Monday, February 28, 2005

Don't Explain

Lyrics to one of Billie Holiday's greatest songs. She wrote in her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, that she wrote it about the only man she ever truly loved, husband/trumpeter Joe Guy. He's also the person who introduced her to heroin.

"Don't Explain"

Hush now, don't explain
Just say you'll remain
I'm glad you're back, don't explain

Quiet, don't explain
What is there to gain?
Skip that... lipstick
Don't explain

You know that I love you
And what love endures
All my thoughts are of you

For I'm so completely yours
Cry to hear folks chatter
And I know you cheat
Right or wrong, don't matter
When you're with me, sweet

Hush now, don't explain
You're my joy and pain
My life's yours love
Don't explain


Ah, Cajun music on the web... love it, love it...

Seeing Orange

I've seen about five minutes of that reality show with the mobster's family... Growing Up Gotti, I think. No comment here, since I couldn't possibly have anything new to say about that nonsense. But I do wonder if anyone has told those kids that their skin bronzer is turning them orange. They look like Oompa Loompas.


Speaking of orange, Slate has an article about that commercial . You know, the one with the redhead against an all-white background, which no master control op anywhere can seem to color balance...


We leave for Arizona on March 17, St. Patrick's Day. We'll need to rent a car, and I hope I can succeed in telling them my name is Pat McCrotch, Gird Maloins, or Tug Magroin.


I think we should make our mark while there. We might catch some Giants action. Considering the good access fans in spring training have to players, I believe we should attempt to steal Barry Bonds' cap. It'd create a scene, make the news and all, and we could show them that he wears a size big enough to accommodate Shrek. Your skull doesn't just start growing when you're 38. He's so juiced.


If you and your partner wanted to have a child, how would you feel about potentially being able to select genetic traits? A man and woman can produce endless variations of their genetic material during conception, but would you be open to tailoring the combinations if possible? Select the nicest eyes, genes for height, intelligence? Do you think it'd be good for humans if we could produce only the children as close to perfect as we could make them?

It's got a certain Arian feel, eh?

But what if, instead of selecting genetic traits, you merely had the option of rejecting some? If you could pinpoint genes for, say, cystic fibrosis, would you choose not to utilize that particular genetic recipe?




Based on this sort of selection, how many of us in existence today might potentially never have been born if these options had been available in years past?

It's not so far-fetched.


On that note... time to strap on the Belo genital clamps. Good luck with Monday, ya'll...

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Ah, Wal Mart. If you think it's bizarre in the daytime, try doing your grocery shopping there at midnight on Saturday (well, Sunday I guess).

I saw people with babies and tiny little kids there. Heaven help me if I've ever got my kids with me at Wal Mart at that time of day. That would mean something has gone drastically wrong. Most likely it'd mean that my little mind has finally snapped: "Me and them babies need to go get some S'MORES FLAVORED POP TARTS cuz I got the munchies."

In fact, if I ever refer to being hungry as "the munchies," call Dr. Phil.

I saw a transsexual. I don't mean a drag queen. I mean a person who was clearly born a male (with an adam's apple, big hands, masculine bone structure in the face) but now dresses as a female. Just a person who for whatever reason has decided to present himself/herself as a woman.

I've actually seen her around before, as she worked at the video store for a long time.

I saw partiers here and there, including a woman who was easily twice the age of her cash-flashing young beau. Or maybe she's just partied enough that she merely looks that much older. She's clearly trying to knock a few years off with bottles of blondeness and revealing clothes.

I saw a limousine fill up with regular looking, middle-aged folks who'd been in the express lane next to me.

And then there was yours truly, the weirdest one in the building.


The stats test went pretty well today. I'd say I scored between an 80 and a 90, which is much better than I was prepared for. And seeing that a lot of people were still working on it 30 minutes after I finished was encouraging somehow.


The child development material I'm frantically covering for Tuesday's test is fascinating stuff. 65 pages in and I've already had several "oh wow" moments. I wish the statistics prof would ease up on the homework so I could have proper time to keep up with the child dev stuff.


Speaking of "oh wow" moments, I got Anders Parker's new EP, The Wounded Astronaut. It's 25 minutes long, and I'll bet that the first time I listened to it I stopped what I was doing six times to stare dumbly at the CD player and wonder just where the heck Parker gets this stuff.


It's rainy and cold, and I've had sinus problems for over a week. Each night I'm knocked out with Benadryl, because if I don't take it the drainage keeps me up, makes me cough.

Note to Old Man Winter: Go away. I hate you I hate you I hate you you're not my real father.

(Obscure joke... sorry)


My darling wife, who has been an exercising, better-eating dynamo for months now, is no longer having to buy her clothes in the plus-size section. I'm proud of her, and you should see the look on her face now that she can wear some nice clothes by designers who don't typically make stuff in larger sizes.


Good night, sweet night, farewell, adieu.

Friday, February 25, 2005


I heard screaming as I returned to work from lunch today. A child, a girl I think. I was at the back end of the Reunion parking lot. I've certainly had a number of encounters with thugs and mad homeless guys back there. And it's where someone broke into Kelli's car.

It took a moment for me to realize what it was. I couldn't tell if it was play screaming or the real deal, but I couldn't just walk away. I descended the grassy slope to the street. The levels change drastically there, as an underpass cuts under a rail line.

Standing at the top of the underpass stairs, staring down at something around the corner from me, was a homeless guy, bag of booze at his feet. Just staring, motionless. I began to wonder if the scream had come from the direction he was staring. I wondered if something awful was happening, and he was watching. I walked down the slope to the underpass, a place I don't even like to drive because of all the creeps I see under there. It was caked with a couple inches of pigeon guano the whole way. I got to the place the homeless guy was eyeballing and--nothing. Nothing was there.

I wanted to yell, "Hey rummy, what the hell are you staring at? Is someone screaming around here?" He didn't look like he'd respond to much anyway.

I walked another 100 yards, up the backside of the underpass and to the hotel. Nothing. No people, no screams.

Maybe it was nothing. A tent is set up across the street in another Reunion Arena parking lot, close to the building, and maybe something for kids is going on in there. Maybe they were playing.

I got back to where I'd started and the homeless guy had turned around 180 degrees, staring the same way at the backside of the train station.

I hope it was nothing.

Fire Guns

What unfolded in Tyler yesterday was beyond words. Calling it shocking or awful or tragic wouldn't nearly sum it up sufficiently.

(And as I write this, "1916" by Motorhead starts playing on Launch. I think I'll post the lyrics at the end of this)

A man licensed to carry a handgun confronted the killer in the middle of it all, and by some accounts exchanged gunfire with him. They say that by doing that he likely saved the life of the killer's son, who was apparently the next intended victim. The handgun magazines are probably already writing articles about this man's selfless act.

The handgun didn't help the Samaritan, however. I admire his bravery, but I do wonder about the usefulness of the concealed handgun license.

I'm not licensed, but I do own a gun that I keep in a gun safe beside the bed. Opening it requires a combination. I went to open it a couple of weeks ago and couldn't produce the right numbers in the dark... so there, in my moment of fear as I heard something suspicious, the gun was useless.


In the van this morning, THEBOY said, "If there's a bad guy you need to shoot him with your fire gun." ("Fire gun" is what he calls a real gun; the other type of gun, to him, is a water gun, which goes in the bath tub).

I tried to explain that we really don't want to shoot anyone unless we have absolutely no other choice. I told him that we let the police deal with bad guys.

"Some police shoot bad guys with their fire guns."

Hoo boy.

So... I said that even the police are only supposed to do that when they have no other choice. I explained that even bad guys have mamas and daddies, and if they get shot they probably won't ever see the people they love again.


God, I always had BB guns and pellet guns, and once I was about 10, the occasional rifle or shotgun on loan from Dad.

My grandfather lived on several acres of woodlands in Brazoria, and Dad would send me out there with a .22 to shoot as many crows or squirrels as I wanted.

I was walking back one day, and there was this rustling in the palmettos right off the trail. Something BIG was back there, bigger than I'd ever encountered in the woods. Scared me silly.
So I'm 10 or 11, holding a rifle, and something big is making a commotion in the underbrush... what do you think I did?

Nothing, and thank GOD, because it turned out it was Dad hiding back there, just messing with me. I was a fairly responsible guy, but I have to admit that the thought crossed my mind to just shoot blindly.

I don't think I've ever told Dad that. But I think he'd be glad to know that I behaved according to how he taught me to handle a firearm.


Our house was broken into on Christmas day once. I was probably 17. We'd been in Lake Jackson for the day, spending time with Dad's girlfriend and her kids. We came home to discover the muddy footprints, a few items obviously out of place. We began to wonder if someone might still be in there. Dad got guns for each of us, and we checked out the house.

There, in that moment when confronting a "bad guy" in my home was a very real possibility, I asked myself if I could shoot someone with the gun in my hand. Turns out the answer was a resounding yes.

But no one was there anyway.


We were a household with two men and a teenage girl. A burglar is most likely, we assumed, to look for small valuables, like jewelry and such. And we just didn't really have any. Dad was kind of insulted that nothing was taken.


I've been held at gunpoint before, and it's a type of terror unlike anything else. Hands against a wall, an angry redneck ranting as he paced behind my friends and me. It's easy when watching such a situation on TV to make claims about how you'd handle it, but let me tell you, the first thing that happened to me was that my knees turned to jelly. No way I could have run, and when the cops arrived and saved our necks I could barely even walk. Odd.


I'm 36. What will the next 36 years hold for me? I hope they're full of peace and love and eduation and satisfaction. And chocolate chip cookies.


Happy Friday.



Sixteen years old when I went to the war
To fight for a land fit for heroes
God on my side and a gun in my hand
Chasing my days down to zero
And I marched, and I fought
And I bled, and I died
And I never did get any older
But I knew at the time
That a year in the line
Was a long enough life for a soldier

We all volunteered
And we wrote down our names
And we added two years to our ages
Eager for life
And ahead of the game
Ready for history's pages

And we brawled, and we fought
And we hoped to be stuped
Ten thousand shoulder to shoulder
A thirst for the Hun
We were food for the gun
And that's what you are when you're soldiers

I heard my friend cry
As he sank to his knees
Coughing blood as he screamed for his mother
And I fell by his side
And that's how we died
Clinging like kids to each other

And I lay in the mud, and the guts and the blood
And I wept as his body grew colder
And I called for my mother, but she never came
Though it wasn't my fault, and I wasn't to blame
The day not half over, and ten thousand slain
And now there's nobody remembers our names

And that's how it is
For each soldier

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Rock Rock Rock

Scattered ideas for band names and such...

I do believe that not nearly enough effort goes into band names these days. Sum 41? Saliva? I mean... did these guys lose a bet or something? You get one crack at stardom, and you're putting all of your eggs in the basket labeled Insane Clown Posse??

So... my not-so-serious suggestions... first, band names:

Rumours of My Death (possibly a Fleetwood Mac cover band?)

Uncle Chester and the Sidelong Glances

Exfoliator (Hair metal band)

Spastic Colon and the Vowel Movements


Ramekin (Sounds like a great metal name; just don't tell them it's actually the name of a type of serving dish)

Song title: "I'm in the Nude for Love."

And if I ever built a guitar, I think I'd give it a nice thick paint job, and while the paint is still wet I'd drop my trousers and use my butt cheeks to make an impression across the back. I'd call the guitar my "Butt-caster." Or maybe the "Ass-caster."

And I'd make sure I had a kickass drummer and bassist whom I'd call "The Cruel and Unusual Rhythm Section."

Bruiser's far better at this than I am though... If you stop by, B-dog, I'd be glad to have your thoughts...

Swamp Thing

Ah, Thursday afternoon, and very little to do at work. By God, it's a wonder I haven't spent all day posting meaningless hoo-ha and scattered ephemera...


A video of Helmet playing a blistering "Smart," the best song on their solid CD Size Matters.


Something's come up, and Hood may not be able to go to Arizona for spring training next month. I'm disappointed, but I've got a couple other folks in mind I may ask to go with me. If not, I'll go solo, like I did in '00. God knows I could stand some decompression time.


Continuing the "jerk" theme from a few days ago...

Back in '89 or '90 when I was working at Larry's Music, I went to Sonic for lunch one day. Got my grub, and as I backed out someone behind me started honking. Now, I can't say for sure that I didn't cut someone off or whatever. I looked, of course, before backing out, but that's no guarantee that these guys didn't come around the corner abruptly. They certainly seemed pissed off about something.

Nothing I could do, though, so I pulled out. I was headed down Plantation Drive, going back to work, and those two pulled up beside me. They were yelling, honking, making obscene gestures at me. Assuming that the worst I MAY have done was get in their way in the Sonic parking lot, I grew tired of Tweedledee and Tweedledum making such a scene.

I carried a military issue billy club in the car at the time. Finally I responded to them: "You think you're tough?"

And in their subtle, succinct way, they confirmed that indeed, they believed that they were "tough."

I said, "Follow me."

I turned down Dixie Drive, planning to stop in the parking lot at Larry's and work both of those knuckle-draggin' yahoos over with the club. Then I was going to work their car over with the club, just to give them their money's worth.

I guess that, even two-on-one, they sensed that something was up, and when I turned in to Larry's the kept going straight. Probably best for all involved I guess.


That car was the '76 Ford Maverick my grandmother gave me. It was a manual, a three- speed. First and second got you going, and third covered everything else.

It had some sort of ventilation problem, and every time it rained all the various ventilation innards filled with water. Right after I moved to Austin I was hitting the freeway one day in a storm. The window needed to be defogged, and I hit the switch. Boom--every vent started pouring forth steam. Suddenly every window in the car was steamed up, and it was like sitting in a sauna. It was an interesting display, I'm sure, as I wiped the glass furiously and drove down I35 with the window down, going about 30mph.


A right turn would also cause the vents to dump about a quart of water into the passenger side floorboard.

Once as I was cleaning out the car I saw some greenery down there, which I figured to be a stray blade of grass or something. I grabbed it to toss it out but it was some clover, actually growing in the floorboard. Yes, the carpet was so moist and full of nutrients that it could sustain plant life.

I therefore christened the car Swamp Thing.


Okay, better wrap this up before I start posting fart jokes. Happy Thursday... we're almost there...

Family Reserve

Lyrics to the great Lyle Lovett song:

When I saw the ambulance
Screaming down Main Street
I didn't give it a thought
But it was my Uncle Eugene
He died on October the second 1981

And my Uncle Wilbert
They all called him Skinner
They said for his younger ways
He'd get drunk in the morning
And show me the rolls of fifties and hundreds
He kept in the glove box of his old gray Impala

And we're all gonna be here forever
So Mama don't you make such a stir
Now put down that camera
And come on and join up
The last of the family reserve

Now my second cousin
His name was Callaway
He died when he'd barely turned two
It was peanut butter and jelly that did it
The help she didn't know what to do
She just stood there and watched him turn blue

And we're all gonna be here forever
So Mama don't you make such a stir
Just put down that camera
And come on and join up
The last of the family reserve

And my friend Brian Temple
He thought he could make it
So from the third story he jumped
He missed the swimming pool
Only by inches
And everyone said he was drunk

Now there was great Uncle Julius
And Aunt Annie Mueller
And Mary and Granddaddy Paul
And there was Hanna and Ella
And Alvin and Alec
He owned his own funeral hall

And there are more I remember
And more I could mention
Than words I could write in a song
But I feel them watching
And I see them laughing
And I hear them singing along

We're all gonna be here forever
So Mama don't you make such a stir
Just put down that camera
And come on and join up
The last of the family reserve

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I Think I'm Qualified...

From a job posting I ran across during my never-ending job search:

"Performs EAP and managed care clinical duties; provides diagnostic assessment, referral and/or other services that may include: short term problem resolution, crisis invention, advocacy, education, information on community resources, in-person assessments/brief treatment"


I'm willing to give crisis invention a shot.

The Last

A lot of factors can go into a big decision. Some weigh more heavily than others, of course, but all of them matter nevertheless.

For reasons that I can't even put into words, and probably reasons that this won't even convey, "The Last" by the Replacements was one of the reasons I stopped drinking. A small one, but it resonated with me in such a way that it somehow figured into it. That's about as much sense as I'll ever manage to make of that I guess.


The Last

Does it hurt to fall in love so easy?
Does it hurt to fall in love so fast?
Does it hurt you to find out thirty-second hand?
Is it such a big task such a big task?
Are you too proud to ask?
Remember last one was your last

It's too early to run to momma
It's too late to run like hell
I guess I would tell ya cause I don't want to ask
That this one be your last
And this one, child, is killing you
This one's your last chance
To make this last one really the last

Oh are you too proud to ask?
Is it such a big task?
Remember last one was your last

The next one's always
Gonna last for always
The next one's always on me

Would it hurt to fall in love a little slower?
I know it hurts at any speed
So you have another drink and get down on your knees
You been swearing to God
Now maybe if you'd ask
That this one be your last
Cause this one, child, is killing you
This one's your last chance
To make this last one really the last

Gonna last for always
It's gotta last for always



You know, working in TV like I do and all, I have to admit that the ideas for these shows don't seem all that great. I mean, it seems like any old schmuck could come up with something they'd put on the air. Even me.

Some ideas:

Not Everybody Loves Raymond -- Comedian Ray Romano is locked in the octagon for five minutes with UFC badass Chuck Liddell...


Just Shot Me -- Infinitely annoying "comic" David Spade is caught on video, Cops-style, after he smarts off to the wrong person and gets himself capped.


Black Eye from the Straight Guy -- Hilarity ensues as the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy suggests decorating tips for the participants in the reality show The Ultimate Fighter.

(Have I gone to that well one time too many...?)


American Idle -- The greatest reality show. It's just a shot of a guy in his boxers, flipping channels. Each one just has footage of him in his boxers, flipping channels...


Commercial -- Girls Gone Mild! Watch as intelligent young co-eds react with disgust at the suggestion that they'd show their breasts for some punk millionaire's latest whack video.


Commercial -- Jim Adler, Attorney, screaming in Spanish, "Yo soy tu abogado tan fuerte!" Oh, wait... this one already exists...


Queens of Kings -- A reality show following the exploits of all the gay relatives of GOP politicians


Sex in the Country -- A reality TV show following the exploits of a family that artificially inseminates cattle for a living...


Quirky Couple with Wacky Neighbors Who Drop In Unexpectedly and Trade Hateful Barbs Under the Pretense of Humorous Sarcasm -- Oh wait, I just described every sitcom out there...


Annoying Aussie Hunter -- Watch as a crocodile finally catches up with Steve Irwin...


Man, I could do this all day...


Okay, feeling a little better today. A little.

The boss just sent his latest "no personal surfing or communications on company 'puters" email. Reminds us all that we signed something agreeing not to do it, blah blah blah. God, he'd have to fire everyone in the room if they enforced that, including himself. Hell, he sent us all one of those chain emails yesterday ("My sister swore this brought her good luck...").


Where are my cohorts? Where are the other people like me? Why doesn't anyone else think like me? I can't decide if I'm smarter than everyone else or dumber.


More Wal Mart: Sunday as I shopped with my kids, who were both very good, I watched a couple with a young boy. He was maybe six years old. Yeah, he was getting into things, opening freezer doors, and once he got in my way as I tried to move forward. No huge deal, really. And certainly nothing that merited his father (step-father, mother's boyfriend, whatever) grabbing him by the back of the neck and shoving him. He didn't fall at least.


Where is hope? I don't see much when I look outside my walls. But I see it within them.


THEBOY sits in his bed at night with a flashlight, reading his books or playing little games in bed. And Kelli and I really don't mind. We want his room to be his domain, his safe place. He's a good kid, and never been one to give us serious problems at bedtime. So we cut him some slack. When he gets tired he'll go to sleep. Heck, his flashlight went dim last night, so I cut on his closet light.

Later as he slept I went in and turned it off.

I came in this morning to wake him up and it was back on.

Hope. I hope that this isn't an illusion, that he will remain the sparkling, conscientious little fellow we see. Left to his own devices I'm sure he would. But someday he'll be out there with the brutes and the dimwits, the heartless and the misguided.


I see it in my daughter, determined to play the "drop my milk so Daddy will pick it up" game this morning. I tried to ignore it, and she stared at me, making sucking noises to indicate that she wanted her drink back. Brilliant! And I got suckered too. Handed it back to her, once, and she dropped it again. Game over, kid.


It's Wednesday. Just place one foot in front of the other and we'll get through this thing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


This makes me furious. Absolutely furious.

They've arrested a suspect, and if this proves to be the murderer then I'm ready to indulge a craving for blood. Punch this asshole's ticket someone, PLEASE.

I'm sorry that Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi and Susan Sarandon would disagree. Screw it. The murderer blew his chance at living, period.

Poison the skies and the rivers and the soil. Steal our wallets and our purses and our innocence in darkened parking lots. Violate our trust. Smash our windows on Christmas and take the gifts. Vandalize and raze everything in sight, and be sure to mark your territory with pungent, booze-scented urine. Spread disease and blight and misery and woe, and get away with it while you can.

Use what's between your ears as an instrument of hate, and what's between your legs as an instrument of rape. Let all that someone once tried to teach you was sacred and pure and meaningful rot away as you chuck conscience in the name of impulses unnamed. Curse your creator and slander your parents. Walk down that path reserved solely for those who have somehow evolved beyond animals yet for whom "human" is a misnomer.




Someone needs to pull a Jack Ruby on this guy.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sweet Kid

Man, THIS was a wasted day at work. Utterly gorgeous outside, very little to do at the office... these are the days I won't miss when looking back over my career.


You guys ARE stopping by High Bias once in a while, right? Best music opinions on the web.


Got this call at home the other night. Someone asked for Kelli by name, and I informed him that she wasn't available. The man identified himself as being with the Dove Foundation, which I'd never heard of. He said his organization was committed to cleaning up the media for families with children.

He then proceeded to ask if I had any children in the house.


I asked him again what he was doing, and he said, "This ISN'T a sales call. I just need to know if you have any children in the house."

Me: "I'm not prepared to share that information over the phone."

Him: "Sir, this isn't a sales call. I just need to know if there are children or grandchildren in the house, even once or twice a month, so you can participate in this survey."

Me: "No thanks, I'm not interested in participating in this."

Now, I've since gone online to look up this Dove Foundation, and indeed, they look like a reputable outfit. But (A) I had no idea whether this strange man was really with them and (B) if they're so doggone interested in what's best for kids, shouldn't they realize that a survey in which a man insists that he NEEDS to know whether I have young ones in the house is going to ruffle some feathers?

I have to wonder how many people responded the same way I did.


My boy Geoff is engaged. Ah, I love to see people in love...


And here's a plug for the personal jeweler who created Jeff's engagement ring and Kelli's wedding ring. David Miller does fine work, period. When it came time for me to live up to my promise to get Kelli a decent wedding ring for our 10th anniversary, I just couldn't shake the feeling that the symbol of my everlasting love for her wasn't going to be found situated next to Orange Julius in the mall.


I didn't even go so far as to recommend David to Geoff (verbally at least). He just saw the ring when I was showing it off here one day and sought out David himself when the time came.

In fact, I'd forgotten I ever said that bit about Orange Julius when I showed the ring to Geoff; he reminded me of it not long ago.


A sweet image from the weekend: THEBOY holding Aunt Amanda's hand on the way into the airport Sunday afternoon. Considering how infrequently he sees members of my side of the family, I'm pleasantly surprised at how warm he usually is towards them. At bedtime Friday night I told him that before he went to bed he could wave good night to Aunt Amanda or give her a hug. He opted for the hug (keep in mind that she'd been there for less than an hour at that point). I take great pride in that boy's affectionate nature.


Saturday afternoon as he and the baby played in his room, she smacked him in the mouth with a drum stick. His swollen lip looked pretty painful, and he cried for longer than usual. As Kelli tried to comfort him (I didn't catch on quickly enough that my attempts to help were just hindering things...) he sobbed, "I love that baby..."

Sweet kid.


C'mon 6:30...

We Speak English

Was thinking about spring training recently (go figure).

I made a trip to Florida in 2000 to check out the Rangers in a little Grapefruit League action. It was a great trip. I went bananas for baseball, just taking in as many games as I could. I saw the Reds, Pirates, and of course, the Rangers. I had a lot of contemplative down time as well.

And baseball is everywhere down there. MLB, minor league, whatever. I was in a restaurant one night, a down-home sort of place where I probably grabbed a burger or some such while reading the local paper.

And these two guys came in who struck me as being ball players. Better dressed than anyone in the place; shorts and flip flops were certainly the norm, and they were in slacks and button-up shirts, wearing real shoes. Athletic, and probably Dominican or Puerto Rican. They sat down across the aisle from me and went unnoticed for a while.

A waitress stopped at their table abruptly.

"What are you guys doing here?"

They just stared at her blankly.

"There's a sign up there that says 'Please wait to be seated.' But no, ya'll can't read that, can you? Ya'll aren't supposed to just walk on in and sit anywhere you want. I cain't do nothin' to help you. This is AMERICA, and we speak English here."

Her tone was clear enough, and two quiet, well-dressed young baseball players from another country bowed out and left without a word.


In the middle of all that I briefly considered stepping in to try and use my so-so Spanish to help these guys get a meal. But there's something about stepping into the middle of a big ugly scene that I just can't come to grips with sometimes. I felt guilty about it after they left.


Amanda was here this weekend, and it was good to see her. She and Kelli went to see Duran Duran, and they had a grand time for sure. They'd both seen the band before, and they said that this was far and away the better show.

Mark Lowry's review the next morning in the Star Telegram didn't thrill them though. Kelli wants to write an angry letter. Ah, 20 years after high school and I've got an angry, letter-writin', review-bashin' Duranie on my hands.... some things never change.


So it's back to work. Blech. And I've got a sore throat.


Heading into Wal Mart last night to get groceries, I was carrying THEGIRL and holding THEBOYs hand, trying to get us safely into the store. As we shuffled through a crosswalk, a man in a red car kept coming and coming. He was moving slowly, but he was not going to stop. He had his window down as he came within two feet of us, and actually honked as we dared to expect a pedestrian's right of way.

"Hey EINSTEIN," I yelled into his window. "I'm here with my KIDS you idiot!"

He didn't even turn to look.


I can't be proud of a display like that in front of the kids, but being angry at him was justified, of course. The guy on the crutches behind me echoed my sentiments.


Desperate for a UFC fix Saturday night, I rented some sort of compilation of greatest knockouts. It wasn't nearly as enjoyable as watching real bouts I'm afraid. That actually felt somewhat barbaric; at least while watching real bouts I'm into the competition and the skill. Just watching someone sustain a serious injury isn't something I can take a whole lot of pleasure in (as I learned).


A Lightnin' Hopkins documentary is in the works. Cooooool.


It's Monday. If you go postal, please email me first so I can send you some names to add to your list...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Ghostly Hoo-Ha

Divorce Court is one of the shows my station airs. Yes, now the viewer can sit back and eat a Snickers bar while watching other people's hearts break.



The UFO story might have to wait a while. With Amanda coming this weekend, well, the study is where she'll be sleeping and all, so I won't have late-night access to the computer like I usually do.


Bruiser has updated his blog--yahoo!


Oh, wait... since being laid off by Yahoo in '02 I'm not actually allowed to say that anymore...


Little kids can be downright creepy sometimes...

Sunday morning as THEBOY and his buddy sat at the table, eating their snacks, THEBOY looked up and to my left and said, "Who's that lady?"

"What lady?"

"That lady standing right there."

I looked around, seeing nothing.

Then his buddy chimed in: "Yeah, she's got a boy haircut."

I glanced slowly around, getting goosebumps. I'm not one easily spooked into ghostly hoo-ha, but doggone if the little buggers weren't creeping me out. And then they didn't say another word about it.


Shoot, they probably planned it like that. "Hey S-dog... follow my lead when I try to creep out my Dad... homeboy's eyes can get BIG!"


Same setting, about a year ago. THEBOY is sitting at the table, eating a snack or lunch or whatever.

And he's staring into the kitchen, grinning like a Cheshire cat.

I ask him, "What in the world are you smiling at?"

"The man in the kitchen."

Same puzzled glance from me, seeing nothing in the kitchen.

THEBOY stared for several more seconds, then went back to his food.

I was just about to see if THEBOY would ask the man in the kitchen to maybe wash some dishes since he obviously didn't have anything better to do.


Have a good weekend. Maybe the clock will be slow then, like it is today...

Spreads His Wings

Was driving along this morning, having somehow successfully gotten both kids ready for school alone, and I was quite pleased with myself. Drinking an iced coffee and jamming a scone in my mouth certainly helped. And I was punching buttons on the radio when I thought, MAN I could use some Black Sabbath this morning.

BOOM, 30 seconds later some classic rock station rolled "War Pigs." I was ecstatic. And now my ears are ringing.


Is there any line in any song more chilling than "Satan, laughing, spreads his wings"?


THEBOY in the van this morning: "Dad, do you know what eagles can do when they spread their wings?"

Me: "What's that?"

Kevin: "Gliiiiiide."


THEBOY'S Aunt Amanda is coming in tonight, landing at Love Field. THEBOY has already tried to swing an angle to get an airplane ride out of this somehow. I had to explain to him that Amanda is the only one getting to fly.

But he will someday. With the warm weather coming (and I say that as sort of positive reinforcement for the cosmic weather planners, because it currently seems like this winter will NEVER FREAKING END), I need to haul him out to the airport viewing platform again.


Devotchka... now THIS is exciting. Yes, I've already ordered my copy...


I've had flying dreams for as long as I can remember. In the earliest versions I'd get way up in the sky and suddenly fall to earth. My mother once told me she came into my room and saw my body bouncing on the bed in my sleep, as if I'd just fallen from some great height.

I still have the dreams, but not as frequently, sorry to say. Each time, though, there's the thought that this ISN'T dream, and I really can fly! I catch the breeze just right, spread my arms and I'm off... Usually not too high. Just enough to clear whatever's in my way. I don't fall anymore, but I do wake up quite disappointed since, again, it was just a dream.


Happy Friday.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I Guess Fertilizer Wasn't An Option...

What Flavour Are You? I taste like Menthol.I taste like Menthol.

I am refreshingly different; some people don't appreciate that. My sharp honesty gets up some people's noses, while others really enjoy it. I am something of an acquired taste. What Flavour Are You?

Too Much Conscience

Starbucks introduces a coffee liqueur.


I've got strong opinions about alcohol, in case that hasn't been clear. I spent a lot of time as a traffic manager (in duties, if not in title or pay--ah, the Belo way...), and that means working with commercials all day. Best placement, separation, best rates... it's all about squeezing the most money out of the advertisers.

And of course, I always felt that if I had to place a beer commercial or somesuch there would be a serious problem. I do not want my fingerprint on that. I want no hand in the process that peddles booze to viewers. It destroys too many lives. My shrink does not understand my hardcore stance on this, believing that my one little part would have no discernable impact on the decisions of someone with a drinking problem anyway.

It never came up, so I guess I'm off the hook. Beer ads tend to be national, whereas I worked almost exclusively with local ads.


The 2003 NCAA Finals aired 939 advertisements for alcohol products. That's more than that year's World Series, Superbowl and NHL playoffs combined. Do not doubt that the alcohol industry depends upon advertising to viewers who are below the legal drinking age of 21.


"Here we are now--entertain us," in case anyone was wondering, was from the Nirvana breakout song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

I actually loved that album, and it's really odd for me to love something popular. But I can't stand Nirvana anymore. Everything of theirs now just sounds like Kurt Cobain's suicide note to me. I don't know if that makes any sense. I just can't ditch the knowledge of what the guy did to himself and enjoy the music.

Stevie Ray Vaughan's CD Live Alive affects me similarly. He didn't commit suicide or anything, but I know that during the recording and mixing of this album his drug problem was peaking, and the whole process was a miserable wreck. So I can't let that go and enjoy the music. And hell, it's really not that good anyway.


Too much conscience? Is that possible? I'm doing my best to ditch a job with incredible security, one from which it is apparently almost impossible to be fired, so that I can work with drug addicts. I'm going to do my best not to end up in a position where I'm a tech or something, emptying bedpans and puke buckets. But you know, I fully expect that getting into the recovery field will involve some time "in the trenches," so there's likely to be a rough stretch.

Still, I have to do it. It's just how I'm wired. I have absolutely zero respect for my industry, my medium, my employer. I'm sorry. People who know me realize that I'm rather far-removed from caring about sitcoms or celebrities or reality TV. I'm programming shit all day long, and I have no idea what most of it is.

My heroes are guys like BB King, Billie Holiday, Nolan Ryan, Larry Brown, etc. I don't mean to sound "highfalutin'." God knows I enjoy something vapid now and again (like Most Extreme Challenge on Spike--watching Japanese people injure themselves is very funny for some reason). But at the end of the day, staring into the television kinda feels like another escape from reality, like another illicit substance somehow.


Hell, I'm spending 6-10 hours a week on stats homework anyway. Watching TV isn't something I even have much time for.


I love Dog the Bounty Hunter though. See? I'm not trying to be Socrates here or anything (in case THAT wasn't painfully obvious). But television, ultimately, is brain candy. Fun, but not healthy.


How long before I get so full of myself that I take the family to live in a shack in the woods, Kaczynski-style?

(Is that too harsh of a joke? Damn this conscience of mine...)


The weekend is coming, and I'm looking forward to having my sister up. She really deserves a break, so she and Kelli are going to get to be girls together for a while...


A great song that sounds like it's about something important but is really about nothing at all: "Larry" by Buffalo Tom.


It's Thursday. Holy crap, we just might manage to cheat Death for another workin' week...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Four Sweetest Words

It was the winter of the Red Sox
Who finally chucked the Curse
For Boston fans it was great!
For NY fans it couldn't be worse

So they toured with the trophy
And Manny did his thing
While Pedro courted the Mets
Before he even got his ring

Free agents got big bucks
Nothing new to tell
Beltran's overpaid
And Ordonez prays for his ACL

The Unit's a mercenary
Where stars ride coattails
And Nomo's in Tampa
(When all else fails...)

Texas wanted Delgado
But couldn't muster the dough
And now he's a Marlin
While Hicks curses Chan Ho

So February is here
Time for God's favorite sport
And the four sweetest words:
Pitchers and catchers report!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Broadly similar sentiments in two songs: We're done, it's time for us each to move on. You don't want me, I don't want you...

Similar song titles too... "Sail On" (by the Commodores) and "Sailin' On" (by Bad Brains).

And I love them both, actually, though they couldn't sound more different.


I won't be buying the Jose Canseco book. I've never liked him, and his tell-all "autobiography" (he's now written one more book than he's ever read in his life...) isn't something I think he should get some of my money for writing.

I think he's probably greatly exaggerating the truth about exactly what went on back in the day. Maybe he convinced Pudge, Raffy, Juan and Big Mac to get on the juice, maybe he didn't. But let's use our eyes:

Raffy is not built like a guy on steroids. A strong, natural physique, but he's got a little flab, isn't very well-defined. He's got what I'd consider to be an old-school, decent natural athletic build. More 70s Burt Reynolds than 80s Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Pudge is certainly an athlete with good muscular definition. I've been to spring training, and I saw the guy in shorts. But keep in mind that a common side effect of steroids is knee problems, and Pudge, a catcher, really hasn't had many. I'd guess Pudge is into supplements of other sorts, and maybe some that'll hit the MLB radar someday and be banned. I don't see him as a steroid user per se though.

Juan is another Canseco, albeit a better overall hitter when healthy. Tremendous definition, and a much bigger guy than when he first broke into the show. I can only speculate, and I'll have to admit that I'm more inclined to think he's done this simply because I don't like the guy. He's injured a heck of a lot, and that's certainly the sign of a 'roid user.

McGwire is probably getting by on semantics at this point. Everyone knows he used androstenedione, which is banned in some other sports. Not quite a steroid or a growth hormone or whatever, but potent enough to raise eyebrows in MLB. He retired when his knees got too bad for him to be a productive hitter, if you recall.

For each of those guys, was Canseco really a factor? Highly dubious. He's giving himself too much credit. If they dabbled in 'roids, or even continued to use them, they made that call on their own I'd say.


And there's Launch, playing a live version of Alejandro Escovedo's "Pale Blue Eyes" (the Velvet Underground tune). Good Launch... c'mere, boy, let me scratch you behind the ears. Have a Scooby snack.


I worked for a while with a guy who played guitar in the Al Escovedo Orchestra. We were talking about the noisy cacaphony that Al embraced along with the beauty. And he said that he thought Al included it simply because he didn't understand it.

Ah, Rick. Such talent in your hands, and a strangely chiseled face... but not much going on between yer ears, son.


Pitchers and catchers report TOMORROW!

Pedro Martinez showed up for spring training 10 days early. Now, was anyone there? Or did he have to hop the fence and beg neighborhood kids to play long-toss with him?


It's a rambling day... maybe more later. Maybe not.


Someone asked me last night, "Hey, how's Fluke doing?"

I just stared.

"You know, Fluke? Your book?"

I had a good belly laugh on the spot. I think that's what I'll start calling it now...


Was at the train depot a couple of summers ago, staring off into one of the little waterways that skirt the property. They're full of ducks and... nutria!

There was a little island out in the middle, and it was just covered with them, sunning themselves, lying around. I grabbed some big rocks and walked to the edge of the train platform. I hurled them as hard as I could a few times, and finally got to where I could land them within about five feet of the island. Out of the blue comes this rock, making a huge splash quite close to the napping nutria.

Their reaction?

Nothing. Didn't care in the least. I guess that's behavior typical of an animal threatened by few or no predators in its adopted ecosystem.


I'm thinking of posting the UFO story this weekend. The blog is certainly good as a repository for stories that aren't going anywhere anyway, right?


The train depot, by the way, is easily the coldest spot in Tarrant County. Elevated, kinda out near scattered buildings and trees and small bodies of water... A breeze shoots through there on a cold winter day that'd make Frosty the Snowman beg for thermal undies.


My sister is coming to town this weekend, and I'm excited! She and Kelli are going to see Duran Duran. Yes, my tongue hurts from all the biting.


Okay, I've had my coffee, avoided work for too long. Happy Tuesday.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Ultimate Billy

Got a phone call from Whit, who had a graduation ceremony at his school Saturday.

He was telling me about one of his students, a kid named Billy. He's quite small, wears thick glasses, and naturally managed to get himself a bully problem.

The family had tried to get Billy some martial arts instruction at some point before, but he's not the only child in the family into it, and the monthly $600+ was just too much.

Enter Jade Mountain and their much more affordable family plan.

The kids are in, getting lessons, and Billy is improving dramatically. He's had to work hard for his progress, but he has made significant strides. Whit does not let anyone slide on their tests.

So Saturday here comes Billy's dad with a solemn look on his face, wanting to talk to Whit. Seems a bully was picking on the kid, again, and...

(Relish it, because you KNOW it's coming...)

Billy fought back. No details as to what exactly transpired, but the father told Whit that Billy "doesn't have a bully problem anymore."

That's got to be HUGE. How many of us were just like that? What must it mean to this kid to face his fears in the flesh and overcome them? This could change just about everything for him. School could become an entirely different place without some meathead pounding on him.

Billy DID get in trouble with the principal, by the way, and in fact, his Dad was worried about telling Whit because Jade Mountain rules make it quite clear that fighting is discouraged.

(If you're reading this Whit, I'll be glad to have a clarification of the rule).

But I gather Whit didn't think this was anything worthy of a reprimand or worse. How could he? I'm sure the rule is in place because some people, naturally, develop some skills and might be inclined to use them unnecessarily, inappropriately.

Such was not the case with Billy, and we all know that.

So it was an emotional weekend for Whit, and you know, hearing the story from him certainly affected me too. This is why he does what he does. This is the type of fundamental difference in someone's life that a teacher surely dreams about.

[Note: I changed the child's name. Everything else in the story is true]


Maybe I'll go into a thing about bullies at some point. God knows I had to deal with a number of them. I was always puzzled at how completely RANDOM it was. Over and over I'd think, Do I know you? Why do you think you hate me? Do you think I'm someone else? Why can't you leave me alone?


And it makes me concerned for THEBOY. He's a big kid, and that doesn't reassure me much, because I know a big kid with a kind heart can be a target too. I'd like to get his little fanny in some classes at some point, but back the truck up, Briscoe-san... he's only four.


Good weekend here. The dinner date went fairly well after a rough start. Somehow I ended up picking up the babysitter about a half hour later than I'd wanted. Got up to the Gaylord Texan just in time and discovered that they had no record of my name, my reservations, nothing. My tickets saved my neck, but it just about got ugly when they said they had no seats for us. And telling us we could just "find two empty seats" wasn't going over well either.

But we did, and had a grand time watching a murder mystery while we ate some good food. Kelli even solved it.

And the building was amazing! Gorgeous stuff. It's like this huge atrium with a water feature built to look like the river walk in San Antonio. Definitely a cool place.


Pitchers and catchers report Wednesday. God I love the sound of that. And before they set foot on the mound in Arlington, Hood and I will have been out to spring training to watch so much baseball a regular man might just spontaneously combust. Seriously, we're easily looking at six games in four days, maybe more. Kelli's the best wife in the world for letting me go.

I wish we could leave tomorrow, let me tell ya.


Okay, enough. Good night. Good week to you all.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Business of Being Me

Can I get back to the business of being me? Pretentious rambling, bad jokes, random links, quotes from my heroes...?

Okay, Ralph Wiggum isn't really a hero. I'm more of a Milhouse man.


My buddy Mike Llorca talked about a disastrous diaper incident with his baby son Joshua the other day. J-dog crapped on him, peed on him and sneezed on him. Mike noted that Joshua came very close to achieving the rare "bodily fluid cycle."

(Obscure to some, but not to baseball fans...)


Speaking of bodily fluids, I've been drawn to those UFC videos lately. Whit ( showed me some at his place once, and over the last couple of weeks I find that they're a good way to wind down after a tough week.

I was anxious to share a couple with my buddy Erik Hood, and he was quite a vocal naysayer. He's from Hawaii, and I gather the sport is popular out there. He believes it's trashy more than anything.

(What does he know about trashy? They don't have mobile homes in Hawaii... as he says, "MOBILE homes, bra... where you think they're gonna go? It's an ISLAND...")

The fights are brutal, no doubt. I just watched the bloodiest fight I've ever seen, a rematch between Randy Couture (who won) and Vitor Belfort. I watched a guy get his arm broken last week, and he wanted to keep fighting. Dude, your arm is supposed to bend at the ELBOW.

I don't know that I can make an argument to defend this sport to someone who doesn't like it for whatever reason. It's hard to be a proponent of violence as entertainment (though other violent sports are popular; I guess nothing is as specifically focused on inflicting pain as UFC. I personally can't stand to watch bull riding--it scares me to death).

I do think there are some incorrect assumptions about the fights though. There are rules, and there is a referee. A fighter can submit ("tap out") if he's had enough. If a fighter is unable to defend himself, the referee will end the bout. No bites, kicks to the groin, eye gouges or kicks to a man lying down are allowed. Again, hard to defend something that could be seen as barbaric, but it's not a complete melee.

Frankly, considering that I've got a shrink who's a big believer in getting out one's frustrations, I feel like these videos do that to a certain extent. They can certainly be good for an adrenaline rush.

And it's interesting to watch different styles and disciplines square off. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is well-represented, though there are plenty of Muay Thai/kickboxing, wrestling, and boxing guys. Nobody really seems to come in as a Karate, Tai Kwan Do or Kung Fu fighter; you really get a sense of what's most effective. Guys I like to watch so far: Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Yves St. Edward, and Nick Diaz. I'm not so keen on Tito Ortiz or Vitor Belfort.


I quit watching boxing for a stretch in the 80s after Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini killed a Korean boxer (was his name Doo Koo Kim?). But eventually I drifted back to it, justifying it to myself by noting that every man who steps into the ring knows the risks.


The buzz about Inside Deep Throat ( is something I won't get into (at least not at the moment--maybe later).

But it does remind me of a chilling passage from Cracked ( by Dr. Drew Pinsky. He works at an inpatient addiction facility. Routine physicals are part of admission. He knows that a lot of the women who end up with drug habits have been abused. He mentions that he can tell even if the patient hasn't said anything because when he peers into her mouth he sees a particular "pharyngeal relaxation."


Once you really open your eyes, man, it becomes clear that there's a broadly unhealthy attitude towards women in our society. Objectification is a serious problem.


Wait, I told myself I wouldn't get HEAVY this time. It's been a heavy enough week.


I also told myself I wouldn't blather on about how awful my statistics class is. I will ask that, if you're doing anything between 11am and 2pm on Saturdays that doesn't involve listening to a lecture on statistics, be thankful.


Speaking of Mike Llorca and fights... he works for an ATM outfit, and they've got video of a customer fighting one of their machines to a draw. The referee stopped the fight when the customer smashed the video screen with his fist.

But I still think the ATM could beat Tito Ortiz.



I guess it's late enough, and I've prattled on about nothing long enough.

Sleep in, sleep well, sleep in peace. You've got a roof over your head and someone loves you.

[Sorry for the in-text links; when posting from home, on the iMac, I can't do hyperlinks]

Friday, February 11, 2005

We Regular People

Wow. If we regular people are ever going to understand anything about quantum physics, Brian Greene is the man who can dumb it down enough. He touches on string theory, intelligent design, and how there may actually be as many as 10 dimensions.

Man, this guy would be one dynamite professor. Makes me want to read his book The Elegant Universe.

What, No Farewell Party??

I've just been given the official Belo kick in the balls. That is, I made the worst mistake possible, cost my company 10s of thousands of dollars, and it still wasn't good enough to get me fired.

Damn I'm disappointed...


Got a nice surprise in store for Kelli tomorrow night. Got a Valentine's date all set up. I think she'll like it.


Grad school stuff is coming together nicely. The two people I approached about writing letters of recommendation for me have agreed. Still trying to locate one more.


Danny doesn't update his bloody blog enough. C'mon bro! Here we are now... entertain us!


Danny won't have any idea what I'm referencing there.


The kids are both healthy--yahoo! I need to enjoy this while I can, because it doesn't tend to last long.


Yesterday THEBOY asked me if there are any bad guys near us. We were driving through the neighborhood, headed to the daycare. I started to say no, but then remembered...

I drove him by the house of an elderly man arrested not long ago for trying to seduce a 16-year-old girl near a high school. She was walking home and he tried to smooth-talk her into his car. He was quite clear about what he was interested in. She refused, and promptly brought cops down on him.

I know the guy hasn't been tried or anything, but "innocent until proven guilty" isn't a very good guideline when trying to explain to your child what street is potentially off-limits when they hit bike-riding age.

THEBOY said we should get our "fire guns" and shoot him. I told him that no, we let the police deal with the bad guys.

It felt like a coarse, possibly over-harsh thing to do. Did I over-react? Should I have glossed over the fact that a likely pedophile lives walking distance from our house? Is introducing him to something he should be wary of good parenting, or is it merely perpetuating an unnecessary fear in our fear-stricken culture? I have to stick with the former, I'm afraid.

Worrying unnecessarily is a bad thing, yes, but you know, I also believe that worrying also fosters a certain amount of preparation.


Screw it. I'll still accept the certificate of achievement in March. A commendation for some good work isn't negated by a screwup elsewhere.


I leave you with this final, thought-provoking quote:

"My cat's breath smells like cat food." Ralph Wiggum.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Wrong Cheese

Some humor... finally...


Last night before we drifted off to sleep, Kelli and I lay there reminiscing about our vacation in Spain in 1999. She was trying to recall the name of this great cheese we bought in Barcelona:

"It was... 'cavron'-something, right?"

(Pause for Spanish-speaking readers to laugh.)

"Cavron" happens to mean bastard, which isn't the name of the cheese we had. It was cabra rocinante, a bold, soft goat cheese.


Friday is almost here. Whether Friday will find me HERE at Belo is another story. Currently, I hope not.


There is a scene in Spike Lee's excellent 25th Hour where Mary D'Annunzio (Anna Paquin) glides, high, full of herself and all the brash sexual tension she's creating with her teacher, Philip Seymour Hoffman, through a crowded dance club. Music is pounding, people fill the frame, and she appears to be floating, experiencing reality in about half-time. I'm told this is a Spike Lee conceit, and that he does it in a number of his films.

That's how I feel today.


Peppered with anger though. I finally got the Superbowl butt-chewing. I made good points, remained accountable, and threw it back in the face of my supe when she lied about how much training I said I wanted. I will assume proper responsibility, but when the facts get distorted I will not roll over and submissively urinate on myself. Corporate is involved, HR too... A clear attempt to intimidate me with name-dropping occurred, and I was not affected. The three days of silence I've experienced over this is odd, and I'd say that the suggestion that we'll have some sort of pronouncement on this tomorrow, a Friday, leads me to believe that indeed, I might get sacked. At this point I hope I do.

I put a respectable slow burn on the managers, and by the time the meeting was over they were backpedaling into niceties. I'm satisfied that I've made my points.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A Larry Brown excerpt & a job update

A passage from Big Bad Love by Larry Brown. Here the character Leon Barlow, who has recently emerged from a long bender, writes about his daughter:

Alisha died right after that. They said it was crib death, SIDS, but I don't think that's what it was. I thought it was punishment to me for giving up my wife and my family and all the wrath of God howling after me all the days of my life to the ends of the earth. I wanted to go out into the forest and live like a madman with leaves for clothes and live in a hole in the ground and throw rocks at anybody who came near.

My whole family was there. I was stunned with all the marijuana and liquor I could stuff into myself and still remain standing. I signed papers, made promises, heard prayers and screaming and gnashing of teeth. Cried till my eyes were sore. I took on a pain that would never leave me, never let me rest until years had passed, and then it would always remain like lead that had settled in the bottom of my heart, a little sad face smiling up, reminding me always, even when I lay on my deathbed, Alisha, born wrong, Alisha, child of God, Alisha a soul wafting out across space with her tiny hands clapping.


Turns out that the last time I cried was this morning as I read this, again, on the train. Larry Brown was the writer I wish I could be. I will spend the rest of my life churning out words in some capacity or another, simply for the sake of creating something, and I doubt I will ever come close to this sort of power.


But I'll keep trying. I heartily recommend that anyone who hasn't read Larry Brown do so. Have I made that clear enough?


The scenario at work can currently be summarized best by this excerpt from an email I sent to my sister today:

Thank you [for the moral support]. They're really researching this thing top to bottom, and it's coming out just how many screwups occurred during this. My screwup got the ball rolling, but it was an honest error, not something I blew off or overlooked. I completely misunderstood something I saw every time I looked at it. The experienced people in this scenario (ie everyone else) were content to merely let it fall to pieces. Heck, station people were watching it at home [with logs in hand no less] and KNEW it wasn't right and didn't bother to pick up the phone and give the order to straighten things out.

And what's perplexing corporate at the moment is how some $0 commercials DID get broadcast but spots worth 10s of thousands of dollars did not. Again, a colossal screwup in-house.

I'm beginning to believe I won't get canned, because it's becoming clear to everyone that I'm the only person involved who tried to do the right thing. Everyone else slacked off.

Still, I want out. I'm taking this as my cue to start looking for another job in earnest. I've started putting feelers out here and there.

Again, thanks for the support. I'm done being nervous over it. I just plumb ran out of nerves, you know? And my friends and family all helped a lot by voicing their support.


Good night, good night. Really.

Monday, February 07, 2005

I Don't Have It... But You Do

That's what she said to him, having caught him on the phone just as he walked in the door. She had a handful of pills, again, and they were next on the to-do list.


Yeah, December was the last time I cried. It's difficult to do. I don't have anything against it, but tears don't come easily. I heave and shudder and feel like an engine that's gone unstarted for too long. The rhythm lurches and falters, and something should be taking off but it doesn't. Let go, I tell myself. Chuck the self-consciousness, even though you know Kelli will see what you've been doing and want to talk about it. And by the time she sees it you'll be done and would rather not get into it anyway.


I have it. I was there beside the crib, listening to my daughter, my joy, my innocent tour guide as she cried her sad bedtime tears. I have it.

Bedtime is all it was, but the sheer sadness that tiny person could project, only 10 months out of the womb... it triggered something in me. I have it.


God I let THEBOY drag out bedtime tonight, but it was joyful to just lose myself in the sweet narrations of the little sovereign in his room. He beat the drums with abandon, threw the soft baseball to me, and impressed me with his ability to get his Lion King talking book gizmo to warble its microchip wonders. I'm going to guess that perspective is a key component in the coping process, and let me tell you, nothing gives you perspective like watching a little boy sit in his bed with a flashlight night after night, lost in books just like you when you were a kid.


They tell us in class that every person has an emotional range. People have their own natural top and end bottom end, and the danger comes when hitting their bottom makes them self-destructive. I'm talking about suicide. And the teachers claim there's a level below that which is basically complete lethargy. On the one hand, it's not as dangerous, because its sufferers tend to be unable to get out of bed and actually destroy themselves. But then again, they will come out of the worst depression at some point, and are quite likely to pass through a suicidal period on their way back towards stability.

My bottom end doesn't go that low, thankfully. Never has. I'm angry, disappointed, sorry, and feeling pretty dumb at the moment. But great Seamus McSwiney, man... it's only TV.


Maybe I'd be a stunner at this, utterly perfect, if I had much respect for television at all. I don't know if anyone there quite realizes exactly how far-removed from Fox programming my personal life is. Heck, I finally even agree that the Simpsons is way overdue to come off the air.


So tomorrow will tell me a lot. I'm tired of pulling together the memos and the email scripts detailing who said what and when. None of it matters at all, and if the aim is to focus the blame then buddy, I should be right in their sites. Hit me with your best shot.


Notice how this job pulls me from high to low so quickly? I'm supposed to get a commendation next month, as I've mentioned way too much already. Can I pull a George C. Scott and refuse it on principle?


Thank you Kelli, and Amanda and Whit and Hood for raising your fists, for believing in me and liking me enough to support me.




A Bad Job

Well, I walked in today to discover that I'd screwed up something for our Fox affiliate in Tucson: the Superbowl.

There are two easy ways to get canned in this business: Screw up something that brings the FCC down on you (like children's break content or lengths), or cost your station a buttload of cash elsewhere.

This Superbowl screwup is costing the station between $20,000 and $34,000.

In my defense:

I checked it twice.
I ran it past a sales assistant who used to be a traffic manager.
I've been doing this job a month, and it was my first big sporting event.

I don't see the error, but I've been too disheartened to look closely. From what they're telling me, I think I know what I did. I treated it like a regular show, basically, and didn't build in enough "what if" safeguards."

My supervisor has given me almost no training; I've done a similar job before, and we've both assumed I'd pick this right up.

The traffic manager handling this has worked on Fox Superbowl shows before, and she didn't catch the error.

At the end of the day, though, MY name was on it.

My name is the one that's been discussed in what's basically been a day-long closed-door meeting here, one I'm not invited to.

My name was the one discussed on the 16th floor of the corporate building today, our department manager/corporate VP heading up there to hash it out with big bosses.

I halfway don't want to last through this. I don't want the "dumb coordinator" treatment I'll likely get after this if I'm still around.

My boss and the dept head won't make eye contact with me. I'd say they're trying to maintain a necessary distance to make this easier on them.

So my plans to change careers might just be starting a little earlier than I'd hoped...

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Take This Job...

A scene from the living room earlier this evening.

Me: "Hey, SON... are you just hopping around in a circle there and fartin'?"

THEBOY trots off to the bathroom.

Some comedian said something like, "Parenting is like having a drunken midget in the house."

No. I'd say it's more like having a drunken chimp in the house.


In a daze here, just sort of in limbo... I need to dive into some homework, but damn it's hard to let a perfectly fine Saturday night and all its lethargic anti-potential go to waste.


Jobs... My worst jobs ever:

1. Being an audio-visual tech in a hotel. Basically I was a roadie in a suit, setting up slide projectors and PA systems in the conference rooms. A lot more gear than you'd think, and you know, if you lift something the correct way while wearing a suit, you split your pants. So there was always the choice: Wreck my trousers or wreck my back.

(And I complain about seeing a chiropractor twice a month.)

The schedule was merely a suggestion, and a day was never just eight hours. An assistant manager complained about the guy I replaced: "After about eight hours his eyes would just glaze over and he wasn't good for much."

Go figure.

On my fifth day, a crazy Friday, I'd been busting my hump all day, winging it to accommodate a schedule that was changing non-stop. The (married) boss had spent hours on the phone with someone, and I didn't appreciate it. He got off and told me, "That woman is a friend of mine. Nothing's going on. She just needed someone to talk to and all." I told him that it was really none of my business, which is why I hadn't asked. Then I said, "You sound like you have a guilty conscience to me."

I left that day and never came back.

2. Being a production coordinator for a place in Arlington that shot commercials for (mostly) local ad agencies. My job, for $17k (salaried) a year, was to cover absolutely every single logistical detail of the in-house and on-site schedules. You name it. Meals, transportation, tickets, gear, actors. And it was just way too much. I remember this PSA they were going to shoot. They had almost no budget, so I had to scare up two brand new Ford Mustangs to use FOR FREE. They were going to shoot all over downtown Dallas, so I also had to arrange for dozens of actors to be at vague locations at vague times for the roving shoot all day (again, for FREE). I did it too.

Or trying to arrange a shoot in Freyburg, Germany. Turns out there are at least three Freyburgs in Germany, and no one in the office knew where they were really headed.

I lasted five weeks.

(I did at least get to meet Mr. Peppermint while working there. Can't remember his real name... something Hayes. His son sings for the Butthole Surfers.)

3. Being a wedding DJ. Ah... not a great gig for a guy who's hard of hearing, has very particular taste in music, and can't stand to be around drunks. I can still hear one: "If you don't turn it up I'm going to kick your ass." I didn't, and he didn't either.

I lasted a few shows with the boss, though I quit after my first solo show.


My greatest exit, though, was from Jack in the Box, my first job ever. That place was a special sort of torment. They'd schedule me one day a week, from 5pm-4am. So when I was there, I busted my ass until I was stumbling around in weary oblivion, going home to blow grease out of my nose after a day running the fryer. 11-12 hours a paycheck didn't equal much cash, but I worked hard and the boss was complimentary of my work.

Until the day $50 turned up missing from the drawer on my shift. It had been me making the food and a woman running the register. No one else. Suddenly, not a day removed from my latest "great job" from the boss, he called me into his office to say, "You're not doing so good, and we're thinking about letting you go."

Even at 16 I knew what they were inferring. Keep in mind that I'd never operated a register, and didn't even know how to open one to steal the money they were hinting about.

So after the boss finished his vague threat, I stood there with my hands clasped behind me, nodding. I looked at my watch. "Oh, it's my break time," I said.

I stepped out for my break and never went back.


Please feel free to offer up your own job horror stories. I was trying to remember one Bruiser told me the other day, a construction-related thing where he was doing something with rivets on this rickety scaffold all day maybe.


Scattered funny/embarrassing/awful moments from the workplace:

My boss at Jack in the Box showing me the training films on super 8, telling me, "Sometimes I like to take these home and kick back with a few beers and watch them just for fun."

A boss at Hastings catching me in the mall on my day off and begging me to come into work. I was emphatic with my "no way" until she stuffed $40 cash in my hand. I finished her shift. I found out later she was so desperate to leave because for some reason she'd crapped her pants.

A confused, rambling, probably-not-sober customer at Hastings telling me he had a gun. "You don't believe me? You wanna see it?" I assured him I didn't. He left and I got mall security in there posthaste, and you know, that wasn't the least bit reassuring.

Taking my first paycheck from Larry's music to the credit union to cash it. Turns out they were quite familiar with Larry and his checks, and wouldn't begin to let me have cash in exchange for that little slip of paper. After that Larry paid me in cash and/or gear.

For four years at KERA, on every single memo my supervisor spelled my name "Brain."

Recognizing a customer at Sound Warehouse but being unable to place her. She gave me a coy smile: "I don't know WHERE you might know me from." It hit me hours later: She worked in the strip joint I'd just patronized. Turns out I didn't recognize her with so many clothes on.


I'd better end there before I start dusting off moldy old strip joint stories.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, February 04, 2005


A quote from Hood: "i always say if they open me up they would find a baseball where my heart is suppose(d) to be"


I was wrong about getting the commendation that'd get me the $50 gift certificate. Sort of. Turns out the woman I thought was giving me a cue about it on the sly was merely tabulating all the previous winners for some graph of hers. But today someone in Tucson said something nice about me that got mgmt's ear and BOOM, it's going to become reality after all. I love a free meal.

I've got baseball audio streaming at my desk today! So what if it's Florida State vs. Virginia Military. This is like seeing the first robin of the spring. And he's hitting .303.

What's Going On

The baby woke up at 2:30am. Not sure what was going on; Kelli had agreed to stay home with her today anyway, so by default any overnight commotion was hers to cover. I hope they can both get some rest today.


Speaking of what's going on... I've never appreciated Marvin Gaye's What's Going On CD like I do now. Something just seems to have clicked for me. It's a monumental piece of work, a soul symphony without equal. Strings, vibes, horns, congas, and the voice... no matter what ethereal, brilliant combination of instruments Gaye assembled to back him, it was always about the voice, multi-tracked and layered, answering himself with melodies I dare anyone to try to tack down in musical notes.


RIP Dean Wormer.


You know, if I ever started a porn site, I think I'd have to do something not very explicit. I think there'd be a demand for it. Porn, like horror movies, works best when something is left to the imagination.


Greatest word for "breast" I've encountered in a while: jahoobie. An excerpt from Jacquielynn Floyd's column in yesterday's Dallas morning news (I'd provide a link, but you have to register to read the DMN's site):

"Abstinence-only education" is a simple solution to a complicated problem. As soothing as it sounds to those of us who are grossed out by dirty rap lyrics, thong-snapping pop stars and Janet Jackson's right jahoobie, it's not enough.


Did you know that the cause of hangovers isn't known for sure?

(This is where you say, "It's the case of Keystone Light, ya moron...")

No, there's actually no research that clearly indicates exactly what it is that causes that morning-after-a-bender misery. I'd believed for years that it was simply illness associated with the toxins introduced to the body. But that's not entirely the case.

There is a growing belief that a hangover is caused by congeners. These are the flavor-lending agents in an alcoholic drink. Broadly, the farther from "clear" a drink is, the more likely it is to be potentially hangover-inducing. Some high end vodkas market themselves as being better than the rest because their purity lends itself to few after-effects. That is, the closer you come to drinking pure alcohol, the less likely you are to be hung over.


My cellphone's ringtone is now "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones. I find this quite funny.


More, more, more later. Probably. Bonus ramblings today!

Happy Friday.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Increasing Your Odds

And here I am again, glued to this machine when I should be sleeping. But... I've got a couple things on my mind...


Leaving the train depot tonight, I saw a family with a baby leaving the parking lot on foot. I made the block wondering if those people were really headed somewhere in the cold with no car. I went back and asked them if they needed a ride. Heck, I told them, I even have a baby seat in the van.

It was a young couple with a two-year-old, and they have no car. He was saying he hoped his income tax return would allow them to get one.

As they gave me directions, they seemed uncertain. Turns out they moved out to the mid-cities from Dallas proper not long ago, and they don't know their way around yet. Along the way he made a couple of tired attempts at small talk about football and such, and I didn't push him much. He said they hoped to leave the state soon, to move out to Tampa near his brother. The baby has asthma, and they hoped the weather there would be better for her. She's on a nebulizer too.

We found their apartment, and though it wasn't a bad drive, it would have been a hell of a walk. Young couple barely getting by. I'm glad I went back.


I'm not trying to pat myself on the back. I've done this sort of thing very few times. Some of the ones I refused to help still bother me a bit. Caught me on the wrong day, in a bad mood, in a hurry. But with the baby in the cold and all I just had to go back.


Statistics is murder. 30-odd questions for homework, but each requires we answer questions a through c, or a through g. And when I was almost done I found the worst of them all: 11 answers for one word problem! Pie charts, histographs, frequency distributions... This one assignment easily has over 100 answers. I have no idea how he's going to grade all of this junk. I hope he takes a look at it and has a change of heart about our homework.


Jason Falkner, my favorite musician of about the last 18 months, is playing the South by Southwest Music Fest this year in March. Exciting--yes! But the festival is during the exact days I'll be in Arizona for Rangers spring training. Consarn it. Maybe he'll swing through Dallas for a gig the night before SXSW or something.


Dad tells me he has a rat story too. Curious to see what this is all about. Reactions to the nutria story varied. It's always been popular for sure. Danny Henley went so far as to write a Douglas Adams-inspired... well, novella I guess. It's been years now. Quite a crafty piece of work. Some told me the rat was my guardian angel, some dismissed it all as pure chance.

Oh, I don't know for sure. I really was crazy for Kelli from our first date, despite its resounding thud on the love-o-meter. Quite possibly I'd have ditched Chris or any current fling for Kelli anyway.


Probably more tomorrow. I haven't had coffee in two days, and after loading up on Starbucks and a scone in the morn, I'm likely to walk into work quite wired and full of myself.


Good night, sweet night.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Who You Gonna Call?

I'm not at work today to receive the aforementioned award, and I'm fine with that. THEGIRL is sick, again, and I'm at home with her. The poor kid's got a respiratory infection that's pretty substantial, and spread as far as her tonsils. It's also the cause of fluid in her ears, though she doesn't have an ear infection. Poor thing.

I hauled her around all morning. First we hit the doctor's office, which took a long time. Then we went to the pharmacy, and it took an hour to get her 'scrip. And she hardly made a peep, despite being sick, tired, and due for some food there at the end. She's a good baby!


Had a dream with a recurring theme last night: Being angry at a ghost. For the longest time I've had varying dreams about ghosts doing "scary" things that irritate more than scare me. I always sort of treat them like cockroaches.

In this one I was someplace familiar, like a Starbucks (go figure), and one was rolling an empty tin cup on the floor. Everyone else was freaking out, and I followed the usual script: "Knock it off! I don't have time for your crap! Why don't you take this cup and jam it up your ghostly butt?!?" The poltergeist whacked me on the leg with the cup a few times. I then grabbed it, crumpled it all up and threw it in the trash. Problem solved.


And I once dreamed that I beat up Scott Baio. Better watch your back, Chachi...


Ah, February of 2005, and who's on my Texas Rangers calendar this month? ALEX RODRIGUEZ. Seems that these musta been printed up while he was still a Ranger. I'll resist the temptation to draw devil horns and a mustache on him since Kevin's still a fan. Hood and Henley are too, but they don't have the "hey, he's a four-year-old" excuse like Kevin does. Not sure what's going on with those two.


Happy Wednesday, ya'll.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Nutria

During my single days in Austin, I ran around with a girl named Chris for a while. She was one of those people whom you meet and everything is just electric from the get-go. Hard to describe. It was intense, this friendship of ours. Worked together, hung out together, deprived ourselves of sleep together. She was exceedingly cute, and like any single guy who has a cute female friend, I wanted to fall madly in bed with her.

We had a couple of passing but frank conversations about our mutual attraction. She was living with a guy named Judd, who was either oblivious, stoned all the time, or both. But supposedly he was the impediment.

Still, one night Chris and I ended up down by "Town Lake," which for some reason is what the section of the Colorado River that passes through Austin is called. A gazebo sits by the bank. I'm sure some of you are familiar with it.

Anyway, it was about 11pm or thereabouts, and it was a quiet, cool night. We sat there in the gazebo, and I got that funny feeling in my stomach like every oblivious guy gets when it's clear to even him that an opportunity may soon present itself. Judd schmudd, I was ready to seize the reins and make one of my rare, possibly ill-advised moves on this girl. That is, I was going to lean awkwardly close to her and hope I didn't have arugula in my teeth.

But from the water came this SOUND, this awful splashing splorting sort of mucking sound. It took a minute of peering into the darkness to see what all the commotion was, but then we saw it: A 20 pound rat had emerged from the water, and was rooting around in the muddy bank, caring not a wit about me and/or my libido.

I stared at this critter, then glanced to my left to see the power plant closeby, and for a moment I considered the sci fi B-movie prospect that this was a mutant rat. Had to rule that out pretty quickly since Austin's is not a nuclear plant.

In truth, it was a nutria, a critter I'd never seen before. Turns out they're aquatic cousins of the rat, imported from South America by the guy who started Tobasco hot sauce. Had the little buggers in a pen, but a hurricane caused a flood that let them out and BOOM, they're spreading through the south like kudzu.

Pay close attention when I tell you that almost nothing spoils a horny, er, romantic mood like the sight of a cat-sized wet rat sloshing noisily in the riverside mud. Suddenly my best-laid plans weren't getting laid after all, and we left the scene still just friends.

A month later this girl named Kelli Thomerson moved to town. We'd dated briefly and quite unsuccessfully once before back in my hometown. We gave it another try in Austin and, 14 years later, we're still together, having been married for 12 this coming May.

Now, if the nutria had not deposited itself within smelling distance that night and I'd succeeded in kissing Chris, I quite likely would not have been single in order to go out with Kelli a month later. So really, it's not too much of a stretch to extrapolate the nutria's effect to the extent that I would not be married to Kelli today if he'd not been there that fateful night.

Explaining that one to the kids someday is going to be fun... for me at least.


Loathing the fact that I have to be at work today. I wanted to call in: "Uh... I have malaria. Can't work today. See you tomorrow."

So get this: Despite these facts:

I loathe this job
One, maybe two managers and the department director dislike me
I once slammed my fist on the desk during a review
I sit here for 40 hours a week with headphones on and talk to almost no one save for Hood
My phone is on "send calls" most of the time

...I'm set to receive my fifth achievement recognition tomorrow. See, despite all the negativity surrounding this job, I'm actually fairly good at it. This fifth doo-dad will get me a $50 gift certificate to someplace. A restaurant, I think. And considering how mgmt here feels about me, I fully expect it to be for Saul's House of Arsenic.


Just what the hell IS Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" about anyway? Getting high and UFOs... well, it actually makes perfect sense now that I look at it that way...


Tuesday... ugh. Hang in there.