is nothing special, but the frosting has enough sugar and bad stuff to make you join Weight Watchers just looking at the thing. The actual ingredients include a stick of butter and a pound of sugar.

So I bring my cake in a little after 12. Now that's another thing. You don't want to get there too early or the good stuff isn't laid out yet and you're just sort of standing around trying to make conversation with the people from other departments you try to avoid. But if you get there too late, everything is gone.

I was also waiting on a co-worker. He had made this Thanksgiving casserole, which combined everything awesome about that holiday into one wonderful tray.

So, I made the mistake of setting my cake down on the wrong table. You would have thought I came up with a dead rat on a plate for all the screaming that was going on. I had a good mind to take my cake down to my desk and have my own cubicle party congratulating myself on all my hard work, but I carried on.

Then there wasn't any place to sit, so I took my plate out on the patio. This was also a major faux pas for some reason.

I made two trips - I didn't have completely loaded plates, either. I could have stuffed some more treats on my plates, but figured I didn't want to deprive others. My co-worker's Thanksgiving Surprise hadn't arrived yet, but I figured I'd be able to sneak up after my next desk shift.

Well at 2:00 I sneak up there and all the food is being cleared away. I see one little piece of my cake left which I was going to snatch, but someone else wanted it, and I figured I wouldn't have to clean up the pan that way, so it was theirs. The true tragedy, however, is that all the Thanksgiving Surprise was eaten.

The two people from my department that went to the thing were dreamily talking about it all day.

This is not how a work party is supposed to end. You are supposed to have food hanging around the breakroom for the rest of the day. I actually felt hungry at the end of the day. This should never, never happen at the end of a work party. With no Thanksgiving Surprise to warm my heart, my ride home was sad and lonely.

Edited Version

I read a lot of books. I generally have one book at work I read on lunch breaks so I don't have to talk to people if I don't want to, and another one at home to read before I fall asleep. And hell, after 10 years of marriage, it's not like there's anything else going on in that bed anyway.

I'm not one to make a big deal about it or anything, like wearing READ buttons or sighing when people talk about "American Idol" and reprimanding them for not reading Plato or "The Federalist Papers" or something.

Lately, however, my reading has only served to make me angry. I was reading this book called "Heavy Metal Islam" at work. Basically the premise of the book is that young people in repressive, war-torn countries in the Middle East are increasingly turning to extreme forms of music, which could possibly incite a Velvet Revolution-type situation. Pretty interesting, huh?

So I'm going along fine, until the author mentions Iron Maiden's mascot, Freddy. Freddy? Jesus, who with a passing knowledge of metal doesn't know his name is Eddie? He also confuses a couple album titles for band names.

I still finished the book, although that Freddy thing still bugged me.

Then I was reading this book called "In Heaven, Everything is Fine," about this flamboyant dude who wrote the song that the lady in the radiator sings in "Eraserhead," and who starred in "New Wave Theater," which was apparently a nexus for National Lampoon/early Saturday Night Live people and Los Angeles punk.

Although opening with a fight between Fear and Chevy Chase will pretty much guarantee that I'm going to read it, the thing hurt my head with all the fact errors and generalizations. Black Flag and the Circle Jerks had their heyday in the early '80s, not the mid '70s. Full body tattoos were more likely to be seen in the circus in 1984, rather than a punk show. Nobody was "moshing" in 1981, they were "skanking" or "slamming." You'd pick "New York's Alright if You Like Saxophones" as an offensive Fear song? Really? Over "Beef Bologna?" "I Love Livin' in the City?" "We Destroy the Family?" A Boston band was splitting their set between reggae and jazz in the late '60s? Reggae was barely born in the late '60s, would a band in Boston really be playing it and expecting people to care? Doesn't the abbreviation LA mean Lousiana instead of Los Angeles? Was Eddie Murphy even a cast member of SNL in 1981 when Fear appeared? Well, OK, that one seems to check out, but I shouldn't have to be fact checking for a book unless I'm getting paid for it.

Every time I catch something like that, not only does it take me out of the narrative, but I wonder how much other stuff the author got wrong. I mean, if you can't get Eddie's name right, why would I trust you when you tell me about death metal in Iraq?

Don't publishing companies hire editors anymore? Why can't I just relax and fall asleep reading a book instead of getting upset that nobody bothered to tell this dude that Iron Maiden's mummy guy is not named Freddy?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Husband of the Decade

Threw a little surprise party for my wife last weekend for our 10 year anniversary. It was pretty awesome. Here's her being surprised.

Here's us dancing:

Food was awesome, the gin and tonics were strong, and we had about 70 or so good friends there, some of whom we hadn't seen in close to ten years. Cool thing about the anniversary as opposed to the wedding is that I didn't have to invite anyone I didn't really want to just to be polite. Soundtrack was awesome, too - mostly new wave with a bunch of old ska and soul thrown in there.

Ten years is a damn long time when you think about it, especially since last month I had to sacrifice my man room in the ever-increasing wave of beads and fabric and I wasn't sure we would even make it to the party. Occasionally I'd feel a pang of regret for what I was doing to the dudes there, knowing their wives would be silently measuring them against me, but fellas, I had to do it.

So yeah, I figure we'll try another 10 years and see how it goes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Saddest News Ever Reported

The place I get my Cuban sandwiches just upped the price on me by like 50 cents or a dollar. It was hard to tell through the tears.

I know their game. Tempt me with deliciousness, give me a free sample just to set the hook in deeper, then when I'm hooked raise the price on me.

Hell, what am I gonna do? I'm sure I'll be back there next week.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Media Blitz

Finished "The Turnaround," the new George Pelecanos book this week. It was similar to some of his more recent stuff, in that it focused more on the consequences of a violent act in the past rather than his more cinematic earlier stuff that usually ended up in "Wild Bunch" like shoot outs between one or two protaganists and a gang of evil-doers. Actually, "Turnaround" seems to be almost a reaction to those books, in that you can feel the tension mount, and you just know there's gonna be a big showdown at the end, but it ends up swerving. As usual, the focus is on blue collar DC, with questions of what it means to be a man and father. And yeah, you're gonna get dialogue where dudes debate basketball, music and muscle cars. Don't know if Pelecanos is intentionally getting away from his pulpier crime stuff, but as always, he's a good read.

I should also be getting "I Got the Feelin' James Brown in the '60s" soon, which is a 3 DVD set of awesomeness. It includes a documentary explaining how James Brown stopped a riot through a televised concert, which I think I saw on VH1 in between comedians making jokes about Strawberry Shortcake and Swatch Watches. The other discs include the concert as well as assorted odds and ends of awesomeness, including stuff from the TAMI show, which you really oughta go youtube right now, as it includes my favorite stage move ever, where he passes out and has a dude drape a cape over him and try to pull him off stage until he re-energizes, throws the cape off and starts dancing again.

Also watched a double DVD of a Stooges concert from 2005 or so for review. While the concert was as good as you'd expect, the bonus features are kick-ass, with interviews with the band (excluding Mike Watt and that saxophone guy, both of which would be interesting) and an hour long retrospective which has just about every Iggy Pop clip from the '70s on, including talk shows with David Bowie. Pretty awesome to see how charming and charismatic Iggy can be talking in contrast to his craziness on stage.

Let's see, also managed to watch half of the last season of "The Wire" before my wife hijacked the Netflix queue and ordered the collected works of her boyfriend Johnny Depp. There's one storyline that seems out of character and too risky even for a character known for taking risks, but otherwise the show is as strong as ever, especially in the way it portrays day-to-day work, something not really seen that much in most entertainment. This season focuses on the media, and the newsroom scenes remind me of my limited newsroom experience, especially how there'd be the one guy who was like a living AP manual who you'd always hope to impress. I also love how the highest compliment the police give each other is "he's good police."

Other than that, just waiting for the rain to stop so I can finally get outside and ride my bike. This is the longest I've been off since I started in May (four days and counting) and I can feel myself getting fatter.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Riding the Storm Out

You know what's awesome about our TV being broken? Not having to watch hours of local news clowns stand out in the rain saying stuff like,"Well, we don't know where or when the storm is going to hit, but it sure is windy and rainy out here at the beach." Then they go and harass some surfers who seem to be doing just fine.

Instead, I can just look on the internet and see what's going on.

You know what's not awesome about our TV being broken? Not watching sweet, sweet TV.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Music and Politics

If Obama is really in this to win this, he should consider changing his campaign song to Motorhead's "Bomber." Seriously, take a listen to the chorus, it totally sort of sounds like Lemmy's singing, 'it's Obama, it's Obama,' if you kind of stretch it a bit. With that bold move, Obama would capture the coveted record store nerd vote, easily bringing in dozens of votes, provided the nerds actually made it to the polls in November and didn't get distracted by some shiny new CD reissue or a chance to display their obscure record knowledge to a fellow nerd.

On a related note, while riding my bike last weekend, I was totally cracking myself up with a proposal to change the national anthem to Bad Brains' "Pay to Cum," if only for the fact that by the time you got a stadium full of people at a football game or whatever to stand, the song would be almost over. Sure, nobody can sing it, but nobody can sing "The Star Spangled Banner," either. Plus, how funny/awesome would it be to see crowds of people all shouting out the lyrics, which I always thought were something along the lines of "hubbadubbadooranmakamakaflooremanamanamamamaFIGHT!"

This also started me thinking of how many '80s hardcore bands were lauded as the fastest band in the world - off the top of my head, I can recall Husker Du, Bad Brains, DRI - I'm sure there's tons more. Sort of how about a half dozen bands were called "America's Wire" - Mission of Burma, Urinals, Minutemen, etc. I guess it's kind of like how there are about a million "Master of the American Short Story" authors out there - Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, etc.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Money Changes Everything

I often wonder what sort of rich guy I'd make. Understand that when I say "rich," I don't mean well-off or comfortable, I'm talking diving in Scrooge McDuck money tanks rich.

Would I be an Elvis kind of rich guy, where I'd have a gang of hangers-on indulging my every whim while I shoot out TVs and pass the days in a self-medicated haze? Would I be a Howard Hughes rich guy where I hermited myself away from the germs of the common people while I grew my beard to ZZ Top lengths? These are the sorts of questions that keep me up at night.

Sure, there's the Bill Gates/Andrew Carnegie model, where I donate tons of my riches to charity, but where's the fun in that? I guess it does give you a pretty good bargaining chip at the pearly gates - "See, I could have been shooting out teevees but instead I established libraries and helped AIDS patients, so you really ought to cut me some slack on some of that other stuff."

Of course, this is all just a daydream, as I'm barely a hundredaire after paying the monthly bills.

Friday, August 1, 2008


The other day at work I was trying to get across the concept of 'assist,' and I came up with the classic Magic Johnson assist to the Kareem skyhook. The person I was speaking to didn't know what the hell I was talking about.

Then I realized that all my sports metaphors, much like my musical tastes, seem to have frozen around 1988.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Greatest Elvis Movie Never Made or The Healing of A Nation

Recently I've been rereading Peter Guralnick's double volume Elvis biography. Right now I'm close to the end, where Elvis doesn't want to record anything new and his concerts have become drugged out spectacles, where he'd give long, rambling speeches or forget the words to songs or just walk off stage after a couple minutes.

One of the things the King did seem to get excited about, however, was screening then-current blaxploitation flicks. He watched "Shaft," "Black Belt Jones," and "Across 110th Street" repeatedly, boring his hangers-on as he discussed these awesome movies over and over.

Elvis was so impressed with these movies that he wanted to star in his own action flick, which, as opposed to 80% of the movies he had starred in, he would have actually give a crap about.

"I want to be the baddest motherfucker there is," said the King, according to Guralnick.

The Colonel wanted him to do a semi-documentary on karate, then convinced him not to do any movie at all and Elvis died a few years later, brokenhearted.

Now here's the movie that should have been made.

Elvis and Rudy Ray Moore, Dolemite himself, run competing karate studios on different sides of town. Elvis' school is mostly white, Rudy's is mostly black. There is some tension between the two schools, but the King and Dolemite respect each other's martial arts abilities and bad-ass fashion sense, so they have a wary understanding.

Meanwhile, The Man (played by a dead ringer for Richard Nixon) is scheming to take over the youth center where the two schools meet for tournaments and use it to get kids hooked on dope. Nixon uses his Southern Strategy to divide the two races into fighting against each other rather than working together to fix their city.

Then Elvis and Rudy have to team up together and unite the city to take down The Man with their kung fu.

The soundtrack would be '70s Elvis, with assists from Curtis Mayfield and James Brown. Oh, I should probably put in "Trouble Man" by Marvin Gaye, even though that was the title song for another movie, just 'cause it's so bad-ass. We'll have it in the scene where Rudy and Elvis ride around looking for information. They're both sort of weary, especially since the comic relief has just been killed (I'm picturing Jerry Reed, Burt Reynolds and Isaac Hayes), and they're steeling themselves for the big showdown.

Final scene would be Elvis and Rudy standing on a pile of rubble as the sun rises after the big battle. Elvis' "American Trilogy" is playing. As the "Glory, glory, hallelujah" line rises, Elvis and Rudy shake hands. In the digitally remastered version, we can have the ghost of JFK embrace Barack Obama off on the side.

What would have happened if this movie were released? For one, with our country's racial problem fixed, America could put our energies elsewhere and I would be dictating this to my sexy robot secretary from my flying car.

For Elvis, it would have rejuvenated his sagging spirits, he would have fired his manager, kicked out all his sycophants and hangers-on, dumped the pills, and started making music again. His 1980 tour with the Clash would be seen as a high point in both his career and the history of awesomeness.

President James Brown would have led us into an unprecedented new age of peace, prosperity, and funkiness. George W. Bush, freed of the expectations of having a Presidental father, would have stayed in Kennebunkport, running businesses into the ground, terrorizing the help at the club, and living off his parents. He would gain fame as the model for Ted Knight's grandson in "Caddyshack."

Terrorism, hippies, conservatism and fundamentalism of any stripe would never gain a toehold in America, because nobody wanted to be the dick that wrecked the place that gave the world that awesome movie where Dolemite and Elvis fought crime.

Me? Well, for bringing this outline (well, I guess my parents would have had to do it, since I would have been in grade school) to Elvis' attention, I become one of the richest men in the world, regularly recieving loving tribute from all the nations in recognition of my gifts.

Man, I gotta get working on that time machine, quick.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Gossip Game

In college I had this friend who always had to know what everyone was doing. I wouldn't say he was gossipy, since I don't think he used the information to talk about them behind their back or anything, and gossipy sounds sort of fruity, so let's just call him overinterested.

I found this sort of annoying. I'd be telling a story and he'd interrupt a dozen times wanting to know who I was with while I was trying to get to the meat of the story. After a while I found a way to turn this annoyance into a amusing little pasttime. By simply dropping a little information, I could entertain myself for about a half hour or so. I'd start out simple.

"I went to the movies with ...ah, you know, that one guy and the girl? Anyway, it was pretty cool."
"Was it Dave?"
"No, no, it know, that one dude. Anyway, Bruce Willis is running in front of this big fireball, then he turns and says, 'hot enough for you,' and -"
"So was it Jenn? Julie?"
"No, you know, that girl with the hair that hangs out with that guy? Anyway, so Bruce Willis throws a spear at the main terrorist and says, 'stick around,' cause he stabbed him with a big spear -"
"Did you go with Scott? Casey?"
"No, no, no. So then the terrorist pulls out this uzi and is all like, 'eheheheheheheh' and Bruce Willis pulls out his gun and is all like 'gushgushgush' and -"
"Was it Jimmy? Todd?"
"Nah, it was, you know, that one dude and the girl. Anyway, so Bruce Willis is all like 'gushgushgush' and ..."

By this time the guy's face would be turning red as he practically recited the Gainesville phone book to determine who I went to the movies with. If I was feeling especially sporting, I could drag this out to a half hour or so. Awesome thing is, he'd fall for it every time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July 15, 2008. A Date That Will Live in Awesomeness.

Not sure exactly how I did it, but I just won a free Cuban sandwich over at International Cafe. Perhaps spending $3,000 in Cubans over there in the last couple years helped. Perhaps that girl behind the counter just needed an excuse to gaze longingly at me. Regardless of how or why it happened, this just might be the greatest single event in my life.

Let's see...graduation, marriage, first real job...yep, pretty much greatest day in my life.

Man, is that free sammich gonna taste good.


So I went to the store tonight and figured I probably ought to buy a bag of candy to replace the office's depleted supply. Unbeknownst to me it was 2 for 1 and I got the last bag. So now I have a raincheck for FREE CANDY!

Who knows what tomorrow holds? I think I'm hitting the liquor store and the car dealers.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Dream Weaver

If any of you out there could tell me what this dream means, I'd be glad to hear it.

So I go to work and my boss tells me I have to go to another branch. I'm pretty mad about it, but when I get there I realize my job is to stand on an overpass and count these baby animals that are floating by on a river underneath me.

"Ha ha," I think, "Wait til I tell my boss that I spent all day out here counting baby elephants and hippos as they float by. Hey, you know who would really like to see these cute little animals? My wife."

So I get out the phone to call her, but it falls and breaks into a million pieces. The end.

Oh yeah, there was also this part where I'm riding a train into a tunnel while putting hot dogs into donuts, but I don't see how that could possibly mean anything.

Happy Trails

After riding my bike to work every day for about a month, I've gotten sort of addicted. On the rare day that I have to drive the car I feel sort of weird - I guess because the daily ride burns up a lot of energy that I later convert into crazy and/or worry.

This week I discovered the Baldwin Trail, this cool 14.5 mile bike path about 5 miles from my house. I've been there twice this week. The first time I figured I'd do 5 miles in, then 5 miles back which is my daily commute. After about 6 miles, I noticed I wasn't dying, so I ended up doing the whole thing. It probably helped that Christie is redecorating the house, and my once mighty Man Room is being reduced to a Man Corner or Man Alcove under the rising tide of beads and fabric, so I felt it was better for me to be away from the house as much as possible.

Today I took the camera with me, since I noticed all sorts of cool animals Monday. This morning I saw a family of wild turkeys, a chicken family, and a big indigo snake, but they were all too quick for my camera. Instead, I got a picture of a cow.

Most of the trail is covered by a canopy of trees so you don't get too hot.

Through most of this ride, I had Toto's "Africa" and a bunch of Journey songs going through my head thanks to some karaoke last night, so it was sort of like I was reliving the audio of one of my 8th grade dances. I did a passable version of Tom Jones' version of Prince's "Kiss" last night but feel I could have performed better had I hit the gin and tonics.

You also get to pass by all these cool looking swampy areas.

And a gun range

A big chunk of the trail goes around the back of people's farms and trailers and stuff. I read a review that thought this was pretty trashy, but it reminds me of growing up, so I kind of dig it. I didn't take any pictures of people's houses, 'cause I was afraid the sound of freedom might be coming after me.

These are the sort of trails you could find moldy old Penthouse and Playboy magazines on back when I was a kid. The internet has made things a lot easier.

Towards the end of the trail, there's this little skatepark. Man, I would have loved a skatepark when I was a teenager. Actually, I probably would have come up with some Dead Kennedys-esque conspiracy theory about how Reagan was gathering all the skaters in one place to ship them off to the camps or something.

Yeah, I was pretty stupid back then.

You see those? Those are the legs of a man, not some car-driving pansy. Suck it, OPEC!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Droppin' Science

When the old computer imploded and I was able to salvage the old hard drive as an external drive, I made a promise to myself that I was going to back up all that old data.

The awesome thing about promises to yourself is that nobody hears you and it doesn't really matter if you keep them or not.

Then the external hard drive got dropped. Now, it's not important to play the blame game and determine who exactly dropped the drive and how it happened, what was important is that the external drive held a ton of downloaded music files, my wife's patterns and instructions and a bunch of my aborted or semi-finished writing projects that I had pretty much given up on ever seeing again.

After a couple weeks of wondering if I'd ever re-find that Barry White soundtrack album where he sang about taking down The Man or all the old hardcore 7"s I found off soulseek, I enacted a last-ditch effort. I froze the old hard drive.

According to the internet, freezing the drive will allow the metal to contract, giving you about 20 minutes before the metal warms and expands to transfer all your files. I didn't have anything to lose, and I figured they couldn't put it on the internet if it wasn't true, so I gave it a shot.

Nothing happened.

Then, using logic, I determined that if a hit had caused the problem, another hit of equal force should fix it. So I hit it with a screwdriver.

You know what? It works pretty OK now, although a couple files are acting funny. However, I was able to save all the word files and start making some awesome mix CDs from all the music I forgot I had - right now I'm making an awesome '80s dance mix - Cure 12"s, "You Dropped a Bomb on Me," "Egyptian Lover," "Timezone," "We are the Jonzun Crew," all the jams.

This all reinforces a basic principle of physics. If something mechanical doesn't work, just hit it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Don't Get Too Comfortable

With our new schedules, I work a 6 day week, then a 4 day week. Since this new schedule hit, I've noticed that I'm so used to being at work that I've started to treat it as a second home. I don't know how many times I've caught myself almost unzipping my fly on the way to the bathroom then realizing that, no, I am not at my house and I have to keep my pants on.

Now that I'm riding my bike and changing clothes twice a day (have I mentioned that I have no office?) this is only going to get worse. Come quitting time, I've had to stop myself from unbuttoning my dress shirt in my little cubicle.

So if you hear my name mentioned in any sexual harassment suits, everything was totally a big misunderstanding.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fashion Plate

Remember those high school teachers who would wear the same thing day after day? I had a history teacher who constantly wore a white short-sleeve dress shirt, black pants and what I think were Beatle boots. Did he have a closet full of identical outfits? Did he wear the same shirt every day? Did he go home and wash his short-sleeve shirt every afternoon while watching the news and grading quizzes?

Since we were high school students and he was a high school teacher, naturally the class thought this was about the lamest fashion choice ever. It was the '80s! Why didn't the old guy buy some new clothes? Didn't he know about the mall? Didn't he know about Chess King?

OK, truthfully few of us actually shopped at Chess King, I just put that reference in there so I could use that amazing ad. Man, look at that dude in his Chess King clothes and Walkman all ready to fight dragons in the future! And after that chick from the Bangles uses her knife on the future dragon, they're totally gonna do it!

Anyway, I was reflecting on this lame-o a couple weeks ago when I realized that he was sort of right, and not just because now I'm proabably only a couple years younger than that fossil was at the time.

Now I'm not advocating wearing the exact same thing every day, that's still sort of lame. Unless of course you have a job or heist where you get to wear one of those bad-ass Bottle Rocket/Devo jumpsuits every day.

But the more I reflected, the more I realized how hard it is to find a picture of me from my mid to late twenties where I'm not wearing black jeans, these awesome brown wingtips I bought for 3 bucks in Atlanta and a button down shirt in some shade of yellow, orange or green.

Actually, I tend to avoid cameras like Nosferatu avoids sunlight, so it's fairly hard to find photographs of me from that period anyway.

After that I went through my guyabera phase which was kickstarted when my mom unloaded all my dad's shirts on me without his knowledge. After retiring, Dad pretty much wears overalls 24/7 anyway, and I think my mom realized that my borderline OCD personality would cause me to gradually phase out the yellow shirts, which for some reason my family really hated.

Most of my guyaberas are missing buttons or stitching now, or have that weird grease/soot from the grill, so I've hesitantly been moving into striped polo shirts, but I'm not sure if this will be another 5 year fashion phase or just a quick spring/summer detour.

Although the more I look at that ad, the more I'm thinking of bringing back the Chess King look.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ben and Me

If you were to rate the founding fathers on a scale of awesomeness, any reasonable person would put Ben Franklin up there in the top three. Not only did he convince France to help us out in the Revolutionary War, he invented bifocals, the public library and the volunteer fire department in his spare time. Plus, he could summon the power of lightning to smite his foes.

Last week Ben came to our library for a program. Apparently this is the go-to Ben Franklin for the History and Discovery Channel. I got my picture taken with him, but haven't received it yet. This is a historical tragedy.

Anyway, a coworker (luckily, not in my department) asked if Ben was coming back. Then they asked, "So was that the real Ben Franklin or his son?"

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Burning Bridges, Breaking Chains

I went ahead and cancelled my parking last week. Naturally, this morning on the way to work my bike chain popped off right at the beginning of the Riverwalk, which means that now that I'm all addicted to riding to work, the bike will be in the shop for a while, waiting for the bike dudes to act like dicks to me for not buying a thousand dollar bike and instead riding my free Target/Wal Mart crapper.

For those keeping count, this makes a TV, an external hard drive and a bike that I've managed to break in a little less than two weeks. If you are a parent, you should probably keep your kids away from me just in case.

But you know what's awesome about riding to work? The Riverwalk. I was going to take some pictures this morning but I wasn't feeling very photographic after walking my bike the whole way.

I had been on Riverwalk once before to watch the 4th of July fireworks, but didn't know how long and awesome it was. You get to ride right next to the water, for downtown it is fairly bum-free, and if you get really lucky, when you go over the overpass thing there'll be a train on the tracks right below you. Sometimes you have to dodge around the office ladies out for their morning constitutional, but it beats driving through the streets (Hey America - that stick on your steering wheel? That's a turn signal. It signals which way you are going to turn.).

Sadly, I think my Riverwalk days are over for a while, at least until they figure out what keeps breaking my chain.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fashion Police

Had some paypal money burning a hole in my pocket (not like it's real money) so I bought me a porkpie hat.

I bought it thinking I'd look like I was in The Specials, but I think that I look more like I'm in special classes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


My all-time favorite stage move has always been when James Brown would act exhausted after giving his all to the audience and would fall to his knees shaking his head in a gesture of I-can't-do-this-anymore, whereupon one of his dudes would drape a cape around his shoulders and lead him offstage, only to have James throw it off, run up and grab the mic, re-engergized by his kick-ass band.

Second place? Probably a tie between the humping the guitar/machine gun guitar and the '70s Elvis karate demonstrations.

In fact, my friend Pat and I got quite a bit of milage joking about how indie rock would be a lot more entertaining with a bit more showmanship (and a good editor). How awesome would it be if Sebadoh would break down mid song, then have a dude put a ratty thrift-store cardigan or horn-rim nerd glasses on Lou Barlow and have him re-energized and ready to (theoretically) rock the house?

Anyway, couple weeks ago I got this Stax Records documentary from Netflix. I put it on and was doing something else while the DVD played. It was pretty interesting, but since I've read a couple books on Stax, I figured I didn't really need to pay attention too much.

Then they show a clip from the Stax 1968 European tour. Sam and Dave are playing "Hold On, I'm Coming." Like most of the live Stax stuff I've heard, the song is much faster and grittier, making you forget all the times your dad's friends felt all Blues Brotherey after a couple beers and would attempt to sing that or "Soul Man."

So the song is ending and getting faster and faster and they're both doing this crazy dance that looks like they're trying to pull up their pants while shimmying all over the stage. As the song accelerates, they're pretty much just yelling "hold on" over and over to each other.

Then one of them passes out. Two dudes grab him and take him to the side of the stage. Then about 10 seconds later he shimmys across the stage to keep screaming out "hold on" some more.

That just might be the greatest stage move I've ever seen.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Zombiefest is Over

The 5th Annual Library Amateur Film Contest is over. This is the one I prepared the least for, freaked out less over and generally didn't do any sort of prep work for at all until this week. And it worked out great. I suppose there's a lesson in there somewhere.

All the submissions were good - you've already seen one, so you know what I'm talking about, and we had 78 people, only a few of which were staff or coerced staff wives.

It was a fairly straightforward presentation this year - no skits or run-ins like past years. Oh. We did have a zombie judge.

We were supposed to be part of the greater Jacksonville Film Festival again this year but at the last minute I noticed that we weren't in any of their calendars or promotional material. You know what? Who needs 'em?

There were a couple mistakes - most of which involved a VHS tape that wasn't rewound all the way. Trying to find the movie on a an ancient VCR while I could feel a crowd getting more and more anxious was no damn fun, let me tell you. Oh yeah, and announcing the winner of the first prize as second place wasn't really a high point, but I'm chalking that up to being more used to a crowd of 10.

Christie said she could tell I was nervous as the MC, although I didn't really feel that nervous, other than the aforementioned VHS problem. It was a letdown finishing up the workday, being all jacked up on adrenalinie and little brownies.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the whole thing. It totally washed the bad feelings from last year's away. Will there be a 6th year? Who knows? I always say each year is the last year, but I'm a bit more optimistic now.

Friday, May 16, 2008

All Within the Sound of My Electronic Voice

Should go to the 5th Annual Amateur Film Fest at the Main Library 2:00 tomorrow. Admission is free, and you get to see the best homemade zombie films ever made, as well as eat some free food.

Here's a teaser:

People with heart conditions and wusses should not attend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Poochie Show

While running this afternoon I saw 3 or 4 animal control trucks and a couple cop cars parked on a side street. When I got up to where they were, I watched a whole bunch of cops chase down a stray dog with a big net, which I didn't really think happened in real life.

I also saw a thief in a striped shirt and mask running with a bag of money marked with a dollar sign stop to steal a pie cooling on a windowsill. Then the truant officer chased a bunch of kids out of the old swimming hole.

OK, I sort of made up those last ones, but the dog nets are totally true.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I am Iron Man

I finally rode my bike to work today which is about 5 miles, according to the smart computer. I've been planning it for a while, at least since my parking doubled. Eventually I'd like to make it every day, but we'll see what happens.

It only took about 40 minutes to get there, and I surprised myself by not dying. I think I even managed not to smell too bad afterwards, but that's not really for me to say.

Couple things I determined:

I need to get a better seat.

I need to do a bit more research into that whole 'gear' thing. I kept getting the gear where you pedal and pedal and pedal without getting anywhere.

I also need to get a bigger helmet. I have a huge head, full of dreams and smarts, so I look like a gorilla wearing a kid's hat.

Even though I'm a dirty, oily man, I was able to clean up OK.

Riding home against the wind by the river about killed me.

Will I be able to eventually do this full-time, not having to pay for parking or gas and possibly not being so fat? Well, we'll see. With my excellent timing, I started this little experiment about a month before the temperature hits 90s/100s.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Look Out, Maxim!

One of our homeless regulars is starting a magazine. Working title is "Blondes and Jokes."

Just Another Day at Work

I'm sitting at the desk in the abandoned fiction department. This guy (early 20s Black guy with glasses, clean and well dressed but a little off-looking) starts walking around in circles pressing a button on his cell phone over and over to make it beep.

Beep Beep finally makes it over to the desk.

Me: "You need some help?"

Beep: "You're asking that because I'm Black, right? So because I'm Black I need help?"

Beep Beep goes on like this for a couple seconds getting more agitated.

Me: "No, I asked if you needed help because you're standing under a sign that says 'ask here.'

That short-circuted him and he went to the back to read comic books.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt

My roommate Todd and I were hanging out at our friend Keith's apartment one night around '95 or so. We were all supposed to head down to the Hardback for some show that, from what I can remember, none of us were really that psyched about, but there was always the possibility of adventure, and we were getting in free so what the hell? Plus, after working at my friend's store earlier that day I had an extra 20 bucks that was ready to be converted into fun.

We drug our heels leaving Keith's apartment, reluctant to leave whatever kung fu or weird video he was playing for us at the time, but it was close to midnight, so we started our walk.

We usually walked down 2nd avenue. At least I think it was 2nd avenue. Whatever street the Covered Dish was on. We had all walked down 2nd to the Hardback a million times, in groups, alone, whatever. Yeah, it probably wasn't the safest thing to do, but nobody ever had a problem, so we didn't think anything of it. Even those of us with cars rarely thought of driving down there. In fact, I loved walking home from the Hardback on a nice night, my drunken footsteps clomping down the street like Frankenstein while I sang to the sleepy city (I distinctly remember "Kids Don't Follow" by the Replacements) on the way home to eat half a pizza, play some records too loud and pass out. Many was the time I would sneak out early to walk home like this, enjoying being young and drunk, my ears still ringing from Spoke or Radon or Don's Ex Girlfriend or whoever I saw that night, happy and content from the night's fun.

This night we were walking one street over. It was dark.
Periodically, one of us would mention that we should probably get on 2nd, which had traffic and streetlights and stuff. The other two would agree, but for whatever reason, we kept walking.

I was telling this amusing story about this panhandler trying to get on my good side by asking about Barney Fife when two guys jumped out of a side street. The guy in front pointed a gun at us.

"Get on the ground, motherfuckers."

I suppose this is one of those moments where your life passes before your eyes, but I felt strangely detached, like I was watching the whole thing on a movie screen or something. I was obviously terrified, but still felt strangely calm about the whole armed robbery thing.

"Throw your wallets on the sidewalk."

We emptied our pockets and threw them on the sidewalk in front of us. Somehow in the confusion I was able to keep my wallet, but did throw my 20 dollar bill on the sidewalk. This would end up being a major chunk of our muggers' bank, since Todd and Keith had like 2 or 3 bucks apiece and some maxed out credit cards between them.

"Count to 10. You get up before 10 and you're dead."

I'm not sure if we counted all the way up to 10 or not. I do remember Todd and I were so broke, even pre-robbery, that we scrambled for the change we left on the sidewalk.
When we got to the Hardback, everyone was buying us beer and pretty girls were telling us how glad they were we weren't dead and hugging us.

I could tell Todd and I were both thinking of a way to keep these good feelings going. How suspicious would it be if we said we got robbed next weekend?
The next morning, as I put on my shoes for the Walk of Shame back home, my hands started shaking.

"Holy shit. I could have been shot last night. Or I could have seen one of my friends shot." I wouldn't really say it was a panic attack or anything, but I remember being almost paralyzed with...fright? Delayed reaction? Who knows. These feelings would fade later that afternoon and be replaced by all the Jackie Chan moves I should have inflicted on our muggers.

"You wanna mug us,? You're not so tough now that I kicked that gun out of your hand, huh? Now hand over your wallets."

We had filled out a police report and everything, so we went down to the police station later that week and got to look through folders of mug shots. It was obvious we wouldn't recognize the guys, and we ended up laughing at the mug shots after like the third folder. Our favorites were the people that were smiling proudly like it was a school photo or something.

So remember, stay on well-lit streets, and if you really don't want to go somewhere, sometimes its better not to go.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Dirty Thirties

My birthday is next week. I'm gonna be 38, which is way too old to be as immature as I am. It seems like just yesterday 30 was the default 'old' age. Not ancient or anything, just more "Hey, what's that dude doing hanging out over by the keg?" "I dunno, he's like 30 or something." "Yeah, well he's freaking out all the girls, somebody needs to tell him to get home to his History Channel."

Guess I'll have to revise that figure up to 40.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Audacity of Hope

I had a couple out-of-town friends over about a year ago. After giving an awe-inspiring library program, we grilled up some food and stayed up late into the night discussing important matters.

At some point my wife snuck off and went to bed. Perhaps she didn't really want to know the learned panel's opinion on who was the better Black Flag singer, or hear about '80s skinhead battles or overhear discussions of that girl that in retrospect, I totally could have done it with had I played my cards right.

When we came inside, the TV was still playing TCM. Bob Hope must have been on, because I remember one of my friends exlclaiming, "Man, fuck Bob Hope."
I seem to remember the friend in question had tried to watch some of Hope's old movies, but the casual racism made him turn them off.

Or maybe that's just the kind of controversial comments my friends and I are likely to make.

I was thinking of that outburst a couple weeks ago when I finished up "Pictures at a Revolution," this book about the making of "Bonnie and Clyde," "In the Heat of the Night," "The Graduate" and some others I can't think of right now. At the end of the book, Martin Luther King, Jr. has just been assassinated, so the Oscars are moved back a couple weeks out of respect. Bob Hope was the host, and his opening remarks were pretty much, "I don't see what the big deal was, why would you move these important awards." Then he made a bunch of corny jokes and ranted about the crazy new movies of 1968.

That in turn reminded me of the story of Bob Hope playing Gator Growl. Gator Growl is UF's annual pep rally, and is supposed to be the biggest or longest-running in the world or something. They've had pretty big comedians there - Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, Carrot Top, pretty much everyone has done it.

Sometime in the early '80s Robin Williams was the host. He made a lot of jokes about his penis which scandalized the alumni. I'm making a leap here, but I would assume that gay hairdresser, John Wayne and tough black guy made an appearance as well.
So after that, the committee decides to entertain old school style and bring the comedy stylings of Bob Hope, along with the lady that sang the "Fame" and "Flashdance" song.

So Bob Hope comes out first and makes it obvious he doesn't give a crap about being there. He's filming his appearance for a TV special, and isn't looking at the student audience and repeating his lines over and over.

So the students start booing Bob Hope. This pisses off the showbiz legend, who stops with the WWII-era wisecracks long enough to tell the assembled crowd to shut up, which only increases the booing.

Bob Hope leaves, pissed off, and the "Fame" lady takes the stage. After a couple seconds, it becomes obvious that she is lip syncing. Nowadays, that would be acceptable, but in the '80s, people still expected their live entertainment to be live. So they start booing "Fame" lady who rushes off.

What to do now? The kids have booed Bob Hope and the "Fame" lady, so the people behind Gator Growl have to do something to regain the crowd. So they launch off the fireworks. Which might have worked, had they not been aimed into the crowd.

That firework thing I'm pretty sure has been exaggerated throughout the years, but I know the Bob Hope stuff happened - when I worked in News and Public Affairs at UF we had huge clip files of every time UF had ever been mentioned. On a whim, I looked up Bob Hope's file and found a letter from the PR department that was really, really kissing his ass and begging him not to say anything bad about the school. I really should have copied it.

So where was I going with all that? Oh yeah, fuck Bob Hope. And Bing Crosby, too. Kid-beating bastard.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Here Comes Sickness

I've had a fever of about 100 degrees since Thursday. I even got sent home from work yesterday. Luckily the weather turned bad the last few days, because nothing is worse than being sick when the sun is shining and the world is laughing at you lying on the couch watching Godzilla movies.

So I guess I'm going to have to go to the doctor tomorrow. Going to the doctor is always a crapshoot; sometimes I get the good one, sometimes I end up with the guy who just tells me to, like, just drink some juice and get some rest instead of using the hundreds of years of developments in medical technology to give me some medicine rather than tell me to do stuff I sort of figured out myself, then take 30 bucks for it. Plus, I feel this doctor tries to "go downtown" more than is absolutely medically necessary.

On the plus side, I came up with at least one side-splittingly funny post last night. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember anything about it when I woke up and the Nyquil wore off. How about if you just drink some Nyquil and pretend that this rambling post is that hilarity?

Friday, March 28, 2008

How I Know I'm Getting Old

So this weekend we're going to a 2 day plant festival in Gainesville where Christie is selling jewelery. I'm about as excited for the plant festival as I would have been 10 years ago if you had told me about a 2 day record swap where Angelina Jolie handed out free drinks and the Fat Boys played "All You Can Eat" at the buffet line.

Well, maybe not that excited, but pretty close.

Some of you might be laughing now, but when I take home the trophy for "Most Improved" at the first annual Murray Hill Garden Contest, we'll see who laughs the loudest.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Music News From 1985

About a month ago I'm sitting at a stoplight when a car starts pumping the bass behind me.

"Goddammit," I think. "I can't even listen to my Dadrock* in my own damn car."
Then I realize they're blasting out "La De Da Di" by Doug E. Fresh like it was 1985.

Coincidentally that same week some friends and I were discussing the awesomeness of early '80s electro funk. You know, that synthesizer-heavy early hip-hop that would get everyone on the floor at the skating rink. Think of "Rockit" or "Freakazoid." Or better yet, think of Jonzun Crew. Check 'em out.

You know you're getting some bad jams when the band includes an outer space dandy.

Deducing I had somehow slipped through a hole in time to the mid '80s, I rushed home and fired up MTV hoping I'd catch the video for "Somebody's Watching Me," "19" or perhaps the latest Billy Squier jam. After that I figured I'd go through my high school revenge list and settle some scores. That's right, 17 and 18 year olds. You don't look so tough now that I'm in my thirties. After that I'd make sure I passed algebra the first time, ensuring a future full of big money, and then bet on a few Superbowls just to make sure.

Oh yeah, and I'd totally kill Hitler, too.

Sadly, after watching a bunch of people I'd never heard of show off their houses and cars I realized that I had not, in fact gone back in time and would have to make the best of things here in the present. Hitler didn't know how close he came.

* Dadrock in question was a best of ZZ Top CD I took home from work. "Just Got Paid?" "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide?" While handicapped by the absence of outer space dandies, those are some bad jams indeed. For more information on this topic, wait for my hard-hitting 'more music news from 1975' post.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Overheard Madness!

Overheard in the parking garage elevator last week:

"I don't care. It has a weapon called 'anal probe.' I don't think that is something a teenager needs to have."

Overheard in line at training day:

"Do you see that woman with the shirt that says 'voodoo?' That's just too much."
Cluck of disapproval from other person in line.
"And have you seen next door (museum of modern art)? They have a portrait of Satan in there."
"I wouldn't doubt it."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back on the Radio

The Man figured out I was getting just a little too close to the truth, so they shut down my motherboard. Now, I'm not comparing myself to the Kennedys or Malcolm X, but you have to admit the similarities are uncanny.

Not only am I back, I have a new laptop with wireless ...juice running all
through it. That's right, no longer are your wires of oppression chaining me to my computer room desk. In fact, I'm writing this from the living room - that's right, the living room, conventions be damned!

Naturally, like everything electronic or mechanical I own or come in contact with, I'm sure this laptop is gonna be broken within two weeks. I got a solar pump for our pond out back which worked twice before it just stopped, giving me a nice mosquito breeding swamp in the backyard. And that has like, what, two mechanical parts total? The plate thing the sun shoots her magical rays on and a little pump that squirts out water?

I already spent two hours on the phone to Bangladesh last night to determine the DVD player was missing a part, so I'm just hoping I can keep this laptop running through the warranty so I can keep broadcasting the truth until The Man shoots another one of his poison death rays at my motherboard.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Gainesville Commercial Help

While pulling weeds in the backyard yesterday, I had a commercial stuck in my head on repeat. I haven't had occasion to recall this commercial in years, and I actually managed to stump Google with it. It used to run in Gainesville on Fox, one of the 3 channels I got (the other 2 being PBS and The Box, where you'd vote on the videos that played; "Pop That Coochie" had something like a 3 month winning streak that year).

So there's this guy walking through a parking lot full of mobile homes. He's giving out prices and whatnot and telling you how awesome his lot is. At the end of the commercial he looks straight into the camera and points. Then, in a tone I'm remembering as a little more angry than determined, says, "I still wanna sell you a mobile home." Some of you might remember it as the ending of the Radon song "Chinese Rednecks," and it is entirely possible that I'm basing my memory of the guy's phrasing from Brent's version.

I'm also picturing the guy as looking sort of like an evil Kenny Rogers, which might not be right at all, but it makes me happy.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Natural Mystics

I had "Mystics in Bali," this Indonesian horror movie at the top of my Netflix queue for about 2 months. I pretty much gave up on ever seeing it when it arrived in the mail a couple weeks ago. After a period of quiet reflection, I understood why it took so long to arrive.

Netflix was testing me. Would I give up after a few weeks and pick another movie for my top pick? If so, then I wasn't really worthy of watching the awesomeness of "Mystics in Bali." Luckily, I persevered, and Netflix noticed and rewarded me.
I am so very, very glad I passed the test.

In the movie, an American woman is writing a book on black magic. She learns that Indonesian Leyack magic is the strongest magic in the world so she goes out in the field to complete her work.

She meets a witch who can extend her tongue about six feet and speaks like an evil Yoda. The witch agrees to teach the woman her secrets, but of course, this knowledge comes at a price.

I've seen some crazy stuff in movies. Back in Gainesville, I would regularly walk over to my friend Keith's apartment, where he had all sorts of wonderful and strange VHS tapes. Kung fu movies where vampires enlist the aid of Dracula and eat placenta and urine to grow stronger. Another kung fu movie scene in which a group of turtles get on their hind legs and dance to Roxy Music. "For Your Height Only," featuring Weng Weng, a two foot tall Filipino midget as a James Bond superspy. A movie about a lady who fell in love with a corpse and keeps his pee-pee in the refrigerator. All sorts of Jackie Chan or John Woo stuff that is pretty commonplace now, but at the time was pretty mind-blowing. After a lot of these movies or scenes, whoever was gathered in Keith's apartment would sort of look at each other to make sure that, yes, we really did see that.

But the scene in "Mystics in Bali" where the woman's head pops off her body and flies away with her lungs, heart and entrails attached flapping in the breeze? That just might be the damndest thing I've ever seen.

Oh yeah, the head/guts fly around looking for blood to keep the witch young or something. In one scene, the head throws a midwife through a wall like Popeye, then gets down between a pregnant woman's legs to suck out a baby.

Luckily, there are some good monks who agree to fight the black magic, who also give all sorts of information on Indonesian magic. If anyone walks in on you watching "Mystics" and accuses you of watching trash, you can always select one of these scenes and you can say you're working on an anthropology degree in folklore.

So yeah, "Mystics in Bali." You might have to wait a while or prove your worth to the gods of Netflix, but it is totally worth it. Now if I can just appease the gods to send "Flash Gordon," which has been number one in my list for like a year, I will have all the secrets of the universe.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Does Not Compute

Our computer died after five or six years of semi-faithful service last week. Someone who ought to know told me the motherboard died. I think that's what he said. Either that or something about the mothership connection. I'll have to take his word, since anything beyond opening a word file, playing a CD or looking up pictures of Phoebe Cates on the internet is beyond my computing capabilities.

Naturally, the weekend before it crashed I was thinking, "You know, I really ought to upload all these photos to Flickr and burn a lot more of these MP3 files I stole off the internet totally paid for onto discs.” Then I searched for more Phoebe Cates pictures and went to bed.

Just like when the power goes out and all you can think about is watching TV or running the vacuum cleaner or anything that uses that wonderful power, this last week without a computer has been annoying.

If I want to check my bank balance, I've got to use the phone and sit through all that 'press one for more options' business, all the while knowing that I could have checked my $23 bank balance 50 times on the computer in the time it takes just to get to the prompt for English.

If I want to find out if it will freeze overnight, I have to watch the weather channel, which for 10 minutes gives the forcast for Miami and Atlanta, so I have to use the pythagorean theorem or something to determine whether I need to cover the plants.

So yeah, it's gonna be a long three weeks. Hopefully by the time my new computer comes I'll have a backlog of stories written out by quill pen.