Thursday, May 31, 2007

Vocabulary Builder

I was putting away the dishes when my daughter came up and said, "Hey, there's my water bottle. All clean and shinerized."

She's better at making up words than most politicians.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I can see the way you shake and shiver

I think it's high time I did a post about the cartoon "Scooby Doo." But it won't be the same old tired things where we talk about Shaggy being a doobie-puffing hippie or about Fred and Daphne constantly running off to the broom closet.

This isn't what my post is about but I still have a suspicion that the cartoon was started as an imitation of Nancy Drew. Red-haired Daphne and her preppy football-star boyfriend. Velma in the wings with her helmet-hair, glasses and baggy sweater to remind you just how pretty, Daphne is. And then Shaggy and Scooby for comic relief. I have no evidence to support this allegation but I feel like I'm on the right track. One other thing I find funny is that in the very first episode of Scooby Doo (we own the DVDs) the gang is trying to break into a museum after hours. Fred pulls a 30 foot ladder from the back of the van so Shaggy can climb it. When the ladder falls short, Fred uses a car jack to lift the ladder another couple of feet. When Shaggy is still well below the window he is trying to enter, Daphne assures the gang, "Don't worry, Shaggy is the swingingest guy in gym class." Suggesting that Shaggy is some kind of acrobatic marvel. I don't think they followed up on that at all throughout the rest of the series.

I was going to make this more of a personal post. And I will start by saying that a large part of my life has revolved around going to school and then coming home and watching cartoons while eating a bowl of cereal. People who know me well are aware that this is how I came to like the "Disney's Gummi Bears" cartoon and a great admirer of Princess Calla. How can you not like a princess who doesn't want to be a princess and would rather spend her time jumping off of castle walls into haystacks or venturing out on a rainy day to experience what peasant life is all about? She was deeply hurt when Sunny Gummi wouldn't pour a bucket of sugary pink sludge over her head to prove they were best friends and just to prove their friendship she poured the sludge over the head of the Gummi Bear instead.

Anywho... while I was in college I would regularly come home from morning classes, work around all of the garbage Sam refused to put into the garbage can and put myself in front of the Scooby Doo show with a mixing bowl full of cereal.

As you may have figured out by now, I have never much enjoyed school and I would get mildly depressed at how school seemed to be a never-ending experience. I wanted to believe that this is a world that rewards creativity and hard work so everyday while watching cartoons I would tell myself, "Somewhere out there is a man who drew the images for Scooby Doo. He was part of a big project that has been successful for more years than I have been alive and now his life is probably easy as a reward for a job well done."

I didn't guess that the animators of Scooby Doo were filthy rich but I figured they probably still receive checks that probably afford them a humble life where they are free to pursue their interests. I really wanted that to be the case.

Coincidence or not, my wife has a very close friend whose father was an animator for Hanna Barbera and spent years of his life drawing pictures for the Scooby Doo show.

But it turns out the man's life is not easy. The only people who make money off those shows, apparently, have names ending in Hanna and Barbera. When I met him he was struggling with his own printing business. Without getting into all of the gory details, I will tell you he is paranoid, rash and deceptive to an unhealthy extent. And for all the harm he caused for his own family, I still dwell on it that I saw him as a false symbol of hope.

I really wish his life was easy. But that's not the world we live in. I guess the good news is that, where ever you may be, Gary Coleman may be working as a security guard. Maybe you can get an autograph.

Last Throws

Here is a postcard that Minnow's mother sent me via Minnow that corresponds to my "Columbus was a big pud" theme. Thanks. We thought it was funny and we keep on our refrigerator.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Talking too loud again

Me, talking to a coworker: "Even when we're the only ones here it still takes these guys 20 minutes to get us our food. They shouldn't be allowed to use the word 'Express' in their name. It would make a lot more sense to call this place 'Panda Eventually.'"

At that point the guy behind the counter broke into our conversation,
"I'll be with you guys in just a moment."

I said, "I think all of those years of playing the drums and guitars and loud music and warehouse work has affected my ears. I thought I was saying that quietly."

My wife and I took our kids to the park the other night. We have 3 kids but we ended up pushing 6 kids on the swings because the tiny strangers asked us so nicely ("I NEED A PUSH!" "PUSH ME" and "HIGHER!") and all of the other parents were busy lounging around on the picnic tables behind us not worrying about whether or not their kids could get the swings moving.

One of the kids told me, "I want you to push me high enough to kick those trees." I pushed him high enough to the point I could tell he would never kick the trees without putting himself in danger and I told him I wouldn't push him any higher. Then he yelled, "I believe I can fly!" and he jumped out of the swing and crumpled on the ground (it would have been funny if I hadn't already watched him do it 5 times before). Then while he was lying on the ground he turned to me and said, "You shouldn't have pushed me so high."

One of the kids told my wife, "My dad used to be a feef (thief) but now he's a good guy." Interesting and good to know.

I complained to my wife about the other parent's unwillingness to push their kids in the swings, probably a little too loudly, but a part of me thinks its good for them to hear. I went to the park to play with MY kids. I also told my wife, "... and I was going to say something to that kid about the way he was picking his nose and eating his boogers but I didn't want to crush his little spirit."

Sometimes I worry my soul is dead but moments where I'm courteous like that lead me to believe otherwise. But maybe not, because I was still thinking it. Booger-eater!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

False Start

I've been trying to content myself with dead-end jobs until all of my kids are in school but I guess I'm stubborn or something and my wife and I have been trying to devise a plan where I can get job training during "normal" daytime hours.

We don't make much money so we are worried about paying for ONE kid in daycare. We were hoping our daughter might be able to get into a state-run half-day daycare program that is held in the room nextdoor to where my wife currently works. You are supposed to be poor for your kids to qualify but they make exceptions and give preference to people who work in the building. My wife says the vice principal of the school has her daughter enrolled there, so why not us?

Getting our daughter into the program is our first choice so my wife has been going nuts trying to make the arrangements and today she had an interview with the people.

They were not impressed with our situation. They kind of have a sarcastic "You call yourself the bottom rung...?" attitude. They ran through some quick tests with our daughter and told us that she "aced" them all, but they said it as if it was a bad thing.

They prodded my wife, "Do you have ANY concerns about her?" Is she retarded or violent? Does she set things on fire? They asked her, "Has she (at least) been abused?"

And my wife had to give them the bad news, "No. Our daughter is a happy, intelligent little girl who just needs a place to go for half a day for one year.

Are you sure? You've never pulled her arm too hard? You've never "accidentally" nudged her into a doorknob or anything? Please... give us something to work with here.

I suppose I could lay into my daughter with the ugly stick if it means getting free daycare out of the deal. I suppose I could stand to be more irresponsible and less reliable at work. When you are good at your job the bosses just give you the crap-work anyway while the good-for-nothing people stand around scratching their butts. That seems to be true everywhere.

Even though the daycare program expects that you make a maximum of $24K they also expect your children to have health insurance. I assume in the form of Medicade. Those people laughed in our faces, too. We did find out that our kids easily qualify for state-run health insurance, so that's a plus.

We don't have a final verdict on whether our daughter will get in or not. The only reason she would get in is because my wife works in the next room. They said they would send us a letter in a month or so to let us know.

I didn't type this to play on your sympathies. It's just bizarre to me that these programs only benefit people who are in a deep rut and plan to stay there while people who work hard, take care of their kids and try to better themselves get laughed at.

There's always next year.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Could you wanna take my picture?

Yes, I've been busy doing ultra-cool things like staining the bannister to our stairway and planting flowers in the yard. Try not to be too jealous, but today I was looking for a copy of our tax return and as I was digging through our old papers I found my old photography portfolio. After looking through the pix I thought I should extend my gratitude to S. Sculpin for his dedication as model. Most of the pictures I took were of myself but this is only because it is hard to find volunteers. Other models of note were Sandskier and The Pumpkin Queen.

Here are some of Sculpin:

"A Visit From The Incapacitoid"

Here is one showcasing the many moods of his many toes.

Everything is better with fire.

And here is a memorable series of S. Skier.

Since it is hard to tell in the pictures, I will point out that Sam uses his pointer-finger to pick his nose and proceeds to suck on his middle-finger.

The very fist picture I turned in for this class caught the attention of one of the instructors. He asked me if he could use it in a series he was working on. Later I found out he entered the picture in the student art show and it won first place. He was also trying to sell the picture for $700. He said he would give me some of the money if it sold. I guess it never sold.

I told that story to my brother-in-law and he said, "So YOU didn't win the art show, the other guy did."

I corrected him, "MY artistic ability won the art show. And that's what counts." Right?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Exquisite Dead Guy

Lately I've been on a zombie movie kick. They make me laugh so much. I was at the library and I found a movie by John Carpenter called "They Live."

Reading the DVD case was making me laugh right in the quiet of the library. The plot of the movie is that our society has been infiltrated by zombie/aliens. They hide behind mind control devices and only Rowdy Roddy Piper can stop them with his special sunglasses that allow him to see zombie/aliens.

My wife and I watched the movie and we even talked to the TV: "So the glasses also give him the ability to HEAR things he wouldn't normally hear?" and "Now he's in love with that woman who just smashed a bottle over his head and pushed him out of a 40 ft. high window?" And, of course, there was wrestling.

It wasn't nearly as horrible and silly as I thought it would be. I wouldn't tell you NOT to watch it if you were so inclined.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The clock's out the window

Something I overheard on my lunchbreak:

Pizza Guy #1: "Man, this is why I love working Saturdays. Saturdays fly right by."

Pizza Guy #2: "Dude. Today is Friday."

The Salt Lick Saga Continues

One of the first posts I put on this blog was an exchange about salt lick between a horse and a pig.

I wrote that exchange for an oral report I was doing on "transitions" for my English 101 class. While I was looking through my old notebooks I found some doodles I did of that scenario. I think there is one animal missing who hates salt lick but I still think these are funny.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Wasting Away in Cow Country

A while ago I made a goal that my next post about "Cow Country" would finish off my sophomore year of high school and get us to summer time. But I think it is imperative that I demonstrate precisely how bored we were in school. Plus, this stuff cracks me up.

Don't let Minnow's comments fool you. We had a cast of recurring characters and themes we used in our doodles. Like this cuddly little character here called Executioner Bob:

We also had The-boy-who-had-toenail-clippers-growing-out-of-his-head, The-boy-who-had-salamis-for-arms (and his nemesis, Turbo Dog) and a game called "This is you" where we would draw really strange things and then proclaim, "This is you."

We also wrote stories that started with lines like "Once there was a six-year-old Justice of the Supreme Court named Rusty... who's best friend was a marionette named Po-po-po-po-po-po-pa." He drove around on a hotdog cart. Or a story about an ugly girl named Lueka who rode to the La Brea tar pits on a goat that eats children (She was ugly because the goat had attempted to eat her but failed).

In fact, I have a couple of pages of a "Monty Python"-style movie script we wrote about a hero named Shamooka and his loyal friends, Suchi, Buchi and Gaudabaloochi who were on a quest to save Princess Lueka from the Sinister Fenwick and his Brigade of Black-Hearted Munchkins.

We fully intended on making the movie during the summer if someone would have been crazy enough to lend us a camcorder. Here's a sample scene where Shamooka et al. are asking a man (called Wimp) who is the process of being strangled to death by a hangman's noose for directions:

Wimp: "Yes, now I remember. You go west."

Shamooka: "West?"

Wimp: Yes, west! Not north, not south, not east, not northeast, not southeast, nor northwest nor even southwest. Just west!

Shamooka: "Not even north-northwest?"

Wimp: "No! Go west until you reach a city. From there... go north for quite a ways."

Shamooka: "If we go north from there then why can't we just go north-northwest?"

Wimp: "Because you will surely perish..."

And of course they decide to travel north-northwest. It really sucks you in doesn't it? It's a shame the movie came to fruition.

We had to find humor in the simplest of things. It made me laugh when Minnow would come to class everyday with a corner of a paper dedicated to statements like "I hate Manila," and "I still hate Manila."

TV "Friends" Trivia

This is trivia in regard to obscure friends of television characters of old. Initials are provided as a hint:

1. Wally's friend = E.H.
2. Joanie's friend = J.P.
3. Fresh's friend = J.J.
4. Keaton's neighbor = S.
5. Larry's cousin = B.B.
6. Daisy's husband = E.
7. Mike Seaver's friend = B.
8. Laverne & Shirley's hero = T.B.R.
9. Magnum's hero = F. (308)
10. Arnold's friend = (Talkin' bout) D.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Will the fight for our sanity be the fight of our lives now that we've lost all the reasons we thought that we had?

The other night I worked with a new guy named Sheldon. We were quick to discover that we had graduated from the same high school a few years apart. Then we played the "do you know..." game and we found a friend-in-common. Almost as soon as we figured out that we both knew a certain girl we also figured out that one of my best friends (Geppetto) had stolen and married the girlfriend of one of his best friends.

Upon this revelation, Sheldon stared at me as if I had personally hit his friend with the claw end of a hammer. I said, "Does this mean that you and me should fight now?" He said, "I think it does. It took that guy a long time to get over her and he's still lonely and single."

I said, "She ended up with a nice guy. He should be happy for her. But I can see how that would suck." And then Sheldon became nice again because he decided he would like to see her the next time she comes to visit us and he was hoping I would invite him to do so. I'll think about it.

Then Sheldon brought me down because he started talking about school. He graduated in Biology a couple of years ago and he's just been accepted to Optometry school in Oregon (so he'll be quitting work at the end of the summer). It's not a downer of envy. Sheldon seems a little down about it too. He said he worked his butt off to get his undergrad done, he's sick of school but he's only halfway done. He had to test and retest to get scores good enough for entry into optometry school and he had to pay for his own plane rides and hotels to interview at any school he thought he had a shot at. And even though he graduated two years ago, he's had to stay enrolled in classes the entire time because he says schools don't like you if you stop taking classes. "They think you've given up on doing anything to improve yourself."

The idea that taking college classes (ANY college classes) is the only way a person can possibly better themselves is wrong in so many ways that I won't bother to make a detailed critique. But leave it to a self-serving faculty to suggest that taking the courses they teach is the only way to improve yourself as a person. If you ask me, making someone take a course simply to impress you and for NO OTHER REASON is degrading rather than a path to self-improvement. "Do whatever it takes to impress your overlords" isn't the greatest lesson either.

My sister-in-law explained to me that she was required to learn different periods and styles of Interior Design in her academic endeavors. She said, "See? There's hard stuff in Design too."

I said, "That's just history. It's actually more boring than it is difficult. I think pretty much every college teacher tries to make their subject matter seem more complicated than it is just so it seems like their job exists for a legitimate reason." And then I told her that her boyfriend reminds me of Tony Robbins. Get the edge! Check out those mits, Banana-hands! Because these are the subtle ways that I tell her I love her.

Back to Sheldon now: He is also concerned that the average graduate of the school he will be attending finishes with roughly $160,000 in loans. To be fair, they also throw in a pat on the back and a "Go get'em Tiger!"

A neighbor also told me that a friend of his was lucky to graduate medical school with only $50,000 in loans and added, "I don't know how he did it but I do know they were poor as church mice." The family got their Christmases from Sub-For-Santa every year.

So the smart way to get through life is to stay in school until you hit middle age and hope you end up with a career that can counter the insane debt you've racked up? All the while eating ramen noodles and playing patsy to someone who does nothing but try to over-inflate his own importance?

I am all for education but is this really the best means of giving it to the masses? Is this really the best method of establishing a career you can be proud of? Really? Sucks, man. Why am I the only one who seems to think so?

Sheldon tells me the rest of his family makes their money by owning and maintaining tens of vending machines. He says he owns a few too and they make decent money. He told me if he wasn't going to be an optometrist he would just own vending machines and make his money that way.

I shouldn't have laughed when he said that but I did, because it seemed like the equivalent of saying, "I'm going to do everything in my power to become an astronaut and travel to the moon... but if that doesn't work out I'll just be one of those guys who puts fliers under your windshield wiper in the parking lot." It's not really the same but that's how it struck me.

There is also an old man at work named Mel. He looked like he was going to die for the first couple of weeks moving furniture but he does pretty well now. When you see an old man moving furniture alongside 18 year olds you figure the guy must not have the capacity to make a good decision. He must be irresponsible or indifferent. But Mel is cool and intelligent and a lot of other stuff. He has a degree in Political Science from U.C. Santa Barbara.

I asked, "So why aren't you working in law?" He said, "When I was young and idealistic I thought I could change the world by getting into law, but then I realized our laws have absolutely nothing to do with 'good' and 'bad' or 'right' and 'wrong.' It's all about precedent." It's an "anything goes, don't get caught, you haven't told me I can't" society and everyone is out there looking for the loopholes. Mel said he always wanted to discuss this with his instructors but they never wanted to listen. There's no sense in trying to change the game; just listen to the rules. When Mel finished all of the courses he needed to graduate one of his professors told him, "you'll never go anywhere in law." Mel says it's all corrupt and law is the most crooked business he's ever seen.

I said, "A lot of places will let you be a supervisor or manager just by having a degree. Why not work there?" Mel said, "Have you SEEN those places? Would you want to work there?" I HAVE seen those places and I DON'T want to work there. Good point, Mel.

I asked Mel which of his jobs was his favorite. He said it was being the manager of a horse stable in southern California. He got paid to ride horses along the running water through desert canyons. I asked him what happened to that job. He said the mexican government opened a dam on their side of the border without telling the people downstream. The stables and the job were washed away in a torrent.

Mel also started a computer programming company with his brother. He said they make software that makes it easier to do business across the mexican and canadian borders. He says his brother still runs that company.

Mel said that in 2002 he was making a lot of money selling organic cleansers door-to-door. Then he wondered how the business would do in Tijuana. He started his own branch of the company in Tijuana, commuting from southern Cal everyday. He hired a bunch of guys to help him in the door-to-door routine and a manager to take care of all the mexican taxes and such.

This was right after 9/11 so security at the border was thorough and time consuming. Mel decided it was best to wait until later in the night to cross the border to avoid the crowds. He would often hang out at Dennie's or take a nap until he could get through and he became friends with the border guards.

One night it was about 10 pm and he figured the crowd would be gone so he got in his van and headed for the border with the $3000 (not all profit) he usually brought in from sales each day. He had barely left Dennie's when a black SUV blocked the road before him and four guys with M-16 machine guns got out, smashed the windows in his van and threw him in the back. They took his money and drove the van behind the SUV onto the highway and out towards the desert.

Mel was pretty certain they were driving him out to the desert to off him. He said it didn't feel real, like being in a dream and he didn't know what to do. But the funky dream was heading in a bad direction and rather than be shot in the head he decided he should offer the men more money. He called his manager on the phone and made arrangements to get them the money he kept in his safe in his Tijuana office. He was very relieved when the men turned the van around and headed back into town.

Then men told him he wasn't allowed to talk at all when they got the money. The manager gave them all the money he had in his safe and then he was allowed to talk to Mel. The manager told him, "Don't talk to me. Don't say anything. I've talked to them and they're going to let you go. But you have to go in the van with them again. You have to trust me. Go with them and it will be okay."

Mel said at that point he would do anything they said. They told him not to look at their faces and he buried his face in his hands. He said he couldn't stop thinking that he was going to disappear and no one in his family would ever know what happened to him. He said it was the most horrible thought. But soon they parked the van in some neighborhood. They told him not to get out for five minutes. Mel waited ten.

He lived through it. Mel says he thinks one of the border guards tipped off the robbers to his routine; how much money he would have and where to catch him. He says the manager he hired had connections with local crime syndicates and was familiar with the group that had kidnapped him. He thinks that is the only reason he is still alive.

Mel said that after it happened he kind of blocked it out and kept up business as usual for about a month. Then one day he was sitting in line at the gates to Mexico and it struck him like lightning: He didn't want to go to Tijuana. Not ever again. Not for Chicklets or even for cheap antibiotics.

But Mel married a girl from Tijuana. It turns out that she watched as her neighbor was robbed and stabbed to death. She didn't want to be in Tijuana anymore either. She has family in Utah, so here they are.

Mel says he'd like to become a grad student here and teach some small classes. A peaceful life hanging out on campus, talking about String Theory.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Could anyone be loved anymore than I love you? Does it hurt you, too?

"Ow. Your lips are so chapped and dry. Don't ever kiss me when your lips are like that. Why would you kiss me if you know your lips are all hard and cracked?"

"Because you like the rough stuff."

"No. I don't. I've never liked the rough stuff and you've known that since you met me."

"Yeah, but YOU know that I've always liked saying that."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Spidey Senses Tingling

Everyone I ask about Spiderman 3 just says, "It was pretty good." I saw an article that George Lucas had called Spiderman 3 "silly."

The only person who would elaborate on the film is that 18 year old I know at work and he said, "It was lame. It was stupid black Emo Spiderman and nonstop crying by everyone in the movie. Even Venom cries!"

Out of this month's blockbusters my hopes were highest on Spiderman 3, but the outlook is not good. Shrek the 3rd immediately dropped a few pegs when I found out Justin Timberlake is one of the main characters.

That 3rd "Pirates" movie had better be good. Any insightful reviews out there?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Static on the Radio

A little while ago I was working with one of the mofos. He made an art of not working. His favorite thing to do when he is not working is to listen to police scanners, and while he was busy not working with me he wanted to drive around and ask every mofo in the place if they had any old police scanners they would give him.

Every time he asked someone they would usually throw him a strange look, to which I would say, "Homeboy's on the run and he needs to stay a step ahead of the fuzz." He spent most of the night telling me how fun it is to listen to people. In addition to police and military frequencies, he says he also likes to listen to cell phone and wireless phone calls. He says he even hears baby monitors occassionally.

Mostly he hears about fights and car crashes but he was laughing about a careless lady who was talking to a gentleman about dropping a check off at her house. She verified her address so he would know where to leave the money. She told him where she hid the spare key to her house. She told him the dogs were with the neighbors and that the neighbors wouldn't be home until later in the evening. He laughed that he could rob the lady blind if robbing didn't sound like so much work, which he wasn't willing to do.

So this is just a public service announcement in regard to conversations you may be broadcasting into the air: THE MOFOS ARE LISTENING.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Cow Country Visual Aides

I could never have survived school at any point in my life without passing the majority of class time writing stories and drawing pictures. I have oodles of old notebooks full of nonsense stories and doodling but here is one that cracks me up. It's a two part story that Nativeminnow and I collaborated on:

Speaking of zits, I had a doozy the other day. My wife wanted to go to the store and she was giving me the bums rush, "Are you ready? Can we go now?"

And I said, "I'm ready except I just picked this zit and now it's bleeding all over and it won't stop. I think I tapped into an artery or something. I'm going to need some orange juice and a cookie when this is over."

My wife looked at the bleeding zit and said, "It might need stitches."

***Uh oh. I think Part I of the story was too big and didn't load. That's alright. Part II is the exciting climax of the story and hints at a lot of the stuff that happened in part I.

OK Computer

I didn't die. My laptop did. And right away I thought, "I will put regaining access to the internet on my TO DO list." And lo and behold, three weeks later I have fixed the problem. I "fixed it" so long as you are not the type of person to mind a 50 foot cable running down the center of the house.

I like to think that I am so laid back and easy going that I can live without the internet and the internet can live without me without missing a beat, much like Mitch Hedburg thinks the Pringles potato chip company is laid back:

"I think Pringles originally started out as a tennis ball company until the trucks full of rubber showed up and had accidentally been filled with potatos instead. But the company was so laid laid back that the bosses just looked at them and said, 'F*** it. Cut'em up.'"

But I'm still debating my own "easy-going-ness" because the other morning I woke up to the sound of a bird singing in the backyard and I thought, "That bird needs to shut the hell up."

I figured that meant that I had just not had enough sleep for the night but the past few days I still hear that bird out there and he does seem like a loud-mouth bird. Maybe it is the bird and not me.

Posting will probably be slow because we are STILL recovering from that vacation. We spent too much money so I have to work more and our son was a week behind on homework and our daughter had her birthday and the same day the computer broke the vacuum cleaner also broke, our long-distance calling is out... you know how these things go. I can't believe how much homework little kids get nowadays and the chumps at the computer store wanted me to pay them $150 just to watch them try to turn the dead laptop on. Three little kids and no vacuum is something no person should have to live through. I built a fence and I planted some sweetpeas. I think that catches you up on everything I've been doing.

But I'll try to get back to daily entries. Tales of Cow Country will get here when they get here.