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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Devils and Black Sheep, Really Bad Eggs: These Are My People

I love Halloween. I mean, seriously: when I was going through custody mediation, this one was a no-brainer. We trade off most holidays, ever other year. I gave the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster an all-you-can-Easter buffet in exchange for a Halloween monopoly.

Make love not war, me hearties.

I love Halloween.

I love the costumes, the trick-or-treating, the weather turning cool and the leaves shot with color. I love the scary and the pseudo-scary, I love it all.

Yet I am a forgetful soul. For instance, I forgot to buy pumpkins to carve last weekend (the last logical time to do so). I did take them costume-hunting then, so I'm not sure what neuron failed to grasp that it would be a tragedy of immense proportions if we missed on carving pumpkins.

When we were costume hunting, Mo lookedd at this curly clown wig, a Neopolitan rug, and at this pig-demon face rubber mask. I figured she'd either find the mask intolerable or addictive (the latter turns out to be the winner). I said, 'Well, do you want to be a clown or a pig?'

'Pig-Clown.' And so she was.

Em decided against her original plan to be Elizabeth Swan, I think because she was shocked at how common this Pirates of the Caribbean thing is. She got a goth vampire thing and a red devil wig.

We trick-or-treated the neighborhood, then the Adequate Mall. I asked a chick at the mall if her costume was Employee of the Month at Hot Topic, and she said she was a fairy princess.

Can fairy princesses also be Wearers of Black?

When I picked the honyocks up, we went to Price Chopper to seek pumpkins for carving, but they were all gone. This is the Halloween analog to shopping on Christmas Eve, except I've done that, too, and I know for an honest fact that other people do it too. I knew I hadn't seen any pumpkins at Stuff-Mart. We headed to the Pumpkin patch, but they close ridunculously early. Then we went to Voigts and got three awesome pumpkins for a very modest price.

Em carved her own. I cut out the lids, then let them have some fun scooping pumpkin guts. Mo would still be doing this, I think, if we still had pumpkins to work with. Mo took her stab at it, literally, and I helped out. I think both kids went to bed with all ten fingers, so I guess it went well.

Em was skeptical of my scheme to roast the seeds. Then, when she tried the finished product, she decided they were at least edible, and possibly a substitute for popcorn. Then she said she preferred to just suck them and spit them out. She's a pretty picky eater but if it's a delivery system for butter and salt...

Mo really seemed to like the feel of her rubber mask. Those things are frighteningly hot, but she wouldn't take it off until we were back and ready to carve. She almost fell down the stairs, too, because you can't see so well out of them.

The only thing Mo loved more than that was scooping pumpkin guts. I think if I'd bought fifteen or twenty of them, hacked the lids off and let her go at it, she'd have gutted them all too. I think she dug the feel of the stringy and the seeds. Not so much that I didn't have to watch her with the knives.

Em really loved her red devil wig. When it was time to shower and get ready for bed, she didn't want to have to take off the wig. I can relate: I enjoy my costumes, too. I'm not sure what it says about me that the eye patch and earring are the only parts of my costume that I wouldn't normally wear to work.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

What a Day This Has Been

What a rare mood I'm in...

For starters, the weather was indecently beautiful today. 75º, a light breeze, sunny. The leaves have turned. It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Which was reason enough to (predictable, I know) launch rockets. Which we did. Including Wildcat, a purple spiral striped mini-A rocket, Candycane, which had an unfortunate flight and is likely retired after one go. And The Great Pumpkin rose, of course, and Scribble III and Dudley, and Marty Graw. We launched a lot of rockets.

With Candycane, I learned that it's as absurd (and dangerous) to underpower a rocket as overpower it. I've lost plenty launching on C engines first time out. But like with Queen Izen, if the rocket doesn't go high enough when it's under thrust to make up the time falling during the recovery fuse, you have a problem. This one didn't blow after impact, but rather right before. Still, the airframe is crumpled and it's at best, a rocket to be salvaged for scrap.

The Zoo was on the menu from the forecast alone. When I saw what the weather was going to be like, I said to myself, 'Self, you bought a membership to the Zoo, isn't it about time you went when it wasn't 90º?'

We got out there and there were cars. To many cars. Is something going on at Starlight? Is there some festival I didn't know aobut in Swope Park? Then I saw the costumes.

Boo Bash. An event the Zoo puts on. We weren't in costume, since we were just there for the weather and the animals, but they gave us bags for the candy begathon, and onward we went.

On our way in, we saw those two-wheeled platforms for riding about. What, a self-balancing scooter or whatever? Segway® I think officially.

I could undstand the helmets if you're riding in traffic, but if you're among the pedestrians (like, at the Zoo?) why would you wear a helmet for a device that is basically like walking without moving your feet? You don't wear a helmet in case you slip and fall when just walking around on sneakers, right?

We saw parts of the Zoo we've never seen. We caught a bird show, too. Complete with an African Fish Eagle who was not so keen on the herds of costumed kids. The trainer was carrying her out on one of those silly falconer's gloves, and the bird flapped like to beat the shit out of her, then flew up to the top of a utility pole. They tried for the next fifteen minutes to bait her back down, but she wasn't having it. When we left the bird show, she was still up there, and I swear she said (in African Fish Eaglease, of course), 'I'll come down when you get rid of those damn children.'

Who could blame her?

We finally saw the gorillas. Well, a gorilla. His girlfriend or wife or whatever was laying low. Very low, as in she might not really exist.

They did find a use for the old monkey house that the gorillas don't have to put up with anymore: they filled it with skeletons and converted it into a ghost/pirate ship. When we saw the skeletons where the chimps used to throw fecal grenades from, I said, 'Oh no! They killed the monkeys!' The kids didn't think I was very funny just then.

We also saw a 500 pound turtle walk! He’s so freaking big you can hardly get him in frame for a photo, but I’ve never seen him move more than his head before. Lots of the animals were doing more than we’ve typically seen. I don’t know if it was time of day or the better temperatures or what. We saw two lionesses play briefly (before resuming their usual laying about watching the idiot humans). The hippos were playing. The meerkats were so crazy I couldn’t get them on video, they were too quick for me to time out the button.

The chimps were having a riot but way off at the edge where you couldn’t see what they were shrieking about. Then, when we were leaving their area, a couple of them came shrieking at each other over near us. When they retreated, I shrieked in, I hoped, a faithful mimic of their calls. The idea was not to make them think I was one of them, but to maybe get them to try and see what this goofball chimp wannabe was hollering about. Instead, I scared hell out of Em, who is still furious with me and says she will run away from home or something.

Em was getting cranky by the time we were done with ‘Africa.’ She was tired and hungry and in general need of a butt-pickle extraction. I got the girls strawberry frozen lemonades (their pick) and a soda for me. Mo drank most of my soda after pronouncing the strawberry frozen lemonade ‘boring.’

But when we finally made it up to the front area (I’d spent the tram money on the aforementioned refreshments, so we hoofed it up the rather steep and long hill), she spotted a sign for the Jolly Rogers performing at 5:30. This is half an hour after the Zoo normally closes, but it’s Boo Bash.

I then noticed that after 5:00, the train was free. Mo loves trains, I can prove it. When I ask her yes-or-no questions she always says no. Even when it’s ridunculously obvious that the answer is yes.

‘Is your Daddy crazy, yes or no?’ ‘No!’

‘Do you love the Zoo, yes or no?’ ‘No!’

‘Is that the sky up there, yes or no?’ ‘No!’

Our latest joke is if I know she loves something, and I’m just asking for the affirmation of it, I say (for instance), ‘Do you love Oreos, yes or yes.’ ‘YES!’

But when I said, ‘You wanna ride the train, yes or no?’ ‘YES!!’ Okay, there’s a line but she was willing to wait.

So we rode the train, which conveniently dropped us just in time for the Jolly Rogers. Em had made a full time job out of fretting about whether we’d miss the Jolly Rogers trying to do the train. I asked her, ‘Do you realize you’ve spent all that energy worrying about it for nothing?’ She was still mad about the chimp scream, so I could take my Daddy Zen and shove it.

The Jolly Rogers did some material I hadn’t heard in a while. Gray Funnel Line, from their first CD, William Bloat, etc. And they did Itches In Me Britches, which Em jammed to in particular because if it wasn’t for that song, she’d have died as an infant. She would not eat unless we played that song. The Jolly Rogers have a similar effect on me, except the bottle in my case is filled with beer.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Ghost Train

We went to Baldwin to ride the Ghost Train deal the Midland Railroad is doing.

Mo wanted to go play in the park in front of the depot, and it was time to get on board, so I said 'After we ride the train.'

I didn't realize it would be dark when the ride was over. I thought it was going to be a brief junket, and besides, I haven't adjusted to the early nightfall entirely.

We got on board the train to Nowhere, which has been converted to a sort of mobile haunted house. Sort of. The front cars are haunted house rigs, the rear three are regular passenger cars. When the kids in their costumes aren't trying to entertain the riders, they're taking groups of them up to go through the maze in the lead car.

It's cool. I danced with a ghost bride who was looking for her husband. I must look just like him. Too bad I'm not him, she was pretty cute as dead people go.

Mo cackled and hooted and giggled the whole time. Em had fun with her cousins, she always does. My youngest nephew (of those of us on the ride, the twins weren't along) was pretty scared a few times. But then, he gets scared when I burst out, 'Oh! It burns!'

Going through the haunted house car, me and Mo were in the lead. Twice the clown leading us through had to tell her not to grab this or that. Things that are supposed to be scary, but Mo can see them for what they are: fun things that she might be able to flush down a toilet.

When we got to one window, the clown said, 'Look out for this window. It'll get you.'

Mo decided to test this theory and stuck her head through it. I think the actor on the other side of the partition was the one who got scared. 'Oh fuck! The kids are coming after me!'

Oh, and we saw a real headless horseman. Though I think it's a little dishonest to say he's headless, just because his head is a jack-o-lantern and he carries it with him. At least the horse was real.

After, Mo made a bee line for the park equipment. I had said she could 'after the train,' and it was after the train. It was also pitch-black out. I guess it was time to go over to the Dark Slide.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What Is It About Me?

Bob, the janitor, asked me if I got a flu shot. Correction, he said, 'You got a flu shot, didn't you?'

It wasn't that hard to guess, they had brought in nurses from a local hospital to administer shots to whoever signed up. The company pays for it because our busiest time of year coincides, in part, with flu season, and after a few years of getting wiped out by massive absenteeism, we decided to spend a couple hundred bucks on prevention.

It's totally voluntary, and only maybe 25% of the company seems to sign up for the shot. Whatever. If you want to spend a week on the couch when you could be making overtime dollars, it's your budget and your misery.

I realize it's not a perfect shot. But it's better than nothing.

But Bob said he didn't trust these 'government flu' shots. Then again, this is a guy who refers to the grass roots organization fighting the terrible Resolution #1710 ballot initiative here in Gardner, as 'those right-wingers.' As someone who wrote a check to support the effort, I resent being lumped in as a 'right-winger.' Yes, I believe you have the right to carry a gun. But I also believe you have the right to use narcotics, get married to someone of the same sex, etc.

I pointed out to Bob that the shots were not government provided. They were employer provided, out of a sense of greed: it costs the company more to have a guy out sick than to get him the shot.

Bob doesn't quite see the difference between the company and the government. This isn't a huge corporation, by the way. It's maybe 150 people tops. He was just sure they're using me as a guinea pig to test all these new exotic things on me. For whatever reason.

And whoever 'they' are.

But something else bothers me about this whole exchange: he said I'd gotten a flu shot as if he just knew it to be true from looking at me. This reminds me of times when I've confessed to atheism when theology comes up in conversation. I say, 'Well, I'm not really a Christian,' and the other person says, 'I know.'

You know?? Based on what? The Wiccan tattoo on my forehead? My 'Kiss Me, I'm a Druid' T-shirt? How do you know I'm not just a really foul-mouthed, yet devout, Southern Baptist?

Okay, that's a stretch. But I could easily be a Quaker or a Unitarian or something if I thought there was anything to it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Super Fly

I simply must get a pair of these. This looks more fun than breaking Tom Cruise's nose.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Vigilante Haircuts

Mo has really beautiful hair. But she likes it short.

She had locks until about age three, when the preschool taught her to use scissors. When it gets to bothering her, she starts scoping out for the (conscientously locked away) shears. If we don't lock them up, she's also known to cut the clothes on her to ribbons in pursuit of an itchy tag.

So I knew when her hair got longer that I needed to get it cut before she took the crafts supplies into her own hands.

But, too late, she got a hold of pinking shears and the rest is another beautician who doesn't initially get why I suggest something in a Liza Minelli type thing.

Actually, Liza's bangs would bug the shit out of Mo. But I think most stylists would evict me from the shop entirely if I said 'Annie Lennox.'

Or Susan Powter. Almost all the girls' Barbies are Susan Powter dolls as soon as Mo gets hold of them and finds those locked up scissors. She's trying to liberate Barbie from that irritating hair on the neck and face I'm sure.

But Mo loves nothing if she doesn't love her reflection, and the hair shop is one place with plenty of shiny, reflective surfaces. It's sometimes a trick to keep her from grabbig the second pair of scissors to help out, but she has fun with the whole deal.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Whoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! Tigger Suits Up

So we beat Martyball in the birthplace of Martyball.

It was a great game, really. At no point was there any lack of drama. Schottenheimer will win a Super Bowl, mark my words. But he wasn't able to pull of a win today at Arrowhead.

It was all the Tigger's doing...

Skater Girl!

Em wants to live in skates these days. Eating, drinking, injuring herself as she gets into the car...