Archive for June, 2009

Things on Tuesday

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 30, 2009 by tom

Blech:

  • New schedule means I'm no longer able to write Sunday Thought Brunch posts while being paid
  • New schedule means no more work-wife, and severely limited Staceypunkin time
  • I have a headache
  • This guy sitting across the way is a mad tooth-sucker, and an unapologetic loud typer.
  • My dishwasher is broken.  This doesn't bother me, for I don't object to washing dishes by hand (especially since I have so few), but because my dishwasher now randomly decides to spill water onto my floor.  Not cool there, Dishwasher.

Yum:

  • My new schedule is more in synch with my natural circadian rhythms, meaning it doesn't involve waking up at 0525 anymore.
  • Three days off each week.
  • Still get to see work-wife and Staceypunkin some during the day
  • Three nights off each week for extracurricular activity.
  • Kelly, Senior Grade, brought me a dozen of the absolute best chocolate chip cookies in global cookie history.  Seriously.  Amazing.  I asked what was different about them, and she said it's because they're made with her love.
  • Apparently, Kelly SG's love tastes a lot like molasses.
  • Having a cat asleep on either side of me as I write this.
  • I can still write Sunday Thought Brunch posts, even though it was cooler doing them on the clock. 😉
  • I have a job I like, and which usually pays at least most of the bills.
  • The South Park Studios site, where you can watch all the episodes free, and build your own customized South Park avatar, like this:
  • Being able to go to sleep at a normal hour (around 0500), and not have to wake up at 0525 to go to work.

  • Stacey reports ten fingers, ten toes, one belly button, and a steady pulse, despite the increasing snot pressure in her head (ie, she's getting a cold).
  • Happily, I'm at 10-10-1 also, and I haven't caught her cold, yet. 
  • Happy Tuesday.

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Goodbye Michael, You…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 26, 2009 by tom

I don't quite know how to finish that title. 

Genius? Sure.

Michael Jackson was a talent the likes of which we see maybe once or twice a century.  He could sing, and what he did for dancing made rhythm-challenged oafs like me cringe.  How could we ever compete with that?

It's funny how many people tried.  Back in the 80's, I remember seeing stupid people try and emulate Michael's dress, his look, even that inane one glove thing.  Fail.

But was that all he was?

"Thriller" caught lightning in a bottle, to be sure.  In the past 24 hours, I've read countless eulogies and remembrances about Michael Jackson.  I got text messages from friends who were toddlers back then, or not even born.  They grew up in a post-"Thriller" world, where MTV and radio weren't segregated like before. 

Was "Thriller" a work of genius? Sure.  I'd argue that it was equal parts Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, who produced the record.  It had a sound, slick and dark, with post-disco dance beats and lush orchestration.  There were some good songs on "Bad," the follow-up, and a few hit-or-miss songs after that, but nothing he ever did touched "Thriller."

On the other ungloved hand, after "Thriller," Michael began falling apart.  The media loves apart-falling, and Michael went from undisputed genius to flawed genius to full-bore whacknut before "Thriller" was even ten years old.  It started with the little things–plastic surgery, the ever-lightening skin, the rumors of sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, cavorting with Bubbles the chimp, and showing up at the Grammys with Emmanuel Lewis on his knee.  The 1990's were worse for Michael, freakwise.  His music wasn't selling in "Thriller" numbers, his face got creepier, his video persona more unstable, and we started hearing about little boys.  This decade saw Michael be evicted from his Neverland Ranch, and be arrested and tried on molestation charges.  He never recovered.

It sucks, really.  I remember seeing him on the Motown at the Apollo special, and…holy crap.  What can you say? He was just spectacular.  Even watching Martin Bashir's smear-you-mentary a few years ago, I saw something in the way he moved at one point that suggested that Apollo exuberance.  It's the way Gregory Hines moved, even when he was acting in "Law & Order," a hint that his limbs were more in tune to the Universe's music than ours are.  How far he fell to the frail, fright-masked freak walking into that courtroom a few years ago. 

I have to admit, I was never Michael Jackson's biggest fan.  I got sick of his overexposure, and while I appreciated the slick production and occasionally tasty groove ("Smooth Criminal," eg), I didn't feel any sort of link, the way I did when Prince was in his purple reign.  I was sad when Kurt Cobain killed himself, too, but I'd damaged my hearing blasting Nevermind in my truck. 

But Michael Jackson was different.  He seemed to be attracted to the publicity that imprisoned him.  He did ridiculous things–walking around with that stupid germ mask, or the countless plastic surgeries that left him so horrific–and always seemed to be fighting to recapture that "Thriller" status.  He wanted the worship and adulation.  He erected a statue of himself, for God's sake–he made himself his own graven image. 

Yeah, I admit he had a rough childhood.  His dad was a bastard, blah, blah, blah.  Lots of people have terrible childhoods, some 1000 times worse than Michael's.  People heal.  Seriously, what he spent on his Neverland Ranch's train alone could've bought him years of amazing therapy.  I have a hard time feeling that bad for somebody who blew hundreds of millions of dollars on gaudy crap while people I know are struggling to survive.  The $20 million he paid the first kid who charged him with molestation? That would feed and house a lot of people.  It's sad that Michael Jackson was screwed up in the head, so megalomaniacal that he thought he could get away with anything.

Sadder still, I'd lay even odds his toxicology report will read just like Elvis', a veritable PDR of uppers and downers and narcotics.  Somebody in MJ's party was said to have told a paramedic that Michael had gone into distress after an injection of Demerol.  Kurt Cobain will be remembered as a junkie for abusing heroin.  Michael's chemical abuses have had the good PR sense to be called "medicine" instead of "drugs."

Michael was a superstar among superstars, same as Elvis before him.  He had talent, and the camera loved him.  He'll always be remembered, same as Elvis.  Thing is, Elvis is generally remembered as the fat, Vegas version, not the lean, dangerous rebel of the late 50's.  I'm afraid Michael will befall the same fate.  In the same breath as "Thriller" will be whispers of "and THEN what happened to him? How sad."

How sad, indeed.  Sad for us, left wondering what he could have become had he focused more on his music, and less on his legend. 

R.I.P., Michael.  I hope you find what you need on the other side. 

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Things on Tuesday

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 23, 2009 by tom

Sometimes you're the bug (yuck):

  • People here are sick.  Not in the pleasant, "telling Helen Keller jokes" way, but sick.  Work-wife Aimee is out sick again today; Staceypunkin has a migraine, and the lady over there ————-> has a really nasty cold. 
  • I swear, the cold lady over there —————-> sounds like somebody drinking clam chowder through a milkshake straw.
  • Horrors! Saturday night at dinner? Somebody swooped down over our table and stole–STOLE, I tell you–my pepperoncini out of the giant salad bowl.  There were two of them.  One for Punkin and one for me.  She swears she didn't see anything.  I'm sure she's telling the truth, although she was awful burpy the rest of the night.
  • The continued Venusian weather.
  • I woke up ten minutes before my alarm went off.  I was having a great dream, too.

Sometimes you're the windshield (YAY!):

  • I'm not sick at the moment, nor do I have a headache.
  • When I finally did get to sleep, I had an epic dream.  It was spectacular.  I credit fresh garlic and having watched Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" right before bed. I can't remember what happened, but I think Michael Redgrave was in it, and it involved a train. 
  • Waking up with my right hand completely numb, but soon assessing that it's because Ana-Sofia Vargas was asleep on it.
  • Thank God, those two were not the final two pepperoncinis on Earth; there will be other opportunities to get one before they're all gone.  I just have to eat more Wonka bars.
  • Despite her migraine, Stacey reports 10 fingers, 10 toes, one belly-button, and a very steady pulse.
  • Me, too: 10, 10, 1, steady.
  • Have a great Tuesday

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Insomnia, You Evil Whore

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 23, 2009 by tom

I'd call insomnia a succubus, but that would require me to be sleeping, and I'm not. 

It's hot here in the Sodom Gomorrah Metro Area:

Current conditions
As of 1:08 AM EDT
at Tampa Knight Airport, Florida

Clear
Temperature: 88°
Heat index: 105°
Wind: WNW 7 mph
Dewpoint: 81°
Humidity: 79%
Pressure: 29.74 in. (steady)
Visibility: 10.0 miles


That's one o'clock in the morning, with a heat index of 105.  This sucks.  Thankfully, the bachelor batcave's climate control system is operating well to maintain optimum indoor conditions. 

It's okay.  I had Monday off as a holiday.   A friend at work is Wiccan, and thus to her Monday was a holiday: the Summer Solstice.  There would be very different solstices on other planets.  Venus wouldn't have any, since it manages to stand completely upright.  Uranus rolls through the solar system with its ass aimed at the sun perpetually, so it would always be solstice day in southern Uranus, whereas northern Uranusians would have a constant winter solstice.  If you were to find yourself on Uranus, you'd have far worse problems than worrying about which Solstice celebration outfit to wear from day to day. 

I slept a lot on Monday.  It was an action-packed weekend, at least by my standards, and I celebrated the solstice by napping much of the day.  I chatted with a few friends online, talked to my 'rents and Staceypunkin, and didn't have to leave my cave until after dark.  Gah.

In my mailbox today was my new Florida Driver's License.  Hooray.  I'm now able to go back to the Texas Cattle Company for my birthday steak.  I'm grateful though to my previous license.  Oh, I know it was just a card.   But a lot of stuff has happened since that hot August day four years ago when I got it.  I've driven a few thousand safe miles–each of them 100% sober–and I used that license to check into the hospital nearly two years ago.  The accompanying letter said to destroy my old license.  I don't think so.  I should build a shrine to the sonofabitch.

I should try and sleep again.  I've gone through two of my usual sleepytime cd's, and nothing.  There is no cool side to the pillow.  I guess I'll get bored soon enough and crash.  As for now, I'll leave you with the following spotter's guide, just in case you've been getting Audrey Hepburn and Paris Hilton confused.  Good night (I hope).

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Sunday Thought Brunch (Hawaiian Wedding Style)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 21, 2009 by tom

Yesterday, I noted that Mary and Amory were married in Hawaii.  It was later pointed out to me that just below my heartfelt blessing to them was a poster with a, well, um, something that doesn’t have anything to do with marriage, we’ll say.  Plus, it’s illegal in several states.  Anyway, in honor of their wedding, today’s Sunday Thought Brunch is hosted by the Princeville Resort’s Café Hanalei.  We’ll sample some tasty brunch items, and go through a traditional Hawaiian wedding blessing.

 

Salad: Spicy Crab and Kimchee with Cucumber–Aloha Mai (May you always be surrounded with love):  Life will throw lots of curveballs your way.  I’ve dodged some good ones in my earthbound tenure.  The one thing that’s made the whole thing bearable is the support and love of family and friends.  Yesterday was a great day.  I had lunch with my friend Hope, which gave us a chance to catch up and laugh, then a laugh-filled dinner with Staceypunkin.  Years ago, during my personal Dark Ages, I isolated, eschewing the presence of family and friends.  Thank God, some people wouldn’t let me push them away completely.  May your lives be filled with laughter and love from a multitude of friends and family.

 

Chilled Seafood and Specialty Items: Peel & Eat Shrimp with Horseradish Spiked Cocktail Sauce–Ea Ea (Every breath you take is sweet and good):  One of the sad truths is that we are fragile animals, at least compared to things like rocks or redwood trees.  There will be bizarre things that arise here and there, and you may find yourself sick or in the hospital.  I hope your down-times are few and brief, and that you enjoy being fearfully and wonderfully made (to quote the psalmist) with 20, 20, 2, and steady (to paraphrase my ToT).

Entrée: Pancit Noodles with Crispy Asian Duck—Ike Pono (See, Know, Recognize Goodness in you, others, everything): Many moons ago, I was 18 years old.  (yes, the moon was really there that long ago.  Be nice) Anyway, my friend Cassie and I were standing outside the AMC Lenox in Atlanta, waiting to see a midnight movie.  This very punk-looking kid walked up.  He had the sneer, the Mohawk, a safety pin through his nostril, just a…well, a punk.  He approached, and I bristled a bit.  Until he spoke.  “Excuse me, sir.  Ma’am.  Could you please tell me what time it is?” “Um, yeah.  It’s ten till twelve.” “Thank you, sir.  I hope y’all have a great evening.” It was easy to misjudge this kid based on a stereotype.  Turns out he was really nice.  There’s a spark of goodness in almost all of us.  Sometimes, it’s hard to see through all the darkness. May you find that quality in everyone and everything you encounter.

Desserts: Fresh Crepes with a Variety of Fillings (vanilla ice cream with cherries)—Ola Mau Loa (May your lives be long):  This one is self explanatory, but I’ll quote the sage words Warren Zevon left us: “Enjoy every sandwich.” Sure, I think it’s important to enjoy every reuben and patty melt, but I think the greater lesson is to take pleasure in the little things: watching sunsets, holding hands, smelling the rain, hearing the ocean.  Of course food is important.  I mean, even werewolves in London enjoy Lee Hoo Fok’s beef chow mein.

 

Champagne:  Verve Cliquot–Uwehe E  (Be free from harm) :  Well, this one is also pretty easy.  I hope the Universe treats you kindly, and that nothing happens that would cause your car or homeowner’s insurance premiums to increase.  May you live without fear, and without reason to fear.

 

Fresh Kona Coffee: “I Ho’okahi kahi ke aloha ua mau.”     Be united as one, in love forever.

This last one’s simple.  Mary.  Amory. Together in love.  Forever. 

I’m sure the wedding was beautiful.  I hope your marriage is even moreso.

Happy weekend, everyone, and Happy Fathers Day to all dads.

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Saturday Afternoon Mental Chex Mix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 20, 2009 by tom

First, a recent satellite picture of Florida:

  • Our current surface temperature is approximately 840 F, and our once habitable atmosphere of nitrogen and oxygen has been replaced by carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid.  It really sucks that I got new tires last week, only to have my truck melt in the oppressive heat.
  • Okay.  I exaggerated a bit.  The above picture is not, actually, of Florida, but of Venus, which is a crappy place to vacation.  All that heat, and there's very little sunlight to get a tan.  Stoopid sunblocking sulfuric acid clouds.
  • On wikipedia, there is a helpful video loop of Venus rotating, showing its retrograde nature.  This means that Venus, like a difficult child, does the exact opposite of what it's supposed to do.  The problem is that this loop–and who am I to question the veracity of a helpful wikipedia video loop–doesn't show any actual motion.  This is because Venus rotates once on its axis less frequently than it makes a complete lap around the sun.  Its day is longer than its year, in other words.  You might as well watch a video of paint drying.
  • I was out running errands today in the pseudo-Venusian murk, when I saw a sign that cracked me up.  I wanted to take a picture of it, but the drivers of the melting cars behind me would've had conniptions had I done so.  The sign read as follows: FOOD STORE! Milk Beer Eggs Soda GUNS!
  • Well, sure! How better to beat the heat than with beer, soda, dairy products, and firearms? I love living in Florida.
  • Okay, the GUNS place was a separate retailer who shared a sign, but it would've been funnier as written.
  • Seriously, our heat index is 110 F.  I'm grateful to have my cave, which is cooled to a pleasant 72, with a wind-chill of 65 or so in the vortex of comfort.
  • The Vortex of Comfort is a certain zone in my inner sanctum where I am blown upon both by the air conditioner vent AND my fan. 
  • I set up my own Vortex of Comfort when I was in St Anthony's ICU.  I asked them to bring me a fan, and boy-howdy, did they bring me a fan.  This big, beautiful Hunter brand box fan.  I had it set up to my left, blowing straight across me.  I don't know where the vent was, but between the fan and the narcotics, it was perfect.  Let's just say my CHILL factor was at perfect. (rimshot)
  • I'm sorry.  That wasn't funny, so I don't know why Vox automatically installed a (rimshot) there.
  • OH!! Before I forget!! A toast!!

  • To Mary and Amory, this 20th day of June, 2009: I Ho'okahi kahi ke aloha ua mau.
  • Or, as Randy Travis sang, "Forever and ever, Amen."
  • My grandmother would've been 90 today.  It's fitting that a friend should get married on this same day.  My grandmother shared a lot of love during her life.  I wish you two all that love, three times over. 
  • Clearing a couple images…
  • First, if you see this? It's probably time to pull off and sleep.  Oh, and for God's sake, lay off the truck stop speed.
  • Yeah.  That is a cool dog.  Not a dog person myself, but if I had to have one, that would be a keeper.  You'd throw a ball, and I doubt he'd go get it for you.  "If you want the ball, asshole, why did you throw it over there? Sheesh."

  • Finally, I leave you with a cautionary poster for your weekend.  And I hope it's a good one:

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Happy Birthday Little Brother

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on June 18, 2009 by tom

(Just to be truly global, let's try and get as many different countries and US States to wish my little brother a happy burpday as possible.  So far, we have Canada (Laurie), Michigan (Lauri), and Kentucky (Mariser).  Chime in, and identify your state or country.  Thanks for your support.  Hot damn, this burg's jumpin' :-))

June is a busy month here.  We start off with my birthday on the 10th, followed by my parents' anniversary on the 12th, Fathers' Day, my Grandmother's Birthday on the 20th, my mom's birthday on the 22nd, and right there in the middle, Paul McCartney's Birthday on June 18th.

It is coincidental that Brother Mark was born on June 18th as well.  He's been an A #1 brother, too.  Like me, he hates having his picture taken–this is because (like our mother) he and I are decidedly unphotogenic–but Our Father, Who art a Shutterbug (hallowed be His Name), insisted, so we have this rare pic from my birthday dinner last Wednesday:

In this picture, once again, Mark had backed me up, something he's been doing our whole life together.  The Texas Cattle Company Manager had just refused to give me my free birthday steak, and Marky shot him.  Right through the forehead.  Hey, if you're going to act all old West with your name and motif, then you'd better not act all surprised if people show up with big mustaches and shoot you for crawfishing on a deal. 

Or using words like "crawfish" as a verb.

Just one example of how (as they said in "Tombstone") "you always back your brother's play," involved a bottle of bourbon.  My grandfather was a sportswriter and bourbon aficionado (can you be the former without being the latter?), and whenever he visited, he'd purchase a bottle of bourbon at our local liquor store, enjoy a few cocktails during his stay, then leave the rest here for next time.  Well, he came down to cover the Super Bowl one year, and that was it–there was no next time.  So there was a largely full bottle of bourbon in the pantry.  My mom had a pumpkin pie recipe which called for one teaspoon of bourbon.  She would thus use a teaspoon of my grandfather's bourbon every Thanksgiving and Christmas when she made pumpkin pies.  In addition to certain verbal skills, I very definitely inherited the bourbon aficionado gene from my grandfather.  So late one Christmas Eve, ma and pa were nestled all snug in their bed, and little brother and I were pillaging the kitchen for roast beast and Lord knows what else, when I spied with my thirsty bloodshot eye a bottle of bourbon! Yay! Mark pointed out correctly that there was a finite, irreplaceable quantity of bourbon in the bottle.  I said, "Well, we could just say it evaporated." He rolled his eyes, and continued piling four pounds of leftovers on his sandwich. 

The next day, I heard my mom and brother banging around in the kitchen.  My mom asked my brother to get "Papaw's bourbon" out of the pantry.  I froze. 

"Boy, it looks like it's gone down a lot since last year."
"Yeah, it does.  But the cap is loose.  It probably evaporated."

God bless you, little brother!

Anyway, I could go on with other stories, but I won't.  Suffice to say, there are far more instances of him covering my ass than stabbing me in the back.  In the great brother algebra, that's the best you can hope for.  Thanks, #2.  And have a happy one. 

Here's one more picture from back when Our Father was teaching him how to drive.  (Sorry, little bro: the expression on dad's face is too priceless) 😉

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