Sunday, October 30, 2005

Stomping Your Ass for God and Country

My sister is in the United States Navy. She was stationed in Naples, Italy for four or five years where she worked at a naval hospital. Their hospital was a secondary to the primary hospital in Germany for soldiers injured in this noble, if not hopeless and ill-concieved, war in Iraq. Last year she took the opportunity to return to the States. Last week she told me how the military sent her to a shooting range. Now she just returned from a week long "survival camp" training, where they practiced procedures like "protect the convoy." She has served in the military for ten years. She has been a reliable cog in our apparatus of war. We agreed these "trainings" were a bad indicator. She is much more interested in taking her kids to those "spaces" I talked about earlier than say.... being incinerated by a roads-side bomb. She's working on that.

During the week-long camp, she said she was kept company by a military "chaplain," who was there to offer moral support for people of faith. She said he was really friendly but she had a strange feeling about him. Maybe because he was from Kentucky, or because he was very conservative, or because he could only think of things to praise about our current president.

Then she asked him about his "XXX" tattoo. Oh, nothing big. He used to be into straight edge and what not. When she told me that, I laughed. "Whoa. I'm not going to say the guy is crazy but you may want to keep your distance." She said he did give her grief when she said she enjoyed a hotdog and a beer at a baseball game. The straight edge touting of "no sex, no drugs, no tolerance" probably breeds hypocracy more than anything else but followers seem to treat it with seriousness when it's convenient. Straight edgers often push for veganism as well, which is good for some, but sketchy as far as applying it to an entire society. I agree we could all eat less red meat but something about the way vegetarians buy IMITATION meat? I think your body is trying to tell you something. It would be nice to have a balance of life so killing for food could be avoided, but that is not the design of our world. I'm sure there's something about that in the Bible if you want to look it up.

As a lost relative of the KKK, straight edgers seem to build off that hatred for those who are different; specific differences growled at many historical rallies, such as "I hate them because they breathe, because they exist." I, too, would have a chip on my shoulder if someone were to do that around me. But this is the "Dark Side" George Lucas tries to warn against. Imagine a malnourished, anemic Darth Vader, just without the costume, cyber limbs or supernatural powers; Him and ten of his buddies are trying to take you down like a scene from Gulliver's Travels. They probably mostly need an outlet for all those repressed feelings, but I'm sure somewhere in there, they are hoping you can be "reasoned with." I, personally, make all efforts to avoid people who habitually adhere to wacky doctrines that tend to override what should be "their own better judgement." I try to avoid them but it sure isn't easy.

Anyone exxxtreme enough to get a "XXX" tattoo on their body (whether they are into punk, clean-living, porn or Vin Diesel) is simply not worth interacting with. The ignorance is a hundred times more terrifying than the violence. Please feel free to use that as your motto if you are into that kind of thing.

Anyway, George W. Bush may find this young man perfect as a chaplain (these are people with conviction and resolve, after all) and I wish him the best in where he is going. To my sister on the other hand, my thoughts are: Run, for god's sake, run! Away from wars and thugs and collect on the freedom you served a decade of your life to sustain.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Nothing Personal. It's Just Business.

This is the background I stretch across my monitors at work. I don't want to work without it. It is metaphoric to my professional life in more than one way. I like the managers to notice it so they understand the basis of our relationship.

Get a Whiff of This

Our baby, Jonah, had pretty bad "cradle cap" for the first few months. It was really gross dandruff and the doctor told us we could use "Head and Shoulders" shampoo to treat it. Soon after, we were in our living room and Eleanor was holding him against her shoulder. She said, "He smells like his daddy now."

It was something that didn't occur to me and something I never would have guessed throughout my life: That one day, Head and Shoulders shampoo, Cheer laundry detergent and Old Spice "Fresh" scent deodorant would be my olfactory calling cards. It's not the most flattering thing but it could be much worse. I'll have to remember to step things up when I want to impress blind people. Sensational.

Following that theme: When Jonah was first born, my brother (Joel) came out to visit. He was just coming off the pain killers prescribed for his broken vertebrae (that's a different story). Anyway, instead of using pills Joel drank a lot of beer one night. It's funny to me that when next I saw him, I DIDN'T think, "he smells like alcohol." When I saw him next, I thought, "He smells like Mark (my stepdad)."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Kindergarten Flops

I am hesitant to tell you about my neighbors because one story leads to a thousand and one stories. You guys know how I am about tangents. But here we go.

I live in a slum on the Wasatch "Front," the valley wherein Salt Lake City is located. It's probably the most prestiguous slum as it IS on the east side of Interstate 15. I like it because its in the middle of everything but still has a small-town feel when I walk our black lab, Chloe. It's about as diverse as Utah gets.

When I went to get Ethan from kindergarten today I noticed someone had driven their truck onto the playground and circled 3/4 of the school during school hours so they could park right at the door where the 5 and 6 year olds bust loose. I wish I had thought of that and then I could show off for the moms by doing some donuts on the lawn.

There are a few prominent mothers:

A young woman with platinum blonde hair, very thin and well dressed. She drives an older BMW and often wears visors and baseball hats with "bad-itude." She doesn't really have a chin and her make-up is caked on. Her eyeliner overshoots the end of her lid like a busy flagellum. I feel bad because for all her efforts to look elegant she just can't hide The Trashy. I've been avoiding talking to her because of the inevitable obligatory "hellos" and chit chat that will follow once I do. The first conversation I heard from her was when another dad asked her, "Aren't you working at the gas station today?" To which she responded, "I don't work there no more." I imagine conversations where she explains how crazy all of her friends are and how she is the "responsible" one in her circle. I am absolutely willing to give her the benefit of the doubt there.

Her friend and counterpart is a dark-haired mother whose secret identity is constantly being compromised when her bright red "Superman" thong creeps above the waistline of her "Daisy Duke" cut-offs. She boisterously told us all how she fell down a flight of stairs from laughter the first time she saw a male stripper. Another father suggested that she go to Vegas for "quality" entertainment; that the stock in Wendover is no good.

There is an older, rounder mother who also joins in. She has short hair and speaks like she has had a tracheotomy. There are no other signs that she has had a tracheotomy.

The last mother I'd like to describe recently rented the house next door to us. She doesn't like to talk. She gives everyone a wide berth and rarely makes eye contact. She has five kids, 9 and younger. They are wild. I see her five year old bookin' it down the street towards the park on his BigWheel. Apparently no one has taught him the meaning of the red octagons. He and his little brother are also fond of straddling my six foot cedar fence and grinding from one end of the yard to the other. They climb up, barefoot, from the far side where an old house was recently bulldozed after someone was shot there. I don't know the details of that story.

The neighbor kids are in my backyard more than I am. The mother is back there a lot, too, looking for the kids. Their family owns two minivans: one for driving, the other for storage. Seeing that fake tree crammed inside against the windshield gets me in the mood for a merry christmas. The mother drives around the block leaning out of the open window, rounding up the kids when it starts to get dark. There was a billiard table visible through the window of their front room for a while.

I'm not sure if the couple shares clothes but there is at least a common theme: "Anthrax," "Megadeth;" shirts of that nature, with or without sleeves. Tank tops, boxer shorts, sweat pants, pyjamas. I think she considers anything beyond boxer shorts "dressed for the day." During the first few days of school I saw one of the moms and I thought, "That neighbor of mine cleans up well when she wants to." It turns out that was a different mom and I still haven't seen my neighbor in anything but boxers or pyjamas.

I assume this is a situation unique to my neighborhood. I can't say I don't worry about these people but I like my neighborhood. Except that every stray dog seems to be a pitbull. But I'm gonna buy an ebook on becoming a Hitman and that problem should go away. That is just the tip of the iceberg. I'll have to tell about my immediate neighbors another time.

Who am I today?

Eyes on stalks. Spiralling agoraphobic. A stomach on a slimy toe.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


This isn't about fast food. It's about living in a capitalist society. Obviously there are many benefits to capitalism, mainly improbable opportunity for wealth and the ability to acquire unfathomable debt. But still.... good things.

My big beef tonight is with the quality of "capital" that we are supposed to be going gah-gah for. My visual example is a washed-up doll. She has spent the better part of fifty years trying to be everything a man could want. When a man wanted a more down to earth girl with a smidge of self-respect, she did what she could to accommodate him. Here, the mold-injected old maid attempts to look like Sarah Michelle Gellar attempting to look like "Daphne" from a "live-action" adaptation of a forty year old cartoon. This is a multi-million dollar industry and this "new" product is the best they have to offer in our golden age of technology?

More beef about IPODS: Apple does not beta-test their products. The consumers test them. You bought an ipod and now its broken. Too bad. Maybe try generation 2. Still having problems? How about a generation 3? Still full price of course. Want to get away from unreliable hard drives and batteries? Get a solid-state memory ipod Nano. Pay no mind to the class action lawsuit in progress about display screens being unfit for daily use.

Final beef for today: What is with the pandering to rednecks? People have the right to their lifestyle. My step-father may even have a little in him. But I must say I'm disappointed with the entertainment industry for thinking rednecks are the key to success. Genuine rednecks are far too busy with NASCAR, drinking, WW-whatever wrestling/New World Order, church and confederate flags to bother. Must Hollywood learn with bombs like "Dukes of Hazzard" and "Herbie: Fully-Loaded"? I am personally boycotting anything along these lines. That may be hard with Pixar's new movie "Cars," coming soon; they have been doing so well, but if I must then I must. Sorry kids.

All I am saying is: Get more for your money. If you have somewhere to go and want to splurge, splurge on gas. Otherwise, wait for something better.

Wicked Little Crittas with a Sissy Bar

We didn't get any good pictures but here's one anyway. Ethan (5), Olivia (2.5) and Jonah (4 months). My sister calls Jonah "Baby Hawk," which is a reference to his middle name. I was thinking "The Auditor" would be an awesome nickname, at least until he starts talking.

Mail of Some Sort

Ermertt (Emmett),

Nice blog, blogface. At least the first few entries. Can't sit
through those really long recent ones.

Just kidding.

Hope that Napolean Dynamite crap wasn't brought on by crushing guilt
over our treatment of Howard. Some people are just hard not to laugh at
(really, not with, at). Sad but true. Huh, now I feel guilty. And
also amused. And hungry. Boy, you get started writing your feelings and
it all just barfs out, doesn't it?

Keep on truckin'


Thanks Darren. It's nice to know that I haven't changed and apparently the same is true of you. You made the same comment about the stories I wrote in high school. You know, the mind vomit. I really wanted to like "Napoleon Dynamite" but something inside wouldn't let me fully enjoy it so I took it upon myself to ruin everyone else's good time. It is great to hear from you. By the way, there's a chance I will publish the email you sent me on the blog. Be ready!

PS... You had me at "Nice blog, blogface." I imagine you typing this letter with a peanut-butter and jelly tortilla in one hand and a can of root beer in the other.

One Advice: Space

I worry for my kids that they will not grow up with the freedom I had. Ethan chose that word himself from an advertisement that came in the junkmail: F - R - E - E, Free. It's one of the few words he can spell.

When I was in kindergarten I lived in Palo Alto, CA; a gated community with a large playground in the center. It was alright. In Colorado Springs I ran wild in the busy streets. Everyone had their own agenda, young and old. It was a rocky, dangerous time. When we moved back to California to the mountain home where my mother was raised, it was an extreme disconnection but it was also my first taste of freedom and space. Being poor wasn't nearly so painful because all sorts of fruit grew for most of the year. My cousins and I took a machete and long pruning clippers and cut trails through endless blackberry brambles. We were so proud at the time, oblivious that the trails would be swallowed by vegetation again in a matter of weeks. We could follow streams deep beneath a canopy of trees into a crowd of ferns or head up into pines, oak, madrone, manzanita and who knows what else.

We could walk, hitch hike or beg relatives for a ride up to the Low-Water Bridge. We would float down the river rapids, rest in warmer pools created by the weakening flow of water between spring and fall. It took me years to get the nerve to jump from the bridge. Now I jump from cliffs ten times that height. I was coming into my teenage years and the extreme disconnection could not continue.

We moved to Utah. Nobody lives in Utah by chance. You have to want to live here and work for it as well. Utah has a harsh environment; an unpredictable cross between desert and mountain conditions. I lived three miles from the Flaming Gorge Dam. I had space and made friends. We slept in juniper forests for days at a time. We rowed to islands in the dark and ate around a fire. In the morning we would fish and jump off cliffs. An osprey chased us out of his yard. I rode my bike hundreds of miles without seeing anyone. I could snowboard on a steep trail at the end of the street. We picked wild flowers and gave them to maidens. We walked up and down mountains, through blizzard snows, along the river, on the frozen lake. It sounds romanticized but it's not. That is what it was.

My kids are boxed in now. Adventure is limited to getting to know your neighbors. We can pack in the canyons with everyone else who is trying to "get away." Good space is hard to find but I will take them there, one way or another, as soon as I can so they can be free.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Refuge in Refuse

Life's a bitch and then you die, my Love. For some reason it doesn't seem so bad when Shirley Manson says it. I wish she could give me all my bad news.

Dracula: This Bites

The other night I was at my in-laws and we were discussing Dracula. I happened to be holding a dictionary because of a disagreement over the word "Limey" so while we were on the topic of vampires I attempted to look up fang face. He wasn't there.

I don't know what he did to upset Noah Webster but there was nothing in the dictionary about Dracula and nothing about Vlad the Impaler. Boring presidents like Martin Van Buren seemed to make the cut and even that crappy new word "Mcjob" was there. Frankenstein had two definitions. I went home and checked my dictionary. Nothing.

So why no recognition for Dracula? I'm sure 9 out of 10 eight year olds know of Dracula, possibly even Bunnicula, while it is likely none of them know our 8th president. Maybe there's the off-chance I checked two lousy dictionaries, but otherwise I would think Dracula is culturally important enough to be included. He's upper-class, couldn't possibly be whiter and the more evil you do, the more pages you get in the history books. What gives? I think the makers of Count Chocula cereal should spearhead this charge as it plays an integral part in the brand recognition for their incomplete breakfast stuff.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bullies can get back to '82

I'd like to take a moment to harsh everyone's mellow. This is a movie review for the film "Napoleon Dynamite." While everyone seemed to have a good time and the film spurred a sudden marketing push of true "outsider" art and what I'm guessing will be a line of t-shirts bearing the slogan "Autism can be Cool," I do not believe people have actually grasped what is occurring. I figured someone else would eventually deconstruct the movie in similar fashion, but given endless rave reviews and a cult status, I now feel I should make this argument heard:

Napoleon Dynamite is nothing more than a character sketch of social outcast (or nerd) after social outcast. Any semblance of a plot is used only to introduce more nerds or to wind down to a barely acceptable stopping point for the film. The overall premise of the movie is: "Hey everybody, come laugh at the big nerd!" This applies to every character.

If you are a bully, nastalgic about being a bully, or have always wanted to see what it's like to kick someone while they are down, then this film is for you. Better than that, Hollywood has added a spoonful of "heart-o-gold" to the character and a big velvety bow for the ending, so it is a guiltless experience. It will have the most freckle-faced, buck-toothed, frizzy-haired, flat-chested, wide-bottomed, clarinet-playing girl and all of her scabies rolling on the floor laughing and dreaming of big-screen acceptance as she watches the film in her top-loader VCR, amid the formica walls of her single-mother's dilapidated home.

The film-makers know bullying is an issue. They intentionally add several scenes showcasing kids being pushed around. Pedro mentions the problem in his campaign speech. And yet the film is written directly for an audience of "cool kids" who can see why Napoleon, Kip, Uncle Rico, Deb, Summer (the popular girl) and her boyfriend are all so deplorably uncool and deserve to be laughed at.

You may say: They are just characters. Even if they are outcasts, the best thing to do in a bad situation is laugh. Except, here it is the appeal of the film to laugh AT these people. Not with them. These characters do not laugh. They head into the bathroom to console themselves with a dip of Big League Chew.

The makers did an excellent job. It is funny and effective, if not mean and callous. I wouldn't go so far as to say it is creative. It seems more that it was well put together. It is easy to imagine a group of college kids sitting together. One says, "Hey, do you guys remember Hannibal Atomsplitter?" (Let's just use that name to reference all the nerds we have all known throughout the course of our lives.) "Yeah, do that impression of him. Gosh! Idiots! Remember how, after years and years of us using him as the butt of our jokes it reached the point where we'd say 'what are you going to do today, Hannibal?' and he would get all mad cause he didn't want to talk to us and he'd say 'whatever the heck I feel like, gosh!'. That would be a great opening to a movie, except instead of his tormentors asking, we'll show a little kid." Genius. In the film, we are privileged to go beyond shoving people in the halls to get an inside look at all the gossipy aspects of the life of a nerd.

If you have ever talked to a Hannibal, while the falsehoods they will use to impress you are entertaining, it is also quite sad. People who are so used to deluding themselves also never really seem to make good friends. They don't seem to go for the 1% milk, side pony-tail girls either. Despite any shortcomings, they seem to think of themselves as short like Tom Cruise or ugly like Lyle Lovett. They are often irrational and drive away even those people who actually have social skills. Patient, tolerant, empathetic, doesn't matter.

Perhaps we should show films like this in schools like Columbine and Red Lake to give outcasts a better idea of their role in our society. "If you can't stay out of the way, could you at least be comical and stick to your own kind? Take our abuse with a grain of salt like that good boy, Napolean."

So if you're wondering how bullying will stay fresh and fun for years to come, I've got your 32 piece set right here. It's a funny movie and I always admire any film that dares to be slow-moving (In this case it seems to be a necessity for the faux-humility needed to set up quirky situations). I know MTV is known for their cautiousness and good judgement in molding the minds of our youth, but my utmost intention is simply to request that people acknowledge what they are laughing at. I thought this movie was more realistic and insightful when it was originally released as Stephen King's "Carrie."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Prove Yourself

Sitting in the cab of his truck with the motor running, Toby rubbed the loose skin over his tense shoulder muscles and watched some birds flutter past. Ten years, a lot of liquor and two broken hearts ago it was no sweat for him to kill three or four birds with one stone. Lately, he was lucky to get one or two.

The manager at the zoo, apparently scarred for life by the carnage in the displays, said his lifetime ban was still in effect.... but there were other towns and other zoos.

Spanning the Chasm

I couldn't get this to post in the last entry, so here it is by itself.

Video Games, Museums and Other Bad Influences

I finally let Ethan play some games on the computer. He was addicted for a little while, until school started. You don't need to worry that they won't pick up computer skills because they seem to come fast at any age.

He also plays video games at grandma's house with his uncles. They play all day long. Ethan really enjoys Ninja Gaiden and is begging for it for Christmas. He's being Ryu Hayabusa for Halloween. I'm sure you'll hear about that later. He takes swords, bows, arrows and "sherukins" very seriously. You may think it's a risk to give him an actual bow and arrow, but is that greater than the risk that he'll meet a cop, alone, in a dark alley, without any defense at all? Now you're seeing things my way.

Ethan has taken me out a few times, thrusting at me with a drum stick, claiming that I was a sabre tooth cat. I think he picks that up from the museum at Thanksgiving Point. They have a display where a bunch of Homo Sapien skeletons are bringing down a skeletal mammoth with spears. One skeleton is on his knees, reaching out to his comrades as the mammoth's knee is bearing down on him. Very dramatic. I always think it's funny they position skeletons like they're alive.

Ethan also has an obsession with running across logs to span rivers and chasms. I took the kids up Little Cottonwood Canyon and we were hanging out in a flat, willowy area. Ethan spotted a log laid across the stream:

"I need to run across that, dad."
"You want to walk across that little log?"(it was about six inches in diameter)
"I need to RUN across it."
"Let's wait till we can find a bigger log somewhere else." (It's already snowed up there, you know. Don't want him falling in.)

Ethan is also into "fire on sticks," better known as torches. He runs around with a drum stick over his head yelling, "I've got the fire, I've got the fire." To set you at ease he and his sister, Olivia, also enjoy acting out the "Stop, drop and roll" technique used in fire safety. He also almost started crying when I talked to him about the house catching fire and his plan for escape, should that occur. "I don't want the house to catch on fire," he sobbed. The school told us to do it. It was his homework.

Ethan has a five day weekend from school due to something they call "UEA," which must expand somehow into "beginning of hunting season." When I woke up this morning I asked Ethan if he wanted to go blast a deer. Eleanor suggested snail hunting in the backyard and Ethan seemed to like that idea better.

We went to an accountant to get our taxes done last year. He was one hell of an American. The accountant had a picture of "professional" wrestlers doctored so his own face was on the dominant figure and Bill Clinton's face was on the guy being pinned. He also had a wall covered in pictures of himself kneeling next to a lot of animals he had killed; deer, moose, a boar. Ethan was surprised the bodies were all warm but dead and turned to me for an explanation. Since my tax return depended on the man I waited till he left to tell Ethan that some people like to kill everything they see. But that it wasn't the right way to use a gun, knife or bow and arrow (I should have included drum stick). Turning off the TV is no solution to violence. It's better to tell your kids what kind of world we live in and how to get along.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hug Da Police

Today I took the kids to a place called "Victor's Pond" in our lovely Salt Lake suburban city. It's a funny place because it's a ten acre stretch of wetlands smack in the middle of a middle to upper class neighborhood. One second you're worming your way through ramblers and multi-story houses, next thing you are parked against a field of cat-tails and reeds.

You have to walk in a roundabout way where you actually find two ponds. One is more ornamental but the other has ducks, frogs, sunfish, catfish, goldfish and giant rats. Ethan wants to catch the big goldfish really bad. On our way to the pond we passed the field where Ethan has soccer practices where we saw two cops on motorcycles pointing their radar guns up the hill. A common place they use as a speed trap. When we left the pond, Ethan urgently needed to make use of the loo so we drove quickly the few blocks to grandma's house. When we left, we found two more cops on bikes tucked away at the entrance to another major street. One block away at the bottom of that hill were even more cops.

You would think Halloween would be a fine excuse to write a lot of citations at the end of the month to meet quota, but apparently they're looking to generate that extra revenue a little early. I happen to be one ticket away from losing my license. My wife has received two tickets since September. The police are also fond of following me right up to my driveway when I come home late at night. When I described this to a friend who lives nearby, he joked, "That's right. I pay a lot of taxes to keep brown people like you out of my neighborhood."

On the speeding tickets, I take responsibility and there should only be one on my record. All the stop sign, red light stuff is completely fabricated. I tried to fight the first one in court. The cop testified that he was speeding at the time of the "violation," testified that he witnessed my crime clearly under a tree and that the morning of the trial he went to the scene to confirm the white line at the stop sign was plainly visible. I had pictures from where the cop was when he made his move on me. The tree branches are densely filled in all the way to the ground and there is no white line on the street. The city's lawyer looked like he was playing Solitaire on his laptop through the entire proceedings.

The judge struck the gavel. Guilty. That was it. This isn't Matlock people. Burden of Proof means nothing. Apparently evidence means little as well. The important thing is, Justice delivered them my money and their paychecks will clear. It appears they have become a business and crime itself is inconsequential. Their methods suggest that by constantly harassing regular people who have absolutely no criminal intent and pocketing the fines for arbitrary and unverifiable offenses, they are somehow providing the people a service. They tout themselves as heroes. Luck, itself, appears to be the chief investigator.

My five year old already has his doubts. He has been in the car on multiple occassions when the police pull us to the curb. He watched as grandma pleaded with the police not to tow away an unregistered car from in front of her house, which of course they towed. He knows they stole the car and are holding it for ransom. Two cars have been taken from grandma's house in this fashion.

Our five-year-old saw a policeman shoot a young man on television. When he looked to me for an explanation, my instinct was to say, "it isn't real," but then I remembered back to when we bought our house and within weeks the police had our streets blocked off with orange cones. They were squatting behind parked cars with guns drawn. A man had been drinking in front of his house and had his hunting rifle. He wouldn't put it down and the police shot him. Another recent incident involves a pair of cops on stakeout in West Valley City: A 60 year old asian man went to ask the men why they were parked in front of his house. His family says that within two minutes that had shot him dead. He wasn't the man they were staking out. Even over by Park City, they chased down a man and killed him with a stun gun. Which doesn't say much for this "Non-Lethal" approach to law enforcement. So I just told my son, "Yes, they shoot people."

My son has these things in mind even as pre-school and kindergarten teachers try to put a teddy bear's face on these public servants. The boys in blue should know that if they want trust, respect and money, they need to go out there and earn it. They could at least stop speeding in front of my house and rolling through stop signs. Leave regular people alone. The recent event in Utah where the police raided a party with dogs and machine guns when the hosts had obtained permits (informing the city when and where the party would commence), provided security and restrooms, does not speak favorably of them either. Harassing my wife for money as she drives to take care of her father, fresh out of heart surgery, is not heroic. To add insult to financial injury, they call incessantly asking for donations: "Are you going to be a hero and donate $20?"

Until they clean up their act, I will consider myself Sam Adams to the city's Redcoats.

Here We Are, Now Entertain Us

Yesterday was hilarious and today was bizarre and just at the strangest part I said something wit-teeee. Bang. Pow. Pop. You may be surprised to know that all the mundane details and events of my day can be drawn as similies to genitals and sex acts. Watch how fast I go. Shit yeah, it's cool!

Acting stupid and contagious. Here we are, now entertain us. Hello, hello, hello. How low.
That's my blog. Take it to the streets, bee-aaach!

Hold up. That's everyone else's blog. My bad.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Can a Dentist Get a Little Love? Nope!

About a year ago my tooth started aching and I was worried that it would require a root canal. I went to the dentist's office. He said, "Let's take a look." I laid in the chair and within ten seconds of opening my mouth the dentist had his drill fired up and was grinding on my tooth.

I was in no position to protest. What more could I do than wiggle a finger? So after the dentist had his dirty way with me, without lube or novocaine, he went on to explain that he had previously built one of my fillings too high. As a result, when I grind my teeth at night that tooth becomes the first point of contact and absorbs most of the pressure. In short, he diagnosed me as having a "sprained tooth." He said I'd just have to suffer through it.

To give some background, I grind my teeth like crazy. I don't even have to be fully
asleep. Sometimes when I'm only half asleep I realize I'm clenching like a ten year old at the Neverland Ranch and have to make a conscious effort to loosen up. My wife says I also occassionally make a deep "moo"-ing sound, but that may just be her way of convincing me that I have faults that require an unconditional love that only she can provide. This may or may not be true.

I can see the dumb things I have to do on a daily basis as contributing to the expidition of the Kindom of the Dark Lord spreading to our earthly domain. Perhaps the "moo" is the demons overflowing from my vessel and escaping back into the night in what I will call a "Walking Death-Rattle."

Back to the story: About a week ago I started having the same symptoms on the same tooth. It appears to be "sprained" again. But it doesn't seem to be healing. The pain has been steady and now my gums are starting to swell at the base of the tooth. I'm sure you are all experiencing a primitive and undeniable desire to kiss me now. It appears to have reached the point where I will need to see the dentist again. Or I may ask around about getting an oral-exorcism as demons may be the cause of my tooth pain.

If I could find a competent dentist I would visit regularly. As my last dentist postulated that this entire situation may be the result of his own shoddy work, I am hesitant to return. He also shows little concern for all of the missing fillings in my mouth. He tried to refill them but since they continue to fall out he seems to have given up on them.

My son seems to have my inferior teeth and more than one of his fillings fell out almost immediately as well. His dentist also seems quite unconcerned about the tooth rotting in the back of his mouth. This particular dentist is also a lame-o on a personal level. As he performed my son's inadequate dental work we first talked about what I do for a living (what could be more important?) and then he asked me about being Native American and the reservation. When I described the "ghetto" setting of the reservation and how most people with ambition go off to make something of themselves with little opportunity to return with a wage above poverty-level, he took it upon himself to congratulate me on my "success" and told me to "keep up the good work," as if everything I've done with my life is a fragile house of cards that could collapse with the slightest shift of the wind due to my affliction of being Indian. He didn't mean it in a bad way but just because you don't realize you're stupid doesn't excuse you from the consequences.

These "professionals," who seem to be in their offices about six hours a day, four days a week, should spend their time honing their craft if not simply learning how to make better chit-chat. Needless to say, I am not optimistic about another visit. Finding a good dentist is like finding a good president: I will consider myself lucky to see one good candidate in either vocation before the day I die.

Have you heard of these "Dental Spa" places where they give you massages and such while you get your teeth done? Do we think much of ourselves, America? Sleep well, my princes and princesses, we'll tell the piper the check is in the mail.

The Pressures of Good Housekeeping and the Hopeless Vacuum

Does anything say "Permanent Domestic Fixture" like this dealy I painted on travertine tile?

Monday, October 17, 2005

My Leather Jacket

When I put on my leather jacket I stomp around the city. I snap the end off your cigarette and check your girlfriend's ripeness, just before I squeeze the seeds right out of your head. I talk at twice the volume of anyone within earshot with my eyes lit up because I am the main event.

Actually, I don't own a leather jacket. But that's the montage that flashes through my mind in a split second when I see someone else wearing an overpriced carcass, struttin' around like they're the cock of the walk. I just thought people should know, just in case these people misguidedly thought they struck me as fashionable when they leave their house like they just stepped out of a Matrix movie.

As an aside: The first Matrix film was good, then the franchise successively took a dump, reloaded, and took another dump on our collective heads. I don't understand why people would care to become a walking reminder of this by adopting the distinguished clothing style of the characters, but I have seen a number of them walking around my neighborhood. That in itself deserves some mocking, but something that sticks on my brain is: Why would you wear a wool trench coat when the mecury is pushing triple digits on the thermometer? Your Residual Self-Image looks dressed for winter six months early, Chosen-Boy. Undoubtably, there's an anomaly in the system.

Back in Perspective

When the violent storm finally broke, the timid citizens of Knight's Trailer Court slowly emerged from their battered sheet-metal homes to assess the tremendous damage from the hail. Windows were broken and gardens had been stamped to the ground.

On the upside, little Travis could now have ice in his Kool-Aid.

Just a Jaunt

You finally emerge from the crumb cake and sagebrush of the Great Basin, breaking into the mountains and pine. In Susanville, you saunter into the Chevron to exchange money for gas and find a mustached Highway Patrolman trying to have meaningful glances with an uncomfortable, teenaged clerk. He feeds her compliments on her knowledge of the snack rack and cash register while her sweat stained, buttoned down boss sandwiches her from the other side of the counter. The lawman shifts his weight inside his creaking, leather utility belt and wields his flashlight as he would a scepter. The entrepreneur places his hand on the girl’s shoulder like her paycheck is her pink slip and then you approach. Yet another creep.

In this shameful moment you recognize the living example of how you’ll never be able to save everyone who may need saving. Without doing anything but collecting your change, you leave in your earth-bound rocket and blast up the mountainside. Only miles ahead in this same remote area, you had been stranded once yourself. Your car had died in the night and you slept in the driver’s seat. When the sun came up you looked at Lassen Peak and followed the highway’s white line into Old Station. You ate a runny omelet in a shabby restaurant and broke the standing Ms. Pacman record with one quarter.

Eventually, you made it out of there on your own. So what makes you think that the girl at the Chevron wouldn’t?


"Salt lick is good," thought the horse.

"Salt lick is really good," thought the pig. For he had tried it.... once.... when he was young.

School, Life Eternal and No Paternity Test Needed

There was never a doubt as to my wife's virtue, but since our son (Ethan) started kindergarten this fall, affirmations of my own personal strengths and weeknesses have manifested themselves through his work habits.

I looked over Ethan's in-class assignment the other day: Draw the clothes you like to wear to school in the space provided. In that space I see that a wobbly hand has drawn a dragon, wings up and back and claws forward as it decends on an unfortunate stick figure. I say, "Hey! That's a great dragon but you need to do the work first. Put clothes on that guy before the dragon burns him to a crisp or something."

I also noticed he colored all of the apples red instead of red, yellow and green. I helped him sound out each color as it was printed beneath it's corresponding fruit. "Ask your teacher if you're not sure what your supposed to do." Then we re-colored them in the right hues.

I know the teacher can look him right in the face and spout precise instructions but he will still be thinking about the awesome centaur with the upper-body of a tyrannosaurus rex that he drew for me and miss every word she says. I am proud of him. It will be his interests that drive him through life, not discipline. I can mull over a thousand times in my own life when I dealt with these same issues. I made a career of drawing pictures and writing stories which had nothing to do with my schoolwork aside from providing an escape from rows of heads hanging over desks and hags in front of chalk boards.

School may not be the easiest beast he'll encounter but it's easy enough. We dress him cool to give him an edge. He was in line to bat with some kids from his t-ball team and they were crashing their helmets together. Ethan bellowed, "I'm a pachycephalosaurus!" The other kids seemed confused but smiled and continued the head-bashing. It's ridiculous that knowledge will separate you and make it more difficult for others to accept you.

My son may be doomed to my runaway mind, destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, but I seem to do alright. Better than that, I never received guidance from my parents or learned the ancient reptiles and the attributes they used to survive so I fully expect him to go well beyond anything I've achieved.

There is comfort in seeing myself in his stare. Here in Utah, people like to speak a lot about the value of eternal life. I see myself in my son and I'm aware that I pull many of my dad's faces, despite the absence of his presence throughout my childhood. They are probably the same faces made by a brown-skinned man weaving a fishing net or hacking out a redwood canoe alongside a river hundreds of years ago. That man is alive in my son. He probably did not think much about his teachers either. He was probably thinking of floating on the water during the next salmon run. Or even picturing a winged monster dropping out of the sky, breathing fire. There is no doubt of the lineage. Stop staring up for heaven and take a look at your kids. It's your chance to live forever.