Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Tap Into the Power

What makes the muskrat guard his musk? I think that was courage. What I'm talking about is much more effective than courage: It's something I will call "pesterverence." When I was leaving a job interview the other day, "Larry the Owner" told me he could see that I was persistent and that he liked that. Hopefully, enough that he will offer me the job when the interviews have been completed.

It is good for people to remember the importance of this quality. It's what gave The Little Engine the ability to "could." It's the trick to being one of the freaks in the Guinness Book of World Records. And it's made it possible for guys nerdier than me to wrangle girls ten times their better into marraige all throughout time.

It's how my wife motivates me to paint the kitchen or take out the trash. It's the logic behind telemarketing, which we have every reason to believe will be around forever. So get out there and squeak, you shiny brass wheels, and all the grease from that nasty tube protruding from the outerwall of your favorite fast food joint is sure to be your reward.

I love the dialogue from the end of an episode of "The Simpsons":

Bill Clinton: "...Thank you, Lisa, for teaching kids everywhere a valuable lesson: If things don't go your way, just keep complaining until your dreams come true."

Marge: "That's a pretty lousy lesson."

Bill Clinton: "Hey, I'm a pretty lousy president."

I Believe You Can Get Me Through the Night

Now that I'm not working an ungodly shift I have time to sleep and eat regularly. I feel a lot better and I've even started dreaming again. But I've recently realized how annoying dreaming has always been to me. Once it gets to the point that I'm consciously aware of my dream something really annoying happens. For instance, I realized I was dreaming and I was standing on a mountain road beside a lake. Once I became aware of this, a mountain lion began attacking me. I would drive him off but he would return again and again. Sometimes I dream I'm at a river with snakes all around; on the beach, in the trees, swimming in the water. The other night I dreamed I was walking on the street near my house and gangsters started chasing me. I ran and jumped from a steep hillside, over a barbed-wire fence and had to make a rough sliding landing. That's another common theme: falling off cliffs. I dream of really high, steep escalators, or things like driving off a cliff and being trapped in a car, hundreds of feet below the surface of the water. Dream analysts can tell me what they think of this, but I'm not likely to take the responses to heart. Just like I won't believe my teeth-grinding is stress-related: We were in Hawaii for a week with a thousand dollars more than we planned and my wife said I was still grinding away. My five and two year old both grind their teeth in their sleep as well.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What Makes the Redman Red?

1. Were the Cherokee people the sexiest people of all time? Any time I get into a conversation about being Indian, without fail, "person B" will bring up about how they are part-cherokee. Then a rusty gear in their brain tries to turn and they mumble about fractions until smoke comes out of their ears and the conversation finally dissipates. I'm always tempted to ask if it's one of those romantic tales of "soldier pillages village" or if some mountain man bought himself a squaw. But to corroborate all of these cherokee bloodlines, either there was some "noble savage" out there who made Don Juan look like Quasimodo (doesn't seem likely) or the Cherokee people had a sexual draw unrivaled by any group aside from the cast of Baywatch. While I would like to believe that is true, it seems that the whole Trail of Tears incident would have been avoided had they actually possessed irresistable come-hither looks. What I'm saying is, unless there is more to the story than "you think your grandma once told you there was cherokee blood in there somewhere" you should just assume nobody cares. And, if there is a group of caucasian people out there with NO cherokee blood in your lines, then you must be the smallest minority group in the land.

2. People also like to ask me: Do you feel like the government owes you and your people retribution? The answer is: Of course they do. Do I expect it to happen? No. Am I willing to let it all go? Yes, at the exact moment when it seems like anything has changed since 400 years ago.

I had a college history teacher who tried to sum up the genocidal use of smallpox that wiped out 90% of this continents indigenous people as a fair trade for the syphilis contracted by those first pilgrims. You may think it would be easy to decline a wagon-load of toxic blankets in a bitter-cold winter but just you try to kill an Indian without first making sexual contact. Brother, it ain't easy. A surprising number of people (including my brother's college professor) seem to think stealing land is justified because "the indians weren't using it" ie. they didn't survey, fence or create arbitrary boundaries the way white people did. They committed the horrendous crime of "they didn't do what we would do." They dared to be different. But if you have a set of golf clubs sitting in your basement collecting dust, does that give me the right take them and seek out my fortune? No. I would go to jail if I did that. I've also heard people try to argue that the Indians had a really bad quality of life (I guess to the extent that they were better off being wiped out? What are you getting at, people who argue this?).

Essentially, government agencies scoured the land for property they could not put to good use (often considered uninhabitable) and fenced the Indians in. At gunpoint in the beginning. Always the promise of a decent place to live, always the delivery of the opposite in most cases. Then the huge blunder of not checking that given land for things like gold and uranium. Now they have to take it back. What's that called again? But that continues on to this very day. People always like to think of it as ancient history. It's not. It was at the heart of the event that sent Leonard Peltier to prison and it is still going on.

I can think of at least one prominent religion that tells a story of how Indians descended from a shady character and God made their skin dark as a punishment for their unfortunate heritage. You can justify that to yourself however you like, but it still boils down to straight-up racism. Anyone who believes that skin-color correlates to sin and unholiness should also be bold enough to see themselves for what they are. An institute that expects people to cast off their culture to obtain God's gift of "pureness" is a culture destroying machine. If you can think of some political party from history that tried to wipe out an entire culture based purely on racial differences, then using that party in comparison to what I just described may be an apt analogy.

Indians are virtually invisible to television and movies. "Networks received criticism because there are not enough shows featuring blacks and hispanics." It's common news. How many shows can you think of with a primary Indian character? That "Spirit" guy from G.I. Joe cartoons? I would like to think he wasn't some kind of stereotype but, if my memory serves, I have never seen any Indian walk around with a 15 pound bald eagle perched on their shoulder. No, the Indians on TV are always the mystic type, ready with the peyote, who know the secrets of the dreamcatchers, and who can get "Walker, Texas Ranger" his mojo back. Or they are mean "Injun Joe" -types. And this articles namesake, "Disney's Peter Pan": Back when racism was still fun, the golden age when Disney could release Song of the South in its full version, including the short "Coal Black and de sebben dwarfs." They seem to embrace it with the musical number "What makes the redman red?" and point-blank lines like "the indian is cunning but not intelligent." Priceless. We have a copy. One year, a german engineer could be giving people the mustard gas and the next the same guy could be designing Tomorrow Land at the happiest place on earth.

The most press Indians seem to get is jokes about casinos. How many times will a joke about losing money to a casino be funny? Not to mention, most Indian casinos are masterminded and brought into being by people like Donald Trump and other established non-Indian casino owners.

I am not saying Indians are perfect and I mean to take them to task on a great many issues. For one, success with casinos has started a trend of tribes axing their own people from the tribal roles for the sake of cutting checks to less people. That is a big issue to me and I'll say much more about it later. I say all of these things for the same reason I blogged about France. If a solution is to be found, the actual problem needs to be discussed.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Jumping Beans

The kids like to put pillows in their shirts and use each other as punching bags. They usually don't wait for me to find a pillow for myself.

Captain, My Captain

Today I outlined the gameplan to the kids so I could get to a job interview. At the conclusion I asked, "Do you understand?" To which Ethan quickly responded, "Yes, SIR."

If I had trained him to do that it would have been impressive. Since I've never used that word IN MY LIFE it was like getting a Father-of-the-Year award. Proof positive that my priorities are straight: Kids first, then education, jobs and the other tripe of life.

Without kids, I would be stuck, much like Sir-Mixalot, assigning the title to myself. Which I'm sure is hardly as gratifying. But instead, I earned it, like Sir Mixalot earned all those gold records. I'm sure there is tremendous pressure being born with a name like "Mixalot" to become either an MC or a baker of fine pastries. Either profession is fitting for a guy who likes big butts.

So I've got the respect. Now... if I could just let my family eat that.

Dreams Are For Those Asleep In Bed

I really want to write something for everyone tonight but I need to sleep. And you all have my official consent to start celebrating the yuletide.

Tragic: Granny Poonanny

I wasn't going to do this character but I couldn't resist after Gordon's colorful christening. I meant to add a chihuahua head protruding from the purse but the picture already took longer than I liked.

Due to a calcium deficiency and brittle bones, Granny has a very low hit-point value. However, she does have a discombobulating effect on all men and possibly some women.

Catch phrase: This Kitty's still got eight lives (*claws at the air with manicured nails*)

Age defying, my swollen prostate!

Please also see Slimysculpin's contribution to the game.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Oh, For Yesteryears

These are postcards printed in Germany in 1909. Apparently they saw an opening in the market and got dollar signs in their eyes. It would appear the darkest Thanksgivings occurred sometime between the first one and now. But I'm glad that Indians have been invited back to the table, even if it means they have to rent a costume from a halloween shop or get on some ceremonial garb.

Lifting Your Esteem

We were watching one of those "weekly review" shows (highlights from various other shows) the other day. I've never seen the "Tyra Banks Show" but they were showing a clip. I'm not sure what types of issues Tyra usually deals with but on this show she was intent on abolishing rumors that her breasts were not real. To do so, she brought in an OBGYN to do a "feel test" and a mammogram, which I guess would reveal any synthetic material.

First thing first, she reached under her t-shirt and unclasped her bra. At this point my wife's fist shot up in the air and she loosed a triumphant, "Yes!!!" After a bout of laughter I asked, "Of all the things we see on television, why did that get you worked up enough to shout?"

Eleanor said, "Didn't you see how far her boobs fell? Mine are big but they don't sink like that."
Me: "So you're happy you have better boobs than Tyra Banks?"
Eleanor: "Yes."

It was a bad day for Tyra Banks. And compared to Eleanor, the model's personality is twice as droopy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tragic: Pitbull Man

Pitbull Man:

His hit-points are "moderate" but he is also protected by a "Shield of Obliviousness." Oblivious to the whereabouts of his dog. Oblivious that the Dark Lord grants him more power with each soul delivered to Hades by the jaws of his demon dog. Good grief, why can't he just have a normal dog like everyone else?

Tragic: The Blathering

I've recently decided to create my own "reality-based" Pokemon/Magic: The Gathering -type card game. I'm spending about 10 minutes per picture in the "paint" program so don't expect renaissance material here.

This first character, I will dub "Yeah-Boy!"

His maximum hit-points directly correlate to his father's credit limit; pretty high.

His catch-phrase is: "Where da party at?"
He is comfortable wearing pink because fashion gurus have convinced him it's "IN."
He will always back down from a fight and yet is invincible as he is bound to evolve into "Corporate Yes-Man," raking in six figures at a "friend-of-the-family" business.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

J.Crew's Alternate Universe

This is J.Crew's Deerskin "Trapper" with coyote trim. At $525 a piece and winter weather expected to traipes in sometime in the near future, they are bound to sell out fast. J. Crew may have their finger on the pulse of woman's fashion, however, for the men, their wares are not up to snuff.

First, I will start by letting the cat out of the bag to the J. Crew executives: Your designers are only PRETENDING to be gay. The proof is in the bad color schemes, the "toggle" fasteners on the coats, the whole "use an ugly tie as a belt idea." Beyond that, you can't pitch to your market the idea of "I don't care how I look as long as I'm comfortable" and then expect guys to pay over $20 for a t-shirt. J. Crew's pre-ripped jeans sell for $130. I could get them for half that at the mall assuming I had any problem ruining my jeans by myself. I find $2 shirts at Old Navy all the time.

On the positive side: I do enjoy drawing on the models in the J. Crew catalog with a ball point pen. Also, my mother bought me a sweater from a J. Crew outlet store just north of Denver. My wife and I went to a hamburger place and some lady made a B-line across the diner. Without regard for my wife hanging on my arm, she grabs the other and says "Oh, my gosh! Is that the J. Crew roll-neck sweater? It is SO refreshing to see a guy who knows how to dress!" I won't say it wasn't totally creepy, but that WAS the first and only time that has ever happened to me. Get it together, J. Crew.

Granny: Hot or Not?

Is it happening more and more that you are standing in line at the grocery store or at a burrito place and you just get a general sense of the people around you, only to find that someone you thought to be a girl of 20 or so whips around and her face has more wrinkles than the Sahara Desert?

I'm not putting them down. I applaud these ladies for reclaiming their lives in the later years and striving to be how they see themselves. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they are not having a midlife crisis (unless they follow it up with botox, a boob job, skin peels and all that).

Maybe it's something local to my area, but it is starting to seem that the grandmas are starting to take care of themselves better than the youngsters do. Then they put on the "juicy couture" clothes, lipstick in a shade of pink you would think only a teen would wear and that's where the boggling of my mind begins. I think I will appreciate this issue more in about 25 years.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Short Story Update

Okay, so the first short story I wrote may have been a couple lines short of a satisfying ending. I didn't say these are ready for publication. I'm looking for feedback, people. I put up another story at that same page. Please give it a chance:

Passing of an Era: II

Look at me in that last picture. That boy has cut his hair for the sake of job hunting. He's hung up the "Faith No More" T-shirt and the Big Green coat. I rarely complain about my teenage years. But that was a dream I lived years ago and so must go other antiquated pieces from my youth.

As I'm writing this, I wonder at what I'm doing. I've already raved about the minivan and now I'm about to dis' my beloved first car. When I was 15, I took my friends and parents to Vernal and we bought this car in original condition for $500. We cranked over the engine and out blew a burst of white feathers. I took it home and it sat in my garage for years. I forced my friends to help me sand it. I put in new carpet, seat covers, headliner and CD player. When I was 18 I bought decent wheels and tires and had a skilled painter spray on layer after layer till the body was in show quality.

It's been to California and Washington and back again. Never a shortage of adventures, usually beginning with a mechanical ailment; "we overheated outside Elko, Nevada due to a faulty radiator cap..." "the fuel pump physically broke on a rural highway outside Gold Beach, Oregon...".

No women have ever physically thrown themselves at me to get closer to my car. Some girls in college described it as "cute" and I was millimeters from denying them a ride to the store. Mostly car dudes or old men chase you down to "talk shop."

I would never regret buying the car. It is from the golden age of pissed-off and beautiful american automobiles. But now I am a family guy with three kids and an elegant wife. My first car gets next to no use and watching it sit in the driveway is like watching your kid slowly die of cancer. The windshield is scratched from the wiper. My sister-in-law lost the key to the trunk. Some guys at a Jiffy Lube in Elko skewed the hood. The paint is now shot and the rust is coming back. Some guy pulled onto a busy street without looking and broke the cars nose. Someone keyed the fender; but I'm sure he craves the violent death that is certainly coming his way. Maybe it doesn't look that bad in the top picture but when you have things to hide, the darkness is your friend.

I have tried to keep the car up but it requires a lot of attention. I paid $1000 for a transmission rebuild. Now, a month later, if you go out and turn the key, absolutely nothing happens. I put in a new starter and a new battery but haven't remedied the problem. I really don't have time or a place for it anymore. I will probably end up putting it on eBay in the next week or two for just the amount I paid to repair the transmission. There is a sad side to it, but life doesn't wait or slow down for anyone. You just have to keep moving. In the grand scheme of things, it's just a car.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Passing of an Era: I

The picture: On the left is my younger brother, Joel. Next to him is my older sister, May (sorry, if you don't like the picture May :). That girl in the front is my sister's ex-sister-in-law. On the right is me at the tender age of 17.

I searched through a lot of pictures and, sorry, this is the best I could find to pay homage to a wonderful jacket. First I called it the "20 pound coat." One plastic hanger is not enough; best use two hangers or the one will snap and the coat will be on the floor. Nowadays I call it Big Green or The Big Green Coat.

I know that I am in a transitional place in my life, as far as careers, kids, houses, all that. Moreso, I have already decided that after this year I will retire Big Green.

My wife hates the coat. Hates. It's a military issue coat, from the tag: Jacket, Flying, Man's. I'm sure the coat is older than I am. My stepfather acquired the coat, used, when I was about 16. Already retired from military duty. But as such it was meant to perform. You can abuse it and it will be ready to go again tomorrow for years on end. Someone could shiv you in an alley, you would need one stitch, the coat would take five. Wouldn't it be cool during the design of all clothes, if the taylor stopped every couple of minutes to ask "Now where can we fit MORE bullets?" How about four tiny pockets on the sleeve? Watch out, enemies of democracy! Wool pockets up high, giant chambers down low. Dual chambers that would rival any woman's purse for storage.

When I wear Big Green I understand why girls chase and marry men with money. It is impossible to be cold in the embrace, even while building a snowcave. In school, the coat is a fortress. You can drift into slumber and Big Green will hold you as rigid as the most alert notetaker. If someone breaks your heart and your stepping off a bus, considering collapsing in the street, you can do it. It won't hurt or be uncomfortable, even if you're on rocks or in a puddle. At my torturous place of employment I used the coat as a physical shield. Tried to block out my horrible reality.

Today the coat is stained and torn. The wrists were shredded by the sharp metal edges of my snowboard during years of back country riding. The edges are ragged like cut-off jeans.

So this is Big Green's last winter and life will never be the same again.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


My thumbs have blisters on them from raking up the leaves in our yard without gloves. We did the whole thing where the kids came out and jumped in the pile and then, 6 days before the next garbage day, I loaded up our garbage cans with Mother Nature's litter from her annual autumn ticker-tape parade. I scared our neighbors "free-range" bunny, Cuddles, to death with the rake. The neighbor kids say he is an "indoor rabbit" but he always escapes. He lives in our backyard. He loiters around our bunny hutch. Don't feel bad for our rabbits. When they escape they just hang around the outside of their cage anyway.

We woke up this morning and ate some Clementines and watched "Home Alone" on TV. Eleanor cooked a roast using some seasoning Gordon gave me at work. Speaking of work, I applied for a job yesterday filling fire-extinguishers. The place was full of good ol' boys, but overall, they were harmless and I think I would enjoy working there. The way I draw the odds, in a storehouse full of fun-loving people and fire-extinguishers with the chemicals used to charge them you are bound to have one really, really exciting day per year OR a mildly exciting day at work every other day. When I went to the office to apply, I was greeted by a secretary who was not particularly cute or particularly "hot" but she seemed to think she was and she wore a shirt which revealed a lot of the terrain between her neck and her belly button. She told me she was going to continue vacuming while I wrote out my life story on the application. When her boss came in I missed whatever gesture he made but she replied with "Mine are better... and they're REAL." Then a scuffle ensued. The secretary complained about her boots being scuffed. The boss paged someone by the name "Army Man." Army Man showed up right away. He was a thin guy, younger than me and he joined in the mirth-making. Then there was a lot of talk about repairing dry-wall. Hey. I do drywall.

I actually took all of this as a good sign. At my last job we were getting pulled aside everyother day, interrogated with questions like "Have you ever heard the term 'golfing' used in a derogatory way? How about 'opening the umbrella'? 'stirring the pot'? 'embracing the mongoose'?" It seems much healthier to be in an environment where adults can be immature without the world coming to an end. The boss said they had not had many impressive applicants and that I would probably be back for interviews next week. He even made fun of me for quitting my job before I had another lined up. It was great.

Lookalikes II

That last entry was long, so I spared you my spiel on how we ended the 20th century saturated in Jane Austin films and the question of whether or not a new "Pride and Prejudice was necessary.

I also thought I would take a personal spin on the topic. My wife has been going nuts about how we hung out with a movie star a few weeks ago and she wants me to tell everyone. She thinks people will find it very interesting. I have my doubts but I can work it into this story. We'll see what you think.

Throughout my life I have been plagued by people who like to play "which celebrity do you resemble?" People always tell me I look like Lou Diamond Phillips. I attribute this to the lack of famous native americans, aside from "extras" in "The Last of the Mohicans" or "Dances with Wolves." But it seems to come up over and over. My cousin Dena. Our children's pediatrician. My sister-in-law, who brought it up during our visit with Joan Allen (you may know her as that CIA director in The Bourne Supremacy or as the "mom" in Pleasantville). It was most disturbing because Joan Allen did agree; me and Lou Diamond Phillips, two peas in a pod. If you would like to make your own decision then scroll down or check my blog "archives" for "I Walk the Thinnest Line."

Joan Allen is playing a mormon in an upcoming movie. It sounds kind of like "Thelma and Louise" only with prudes instead of Gena Davis, Susan Sarandon and Brad Pitt. So she was hanging out with my in-laws to see how mormons live. Either she is skilled at the art of acting or she genuinely is well-mannered, attentive and polite. I guess she deserves accolades either way. We jokingly asked her to sign our Bourne Supremacy DVD case right over Matt Damon's face, which she did. And it did strike me as odd that she acted deeply interested in my story before I could even set it up when I described a film I participated in about vampires in the old west. The movie was going to blow the lid off the entire genre but never came to fruition due to differences between the writer and director. I didn't have any lines aside from the moaning during my two death scenes.

I would post a picture of us with Joan Allen but that would just be an admission that I thought we were cool or something.

Celebrity Lookalikes

There is some comedian that says "have you ever noticed that when someone says their friend looks like a celebrity, the friend looks like that celebrity except uglier?" This bit isn't about regular everyday jackasses trying to look like celebrities. It's about celebrities that seem to replace other celebrities.

For instance, Christian Slater is the Jack Nicholson for my generation. It seems to be the consensus as Christian Slater commonly makes jokes to that effect. You may be so bold as to say that Ben Folds is the new Elton John, that lame Oasis band seems to think they're The Beetles despite never producing a good album, Gwen Stefani is on target to be the next Madonna whereas Courtney Love seems to offer a consistent rendition of "Madonna on crack" (Don't go there, Material Girlfriend). Maybe Jim Carrey is the new Jerry Lewis, Al Franken is the closest we have to a new Will Rogers, and John Travolta is our new John Travolta just pudgier and with more wrinkles.

The television, as usual, assumes we are morons and creates shows like "Ed" (?, the bowling alley lawyer show?) with a star who looks remarkably like Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and "Bones" stars a heroine who looks suspiciously like Amy Poehler who delivers news on "Saturday Night Live," who replaced Jimmy Fallon who followed a little too close borrowing Adam Sandler's flava'. The "obvious subliminalism" of look-alike casting coupled with annoying show titles like "Joan of Arcadia" or "The Ghost Whisperer" is insulting in that networks will not void from their rectums anything that they are not convinced the general audience (you and me) already has some familiarity with.

As a further aside, Hollywood has been complaining about a drop off in year over year profits based on box-office ticket sales. My advice: Stop burying us in crappy Big Screen remakes of movies or shows that were not good to begin with! All of this simply leads me to believe that Orwell was correct with his idea that all of our "best" fiction will soon be written by machines maintained by some mediocre chic from the "Junior Anti-Sex League" in the "pornography department." Everyone seems to think "Harry Potter" is the greatest thing since "The Butthole Surfers" but all I see is ripped themes and icons. Subtract the influences of Roald Dahl's charm and Dickens-like scenarios and borrow elements from the movie "Labyrinth" except without the music of David Bowie or Jennifer Connelly's majestic presence and what is left: Some overhyped, overly-lucky nerd with a tacky lightning bolt on his forehead.

With that said, this all stems from me blurting out: "Oh, that girl again! She's just trying to be the new Winona Ryder. But she's not!"

Sure, Winona Ryder may be a pill-popping, shoplifter but that doesn't vaporize her accomplishments. Admittedly, I watched "Beetle Juice" a few too many times as a kid. Winona has earned her spot in my psyche. The seat is full. Get your own seat. Do you hear me, KEIRA KNIGHTLEY? Until I can see you and not mistake you for Ms. Ryder you're out in the cold.

It also doesn't help that Knightley's breakout role was opposite Johnny Depp in that "Pirate" Movie. Anyone who has religiously read People magazine for the past 20 years knows that Frenchie from Jump Street is Winona's beau. It's Johnny and Winona Forever! Like Edward Scissorhands. You may be saying, "NO, KIERA WAS WITH LEGOLAS!" Everyone knows that guy is losing his edge and that Depp was the big star of that movie and the one Knightley would most like to be hunkered down with. Legolas was about as manly as an androgynous elf could be in The Rings. Then that guy was less manly but okay in The Pirates and then a big wuss in the cool brazen man-meat film "Troy" and now he recently just gave in completely to do that gushy tennis movie? See how I won't even bother to research names here? That guy has some work to do to get back in good stead.

So, Knightley.... haircuts and big peepers and standing by "her" man don't gain you Winona's awards. Get out there and be somebody.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Wiz Kidz

Ethan was upset because the kids at school kept telling him there was no such thing as a Sea Dragon. They look pretty real to me you snot-nosed punks! And they all seem to think my kid has problems learning.

Discriminating Taste

"Are there any pretty girls in your class, Ethan?"

"No. They don't have noses like 7's (or L's)."

The boy knows what he's looking for.

Thinking Longterm

After you've had your kids, a good "Book of Baby Names" can be used for crushing spiders in your basement. This thought should occur to you in the bookstore.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

ABC Your Way Out of It

"What did you say?"

From the mouth of our two year old: "I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to Eric. (Turns to Eric) We went to the Scarecrow Festival, Eric."

Okay then.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

No Sympathy for the Devil

This is a message of encouragement for people to share and burn CDs (and DVDs for that matter). If america's oil and oil related corporations did not already control our political system they may be jealous of our countries "music industry." Why? For one thing, there is an infinite amount of "new" music. The same cannot be said of fossil fuels. And while gas companies are posting record profits, the markup on the music we buy, likely, blows it away.

First, the high-ball price I've heard for producing a store-ready CD is under $1.50. A few years ago I read it was about $.87 but it's difficult to find an accurate number. It is probably safe to assume the music industry pays about the same cost to produce and distribute their CDs as regular people pay to purchase a generic blank CD at retail cost. Regardless, the price of a CD has never seemed to dropped for consumers from the time CDs first became available for purchase. Most CDs sit in stores, marked from $13-20 for a rough profit of 1300-2000%. Worse, businesses like "iTunes" (Apple) are now selling music online. Original prices were $.99 a song or $9.99 per album. Now they are discussing raising these prices, up to $15 for an album.

Consumers were already getting screwed, now we are not even being provided a concrete product, yet we are still being charged the same screw-job price. In a logical world, repeatedly sending out copies of specific files via computer would lower the price. Instead, they seem to support the gouging taking place in music stores in hopes of raking in the green stuff. A price increase by iTunes seems to suggest the industry does not fear consumers sharing music, even to goad them to do so.

Not to mention that the artists we hold so dear see very little money from these sales. Maybe a dollar or two. Most musicians make money filling stadiums on cross-country tours. And the bigger an artist gets, the more they themselves become a product. Look at Mariah Carey: She signed a four album / $80 million contract with Virgin records (subsidiary of EMI, who appear to be very bad at their business). Her first album with the label sold 2 million copies (The Math: $10 profit per album times 2 million CDs sold applied to four albums equals "breaking even"). Compared to the 20 million copies of her best selling album ever, this was a bad sign and the company bought their way out of the contract. Mariah went to a psychiatric clinic. All those greed-driven numbers looked good on paper, but then the sad fact that Mariah is human and not some lab-created, silicone-injected, dolphin/underwear model hybrid spoiled the deal. Metallica Inc. sues Napster Inc.. The bulb in Britney's head gets a surge of electricy and she almost realizes she's been used.

Someone, please! Teach musicians an effective way to market and distribute their own CDs so we can all stop feeding these corporate pigs. Until this happens or the industry sets more reasonable prices, please burn burn burn your own discs. And don't fall for the Hollywood commercials trying to grab at your heartstrings saying tool-guys can't afford to eat if you burn their DVDs. If they can afford $20 million for Tom Cruise, they can pay the little guys who put the movie together.

Bootlegs from China may pose a small threat (how many do you own? probably none unless its anime. freak.). But in my experience burning CDs has actually worked in the favor of the corporation: A friend burned a CD for me, I liked it and bought a legit version for my sister and recommended the CD to several acquaintances who I know to have bought it. The band is now better known and burning the one CD generated 3 or more legitimate sales.

The Risk of Doing Something

One nice thing about being unemployed is that you don't need to worry about telling people or making excuses when you get sick. It is likely that I played the part of the "host" to communal sicknesses when I walked around shaking hands in the freezing rain selling coupons. Now we have a houseful of sniffleheads.

And somehow, despite being unemployed, I have worn a dress shirt and tie practically every day this week. There's something wrong here. I'm not playing the role of "slacker" very well. Jerry Seinfeld was right. It is very hard to do "nothing." The temptation to do something is overwhelming.

Give It a Shot

I've mentioned how I like to write short stories. Let's give it a try and post one. I only want to go through the trouble of posting these if people read them. So please read them. Whether you like it or hate it, please drop me an email or leave a comment here so I can get an idea if this is something people would like to see. First story can be read at:


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Spoiler Alert

"What did you do in school today, Ethan?"
"We looked at letters. Z was the last one."

It made me laugh when he said it. It's right up there with his "B is for Bebra" comment from when he was two.

Smashing Like Fists On the Ground

Here in Utah, the local "Fox" television affiliate has been rubbing our faces with a frightening blurb about the Great Salt Lake seismically rising against us in the form of a tsunami. Before you fall down trembling in fear, I would like to point out that Utah is a very boring place. Once things like explosions in the Middle East, Whitehouse scandal and school shootings have become common place, it becomes the duty of our local stations to come up with terrifying "what if" stories. "The Big One" earthquake stories are a local favorite. Big earthquake? That's been overdone. Big earthquake sending a tidal wave like God's angry fist into Utah's greatest cities? Now we're cooking with fire... or at least a hotplate... maybe set to "low."

First, the Great Salt Lake has an average depth of 10-20 feet. It has been substantially lower in recent years to the point that good ol' boys have to be discouraged from tearing up the dried lake bed in their pickup trucks. The whole "Salt Lake Tsunami" headline reads like a recent caption I saw in The Onion: "Philadelphia completely unprepared for full-scale zombie invasion." But I looked into it anyway. It appears that after all those people died last year in the tsunami in asia, the Deseret News jumped on the Scare-Train and printed an article about a "tsunami" that occurred in Utah in 1909:,1249,600102118,00.html

There is also a link to original articles from 1909 within that article. Here are some notable lines:

"A cat was so frightened it jumped from the Saltair building into the lake and did not reappear." That may not sound so bad, but that cat probably had an OWNER. Or at least someone who fed it. Think about it.

"...lake water is so dense with brine that it packs more wallop than ordinary sea water." It's like some kind of super-water from another planet!

"A geologist named Mike Low wrote that the old wooden railroad trestle was 12 feet above the lake's surface, meaning the waves had to be higher than that." Only to be rebuttled with, "I have to admit that seems pretty high to me for a magnitude 6 quake, but that's all the information we have, really," said Jim Pechmann, seismologist with the University of Utah Seismograph Stations. "...I think the height estimate may be right, (or) maybe it was exaggerated." Way to take a stand there, Jim.

(link) "Dr. Pack, in a statement to The News this morning, said: ...If such a disturbance as this should visit this region again, I am sure that not a house would be left standing in this valley." Does it take a rocket scientist to scare us right? Don't worry, he took it upon himself to notify the public, shouting it where every red-blooded american with two brain cells goes to get his news: "Prof. Pack said that he would have at the fair tonight records of last night's earthquake shocks for general distribution." Go out with a bang, Salt Lake City.

(link) "The birds were shaken out of the trees..." I would stake my life that at least some of those birds jumped, or even soared, of their own free will.

(link) "One lady became so frightened that she ran a couple of blocks to the home of a relative, clad in her night clothes only." Skank. She knew what she was doing.

(link) "Rifles leaning against walls fell down and in the shop of the Signal corps a row of bluestone batteries was shaken from a shelf and upset." Okay, so this happened in an armory, but the part about rifles sounds so Utah. And what is more disturbing than the idea of batteries being upset?

(link) "As far as can be learned no extensive damage was done." That pretty much sums it up. Be afraid, Utah. Be very afraid. The list goes on and on. Lights flickered. Clocks stopped. Water spilled over the edge of the basin. Gossipy telephone operators had to be restrained. Hotel residents had to be calmed by "sauve employees."

This sensationalized bit of "news" sounds as fun as a run through the sprinkler. We won't talk about valid topics of concern, like the dam above Heber City being a little pile of rocks nestled in the nook of a large fault. Why not? Because we like splashing in our reservoir, you nay-saying liberal filth! Let's stick with the made up stuff.

The thing is, natural disaster is not the kind of attention you want, Utah. It sounds exciting to be in the spotlight and to be looked at as brave, strong survivors but, no, you will regret it. There is reason to believe that some poor souls will eventually catch the wave but where and when? Tune in at 9pm. Fox 13 News.

Step Right Up, Let's Make a Deal

Natalie called me from the "advertising" office first thing this morning. She had a contagious excitement about my "second interview" and she wanted to make sure I was awake and as stoked as everyone else in the office. I got dressed and went. After I signed a paper saying my participation for the next 9 hours was voluntary and that I had no expectation of being paid, I met my direct competitor. He was looking sharp in a full suit and tie. I was wearing a polo shirt but Natalie said that would be fine. My competitor was pleasant. He was surprised that I learned about the job from the newspaper as opposed to being referred to the job by "Rich" who, apparently was very successful at this work, but closed up his local office to seek greener pastures.

Then the door to a meeting room burst open and tens of sharp dressed go-getters sprang forth. They pulled my competitor into the room and matched him up with a "top-performer" and wished him luck in beating the pants off me. "There can be only one," they said. Not really, but close enough. Then they took me in and gave the exact same pep talk. They said Josh was last weeks most successful seller and I would be following him (That's right, Sales. Gordon called it. That boy's wicked smahrt). They said 90% of the decision to hire me would be based on Josh's assessment of me. I said, "So I need to slip him some money?" Everyone laughed, good and hard, and I knew I would never have any respect for any of them.

We carpooled in a clunky Buick. There's something about being in a crowd of smartly dressed people racing away in a parade of hoop-d cars that makes your stomach hurt. Josh quizzed me about my sales knowledge. Where do you think is a good place to reach potential customers? Hmm, the shopping malls? I asked. Where else, would you think? It depends on what you're selling, I said. We were nearly to Provo when he said, Let me show you. Then he pulls from a green backpack a thick book of discount coupons. I almost started laughing right in his face. I already felt at a disadvantage as I am not a wheelchair basketball player, like the people that have come to my door selling these. Are we going door to door with these? I asked. Yes. I knew they wouldn't turn the car around for me so I tried to roll with it. I mentioned that Natalie had said we would be meeting "clients" and "regrouping" for lunch. Josh said that "clients" were the people at their houses and lunch consisted of getting some french fries while we filled the car with gas.

We drove past a strip mall housing many of the coupon providers and chose a neighborhood not far away. I was amazed to see the seriousness these coupon peddlers attributed their station in life. Josh told me that as last weeks top seller, he brought in over $900 for the period. He also told me they worked 9 hours a day, 6 days a week. I asked about "benefits" and he genuinely looked as though he had never thought about it.

As we drove, Matt pointed to a house and said, "I spoke to the person in that house and they said they wanted two books. $40 each." I asked, "do you guys do phone sales, too?" Matt said, "I was joking." Will said, "I work with you a lot and hardly knew you were joking. You need to spice that shit up." Matt and Will dropped us off in a church parking lot under a deluge of freezing rain and blustery wind. They said under the special circumstances of Josh having an "interview" today (me), we would take an umbrella. The first lady unfortunate enough to be outside by her car was kind and donated an old broken umbrella with Seurat's Grand Jatte printed atop it to our wonderful cause so we wouldn't need to share one. Mostly old people are home during the day. Everyone was relatively nice. A lot of people wanted to share their sob stories, to which Josh interjected "thank you!" and practically ran off the porch. There was a tense moment when we approached a house at the same time as a group of Jehova's Witnesses. Double whammy! They asked us if we were missionaries. I had a feeling if we gave the wrong answer there would be a rumble for the turf.

It was about an hour of walking in the rain before I told Josh that the company had not been upfront about what the work was and that it was a waste of time for me to be tagging along with him. I called my wife and instructed her to drive to some vague coordinates in Provo (as I had no idea where we were). I'm sure there was talk at the office, long after dark, about how I couldn't hack it. Be my guest. You are indeed a special breed. If I were to be the entrepreneur they wanted, I would probably assemble my own book of coupons, give 8% of the profit to a nonprofit organization and hire my own group of dream-fed youngsters to do the dirty work. But I don't like to treat people like dirt. Any good entrepreneur sells a good product and doesn't show up unannounced on people's doorsteps. My last job wore me down and I no longer place any value in empty promises, like promotions, like career college, dating phone lines, anything featured in an informercial and so forth.

I've been talking to my mother's cousin, who owns a construction company. It has been in the family for years. Coincidentally, at the time I quit my job, he fired an office manager. He would like to hire someone in the family. It pays substantially more than my last job. The main dilemma is that it may start right away, meaning I would need to move to California right away. My family is not quite prepared for that. We will have to wait and see how things pan out.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Someone In the Club, Tonight, Has Stolen My Idea

Gordon accused me of ripping off "King of the Hill" about three entries back. I was mostly just thinking about polyps after a conversation with my mother. I did see that episode of King of the Hill where Hank goes in for a colonoscopy. I don't remember a strong video game theme. Regardless, I do see the similarity and won't say its impossible that scenes from that show were fresh in the back of my mind. If great minds aren't just thinking alike then I am happy to be borrowing from the best.

It's hard to stay original these days and you never really know if you are or not. I distinctly remember being a kid and thinking about "roller blades" and shocks on bicycles. I assumed adults had written them off as bad ideas. But no, here they are and who knows who came up with the idea? Another idea I had is pivoting bucket seats for better cornering in cars, but we'll see if that materializes.

Learning is based on imitation. Until I think of something genuinely original I will take a tip from "The Gap" and continue to dress like stylish poor kids from the inner-city and rip my guitar riffs from slaves who had everything else taken from them. Why not music too? Then maybe someone will call me the King of Rock and Roll.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Oh, snap!

Global Warming isn't just about changing the sea currents. It also means the flowers in my yard are looking better in mid-November than they have all year.

The Big Picture: Another Dragon

We past a major landmark in "officially" becoming parents: Our first parent teacher conference. Maybe I was lashing out with my rather spontaneous abandonment of my job; combatting adulthood.

The conference went exactly like I described in my very first entry. Ethan is very smart but does not pay attention to the teacher. And he's shy in large groups. The teacher told us this like it may be something we may want to medicate him over. It sounded normal to me. I stand firm: If you don't want a folder full of unrequested dragon pictures then stop giving lame assignments like "draw your clothes."

Eleanor helped out in class a couple weeks ago and told me about one little girl who was a coloring prodigy. She colored every space in solidly and rarely went out of the lines. Of course the teacher chose that girls folder to compare Ethan's to. I don't think the teacher made eye contact with me once, either. She talked to Eleanor like I wasn't in the room. I think any shortcoming Ethan has in school is rooted in her inability to connect with him. The answers are there, she just can't get to them. He was hiding behind us for the entire meeting and wouldn't talk to her.

That's alright. I'm not expecting miracles from the schools. Ethan is learning more words all the time. He came to me and kept repeating R-F-E-E. R-F-E-E, dad. I said, "Are you teasing me?" He said yes. Lesson learned: If freedom is a joke, you may as well have a sense of humor about it.

On Halloween, Ethan wore his ninja costume to school. One of his assignments read "For Halloween I was..." and Ethan wrote "a monster." He drew his costume as a round frowny face, colored green, with a lightning-bolt crack at the top with red crayon coming out. He told me his teacher was an M&M for Halloween. I asked "What color?" When he answered "green" it was everything I could do not to say, "That's the sexy M&M."

Okay, so this isn't really going anywhere. Here are some other notable things that happened this week:

The neighbor's "storage" van got towed under the ordinances the city imposed to run off the poor people. They were able to get their things out. They just piled their junk in the driveway. Their fake Christmas tree was lying in the street like it was January 2006.

I accidentally stepped on a black widow with only a sock on my foot (it didn't bite me). That makes three I've killed just outside of our doors in two years. I wouldn't mind them so much if they would run in fear. They just sit there thinking they're tough or something. Squish!

I quit my job. Every time I say it, it's like the first time. There were some nights I would go on my lunch break and when I'd get in the car my hand, of it's own accord, would raise and flip off the building. When I got home the night I quit I had a similar urge, but I thought "what is the equivalent of giving the world 'the finger' except having it mean something good?" Is there a "life is good" finger that hasn't hit the populace yet?

I put in two job applications today. I had an interview with an advertising agency. They called me for a second interview on Monday. They said the second interview consisted of spending a day with someone, watching them do the work I would be doing to make sure that me and the job are a good fit. The pay varies, but the guy who interviewed me said he made $650 the first week he did it. I'm assuming something will go wrong because no job seems to come without a little suffering first and I haven't suffered yet. But wouldn't that be cool if I made a good transition in under a week? Yes, it would.

A Little Crude, But....

Wouldn't it be a great idea to do a first-person shooter video game called "Polyp Popper" where the hero is a handsome proctologist descending into the catacomb pipework of a pure-hearted princess to blast tumorous growths? You have reached the esophagus, the princess is saved. But really, it's all about awareness.

Friday, November 11, 2005

I Quit My Job Blowing Leaves, Telephone Bills Up My Sleeves

I wrote the words to the "End of the Road" entry when I was bored to death in an American Literature class in 1997. I sing them to a mean little guitar ditty. I thought I posted them "just because," but apparently my subconscious operates a step ahead of the rest of me.

I only worked three days last week. Halloween was planned, last Thurday was a "sick" day. I had a three day weekend, spent more time than usual with my wife and kids and was feeling alright by Sunday night. But by Monday I, once again, felt like an overpleasured masochist, choking for the breath to beg my occupational overlords, "please sir, may I have some more?" It's a game I've played for years. Over 4 1/2 years to be exact. But I'm getting to be less of a young man. My wild oats have been sewn.

To use an analogy to annoy my partner-in-pain, Gordon (let's all say a prayer for him, as he is getting the business right this moment), it was much like that scene from the end of The Never-Ending Story where the little princess is holding the last fading ember of their world in her dainty little palms. I have been degraded and beat down, time and again, and I'm sure years are gone from my life that cannot possibly be recovered. The last shred of my dignity, the last cell of my human-ness, my last chance to finish earth with more than a hickory-nut spirit, these things were in my hands. Rather than feed them to a corporation with an insatiable appetite I chose to hold onto them with hopes of becoming someone worthwhile again.

I told you how reviewing pictures of myself from the past few years is a depressing experience. Why didn't someone tell me there was only death behind my eyes? But I went home Monday night/Tuesday morning and got my four hours of sleep. I did the first part of my day like any other, being with the kids. Eleanor got home late in the afternoon and things still seemed normal. But as time-for-work neared, I became unsettled. It must have seemed random to Eleanor when my voice took on an exacerbated tone, "I can't keep doing this. It's too much." I went and laid down on Olivia's bed. This, actually, has become a basic part of the daily routine, as well, for the last six months or so. I mean what I say every time but Tuesday I didn't feel like I could shake it soon enough to make that self-mortifying drive to the office.

Eleanor came and sat on the bed. She asked, "Do you want to go vote?" I said, "That's not what I'm worried about right this second. I REALLY don't think I can do it anymore. I think that's it." We talked about what a noble thing it was for me to continue to work at my job. I pointed out that that was the "pro" side to my situation and that we were always purposely ignoring the great many "cons." Eleanor got scared when she imagined the lapse in health insurance. I had applied for a few different jobs back in August but was never offered anything. I pursued the opportunity to work from home with my employer but nothing good in the corporate world is fast. I was getting really frustrated and said, "I know, Eleanor. I tried to do everything right. I tried to get another job before I quit. I'm trying to work from home. It's not my fault things aren't working out." I was getting mad and started storming out of the room. Through the kitchen to the stairs. "But that's all. I've done everything I can!" I drove my fist into the wall. "I've done everything I (expletive) can!" I ping-ponged down the stairs and laid down on the guest bed. Eleanor came down after a few minutes and I described how, on my last drive to work, I pulled into the parking lot and my mouth was hurting and realized I was grinding my teeth during full consciousness.

We went back upstairs. My kids ran up to me and told me it was bad to hit the wall and that I shouldn't do it anymore. Eleanor said she had meant to ask me if I'd broken my hand. If our walls were sheetrock I'm confident my fist would have gone through. But our walls are old lathe and plaster. I took out two or three plaster walls downstairs with a crowbar and sledgehammer over the year. They are substantially stronger than sheetrock. I was worried I had wasted away more than I thought and that my full-force punch had not affected the wall, but on closer inspection there are several hair-line cracks and a soft spot in the wall now. I can fix it.

I don't like to make rash decisions so I just called out sick for the night, despite being in the hole for "Paid Time Off." We went and voted (we lost, they will now build a huge Walmart in the middle of a residential area and right next to an ultra-busy intersection surrounding the hospital where two of my children were born. The added traffic will be lovely.) then we bought some fast food. It all sounds grim, but I told Eleanor it was necessary for me to be happy again. I could not be happy again without that crucial first step.

The overnight results were amazing. I only slept for six hours (I learned that additional sleep here and there does absolutely nothing to heal the wounds from work) but I woke up feeling refreshed and even excited to start the day. I cleaned up more around the house and was nicer to my kids. Eleanor said there was an unmistakable difference in me when she called me at lunch. I went to work that night and put in half a shift before I sat down to talk with my boss. I get along quite well with my boss. I was lucky to have a boss like her and you would be too. It's the "everything else" that sucked so bad. Sitting on your butt for eight hours, eskimo kissing a computer monitor, playing the "quiet game." It works for days, weeks or months but not years. Work was virtually a cross between the movie "Office Space" and the "Dilbert" comic strip. You laugh at these slices of life but you would also be justified to cry and cry and cry. Too close to home. My boss told me it would take a minimum of three months to work from home. That was pretty much the end of it. She seemed to understand. And it's no secret that members of management at about every level often quit after four years. I think the company realizes this and it just doesn't concern them very much. So I'm unemployed. I should be terrified but I'm very happy. I cast off the kryptonite millstone and I feel like the man of steel again. I woke up feeling like Popeye with a belly full of spinach.

I'll start the job-hunt Friday. If we get poor I can cash out the 401k and be fine through Christmas. I'm sure you'll here me crying "Wo, is me" if I can't work something out.

Job offers welcome.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

End of the Road

Roaming around
I've been gone for so long, so long
I'll use the stars for stepping stones
Now I'm coming home

Monday, November 07, 2005

The News is Less Than Just Another Show

Here is the rule: You cannot take ANYTHING on television at face value. It's all about reading between the lines or you end up another brain dead slob.

I'm writing this because of the riots in France. I try to avoid writing about political stuff. This is actually about News sources. If you watch tv news (local, cnn, whatever), read the newspaper or check the mainstream news on the internet, the reporting of the riots in France is mostly just footage of things on fire. Yes, yes, wipe the drool off your chins. The News may tell you how many cities are involved or how many people have been arrested or that a curfew is being imposed. Really in depth stories seem to say the violence was sparked by "immigrants living in poverty" or even two immigrant teens who allegedly ran from the police and were electricuted to death. Fascinating.

That seems to be the extent of what they like to report. What is so insulting and disappointing is that they show us the flames, they even tell us the "spark," but nobody wants to talk about why the powder keg was sitting there in the first place. The powder keg should be the central issue. It is insulting that all news corporations seem to be too spineless to talk about the central issue and that they appear to think I am too stupid to want to know. You saw the pretty flames didn't you? Okay then, just say "chaos is bad... when will the madness stop?... and so forth." That will be the end of it. Thank you, corny newscasters across the country.

I haven't heard it from any "reliable" news source, but what I can gather is that this is a civil rights movement by mainly Africans and Arabs who have been discriminated against by French society and as a result cannot find gainful employment and therefore live in poverty. Is that so hard to say? And, if that is the case, please do not expect me to feel sorry for the complacent French just because the couture shoe is on the other foot. Please allow me to put imaginary words in Jacques Chirac's mouth, "We have been crapping on these people for decades. We thought we had a good thing going. Now they suddenly decide to stand up for themselves by whatever means available to them?" Yes, only a genius could have predicted that outcome.

It's a shame France is on fire but a solution will not be found if you cannot bring yourself to talk about the issue. Marshall law is not a solution. The violence will end when these people are convinced something in their lives will improve. That is what Jacques should be talking about, implementing, constructing.

If our news sources don't have the sac to tell us what is going on then they are worthless. Worse, they are a red herring because you go to them thinking they will at least try to provide you with information you seek. I guess that is not what they are about. I'm used to homogenized Utah news but I expect more from national sources.

The bottom line: If you want to know what's really going on in the world then bring your shovel and start digging. If you are french and do not like what I've said then correct me and accept my apology: Désolé, je suis American.

The Taxman, Sort of On Top of Things

The IRS sent me a bill in September for $4000 saying I didn't report $25,000 worth of income in the year 2003. This was probably an error on the part of me and Turbo Tax, which I will probably not use anymore. Apparently there was a misunderstanding about the stock options I get from work. The company graciously "buys" the options for me at a lower price and then I sell at the price I like, pay back the company, and keep the difference. The IRS seemed to think ALL the money from selling was "income," which I can assure you it is not. Additionally, any profit I make is taxed at about 40% and immediately reported on my W4 or W2 taxforms.

Sure, the IRS took two years to bring the issue to task and sent all the information to the wrong address, but ultimately I only had to contact them once to clear it up. I just got a letter today saying "Everything's cool." That probably doesn't sound that impressive but you should try communicating with a "Flexible Spending" provider. What a scam. In comparison, the IRS was highly effective. I'm just glad they don't want to fight. I bet you thought talking about taxes wouldn't be fun.

Saturday Morning Warheads

Here is a shot from the "Aphrodite Ace" cartoon Gordon commented on earlier. I stand behind my original statement: Anime is weird.

Putting Down the Pony

Someone asked what I think about "My Little Pony" after that last entry. This comes into play as I've been meaning to tell everyone that I don't like my kids playing with squirt guns or any guns for that matter. Guns are not toys. I want to wait till they're older then hand them a real gun with instructions, "You should only have an instinct to point this at things you truly wish to blast to all hell." Once I've told them that, I hope they will immediately take aim on the "My Little Pony" figures and dolls my wife bought for my daughter.

Most cartoons for girls seem to boil down to the same thing: Be pretty. At any cost and above all else, be pretty. Dress up, comb your hair, do your make-up, if you want to be the total package learn to cook. As a dude and the husband of a dudette and the father of two dudes and a dudette I would like to assert that pretty isn't permanent for anyone. Enjoy it if you have it. Appreciate it. But it doesn't make you a better person. Often it makes you raunchy, proud and ungrateful. If your looks are your only redeeming quality you've got a lonely road ahead of you.

Nobody can teach you to be cool. Not Pauly Shore, not Kid-N-Play, not the Fonz. So just be you. Be what you're like. Be like yourself.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Peculiar Lessons from Beloved Cartoons

GI JOE: An elite military force specializing in neutralizing terrorist threats (If only someone could have pitched this idea to the government instead of little boys in the 80's). Everyone in war parachutes to safety. Infomercials can be appealing to kids, too.

Thundercats: If your planet explodes, don't dwell on it. Pick up the pieces of your wrecked ship and build an elaborate "Cat's Lair." If you are in charge, announce it at every opportunity. I, Liono, Lord of the Thundercats, demand it.

Duck Tales: Hall and Oates marketed their music to the wrong audience. Miser Scrooge is OCD about money. Donald clearly has anger management issues. The kid's best source of guidance is their Junior Woodchuck scout book; sounds iffy. Money isn't everything.

He-Man: You can wear pink, have a blonde bob, choose to ride around on a tiger over any other modern conveyance such as a tank, and assume a secret identity that only appears when you hold aloft your "magic sword" and scream "I have the power!" or you could sit down with your parents and have a rational, mature conversation. Chances are they will accept your choice of lifestyle. No need for secrets in a world full of monsters (who cares what the monsters think?). Sure it seems like a lot of heat when you step out of the closet, but are two people of the same sex who love each other really the one's who degrade marraige or is it television shows like "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" and "The Bachelor" that make marraige seem trivial and cheap?

Inspector Gadget: The professional world is full of incompetent dumbasses.

The Jetsons: The future is boring.

The Transformers: People like watching cars turn into robots. Robots are just as concerned about energy crisis as people.

The Smurfs: Socialism can be fun, but it takes the right kind of person to make it work. La la, la la la la. It's good to be the big Poppa Smurf. You get to wear red. It's not as fun as it sounds to be the only female to a hundred males. Your name will define you; in your face, Shakespeare! A present exploding in someone's face is the only joke that is funny EVERY time. Why would you ever let Clumsy out of his mushroom house?

Jem and The Holograms: Ladies got to accessorize. Catty girls need to lighten up. Boys won't recognize you if you paint a glam star on your face. Jem is perfect, that's why boys like her. Outrageous.

Robotech: The diva/beauty queen does not always get the whiney little hero. Instead she can be held high as an icon of what makes life worth living. Love and beauty can disrupt wars, subdue war, and bring to peace those who have been bred for hostility. People parish in war, even the good ones and nothing and nobody is a lost cause. Anime is weird. People like watching planes turn into robots.

Voltron: Life is more dramatic if you wait till the last minute to form Voltron. The show would be too short if they did that right away.

I like all of these shows, possibly only because of nostalgia. On the otherhand, I have issues with a lot of current programming for kids.

Dora the Explorer: Could a kid be any more self-centered? Should we care that you're walking to the gooey-guyser? Those riddles the Bridge-Troll asks are ridiculous. Do bullies and thieves really stop when you say stop? Don't teach my kids that, when rock climbing, you can fix your severed rope with tape.

Barney: If my kids ever act like any kid from this show in any way shape or form, it's straight to the adoption agency. I don't care.

Teletubbies: Creepy, mindless, redundant, drivel. Not cute. Not innocent. Not intelligent nor intelligible.

Booh-bah: I didn't think it could get worse than the Tubbies but here it is. This show is not allowed on in my house. Looks like a bunch of squeeky toys to me.

Sesame Street: It's okay but not what it used to be. Stop copying other shows and lead again. Why did Jim Henson have to die?

Horrible: Any show where the main character sounds like Rosy O'Donnel at high volume, like Chalkzone, George Shrinks (that show has problems), etc.

I like Aurthur, Jimmy Neutron, Hey Arnold and Spongebob. Even the Berenstien Bears are alright, but my wife doesn't like their names or that the mother wears pyjamas 24 hours a day.

Bring back The Tick and The Critic! We were right to flush Family Guy the first time.


It took some coaxing to get Eleanor to cut up the pineapple I bought, because she thought it looked good sitting on the counter with the colors in our rug and hardwood floor. I cooked some bacon and hashbrowns then asked Eleanor, "Will you come cook the scrambled eggs? I would do it but I know you'll just make fun of me."

She said, "That's because you mix everything together right in the pan as it's cooking. It's weird."

I said, "I only did that once. I make them just like everyone else but I know you won't like something about them so you should just cook them."

We don't eat many meals together. Here is how it continued:
"Are you going to eat in the kitchen with us?"
"Would you like me to eat somewhere else?"
"Just tell me where you're going to eat."
"Would you like me to eat in the living room?"
"Why are you answering me with questions?"
"That's what Socrates would do."
"Maybe he just didn't know anything."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Livin' Large with a Minivan

Most minivans may deserve their bad rap but I'm here to recommend the Honda Odyssey. 250 horsepower, 25 miles per gallon. You're not going to get that out of an SUV. It has room for seven passengers and tons of storage behind the backseat (SUVs usually lack that when they have a third seat).

My impulse would be to never buy a minivan but my dad offered to trade us straight across for our coupe. Now I'm convinced there is no better car for us while the kids are small. The kids like it, too. We got a portable DVD player. I'll be surprised if they ever cry again. When we were driving the van home we stopped for gas in Nevada, a cholo pulled up in a convertible right next to us. Ethan popped out of the door and immediately announced, "We have a van." The guy just stared at him. I told Ethan the guy didn't care.

Someone I work with is having a third kid in few months and wanted to buy a new car. I told him, "Get an Odyssey." He frowned. He ended up getting a Suzuki SUV that I don't even know the name of. I'm sure it can't match the power, reliability or the mileage of the van but he seems to be proud that he avoided becoming one of those typical family guys who drives a minivan. I'm sure the girls are all over him now and are heart broken when they peer inside his untinted windows (Odyssey comes standard with tint) at the stadium of carseats within. When I was young I didn't like to push the stroller for my younger half-sisters cause I thought it would make me look uncool. If you have kids you should put them ahead of your own pride, you're a parent now. Eleanor struggles a little because she holds on to all of these specific restrictions she created when she was a teenager: I promised myself I would never drive a minivan. I promised myself I would never drive a Hyundai (I haven't tried to make her but apparently Hyundai is a bad word in our household). She cracks me up.

So if a Honda Oyssey is right for you, just get one. If the idea of driving a minivan would completely destroy you as a person then you may have more serious problems than merely deciding what kind of car to use. I promise a van will not prevent your dreams from coming true.

In Case You Didn't Notice

Quick observations I have recently made:

1. Women peek into baby strollers the way guys peek at cleavage.
2. Britney Spears is one bender away from becoming Anna Nicole Smith.
3. There are too many similarities between Crest toothpaste and Head and Shoulders shampoo to be a coincidence.
4. The majority of people on latino television channels do not look latino. They look white. Where are the mexicans I recognize?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Oh, Drosophila

When will you learn? Get in my face, you die! Striped like a bee, slow like airborne lint. We've got flies in our sink right now.

Mineral Basin or Bust

Today we went up to the Snowbird Ski Resort to check out the snow conditions. It was cold and we had the bubby so we spent most of our time inside. Right when we walked into the halls Ethan said, "I want to eat here, dad." I asked, "What do you want to eat?" He said, "Cheese pizza," like I should already know. I didn't realize that our scouting trip from last fall had stuck in his head so vividly.

Last year there was a big snow storm on Halloween and most of the resorts opened the first week of November. Our family went up and ate pizza from the little "Pier 49" they have tucked back in a corner and watched the snow fall by the fistful. While we ate pizza and stared at the trees today, Ethan asked, "What does a lion eat?" He asks it to test me. He already knows, so I told him how I watched a documentary about a lion that came across a beached whale and ate the carcass.

There is very little snow on the mountains right now. They are hoping to open November 19. Last year, I had a custom pass to the Solitude resort. It was really nice and uncrowded. You could board right up to the chair, most the time. They have a little village at the foot of the hill where guys play alpine horns and other things to amuse the tourists. The terrain is pretty good. The backside of their mountain is called Honeycomb Canyon, it is picturesque being walled in by giant sweeping rock formations but the terrain is random: big drops come up unexpectedly. I would like to get a pass again but I'm not making as much money this year and my snowboarding will take away from our Christmas money, so we'll see what happens. Maybe Santa will be nice to me.

Brighton resort seems to cater the most to snowboarders. They have the highest and steepest terrain but it seems like you do the same couple of runs all day long. They have good stands of trees to bomb through. Snowbird is my favorite: They have the most terrain. They have a lot of space in their backside, Mineral Basin. They have steep open places or tricky little shoots and lots of room to just cruise. Also, on powder days, you can take the regular runs all morning and then, about lunch time, they finish up their avalanche precautions and open a cat track to another run called "The Road to Provo." You can get fresh tracks all day long.

Sometimes I want to get mad at Eleanor for letting me go snowboarding without her, but instead I have to praise her for watching the kids while I try to have a life. It can move you. Aspen trees look white all year until the snow comes, then suddenly they're yellow. The Limber Pine trees grow clumps of pine cones that look too geometric to be natural. The sky always darkens a little and takes a stark contrast to the glittery snow. Our blue atmosphere looks solid and steely enough to actually freeze, shatter and crash down to earth. I always mean to look up the history of those "Mardi Gras" trees full of beads and panties but forget when I go home. I'm a pretty considerate boarder, too: I only spit into roped off or unskiable areas, I don't throw snowballs from the lift at people I don't know (unless they're kids), and I don't openly laugh at the snowboarders strapping in at the top of the hill when they group up and sit in the posture of that chrome lady from all the mudflaps.

There's supposed to be some snow on the way and I'm looking forward to the discounted "early season" ticket prices at Snowbird so I can go boarding on their rocks. I took Ethan snowboarding last year but he wouldn't get on the lift. I had to carry him up the slope on my back and then run down along side him and catch him again before he went shooting out into the parking lot. It was fun but tiring. I'll post some pictures of our ski year once it gets going.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I Have Always Been a Monster

This is a response to the comment on "Stomping Your Ass." First, I do not think any problems are ever solved by punching someone in the face. Maybe it feels good but the underlying issue still remains. I used quotes around "reasoned with" because I do not consider their manner of thinking to be reasonable. They apparently do. I leave it to the reader.

My position on eating is that I'm accepting of a world where one creature may eat another to stay alive. I agree that salty, sugary, processed foods should be avoided and that real fruits and vegetables (not the waxy stuff with the injected "goodness") are very good for you. It is difficult to know the vegetarian perspective on things since it varies from person to person. Most of the vegetarians I know pretty much did it on a whim. You may have noticed I do not condone several aspects of our society and the meat industry is right up there with the worst of them. I do not categorize McDonald's as food.

I eat meat. I think the optimum diet for a good life probably includes meat. I am not immovable on that but it seems to make the most sense. I admire people with noble ideas, especially those who act on them. I do not think vegetarianism is necessary but that does not make it bad. I do not feel bad about my feelings on this. It's okay to eat fish cause they don't have any feelings, or so I've heard. Shine on.

Turn Off Your Smoke Machine and Marshall Stacks

It took a year and a half to decide on, save money for, collect and connect all the pieces for my little home studio. It's a work in progress. That also included rebuilding the room in my basement and little details like grounding the electrical outlets (which nobody who has lived here in the past 65 years has bothered to do). I imagined it that once it was all together I could just grab my guitar, hit "record" and watch your toes curl up till I rocked your socks off.

Instead it's a pain in the butt and I have to read the novel-sized manuals to solve problems like: Why is the keyboard suddenly playing two distinctive sounds at once? Why does my software send the sound through the speaker half a note behind when I play it on the keyboard? But when it's done I should be able to produce a store quality CD, or so my research says. I'm worried that it will take too long and my music will start sounding less like the Smashing Pumpkins and more like Burt Bacharach. Maybe by Christmas 2006 I can post some wave files on a webpage.

It sounds so nerdy and I have to reassure myself by picturing Trent Reznor and the Flaming Lips cloistered away with their manuals, too, working on the same problems.

I Walk the Thinnest Line

I could be a genius, I could be retarded. As far as you know, I'm merely entertaining the thought of going insane. But I seem to operate machinery well and pay my bills so nobody is concerned.

This blog seems to be a good outlet for me so I figured I would do an introduction for those intrepid souls who read about strangers of their own volition or for those who have forgotten what I look like.

My name is Emmett. I'm 29 years old. Reading my blog is probably the best way to get an idea of who I am. I used to think I was easy going and fun to hang out with but now I would say straight up "zombie" is a better analysis. I was going through our pictures trying to find some where my eyes don't look like my heart is being massaged by death's icy grip but, brother, it ain't easy. My responsibilities have me on a road which appears to be leading to my early demise. I'm working on changing it.
I usually get a haircut about once a year. A lifetime of mom's cutting technique has made me immune to what people think about it. I'm even starting to like poorly executed styling. Not the bed-head thing; haircuts that try to look perfect and wholesome but still have major problems.

Yes, it has taken a lot of dedication and more cosmetic surgery than Sharon Osborne has endeavored to create this punk-rock skinny, prominant eyebrow Adonis. Ok, so my diet is more like that of a garbage disposal and all of my surgery has been internal but girls always seem to think my hair is pretty. Oops, I mean, I don't care about that.

I'm married, have kids, you've gathered that by now. I like to mountain bike and snowboard. I like to write. I want to throw up a web page so you can all read the short stories I've been writing, but that may take awhile. I'm into music but I'll write about that in a separate entry. I've attended many years of college but have no degrees. Art, english, and I hope to finish it up in chemistry. I haven't been in school since my daughter was born.

I believe everyone has something to offer. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. But I'm also getting choosier about who I'm willing to associate with. My time is valuable to me. I appreciate my friends. If you want more then keep coming back.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Cut Open the Box, Out Rushes the Night

He was known as "The Robot with a Heart of Gold;" a trait which was actually considered a handicap considering the new advances in laser-welded alloys. In the overall schematic he was only programmed to regulate the loads and routes of the city's sanitation trucks. The word "outmoded" had never been added to the reference in his vocabulary files. Based on his repeated calculations and extrapolations there was favorable probability that his existence could be deemed as "satisfying."

And yet the other units had expressed sporadic inarticulate buzzes, beeps and whirs when they examined his individual specifications and found he was a registered organ/parts donor.

You are not a Plane or a Boat or a Snort

Our daughter, Olivia, is two. She is in a phase where she likes to state the obvious: The sun's hot, dad. Your shoes will catch on fire when you walk in the hot lava. You have ow-ee whips (chapped lips).

Today, I took the kids to Wheeler Farm. I told them the next big holiday is Thanksgiving, which is bad news for turkeys. On that note, Olivia ran to the turkey cage, "I want to eat that turkey! Do you want to eat that turkey, Ethan? I want to eat a mommy and a daddy turkey!"

Ethan said, "I want to go home and eat a turkey sandwich."

I am proud of my little girl, for being in a state of weening that I will call "feral readiness." If we were somehow to be separated, she would make it on her own. She's ready for that shove from the nest. Everything from this point on is a formality.

As a side note, they were also setting up Christmas decorations at the farm today, so maybe my fears have been confirmed and I'm the one who is decidedly crazy.

Nothin' in Life but to be Legit

I was playing with Okevian in front of his grandmother's house when his older sister, Yo-yo, came and got all up in the bizness of us playing Hot Wheels. "Leave us alone!" I shouted. When she pushed me over I picked up a rock and aimed it at her. She recoiled but threatened, "If you throw it I'll sue your family for everything you got!"

We were poor but we needed the couch I burned with a hot frying pan and the drawers whose faces had fallen off and the beds with springs protruding from too much jumping and that piece of crap Ford Maverick. I really hope she became a lawyer.

Harry Hallowistmas

Here is a picture I took last night (Halloween). I'm not sure if you can make it out, but it consists of jack-o-lanterns in front of a house with christmas lights and a fully decorated tree in the window. If children can wait until Christmas Day to open presents, can't adults wait until December to throw up the tree? This is how the magic fades. Where ever the meaning of life lies, suburbia sucks you in the other direction.

Ok, ok. So you are right. I sound negative. Trust me, I do it for a good cause.

Halloween 2005

So here are the trick or treaters. Ryu Hayabusa, a witch from the brain of L. Frank Baum and little Bonesy. Olivia was asked to the prom in 2018 by the mother of a 2 year old boy in a zebra costume. Fun was had by all.