Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Ah... you'll love this one.


We're taking these classes for our traffic software. I think everyone in the company is required to take them.

Took a class a few days back for something I never do, never will do, and might not even be allowed access to. But hell, it's the policy that we all take all the classes...

The presenter was awful, and it became quickly apparent that he was nervous. So, since taking notes would be useless, I counted how many times he said "Um."

In 37 minutes he said it 251 times. WOW.

We were urged to fill out an "anonymous" survey about each class afterwards (so now you see where this is going).

The interface for the survey was clunky. I typed my displeasure at taking a class not at all useful to me and clicked "NEXT," wondering what else they wanted.

Well, that took me to a survey for another class. No "SUBMIT" button, nothing. Clicking next submitted my data.

So my submission of the scathing remarks was only semi-intentional. I wasn't sure about it, thought about changing them, thought about keeping them...

Today in a meeting, my boss quoted my remarks--including the incorrect number of 245 Ums--and said the department head was upset and looked up who submitted that survey. I guess my boss didn't know it was ME.

SO, the anonymous survey wasn't anonymous at all. I warned a couple friends, and sure enough, one had heard about the Ums prank. AND the dept head had walked past her cube quoting HER OWN NEGATIVE SURVEY COMMENTS yesterday, and she'd wondered if it was a coincidence.

Kelli's all kinds of pissed off. I've filled out another survey basically saying, "AHA! These aren't anonymous after all!" and am sort of sitting here daring anyone to say something.

Even if they don't, there's the potential for this to affect any future raise or promotion in an unspoken way.

Hmm... dang, do I need a lawyer?

Yes, it was petty of me to count the Ums. Fine. I wasn't set on actually submitting that bit as my comment anyway.

Other people I'm warning are sharing their own negative comments with me, and guess what? My comment clearly wasn't the worst, yet was apparently the only one looked up by the dept. head... ever feel like you're being singled out?

Kelli's ready for me to quit and yank the kids out of school to stay home with me. Not sure I'm feeling that radical. I'm more... well, sort of fiendishly amused than anything. Curious to see how this'll play out.


"Fidel Castro is reportedly upset that Forbes magazine listed him among the world's wealthiest dictators, with a net worth of $550 million. Castro says the listing is bogus, because in a communist country the Cuban people actually own everything, and he is simply watching over things while they're all in prison" - DENNIS MILLER on his CNBC show

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

It's Whit's Fault

He asked me why I love baseball. Here we go...
By the way, visit Whit's site or I'll have him teach me how to break your knees.


Like martial arts, there's a ton more going on than just two guys going at it. A scenario for example:

There's a runner at first, and the home team's stud hitter comes to the plate. This guy's put up big numbers for years, but he's been implicated in the steroid rumors. It's the last year of his current contract, so he's considered to have added motivation to perform, to put up big numbers to he can get big bucks after this season as a free agent. He's clearly 20 pounds lighter than last season--from coming off 'roids?

The guy at first is a slap hitter with speed, but since he's coming off winter ACL surgery, he didn't stretch a shot down the right field line into a double like he used to, and the fans are booing. The guy batting hits into double plays a lot, but if the runner has any semblance of his old speed he'll either steal second or get a good enough jump that he won't be an out at second (and the fans will shut up).

The batter swings and hits a slow hopper to the second baseman in a possible double play to end the inning. But the baseman is right in the runner's path, and he does have the right to run there, so he plows over the fielder, causing him to miss the ball altogether. Runner is safe at second, but the shortstop, who is young but projected to have good fielding instincts and a terrific arm, grabs the ball on the next bounce and throws it to first. He's out on a close call, and the crowd goes bananas as the manager storms out to argue.

Thing is, this is the ump Robbie Alomar spit on all those years ago, and he's got a notoriously short fuse in confrontations now.

Sure enough he tosses the manager. But this pisses off the home team, who use the extra anger to play like men possessed and whomp the visitors 11-0. And the batter who started the play that got his manager ejected still goes two for four, and scouts visiting from other teams scribble in their notebooks...


There's this constant subtext, this backstory to almost every play. And the design of the game seems more brilliant to me with each passing year. If a quick batter hits one to the shortstop, there is barely enough time for the shortstop to field it and throw before the runner reaches base. Sometimes he'll beat the throw too. The bases are 90 feet apart. 95 feet and the runner would be out every time. 85 and he'd usually make it. The dimensions are set up for such great plays.


And I love it because... I have a pinch of Renaissance man in me. Is that what you'd call it? I'm an anachronism. I love things from eras prior to my own. I'm listening to Robert Johnson right now, and he recorded this stuff in the 30s. I love simple, timeless things like classic blues and baseball. I feel like I've got my finger on the pulse of some bastard son of Father Time, trucking along and connecting us to those things some people think are gone.

I also look back quite fondly on stuff like old cartoons and the Three Stooges, things I know Whit and I spent no small amount of time absorbing as kids.

I don't know if that helps at all. But if you watched a game with me, oh, I do not expect that I'd convert you. No way. Games are three hours or more, which is too long. But I could illustrate a few things to make it clear that it's not just a guy with a stick and a guy with a ball.
It's drama, poetry, and it's timeless.


Tuesday. Can we get this over with? When do I turn my head and cough?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Can You Still Feel?

Allow me to ramble, if I may. One or two of you might read this.


Kelli was very pregnant with THEGIRL in December of '03. Miserable, not sleeping well, and counting down the days way earlier than she should have been. Me too. It was no fun to see her so uncomfortable.

We hired a babysitter for THEBOY so we could have a date, something we both likely knew would be sort of a last hurrah for a while. It was a typical dinner/movie setup, but we had time to kill before going to the theater, so we headed to the CD Warehouse.

Launch had been playing "Goodnight Sweet Night" by Jason Falkner, and I was immediately hooked. Keep in mind that I didn't realize at the time that he'd been in Jellyfish. I'd heard the name back when he was in the band, but didn't make the association when I saw it on Launch. I just knew that this was one great song.

The store had a couple copies of Can You Still Feel?. On the way to the theater I put it in the CD player and immediately punched up that song, the last one on the CD. Gorgeous, just gorgeous. I don't know if Kelli was as taken with it as I was.


In the coming days I had to sleep in another room. I spent weeks sleeping on the couch, then on an air mattress in the room that would become the nursery. Kelli wasn't sleeping well, wasn't comfortable in bed at all. And while I felt sorry for her, there was really no reason for me to lose sleep while she tried in vain to rest.

I was also in the middle of one of my periodic extreme night owl phases. Up 'til 3am whenever possible, just happily surfing the web, doing dishes, reading, whatever.

And there was a certain suspension of time right then, a pause maybe. We were anxious about the birth, sort of ready to get it done yet fully aware of what was to come and trying to prepare ourselves for that.


And Jason Falkner's Can You Still Feel? became the soundtrack of that time. I immediately knew this was a gift to myself, one of those very rare CDs I'll still love in five or 10 years or more. Forever probably. From pure ear candy like "Holiday" to proclamations like "Revelation," so wise the lyrics could almost be modified passages from the Bhagavad Gita or something. So many hooks, so many inspiring lyrics, and so... much... incredible... talent.

A few that stuck with me:

"I've seen eloquence in its purest sense grab hold of me and then shake itself free. And I'm stunned, and who invited this fickle friend? Why won't it stay? Where does it go anyway?" ("Eloquence")

"If the path of least resistance is all you ever take, well at least you've been consistent in your defying Fate." ("Author Unknown")

"Inspiration's not a choice: It's got to search you out. And give you truth you have to voice, beyond the shadow of a doubt." ("I Already Know")

"Life can be just like a painting: Full of wonderful strangeness, with colors so vibrant you feel like you should look away." ("See You Again")


And it could be two or three a.m., and I'd be on my back on the air mattress, staring at the space where the baby would soon sleep, with no sound except Falkner blaring over the headphones, telling me everything was going to be okay, that we should cherish beauty and love and flirting and creativity and potential. Things I know, things I knew. But you know, just saying something--occasionally--so heady in the context of such terrific songs... it was an aural security blanket for me. Time just about froze, and I could just wrap myself in this sound.


And you know, long about Valentine's Day of '04, two weeks before THEGIRL was born, I took stock of who I am and where I was in life. I was 35 and working in traffic for commercial television. This is a job where, at best, you end up managing other traffic folks. That means that for being a low-level manager and earning a not-quite-respectable salary, you end up working bad hours with nowhere to move up, all in the interest of getting commercials on the air.

Not acceptable.

I'm smarter than that, more ambitious than that, and determined to have a more meaningful legacy than that. I'd already tried for that special brand of intellectual reward that comes by way of getting a book published. Turns out that the machinery of the publishing industry is more than I want to deal with.

So it's off to grad school I go this fall (hopefully--the application goes into the mail tonight). I will work hard for an education in psychology, with the goal of helping addicts once I'm done. I want the challenge. This is my only life, as far as I know, and I cannot sit back on this pasty white tush of mine and do nothing more important with my career than rearrange furniture store commercials.


Falkner's music was a factor, somehow. I mean, I think I would have reached this conclusion regardless. But there was just something about this musical embrace, this collection of pop tunes with these ringing truths that was thought-provoking and inspiring.


THEGIRL is over a year old now. She's on the verge of walking, she's trying to say some words, and loves playing with her brother.

I take great pride in my kids. I'm also proud of the fact that at some point I will be an example for them of how important it is to live up to your potential, even if it means living an atypical life.

Hell, especially if it means living an atypical life.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Real Family Circus

Bill Keane might actually have an entertaining comic strip on his hands if he could write about the things that really go on.


We had supper last night at a barbecue joint, the Railhead. THEBOY and I took a bathroom break. He headed for the short urinal (you know the one I'm talking about, fellows) and started doing his business.

A man came in and began to use the one next to him. THEBOY is a pretty chatty guy, but he went quiet as he turned his head. I suddenly realized that:

He was eye level with the stranger's privates.

He was about to make some sort of comment.

I grabbed his head, pointed it forward and barked, "OKAYIT'STIMETOFLUSH!"

Crisis averted. No idea what the boy was about to say, but I really didn't want to be in a conversation with this stranger about anything like that.


After lunch today, I was carrying the baby into the living room when I got a whiff of something.

"Uh oh, Kelli. We've got a Code Brown here." I hauled her off to the changing table in the bathroom.

I started to change her and discovered that it was a false alarm.

"Musta been one hell of a poot," I said out loud, not realizing THEBOY had walked into the bathroom behind me.

Ack... I paused and looked at him. He got a big grin on his face.

"Ha ha ha ha! You said, 'Poot'!"


Happy Easter

Thursday, March 24, 2005

"This was no boto accident..."

A guy's gotta have ambitions.

I hope to someday meet Tom Cruise and tell him I loved him in that movie Bartender.

I hope to someday meet Oprah Winfrey and insist on calling her "Okra."

I hope to buy some land in downtown Minneapolis, pave it over and call it "Paisley Parking Lot."


Been kinda crazy around here today, and all for a 70s era movie called Las Vegas Lady that my station has to edit for content. The guy who just Monday won the company's Chairman's Award (which is a fistful of cash) has blown us off for hours when we needed his help. Ugly phone calls are being made, managers are being copied on emails...

(Pause while narrator stands up, scratches his belly, dances around in a circle to Roger Manning's "Creeple People" and sits back down)

...and I don't care!


The shrink has officially dismissed me. I had nothing to talk about today, and threatened to spend the whole time telling dirty jokes.

I wish she'd have unstrapped my straight jacket first though. It was really hard to eat my lunch from the Roly Poly like that.


I was driving through the West End today and saw a white guy with dreadlocks. I rolled down the window and yelled "Rastafari!" at him. He either didn't hear me or he ignored me.


Was that bad of me? I should be more mature, right? Remind me to work on that.


THEBOY told me this morning I had a "boto" on my beard. I asked him to repeat that, and he said the word "boto" again.

I find that odd since, from hanging around Hawaiian-born Erik Hood, I've learned that "boto" is their slang for "penis."

I asked THEBOY what it was, and he said, "Uh... it's a... boat."

I feel like I'm the subject of some sort of joke I'm not privy to...


Not working Friday. Well, not for Belo anyway. Tons to do around the house, stuff that falls under the heading of "at least I'm not at the office!"


I love Helmet, but not like this guy.



Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Listening to the new Roger Manning, Jr. "album," Solid State Warrior. I put album in parentheses because he actually released these songs through a site called Weedshare.

It's an interesting concept. You can listen to any song free three times. Further listens require a purchase ($1.25 each in the case of Manning's stuff... prices seem to vary, and I'm not sure why). But the kicker is that anyone can post Weed files on a website, and if someone purchases the files through them they can get a cut. I'm not concerned with this myself, but it's about the best way to tackle the problem of file sharing cutting out the artist I've come across.

But I still prefer having something tangible in my hands, like a CD.


Looks like I'll review this for High Bias soon, so I won't go into the quality of Solid State Warrior much, except to say that it's plumb delightful. Damn I wish I knew a better word to describe it.


Question for anyone who stops by: What do you find sexy?


Objectification of women is a more serious problem than I once realized, but you know, any woman who pumps her breasts full of silicone and her lips full of collagen is objectifying herself.


Been reading I, Fatty by Jerry Stahl. It's pretty interesting stuff, full of the sort of debauchery we might not normally associate with any era but our own.

Roscoe Arbuckle was ruined by being prosecuted for the rape and murder of Virginia Rappe. On the one hand, it's pretty evident that he didn't kill her, and most likely didn't rape her (his impotence was well documented).

But there are other ways to violate someone, and I don't think he was a choirboy in the particular scenario that got him in all the trouble.


Short week. Thanks be to the deity of your choice. In my case, it's Starbucks.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A New World Record

First, a summary of the old world record.


We were at Elisa's wedding in '02 if I recall. It was at the wedding reception. My tie was gone, but I was still in slacks and a white button-up shirt.

Now, I don't recall what THEBOY drank that was orange. But I do recall that I was tickling him a bit, tossing him around.

That's when the explosion happened. Orange goo, right out of his mouth and all over my shirt.

In fact, it filled my pocket.

That was the old world record.


I attempted in vain to clean that up in the men's room. I emerged to encounter Elisa, stunning in her wedding dress. She sized up the notebook-sized stain on my shirt and began to laugh. I asked her if they planned to have kids, and she said yes. I said, "Sometimes they spit up. Any time, any amount, any color. And sometimes they fill up your pocket."

She laughed some more.


Now, I do recall from last night that Kelli had mentioned how quickly the baby gulped down her milk. "She almost choked!" she said.

I do NOT recall, however, exactly how this led to the baby actually getting to drink more milk after that. I guess choking down the first sippie cup of milk is an indication of thirst.


I'd hardly seen the baby since I've been out of town and all, so we were catching up in the glider rocker. That is, she stood cackling on my lap while I tickled her belly and chin.

Then came the sound.

If you dropped a gallon of Jello from atop the Belo building (which is 16 stories tall) and listened to the sound as it hit the sidewalk, you have some idea of what I heard in that instant as THEGIRL spit up all that milk...






I froze, of course, holding the baby there and asking Kelli for help. I was already muttering, "Worst one ever, worst one ever."


Kelli came over and said, "Oh, she got it in your ear."

I told her I was aware of that.


Now, volume-wise, it was pretty evenly matched with THEBOY'S tremendous outpouring from the wedding.

But two sippie cups' worth of milk deposited in my ear made for a far worse experience because:

(1) Well, it was in my ear

(2) It smelled awful. It smelled like puke.


Kelli fetched THEGIRL, and I walked to the shower, disgusted. I stopped in the hall and wondered for a second if I might hurl as well. But that passed.


Let me emphasize again just how revolting the smell was. I was in the shower, running that hot water in my ear for about a minute, alternately saying, "Why won't the smell come off?" and "Worst one ever" over and over.


In a few minutes I was ready to laugh over it. I'm thrilled that it wasn't caught on video at least.


I can still hear it.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Phoenix Wrapup

I may be in no shape to do this since I'm so exhausted and all. But the longer I wait, the more the details will fade I guess.


It was all baseball, all the time. Neither wife was impressed by the fact that we didn't even so much as order a dirty movie in the hotel room. Hood's wife told him, "You want praise for not doing something you shouldn't have been doing anyway?"

There are just some things a wife does not understand, and there's no way to bridge that gap. The wives are missing the point. Two very hetero guys who left town to have fun sans wives were utterly and completely clean-cut the whole time. We were baseball-obsessed to the point that even our libidos took a back seat. When we weren't sleeping, we were wrapped up in baseball pursuits. We watched batting practice, fielding practice, bunt drills, catchers working on pickoff moves, intra-squad games and bullpen sessions. Oh, and we squeezed in four major league and two college games.

So the point isn't that we want praise for not being bad. The point is that it's astounding, to us at least, that we managed to indulge our baseball jones to that extent.

Guys reading this will understand. Can I get an amen?


I bumped into Terry Bradshaw in the Phoenix airport. He was alone, just walking around pretty much unnoticed. I heard someone say no one was bothering him because "he doesn't look like money." Pretty accurate I'd say. He was just another schmo in jeans and a gimme cap.


We showed up at Phoenix Municipal Ballpark without even having checked into our hotel room. Oakland was facing Chicago, Rich Harden vs. Greg Maddux. It was standing-room-only, but we didn't mind much. We coughed up our $5 each and just sort of soaked it in. I didn't have my camera with me, I'm sorry to say. But I think my memories of watching future HOF member Maddux tuning up in a green St. Paddy's Day cap will remain pretty vivid.

The park itself is about 40 years old, if I recall. Had its own charm, but it was dated.


Meeting Mike Lopez for dinner was nice indeed. I had "Texas Shrimp" at the Black Angus. Afterwards Mike happily drove us around Phoenix, showing us the big venues and landmarks. Cutting through the TGI Fridays to see the Bank One Ballpark was pretty doggone cool. They have real grass in there, and overnight they run these bright lights on parts of the field that don't get light even when the roof is open. Mike said it doesn't help much.


When you're at the hotel after an exhausting first day like that, trying to post a quick blog update and you discover you've left the g out of the word "Angus," well, it seems much funnier than it ought to.


Second day we saw the Rangers at Padres in Peoria. That was a very nice facility, and we seized the opportunity to get a fairly early start and watch the players get in some work across the back fields.

And our seats were just great. We were first row behind the Rangers dugout. I was close enough to the players that I felt a little uneasy pointing my camera at them long enough to adjust the focus. But I managed. I'll have photos posted here or on our photo site in a few days with any luck. I'm shooting for Thursday night.


We zipped down to the Arizona State U campus in Tempe after that to lend a hand to Chuck Kelly, the Sooners' radio man. He's usually solo for the broadcasts, hooking up his own gear and calling the game alone. He was sick with a cold, and clearly glad to see Erik, the man he called "the best audio engineer in Texas." They worked together last fall on Carrollton High School football broadcasts.

Lo and behold, the stats man (whom I know only as Mike) from those broadcasts also happened to be in Tempe. He took in the game and kept stats (what else?) for fun, offering nuggets of info for the broadcast several times. Pretty sweet setup for Chuck I'd say.


And what would a Briscoe vacation be without music, right?

Eh, don't get too excited. After the ASU game we hit a sports bar. It was midnight or so, and we were starving. A three-piece band was in there, wailing away. They were... something.

Is it worth grabbing my thesaurus to look up synonyms for "suckass"?


The next day we caught the Rangers hosting the Angels in Surprise. Watching the Royals on their back fields, doing their work was quite cool. I've already covered that and how much we enjoyed watching the Angels taking BP. Guerrero is just UNREAL.

Guerrero is Spanish for "warrior," in case you didn't know.

We didn't get good seats for that game, unfortunately. We treated it as an SRO deal after a while. Food service was awfully slow. Best not to revisit that.


More ASU action that night, and it was COLD! We had better food afterwards at least: Mexican at a joint called Garcia's.


And yesterday, of course, was Royals/Rockies in Surprise again. We had terrific seats for that one: First row on the upper deck. Nice leg room, beautiful weather, and hardly a care in the world, save for the approaching flight time... dang.

Seeing Todd Helton and Mike Sweeney was probably the highlight of the afternoon. KC pitcher Mike Wood looked quite good, going hitless through three.


Two or three times we caught part of a movie on HBO called Bounce. Seems it stars everyone on the planet. It was... not so great from what I could see. And one of the characters uttered the line, "Sometimes you get so alone that it just makes sense."

Okay, putting the title of a Charles Bukowski book in your screenplay like that isn't clever; it's cheeky and annoying to the very few of us who'll get the reference.


So there it is. Our trip wrapped up in one nice, neat, tidy, overlong package...

We'd like to go again, of course. One year soon I'll have to start taking THEBOY. Next year? Dunno. Will see.


By the way, Danny's site is up and running now.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Home Again Home Again

Jiggedy Jig...


I really need to hit the sheets soon. But I thought I'd post a quick update.

This was a really good trip overall. We learned a thing or two about how to do some things (such as recognizing a game that's likely to be packed on the schedule). I like Phoenix overall.



Watching Hank Blalock, Gary Matthews, Jr and David Dellucci at batting practice this morning, horsing around, taking their cuts. Matthews can HIT. Wow.

Watching Buck Showalter scoot from field to field in a golf cart.

Watching Royals minor leaguers play intra-squad games and show nothing but game faces. One strapping kid named Salazar came to the plate sans batting gloves, like Vlad Guerrero does, and belted one over the fence (also like Guerrero does).

Watching a Sooners coach get tossed out of a game for bumping the umpire, and learning that the Sooners have managed to keep that info out of the media.

Seeing a girl in a bar in such trashy getup that her miniskirt was actually smaller than a wash rag. It did NOT look good.

Picking some things up from Hood as we watched cathers this morning. Funny how you can see a guy who's deficient in one area and wonder why they like him until you see him demonstrate talent in another. This one catcher had bad footwork (according to Hood), clearly didn't receive the balls well or throw. But put a bat in his hand and he turns a double down the right field line into a triple due to impressive speed.

Waking Kevin up to give him his surprises tonight: a Spongebob post card, a mini bat, a Rangers bouncing ball, and a BP-used baseball. He said he liked the postcard the best. And I didn't mind a bit.


While I was away, Danny worked on the site I'd mentioned... gotta check that out. And Toland saw some of my favorite bands at SXSW.


It's good to be home. I'd try to march out some pithy quote about how good it is, but you know, all that comes to mind is ET saying, "Home home home home home..." over and over. Yep. That sums it up perfectly.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Phoenix Trip, Day 3

The first Indian I saw here was in a bar in the airport at 10am.


Yesterday went pretty well. We saw the Rangers at Padres in Peoria. Rangers lost, but we had great seats and the facility was nice. It was great to walk around the practice field beforehand and watch guys from the Mariners camp (they share the facilities with San Diego) practicing. We saw Ritchie Sexson and Randy Winn, among others.

Last night we went to the Arizona State University campus to watch the Sooners take on the Sun Devils. Very lively, good game. Had a number of ejections, some good pitching, good hitting. It really got freakin' cold though. Had a jacket, but since I was in shorts... yeah, it was cold.


It's incredibly dry here. I'm a guy with dry skin anyway, and let me tell you, I'm positively ashy. I have no idea how people stay hydrated here. Hood's knuckles are cracked and bleeding.


He did bump into a Hawaiian guy here the other day. Had some name for him... I forget what. But it didn't seem to mean "let's bludgeon this guy from Texas" or anything."


Today we headed out to Surprise to see the Angels at Rangers. Caught the Royals (who share the facilities with Texas) and Angels players practicing on the back fields. There was a definite air of tension among the minor leaguers in the KC camp, clearly giving it all their effort. Definitely a hungry bunch of guys.

And seeing Vlad Guerrero taking BP this morning... that was the most amazing display I've ever seen. No batting gloves, no hat... just in the cage, swinging at everything, and knocking a lot of it way, way over the fences. Sometimes the fielders didn't even turn around...


The Rangers/Angels game was good, but our seats weren't so great. And food service was SLOW. God. Never get in a line run run by white-haired people...


Chan Ho Park pitched 4-ish innings. Brilliant one batter, awful another... Paul Byrd pitched for the Angels and looked much steadier. Was nice to see Teixiera and Soriano and all. We left in the 8th; the park has a rep for really being tough to get out of because of the crowded streets.


Leaving soon... shalom.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Phoenix Trip, Day 1

Hood and I had a solid start to the trip, more or less. Parking was good, the flight was smooth... for me.

I flew directly from Dallas, whereas he had a freebie and had to connect in Denver for the worst flight of his life. Turbulence the whole way.

But we've found Phoenix to be easy to navigate. We got over to Phoenix Municipal Park to see future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux pitching for the Cubs as they faced the Athletics.

Maddux was streaky. One minute he was giving up weak grounders, and the next minute the batters were getting good wood on the ball. Still, Maddux went six innings in a game the Cubbies eventually won 6-4.

We came back to the hotel for a brief rest and to freshen up before meeting Mike Lopez for dinner. He's the chief engineer for Belo's Phoenix station, and I work with him on a regular basis. We hit a Black Angus for a good meal, then drove around downtown, checking out the sights. We went into the TGI Fridays at the Bank One Ballpark and checked out the field a bit. Looked pretty cool in the darkness like that.

I'd really like to see a game there in the regular season.

Tomorrow I may visit Mike at the station if I can drag my butt out of bed in time. Then we're likely to go to Peoria and see the Rangers and Padres.

I miss the wife and family already...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Five Minutes of My Life I'll Never Get Back

QBASIC screenshot
You are 'programming in QBASIC'. This programming
language (of which the acronym stands for
'Quick Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic
Instruction Code'), which is so primitive that
it cannot easily be used for any purpose
involving the Internet nor even sound, was
current more than a decade ago.

You are independent, in a good way. When something
which you need cannot be found, you make it
yourself. In writing and in talking with
people, you value clarity and precision; your
friends may not realize how important that is.
When necessary, you are prepared to be a
mediator in conflicts between your friends.
You are very rational, and you think of things
in terms of logic and common sense.
Unfortunately, your emotionally unstable
friends may be put off by your devotion to
logic; they may even accuse you of pedantry and
insensitivity. Your problem is that
programming in QBASIC has been obsolete for a

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'll Kick Your Butt

But are fairy shrimp good eatin'???


Current music: KBON --Louisiana proud!


God I love writers, I really do. And the word "writer," to me, is just as much of an indicator of who you are as gender, ethnicity, whatever. There's just that certain sparkle, that love for creating something with words. I certainly run around with enough of them.

My chiropractor's one, which I didn't know. He took a crack at writing a novel, like I did. He got well into it before someone took an attitude about his subject matter and managed to halt his progress.

But he's a Southern boy, and talks about emphasizing the story instead of adhering to the rules. That kind of talk gets my attention for sure.

So maybe someday soon Danny Henley and I will launch the writers' website we've talked about, and Doc Wonderlich can contribute.

Anyone is welcome. Henley and I are not lit teachers, not editors... we're writers, and fans of interesting writing. If you have something you'd like to expose, even through our likely meager means, then you're welcome. I'll of course holler when that site is up and running.


Doc's been the main reason I feel good these days, by the way. Scoliosis is a bitch (can I get an "amen," Toland?), but chiropractic adjustments have given me about a year with almost no pain. It's easy to notice when something hurts, but for folks with back trouble we also tend to notice when it doesn't (since it's so strange and all).

Before seeing the Doc I'd been through months of physical therapy, which wasn't as effective, was more time-consuming, and much more expensive. And I'd gone the medicinal route. Turns out that if you go to a doc and complain about back pain, they hand you a 'scrip for the very sorts of drugs (hydrocodone, lortab) that hook folks to the point that they've gotta go through rehab. I certainly had my dalliance with the pills, and I can't do that anymore.

SO, count me as being a fan of chiropractic. And if you're in the mid-cities, Randy Wonderlich comes highly recommended.


I will attempt to update the blog from Phoenix, but I don't honestly know whether it'll happen. Gotta borrow Hood's laptop, see if the connection at the hotel is sufficient, all that. I won't have photos though.


The time may be coming for me to serialize my own attempted novel, Juke, on a website. High Bias? The site with Henley? Lots to determine yet.


Have a good day, or I'll kick your butt.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Revising the Revised Revisions

From "Vernon Wells hit two home runs off Baltimore starter Rodrigo Lopez and went 3-for-4 with four RBI on Thursday. 'I've never seen somebody hit one in the upper deck. Today was my turn,' Lopez said. 'He's a good hitter. I've always had a problem with him. I made a mistake and it landed almost in the hotel.'


Finally tried out the DVD recorder last night, dubbing MST3K's Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. You know, that was a mildly interesting idea that just got screwed up from the get-go. It was wretched from top to bottom.


The head of engineering at my Phoenix station is springing for dinner one night during our trip. Mike's a good guy, and I'll be glad to take him up on his offer.


The baby is sick. I think we went a few weeks with everyone healthy this time. But hoo boy does she wake up encrusted with all manner of oozing nastiness. We have to take her from the crib straight to the bathroom to clean her up, and let me tell you, anything she sees that soon that's not commonly called "breakfast" cheeses her off bigtime. Poor kid.


Got my fine new Ramones shirt on today. My goal is to have BACS amend the casual day policy to read, "...except for the kinda crap Brian wears."


And the dryer has gone belly-up. Oy. It's a 13-year-old machine, so I guess I should be glad it lasted this long.


Speaking of dumb quotes, one of my Tucson counterparts left me a two-minute voicemail this morning to tell me that she was "revising the revised revisions." She might as well have been speaking Esperanto at that point.

Current song: Merle Haggard's "Looking for a Place to Fall Apart."


Work beckons...

Monday, March 14, 2005

It's Got a Good Beat and You Can Dance to It. We don't always look as badass as we think we do in a mosh pit... Posted by Hello

Nicely Put...

While I'm at spring training, Jason Falkner, Otis Taylor, Anders Parker and Helmet will be playing SXSW in Austin.

I told Kelli this, and she said, "The devil is testing your priorities, dear."


I think he may be. We go way back.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

What's That Stench?

As I slept last night, I woke up occasionally and found myself noticing a stench. Here and there over the course of the night I found myself thinking, What IS that? It smells like urine or an armpit, or like something I haven't smelled since we had the cats living indoors.

Once I finally hauled my butt out of bed this morning, I pulled back the sheet to see the dirty socks I'd taken off last night and placed on the bed. Yes, I slept all night with dirty socks about six inches from my nose.

THAT'S what I get for not putting them in the hamper immediately!


Someone on the Jelly list is distributing DVDs of Jellyfish doing some acoustic performances. One of them is just labeled "Texas." I've requested a copy in the hopes that it's from the Austin show I saw. I'd be glad to have even a simple camcorder recording of that show, just for the sake of having a souvenir.


The trip looms ever closer. I do NOT want to work even three days this week, though. I'm just being honest here.


A new battery for the camcorder is $54. Ugh. This trip might be recorded only in photographs.


Have a good week, ya'll.

He Must Surely Weep

The new High Bias is up. Get your cyber-fannies over to


A minor miracle: I got a 93 on the stats test from three weeks ago. That's about a whole letter grade better than I expected. Incredible. Here we are at spring break, and I quite likely have an A in that class (can't know for sure, as the teacher is apparently hoarding most of our homework).


Had the fantasy draft tonight. Chris Martich and I went to the office to utilize Belo's high speed connection. He's got a bad cold, the poor guy.

Some thoughts...

Our own draft went fairly well. We've got an ace starter (Jason Schmidt), a premier closer in the making (Brad Lidge), good hitting at all positions, and okay pitching depth (though we'll never be satisfied with that).

Steve, the poor guy, drafted:

Kerry Wood, who left spring training this week to have an MRI on his shoulder

Joe Mauer, who had knee surgery last season and at this very moment has swelling, still, because of it

Lance Berkman, who had knee surgery in November, and likely won't play until May. As Erik said, "It took you 10 minutes to pick a guy with a blown-out knee!"

Henley, in fact, drafted Curt Schilling, who won't be ready for opening day either. Good pitching depth otherwise, but not a whole lot of pop in that lineup.

The Diamond Darlings, run by Rhonda Murray, drafted the premier closer in baseball, Eric Gagne. They neglected, however, to draft a shortstop.


Busy day here otherwise too. THEBOY attended a birthday party at a place called something like Pump It Up. It's like a small warehouse full of bounce houses and other inflatable stuff for kids to play on. He had a BALL. Afterward he gave the birthday boy his gift, which made them both happy.

As we left, THEBOY was approached by Sierra, the one he calls "the girl I'm gonna marry." She was never very far from him today at the party, and there at the exit she put her arms around him.

And he kissed her. BOOM. Right on the mouth.

She turned and left, he grabbed my hand like he'd just done something completely natural, and I chuckled all the way to the van.

He's got the mojo.


By the way, he's FOUR.


Roel and Marie are expecting a baby. He sent a link to an ultrasound photo yesterday entitled "Find the Penis."


Women are God's art, and He must surely weep when they get tattoos.



Friday, March 11, 2005

Lo, and Though the Klingonites Slew the Epithenes...

What I'm NOT doing:

Drinking iced coffee
Watching a great UFC video
Staying up 'til 1:30 am doing absolutely nothing
Tinkering with the DVD recorder.



I gave up. For the first time in my collegiate career, I'd reached an impasse on an assignment. Yes, I'm talking about stats, again.

I mean, I've dropped classes and all before, and yeah, they were mostly math related. But last night, for a class I fully intend to get through, sink or swim, I could not do my homework. Boom. Didn't get it, couldn't figure it out, nothing.

I resigned myself to flunking the assignment and hoped we'd cover some stuff I'd understand better in the future.


There is a math lab on campus, and yeah, I could go get myself a tutor. But my only free time was now, Friday evening, and the lab is closed.


It was only weighing on me a little this morning at work. There's a certain freedom in having no choice, even if the scenario isn't so grand.

I mentioned my struggles to my buddy Erik as we got coffee. Nadine, the new person (and a welcome addition to the coffee crew), asked what the class was, and I told her.

"Oh, I used to tutor statistics," she said.


Flash forward to 6pm today when I'm at her desk with my graphing calculator and textbook, frantically taking notes as she clarifies a few things.


Now, my assignment still isn't going to get a good grade, but I think I'll pass. Our shift ended at 6:30pm, and there was only so much we could go over right then.

But I told her if she could help me with my assignments, I'd be good for some free lunches.


So boom, I needed a tutor and got one. She's even available on my lunch breaks, so I won't burn my evenings in the math lab with some guy named Bruce who has never known the touch of a woman.


So the clouds parted, and an angel named Nadine descended, my diminutive savior.


Got my new Motorhead and Ramones t-shirts. Good deals on those! I gave the Who sticker to Kevin, who put it on his toy box.


Sleep well everyone, anyone.

My new shirt, which I'm wearing today. People either think it's funny or don't get it at all. Posted by Hello

Mini-meme y Mas, Mucho Mas!

Mini-Meme: What is your least-healthy habit? I guess mine is coffee consumption. Couple cups a day, but on Fridays I tend to blow it out and have as much as I want. Happy happy happy happy happy...


Texas Rangers GM John Hart on the radio with Norm Hitzges this morning: "I wake up at two o'clock in the morning every day and worry about my rotation."

That can't be good, can it?


You oughta send an email to Michael at High Bias and tell him what you're listening to. List three CDs. Doesn't matter if it's The Best of Johnny Mathis, or God Hates Us All by Slayer.


Stepmother Charlene reminded me a few years ago of something I'd said. Don't recall the context (and in fact, I don't remember saying it at all, thankfully). But as a teenager, my reaction to something related to age was along the lines of, "Once you're older than 50 you just DIE."

Now, Charlene's been more like a mother to me than my own, and I don't want to believe that I said something that awful. But I do.

So I told her to disregard basically everything I did or said before I turned 25. That's when I finally felt like a man.


It's hard to know what you are and what you're not without underestimating yourself sometimes.


Fantasy baseball draft is tomorrow night. Martich and I have third pick overall. Hopefully no one will have snagged Darren Oliver with pick #1 or #2.


While I'm in Surprise for spring training, Jason Falkner, Anders Parker and Otis Taylor will be playing South by Southwest. If we had cliffs in Dallas I'd drive off of one long about now.


Friday... now you can exhale.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


I heard "Unsung" by Helmet on a local Dallas station the other day (JACK-FM, the poor man's answer to satellite radio).

The radio in my van's got this feature that'll scroll the name of the station, artist and song while it's playing.

Only during "Unsung" the display just read, "UGLY" for the duration. I got a good laugh outta that.


Blogger's been acting funny all day. Sorry ya'll. Posts disappear, reappear mysteriously, comments produce error messages... I tried pouring a Pepsi in my keyboard, but that didn't help much.

The Mittens Come Off...

After a month with no on-air discrepancies attributable to me, my post-Super Bowl restrictions have been lifted. Bosses wanted to doublecheck every single scrap of my work, and believe me, I handed it all over. So after spending a month finding nothing, they've decided I actually can do this job, and don't need to wear mittens anymore.

(When the Super Bowl fiasco came down I joked to some friends that they'd give me the retardo treatment by making me wear mittens at my desk and not letting me sharpen my pencils for fear of putting out an eye).


Roger Manning, late of Jellyfish and Imperial Drag, seems to have a solo album coming out any day now by some sort of online file sharing system called Weedshare (I'm not making this up). We've even got cover art now. I'll certainly be up for this, lemme tell ya.

These Weed folks are also issuing a two-CD set of Imperial Drag demos at some point, which is pretty exciting as well. A few of the songs are already posted: "She Cries All Night,"
"Mother Nature,"and "Smellin' Like a Rose."

Pretty slick for demos.


Stats homework... ugh. Don't get me started.


Lemmy speaks.

Happy Thursday... we're almost there.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


The week is actually moving by at a fast clip, which is surprising considering how challenging it's been.


And there's Launch playing "The Thrill is Gone" by BB King. I remember growing up listening to that 45, with "So Excited" on the flipside. I may have been the only seven-year-old to actually have the blues.


I pictured BB King as a white guy.

And Bob Seger as a black guy.


Eight days until the spring training trip. We've managed to find out some names of restaurants where ballplayers hang out. Scottsdale is supposedly the place to be. One place is called the Pink Pony Steakhouse though. Hmm... there's a Brady Anderson joke in there somewhere...


Somewhere out there are black blues fans. I know, I know... it's hard to fathom. But they're out there. Malaco Records puts out some stuff that appeals to that demographic. You can hear it locally on KNON one weekday morning. I forget which morning it is... I do tune in when I can, but the DJ talks an awful lot, takes a lot of calls, cuts up with studio guests and sings over the records. I can't stand too much of that.


Was at a club in Surfside, Texas in the mid-80s once, hanging out for some reason with a guy named Les Means. Played in the Surf Cats, among other local bands. Solid guitarist really. Always sort of considered himself a big fish in a little pond down there. Not sure I'd give him quite that much credit, but he was a respectable musician.

I think it was a Surf Cats show, in fact. But the show devolved into some sort of blues jam. They summoned Francine, the cook from the kitchen, to join the band. She took a guitar and flipped it over to play it left-handed, Albert-King style. Good singer, good guitarist too. They did "The Thrill is Gone." Les's wife Teri told me I could join the jam session if I wanted, but I chickened out.


The Arena Theater held an almost all-black crowd that night in '86 when I saw BB King, Bobby Bland and Charles Brown.


After the BB King show I asked someone if there was someplace I could buy a concert shirt. The response was a somewhat puzzled "I don't know." Guess it's not like hitting the lobby after a U2 show.


I've never been much of a John Mayall fan. Oh, Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton is a really good album. And I do appreciate that he loves the blues, and that he's launched the careers of people like Clapton and Coco Montoya. But his music just isn't that great.

He played Austin City Limits, and everyone was digging it. I remember everyone bopping along as he played the godawful "Mail Order Mystic," and I just didn't get it. Everyone acted like we had some demi-god in the house, but all I heard was unimaginative songwriting coupled with a lackluster band, serving to do nothing except launch Montoya's career. Coco told the audio crew, "Hey, Stevie was loud when he played here, so I'm gonna be loud too."

But at the end of the night, Mayall was out there on the stage, lugging his own amp off the stage, and that seemed kind of sad.


Paul Westerberg played here last night. I wasn't that tempted to go see him, and this review is typical of the reasons why.


Westerberg, though, is the longest name I think I've ever typed just with one hand on the keyboard. I'm told that the longest word falling into that category is stewardesses.

Well, I've prattled on about nothing long enough. Happy Wednesday.

Zig Zag

Howdy, neighbors. How's everyone doing? It's been a rough week here, admittedly. But let's not dwell on that.


The fantasy baseball draft is coming up this weekend. Chris Martich and I will co-manage a team we've named the Super Heroes. We've each got young boys, so it seemed appropriate. I'm hoping Chris has the stats insight to help us finally take down Danny Henley.


THEBOY was dancing around in the living room yesterday morning, saying, "Gaaaanja... ganja ganja gaaaanja...."

Kelli and I looked at each other. "Did he just make that up?" I asked, "Or is our four-year-old familiar with the Jamaican slang for marijuana?"

Eh, he just made it up. This is not a kid with the munchies, BELIEVE ME.


Ordered some fine t-shirts online. Can't say why I've got this hankerin' all of a sudden. But with a little help from Bruiser I found places where I ordered shirts featuring Motorhead, the Ramones, and Bad Brains. I'm still eyeballing a Helmet shirt too. Got good deals on those first three. Can't wait to wear them to work, heh heh.


Some of those motivational speakers are in Dallas today, again. This means that the freeways are more packed than usual, there's no parking (except for $10 lots) downtown, and the parking lots at the train stations are full. Yesterday morning was, well... challenging. Let's just leave it at

But remind me to kick Zig Zigler in the pants first chance I get.


I've got coffee to make it all better though.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Late Monday Meme...

Horked from Georgina:

Name 3 things you won't eat

1. Liver. Why oh why does anyone voluntarily eat another animal's poison filter?
2. Cabbage (except raw in cole slaw. I have no idea why it makes a difference.)
3. Popcorn. Ah, nothing like eating a mouthful of sock-flavored air.

Name 3 things you like to eat that most people do not

1. Canned oysters. Not often, since they wreck one's breath.
2. Fried oysters. Demerit for two versions of the same food? They're drastically different tastes. I don't do raw (on the half shell) though.
3. Lengua. This is beef tongue. Hey, it makes for a tasty (nyuk nyuk) taco.

Name 3 things you ate, but shouldn't have

1. Ceviche at some highfalutin seafood restaurant. Anytime someone says, "No, really... the acid in the juice cooks the scallops," DON'T BELIEVE THEM. That case of food poisoning sent me to the ER, and it took two bags of fluid to rehydrate me.
2. Funky imported chipotle peppers in a can. Can't be sure this is what made me sick, but I barfed up everything I'd eaten that day in reverse order, and the peppers came last.
3. "Low carb" fruit-filled snack bars. Fell for this a couple times, and as it turns out, some of those engineerd "low carb" foods make me gassier than the Hindenberg. I mean the worst gas of my LIFE.


Feel free to submit your own answers.


Heck of a bad morning. And I woke up in such a good mood...

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Where Were You?

Ah, Friday night with an iced coffee. Kids are in bed, and I've hit the CD store to comb through their bargain rack.

Got three CDs: Television by Dr. John, Guitar Shop by Jeff Beck, and Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash by the Replacements.

Far as I can tell, you can never go entirely wrong with Dr. John. The Jeff Beck CD is quite good (and an overdue upgrade from my cassette), though these days I'm more likely to listen to the song "Where Were You?" than anything else on there. I once wondered where a girlfriend of mine was, and it turned out she was at another guy's house, "just visiting." That's how a song becomes a heartbreak song.

And the Replacements CD--this was their first album! I don't know if I've heard anything off of it except "Johnny's Gonna Die," but heck, it was $3.99. It'd fetch more than that on eBay.

The video store didn't have any UFC videos I hadn't seen, dang it.


Got a small bonus at work, and I think tomorrow I'll go buy a DVD recorder with it. I'd like to archive all the MST3K videos, and Sam's has a good price on one I've read some good things about. Our Sony VHS/DVD player combo is a piece of junk that won't play DVDs half the time anyway.


Stats class tomorrow. Ugh. But we're due to get our tests back, which I expect to be okay news. But by this time tomorrow night (midnight) I could be nose-first in a book again, working my way through hours and hours of homework. Again, ugh.


Be good.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Randall Knife by Guy Clark

I'm posting this because it reminds me of a story my father once told me.


My father had a Randall knife
My mother gave it to him
When he went off to WWII
To save us all from ruin
If you've ever held a Randall knife
Then you know my father well
If a better blade was ever made
It was probably forged in hell

My father was a good man
A lawyer by his trade
And only once did I ever see
Him misuse the blade
It almost cut his thumb off
When he took it for a tool
The knife was made for darker things
And you could not bend the rules

He let me take it camping once
On a Boy Scout jamboree
And I broke a half an inch off
Trying to stick it in a tree
I hid it from him for a while
But the knife and he were one
He put it in his bottom drawer
Without a hard word one

There it slept and there it stayed
For twenty some odd years
Sort of like Excalibur
Except waiting for a tear

My father died when I was forty
And I couldn't find a way to cry
Not because I didn't love him
Not because he didn't try
I'd cried for every lesser thing
Whiskey, pain and beauty
But he deserved a better tear
And I was not quite ready

So we took his ashes out to sea
And poured `em off the stern
And threw the roses in the wake
Of everything we'd learned
When we got back to the house
They asked me what I wanted
Not the lawbooks not the watch
I need the things he's haunted

My hand burned for the Randall knife
There in the bottom drawer
And I found a tear for my father's life
And all that it stood for

I Got them Flying Amphibious Swamp Creature and Caffeinated Love Blues

First, good luck to Michael Toland this morning.


Caffeinated love was in the air today at Starbucks. I walked in to find a guy talking to a barista at the counter. She was tall, pretty, outgoing. Not a woman who has ever been accused of being petite, but a handsome gal. And here's what I heard of the conversation:

Barista: "Hey, don't worry. Be patient. You'll find someone."

Guy: "Ah thanks... it's just... (mumble mumble...)"

Barista: "It's been four years for me. I haven't been in a hurry, but you know, now I'm ready. I'm ready."

(Barista reaches across the counter and squeezes the guy on the shoulder as he stares at his shoes)

Barista: "Really. You'll find someone."

The dingus didn't get the hint. She was all but begging him to ask her out. Even I would have picked up on that back in my single days.


THEBOY put on his raincoat and hat today since it was yet another wet, gross day. He walked into class and some kid blurted out, "Hey, are you a FIREMAN?"

Admittedly, he looked a bit like the Gorton Fish Sticks fisherman. But he was not pleased at the fireman bit.

"No, I'm [THEBOY]."

"But you look like a fireman."


Apparently my son does not tolerate fools gladly. Wonder where he got that?


Had a doozy of a dream last night, a real doozy. I was riding in the back of a '77 Caddy being driven by JT, the older neighbor boy from back in Angleton. We were near Lake Jackson somewhere, just cruising along. It was fine and all, but I felt out of place. I called Hood on the cell phone to ask why the heck we weren't at spring training yet.

But as I looked out the window, I saw something moving in one of the little bayous/waterways beside the highway. It jumped out of the water, arcing high into the air, and I saw what it was: a monster.

Yes, it was your basic flying, amphibious swamp creature from Brazoria County. I hear they're good eatin'.

It looked like a combination of the Creature from the Black Lagoon and a sleestack from Land of the Lost.

Anyway, I hung up on Hood and started making a commotion to JT. Next thing you know, the swamp creature became aware of us and flew over to the car, landing on the roof. It was tearing away at the fabric, scaring the bejeebers outta me, and JT drove the Caddy into the bayou to try and get away.

Somehow I got out of the car, to the bank, and up the road to the Brazos Mall. The creature was close behind, however, and soon there was panic in the mall as he ran through. I ducked into the men's room, and luckily for me, the creature ducked into the ladies' room instead (they're good eatin', but not too bright). There, mall security descended upon him. Not to say that I was convinced he was likely to have any trouble with mall cops (he was more likely to have a snack). But it bought me time to finally get away.


Toland says he never remembers his nightmares. Ah, I'll bet you don't know what you're missing, son...


I was driving in today, nicely caffeinated from my Friday Starbucks run. The soundtrack to Big Bad Love was playing, and I was happy.

You know, the blues is still alive, still has a pulse. There's a gaggle of gee-tarists out there trying to bludgeon it to death with their instruments though. Paul Reddick, a Canadian, does the blues right. Gives a guy like me hope.


JT was... nice. He meant well, but he wasn't exactly an intellectual giant. Smoked a lot of cigarettes, a lot of anything he could light. Struggled mightily in high school, and God he wanted to quit when he was a senior. So close to being out of school, but getting drunk and high a lot, not getting along with his teachers or family...

I bugged him to bear down for this last stretch, to try really hard and pull out the grades that'd get him a diploma. I helped him with his homework a little, but mostly just wouldn't let it rest. I nagged him to do the work, to make graduating a priority.

And you know, he did. No idea where he is now. I'm guessing he's not teaching at Harvard. But he did graduate high school, and I take some pride in having been... a factor.


An interview with Kevin Murphy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame.


Caffeinated love to you all today. Keep your eyes open, will ya?

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Here's one of the biggies.

Anyone who knows me well enough to stop by this site probably already knows this story. Or if you don't, you DO know that I'm a natural-born skeptic, the kind of person who is generally inclined to disbelieve tales of supernatural stuff.

On May 10, 2003, Kelli and I were vacationing in Florida, in the Destin area. Beaches, seafood, naps, more beaches... it was our first vacation since THEBOY was born in 2000, and it was exactly what we needed.

That windy night we hit the beach at about 9pm. I smoked a cheap cigar and lay there with Kelli. We were flat on our backs, just staring through the light haze at the stars.

At about 9:30pm we saw this faint red light shoot across the sky. What follows is a transcription of the notes we wrote in the hotel room after we left the beach that night:

(My handwriting)
Half moon
Lying on our backs. Big Dipper almost directly overhead. Moon SW of it.

1st: Saw it go east to west rapidly. Thought it was a shooting star. Very faint red hue. No contrail, etc. Considered possibility it was satellite.

2nd: (Approximately) 10 min later I saw it go west-east briefly, then u-turned quickly & went back west. Much faster than a plane; we'd just seen one & could compare. Plane left visible vapor trail. (The red light) disappeared, going west.

3rd: (Approximately) 10-15 minutes later. Appeared below Big Dipper. Zig-zagged north, turned around, did s-curves & quickly went west out of sight.

4th: 10-15 min--went all over: Below Big Dipper. All over the place. Turns, stops, zig-zags, went north, stopped, came back south, stopped then went straight east.

5th: 15-20 min later. Big Dipper area again. A little slower--went east to west in a gentle arc, straightened & went west.

(We then went back to the hotel room, a few hundred yards behind where we'd been lying. What follows is in Kelli's handwriting.)

6th: 11:30 (pm)-- appeared again above us, while we were out on balcony. Watched it go E to W, then stop, and go back and forth, making a few turns.

Brian and I both saw shape a little bit clearer & it definitely has wings, but they don't move nor do they go in same direction as flight. Did move around for a minute or two, then disappeared above us, like it went straight up back into space.


The bit about "back into space" was opinion from Kelli. It just looked like it disappeared to me.

On the advice of Kelli's brother, we contacted the Mutual UFO Network, and they took our report. They were quite straightforward, and clearly acted in accordance with their policy of not assuming a thing.


We watched this thing together over the course of about two hours.

So that leaves the question, then, of just what the hell that was. I now know that I cannot completely disregard the testimony of some mumu-wearing freak on TV who says he saw a UFO in the sky, because I did too! A UFO, an unidentified flying object.

The area where we stayed is just crawling with military bases. They're all over the place, so this would potentially be a place where military technology is tested. If this is some sort of aircraft or propulsion system that was being tested, let me tell you that it is far more advanced than anything you or I have ever seen before. I don't see how an object could make those maneuvers at that speed without disintegrating, let alone possibly carrying a human. Blinding speed to a dead stop, whiplash turns...

Stunning stuff.

I don't know what the logic in testing something over a well-populated area would be, but then again, visibility was mediocre, and basically you had to be staring up into the darkness like we were to have a chance of seeing this thing.

No one else came down the beach while we were watching it, by the way, or we would have rounded up some witnesses.

And I also cannot completely rule out something extraterrestrial, as much as it pains me to say it. My gut feeling is that it was man-made, but since I don't know that, I also can't assume it's even from this planet.

Okay, so if it was little green ETs, what possible reason could there be for such crazy maneuvering? Is that the intergalactic version of doing donuts?

Were these teenagers, out borrowing Mama Squid's flying disc just to go nuts in the skies and freak out whatever humans happened to look up?

The radical maneuvers fall more logically in line with testing I'd say.

But I just don't know for sure.


In the time since then I've found myself looking for it again on clear nights (hell, on hazy nights too). No dice though. It's caused me to re-examine a few things. No, I don't think I'll go to Stonehenge to light incense and listen to Yanni. But it has made me realize that behind some of the fantastic stories we hear are probably more kernels of truth than I'd previously been willing to admit. And that in and of itself is pretty stunning to me.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Touched in the Head

Chris Traynor's updated the Helmet blog.


I dreamed that Whit McClendon and I got into some sort of beef with some martial arts students. He of the decades of training in MMA, me of the one month of judo lessons...

We went into their dojo, and he was holding his own just fine. Me, I ended up squaring off with a towering Karate black belt. Luckily for me, someone tripped him, and as he landed on his belly I jumped down for a toe lock. He actually tapped out.

We'd have won overall, but some Kung Fu chick grabbed a bladed weapon off of the wall (the cheater!) and we had to admit defeat.

(At this point, btw, a toe lock represents about 50% of my repertoire...)


The new Anders Parker EP, The Wounded Astronaut, is really flippin' good, of course. You should go buy some and hand them out to your friends.


I listened a guy on the train today who may be a bit touched in the head. Young, good looking black man with a respectable vocabulary. But he prattled on and on about how he'd once stolen a crucifix so that Jesus would protect him, and how St. Francis of Asisi was born with stigmata (markings on his extremities analogous to crucifixion wounds/scars), and how, since the young man had studied French, there was some sort of religious connection between him and saint.

And then Geoff wrote about Garey Busey's unnerving evangelical ramblings on the religious talk show circuit...


Busey performed as part of the "cluster pluck" that wrapped up the Willie Nelson Big Six-0 show I worked back when I was an audio grunt. I knew a guy who'd been assigned to basically tail Busey during his time in Austin and try to keep him out of trouble. (A) he failed and (B) for some reason he wouldn't share the details.

So after this CBS-run show became a "cluster f*ck," the musicians weren't done until nigh on 2am. The crew had basically put in a 20-hour day at that point. Exhausted, frazzled, out of our minds from everything, just everything that went wrong. CBS had NO idea how to put on a concert.

So even as the band waved to the sparse crowd, the shot during which credits would roll, the audio crew stormed the stage, eager to strike the gear.

But feedback was howling in the monitors. There stood Busey with an acoustic guitar pointed right at a monitor, and I thought he was the likely culprit. Exhaustion superceded manners, and I grabbed his guitar to mute the strings. The howling didn't stop, and I looked up to see a very pissed off Busey staring at me for laying a hand on his guitar. I moved on before he had a chance to speak.


Spring training baseball is on MLB.TV! Mets/Nationals... It's good to be alive.


C'mon lunch break...


Where did Jewel get THOSE?


Took my child development test last night and got an 82. Not great, but not bad. I'd covered seven chapters in seven frantic days. A curse upon my stats prof for giving us so much homework that studying for another class has been virtually impossible.

That test last night was HARD too. Had to really know Freud and Piaget inside out, and let me tell you, one pass through the chapter was not enough to absorb all that.

When in doubt on a Freud question, though, just answer "penis."

But hopefully we'll have less homework soon, as the stats prof is now over a month behind on grading homework, and realizing something's gotta give...


Scene from the daycare this morning:

I knelt to give THEBOY his goodbye hug, but a little girl came between us. I beckoned for THEBOY to come to me for the hug, but he and the girl faced each other and were engaged in this demure semi-stare. She reached out and stroked his nice red turtleneck shirt, and I knew something was up.

Me: "Who is this?"

THEBOY: "That's the girl I'm gonna marry."

Me: "Oooooh! What's her name?"

THEBOY: "Sierra..."

I beat a hasty retreat so they could get going on their wedding plans.


It feels strange to have no homework and nothing to study for at the moment. But not so strange that I plan on getting up off the recliner tonight to find something to do...


Nah, I need to use this down time to finally get my grad school stuff in line. Looks like I've got my letter writers all set. I need three, and a fourth is suddenly in the mix. I'm afraid I'm going to have to blow her off. I tried to reach her a month ago, and once she was MIA I had to keep going.


And on that note, I really owe April for writing a letter for me. Here's a plug, Dallas folks: If you need a pet sitter then by gum, I can't imagine you'd do better than to contact her. When we worked together she was always rescuing some pooch from the freeway, taking in strays, all that.

Henley, I'm hinting in your direction...


15 days until we leave for spring training. That's assuming I don't kill Hood before then. God, it's like having a little brother around...

Happy Wednesday.