Friday, September 29, 2006

Judging By the Cover

Here is yet another Mormon movie recently released by Halestorm Entertainment. Entitled "Money or Mission?"

The plot revolves around a young man who is trying to decide between accepting a high-paying job or serving a mission for his church. I have not seen the movie but I am willing to bet that people will be biting their nails on the edge of their seats until the very moment they look at the DVD cover/movie poster.

Hmmm. I wonder what he chose. Is there a DVD inside or does the box tell the whole story? I'm just glad I can finally exhale.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Roses. Take 50.

My wife and I have not had a good history with the roses we have planted together. That may not be entirely our fault.

At our previous house the dirt was like sand except for the mysterious spots where it looked like someone may have dumped the used motor oil from their oil changing business directly onto the ground in our backyard. We bought at least ten rose bushes. For one summer, neighbors would come by and tell us that our yard looked amazing and that the yard had never looked that good for as long as they could remember. By the end of that summer, all of the roses were dead.

Another lovely aspect of working the soil at that house was how every shovel full of dirt had at least one piece of broken glass in it. No matter how many times you tilled it or raked it or turned it over and walked every broken shard to the garbage can, the glass was always there.

So it is now my hope that that particular yard was our gardening jinx. This is a new house with a new yard. I haven't found a single piece of broken glass. This house has several fruit trees but not a single flower on the place.

We don't want to start from scratch next year so we planted a couple hundred tulip bulbs. But then we had nice patches of soft, clean and raked dirt that the neighborhood cats have taken as an invitation to pop in and poop for a bit so we bought a couple of flats of pansies and four rose bushes. All the flowers are on sale but gardeners seem to agree that this is a fine time to plant and let things get established so they can take off in spring.

We have always done well with snapdragons and bleeding hearts but I'll keep my fingers crossed that everything will soon be coming up roses.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

When everything I'll ever do I'll do for you

Our 3-yr-old daughter had the first haircut of her life today. She cut it herself. And just in time for school picture day tomorrow. The funny thing is, she didn't do that bad a job. The Jennifer Aniston look is still in, isn't it?

But this will make my ponytail routine a little tougher.

Communication Breakdown

Is it just me or does the News get harder to watch everyday? I mean, even the pope is picking fights. And not just with gays and single mothers as you might expect. So of course, the most hot tempered of Islam and Muslim followers are going to have to burn a few effigies. And let's not forget to condemn the Jews while we're at it. It's all the rage in Hollywood.

Suddenly, the president of Iran seems like the one person who is being diplomatic and requesting a peaceful debate. And believe me, your odds of looking like the level-headed one increase dramatically once you are standing next to George W. Bush. And yet, where do you begin to find common ground with a ruler who teaches his nation that the holocaust in Germany never happened? That it was all a hoax aimed at gathering support for Jews who should all be destroyed in the name of God? Sorry, Ahmadinejad, you are disqualified.

Turn on the News for the latest from Iraq. The last I heard, there were concerns about torture on the streets, even as far as someone sewing the severed head of a dog to the body of a decapitated woman. But I heard not too long ago that these are the last throws of the insurgency so maybe we should all just stop worrying about Iraq like we did with Afghanistan. And that Bin Laden guy.

I'm also pissed at the President of Venezuela. Damn him for making me defend George Bush. It's not something I like to do. Even when I agree with GWB about what we should be doing as a nation, I still think, "Now I just wish someone competent could carry out that plan for us." GWB does make a lot of bad, deadly or at least selfish decisions for which he suffers none of the consequences. But I say, let the downtrodden citizens point the fingers and call names. I'm sure the citizens of Venezeula who have anything of value on their person confiscated by the police probably have a few choice names for their presidente. Let ME call Bush names, you stay in your country lest a coup overthrow you in your absence. Bush is fanning the flames by trying to choose which international laws he would like to follow. Now every other nutjob leader is going to want to do the same.

I am always amazed at the retards we follow all around the world. What makes these losers better than me? Oh, right. The money. We like families with money and a legacy of putting tards in public office. For some reason it always slips my mind how they are great and how I am scum. And don't forget that October is right around the corner: Time for British royalty to don their Nazi uniforms.

And let's have a moment of silence for our American Way of life. For so many decades Americans have stood up in a huff saying, "As long as our soda cans are red, white, and blue, I can drive an SUV as big as a house. That is what our grandfathers died for and I'ma gonna do it." Now that attitude will leave you on the streets without any car at all. But oil is dropping to $60 a barrel till the next election. I know $40 used to seem outraguous but by today's standards $60 is reason to get in the car and spin a few donuts.

There is so much going on that we won't have time to discuss North Korea and the counterfeit missiles they buy from China. Wake me up when it's time to be hacked to pieces with a machete and God bless the children.

Driving Force

The other day I was driving in the car with my family. I was thirsty but to grab my drink, twist off the lid and take a big swig would require the use of both of my hands. So I did what all cool guys would do and steered the car with my knees for a stretch.

After I returned my drink to the cupholder and my hands to the wheel I noticed my wife was staring at me. I prepared myself for an earful of how I was foolish to put the lives of my family members at risk just so I could get a little refreshment. To my surprise my wife just said, "I've never been able to do that."

And I felt better about life.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What's So Super?

Do you notice how many rock songs have been written about Superman? Just off the very top of my head I can think of Superman songs by The Flaming Lips, Crash Test Dummies, Better Than Ezra, Three Doors Down, Spin Doctors and on and on.

But to be honest, Superman is kind of a boring superhero. He's too perfect and too impervious. He is to males what Barbie is to girls. By far, Spiderman is the coolest superhero ever created, but how many songs do you hear about him? Just the theme song to his TV shows. Can Batman get a little love? No, no, no. It's all about the blue tights and red cape when it comes to singing and philosophy.

I'm still waiting for the day when a piece of your destroyed home planet or a bite from a radioactive spider does not sap your strength or recombine your DNA. Where are the superheros that get around these things and break out in blisters or have their hair fall out?

Goin' Clubbin'... Bookworm Style

I read childrens books for numerous reasons:

1. It's best for my schedule to read books I can finish in a day or two.

2. I sometimes like that delusional, benevolent filter that children's writers put on their stories. Aside from making me laugh, it makes me feel like I don't have to worry about the next mortgage payment and stuff like that. Everything works out in the end.

3. I get this strange guilty conscience that all the books I was supposed to read in school but never did will one day come back to haunt me. Like I will be in a job interview and the manager will ask me, "Yes, it's great that you can handle a soldering iron but how would you compare the themes surrounding Frankenstein's monster to the current presidential administration?"

So for this installment I wanted to talk about the book "Bridge to Terabithia." It was the first book I was ever assigned to read in school (3rd or 4th grade). But I was in the hospital at the time and returned to school just in time to hear the teacher discuss the book with the class and ruin the ending for me.

I have always meant to go back and read that book and, a couple of weeks ago, I finally did.

First, I will say that it was probably the best KID'S book I've ever read. It was amazing in several ways. Part of what made the book so amazing was the honest and bizarre life situations stuffed into these 128 pages (hardback).

The book's most-used adjectives are "dumb" and "stupid." The word "Christmas" is taken in vain and the boy describes his kitchen as a "Hellhole." The most distinguishing characteristic of the star of the book is his stinky body odor. The main girl in the book is easily mistaken as a boy and implications are that she may be a Dick-Cheney's-daughter.

When the boy tells his father he is thinking about being an artist when he grows up, the dad responds, "What are they teaching in that damn school? Bunch of old ladies turning my only son into some kind of a---"

The book deals with bullies, exacting revenge, sympathy and humanity, elementary students that smoke, child abuse (the code of protecting your parents from getting in trouble for smacking you around) and superficial and homophobic behavior. I'm also guessing that the author was a hippie of sorts as there are many references in the book regarding the persecution against them. To me the magic of the book kicked in when the boy describes his hippie music teacher and their budding statutory relationship.

This book takes place in the South and is exactly the sort of book to freak out the religious hardshells in those red states. Aside from the points I just outlined, the kids create their own magical kingdom, Terabithia, modeled after C.S. Lewis's Narnia. But they didn't call it Narnia and the book isn't a clear endorsement of Mere Christianity so you know they hate it. I read a review of that book "Eragon" on where a reader warned potential buyers that the book talked about a mythical race who didn't believe in ONE god. The race believed in several gods and therefore this fantasy book was a threat to christian values.

In fact, in the Terabithia book, the butch girl asks to attend church with smelly-boy's family and they engage in a lengthy conversation about under which circumstances God will "damn you to Hell."

The girl tells her she doesn't have to believe in the Bible but she thinks it's beautiful just the same. They tell her, "...If you don't believe in the Bible, God'll damn you to Hell when you die." When she says she still doesn't believe that, they tell her, "What if you die? What's going to happen if you die?"

Can you guess what happens next?

I don't know why schools have taken it upon themselves to prepare children for the imminent death of their friends and close family:

Bridge to Terabithia
A Separate Peace
On My Honor (That may have only been in MY school-bout a boy that drowns in a river and his friend)
Where the Red Fern Grows (dogs is family, right?)
Wasn't there one about a boy who died from a bee-sting allergy while picking berries?

But Terabithia is a good book. Ramona Quimby seems like a cardboard cutout in comparison to the fully developed farm kids. Despite colorful lines like "What he wouldn't give for a set of those marking pens...not like those stubby crayons you had to press down on till somebody bitched about your breaking them," Terabithia WON the Newberry Award. That is what I respect: Not only did this content get into a kid's book and passed by teachers to 3-4th grade students... it also won the highest kid's award available.

"Ramona and Her Father" received a "Newberry Honor" (like an honorable mention). But there is nothing touching nor magical in the story. Basically, her father loses his job, quits smoking, and finds another job by the end of the book. There are uncomfortable, and rather pointless, references to the older sister Beezus starting her period. And worse, flat-out endorsments to eat fast food---

Ramona: "Maybe Daddy will take us to the Whopperburger for supper for payday," she said. A soft, juicy hamburger spiced with relish, French fries crisp on the outside and mealy on the inside, a little paper cup of cole slaw at the Whopperburger Restaurant were Ramona's favorite payday treat. Eating close together in a booth made Ramona feel snug and cozy. She and Beezus never quarreled at the Whopperburger.

Mrs. Quimby: "Good idea... I'll see what I can do."

In the book, Halloween is kind of glossed over. Instead we get a detailed account of how Ramona comes up with the idea for all the kids to dress up as sheep for the Christmas nativity play. Add that to the books opening of Ramona trying to "make a joyful noise until the lord" and it seems clear the audience the author is trying to please.

I think that it is funny that Beverly Cleary writes a Jesus-pandering book from the liberal stronghold of Oregon while Terabithia presents all the things that drive conservatives crazy from some southern location (the book takes place in Virginia). Maybe it's just easier to write against the grain. But it seems like the Quimby family just sort of "gets by" while, in Terabithia, they learn what it is to love someone because they make you a better person.

Stay tuned for the next book I was supposed to read as a kid.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nonconsensual Tickling

When I worked as an internet investigator I discovered there is a fetish group of people who enjoy seeing other people tickled against their will. It's a funny idea.

You can sum it up as people in their underwear laughing. It is hard to say that it's a dirty concept but it's hard to say that it isn't. The Sunday paper is full of ads featuring people in their underwear. And laughter makes everything better right?

But maybe my inability to say, quickly and firmly, that it is a dirty business stems from a childhood of watching cartoons like this:

Daily Parenting Tip

A good parent never forgets:

To a 3 year old, there is nothing in the world more terrifying than an escalator.

To give you a visual, picture me boarding the escalator taking care to balance the baby stroller just right and my 3-year-old daughter standing at the top of the moving stairs, watching me drop into the depths of the marketplace with her liquid eyes, holding out her hand, screaming, "Daddy! Don't leave me!"

It's better to take the elevator.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hooked on an 8 second ride

It is late in the game to act against America's dependency on foreign energy as well as global warming and the nation's debt. In this country where the majority of people can be categorized as "redneck" or at least "redneck sympathizer" I am astounded that no attention has been given to the future of Demolition Derbies by the scientific community or our leading cultural groups.

The Demolition Derby is the bright jewel in the Burger King crown of redneck culture. Thousands upon thousands of derbies are held every year and up until this point there has been a rich supply of boat-cars with big engines and chromed bumpers from the golden age of carmaking; the 60's and 70's. But the energy crisis of the late seventies required automakers to change their designs. For example, this boss Chevy Nova from the early 70's blasted tasty licks from Zepellin and Floyd through the stereo in its heyday. But after the oil crisis the Nova was transformed into this late 80's gas-sipper that played bands like Men Without Hats and Wham! at a reasonable volume.

It can be assumed that our supply of cars from the 60's and 70's will soon dwindle, leaving the wiener-mobiles from the 80's as the prime contenders for our precious derbies. What options do we have? Fill the ring with SUV's from the 90's? That just doesn't seem right and I'm sure it would be a violation of the Derby rules as they have stood for the past 30 years... and we must not disturb the integrity of the game.

Automakers finally seem to be making some larger cars again such as the Chrysler 300C.

But how many years must we wait before these cars enter the derby-worthy rotation? Not to mention, I cannot think of a CAR that has been produced in the past ten years with an actual bumper. They are all designed to crumple into a ball with the driver nestled safely inside every time you drive over a curb.

Obviously, something must be done and I believe I have a solution that rednecks will embrace:


Have you ever been to a small, rural town like Mountain View, Wyoming and seen a Franken-car or -truck; the product of two cars being cut up and then combined into one super-car through the magic of welding?

I think, if no other solution can be found, welding will be the hope of the American people. Bringing us the mud-caked, unmuffled, roaring destruction we crave to go with our 64 ounce Mountain Dews.

Throwing back the blankets, hanging down the withered legs

I mentioned in my last post that Ethan just started first grade. It causes me to remember my own experiences during first grade. Mostly being bored and losing my front teeth. It's kind of a trick because you get your kids excited to go to school when you know very well they are bound to hate it. But too late; they are stuck in the cycle.

Seeing my son in first grade has irked me. It was the year of my life that I made my first of many trips to the hospital. Yes, it's been one of those lives. But from the perspective of a parent, I look back actually glad that I was the one getting IVs and stomach pumps and being gutted like a fish. It was painful but I knew it wouldn't be forever. I never thought my life was in danger. I know that, as a dad, I have a hard time just when one of my kids gets a fever. I have new respect for my mother who had to stand by helplessly seeing the six-year-old body of her little boy doped up, cut up and stitched up. Over and over. I dread that I should ever have that experience with any of my kids and it's not just because I don't have health insurance.

It's also funny how I miss the hospital. There were nosy, annoying roommates and involuntary hunger strikes, but there were also nice nurses and no expectations on you but to lie in bed and get well soon. I became the champion on the Space Invaders game that someone had donated to the hospital. I watched Mary Poppins about a hundred times on a VCR they wheeled from room to room. I even miss the faces of the zombie kids, all pale and lifeless as they hobbled around the halls in their ghostly gowns. I was one, too. You would never expect that people would be so proud of you for shuffling your way out into the hall way and back into your bed after a surgery, leaning on your IV pole.

Here are some "firsts" I had in the hospital:

The power of laughter - I shared a room on more than one occassion with some chubby kid who loved to stuff his face in front of me. I was on a steady diet of nothing, soon to be upgraded to one tiny cup of ice per day. Would I eat it right away or drink it when it got slushier? I had hours and hours and days and days to think about it. Soon I would reach the paradise of Jello and popsicles. Just hang in there.

Anyhow, the chubby kid was loud. He and his father would freak out every time a Micheal Jackson Pepsi commercial would come on TV. He made several requests a day for a Micheal Jackson poster to hang on the wall. He would also poke his head through the curtain at those key moments like when you were getting your temperature taken AbuGraib-style. After he had his surgery, I realized anytime he bugged me I could do a Mr. T impersonation and he would laugh for a second, then grab at the zipper the doctors had attached to his skin and cry. I pity the fool who doesn't stay on his side of the curtain!

Drug addiction - After the surgeries the nurses would come in a couple times a day with a needle full of "Medicine for pain." I liked that stuff. I planned my day around it. It didn't really make you feel good. It actually burned as it crawled up your arm through your IV and then it made you fall asleep. A good way to get through those crappy soap operas, I found. Boy did I get angry the day I asked for pain medicine and the nurse handed me some Tylenol instead of producing the syringe. No lady, give me the good stuff! "THE GOOD STUFF!" I would yell, throwing my cup of ice against the wall and wishing for the satisfying sound of shattering glass instead of crumpling paper. Okay... there was no way I would waste a day's ration of ice like that but that was how I felt for a split second when I found out my friend Morphine was being taken away. It was my first and last brush with drugs. Okay for sleeping through Days of our Lives but not worth throwing away your life for.

Asshole doctors - If you were between the ages of six and nine and you had a rubber tube punched through your abdomen and connected to your intestine and your doctor just strolled in one day and said, "Let's get that thing out of you" and continued to grab the tube and pull it out of your guts like a chain of colorful handkerchiefs, wouldn't you feel justified in squirting a couple of tears, even if just from fear and unknowing? And if the doctor saw your tears and used his angry voice to say, "Oh be quiet, it doesn't hurt" wouldn't you feel justified in thinking that doctor was a prick? Me too.

First grade was also the year my parents got divorced. My mother told me that upon splitting up, my father told her he put an Indian curse on her and that my health issues may have been related. She also reminds me that my father didn't visit me in the hospital until my third or fourth stay. But I remember waking up one day and there was my dad. He had flown across two states to see me. I woke up and before I said anything else, I asked, "Did you bring me a present?" It seemed reasonable as everyone else had showered me with Legos and stuffed animals and coloring books. But I like it the way my mom tells it where it's dad who was the thoughtless and selfish one. He said his trip to Colorado was my present. I asked him for $5. He asked why. I told him, "To help mom buy food." A couple of weeks later he sent me $5 dollars in the mail. I spent the rest of my hospital stay trying to decide what food to buy with the money. I looked forward to TV commercials for inspiration. I decided on Saltine crackers. I can't remember if I bought them or not but I will blog about being poor another day.

So if boredom is the worst my son has to deal with this year then we can both consider ourselves lucky.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Recent Moments in WTF

Recent moments that boggled my mind:

  • We moved our stuff to the new house. A week later I went to the old house to clean up. Soon my leg looked like this and worse. Analyze it, armchair doctorbs. First I thought it was mosquito bites, then I thought it was a crazy rash. It turns out it was fleas. I don't know why I should be surprised given the way life comes at me week after week.

  • Crocodile Hunter... DEAD? Live by the barb, die by the barb, I guess, but he seemed so resilient and practically immortal. I will feel better when it is announced that he actually just overplayed the extent of the injury and is alive and well. Otherwise, enjoy those happy hunting grounds, Steve.

  • We were at the arts and crafts store and my wife said, "Hey, they have those Thanksgiving figurines I like. Should we buy them?"

    I looked at one of the figurines and said, "Not if they are $35 each."

    She said, "They are only $7.95 each."

    I said, "The pricetag around the neck of this pilgrim says $35."

    She said, "These Indians are only $7.95."

    I asked, "Are you telling me the white figures are selling at $35 each and the Indians are only worth $8?"

    A saleswoman overheard us and quickly explained that, despite the striking similarities between the figures, they were manufactured by two different companies who had set two different prices for their products. Still... the bottomline is $35 for whitey and $8 for the redskins. What a world.

  • I grew up in a lifestyle conducive to an attitude of "making do" with what I have. For all the talk I do of my love of playing music, I have only owned one electric guitar for my whole life; bought when I was 13. The other day I was at the mall with my niece and daughter and something long and sharp struck me right in my heart as I realized the model of guitar I own can be purchased at the "Hello Kitty" store. That's just not right. I will make changes.

  • On break at work a little while ago, one of my bosses was giggling uncontrollably. Finally, he turned to the group and said, "Did you guys hear that Lance Bass is gay?"


    "Lance Bass." *grin* "From NSYNC. He's GAY... tee hee tee hee tee hee."

    And on and on the giggling went for a good ten minutes. I sat and stared thinking, "This man makes more money than me?" Now I can add, "This man has a job and I don't?"

    N do I need APOSTROPHE T need this torture?

  • The other day I was about to walk to the school to pick up my son (who started 1st grade). Before I could gather the girls, the door came opened and my son walked in. I asked, "Did school get out early today?"

    He said, "Yes."

    I said, "Did all of the kids in your class leave early or was it just you?"

    He said, "It was me and Destiny. The other kids were still cleaning up."

    I asked, "Who is Destiny?"

    He said, "A girl at school. She kisses me."

    I asked, "On the cheek or on the lips?"

    He said, "On the lips. I try to use my karate blocks. They don't work."

    I took him back to the school to see why his teacher would allow him to leave school early and walk home alone and possibly find out more about the kissing. When I saw his teacher she just said, "You know what? Ethan just got up and left today. I need to talk to him."

    I wanted to tear into her: "Why didn't you tell him to come back or go to look for him? Why didn't you call me to tell me he was loose out in the world?" Apparently she didn't even think to make any phone calls in effort to cover her ass. I guess if he showed up for school the next day, that would show that he was not dead in a ditch somewhere. You don't have to over-complicate these things. I decided not to waste my breath on the teacher. Instead I will cut her out of my life like a tumor.
  • Saturday, September 16, 2006

    Instrument of Fear

    You probably thought I was dead but no such luck. I have just been in transition. I like that I can live without the neo-necessities like internet, cell phones and cable TV without making a big impact on my quality of life. Those things are over-rated.

    Anyway, I was just let go from my job and I recently got a highspeed connection at my house so the blogging outlook is strong, my friends.

    It was the first time I have ever been let go from a job and I was dissappointed at how peaceful the experience was. There was no "from the depths of Hell I stab at thee and spit at thee with my last dying breath" from the bosses. For all of the threats and humiliation they always dished out in the past, they were surprisingly spineless when they told me "you no longer have a job with the company" and "your temporary term has expired."

    It was my fault, of course. I knew the rules and I got sick anyway. That was the end. I made jokes at my own expense during the final signing of papers but nobody was in the mood. They were nervous and formal. They even repeatedly said, "Thank you for all of your hard work" and "you can apply for the position again in 60 days." What a bunch of wusses. I am sure they just wanted to get me out of the door before I made a scene.

    It was not a great job. If I said to them, "The priviledge of working my ass off for you is right up there with winning the Powerball lottery," then they would fear me for my ability to read their minds. They were fond of telling people that their best would never be good enough. They played a game that I dubbed "The Horrible Human Being." The game started when a boss would approach you on a Friday night and asked, "Would you like to work tomorrow." The customary response is, "No. I would hate that." Then the boss would disappear for about ten minutes only to return with this:

    "I checked the records and YOU have the least amount of hours this week... only 43."

    Bam! You are The Horrible Human Being. How dare you? How dare you not be the guy with 45 or 50 hours this week? You sicken me. Come back tomorrow or dont come back at all.

    And even as the bosses sat doe-eyed and calm during the firing, you can rest assured that they had images of returning to your peers with your severed head. Holding it high and saying, "Do you see? We are not afraid to drop the axe on someone even as handsome and witty and (assumably) good in bed as our wonderful Emmett! Work harder or pay the consequences!"

    I was not sad to go. I will not lose sleep wondering who will move all of those chips. I will go to the furniture store on Monday and ask them if their Motherf*cker position is still open. I know it will be. And life will be back on track.

    For now I am enjoying the unlogged break and leave without pay. See you all in the ratrace.