Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Lateral Movement

I watched the movie "Sideways" last week. See, I suck at being a movie buff because I watch one, maybe two, movies a week. The characters were entertaining and you could read a lot into them. The actors were good and convincing. Wine-dude really looked heartbroken and you could surmise that, aside from his wife leaving him, his father had also previously been ill and possibly committed suicide. His book was obviously too long and most assuredly just an emotional dumping ground. The Church-guy, better known as "Lull" from "Wings," was funny but an idiot.

What I'm trying to say is that it was entertaining but didn't seem to have a clear message other than "there is a sad man out there who may be getting better." I got the sense that the love for wine was a displacement for the love he felt for his ex-wife. Maybe that was obvious or maybe I'm completely wrong.Maddox wrote a funny bit about the movie Sideways. Maybe I should take his advice and actually read the book. Enjoy.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Macho Macho Harassment

I have noticed a strong need among my coworkers to cast a tough image. It's kind of funny because most of it is talk. When it comes time to lug a 200 pound sofa across the floor, most of them take it halfway to the appropriate spot and call that good enough.

I already told you about "motherf**cker" replacing the word "dude" or "man." The main exception to being called in that way is to be christened with a nickname. Names like Shrek, Bubblehead or Dumbass. Dumbass isn't very creative but I am glad that it has already been assigned to someone. There are also a handful of guys who look more like Shrek than the guy who has been distinguished as Shrek.

There is a hispanic guy from Los Angeles named Marco. Marco used to be a gangbanger but has settled down in Utah. He does like to pick on a scrawny white boy with nerdily parted hair and glasses. EVERY time he goes past the blond kid he yells something like, "You big pussy, cracker faggot!" or flips him the bird or something. There was also some enormous belching activity resonating through the warehouse (comparative to Debbie at my last job) that I was finally able to trace back to Marco. The burping was a mystery that bothered me for some time. Anyway, that blond boy may or may not be annoying but nobody really deserves to be talked to that way. He may just be really annoying because I also heard Bubblehead yell, "Hey Chicken Little!" at him. A close enough likeness to make me laugh.

But who cares? Probably not the managers, as I went to check how many couches I was delivering per hour and they were huddled around the stats sheet (printed on that old green and white striped printer paper with the perforated holes on the sides). They were saying, "These numbers look pretty good. Do we get a bonus?"

Another answered, "No, you don't get to bone us. Maybe you can bone Gus. Heh Heh."

Then some customers walked past to the corner where we sell scratched and dented furniture and one of the managers said, "I would tap that though" referring to a customer who was less than ten feet away.

Another manager, "Yeah, I'd tap that."

Even the middle-aged middle-management dorks seem to feel the macho pressure.

A few jobs ago I almost got in the middle of a sexual harassment issue. There was a guy who was always shooting his mouth off, saying things like "Let's all go out back... this girl (who was present in the group) said she would show us her tits." Or he would openly ask the same girl when they were going to hook up and do the nasty. The guy was married, by the way. He would constantly talk about how he would never be able to make it through a day of work if he didn't resort to thinking about sex for the majority of his shift. When you would tell him to cool down he would get mad. Anyway, that girl finally got sick of it and told the bosses and it caused a huge fuss. It just so happened that I called in sick the day of the big crux. I wasn't out to get the guy, I just said I would tell the bosses what I had heard. I thought everyone would. I figured the guy wouldn't openly talk like that if he was worried about getting talked to about it. But I guess I was the star witness and NOBODY else would admit to ever hearing the guy say anything questionable.

Anyway, they solved the entire problem by showing a video in the break room. And we all lived happily ever after.

Nickels and Dimes

The other day I was standing in the kitchen when Ethan came in and said, "Dad, I had a great idea. I can get my money and we can give it to the lady at the fish store and get a fish."

He kept working on us for a fews and we finally agreed. On Saturday we planned our fish-buying trip. Ethan found a five dollar bill in his room and held it in his hand all day. Sixty dollars later we were set up with a 2.5 gallon fish setup. We bought some of those "sunburst" fish. The kids named them Sunbeam, Seahorsey and Cursy (the cursin' fish, I call it). When I woke up on Sunday morning one of them was already dead. I still haven't learned which fish is which.

Who would have thought that pooped-on rocks cost more than clean rocks? The fish were listed at $3.50 each. Wouldn't it be nice if the reality was that simple?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Keep on Truckin'

Yes, I have been very busy working. They tell me I'm working 10 hour days but when I figure the numbers over twelve hours are gone from my day when its done. Between that and laundry and kindergarten, the day goes by fast.

Work is interesting. You don't need to know anyone's name... everyone just goes by "motherf**ker." There is a group of guys that cruise around on special forklifts where the driver can rise up to 50 feet. I've been working with the "tugs." Tugs are like bumpercars built by Hummer. The forklift guys load little trailers with furniture and the tugs pick up the trailers and take them to the bays to be trucked out onto the highways. Driving a tug is like being a mechanical centipede in a land of furniture. I still have to get down carrying mattresses over my head. Those pillowtop queensized ones make you stagger around like a drunk man.

Everyone has to take lunch and break together because a guy was crushed to death by a row of marble tables that fell on him like dominos last year. No more working alone. The mofos taped his obituary on the shelf where he died.

At lunch time the TV is always set to TV Land: All in the Family. It's awkward to watch Archie Bunker rant on about how he refuses to "break bread with Jungle Bunnies" when there are several black people eating next to you. Anyway, it's already time for me to go again. Catch you all later.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Shirt Sizing

Shopping is not something I generally enjoy. This may be in part because even buying a simple t-shirt becomes complicated. I have tens of t-shirts that are "Large" that seem to fit me when I buy them but then I must double in size overnight and suddenly the little sleeves are riding up in my armpits. On the otherhand, when I put on an extra-large shirt there is so much loose material around my waist it looks like I'm incompetent at tying up my toga.

Even with my box-loading, pig-wrestling muscles, I'm 150 pounds with arms like broomsticks. Many 15 year olds just entering puberty are my size. In our "big-fat-fatty" society, I do not think I should be lost in some void between large and extra-large. Shirt sizing should be recalibrated to make me a small to medium and save large and extra-large for guys like Howie Long and Jiminy Glick. I used to be astounded by sizes like XXXL being common but now I understand. The sizing is just off. And would it kill someone to make a shirt with a subtle V-shape like the human body is supposed to have?

Public Restrooms

Yes, we could go on for hours and hours about people who go into restroom stalls and cut loose with a nonchalance that would make Fonzi seem more like Cornholio or about boogers or "musings" on the walls or strange eyes peeking between the gaps around the doors or standing too close to exposed gentlemen or the basic etiquette of not participating in conversation while someone is doing their business but those are all commonplace.

When I go into public restrooms I have some recurring thoughts that I thought I would share:

  • Once you wear your new shoes into a public restroom they are no longer new. It doesn't matter if you've only had them a few minutes. The "new" is gone.

  • In my late teens, someone pointed out to me that they always flush public toilets with their foot to avoid germs. That seems like it would spread MORE germs but, once you find out there is a certain percentage of people who flush with their foot, you virtually have no choice but to start flushing with your foot as well.

  • Why do so many establishments place their paper towel dispensers above elbow level? The water starts running down to your elbow and possibly your armpit depending on your height. And where do they find that toilet paper that is so hard to unroll?

  • "Touch as few things as possible" is a good philosophy.

    Smell ya later.
  • Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Love is All Around You

    Now I should finish off the neighbor gossip by telling you about Mike Love. I tell you his name because it is not likely to be his actual name.

    Just to give you a visual image, Mike is a black man in his 50's, slight of build. On the snowy day that we moved in he approached one of my brothers-in-law and said, "Hey! Would you guys like some help moving in?" My brother-in-law said, "Yes." (He just wanted to get done faster. We had plenty of help already.) Mike said, "Okay. I'll go get some more helpers and we'll get you all moved in." We didn't see Mike again for about 3 days.

    Since we started our collection of toddlers we have become anti-coffee-table people. We had a coffee table that my mother-in-law bought from a secondhand store and painted to look like marble. It looked good but just about all of the kids in my wife's family have a childhood story about braining themselves on the solid metal fixture. We wanted to spare our children from continuing that legacy so we left the coffee table on the side of our house when we moved in until we could figure out what to do with it.

    One day, Mike shows up at the front door. He says, "What's the deal with that coffee table? Are you throwing it out? It would look great against one of my apartment walls with my TV on it."

    I said, "We haven't figured out what were going to do with it, yet." Before I could offer, Mike said, "Well if you decide you don't want it anymore just tell me. That's a good looking table." I said, "Okay." This was pretty much a daily event until we gave him the table. At which point he said he owed us a barbeque.

    Mike claimed to be the very first boyfriend of the widow who used to live nextdoor (now those white-trashy people with the pool table live there). We really liked the widow. She was very nice but sad and stressed out. Her 14 year old daughter had a big tattoo on her back that said "Daddy's Girl." She did not look 14. That seems to be the case with many of the young girls around here. The daughter told us her mother would often go to the cemetery to lay down on her husband's grave and have a good cry. They didn't have any money so they sold the house and moved.

    But Mike hung around for awhile. He didn't live with the widow. He rented a garage apartment just down the road and would try to help the widow keep up the house. The trend became that anytime there was any item in my front or back yard, Mike would come and ask me, "What's the deal with that thing? What's up with the broken pile of wood? What's up with the little satellite dish? Where did you get that second Jeep Cherokee? I bought a Jeep Cherokee just like yours, could I get some parts off your second Jeep?"

    Mike also got a part-time job with a store that rents lawn equipment, like rototillers. After work he would bring home various pieces of equipment and then go door to door to get some pay in trade for some fast yardwork. He kept asking us if we wanted him to bring us anything. We hesitantly asked for a rototiller to get our yards ready for sod. He made numerous promises to deliver one to us. One day he showed up with a trailer full of equipment and asked me to help him unload it. I did. I said, "Is any of these a rototiller?" He said, "No, this is an aerator and that is a power-rake." We ended up borrowing a tiller from the Cowboy Hat People. But before that, Mike came by our house and aerated and power-raked our yard. Later he came to me and said, "I do that for a lot of the neighbors. They'll usually give me like $20." I told him thanks but that we still had plans to till the whole thing. I instructed my wife never to give him money, not that she listens to me.

    Mike got fired from that job because of his outside money-making tactics. The Cowboy Hat People were well acquainted with Mike and it turns out they co-signed for Mike on loans for over $2000 and he has not paid them back. When the widow moved, Mike hung around for a little while but then disappeared. They say he was living with some woman who had agreed to let him sell her belongings to pay some creditor down in Las Vegas. The widow was supposed to pick Mike up at the bus station when he returned and the Cowboy Hat People planned to meet him with the police. Mike didn't show up that day. Mike will make a split-second cameo in our neighborhood now and again. I try to give him the benefit of the doubt but have to worry when he tells me things like, "Oh yeah, I knocked down a board when I was jumping over the fence in your backyard the other day..."

    He's just one of those people that takes advantage of anyone who tries to help him. I really get to feeling like I live on Cannery Row.

    The Cowboy Hat People

    I try to avoid getting into gossip about my neighbors but I wanted to show you these crafts they made, so here we go:

    Our neighbor's are always doing strange crafts like drawing Scooby Doo on those styrofoam plates you get when you buy a pound of hamburger at the grocery store. They are prone to having strokes and siezures so they live off diability and they are pretty bored. They will come over to our house just to show us pictures they took of themselves.

    They made these dogs out of beads. We told them we would like to buy one for our son and one for our daughter. They made these dogs special for us: One boy and one girl if you care to look closely at the picture.

    We moved into our house in February a couple years ago. We saw "The cowboy-hat people" around the neighborhood. They live right across the street from us. At first we thought they may be polygamists becuase they dress so oddly. They're not. It's a couple in their 50's and their 93 year old mother. In the winter they all wear leather jackets and cowboy hats everywhere they go. The hats have homemade beadwork draped all over them. In the summer they wear shorts and the lady wears a Tweety-Bird (looneytunes) sports bra and the man wears an unbuttoned shirt, letting it all hang out. They wear these clothes for days at a time. These people can't drive because of the siezures so they're always walking. They took out a cinder block wall with their truck and a field of sapling trees not too long ago. They are constantly telling us, "If you see one of us having a siezure in the street stay back and DON'T call an ambulance. We get kicking pretty good so we don't want you to get hurt and we don't want to pay for an ambulance. We get through them just fine." They love to shovel snow. They love to dig up tree stumps (which we also hired them to do two summers ago). They tell stories that make you think they are compulsive liars but the stories are always consistent from one of them to the next so they must be true. They will talk your ear off until you tell them you have to go. They tell you about how old the mother is, about the big tires on their brother's truck, about their plans to pave their driveway someday. Anytime they see you outside they will come and talk to you, breathing cigarette smoke all over your kids.

    They've invited us over a few times for watermelon and such. They have one room that's pretty regularly filled with cat crap. Once, I gave them a ride in our car to a medical center to get their prescriptions and I almost died of the smell. If the lady stubs her toe or something, she'll say "Oh Peanuts!" if she does it twice she'll say, "Oh Peanut Brittle!" We have known them for two years, taken them to the grocery store, to the hospital, worked on eachother's yards and they still think that my name is Eric and that my wife is Lanore.

    They are pretty snoopy but very kind. We like them even though they can be embarrassing. They take some getting used to. They freaked out my brother-in-law just by being themselves. When I told them we were expecting our third child they told me how they always thought about adopting... "You know, just one kid. Like a four year old... but the state only gives us so much money and we don't know that we could afford it."

    When a giant limb fell off of our dead tree and onto a city truck and out into the street, they came running with saws and axes as fast as they could to clear up the mess. When we ordered the sod for our front lawn, they came over and just started laying it like we had asked them to, even though we didn't. Anyway, it's just another example of very strange but very kind people.

    Valentine's Day

    I got that forklift job yesterday. I got to pee in a cup and everything. And my mother-in-law offered to watch our children so my wife and I could go out for Valentine's Day. I thought we would both be working, making for 3 lame Valentine's Days in a row. But with a babysitter lined up I made plans to go out. I should have clarified in my last blog entry that I only watch movies that I can get my hands on cheap or free. We rarely go to the full-price theater. I checked and there were no new movies I wanted to see so instead I found some tickets to a ballet performance of Romeo and Juliet downtown. I considered a murder/mystery dinner thing but it didn't seem like Valentine's Day to me.

    The ballet was pretty cool. Everyone is dressed nicely (a few people wear jeans and others look like they are at the prom). Nobody is shoving popcorn in their face or sucking on a Big Gulp. There are a lot of younger people there that give you the impression that they don't actually like ballet but are willing to pretend that they do for the sake of seeming "cultured." The program booklet is filled with advertisements for plastic surgeons and ladies that want to dress you and shop for you "professionally" because you're a hopeless slob who wears brown shoes with a black belt.

    For about three minutes, you wonder why you're staring at an ornate gate surrounded by dramatic shadows and then you remember this is all live and guys are back there in the darkness pushing pieces of the set around. It gives you a moment to realize that every note of music is being made by someone down in the orchestra pit. It's not a CD playing over the speaker system.

    There are only a few people that get to dance a lot. The rest of the cast seem like glorified mimes. I asked my wife, "Don't you think it would hurt to get picked up by your rib-cage a hundred times a day?" Poor Juliet. Some of the scenes are drawn out, like where Juliet dances out her conflicted feelings of whether or not to take the potion that will make her appear to be dead. Mercutio's death scene was pretty good because he tries to play it off like he's only pretending to die. Mercutio was an oriental dude in this version of the story.

    I like live things because it's finally appropriate to clap. I always think people are strange for clapping in movie theaters. But at the ballet, if you like the spotlight work, if you like the costumes, sets, music or even the dancing, you can clap and the person responsible will hear you. About ten percent of the audience watched three hours of professional dancers leaping in the air and then they practically ran out of the theater the moment Juliet stabs herself.... you know, to beat the traffic. Seems somewhat rude to watch the dancers for three hours and then bail one minute before they take their final bows.

    So it ended up as a good Valentine's Day. Employment and a good date (though one or two ballets a year would be plenty). When I called in sick for work my boss started out like he was going to be vindictive. He started to say something like, "This puts us in a brutal situation..." but then he just said, "Well, you do good work so just go and have fun." I really haven't had a chance to despise the box loading job. Oh well.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    A Bunch of Words About Movies

    I must be on the same brain-wave as my friends as they have recently blogged about movies as well. I put it off but decided to write about movies anyhow. I didn't use to care very much about movies. In fact, I think actors are given way too much credit for what they do. I've always preferred to live so that I'm busy enough with my interests that I don't know what's playing in the theaters or even what the films are about.

    I'm in a lost state right now. Meaning, I know things have to change soon but I don't know how. I'm going somewhere but I don't know where. And during this time I have latched on to movies. Some people like to drink, my wife has candy and now I like to have movies ready to watch at all times. My wife is terrified of sharks so I bought that movie "Open Water" for $5 about stranded scuba divers in shark infested waters. That's just what we do. I don't know why.

    I thought I was on my way to being a movie buff but just reading my friends blogs about movies reveals that I have been outclassed. I don't know that many movies nor do I really have the urge to search them out. I'll just watch whatever and hope I can find something of value in them. The trick is to be very, VERY forgiving. If you assume a movie is going to be awful then the odds are good you will be pleasantly surprised. I watched Sweet Home Alabama this weekend. I'm willing to say it was OK, so long as I keep from my mind that the film did nothing to make me think fondly of "the south," that Reese Witherspoon did nothing to assure her first husband that him becoming successful was not important, nor that the actions of the characters are rational ways for anyone to behave in a serious relationship: it is not good advice for impressionable minds that you should leave your fiance for some dude you haven't seen nor talked to for seven years.

    I think acting has much more to do with your personality than talent. It's not very impressive that people can pretend well. It's like being rewarded for being a good liar. It is, however, very unimpressive when they can't act. I've wanted to see Cold Mountain since it was released and just barely watched it. I was surprised to see Jack White from The White Stripes in the movie. He did fine. Why is it so hard for so many actors to act well?

    I love the scene in "The man who knew too little" where Bill Murray thinks he's in a "pretend" conspiracy. He's in a car with a girl and she's crying because her partner was killed. Thinking she's an actor, Bill says, "Are you crying? You guys are good. Did you poke yourself in the eye? Are you thinking, 'my dog is dead'? 'My dog... is dead!'" Bill Murray cracks me up so bad. Anyway, I'm the world's biggest and worst movie fan right now.

    Making movies is different. There was a guy at my last job. He was crazy. Bizarre. He taped his eyelids up at night to stay awake. But making movies was his passion. I imagine he took a lot of meds and frequently spaced-out with a shit-eating grin on his face. He changed a part in a Vampire/Western movie so I could be in it. I played an Indian. I had no lines and two death scenes (one as a mortal, one as a vampire). We went to a mineshaft in Big Cottonwood Canyon to shoot for a day. The scene was me and a vampire killing eachother. I took it seriously. Too seriously, as I found out, because the strange guy likes extra-hokey, over-acting. If I knew that I would have done some hooting and gone all wild-eyed. The girl who played the vampire was a bartender who just liked to act on the side. She was good. She looked like a fool but she stayed in her vampire character the whole time, wiggling her fingers, hissing, rocking from side to side. We shot the part where I ran up and stabbed her several times, then we had to get some close shots of my hand plunging the stake into her heart. The bartender got mad at me and said, "What are you doing? What's with that big old smile?" I said, "We're just filming my hand... it's okay to smile." But I think smiling was distracting to her. The vampire movie didn't get finished. They scrapped it.

    That strange-movie-maker quit his job. In the usual fashion, on the day he received his final stock options he walked in, put his stuff in a box and walked out. Didn't talk to anyone. They say he went to Chicago to make more movies. Before that, he gave me a film to watch. It was three films: One documentary about a strange kid from Beaver, Utah and two remakes of that documentary with Sean Penn and Crispin Glover. The Beaver Kid was some strange kid who wanted to be famous really bad and showed up in Salt Lake in the early 80's to check out the new News helicopter. A camera man came out to talk to him and filmed the event. The Beaver Kid invited the camera man to come to Beaver to see him perform a song dressed as Olivia Newton John. Very strange. The real Beaver Kid was cooler than both the performances by Penn and Glover. I think writers and directors deserve more credit.

    My little sister said she wants to make movies. She goes to college next year. I told her she would have to go all out if she wants to accomplish anything. It's not something you will succeed at if you do it half-assed.

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    Blaming Our Virtue

    The broker that made a big wad of money when we bought our house sent us a mini-calendar filled with "inspirational" quotes by famous americans. Read one-at-a-time they are words of encouragement. But if you read them all and gather the theme they seem to suggest that it's the reader's fault that the reader has not achieved greatness. It works best if you think of yourself as some kind of couch-fungus rather than someone who actually has hobbies and interests but little time to devote to those activities due to daily responsibilities. The vague quotations seem to throw caution to the wind and shirk the idea that perhaps you do things for other people who won't mind if you suddenly cast off the life you've built to chase whatever dreams you haven't realized yet.

    I don't doubt in the human ability to laze about but if we all had the resources of say, Paris Hilton, then I'm sure we would see some amazing things from people on a daily basis. The structure of our society seems to discourage allowing people any free time, starting with elementary school. Life becomes an endless 9 to 5 day of crap you wish you didn't have to deal with and often those hours don't meet your needs. I know if I were provided a place to live and food to eat I could come up with some kick-ass things beyond writing and music. I think my big fault is that I do things because I enjoy them. If I COULD drive myself to do things for fame and fortune I would probably have more accomplished and more money but I would ultimately dislike myself.

    People always think I look young and are surprised to learn that I am married and have kids. They ask how I like it. It is a struggle but it is rewarding in that I always feel like I have something important to do. I feel like my main purpose is to make a better generation to replace my generation. Next to that, writing a song as popular as "I'm too sexy" doesn't seem important anymore. I will still sneak in my own accomplishments but I see my kids as the hope of the future; burdened with cleaning up our messes in a sea of people who don't care and often are offended at the notion. I feel guilty at the terrible odds against them. I hope I have better advice for them than drivel like: "It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not."

    Saturday, February 11, 2006

    The Land of Ghosts

    The Salt Lake Tribune is running a story about native americans and their right to use peyote in religious ceremonies. There is a debate over who can use peyote. It seems like many people do not like this practice and, therefore, are looking to limit the use of the drug to members of federally recognized indian tribes.

    The problem is that many indian tribes have not been recognized by the federal government. Though these people have ancestors who have lived in north america for thousands of years, apparently, they don't count as native americans because Uncle Sam hasn't put his stamp on them. Why not? Because when a tribe is recognized the government has to give them money and land. Does Uncle Sam like to give those things? No. It doesn't seem to bother anyone that people in this country are denied their own heritage because the government doesn't want to pay for it. But the real culprit in protecting the use of peyote is the United States Constitution (Which, it so happens, was heavily inspired by the Iroquois people. It's got to be some kind of conspiracy! Look it up.); damn freedom of religion. We'll see if the first amendment is good enough for the courts. And to native americans who fail to be recognized... you will need to content yourself in the land of ghosts.

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    That's More Like It

    The last couple of days I was frustrated. If you thought I was negative before then you really would have been in for a ride had I decided to blog. But I decided to spare you. I hope this gives you confidence that I don't throw just any crap onto the blog. It has to be special crap. You may be asking yourself, "Then what was that blog with the dolls all about?" That was a simple illustration of how ANYTHING is more interesting than cleaning your kid's room, even playing with dolls. Do you think Oprah is going to give you nuggets of life like that? Fat Chance. Am I right, ladies? I'm right.

    Eleanor told me I was nicer when we first got married. It's true. I still have patience and a sense of humor but I tend to reserve them for people who aren't going to waste my time or for people that can at least be reasoned with. My time is valuable to me. This has led me to a new philosophy where I no longer accept empty promises. Like the ones you see in every TV commercial, like pep talks from your boss and so forth. But today there are signs that the tide is changing.

    On Monday I interviewed for a forklift job in a furniture warehouse. The interview went well and I felt like it was in the bag. But nowadays everyone wants to run a background check on prospective employees. It's a process that takes about a week and just seems to give employers time to forget about you. At my box-loading job, they said they have to turn away 58% of applicants because they fail the background check. They say it like we will be surprised to learn that we have never committed any felonies. So yesterday it felt like the interview had never occurred but I called and left a message asking to know what the situation was. The furniture guy left a message on our machine for me to call him but I didn't get home until after he left his office. I have to take this as a positive sign unless the man is too empathetic to leave a message on the machine saying the position has already been filled. I won't count on it until I know, but hopefully I got the job. It's not like I'm shooting for the moon. The pay will just get us by and possibly spare us from the usual 600% markup on furniture prices.

    I missed the phone call because we were having our taxes done with our tax dude. It was fast and easy and our return is more than twice what I expected. It will afford me to be a box loader for some time if need be. This doesn't mean I like Bush's tax cuts. Have you seen his knew budget? Cutting funds from schools, the poor, the elderly and selling public lands and STILL bringing in a record deficit. The tax cuts come at a price. Getting a big tax return does make me feel a little better about the hell I endured to stash it away last year. I guess I felt like I deserved more out of that last job.

    It's funny how my little kids get so interested in who I work for and what I do. They learn the logos. They point out buildings with the logos, commercials with the logos, trucks with the logos. And they are proud of them. They respect that the pay the company provides allows them to have fun. I was actually proud of my last job for some time, but then management gets some unsubstantiated gut-feeling that taking away everything that makes your job seem bearable will somehow boost earnings. I've seen postings that the last company I worked for is currently hiring with opening wages at $1.50 below the wage I started at 5 years ago. The bosses where I work now treat me well; they give me tokens for the vending machines, they give me gift cards, they mailed me a company lapel pin. If I ever wear something with lapels I will think of the pin and laugh. But I appreciate it. If only they would give me full time hours and pay me enough to live on... then I would be proud along with my kids.

    My kids actually think of batteries as the ultimate currency. Batteries make all their toys come to life. Dear lord... please bless that the double-a's in my LMAX will never die. Thank you for robo-raptors. Amen.

    At the moment, I do not have the money from my tax return nor the job at the furniture place but the near future seems promising and this time I will let myself enjoy it.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Elmo 2006

    I shot my mouth off about Elmo to my kids and the rest of you so I felt obligated to go to his show. The kids left the lights on in the van so the battery died and I spent the morning pulling our Jeep up on the lawn to jump it. After I drove it a few miles on the highway I came home and got the kids dressed. It was 10:30 by the time I made it to the bookstore. They said the tickets were all gone. It turns out the tickets were just for the privilege of standing in line to put your kids on the monster's lap. We thought of the event as more of a circus side-show so lap-sitting was not important to us.

    If you don't stand in line, you can basically walk right up to Elmo. Elmo was a 6 foot, expressionless dude who was isolated on a bench in a roped off corner. I heard children younger than mine asking, "why doesn't he talk?" You would think a professional could talk. Apparently, you can be a professional so long as you have the capacity to sit and wave. That gives me hope for my own professional career. Maybe it was a professional mime or something. It would have been more entertaining to see Elmo trapped in an invisible box or walking against the wind or something.

    I myself was a rarity: the only dad in the bookstore. The rest was pushy moms and scattering kids; maybe a couple of grandparents. There was a lot of hype for this. I'm sure it's much cooler the way the organizers picture it in their heads. Kids don't like to stand in line. Kids don't like to sit and be quiet while you read them a story while a creepy guy in an Elmo costume sits quietly, quarantined behind you.

    All the Wrong Places

    Doesn't it always seem to go this way? The naked Barbie always ends up with the guy with the slimy green tongue, playing host to an evil parasitic, symbiotic entity from outer space. They look happy for now but give it a month or two...

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Elmo's World

    I went back to the bookstore to ask about Elmo's upcoming appearance:

    "So is it like a muppet Elmo?"

    "Oh no. It's a guy in a full Elmo suit. He's a PROFESSIONAL. That's why you have to get tickets. Because he is a professional. It's going to be so awesome."

    The kids are still excited about seeing a guy in an Elmo suit but I make no promises. Maybe I'll show up in an Elmo t-shirt with a cartoon bubble coming off his head that says, "Who wants to die?"

    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    Emancipation Proclamation

    The other day I was putting shoes on our daughter's feet. Ethan came up to me and wrote a message on his Magnadoodle: My life is myn (mine).

    I didn't push him for much of an explanation. I will just accept that my reign of terror is over.

    The Next Level

    I worked with Gordon for some time and sort of thought of his personality as the "upper-limit" of directness and brutal honesty but after checking his family blog I am left disillusioned. For instance, people liked to dim the lights at work in the late hours. One night a coworker was looking for the correct combination of which lights should be on and which left off. Drawing the attention of the entire wing of the office, he looked at his audience and said, "What are you all staring at?"

    Gordon stands up and shouts from a hundred feet away (Was it over the heads of just one or was it two supervisors? I can't remember.), he shouts, "We're looking at the retard flipping the lights on and off! Now sit your doughy ass down!" That's just one example. However, his brother has recently posted a picture of himself wearing nothing but a cowboy hat on his knob. No hands, no strings. I believe this to be the same brother who previously posted a picture of his browner, mushier, stinkier "newborn." Apparently, the bar is set pretty high in that family if you want to be on top.

    Years ago, I had a roommate named Sam. He was young and wild. You had to worry about him the way you would worry about an overactive puppy in a roomful of priceless vases. But then one time all of his friends came to visit and suddenly Sam was the very model of self-composure and even good-judgment and responsibility. He did his best to control them: Don't rub bumpers as were driving through the canyon. Don't pick the locks to the girls' dorms. Don't capture the wallabies in the Logan Zoo. I did think it was funny how Sam and his girlfriend made frequent and whole-hearted attempts to depants each other in public. One day, we went out to play football in the snow. Sam tackled Slimy Sculpin and, a few seconds too late, Sam's friends decided they should all dogpile on top of them, crushing Sculpin through the snow into the mucky earth. Slimy Sculpin rose up and punched Sam in the face. Don't worry, it's a sign of affection between manly men and we are all still friends. The point is, it was strange to see the role change in Sam when his friends came to visit. Aside: Sam was the best skiing partner ever, but he broke his back skiing in the Alps.

    When I started high school on the indian reservation in northern California I had two friends that were brothers and I spent some weekends at their house. One weekend we picked up another kid from school named John. John was entertaining but could become annoying really fast. My first time ever playing Super Techmo Bowl was at John's house. We shot some arrows into some bails of hay even though the draw on his bow was too long for my arms and we boxed with his boxing gloves. We went cruising around and when it got dark we drove down the country lane to John's house. His dad met us in the driveway and started yelling, "You guys need to be quiet. I could hear you yelling from a mile down the road!"

    John said, "What?" and his dad said, "Don't play stupid with me. Do you want me to kick your ass right here in front of your friends? Now go inside! You guys need to go home."

    The way John went to a darkened side of the house and stood like a kid being punished in elementary school gave me the sense that the talk of an "ass kicking" was not uncommon nor an exaggeration. After that I decided John could be annoying around me all he wanted.

    One Foot in Snowboarder Zen

    I went snowboarding today (Saturday). Just casual cruising. I was actually glad the runs were groomed cause I'm tired of having jello legs. I reached my goal of seeing for miles around in Mineral Basin. It was windy though and they had to shut down the tram. It's disorienting to swoosh down the hill at 20 mph and have wind-blown snow-snakes crawling over your feet like the ground is moving. The resort is building a new chairlift to Mineral Basin. They say the Forest Service won't let them run another lift to the top of the ridge so instead they are tunneling through the mountian. I think they call it a "Magic Carpet." It will come in handy in the upcoming age of Nuclear Scaring. Fallout shelter.

    I rode the lift with an 18 year old girl from Philadelphia. She said, "Do you live here? Are you just going to school?" and it made me laugh. I told her about my wife and kids. She said next year she would be attending "FIT" in New York. It's like "MIT" except the "F" stands for "Fashion." I told her all of my fashion peeves as outlined in my "Sissypants" blog. She agreed. Then I said, "We need to get back to our roots of stealing fashion ideas from poor black kids in the inner-city so they can be sold in "The Gap" to middle-class suburban kids." She didn't respond to that. She might have thought I was making fun of her career choice.

    I rode with another guy who was visiting his brother here in Utah. He was american but says he lives in Manila, Philippines or Beijing, China. He said Manila is a concrete jungle with nothing left of an indigenous culture. He said it's a hodgepodge of all the people who have stopped by throughout time. He said he feels like he connects with China. He said he works for a bank (like Worldbank, he said) and he is supposed to help rural districts become developed in all aspects. He said the degree of separation between the rich and poor there is a real crisis. That "alarms are going off." The rice farmers live in third world conditions while the urban setting is driven by fraudulent trade.

    But I said China is looked at as an up-and-coming economic powerhouse. I said China was an area of concern at my last job due to all of the counterfeit goods being sold. I said that when I looked up info on the situation I saw that, worse yet, fake Nikes, handbags, DVDs and jewelry are only the beginning. They make fake windshields. You don't want to find out the hard way that it's not actually safety glass. There is also a huge issue with counterfeit prescription drugs throughout Asia and Africa. So, "Not only do you have AIDS, sir, you were also duped on your medication."

    The man on the lift said that they are even creating counterfeit eggs (the eggs people eat). He said they are having issues with fake baby formula, which is just a mixture of chalk dust and sugar. Most of the babies that don't die of malnutrition develop a "giant head" deformity. He said part of the problem with "Bird Flu" in China is that they've found that a lot of the vaccines they've used were also counterfeit. It's caused a lot of problems.

    Do you want to know what is even cooler than that? America's skyrocketing national and federal debt is mostly owned by China. So Mr. Bush can "ask" for hundreds of billions of dollars for unnecessary wars and that other crap he does in addition to passing out tax refunds to millionaires and the rest of us can bask in the warming knowledge that our nation owes its soul to the communist knock-off kiosk which is China. Likely, they probably counterfeit our money but, if they wanted to, they could destroy the US dollar. Will $10.00 be the new $0.13 per hour? Do you think Mr. Bush knows the answer to that question? He should, but it's all too easy to picture him saying "nobody ever told me that was a problem." Because he says that all the time. Way to LEAD. How is that for National Security?

    Let's reiterate on China: Communist. Poor people feed their babies chalk. Sick people pay for and ingest fake medicine. Contract for a fake vaccine is more valuable than containing a global homicidal illness. The economy is driven by fraud. But hey, Wall Street loves China and they pay for our wars...

    Maybe life would be better if I just kept my mouth shut and lit up the green stuff on the chairlift like the other jobless moochers at the ski resort.

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    Deleted Scenes

    I thought that once shows like Fear Factor and CSI started showing bikini-babes eating animal genitalia and ultra-graphic autopsies that we had reached a point of "anything goes" on TV. But the other night I was watching "Simpsons" reruns and told my wife to hurry into the room to see "Moe the Bartender" teach a class on "Funk Dancing for Self-Defense." It's one of the funniest scenes of all time.

    Moe says, "Alright folks, here's the 411. Say some gangsta is dissin' your flygirl. You just give him one of these..." Then he cranks a the music on his ghetto blaster and busts some intense funk moves. He does a backflip and then whips out a shotgun, pumping three blasts towards his class. It's hilarious.

    I've seen it several times on DVD. But when that episode aired on TV the scene had been removed. I guess it could have been the studio that cut the scene... for violence? It actually seems tame by today's standards. Or possibly they cut it to fit in more commercials but whatever the reason... it's a shame the world can't get it over the airwaves.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Tragic, The Blathering: Sissypants

    You've probably seen him around. He's the guy with his belt cinched beneath his cheeks. Often, they are pants designed for girls. I think the look may be a throwback to the days of birdleg punk pants, even though these kids probably don't realize it and probably think punk was something invented by Green Day. They pride themselves that they heard of AC/DC before they bought the T-shirt at JC Penney.

    There are usually signs that these guys care about fashion and that they put some thought into their look before deciding on the drooping-girls'-pants-and-hoodie-sweatshirt-look. I think the bottom line is that they are looking for an identity: "I follow in the trends cause I wanna have some friends." It's just a bad time for trends, by the look of it.

    So this guy has low strength and low hit points as he is obviously asking for a boot-stomping. Oy, oy, oy!

    While we are talking about fashion for guys... I think I should also pass the wisdom about guys in trench coats and turtle-neck shirts.

    When a guy wears a trench coat or a turtle-neck shirt it is a clear cry for help. They may think they have things together. They may seem normal otherwise, but it is a cry for help. If the guy is your friend then try to get him back on track. It is probably the "searching for an identity" thing again, only these guys want an identity that bucks the trends... so they go for the street-vigilante or wannabe-yuppie look, I guess.

    If the trench coat or turtleneck is accompanied by camouflage (double whammy!) then the wearer may be too far gone to be saved. If the ensemble is worn in summer then things are even worse. I actually almost prefer this guy to "sissypants" because you don't have to see the "I hope my pants don't fall down" swagger in their walk.

    I recently saw a comedian (I think his name is Mitch Hedger) who compared wearing a turtle-neck to being strangled by someone with weak hands, all day long. He said if you add a backpack it's like a weak-handed midget is trying to take you down.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Steal My Body Home

    After reading and commenting on "Ignitor's" blog, I thought people may think it's strange that I feel that SLC and "northern Utah" are a world apart. True, I can make the drive in 3.5 hours but I also have 3 kids, age 5 and under. To go to the grocery store is an event in itself. You have to construct this fortress of cart, kids, car seats and coats just to be mobile within the store. You have to hope one of them doesn't go shooting away and need to be hunted. You hope what you put in the cart, stays in the cart and you keep an eye on the contents of the cart to ensure that only authorized material is being purchased. And if ONE member of family has to use the bathroom, it sends ripples through the whole unit requiring "special arrangements" to be made. As a parent, the timer is always ticking or you are trying to manage your kids telepathically, evaluating the sounds outside with the greatest scrutiny. Once I don't have to worry about these things then I will think about making an "experience" of using the bathroom by adding a heated toilet seat.

    And those are just the menial daily tasks. If you try to bump things up to a road trip then the furthest thing from your mind should be relaxation. Maybe I can buy myself some leniency on my blog's spelling, grammar and inability to run with a complete thought by pointing out that much if this is accomplished with a 7 month old betweeen myself and the computer. This hobby is another of my selfish indulgences. Like reading a book at 3am. It seems like a sort of identity theft. I'm allowed to be myself only in brief stolen moments when I can sneak away.

    This is the lifestyle I'm getting used to for the next 5 years or so. I hope my friends and family understand. This is the reason why it's not tons of fun to hang out: if the kids feel like watching Spongebob for two hours then that's what we'll probably do. I don't like to make them take it upon themselves to make their own fun around my feet as I do what I want.

    To jump to the next thought: I also think that we're too young to reminisce about 'the good old days.' We should think the best are still ahead, regardless of the unlikelihood. Here's to a future that isn't here or now.

    Hot Crossed Buns, Be the First on Your Block

    Toto, the Japanese company behind luxury heated toilet seats, is to open a factory in Mexico in a bid to keep up with surging demand in the US.

    I don't know about the "heated" part... it doesn't seem like a region you would like to make sweatier than necessary but the hose-down sounds good... aside from complications with drying.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Files Without Wing Dings

    What is our obsession with acronyms? Now that I'm a BMOC (big man on campus) of sorts around the BSC (blog spot community), people give me SO's (shout outs; raise the roof y'all) as FWW or FWOW. It reminds me of being called JR at my dad's house. Acronym are pretty hip and I just don't know that I'm CLD (cool like dat). It's the same way I fear sunvisors, backwards or forwards. Anyway, BRB, headin' down to KFC for a 3pc combo, LOFL. OK. (Eleanor informed me that was an acronym sparked by president Andrew Jackson, he being a poor speller, thinking it was an acronym for "All Correct" but this site says otherwise.)