Thursday, December 19, 2019

FORGIVE ME!!!!

More coming in 2020. I promise.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Northern Lights & The Rock In My Shoe

Story time kids.

When the entity I usually only refer to as "The Band"...meaning "PORTLAND'S ORIGINAL ALTER EGO!" (as our T-shirts proudly proclaimed) was on the road and work at home was drying up we found that of the scores of local bands a mere 3 years earlier there were only two still working full time...and one of them was Alter Ego.

That's how bad things were in the local scene.
I've often said that a magazine article which once dubbed Portland Oregon "The next Motown!" thanks to our thriving live music scene must have angered the rock & roll gods because just a month after publication of that glowing article the lights in the clubs began to go out, one by one.

What this meant was that my comrades and I, who used to only have to go on the road for a week every month or two, now had to go on the road for a month at a time in order to keep working.
Then it was two months on the road.
Then three.
And then...
Yeah, we pretty much had to stay on the road because all of the top rooms at home had "gone dark" as they say.

Then one day, our wonderful ... our beautiful...agent called us with great news;

A trip to Alaska!
We would play every town, every sports bar and every hotel worth playing.
We were going to make some serious scratch and experience Alaskan hospitality!

And what about those Northern Lights they have up there?

We heard constantly about the Northern Lights AKA The Aurora Borealis.
It was a light show better than anything Timothy Leary could have imagined even while doing the Tango with the purest Lysergic acid diethylamide.

Everywhere we went in Alaska folks would ask "Have you seen the Northern Lights yet?"
When we would tell them 'no' we would be reassured that when we did it would touch our very souls.

Our souls!

Sort of a kaleidoscope of wonder rolled out by the almighty himself.


But surely we would see them by the time we got to Anchorage? Nope.
Nome? Uh-uh.
Ketchikan? Nein.
Sitka? Nyet.
Fairbanks, Seward, Homer, Juneau?
No no no no.


I was beginning to think this whole "Northern Lights" concept was a prank they enjoyed playing on outsiders and had somehow convinced the folks at National Geographic to go along (thanks to bribery involving fish-heads and seal pelts).

So, two plus years in Alaska with a 5 month break in the middle to tour South Korea and Japan leads us to where my story unfolds;

This trip so far from home and the comfort of my own bed had started out quite promising;
We were going to come home the conquering heroes with loads of cash and the local music scene would have certainly recovered by then and our resume would now make us the most desired band in the land by those greedy club-owners (yeah...neither of those things happened).

But, worse yet, was that the very last 4 months or so found us working in clubs that had simply not kept their end of the deal...paying less than they had agreed to, forcing us to cover many of our own expenses which should have been paid by them and, worse of all, the return trip home was to be paid for by the final club in the circuit and...sorry guitar player.
No bueno.

Sue me when you get back to the lower 48 if you'd like.

So we headed home, broken financially, broken hearted and then something else broke...
the axle on our trailer.

There we were in the middle of the Yukon. 3 AM.

Nothing as far as the eye could see but blackness all around and then a sickening "SNAP" and "THUD" as the poor rear axle on our trailer, full of our equipment, clothes and that last box of Ramen noodles, broke and caused everything to skid to a stop.

In the middle of nowhere.

The amount of discouragement and resignation that descended upon us was only one more layer on top of the defeat we had been feeling for the past several months.

This, kids, is how you spell "Despair".

And on top of all I could feel a rock in my shoe.
But at this point I didn't even have the energy to take my shoe off and shake it out.

"What the hell are we going to DO?!?"

I don't remember if I cried or not but boy, I sure felt like it.

After about a half hour of us all looking at one another and saying things like "What did we do to deserve this?" and "I'm going to kill that #*@king agent when we get home!" and "Do you think bears are going to get us?!?...can't we just give them that last packet of Ramen?" a guardian angel descended from heaven in the form of an old pickup truck and some locals (actual local humans...not bears) asking us what happened and why we were just sitting in the middle of the Yukon at 3AM.

We told them about the broken axle and they informed us that if we unhooked our vehicle there was a small camp resort a few miles off the beaten path and if we stayed there until morning there was a service station with a mechanic who also JUST HAPPENS to be a welder.

So, off they went and we just sat down for a few minutes to discuss who would stay behind with the equipment and who would go ahead and come back with a tow truck when the sun came up in a few hours.

We were still broken, tired and hungry and then...

"Look up!" one of my band-mates said and so I did...and there it was.

The Aurora Borealis.

And yes, it was as glorious, awe-inspiring and divine of a sight as we had always been told it was.

And what did I say? "There IS a God!"
Don't make me laugh. I said no such thing.


I said "Pretty fitting huh? We finally get to see this amazing thing when we feel like we've been chewed up and spat out and cannot possibly enjoy it.
For the rest of my life whenever I hear 'Northern Lights' I'm just going to remember this hellish soul-crushing experience."

I could feel that damn annoying rock in my shoe even more now.

Well, needless to say we survived and made it home and started the next chapter in our lives.
The club scene had not improved and it was back to square one.

Not long after that the band went by the wayside and we all got those dreaded "Straight jobs" as we used to call them.

Cut to a few years later;
One day I was telling a friend about the many trials and tribulations of "The Band", our Alaskan adventure, the story of the broken axle, our narrow escape from the bears in the Juniper bushes, and the ironic timing of the Northern Lights.

"Yep", I said, "That trip was one of the biggest disappointments of my life".

He looked at me in amazement...not so much by the stories I had just shared but by my lack of appreciation for the experience.

He said "You traveled in a ROCK BAND and went to Japan?
You got to party in Seoul?
You got to be at the finish line for the Iditarod?


And you got to see the Aurora Borealis...not on TV or in a magazine but in person from a vantage point in the middle of the Yukon!
Hell, everyone has car problems and experiences financial troubles now and then...but all that other stuff?
Most people only get to read about those sorts of things in books!

You lived it!"

I was almost stunned at the realization that I had experienced all of that...me!

I'd been so distracted by the things that did not turn out as I'd hoped that I failed to notice what was happening...every day, every mile and all around me the whole time.

So...the moral to the story?

Maybe not a moral but a realization;

The amazing things, the awe-inspiring things and the miraculous things...
They don't happen at just the right time in just the way or environment that you would like them to.

No, they happen oftentimes without us noticing or at a time when we are at our lowest.
And some of them?
They are happening for you and I right now in a million tiny ways and someday we will look back and see them and then wonder how we did not recognize them at the time they were actually happening.

So there you go. That's the story.

And by the way...I was sweeping the floor the other day and found a funny little rock about the size of a pea on the floor.
I had no idea where it came from but I picked it up and looking at it reminded me of that rock in my shoe at 3AM in the Yukon.

I looked at it and, making certain nobody else was around to hear me, whispered "You didn't follow me home....did you?"

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Footprints That We leave Behind


Funny how we keep people in our psyche long after they are no longer in our life.

My ex-sister-in-law, who I haven't seen since I was a child, has been suffering from a range of serious illnesses and is in the hospital. It doesn't look like she'll be coming home.

My brother drove across the country to be with his daughters as they dealt with the difficulty of being faced with the imminent loss of their mother.

I spoke to my brother on the phone and he told me that she was unconscious but that he was able to communicate on a limited level with her if he got close enough even though she never opened her eyes.

I asked if he believed that in her near-comatose state she knew who he was. After all, they had not seen one another or spoken in many years.
He told me that he was confident that she did because as he was attempting to communicate with her she had...with eyes closed in her semi-conscious state...asked about me.
Referring to me by the name that everyone called me back when I was a little kid she asked how I was.

I found this not only touching obviously but also amazing.
I cannot even remember what she looked like as it's been so many years since I've seen her yet I was still there floating around somewhere in her universe.

I wonder how many people out there remember us even though we have no idea that they do. Perhaps people that we have long since forgotten.

I think of those I recall...childhood classmates, teachers, co-workers...people that were in my life for a time on some level that for any number of reasons I still think about from time to time without them knowing that they are still in my own memory bank.
It may even be someone I only knew briefly or encountered in my travels and interacted with for no more than a few days or even hours yet they are still there.

Life is funny.

We each live in our own private universe without being conscious that we also live in those of others...often without our awareness that in some way we left an imprint and a picture in their mind that they will take with them until the end.

I suppose it must be some sort of cosmic residue that we each spread around without our knowledge.

Maybe it gives us a good reason to be careful as to what we track in when the door is open...no matter how briefly.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Everything happens for a reason."


Someone said something to me at the gym this morning and I began to think about how often I hear this;

"Everything happens for a reason."


Of course the suggestion is that there is some divine, mystic or cosmic reason behind every little thing.

I have what may be an unusual take on things;
To me, God, evolution and nature are all one and the same in terms of explaining why or how most things happen.

By that I mean that if one believes in any of the above I see the end result as the same.

As an example, are we wired to be attracted to the opposite sex because a creator designed us that way or because evolution developed us in such a way?
What difference does it make? Either way we are wired as we are so that we can reproduce and continue our species.

But when it comes to everyday business and ultimately meaningless situations how does any of the above factor in?

Here's what happened;
The local Bally's has been going down hill for a while and finally closed it's doors. This means that the members have migrated to other gyms in the area.
I ran into a guy I'd seen before at the other gym and we began talking about how much more convenient the previous facility was and how this new place was going to take some getting used to.
"Well," the guy said, "I figure everything happens for a reason".

Really? You think that there is some cosmic or divine purpose in our working out at 24 Hour Fitness instead of Bally's?
Iran is developing nukes yet the divine powers that be are more concerned with our workouts?
Isn't it possible that the "reason" is no more complicated than poor business management?

A friend of mine was one of those people that ran out during the housing frenzy and bought a house that they couldn't afford on an adjustable rate loan.
When the payments were adjusted (after that attractive initial rate ran out) he found that he can barely make the payments.

At a recent get together someone asked him if he was still struggling with his problematic mortgage situation to which he replied "I figure that the Lord is behind this and everything will work out the way he planned it".

Really?!?
The creator of the universe somehow engineered your decision to be irresponsible and take out a loan that you shouldn't have?

Isn't it possible that whatever cosmic powers that be stay out of it and allows assholes to learn from their own mistakes?

I hear this stuff all of the time.

So if I don't look where I'm going and I bump into a car with my shopping cart there is actually some bigger plan that it's all a part of?

I get drunk and forget my condom so the resulting pregnancy was predestined?

If the pizza delivery guy is late getting to my house is there some divine purpose behind that too?

Man.

People.

Who needs 'em!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Yes, I'm still alive!

I look at my watch it say 9:25 and I think
"Oh God I'm still alive"

We should be on by now.

To be continued...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Keeping a Clear Head.

Politics and world events.

Yeesh.

So just how does one stay on top of the political world, in terms of the biggest issues of our day, without coming to the point that they need to go out and get drunk or simply shoot themselves in the head?

I'm one those people who didn't pay much attention to politics until 9-11.

Yeah, shame on me.

Of course I was aware of the hostage crisis in Iran, the fall of the USSR thanks to Ronald Reagan's tough stance in world politics, the whole keyhole-peeping period when Bill Clinton was publicly humiliated...but then again, who could have possibly escaped an awareness of such high profile situations?

Since 9-11 I've decided to begin paying closer attention.

Through my many hours of reading everything I could get my hands on I've learned more than I could ever want to know about the very real threat of Islamo-facism, the very UNreal threat of man-made global warming and about all of the differences between the two, less-than-perfect, major political parties in our country when it comes to world affairs, American values and issues of personal freedom.

Of course in the end I came to realize that the two parties could easily be renamed as the stupid party and the insane party...but when it comes to those issues that I feel are paramount I have no choice but to throw down with one of them even if I don't agree with them 100% all of the time.

Frankly, if you are NOT seeking a career in public office yet CLAIM to agree with either party 100% of the time I would suggest that you are either 100% deluded or 100% dishonest.

But forgive me for I digress;

The truth is that despite my desire...my duty...to be a well informed voter I often find myself turning the TV from the evening news to reruns of The Man Show in order to escape the depressing and never-ending stream of rhetoric, sensationalism and mud-slinging that flows through the conduit of the media.

I find myself skipping past the CNN and Drudge Report websites and going to straight to Fark.com or Page3.com in order to relieve the pressure on my brain.

After all, news about stupid criminals or photos of bikini-clad British cuties is infinitely more appealing than the latest on who's throat has been cut by some group of savages (on camera!) or which politician has been caught hiding bribes in his freezer.

So how does one continue on as a well-informed citizen while not being driven to the brink of despair?

How does one keep a positive attitude without burying their head in the sand and becoming the all-too-common uninformed...yet highly opinionated...voter?

Beats me.

Maybe they should legalize pot and start giving a major discount on Moon-pies and Frito's.

That way we can smoke and munch while we sit in front of the evening news absorbing all of the fearsome and angering information we need while knowing that it's worth hanging on a bit longer...if only for that next toke and combination of sweet and crunchy at our finger tips.

In any event, keep your chin up and hold fast pilgrim;

The bumpy ride may only be getting bumpier but there will be...there has to be...a light at the end of the tunnel.

We just need to keep on keepin' on until that light is once again within sight.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays Y'all !


I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a warm season's greetings.

I know that this time of year we can all get so busy that we hardly have a spare moment but I hope that we will all take a few minutes to reflect on the importance of the season and those we care about.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

RAIN MAKES ME GRUMPY


OK I admit it.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today and the crummy weather here in the Northwest doesn't help.

Still, while out and about I saw some of the things that I ALWAYS see and have my own personal thoughts on.
These are not new ideas born of my crummy mood.

I think all of these same things when I'm in a terrific humor on a sunny day.

But since it is "one of those days" here in Vancouver I thought I'd come here and vent...OK?

Here we go.

1. If you dress like a thug or a "gangs-duh" and folks like me don't smile at you or prefer to avoid you all together don't be insulted;
Just take joy in the knowledge that your attempt to look like a criminal was effective.

Still...I would like to ask how it is that when you are wearing pants so huge that you cannot walk without constantly holding them up you plan to be able to run from the po-leese?

2. Similar to #1;
If you are a 300 pound girl and you dress wildly, shave one side of your head and then dye the remaining hair bright purple (to go along with the fifty piercings you have in your ears, eyebrows, nose, lips and god-only-know-where-else) don't be insulted of you catch me fighting a smirk or rolling my eyes when I catch a glimpse of you.

After all, YOU are the one who decided to dress like some bizarre clown from the Satanic Traveling Circus in order to get attention.

Well...it worked honey!

3. Repeat after me;

There is no "cool" way to push a shopping cart.

This crap of walking to the side and slightly ahead of the cart while holding onto the front corner with one hand as though you are trying to avoid being seen with the shopping cart ain't working for you; It just takes up triple the aisle space so that those of use who want to get by you have no choice but to walk slowly behind you and take note of how huge your butt is.

See that handle on the back of the cart?

It was made just for you and your two hands.

That handle is your friend.

Learn about it. Love it. USE it!.

4. If you cut your seven year old son's hair in a Mohawk and dress him in camouflage pants and a black sleeveless T-shirt don't have a heart attack someday when he starts dealing Meth or ends up on Cops.

And when you take him out in public don't kid yourself that the people looking your way are thinking "Wow...what a cool dad that cute little tyke must have!"

It's more likely that the people staring at you in the parking lot will be trying to see your car's license plate so that they can call Child Protective Services.


5. For those of you who, like me, like to grab a coffee drink at the coffee cart while you are shopping let me be the first to inform you of something which just might shock you;

There is not, nor has there ever been, any such thing as a shot of EX-presso.

Look at the word.

NO 'X'.

NO 'K'...NO 'C'.

So unless you have a tongue piercing (like the girl in my example #2 above) which forces you to sound like you are saying "Mixter" instead of "Mister" you have no excuse.

OK.

That's it for now.

I feel better having gotten all of that off my chest.

Thanks for listening.

Maybe I should cut back on the ESS-PRESSO?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why I love the city

While many may sing the glories of country living or small-town life (and understandably so) I have to say that while my wife, Julie, and I were out last night I was all at once aware of so many things that I love about the city;

The buildings;
Old next to new, humble next to extravagant. One window displaying the retro-clothing from another time now back in style while through another window you can see a cat, a potted plant and a TV...a peek into a whole world which is someone else's life.

The smells;
Coffee from the shop we're sitting in front of, the odor of steak or burgers being grilled a few doors down, exhaust fumes, flowers blooming, cigarette smoke, someone's cologne...these smells come and go.. sometimes quickly...sometimes lingering.

The sounds;
People talking, laughing, arguing and calling to their dogs to "come on"...plates clanking together inside the restaurant next door, music from street musicians and passing car's radios, the sound of a bird in the tree above me and the rumble of passing cars and motorcycles.

The people;
The punked out kids in their leather, the well-heeled couples behind the large window of a bistro drinking their wine, the groups of pretty college girls giggling as they bounce past in their flirty summer clothes, the scowling bikers on the corner sitting in front of "Starbucks" with their venti lattes and the guy with the guitar sitting in the doorway singing and playing in hopes that another dollar or two will be dropped into his open guitar case.

Then there's me in my hawaiin shirt;

Sitting at the little metal table along the sidewalk with Julie just taking it all in.

I'm glad to be right here, right now.

I love the city.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Family Jewels

I don't exactly live in the "good" part of town and don't make a heck of a lot of money so when I go to work out it's not at"the club" or even"the gym".

Nope, I go to the "community center".

It's a place in the neighborhood (I'm barely in a good enough area to add the"neighbor..." part;
One tax bracket lower and I'd be livin' in just"da hood") where kids can take swimming lessons, korean folks can use the hall to have weddings and chumps like me can pay $3 to use the work-out room.

Well now when I go to the community center it's a given that at some point before or after my workout (or during my daughter's swimming lessons) I'm going to use the bathroom. The bathroom in this case is actually a part of the large locker-room which has stalls, showers etc.

Here's the thing I don't get;

Why do some guys~usually old guys~have to walk around naked?

There are plenty of places for them to get dressed or changed out of sight but there are always a few of them who must strip down right in front of the lockers which are smack dab in the middle of the room.

Now I can see why it MAY be convenient to change right there at the locker but these guys are in no hurry...no, they loiter around, chat with each other and just sort of hang out (and I do mean HANG) without making the slightest effort to cover their boys.

I've got nothing against nudity in general;
I've been to a nude beach a couple of times and if I ever get invited to a picnic at a nudist colony or to an orgy I'd understand that genitalia on parade would just be a given.

But those are situations where prolonged nakedness is expected, right?

When I'm washing my hands the last thing I want (or need) to see is two or three old men smiling at me in the mirror, arms folded across their chests with their junk on display while they talk rather loudly about the new sewer tax bill.

And why the hell do they always smile at me?

Is it perhaps that they are experiencing that same joyful feeling of freedom that a toddler does when they get to run around without their diaper?

I don't get it. I just don't get it.

What's even worse is when I see some guy bring his little 3 or 4 year old son or daughter in to use the bathroom.

I mean, think about it...a kid that age is right at eyeball level with Mr. Happy.

No wonder therapists have such a thriving business.

I sometimes want to rush up to the unsuspecting father as he's about to enter the room with his innocent offspring in tow, grab him by the shoulders and say
"Turn back now! Don't ask why! Just turn back!!!"

I really do try to ignore these naked guys who linger in their natural state but the problem is...well...let me put it like this;

Sometimes I may walk into my living room and the TV is on some nature show where it's showing a rabbit being ripped apart by a wolf.

As ugly as it may be I can't help but fix my eyes on this scene of horror for a moment as I'm reaching for the remote control to change the channel.

It's that same kind if experience when I see Moe, Larry and Curly proudly showing me their junk.

Even though I turn away the horror of what I just saw the image is stuck in my brain and there isn't even a remote control to grab for.

I do think that I may have a solution though.

I'm going to get a whole bunch of cheap fabric and make little loin-clothes which would allow one to "air out" the goods but still protect innocent bystanders from the shock of seeing the unsightly without warning.

I'll start taking them with me to the community center and when I see one of these guys even BEGINNING to disrobe I'll offer him the chance to wear one of the home-made loin-clothes for a dollar.

What's that?

Why would anyone pay me a dollar for a cheap piece of fabric?

No, you've got it all wrong;
I'M going to give THEM the dollar to wear the loin-cloth.

And by the way...


I've now had two seperate women tell me that they were under the impression that ALL men run around naked in dressing rooms~one even mentioned that she thought that it was part of the male bonding experience.

Sheesh!

Just for the record let me set the ladies straight;
In HIGH SCHOOL or maybe even COLLEGE guys do walk around naked as they usually have to hit the showers about the same time...you know after P.E., basketball practice etc.

Sometimes there's some towel snapping or something of the nature that does go on.

It is NOT however common to see a grown man in a PUBLIC restroom/dressing room to say "Hey fellas...Look at this" as he pretends his penis is a gear shift and simulates a race car driver shifting gears all the while making a brrrr sound in an attempt to make a sound like that of a high performance engine while he runs around the room.

OK?

Once again;

School boys in locker room; Some cavorting and horseplay.

Grown men in public facilities;

No "sword fights"

No doing "the pee-pee dance" like the guy in "The Silence Of The lambs",

Nothing.

The only exception, of course, is if you are a male locked up in a penile institution in which case, well...

Let's just say they didn't stumble upon the word " penile" by accident.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Call Me "Pablo"

 Prior to the highly covered criminal trial of O.J. Simpson I had never heard anyone say "The 'N' word".

 That is to say that while I had obviously heard the notorious racial epithet they were referring to plenty of times I had just never heard anyone use the phrase "The 'N' word".


 Now while I did understand that those involved were trying to acknowledge people's individual sensitivities the thing that I found ironic about the use of the phrase throughout the trial by the attorneys, the news media and everyone else who was hoping to avoid having their mouth washed out with Lifebuoy was the fact that everytime they uttered the politically correct term the very word which they were avoiding would immediately spring to everyone's mind...in big, bold, Times-Courier style letters.


 Prior to all of this the only word which I had ever really heard folks tip-toe around in quite the same manner was the "F" word and of course we all know what that word is.


 If you don't then I'd suggest you try stubbing your big toe against a kitchen chair leg in the dark. I Think it will come to you.


 But if the "F" word is the queen mother of bad words then surely the "N" word must be the Adolph Hitler of bad words since any actual use of it is enough to end a career or bring down the wrath of both the press and the ACLU.


 One thing I've noticed since those light hearted days of ill-fitting gloves and size 13 Bruno Maglia shoes is that I'm constantly hearing radio personalities, public figures and just plain folks around me referring to the "S" word, the "F" word and just about every other letter of the alphabet in this context.


 I wonder;


 Should this trend continue will we eventually come to the place where we never hear anything but the initials of words deemed offensive by society?


 I can just picture an angry defendant jumping to his feet in the courtroom and shouting, "GD your honor! Ain't no way any N is gonna get any justice in this MFing court!"


 Now I ask you, would that really be all that much better than simply using the words themselves?


 I mean, you would know exactly what those letters represented, right?

 And after all, shouldn't it be the meaning and intent behind the words that we find offensive?


 I see some other potential problems with taking this present route as well;


 Once we all have become accustomed to the idea that certain letters represent certain vulgarities then won't that naturally lead to the letters themselves being seen as offensive?


 I can think of at least nine letters right off the top of my head that would be considered "fightin' words" and a couple of others that would be viewed as grounds for divorce!


 And can you imagine a classroom full of grade schoolers reciting the alphabet?


 They'd all be giggling so much that the poor, underpaid teacher would never be able to get them past the sixth letter.


 Come to think of it, with the exception of "E" those first six letters are all naughty...and two of 'em are downright filthy!


 I remember when I was small, before I could spell, how adults would sometimes spell out certain words in my presence that they didn't want me to hear.


 I had no doubt that some or all of those words that they were spelling were bad ones although I couldn't actually prove it.

 Hey! Like I said, I couldn't spell at the time!


 The important part is that I knew that they were saying something naughty.


 So now why, I wondered, if these words were so wicked that they couldn't even be uttered aloud in my presence, did these adults like them so much that they simply had to use them...even if it meant stopping mid-sentence to spell them out?!?


 Bad language, I reasoned, must be a lot of fun!


 Of course, if we go with the single initial "F" word technique the whole spelling words in front of the kids thing would no longer be a valid option.


 After all, one can't spell exactly spell out "F" without actually saying it...just try it.


 See?


 Personally, I really don't have anything against using bad words, or should I say, those words which society has told us are "bad" words.



 Don't get me wrong, I do have enough brains to know not to use them in church or in the work place but they are, after all, only words.


 If you really want to shake things up do a little research on the vulgarity of your choice and you'll probably find out that it started out as perfectly respectable word and it was only with time that the word, or at least our perception of the word, evolved into something seen as crass, vulgar and wicked.

 By the way, can I take one hot minute to dispell a popular myth?
That bad word among bad words did not start out as a legal term in the courtrooms of merry old England; "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge"
It is, however, the title of a rather mediocre album by the rockgroup VanHalen
.


 What I was getting to is that in all actuality I must admit to a certain fondness for dirty words.


 I've even at times thought of myself as a sort of Pablo Picasso of curse words, creating one unique masterpiece after another which, while not always being perfectly logical in the classical sense, do succeed in conveying a certain unmistakable mood and message.


 Just ask my wife. Or my kids. Or my neighbors.


 So why, you may ask, would anyone admit to having any appreciation for those words deemed as unspeakable by clergy, educators and mothers everywhere?


 Simple.


 Bad words just have a type of flare...a certain Jenna c'est quoi if you will...that nice words just don't posess.

 C'mon, admit it;


 Most of us have a sneaking admiration for people and things which we've been taught were "bad" or "naughty".


 Oh no?


 Then you tell me, who do you think would get more girls;
Ernest Borgnine's "nice guy" character in the film "Marty" or Marlon Brando's swarthy bike riding rebel in "The Wild Ones"?


 There's a very good reason that we all chuckle about Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello (as sweet as they may have been) but speak in hushed reverant tones when referring to James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.
And the reason is that while Frankie and Annette were...well, nice, Jimmy and Marilyn, by contrast, were cool...sexy...bad!


 There's another reason that I like bad words and yes, I am including those reprehensible racial epithets;


 When someone uses bad words I generally know exactly what they mean and where they stand.


 If a black guy, for instance, angrily calls me a cracker I know precisely where he's coming from;

 No wondering, no second-guessing.


 It's all laid out right there in front of me.


 Besides, he really doesn't have the option of reverting to calling me "the 'C' word" in place of cracker as he would be running the risk of someone overhearing him and thinking he meant that other "C" word and that, my friend, could mean big trouble.

Oops upside yo head!


 Now lest ye think that I'm actually advocating the use of curse words, crude sexual terms, racial slurs and bad language let me assure you that I am not.


 I'm simply pointing out that perhaps we should make a conscience choice to use bad words or to not use bad words.


 Either clean up your language and find other ways to express yourself or just say what you mean.

 Don't spell it or use the innocent letters of the alphabet to do your dirty work for you;just say it!

 ...or don't.


 Trust me, those kids that you are trying so hard to shield from profanity probably have a knowledge of blue language which could rival that which one may find in a sailor's love letters so if you truly believe that certain words are really so terrible then maybe you should just remove them from your vocabulary altogether for your own conscience's sake.


 Just lose 'em!


 But hey; that's just how I see it...and who in the hell am I anyway?


 Oh...one last thing;
You know all that stuff I said earlier? You know, about me being the Picasso of bad words and all?


 If you run into my mom please don't mention any of that stuff to her, OK?

 I mean, she may be getting up there in years...



But she can still slap the S out of me if she D well wants to!

Apples And Allen Wrenches

"We can _BLANK_ but we just can't seem to _BLANK_."


Ever hear someone use this phrase?

Let me explain but please don't be offended if you happen to be an individual who has said this sort of thing yourself as you obviously didn't know what you were saying at the time so you're automatically forgiven, OK?

  I'm talking about what is, in my humble opinion, one of the dumbest things that I ever hear people say which is the phrase above with the blanks filled in;

  "We can make all them fancy computers but we don't seem to be able to keep our kids off drugs"

See what I mean?
 
 

Now of course I realize that the intent behind this type of comment is to point out that we don't always have our priorities straight which may sometimes be true but the problem is that the comparisons they make never seem to have ANY relationship.
 
 Using the above example, I have to wonder if the person who said it understands that it's NOT the drug counsellors or the D.A.R.E. officers who are necessarily the same folks who actually build computers.

  Now if one were to say, for instance, "We have plenty of time to yell at our kids but we sure don't seem to be able to find time to just talk with them"... now THAT would make some kind of sense.

And don't you wish that you had a buck for everytime you've heard someone say "We can put a man on the moon but we can't find a cure for the common cold" ...as if to imply that the development of velcro alone wasn't enought to justify the money spent on the space program!

I mean, sheesh!


  I've also noticed that whenever I hear someone saying something along these lines, using the "We can _BLANK_ but..." formula it's often some idiotic comparison but the person who said it has a proud look on their face as though they have just said something profound.

  The other day I heard someone say ; "We sure can make all these remote controlled planes and high tech surveillance devices but we can't find a cure for AIDS".

Big proud smile.
 

 Umm....You are aware, of course, that the guys who know how to build planes DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE HUMAN AUTO-IMMUNE SYSTEM, RIGHT?

Trust me, if I ever come down with a potentially fatal disease or suffer a serious physical injury I do NOT want to look up from my hospital bed to see Gomer Pyle and Sgt. Carter looking down at me as they discuss how to proceed.

"Um...uh...nurse? What are these guys doing here?"

"Don't worry Mr. Moffitt. They're taking time out from their duties back at the military base to operate on you".

"Gee...don't they have something else they could be doing...you know, like working on remote control planes or something?"

Here's another good one I overheard;

  "We can sure make good DVD players but we just can't seem to cure cancer once and for all".

Huh?!?
 

 Hey Ace. I doubt that Mr. Chang has time in between assembling remote control units at the Samsung factory to work on that cure for cancer.
But hey, maybe when orders slow down a bit after the holidays.
 

 One of my all time favorites was the 40 year old guy who works in the gymnasium of our local community center and his comment a few weeks after 9/11;

  "Yep, we sure can make all these fancy flat screen TVs and we can send satellites up into space but we can't seem to figure out a way to just sit down with that Bin Laden feller and talk things over".

Big proud smile.
 

 I had to hold myself back from responding;
 
 "I know whatcha mean. Take yourself for instance. YOU, on the one hand, can assess how the government and world leaders should be dealing with issues of global peace and international terrorism but at the same time you JUST CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO BETTER THAN A MINIMUM WAGE JOB GUARDING THE EXERCISE EQUIPMENT AT FORTY YEARS OF AGE."
 

 Is that like what you mean?"

I've decided that since so many people like to make these tired out lop-sided types of observations I'm going to start playing along with them.

In fact I think that the next time I hear someone utter the all-too-familiar observation "They can put a man on the moon but they can't find a cure for the common cold." I'm going to say, with a completely straight face,
"Well, you know, that's exactly where our space program went so very wrong.
The Russians had lead us to believe that the cure for the common cold was actually to be found on the moon!.

Then we got there and realized we'd been had!

Man, were the faces of the high-ups at NASA red!

And of course those damn Russians had been laughin' their butts off the whole time knowing that all we were going to find was a bunch of rocks and stuff".

Friday, November 05, 2004

The Devil Knife

I was going to review a product that I recently purchased (which I still will get around to doing) but the overwhelming feeling I have about that purchase is that I have somehow invited an evil entity into my home;

The Miracle Blade 3.

I don't think that they did a very good job of naming this product.
It should be something more like DangerBlade 3 or maybe the Badass Mofo Take No Prisoners Knife or as my wife, Julie, has started calling it The Devil Knife.

I actually set out to purchase the Ultimate Chopper which my daughters got all excited about a couple of weekends ago when an infomercial for it was on early Sunday morning but ended up getting much more than I had bargained for.

I really only paused to watch the commercial so that I could make rude comments about the tubby shill in the chef's hat and the over enthusiastic horse-faced woman who stood by his side but that was quickly forgotten when my daughters both began to wax poetic about the glorious product in the TV spot.

They were both smiling and giggling as though they had just seen Justin Timberlake in a thong but there was no blue eyed pop star on the screen.

The product, as mentioned earlier, was the Ultimate Chopper. A sort of mini food processor which could be had for a mere $50 or so.

This little gadget could do almost anything a food processor costing big bucks could do and would surely change your life.

I thought that my daughters were joking at first when they told me how much they had always wished that they could have an Ultimate Chopper, having seen this infomercial so many times.

Now I knew darn well that no teenage girl could be on the level with such animated claims of longing for a kitchen gadget but they assured me that they were quite serious.

I sat back and started watching the TV spot and saw the guy in it demonstrate how easily one could churn out home made sorbet, grated cheese and...Guacamole.

Man, that Guacamole was sounding mighty good considering that I hadn't had anything to eat yet and when my younger daughter said "Dad...could you call and order one so that we can make Guacamole?"
I suddenly found myself dialing the toll free telephone number on the TV screen with my credit card in hand. Impulse buying is something I almost never do but what the heck.

I mean c'mon...we talkin' about Guacamole.

I didn't really pay attention to the part of the commercial where they said "But wait...there's more! Order now and we'll also send you the Miracle Blade 3 absolutely free!"

So the Ultimate Chopper showed up in a reasonably timely manner and when I opened the carton and saw the large knife with it's serrated edge I thought "Cool. I can always use another knife."

Little did I know.

I do a lot of chopping, slicing and dicing around the house since I'm the only one who cooks.
I make a lot of soup from scratch which means I use a large Chef's knife a lot and I never ever cut myself.

A day after I got the goods in the mail I went to make myself a steak and decided to give the old "Miracle Blade 3" a shot.
I started to cube the raw meat (sometimes I cut my steak up before I cook it) and about halfway through (and by accident) I barely...let me repeat...I barely...touched the edge of the blade up against my finger.

At first I didn't realize I had cut myself as the blade was so stinkin' sharp that it had just done it's diabolical work without my notice.

As I continued to cut my steak I felt a stinging sensation and then saw that my finger had suddenly began to bleed profusely.

Within moments my steak, the plate it was on my hand were all covered with blood!

"What the HELL?!?" I said out loud.

I put my bloody plate down and ran to the sink where I rinsed my hand off and saw that a small portion of the tip of my finger was just gone!

To make a long story short, I got my finger wrapped up with some gauze and tape, everything in the kitchen cleaned up and went on about my day.

When Julie came home I told her about what had happened and laughed about it. "That's one good knife" I told her.


A couple of days went by and it was time to make a fresh batch of soup.

I got out my bell pepper, Bok Choy, carrots, kosher bouillon cubes and tofu and was all set to make a super veggie soup.

Now how much easier would things be with my new super knife?

I doubt I have to even tell you what happened next;

About three or four slices into the bell pepper and my thumb was squirting blood.

DAMN!!!! How'd that happen?!?

So now I have two very sore bandaged appendages.
They're healing up alright but every time I feel their dull throbbing I just know that damn knife is in the kitchen laughing at me.

When I did the dishes I was actually nervous about even washing the thing.
Should I handle it with thick heavy leather gloves I wonder?

Now it sits quietly in the wooden knife block next to all of the friendly Henckels knives which have served me so well, always cutting and slicing my food with ease but never their owner.

Still, each time I enter the kitchen there it is taunting me.

Tempting me with it's gleaming stainless steel and clean serrated edge.

STAY AWAY FROM ME OH DEVIL BLADE!

Oh yeah, the "Ultimate Chopper"?

It works pretty well.

We'll be getting around to actually using it to make some Guacamole sooner or later.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Funny Thing About Politics...

I have a friend with whom I share many interests.
We both enjoy many of the same types of music, films and foods and both have similar takes on what the truly important things in life are.
We also share a very similar set of personal morals and ethics.

For several years I always looked forward to our frequent gettogethers for some good natured conversation and companionship.

Now my buddy is a staunch Republican whereas I am a bit more of a moderate so we do have some differing views on political topics.

Not radically different mind you but still different.

Whereas he generally defines his opinions (or perhaps his
positions would be more accurate) along party lines I do not.

While we may both want the same things for our country such as a good educational system, help for those who truly need it, a strong military etc we differ on some of the specifics of just how to accomplish these things.

Neither of us claim to be experts so we typically base our positions on what other people who are supposedly experts have to say through newspaper articles, editorials and so on.

We read those articles or listen to politicians and those who comment on social and political issues and then form our own opinions taking into consideration what seems to make the most sense to us.

Now while he and I used to get together for coffee or lunch several times a week we now see one another on very rare occasions and even then it's usually because we only happen to be at the same party or just bump into one another in some public place or social setting.

At first we went from having coffee or lunch three or four times a week to two then once a week and then once every few weeks until...well, now it's been months.

And do you want to know what came between the two of us?
Why two guys who were once close friends have practically become strangers?

I'll tell you what came between us;

George W. Bush

No, I did not err when I said what came between us rather than who came between us as it wasn't really George Bush himself that came between us.

It was our differing views on President Bush and some of his positions that came between us.

It seemed that everytime I said anything remotely critical about the President or expressed a view which was not identical to the Republican party's official position my good friend would fly into an outrage.
He would immediately begin raising his voice and lunging into a long diatribe which seemed to be designed to somehow put me in my place.

I soon found that what used to be pleasant conversation was now uncomfortable and tense as I tried to keep the conversation going in an effort to steer clear of any topic which could lead to a discussion of politics.

Even as I was on my way to meet my pal at our favorite hangout I would be going over the various topics I could bring up in order to avoid the touchy subject of politics;

Movies I had seen or wanted to see, problems with my car, the weather...Anything that would avoid those uncomfortable political arguments (not that they were truly arguments as most of them consisted of a few words from me which only served as a preface to an anger filled soliloquy which I would simply be an audience to).

On a couple of occasions I tried to mention to my friend that we should be able to express our views in a calm and friendly manner without getting all worked up and that if politics was such a touchy subject maybe we should avoid it altogether but this only seemed to make things worse.

So, as I mentioned earlier, our once friendly get togethers grew farther and farther apart as well as less and less friendly until they stopped altogether.

That's the funny thing about politics;

They seem to come between people who are not politicians, are not involved in politics and whose only involvement in government is to cast a vote every few years.

I will often hear people say conservative or liberal in tones that sound as though they are saying nigger or gook through their clenched teeth.


When did people begin making their political views so very personal?
At what point in time did we decide as a people that while religious and racial intolerance were wrong and unacceptable hatred and intolerance based on party affiliation was the mode o' day?

I have coffee and lunch by myself these days.
Sometimes I look up from my book or newspaper at the empty chair on the other side of the table and feel just a little lonely and then return to my reading.

I don't miss the arguing or the uncomfortable silences but there is one thing I do miss.

I miss my friend.

I wonder if he's having lunch with George W. Bush these days?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Fun Snacks For The Whole Family

You know, we Americans take a lot of heat for giving names to products that resemble funny phrases when translated in other countries.

But if we are indeed as good at the above as we are often accused of then I would like to nominate the Japanese as the reigning champs of giving products names which unintentionally bring a smile to one's face.

I offer the following as proof positive that the good executives who labor away in the "Land Of The Rising Sun" deserve some kind of award...or perhaps some remedial English courses... for their ability to give their goods names that overshadow whatever they were hoping to communicate as reason to buy said products.

Here are a few legitimate snack products from a real Japanese food manufacturer.



UM...no thanks.



I dropped a piece of toast on the floor this morning. Is that the same?



Does this go well with the first one?



Got one already. Don't need two thanks. But hey, I'll give you a call if I change my mind.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Isn't It A Funny Thing...

...how once you make up your mind that you're finished with something you suddenly start noticing EVERY LITTLE THING that's wrong with it whatever that situation may be?

Let me explain;

I've had jobs that ran the full gamut of suckiness; All the way from jobs that barely sucked at all to jobs that sucked to the enth degree.
Still, I was always able to accept things as they were and put my time in and my best foot forward.But once I decided to quit whatever the job in question was and put my two week notice in every day...no, every moment seemed to last an eternity.
Maybe I would have coasted through 4 or 5 years with a positive attitude but those final two weeks were sheer Hell for no reason aside from my knowledge that the end was within sniffing distance.

Same thing with relationships;
I was always able to overlook whatever potentially unattractive characteristics my then-girlfriend/squeeze possessed and focus on their better qualities.
That is, until I decided that I was going to be getting out in the near future. It always seemed that once I had decided that this relationship had just about run it's course I would begin to notice every word the girl or woman in question mispronounced, every dumb opinion they expressed, how obnoxious they looked when they chewed their food and how cheap their perfume smelled.

Now I'll be the first to admit that any or perhaps all of those things that drove me buggy had existed from the beginning...heck, some of them were the very things I had found appealing in the beginning but once I knew I was soon to be out of there those little things suddenly seemed so annoying that I wanted to crawl out of my skin.

Sadly, I can now say that the same dynamic exists in my living situation;
I have loved my neighborhood since I first moved here about 16 years ago and many times said that I planned to always live here.
While others said my neighborhood was "scary" I would call it "working class".
When others would call it "run down" I would call it "affordable".
When others would say "It's nice to finally see a few people fixing their houses up" I would say "See! I told you things were on the upswing in this area!"

Well, a few weeks ago I decided that we are going to try to move by next Spring or maybe Summer.
There have been a number of situations that have arisen in the recent past that gave us cause to rethink our living situation but the truth is that we have simply outgrown our humble home; Both physically and otherwise.

And since I made the decision to begin getting my ducks in a row in order to facilitate said move a funny thing has happened.
I now am painfully aware of every white kid with his pants drooping down around his knees, every black kid wearing a skull cap or a "do-rag", every redneck with a mullet and every bleached blonde in line at the corner store who is letting her dark roots show.
My radar now picks up on every Pit Bull I see, every backfiring El Camino I hear (or were they gunshots?) and every shopping cart I see on the sidewalk.
It even extends to my very own domicile which was up until now the object of my deepest affections;

I get annoyed by every ant that needs stompin' on, every weed that needs pullin' and every gutter that needs cleaning.

Now I know that "the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence" but I sure as hell look forward to living in a mullet free, do-rag free, El Camino free community.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Here we go...

Well, it seems that everybody these days has a blog on the net so I guess I figured it was about time I got one up and running.

I'll be using this to share my daily thoughts and experiences however mundane they may be.

Check back for the latest as we move on through this strange experiment some refer to as reality.