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Sunday, April 30, 2006

From the Mouths of Babes

When I'm around folks run inside, try to hide, terrified. I'm alone but satisfied, I like stinky cheese.

Or so the song goes.

I really do, though. And I bought Limburger this weekend, and I knew Em would figure I was just trying to poison her again, but I thought Mo might go for it.

It really doesn't smell that bad. Smells like food, to me anyway.

Mo is autistic, so you don't expect a lot of verbal feedback on something like this.

Mo took an investigatory taste, then said, 'Stinks.'

She gave the rest to the dog.

Brilliant! I smell feet!

Blame Where Blame is Due

Okay, I admit, I blame my ex for everything. If it rains and I get wet, her fault.

Maybe not that, but I blame her for my first divorce lawyer (I wouldn't have retained him and lost $1600 for a lawyer who won't return calls and in any case only does a divorce a year and doesn't know if he's shot, fucked, powder burnt or snake-bit).

But in Divorce School, they tell yo to promote the other parent, and I try to do that. She does the same, whatever else I might find fault with. Sometimes you feel like sitting with Eleanore Roosevelt, because you really don't have anything nice to say about a person you once willingly spent a month's pay on a ring for.

Rainy day, and I thought we should make pretzels. They're easy, I had all the stuff to make them, and Em loves to bake.

Em loves to eat pretzels, too, but I had to give credit for where I learned to make awesome pretzels at home. The artist formerly known as Frau Lobster taught me, about seventeen years ago.

The Lobstered Space Program...

I posted earlier, bitching about the rocket I bought not being 'ready' the way the package indicated.

By the time I got it 'ready,' I'd lost the safety key for the controller. My improvised substitutes (a paper clip) didn't cut it, so I called the hobby store to see if they sold them. Not separately, and it turns out the controller by itself at the hobby store is more than the whole kit at Wal-Mart.

So back to Wal-Mart, I now have two rockets, one with an altimeter and one without. Same controller to fire both.

Em was skeptical, sure that anything Dad wanted to do must be dumb. It turned out to be tricky to photograph, because the controller takes two hands (one for the safety key), and I didn't want Mo to get up close and end up in the ER explaining how my nine-year-old got a solid fuel rocket burn.

But when the first rocket went up, Em was a believer. For one thing, it's so sudden. We did the countdown and when it fired, it was all I could do to pick it out in the sky. Well, that first one, the one without an altimeter, I must not have gotten enough wadding in between the engine and the recovery parachute, because it burned four of the six lines to the chute and came down with the grace of a thrown rock.

I fired both with C-6-5 engines, pretty much the max either rocket is intended for. For those who (like me) have forgotten from their time in Cub Scouts, a 'B' is twice the thrust of an 'A,' and a 'C' is twice the thrust of a 'B.' The second number has to do with Newtons, or something like that, that can be read and forgotten before you look away. It's the kind of confusing gibberish you hear with people comparing horsepower and 'torque' in cars. The third number is easy, the number of seconds after the engine is burned up before it fires the recover parachute.

How high? Well, according to the second rocket, almost 1000 feet, which is the limit on how high you can go before you have to tell the FAA that you're not a terrorist BUT...

Em loves the rockets now, but she didn't want to do any more after tracking down the first two. The second parachute opened properly, so the rocket coasted a good ways on the ride down. I'd guess we walked a quarter mile to get it, across a freshly ploughed field (sorry Mr. Farmer)...

The Better Half...

I don't know where the other half of this car is. The front half lives near me, has been in the same spot for so long it could be considered the Edgerton City Limits sign.

The guy runs it in parades now and again, with little rear wheels that look to be coasters taken off a piece of furniture.

They should hire this car out for weddings instead of stretch limos...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Why I Should Wear PJs...

I'll cop to it, I go commander between the sheets. Have since before I could get girls to talk to me, so it's not a sex thing. I just have to be wild and free in order to fall asleep. Or to fall asleep without the assistance of the distilling industry anyway.

So this would be me, except it wasn't.

A few years back, I woke up to a house fire. Well, no I didn't. I woke up to the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster telling me the house was on fire. She did the stuff you're supposed to do, get out and call 911. I did what you're not supposed to do, get a fire extinguisher the size of a pencil and fight the fire myself.

They don't mention clothes when they tell you not to try putting it out. I guess they figure you're just as stupid to fight it nekkid as dressed. But 'They' don't factor in a department of public safety that is supposed to be a police force, fire department and ambulance, all in one. And with one bullet (Andy insists it be kept in a pocket) for their gun.

I had a neighbor who had a fire about the same time. His was a grease fire, and he thought he could get the skillet of flaming grease tossed out his back door. Instead he ended up spraying flaming grease across the kitchen wall and burning the shit out of his hand.

We had the same contractor hired by the insurance people to fix our houses, but he went with this blood-red shag carpet that was probably worse than the fire damage, but anyway...

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Duel-ity of Man...

I just can't quit watching this. It's unbearable, but oddly habit forming.

I also noticed something about the tune: it's a blues. Structurally, that is. And aside from Steve Martin's observation that you can't be unhappy listening to a banjo, it's such a queerly bright piece, a sort of fugue on the Barney theme song (AH-hem).

So I give you the Happy Blues!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Your House As Seen By...


Your Lender:

Your Buyer:

Your Appraiser:

And Your Tax Assessor:

Monday, April 24, 2006


This is the house I grew up next door to. The branches in the foreground are part of the tree I almost died under when I had my heart attack.

Despite the snarky captions I've included in this shot, I just want to say for the record that the city needs to just leave this guy alone. My Mom wouldn't agree, she thinks it's annoying.

For context, this isn't an Appalachian shanty, it's the burbs. One of the wealthiest counties in America last I heard. But I don't see this as an eyesore. This is one man's fight against the whole notion of a homeowners association. And a quest for more stuff. He has between four and eight cars all the time, paring the collection down when the city fines him. But if someone's getting ready to trade something in, he just can't stand to let it go.

Oh, and he's a World War II vet, but he won't retire. He's been at the same job over fifty years. I guess he needs the money to buy more stuff with.

Maybe they'd cut him some slack on the two pickups, two Cadillacs, the '69 Olds 442 with the bashed in side that's been under a tarp since a dump truck collided with it in (if memory serves) 1982, etc., if he'd put a couple of them in the garage. Except he can't put anything more in the garage until he gets rid of a couple of motorcycles and street sweepers.

Yep, street sweepers. He bought them back in the 1960s so he could go into business cleaning parking lots.

In fairness, I've never seen the street sweepers, I take him at his word that they're there. I grew up with his son, so I've been in the house many times. But by 1976, when I first saw the inside of the garage, there was so much other stuff heaped on the street sweepers you couldn't see them well enough to tell what they were. And that was before the reloading gear for the gun collection...

The basement is a wonderland, because every toy I ever wanted and couldn't have was had, played with 2.2 times, and deposited on a heap in the basement. I wouldn't be surprised if an eBay auction of the 70s-era toys fetched more than the house if you liquidated the estate.

When Mom found out he'd bought some land with a barn out in the country for his junk, she brightened a bit. But then she found out he's only bringing new acquisitions there, he's not going to take any of the stuff from home down there until he gets around to fixing up the barn. Then Mom's head blew up like in 'Scanners.'

And my neighbors think I'm a blight on the community. I don't flatter myself, I'm not even ready to play for the minors.

And this is my childhood friend's patrimony. Whatever money is in over-funded 401k and IRA plans, the real inheritance will be selling all this junk back to the junk collecting community...

Someday, Lamont, this will all be yours!

Better Late Than Never...

And it's the thought that counts, ain't it?

My kid brother turned 34 the Earth Day just passed. We celebrated with some fried Ivory Billed Woodpecker from a recent Arkansas hunting trip, though Mom says nothing stacks up to Dodo for a birthday dinner.

Instead of champagne, we opened some cans of R12 and just enjoyed the hiss of the escaping gas. Mom was fresh out of chlordane, but we found some even older stuff you couldn't read the label on in her basement. All I could tell was it was made by Ortho sometime before lead-based inks were phased out of U.S. printing, and it didn't taste like it looked.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

eBay of Pigs

I went to buy a side of beef online, and I got ripped off big-time. Wow. You'd think there'd be a law against masquerading as something you're not.

For instance, if you wanted an electric guitar with nothing to recommend it except that Leo Fender made it improperly himself instead of contracting for some political prisoner in Asia make it improperly, and money was no object, you could go online and buy a vintage Strat with total security, right?

Right? Beuller? Bueller?

I actually went to buy something off eBay tonight and my credit card was declined. Oh wait, that wasn't me, that was some pathetic guy in England. How insecure do you have to be to pay the price of a car to make sure the girl not only can't compare you to past men, but (being a dyke) won't be rating you against future ones? There are Al Queda suicide-bombers who have more confidence with girls.

Still, at least the creepy brit wasn't seeking non-human ass.

Gawd, that's terrible. Can't wait to see what search-engine gremlins that stirs up.

Oh, why not include the inflatable legs?

And Em gets outraged when I suggest eyebrow farming and mustache ranching? If peaches can come from a can, why can't eyebrows come from a field?

Didn't Mao Wear His Pajamas To Work?

Happy National Wear Your Pajamas to Work' Day!

I heard about this on NPR this morning. Apparently they didn't care enough to find out this was a huge conspiracy cooked up by the high-thread-count pajama industry, the CFR, and people who want to see me lose my job.

They know I sleep in the buff, the scheming bastards...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Yard Sale

I decided to sell some stuff, so I put it out in the yard. I was working on my price tags when the trash company guys came and stole it all.

Assholes. Next time, I'm putting this shit on eBay.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

What Part of 'Ready' Didn't They Get?

Last weekend I was feeling saucy, so I blew my tax refund check on a model rocket.

Okay, I paid my bills, and after I did that, my tax refund just about covered:

1 'Ready-to-Fly' model rocket ($24.95 at the Stuff-Mart)
2 cheap diamond-shaped kites
1 Diet Mountain Dew

So anyway, I remember shooting model rockets in Cub Scouts, and it was just about the coolest part of the ordeal. Maybe it was what I had to compare it with: the abuse of my peers, a bitchy den-mother, and trying to fool my Dad I could tie more than my shoes for that fucking 'knots' merit badge.

I didn't like building the rocket, so I've blocked it out of my memory, but the day we got to shoot them, that was awesome. So naturally, I expected my kiddos to be thrilled at the prospect.

Mo's a pretty easy sell, since if you offer something she's never heard of, she'll offer a backhanded ascent by echolalia. But Em has learned that pretty much anything Dad wants to do is probably a Bad Idea.

I never knew you could have a kid who scoffed at remote control cars, airplanes and even motorcycles. In other words, all the cool stuff in a toy store.

Yeah, I know, it's the lack of a Y chromosome, but I practice as much denial as I can muster in the gender roles area. I never did like to play baseball, catch bugs or pretend girls were gross, and contrary to the aforementioned fellow Cub Scouts, I'm not queer.

I tried to be bisexual once, but it was only because I thought it would get me somewhere with this hot Drama Chick. But kissing a guy? I'd vomit on his mouth, pretty sure. Can't do it. Not even for a girl with the good looks and despicable morals of Paris Hilton.

But Em came around on the rocket thing. And I had that tax refund burning a hole in my pocket.

I did NOT buy a rocket just because I didn't have to run the decision by my wife.

I did pay $10 extra to get a 'ready-to-fly' model. RTFs are frowned on by serious hobby shop nerds, but I was figuring I'd have to set the whole thing up and fire it in the 1.3 seconds I'd have before Mo bolted. I read the box carefully, or as carefully as you can with two fidgety kids. It said I needed AA batteries that weren't included, so I snagged a pack of Duracells on the way to the checkout.

We went to a park that has a set of softball diamonds and is adjacent to a large, freshly plowed field. It was windier than I expected, but I figured if I loaded the smaller of the engines, I'd have a 50/50 shot at recovering the rocket. I figured I'd have to assemble the launch stand, which was easier than getting the thing out of the bomb-proof plastic package.

And then I see that I need not only AA batters, but a philips head screwdriver, masking tape, sandpaper...

The recovery wadding and parachute were in separate packages, the nose-cone wasn't attached to the shock cord. Ready to fly???

They only thing they did for the extra $10 as far as I can tell is attach the fins. Bastards.

Fortunately, I bought those two cheap kites. Bob and Larry on one, Barbie on the other. They flew for shit, too, but the girls had more fun with them than anything since the boxes their Christmas presents came in.

At home, I tried to finish setting up the rocket, and lost the two screws I took out with the Philips head screwdriver. It's still not 'ready' to fly.

The First Rule of Fan Club...

The place I work as an advertising whore is adding hand-fans to the lineup. I might have to order some just to do this...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Bridge Too Far?

Does this mean we went too far with the dog walking?

I suggested the notion of eyebrow farming on one of these walks and Em decided to go on strike because Daddy is so ridiculous.

It angered her that I’d suggest eyebrows grew on farms. But a fresh-plowed field looks like a bunch of eyebrows, don’t you think? My boss says this would make a good children’s book, but based on Em’s reaction, I think children would hate it.

I told her I’d heard of organ harvesting. Livers, kidneys, and don’t you think eyes could grow on stalks like Brussels sprouts?

She sat down where we were and folded her arms over her knees. If Daddy was going to be this big a moron, she wasn’t going to walk with us anymore.

Mo pulled away, which usually means she’s about to do a home invasion, but in this case she was worried we would end up at home with out Sissy. I don’t know what exasperated Em more, the fact that I was so awful, or that even Mo wouldn’t let her shake me...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons

I swear I didn't suggest this to my kids. They just started doing it, putting their feet together, sole-to-sole. I hope this doesn't mean one of the days Mo gets up at 1:00 a.m. for the day, that she'll stumble on the recipe for Ice-9.

When they build subdivisions, huge tracts of nearly identical 'custom' homes, the street names are always sucky. Types of trees, the developer's grandaughters' names (I almost bought a house at 175th and Jennifer a few years ago). Why not name the streets out of Vonnegut coinages? I'd buy a house on Wampeter almost without regard for the house, just to have a cool address. Or you could do a Yoknapatawpha subdivision (NOT called 'Yoknapatawpha Heights'—blech!) with Sartoris-derivatives.

Why not be at least as hip as a guy naming a band or a bar? I wish I'd snatched the flyer that caught my eye a dozen years ago, advertising Boko-Maru (a local band) playing at The Grand Falloon (a now defunct night club)...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Barley The Dogfaced Boy (the sequel, I think)

Years before the Divorce, the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster and yours truly went to see a shrink named Tinky Winky. He did fuck-all for our marriage, but he did suggest that I walk our dog. This was great for my relationship with Barley The Dogfaced Boy. Hard to believe the shrink wasn't sharp enough to see that we weren't there about my relationship with my dog, but there it is.

Marriage counseling is a low-percentage trade anyway, so who knows if it would have been any worse if he'd suggested I put my wife on a leash and wander through the neighborhood with her. And what's the etiquette if your wife poops in someone else's yard?

I haven't been that good about walking Barley the past few years, but he still has...enthusiasm for it. I had a day off on a pay day a while back, and getting dressed to go get my check, he caught sight of my belt and took it to be the leash. He had one of his nearly-a-seizure walk fits and I had to take him on a short walk in order to go get my damned check.

This is what he does, no kidding.

Anyway, me and the girls have been letting Barley take us on walks of an evening and he's getting to expect it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dark Side of the Moonshine

As the song says, you can’t mix Deep Purple and Bill Monroe, but it’s not really true. I did find out it was hard to get a date for a show that takes so much splaining.

It’s turned out to be harder to meet people than I anticipated, but when you add trying to entice them into going to a Hayseed Dixie show... No Deep Purple tunes that I’ve heard, but AC/DC, Black Sabbath, KISS, Green Day, Van Halen, all done as bluegrass complete with banjo, mandolin, fiddle and such. A sort of hillbilly headbanger thing that appeals to an audience enamored of Richard Cheese, Weird Al, Tim Wilson and Luther Wright and the Wrongs. An audience of me.

So lacking a date, I gave my ticket to a guy getting ready to pay at the door, who bought me a round by way of thanks.

In my usual slow-on-the-uptake way, I only realized on Saturday how much ‘Hayseed Dixie’ rolls off the tongue like ‘AC/DC.’ If you’re ripped on corn liquor, it really starts to sound about the same. For instance, if you’ve drunk enough to believe the bit about these hillbillies discovering hard rock through records recovered from a car wreck and played on an old Victrola at 78 RPM (mighty fine country music).

So anyway, I never go to shows. For starters, I can’t afford it, but even if I could I always forget about them until I hear someone telling me how great _______ was last night. And I was married for a long time to someone who doesn’t exactly share my tastes, and as the marriage became the Petty Dispute Festival, concerts were just cannon fodder.

So when a guy I work with told me Hayseed Dixie was coming to Davy’s Uptown, I asked him if he was going. ‘I’ll run it by my wife,’ he said, not sounding too hopeful.

I don't have to do that!

This was a curiously elevating realization, that the only reasons I can’t go to shows now is because I can’t afford it and would forget to go anyway. But my inner child really locked onto that, and it became something I just had to do. Except I did have to run it by my wife, because normally I’d have had the girls that night, and this isn’t exactly an ‘all ages’ sort of deal. Fortunately, she was great about it, didn’t even call me on my obviously childish motives.

Now I find myself imagining rockgrass arrangements of ‘Love Roller Coaster’ and ‘Handsome Devil.’ Ohio Players and Smiths on banjo, fiddle, mandolin and such? Why not? ‘War Pigs’ worked. It was a little scary being in front during that one, in fact, because you have the stage on one side and a near riot on the other. The only thing that trumped it for driving the audience berserk was ‘Dueling Banjos,’ which isn’t, strictly, ‘rockgrass’ as it wasn’t originally a hard rock tune.

Squeal like a pig, motherfucker.

Ooh, that line should help my meta...

And I had a great time, if you can’t tell from the pics. And yes, there was considerable shotgun marriage material there, encouraging the bad behavior of those around them, bless their hearts.

I fell in love with a twin, too. But I lacked the presence of mind to get her name. Anyway, I can’t say my behavior with the girls who took the stage during the encore was the kind of thing that would win me a lot of points. Took her picture, though. The one in the gray sweater, for some reason I wasn’t as interested in the one in plaid. Can’t figure that out, since a costume would be worth extra points on my usual scale, and it’s a little weird to think there’s a ‘hot one’ among identical twins.

There were other Hayseed Dixie Chicks there, of course. And I took as many pictures as batteries allowed. Well I tried to take a short video but my cheapo camera only has that feature to taunt me. The band encourages recording and sharing the recordings, but I'm not interested in making sure you never listen to Hayseed Dixie again, so it's strictly still shots. Fewer of the band turned out than I hoped, but the women turned out swell.

Even the girls who have gone past attracting a freak who'd like this show and gone on to be on the verge of going into labor. What kind of effect do you think this show would have on a baby?

And for those of you who, like me, haven’t been to Davey’s since Ronald Reagan was President: don’t worry, they haven’t cleaned it. And you still get kicked out if you wont’ drink an Old Style.

There's a whole gallery of photos I took in the cyber junkyard.
Including nekkid hayseeds...