Wednesday, August 31, 2005

You Nearly Lose Your Mind

This is a lot of fun! (Thanks Georgina)


Launch has played quite a bit of country, blues and bluegrass stuff today: “Drive Away” by Blind Willie McTell, “Caleb Meyer” by Gillian Welch, “Rocky Top” by the Osborne Brothers, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” by Flatt & Scruggs, “You Nearly Lose Your Mind” as done by Merle Haggard, and “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes” as done by Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

Those last two did in fact play back to back. They also both appeared on kd lang’s gorgeous 1988 album Shadowland.


What happens in New Orleans? How bad will this get? Hundreds, possibly thousands dead, 80% of the city underwater, poor surrounding parishes hit hard. It’s overwhelming to consider what has happened, and to ponder what to do next.


Haven’t heard from my grandmother yet, but there’s no real reason to fear that she’s in peril (or worse). I just hope she has a home to return to.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

WWL in New Orleans

That's a Belo-owned station. This message was sent from a WWL employee to WCNC (Charlotte, NC), then to BACS in Dallas. A friend of mine there sent it to me. I don't know Brad, but I worked with WWL staff on numerous occasions.


The station and I had to abandon WWL station in new orleans due to levee breach this morning. the 17th stree canal levee has failed and the flood waters of Lake Ponchartrain are spilling into the city, even the downtown. We are currently at the transmitter buiding in gretna, la on the west back of the ms river. We are high and dry, but little to no communications. Landlines are down and cells are failing as the towers generators and battery back-ups fail. Am safe but food and water becoming very scarce, even for us. We areselfs are going into employees home we can reach for supplies. No running sewage anymore, we had to dig a field pit for a bathroom. Don't worry we have help coming and KHOU is flying their helicopter the city. Still no word from Slidell, MS gulf coast or parts south of New olreans.

Take care and I'll call ASAP!



My thoughts and prayers are with the residents of that fine city and the surrounding areas.


My own grandmother, in fact, lives across the lake from New Orleans in Ponchatoula. I'm told she evacuated over the weekend, Tennessee-bound. I hope she's safe and that we get an update soon. It's a lot for an 84-year-old woman to have to endure.

The Birthday Hangover

Oy. Ate too much, WAY too much. We ended up at Zuroma, a good Italian joint up near Grapevine. I'm a sucker for an eggplant sandwich (groan if you will). I ate one the size of a Shetland pony.

Then I went home and ate a big piece of the apple pie my sweet coworker Joie made for me. Topped it with vanilla ice cream (Blue Bell, natch) and went to town. I was having to do breathing exercises by the end to work it all in. Glad to know all this exercise is paying off...


So I woke up feeling like hell, like I've got a puke bug or something. Heh heh... overdid it for sure. And the omelette I made was the best looking one in quite some time, but I just couldn't touch it.

I'll live though. I'm a little better, and I just had a banana.


Funniest moment from last night: THEBOY got two tattoos out of the machine at the restaurant. One was small, but the one he wanted to put on his arm was huge! It was three times as wide as his skinny little arm. I had a good laugh while trying to explain to him that the tattoo would only fit on his chest or his butt.

He went with his side, actually. So he's got this vicious looking dragon there, and one on his arm. He'll be a chick magnet today.


Otherwise it was a quiet evening at home, watching the Rangers beat Mark Buehrle (what the heck???), a little MST (Teenagers from Outer Space) and finally Ultimate Fighter 2.

Melvin looks like an explosive fighter, a startlingly athletic sort with good speed and good ideas. But he wasn't so great on the ground, and he lost. Adios Melvin. You were a loudmouth anyway.


So, here's hoping my stomach stops doing backflips sometime soon.

You have a good day too.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Bweep Bwoop

Still trying to find a place with killer cobbler or apple pie for tonight. I’m told barbecue joints are usually good about this. There are a lot of chain places, which I won’t fight I suppose. But it’d sure be great to find some local cafĂ© or somesuch.


Car alarms… you know, we are way, way far overboard with this stuff. At the daycare, people parked under the awning hop out and you hear the “bweep bwoop” of the alarm system they’ve just activated. Their Nissan Sentra has two booster seats in the back and several dozen stale Cheese Nips under the seats. Folks… this is seriously bad overkill. Where do you think you are? This ain’t Gone in 60 Seconds. In the short time you’ll be here to pick up Junior no world-class thief is going to buzz in and steal your ride. Hell, he probably wouldn’t even bother with the Kelly Clarkson CD with the cracked jewel case sitting on your dashboard.


“Awful Dreams” by Lightnin’ Hopkins is playing. Man, when I first got into blues I’d look for his CDs at these hip Houston shops. I’d find $22 imports and think, He’s from a few miles THAT way, man… do I really want to buy something that came here from Belgium?


I don't wanna work. I just wanna beat on the cat all day.

Monday a la Mode

This is Jason Falkner’s sister, as verified by the man himself.


I decided to go the Amazon route with my birthday cash.

See, I did indulge that restless whim yesterday. That is, I hit Grapevine Mills Mall looking for the jacket I want.

First a guy tried to sell me one with a backwards zipper and a missing button for $60. I actually considered it for some reason. “This is made in India, not like those Chinese jackets.” Dude, the quality on this Indian jacket is a bit lacking…

So I hit the Wilson’s Leather outlet store. Found what I wanted for about $80… and decided against it.


I loaded up at Amazon. In the coming days I should have lots of packages full of goodies. Howlin’ Wolf DVD, BB King DVD, Bukka White CD…

And I did order that rare Jason Falkner double CD from Japan… they only charged me $4 shipping. Maybe they misunderstood the exchange rate or something.


My cube is all decorated in yellow and green streamers with balloons and monkey images. My coworkers went with my “Monkey Paw” nickname for the theme. Oh, and there’s a can of Beefaroni the size of a Shetland pony. It’s an in-joke.

But I appreciate it. This place is so much better than BACS…!


Tonight’s goal for dinner is to pick a place that either offers apple pie or peach cobbler (a la mode on both counts, of course). I don’t care if it’s an all emu steakhouse or something.


Busy week here. Happy Monday, ya’ll.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Mind Engages

Well, it finally happened: I have a boring-ass textbook in one of my classes. Dang.

Psychological Personality Testing (by some guys I really don’t care enough about to drag the book out of my bag at the moment) is a snoozefest. Had to happen at some point I guess. Did you know the Rorschach “inkblot” test originated in some jerkwater European country in the 1920s? Yeeeeah… me neither. Did you care? Me neither.

But that’s some of the stuff the book covers.

Oh, you know, we’ll get into methodology and validity and reliability and all sorts of “ogy” and “ity” concepts at some point. The prof is interesting from what I can tell, so hopefully this won’t be the beating that my stats class was.


Our search for a new Friday night Tex Mex restaurant continues. Last night was Esparza’s, which is in Euless or Bedford. Good location, good atmosphere, family joint, good service… and so-so food. Dang. Kelli’s food was so spicy it nearly caused her hair to burst into flames, and my enchiladas verdes had only a thin layer of oven-dehydrated salsa. Chicken was a tad dry… fudge! The search continues.


Dad and Charlene gave me a NICE wad of cash for my birthday. I have been genuinely perplexed about what to use it for though. My first thought was to buy THEBOY a bicycle, and I’ll do so next weekend.

That won’t eat up all the cash though. Here I am in shorts in August, and I must admit that I’m tempted to buy yet another jacket. It’s odd for a guy, I know… but I love jackets. I have a lot, like 15 maybe. I do believe that’s a lot for a guy, especially a straight one. But there’s an art to proper insulation in winter (and proper ventilation in summer, conversely). I’ve got rough temperature ranges for each jacket, and you know, a guy needs some wardrobe flexibility.

SO, I’ve forever wanted a ¾ length black leather jacket. It’d be bitchin’! But I scored a great navy pea coat last winter that effectively serves the same function. I keep saying, “I don’t need another jacket” to Kelli, but I’m never sure if that’s a statement or a question.


What I might do instead of getting the jacket is to hit my Amazon wish list and wipe out a bunch of it. God I’d love to order great fistfuls of the stuff it’d ordinarily take me years to buy. Blues CDs, books, DVDs… heck, there’s a rare Soundgarden live VHS currently available (and for a good price), and I’ll kick myself if I miss a chance to get my hands on that.


Class went well this morning. ‘Twas lifespan development. 20 or so women and ME. Ladies, ladies, no fighting… (just kidding).

The prof seems like an agreeable sort, the students I’ve spoken to in there seem to be bright, and I think we’ll have a good time. That particular textbook hasn’t arrived in the mail yet.

I will have six papers to write for that class. I’ll have a lot to write for the other class as well. It will be a busy semester for sure.


Tomorrow, well, I’m not sure what we’ll do. Kelli took a tremendous nap this afternoon, and awoke promising me I’d get to sleep in tomorrow. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. You know how it goes. Just a matter of whether some little thing wakes me up and the mind engages. Or I get “Kokomo” stuck in my head.


Have a terrific weekend.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Wow. If you apply for a Boston Red Sox credit card, once you make your “first qualifying purchase” (not sure the amount) you can get a photo of Alex Rodriguez knocking the baseball out of Bronson Arroyo’s hand, autographed by Arroyo.


Say what you will about the Yankees, the legacy, Steinbrenner, the Evil Empire, the stunning bats in the lineup, the… EVERYTHING that makes the Yankees what they are.

But in a championship game, Alex Rodriguez left his mark with a bush league play.

I find that quite funny.

(And you know, the fact that ARod was wearing some big, white batting gloves that looked like he borrowed them from Mickey Mouse makes the moment just that much more enjoyable...)

Stupid Sex-Having Trees...

Sneezing a lot… crap. Trees get their jollies and make me sneeze.


Class went well I’d say. Dr. Crook was under the weather, so he kept it short. The man had hardly any voice, looked bad. This was techniques of appraisal and assessment, a class about administering and interpreting tests. There’s a substantial statistical component, but what he described last night sounds like it’s well within my grasp. Might not even need to drag out the TI-83 graphing calculator.


An interesting development: Was talking to a classmate who works for Tarrant County MHMR, dealing with at-risk teens. She said they have an opening and wondered if I’d be interested. She knows about my interest in addiction. Looks like the pay is comparable to what I make now and the schedule is flexible (something that certainly appeals to a parent). Not only that, but with that kind of job, the folks who run the counselor program at TxWes will consider the job as fulfilling the practicum requirement. That could potentially shave a whole semester off of my degree plan.

The downside, of course, is that working with teenaged addicts would not be a walk in the park. Anything with kids in peril just wrecks me, but I need to get over that. I do I do I do.

Anyway, I don’t know whether this is the path for me. I suppose I should look into it at least.


I think I’m going to indulge myself and order Jason Falkner’s Japanese CD Everyone Says It’s On. A vendor on Gemm has it for $35 and says they’ll ship to me for $4.

I found it on eBay for $33, which is a relatively good price, but the seller wants $16 for shipping. What a con job.


I think I’ll also buy Kevin a bicycle this weekend. He’ll flip! I wanted to wait until it was maybe cooler, or maybe over the upcoming long weekend. But I’ve got the cash now and I’m too excited.


Had my iced coffee and scone, work doesn’t look too bad, Tex Mex tonight… life is, at the moment, worth living.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Do I Smell Barbecue?

Heard a cover of Muddy Waters’ “Got My Mojo Workin’” by Ben Broussard today. At least, I think that’s the name they gave. I know there’s a ballplayer by that name, but I don’t know if he sings or plays the accordion.

(The ballplayer is from Beaumont, by the way…)

But what a great choice for a cover song! It’s got all the requisite Louisiana references, it’s got that great country beat… Maybe it’s been covered a lot over there, but if so I’ve missed it. Very cool.


And it was nice to hear a DL Menard song that’s NOT “The Back Door” for once. Can’t recall what it was, and I’m not knocking that Cajun standard. I’m just saying it was a nice change of pace.


Send a rose to Cindy Sheehan


Five of the Rangers’ games on this 10-game homestand are during the day. Did the folks who make the schedule not look at the calendar? It’s August in Texas… those guys will barbecue out there.

Louisiana Proud

Know what you ought to do? Take that Staind CD out of your ‘puter and spend the rest of the day listening to the streaming content at KBON.

Serving Mamou, Eunice, Ville Platte, Opelousas and Lafayette.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Night Guy, Morning Guy, and Grouchy Guy

Some folks, including myself, have had trouble accessing this site recently. I had some difficulty figuring out what it could be. Blogger started hosting their own photos not long ago, and I thought surely that was it.

But tonight I tried to access the site on Kelli's Powerbook G4 using Explorer and froze up. That leads me to think that Blogger is no longer playing nicely with Explorer. Brand new Mac, latest edition of Explorer and no dice.

So... guess I'll have to stick with Safari.


It's quiet. Everyone else is in bed, and here I sit, sort of frozen in a moment. My graduate school classes start tomorrow, and I'm... not sure what I am--nervous? Excited? Intimidated?

Considering how much work I see being piled on Kelli, I'm a bit overwhelmed already. Tomorrow night is a class on techniques of assessment and appraisal. I see a significant statistics portion on the syllabus. They're lucky the psych building is only two stories, or I might jump off.

So here I sit, listening to the fans, in this last brief lull before the wheels really start to turn. I already feel like I've been in school a long time. And I have in a way, knocking out every psych class and other requirement I could over the last year. Trying to recall the saying... "by hook and crook" or something?

I'll be happy I did this, I know. To those of you who are about to get years of "sorry I can't (insert activity-related verb phrase here) 'cause I've got school stuff to do" excuses, I apologize in advance.


This is when I get in trouble. I saw this comedian once who said we're basically two people: Night Guy and Morning Guy.

Every night, Night Guy wants to stay up, and says, "Morning Guy can handle it. Shoot--I don't have to go to bed yet!"

And every morning, Morning Guy says, "Aw man, I've gotta talk to Night Guy. He''s gotta start going to bed earlier!"

I've often said that if I won the lottery I'd probably never see another sunrise. Well, not unless I stayed up long enough.


I was Grouchy Guy for a while tonight. The kids weren't BAD, really, but there's something about coming home and trying to make supper and having them underfoot, pulling my attention five different ways, making noise and, in THEGIRL'S case, arbitrarily whining/crying (possibly out of hunger, though it continued after the meal tonight) while I try to get something done that just irks me. It lingered, and poor Kelli saw too much of it.

See, in TV, you get freebies. Tickets to this and that, t-shirts, hats, key chains. A lot of it is meaningless, but at BACS we didn't get those things.

At KTVT we do though. I put in for some Rangers tickets on Monday, but completely forgot that Kelli won't be home on that day until about the time the game starts. Crap crap crap. Years of waiting for such a good freebie and now I can't partake.

It's not a big deal, and I shouldn't have let it bug me. I shook it off okay, but not before being a prick.

I'm hoping one of these highfalutin classes I'm about to take will make me perfect. I'll let you know when that happens.


Night Guy is surrendering. Thursday is likely to be busy at work, so if I don't get to post, please do have a grand day. Take a deep breath, have a look around and know that life ain't all bad.

(Right Dad?)

Today's Quote

If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, you may have a fresh
start any moment you choose, for this thing we call "failure" is not
the falling down, but the staying down.

-Mary Pickford

Musical Meanderings

An exchange with Mike Llorca via email this morning:

Me: I keep waiting for Audioslave to impress me, and they don't. For a band that's a three-piece fronted by a singer, they don't fill sonic space very well. I think [Tom] Morello's vastly overrated. Everyone else says he's so creative, but you know, take away his $89 Boss envelope filter and he's just plunking away, doing nothing that's harmonically interesting or complicated.

Mike: You know, I was thinking that verbatim...oh, and I added "They suck"


Man, you ever take a look around and realize, ever-so-briefly, that things might just be okay? Job’s not bad, school starts tomorrow, kids have been good. Heck, my commute is so short that I’ve gained enough free time to work out. It’s been so long since I was on a workout regimen that the last time around I was listening to my tunes on a cassette Walkman.

Now I use an iPod, which I love. Still trying to get that perfect workout mix going. Upbeat helps, naturally. God, last night during one of the intense intervals I was running out of steam, and “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead started. It’s not my imagination: It helped.

Other good workout tunes: “Crisis King” by Helmet, “The Big Takeover” by Bad Brains,” and “Stone Cold Crazy” by Metallica. Oh, and “Quite F*cked” by Hermano, heh heh.


Classic rock died long ago, and it turns out that we hear so much of it as radio’s way of paying their respects.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Anti-Anthem

Swallowed By The Cracks
David Baerwald and David Ricketts

i once was a dancer
i was young once like you
though i know i don't look it

jumped high as the sky
had fire in my eyes
and legs like a stallion

and i had a girl and i loved her
my best friend was her brother
we were on top of the mountain that summer
thought we'd never be

swallowed by the cracks
fallen so far down
like the rest of those clowns begging bus fare back

swallowed by the cracks
our pride worn down talking times gone by
like everybody else

swallowed by the cracks
we would never be swallowed by the cracks

we would talk through the night
about what we would do
if we just could get started

i would choreograph
eileen she would act while
steve was a writer

then stevie ran away and get bored
eileen took a job in a store
me i became this drunken old whore
cause you see we'd be

swallowed by the cracks
fallen so far down
like the rest of those clowns begging bus fare back

swallowed by the cracks our pride worn down
talking times gone by like everybody else

swallowed by the cracks
swallowed by the cracks
you see we'd be swallowed by the cracks

maybe it ain't over i can see it's up to me
you're only out when you stay out
you stay out when you don't believe

we could drive around in circles getting nowhere
all night long getting drunk with strangers telling lies
and singing along with the jukebox baby

swallowed by the cracks

La Bella Luna...

The Moon Card
You are the Moon card. Entering the Moon we enter
the intuitive and psychic realms. This is the
stuff dreams are made on. And like dreams the
imagery we find here may inspire us or torment
us. Understanding the moon requires looking
within. Our own bodily rhythms are echoed in
this luminary that circles the earth every
month and reflects the sun in its progress.
Listening to those rhythms may produce visions
and lead you towards insight. The Moon is a
force that has legends attached to it. It
carries with it both romance and insanity.
Moonlight reveals itself as an illusion and it
is only those willing to work with the force of
dreams that are able to withstand this
reflective light. Image from: Stevee Postman.

Which Tarot Card Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


Happy birthday, Julio Franco.

He turns 47 today (you read right) and is still a productive hitter. He’s the oldest non-pitcher in major league history, folks.

His diet:

Franco told ESPN's Jeremy Schaap that he eats six to seven meals a day, starting with a normal breakfast of 12 egg whites, raisins or strawberries. He drinks a protein shake at 10 a.m. every morning. He eats a steak or fish for lunch, takes his dinner (mostly protein) to the ballpark, then eats dinner again after the game. At 3 a.m., he wakes up, drinks another protein shake, and goes back to sleep.


Speaking of working out, my own exercise routine from yesterday has left me sore, but happily so. Seems that all the old-timers took the elliptical machines, so I opted for the treadmill. Interval training is fairly flexible, so it’s nice to have that option.

I did make an obscene gesture at the stair stepper as I walked past though. We’ve got a history.

(Just kidding, Dad)


Grad school orientation went well last night. I even took the advice of, oh, everyone I know… that is, after I sat through the speeches, grabbed some cookies for the kids and split, I realized that I should probably go back in and shake some hands.

SO… I spent a couple minutes catching up with Dr. Ellison.


28 new students in the counselor program this year, 26 of whom are female. The other guy is single. Rough life, Roger…


We are indeed staying in Hurst. After the house in Corsicana fell through Friday, we concluded that now is just NOT the time. Kelli’s taking 13 hours in school, my own six hours commence this week, and heck, her departure from her job will certainly affect our status as borrowers. Maybe we expected too much to go right, but I have to say that I think we’re more relieved than disappointed.


Almost time to head home for lunch. Happy Tuesday, ya’ll.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Must... Kill... Woodpecker...

RIP Robert Moog. You seem to have been one of the very few synth creators to really understand what they should do.


Congratulations Geoff on your recent marriage to Mel. I’m thrilled for you two.


Speaking of BACS folks, I’m trying to lure one over here to KTVT…


See Puffy AmiYumi’s video for their cover of Jellyfish’s “Joining a Fan Club.”


Woke up in full-blown night terror/freakout mode. Heard something in my sleep, and I awoke to find that it wasn’t my imagination. Don’t know what it was, but after stumbling around the house in my boxers for a while I finally decided it was in the back yard. Some clicking/tapping noise. Woodpecker maybe.

So I hit the gym. That joint was jumping at 6:30am!


Today is Kelli’s first day as a full-time student. She’s pumped, and I’m excited for her.


For some reason I keep reading director Kevin Smith’s blog.

At first I thought he was lampooning the whole thing with so much “showered, took a piss, ate waffles” sort of stuff. But I think it’s for real. I mean, as a guy with an obvious writing compulsion myself, I guess I shouldn’t throw stones, right?

And once in a while he throws in something interesting, when he’s not talking about his man-tits or how fat he’s gotten and how that affects sex with his wife.

Okay, not exactly a ringing endorsement I guess…


C’mon lunch…

Sunday, August 21, 2005

what Kelli’s ex-coworker’s hairdresser’s partner said

The partners went to the grocery store for a quick trip, though the hairdresser opted to wait in the car.

Walking out of the store was an obese black woman. He noticed that she had a strange gait, and he thought perhaps it was due to her size.

In a moment, though, she stopped, and from between her legs dropped a ham.

She looked around and barked, “Hey, who’s throwin’ hams around here?”


The hairdresser did say something along the lines of “Uh uh honey!” to her, but I don’t think she was overcome with guilt and compelled to return the ham. And frankly, once she’d walked any distance with the ham between her legs, well, I can say with certainty that I think it's best that the pork product in question didn’t end up for public sale again.


It’s looking more and more like we are not moving to Corsicana in the foreseeable future. For us to pull this off, a number of events had to fall into place within a certain time. That is, we needed to get our crap together (or mostly together) before school started. We’ve worked all summer on this, and in mid-August we’ve suddenly lost the contract on the house we wanted.

Other big changes will come, though, as I cannot support the family and keep the kids at Primrose for long. We’re working on it.


The greatest moment from the weekend, I think, was today at Cici’s Pizza (hey, one not far from here is actually decent). THEBOY started playing this snowmobile racing game. I sat behind him and fed quarters into it. From the first moments of the race, when he squeezed the throttle all the way and careened insanely into trees, walls, gates, giant spiders, ghosts and other racers, we HOWLED with laughter! He was operating it on his own, and as I yelled at him (“Left! Right! Cliff! Fence!”) we both laughed uncontrollably. For some reason none of his crashes killed him, which is always handy, and in fact, he came in third!

It’s been a while since I last laughed that hard.


I spoke to my grandmother tonight for the first time in way too long. She’s in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. Just turned 84, and apparently just cannot be stopped by the likes of the arthritis and occasional stroke. Never sounds down, always glad to talk. That’s my Babbi!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

He pointed the machine gun at the TV and fired away.

Been dubbing some of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 VHSs over to DVD again. Tonight's double feature: Devilfish (#911) and The Screaming Skull (#912).

Bad movies! Wow...

Sometimes I'm not even sure why I dub some of these that are so painful I may not ever watch them for pleasure. Maybe it's just the completist in me.

(Note: The Screaming Skull has just started. The voiceover at the beginning of the show promises--no kidding--that the makers of the film promise a "free burial" to anyone who dies of fright while watching their film. See, you just don't get customer service like that anymore...)


No house updates. We're talking, putting our heads together, weighing our options, that sort of thing.


'Twas a good day. Kelli and THEGIRL took off for Corsicana. Kelli had some Arbonne-related stuff to do down there. Sterling was still here from last night's sleepover, so we passed on the Corsicana trip. After Sterling went home it was a father/son day.

I'd hoped to cook up something really cool, but after my chiropractor visit we found out the house was to be shown at 11:30am. Didn't give me long to run the vacuum and get us out of here. I'd considered NRH2O, a local water park.


Instead it was off to Grapevine Mills Mall for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. Everything costs twice what it ought to, but the place is stuffed to the gills with animatronic jungle critters. We sat close to a big aquarium that had a couple Nemo lookalikes inside (real fish, the only living critters in the joint). We were also close enough to throw one of those $7 kid pizzas at a gorilla. Every half hour or so the lights flash while elephants and monkeys and all sorts of beasts go nuts. There was a time when it was a bit of sensory overload for THEBOY; his little head would dart back and forth like he was keeping an eye out for a stampede or something.

He still likes it, but he's quick to explain to me that those animals aren't real.


After the Rainforest Cafe we walked the farthest route possible to the toy store. You know... pick a direction in that place and inevitably it's the wrong one.

But on the way we passed a carousel in the food court. That was new. We paid our $1.75 and hopped aboard. Not a bad way to spend five minutes with the boy.


THEBOY walked about 20 feet into the toy store, once we finally arrived, and picked up a machine gun and announced that he was done.

I had to laugh, but you know, it was a bit of a challenge to convince him to even walk through the rest of the store. I tried to explain to him that there might be even cooler stuff in there. Clutching the machine gun, he'd gone about 10 more feet before he discovered one more toy he just had to have: a Lord of the Rings "Gollum" figure. Push the button and it hisses, "My precious."


His plan was to use the machine gun to shoot Gollum over and over, as I discovered, oh, all afternoon.


But on the way home from the mall he quite steadily elicited an entire discourse from me on Smeagol/Gollum and how the ring transformed him and, ultimately, cost him his life.

I don't know that any highfalutin attorney on any cop show could have pieced together the story through logical queries like that kid did.


And indeed, when we got home he was eager to see Gollum on TV. I made it clear that he could not watch the Lord of the rings, but I did find a few harmless scenes to let him watch.

He pointed the machine gun at the TV and fired away.


Now it's Saturday night. Kelli and I have had Starbucks treats, the kids are in bed, and MST is working its magic.

I'm pretty eager for school to get going. Kelli's telling me about her school and all these assignments she has to do, and it feels weird. Took me a while to realize that I think I'm envious. I've gotta get moving!


Have a good weekend.

Friday, August 19, 2005

House Update

The contract we had on the house in Corsicana has just fallen through.

It appraised at $4k less than what we offered. This means the amount we could borrow to purchase it would top out at less than what the seller wanted.

The seller wouldn't budge from her price and we couldn't make up the difference from our own funds, so the deal is off.

Now, we re-group.

Fractal This, Chaotic That...

Want to scramble your brain?

(Sure, we ALL do!)

Try to follow along as Weedshare head honcho Steve Turnidge talks about fractal this, chaotic that, and music files.


Okay, what did Kevin Gryboski do that got him disciplined by MLB? This is the first I’ve heard it.


There was a message on the machine yesterday from the real estate listing service, saying that an agent wanted to show the house at 1:15pm.

The time stamp on the message was 1:16pm, and in fact, I was there, talking on the phone to my friend Mike Llorca. Before I knew it a blonde in a red PT Cruiser had pulled up out front and soon met a couple who walked in on me.

“Hi, I’m the surprised homeowner,” I said.

Now, the house was (and remains) clean. But I don’t appreciate such short notice.


I also don’t appreciate her lackluster job of showing the place. The whole thing went like this:

“This is the living room.”

“This is the dining room.”

“This is kind of like the place we saw earlier.”

And done. I should have started my own sales pitch myself. “All the closets have built-ins, and this cabinet in the living room is an entertainment center. The study and living room have speaker wiring permanently installed, and a baby cam can remain in the bedroom if you’d like. I can walk to the library and farmer’s market from here, and the neighbors are some of the nicest folks I’ve ever met…”


C’mon lunch…

The Sudden Stop

After leaving the daycare this morning, I was caught in bad North Richland Hills traffic. I’d sat in the turn lane once already, through a whole cycle as the light did its thing, letting just a few cars go before turning red again. I sat through all of “Ramblin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers at that light today.


See, lights in Austin seem to be on what I always called “DAMMIT” timers. You sit there and sit there until you can’t imagine why you’re still sitting there, staring at a red. So the moment you finally yell “DAMMIT!” the light turns green.

In the DFW area, the lights are, apparently, on “Y’all C’mon” timers. That is, you sit there and sit there, and if no one is crossing in front of you—TOUGH. Because the light sees cars on the horizon, and it’ll keep you waiting while it beckons them: “Ya’ll c’mon… these turkeys can wait… your green will last as long as you need…”


After missing the first light, I said aloud, “I’m not sitting through this b*tch again.” I went straight.

That plunged me into the school zone outside of Birdville High School. Biggest school zone I’ve ever seen, I reckon. So not only am I going the wrong way, out of frustration, but I’m doing so at 25mph. I’m also slightly panicked, because I don’t think there’s a Starbucks anywhere close.

Finally I get to Davis, which I know intersects with the freeway I need.


You ever see cars coming to a sudden stop up ahead, and you think to yourself that you’d better start slowing down NOW so the tailgaters behind you don’t nail you?

That’s what I did. I hit the brakes and started easing in, trying to slow down everyone behind me. The SUV behind me was close, but doing fine, or so I thought.

I found it odd when she suddenly cut her wheels to the left and started coasting into the center turn lane. She wasn’t close to hitting me, I thought.

Short skidding sound and BOOM, a guy in a big Dodge truck NAILED her. She was pushed violently even farther into the turn lane. In my rear-view mirror I saw the truck, and it was in bad shape.

By going towards the turn lane like she did, she kept me from being hit as well, which I appreciate.


A cop was directly across from us as it happened, so I knew they’d have assistance in a moment. I didn’t stop to help them, which I felt worse about as I drove.


I feel bad for those folks. I keep replaying it in my mind though, and there’s just nothing I could/should have done differently, except perhaps to jump out of the car and ask if everyone was okay for the 10 seconds before the cop did his u-turn and got there. Somehow a wreck occurred behind the only guy on that stretch of road NOT coming to a sudden stop, aka yours truly.


Happy Friday. Don’t tailgate.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

By the Way...

As of today, I have been alcohol-free for 10 years.


Notice that I didn’t say “sober.” No, I’ve discovered since then that I also have a penchant for the sort of narcotics they hand out to guys like me when back pain flares up.

So I’ve been completely sober for, oh, about two years.


I thought long and hard about what I’d write, thought maybe I’d go fully confessional, tell the stories no one knows.

Eh, maybe at 20 years.

Awkward Moments from the Last 24 Hours

Arriving at the daycare last night to find the twins, who are often in trouble, running amok with another kid as two teachers tried fruitlessly to round them up. I stepped in their way to slow them down, but I was barely a speed bump.

The teacher took me aside and apologized to me for having had to see them chasing the kids. I told her it was like a nightly scene from my living room, and that my first instinct had been to stoop down and scoop up a couple as they ran past me. But they’re not MY kids, so…


Watching an 18-wheeler try to navigate a tough turn down a residential street this morning. School kids scattered and his rear wheels jumped the curb. People waiting for their green light didn’t budge for him as he inched slooowly along, coming so close to scraping the side of the “no trucks” sign.


Coworker Kathy standing in front of the vending machine, saying, “I guess I’ll spin the wheel of death” as the vending machine guy watched from behind her.


Kelli starts Latin class today, and I wake up with “Annuit coeptus novus ordo seclorum” going through my head.


Current music: “I Gotta Try You Girl” by Buddy Guy.


Scored some bargain books for THEBOY yesterday at Albertson’s, of all places. Of the three, he loves Farmer Smart’s Fat Cat the best. He loves it when I do the voices, so over and over I read, “I call mine ‘Two Ton Tessie!’”


Work beckons. Dang.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Cartoon characters rendered as skeletons… cooooool.


Seeing as how this story is now making the rounds in the office, I thought I’d share it here.


Back, oh, 15-16 years ago when Toland and I were both single, one of us (likely me) had the idea that we should go to a club and pick up some women.

Hey, this was a real stretch for the likes of us.

I hurriedly packed, grabbing clothes, tooth brush, CDs, everything I could think of and hit the road.

So we picked some godawful club. Loud dance music, flashing lights… And you know, the women didn’t exactly throw themselves at us. I can’t claim I had much nerve or that I really approached anyone. But I did find it odd that there was no eye contact, except between two sad young men who were way out of their element and probably ready to leave from the moment we arrived.

We did eventually leave, defeated, unlaid.

(Is unlaid a word? It is now!)

Back at Toland’s apartment, as we prepared to crash I looked in the mirror and saw my tooth brush in my shirt pocket.

Yes, it’s true.


So that sends some kind of messed-up message to any girl I suppose:

“If we get along, I’m spending the night!”

“I believe in good dental hygiene!”

“I’m a creep!”

“I’m a dweeb!”

Somehow I don’t think the tooth brush was the kind of protection Dad meant.


I’ve probably posted that story before. Sorry if that’s the case. I’m running out of material in my old age.


And Toland, if I’ve screwed up some of the details, feel free to clarify. I think that’s a pretty reasonable rendition of how things went down.


Now that club we went to in College Station… not that we had a chance there, but we had a far better time, eh?

(Women dancing=great. Men dancing=awkwardly unfunny)


Happy Wednesday.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Weekend Wrapup

Busy day, busy day.

I made the mistake I so often do of staying up until about 1:30am this morning. I was futzing around with iTunes, burning CDs and such. God I love to be up late.

But 7:30 found me awake, listening to some oddball whistling sound. I got up, owing Kelli a “sleep in” morning. I was bleary-eyed, my head hurt, and Kelli asked why I was getting up. I told her it was because the King of the Pan Flute was awake. I figured THEBOY was blowing some sort of whistle in bed.

Kelli thought it was a bird, which I didn’t buy for a second. I tried to clear the cobwebs, threw a tin of biscuits in the oven and went to talk to THEBOY about making noise while I’m sleeping.

He was out. Dang. Guess it was some bird or something.

I let the biscuits do their thing, put them on the counter and crashed on the couch for about an hour. Thank GOD the kids slept in. I woke up feeling better, ready to face the morning.


When THEBOY did come wake me up, he was nude from the waist down, having had a little accident. He was holding a change of clothes, though it was all winter stuff. We went into his room, and he showed me with great pride how he’d stood on his step-stool and used his toy robot arm to get the shirts down.


Kelli had an Arbonne wingding at 1pm, leaving me with the kids all afternoon. I was worried that we’d get the call to show the house while she was away, and sure enough we did. The voice on the other end said the agent wanted to come by in about 20 minutes. The baby was napping, Kevin and I were lunching and the house needed work. I told her such short warning was unreasonable. They postponed for an hour.


I tore through this place like a twister through a trailer park. Kitchen, study, living room, Kevin’s room… our bedroom was in good shape at least (thank you, Kelli). I zipped the kids out of the house 70 minutes after initial phone call, promising them we’d go somewhere special for a treat.

Eh, it was Sam’s Club. I had film to drop off. At least they had cookies for the kids.


After Kelli returned I went to work out, implementing an interval training method Whit sent me.

I’ve only been working out for a week, but my workouts never left me feeling like I’d accomplished much. 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer and I still had plenty in the tank, so to speak.

Not so after this interval approach. Whoa! Will spare you the details, but basically, four times in 20 minutes you’re going almost all out.

Let me tell you, by that fourth time tonight I was ready to throw in the towel, or at least use the towel to clean up what George Carlin calls “an involuntary protein spill.”

I got through it though, and finally felt like I'd had a workout that meant something. I came home a promptly fell asleep face-down on the living room floor.


Whoa… Intervention (on A&E) tonight… meth addict Sara, very hooked, combative, and just about bailed on the intervention, just about chucked it all. But her friend Redding, a recovering meth addict himself, made a surprise appearance and managed to persuade her. Gripping stuff.


Four months later she’s clean, has a job, and smiles for the first time in the show.


Yes, that's what I want to do for a living--the helping addicts part, not the drug-taking part. Daunting, but invigorating and exciting, and much more meaningful than rearranging commercials for a living.


THEGIRL is a joy to be around these days. Chipper, learning new words and generally a happy little camper. She’s making great strides with spoons and forks, and it seems like she’s got a new word every other day (today it was “apple”). And she’s also been going to bed without a peep, which is a huge plus.


This week I register for school. Kelli does too. Lots up in the air, lots of decisions being made on the fly, new scenarios to consider. We do ask ourselves sometimes just what we’ve gotten ourselves into, but you know, we’ll make it work.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Hip Hop Hip?

Hip hop, to me, is like Indian food: I’m embarrassed to dismiss it almost completely, I’ve got to say.

I believe in art, I really do. I think envelopes need to be pushed, listeners need to be challenged, and stagnation equals death.

And the evolution of hip hop fits the musical ideals I cherish, seeing as how it evolved out of necessity, out of inner-city black youth’s desire to create something. They used the tools at hand (records, turntables, mics and words) to create something unique. Being a fan of a little bit of music that’s outside of the bounds of Western scales, like Pakistani and African stuff, I bristle when people turn their noses up when music doesn’t fit their preconceived notions.

I saw an interview with a reggae musician once, and he talked about how music can be everywhere. I forget who he was, but he said that even car keys on a table can create music. I agree. Find sounds, blend tones and rhythms and vocals (or not) and see what the hell comes out, you know?


Hip hop, however, almost never moves me, and frankly, for a man who tries to be broad-minded where music is concerned, this is embarrassing.

I’m not apologizing though. Taste is taste, ultimately. You like chocolate, I like vanilla… No one wins a subjectivity debate.

But there’s something about hip hop that, top to bottom, doesn’t work for me.

Who killed hip hop? The suspects:

I suspect the lack of melody. Deconstructing music is a terrific idea, but when you reconstruct it without melody, I guess this Beatles baby gets left out.

The subject matter. God knows some bright, creative wordsmiths are out there today, but for every group like the Roots there are 50 buffoons talking about who’s a ho and bling bling and 40s. Hell, I’m not exactly part of the demographic, right?

Artificial sounds. I know loops and samples and drum machines and the like are, in theory, endlessly creative. Snip this, nick that, stretch everything else… And maybe you’ve done something creative by building a new beat from a Curtis Mayfield sample melded with a Maceo Parker sax lick, with doomsday bass rattling underneath. But it sort of works out like jazz jams: To everyone except the music fanatics who can pinpoint how clever what you’ve constructed is, it’s just a pastiche of weird sounds.


And you know, the most effective musical sounds, to me, are “organic.” That is, they originate from vibrating sources, like drum heads and guitar strings. Dating back to the 80s, when canned synth sounds took over the world while I spent hours murdering my fingers, falling in love with guitar strings, I concluded that real sounds resonate physically and emotionally. Turntable scratches (which don’t even lend rhythm to most songs and in fact sound like we’re listening to R2D2 contract laryngitis) are about as soulful as all those Flock of Haircuts synthesized sounds. Ditto for drum machines.

Hip hop is supposed to have soul, but it’s built from sonic blocks not far removed from some of the whitest, blandest music ever.


Again, I’m not apologizing. I’m just saying that I continue to be a bit surprised that my broad taste in music, which takes me from Texas to Timbuktu, almost never includes hip hop, and I find that strange.


THEBOY'S friend Sterling is coming for a sleep-over tonight. I think they’ll have a grand time, though I’m not sure how much sleep anyone in the house is going to get.


Kelli may take the kids to Corsicana tomorrow. It could end up being the only day I have completely to myself until the Christmas break between semesters.


Friday afternoon… life is getting better by the minute.

Tex Mex Fix

Welcome back, Henley.


THEBOY was listening to the Who last night—go figure—and the big scream in “Won’t Get Fooled Again” came up. And just like Pete in The Kids Are Alright, he dropped to his knees and tried to slide across the floor (his cityscape rug wasn’t great for sliding though).


Saw Kung Fu Hustle last night. Wickedly funny in parts, endlessly creative and completely in defiance of a lot of what a Western movie viewer expects. I mostly appreciate a film like that just for keeping me guessing.

But the bit with the knife-wielding assassins ("Hey--who's throwing handles??") just about killed me.


Tonight being Friday and all, that means Tex Mex in our household.

One problem: Our current favorite mom/pop joint has been closed for a week. Yes, Monterey’s inexplicably and without warning closed up shop a week ago. We keep going by, hoping to see that they’re open again, but no luck.

This doesn’t bode well.

So what do we do? I mean, we WILL get our Tex Mex fix. We just will. And we’re not so big on the chain places. We’re not enchilada guerrillas or anything, but we just tend to like small O&Os more than franchises. I guess we’ll put our heads together, try and recall some other place we’ve passed or maybe even tried at some point.


But they can’t be DONE, can they? THEBOY'S like the mayor in there, going where he pleases, talking to the staff like they’re family. They bring his queso before we even get menus, you know?


Damn, there’s a mosquito the size of a spotted owl in here…


Iced coffee, cinnamon scone… I’m gonna make it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Okay, I’m done with my third-rate political rants for now.


Whoa! Snopes hasn’t yet determined whether this is a hoax, but I will say that the details in the story are all correct. West Columbia happens to be in my home county, and Bar X Ranch and FM 521 are notable landmarks in the area. There could certainly be a bit of forced perspective at work in the positioning of the alligator and the policeman, but there are indeed such critters (gators and policemen, nyuk nyuk) in the area.


THEBOY'S teacher saw a Who shirt in the mall, and wants to buy it for him. She asked me yesterday, and she was pretty sweet and timid about it, obviously mindful of crossing some protocol line. She said he sings their songs and talks about them all the time, but in fact, she has no idea who he’s talking about.

She also told me a couple times that the shirt is at Hot Topic, which sounds only vaguely familiar. She gave the impression that WHERE the shirt is might be of concern to me. Man, it’s not run by Ted Nugent or something, is it?

Very sweet of her though, seriously. I told her she didn’t have to do it, and she said, “I like him.”


Yes, studliness skipped a generation in my family.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Leaning Into the Strike Zone...

I take great pride in my friends, ya'll. I feed off of the diversity. I absolutely love culture and social psychology and different perspectives. I have a policy of not completely dismissing anyone for any behavior that's not harmful.

Among my friends I can count Christians of countless denominations, pagans, atheists, Jews, pacifists, martial arts experts, gays, straights, men, women, addicts, varied ethnicities and a broad range of political bents.

I find that I can be genuine, noncommittal, empathetic and supportive of everyone. If I don't agree with something you profess or do, I can usually understand your motivation, and hell, I don't have all the answers.

I try not to get very political though. My first-ever political bumpersticker during the last presidential election got me flipped off numerous times and berated by strangers.

(My Longhorns sticker gets me the occasional bird too, but no one seems to care about my Texas Wesleyan sticker.)


Our president told us we were going to war with Iraq because the tyrant running that country, Saddam Hussein, possessed or was making "weapons of mass destruction."

He did not. We were told that intelligence backed up the president's claim. Obviously, this was incorrect.

Bush was either misinformed and is holding no one accountable for this egregious error, or he lied to us all.

Clinton was no saint, but he got impeached for receiving fellatio. These are confusing times.

Yes, Hussein was awful. No doubt. Killer, tyrant, all that. And if we'd found the WMDs, I'd have joined in, glad to have disarmed him.

I was as devastated by 9/11 as everyone else, and don't think it didn't cross my mind to enlist (I'm now too old). I'm not against defending this nation against any threat, or toppling some psycho dictator pointing the products of his jerkwater country's nuke program at us or our allies.

So we've gone guns a-blazin' into Iraq and created nothing but the kind of chaotic environment the actual terrorists thrive in. Seems that bin Laden and his "booger-eatin' pack of moron thugs" didn't give a damn about Iraq until we showed up.

Vietnam lasted how long? Yeah... longer than some folks realize, I'd imagine. Here I sit with a kid of nearly five, and let me tell you, I think a dozen years will pass faster than I'd care for.

Parents, do you want your child's blood potentially spilled for THIS?

This hurts. Write rebuttals, call me names, flip me off, whatever. Speaking out on politics always burns me anyway. But I just do not see how in the world there is any support for this war. I hold great respect for the office of the president, but he's likely to be either the worst president I'll see in my lifetime or the start of a long line of rulers getting progressively more dictator-like in this nation.

To those of you who are never going to speak to me again, please return the CDs I lent you.




Subject: Tell your friends: Support Cindy Sheehan

MoveOn is taking out an ad in President Bush's local newspaper in support of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who is camped outside Bush's ranch in Texas asking for a meeting with the president. They'll publish the number of signers and the best comments in a full two-page spread in the newspaper nearest to Crawford (The Waco Tribune Herald) while Cindy holds her vigil. Can you sign and spread the word before the 3:00 PM Friday print deadline?

Hey BB, what happened to your beard?

Well see, when you go to trim your beard and the trimming attachment falls off, what happens is that you give your beard the “across the cheek sideways reverse-Mohican” look.

So in an effort to repair the damage, I’ve gone with the goatee. Not my favorite look, but it beats showing my real face.


THEBOY was in a fine mood last night when I picked him up from school. He said that now he gets to be “the teacher.” I asked him if he had a new job, and he said he had to help the kids with the computers, to “fix” them sometimes (I think he means fixing the computers, not the kids), and to show them what to do “cuz I been playing those games a long time.”

This morning he was practically bouncing off the walls to get to school. I’m going to say it’s too early to pronounce this problem resolved, but I can’t help but feel a lot better about it now.


THEGIRL, however, was NOT in a good mood. I’d dropped THEBOY and Sterling off at the shop where Heather was giving Kelli her fabulous new ‘do. The girl and I headed home for supper. She was grouchy, and not satisfied with the milk that I hoped would placate her until I could rustle up some grub…

(That last line contains an inside joke for Toland…)

I put her in the high chair with some of her favorite foods: green beans, cherry tomatoes, pepperonis and some cheese. I thought it’d buy me time to make/eat my own supper.

No dice.

She wiped out the green beans in short order. She was signing for and saying “more,” and I told her to eat her other food. I figured eight ounces of green beans were enough. She had plenty of her other favorites there.

Again, no dice. She started crying and screaming, and I was not happy about having to choke down my supper while she did this.

Finally she picked up her tomatoes one by one and started angrily SQUISHING THEM with her little fists, giving me a “how you like THIS?” glare.

I picked her up, put her in her crib and she was asleep in 30 seconds.


Had an agent do a “pre-screening” on our house yesterday, and she gave negative feedback. Said it was cluttered—I didn’t think it was bad at all. She mentioned the toys, and a couple were here and there, but really… we have kids.

She also cited a “bathroom pail” smell, which is ludicrous, because we don’t even own one. The damn Diaper Genie will start to reek on its own, so we ditched it before Laura was born. There wasn’t even a wet diaper in a trash can in that house. That was pure fiction on the agent’s part.

We have lowered our price though. The clock is ticking, and we need to get this done. Renee, our agent, was pretty optimistic when we spoke last night.


This morning, in an effort to distract THEBOY from his overwhelming desire to get to school NOW, I told him I had a job for him to do: Turn off the water sprinkler.

Now, I had it set to cover about 300 degrees in a wide arc to get the flower beds too. This meant that it would take some genuine timing to sneak in there behind it and turn it off without getting soaked. I had some good belly laughs watching him patrol the perimeter of the yard, finally going all the way over to the neighbor’s driveway and sneaking up the other side. Austin Powers has got nothing on my kid…


It’s Wednesday. Somehow we’ve made it thus far.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

December's Child Update

From Kelli:

I called Primrose, and Kevin is doing fine. He is officially the class "computer guy." He has been helping the kids with it and at recess, he was on the swings and telling the other kids how to swing and how to take turns!

December's Child

This is when parenting is a challenge.

It’s the beginning of the school year, as you know. At Primrose daycare, kids are being moved up all over the place.

THEBOY is a December baby, and not long ago we had to decide what to do when this time came around. Move him into private kindergarten early? Hold him back?

We solicited the advice of his teachers, the owner of the school, and smart folks around us. We got good information, and we thought we’d made a tough-but-fair decision: Keep him where he’s been.

Scholastically, he’s ready, but being a little younger than his classmates, we thought he’d benefit by staying put and getting a chance to be an older kid in class for once. He knows the ropes, would presumably be comfortable, etc. With a smart, conscientious kid like him we thought it’d give him a chance to shine.

Only I picked him up from daycare yesterday to discover that he’s the ONLY kid not promoted. He'd walked in to find a roomful of kids he thought were three-year-olds. In fact, for a while he assumed the other kids had gone on a field trip without him.

Hoo boy.

We had no idea he’d have the rug completely pulled out from under him. Guess we should have considered that. He spent the drive home and some of the evening crying, asking for his friends, telling us he loves them.





I got the impression that at some point Kelli said she’d get him moved, but she says she never promised him that. I hope not. As the evening wore on, I became more and more concerned that moving could not occur (and still wondered if it was the right thing to do). Kelli became less and less concerned, certain he’d be moved.



It sucks to be right sometimes.


They COULD move him, if they ordered a new curriculum. Not the end of the world, but apparently the school wasn’t keen on the idea since we hope to move soon and THEBOY is likely going to be gone from the school soon anyway.


So he’s relegated to the old classroom, though he’s been given some de facto “teacher’s assistant” chores as a measure to build self-esteem. He’s good with the computer, so he gets to show the new kids how to use it.


The idea of him having to go back in there this morning has been bothering me a hell of a lot.

Yes, kids are resilient. No it’s not the end of the world. But it really leaves me at a loss to try and explain this to THEBOY when he’s almost certainly crying again tonight. It’s a helpless feeling.


I still think that, broadly, keeping him in there is the right thing to do. I just wish that doing so hadn’t isolated him like this.


Tired, depressed, upset... Not a great day. Trying to shake this.

If you feel like trying to cheer me up, please send jokes, nekkid jpgs and the occasional Yahoo Serious reference to:

Will snap out of it at some point.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Dream...

Okay, I’m done messing with Llorca. On the blog anyway. In real life he’s just going to have to man up and get over our brief-but-bitter affair.


I had that dream where it’s the first day of class and… well, I guess there are several variations: You’re late, or you’re not wearing pants, or maybe it’s not the first day at all, and you’re just late for the big test.

For me, I was just in the wrong room, and in the wrong building in fact.

I had a quick fix though. I went outside and flew to the right building. I just spread my arms and off I went…


Grades are posted—I got two As this summer (it’s old news, I know, but hell, I just like saying it).

So this week I should be able to register for fall classes.


You know, being close enough to home to go eat lunch there is great and all, but there's never a thing on TV.


THEGIRL was promoted to the older toddler room today. My girl! THEBOY'S class got an infusion of new kids. He's now an elder statesman in there. I expect him to run things like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.


Man, I heard this band today and was stunned at how much they sounded like the Rolling Stones. Beefier production, but drumming like Charlie Watts, vocal inflections like Jagger... I sat through it just to see who these ripoff artists were.

Turns out it was "Rough Justice," aka the new Rolling Stones song. That would explain a lot. Best thing they've done in a long time. Chances I'll buy it or even sit through it again: zero.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Welcome to Butt Talk

It’s been a fine weekend here thus far. Yesterday Kelli let me sleep in a bit, which was just great. I woke up feeling refreshed, and genuinely human for the first time in a while. And seeing the chiropractor helped a lot too.

Bought the kids some shoes yesterday afternoon, and last night I did something I hardly ever do: I rented a movie.

I was in the mood for something scary, but not a slasher flick. Never been into that stuff. So on the recommendation of the clerk I picked up White Noise, starring Michael Keaton. It was pretty effective at being scary here and there. The ending seemed a bit pedestrian, but you know, I was entertained for 90 minutes. I’d give it a B.


I’m listening to Kelli’s iShuffle. Oh my GOSH is this thing cool. I loaded it up with about three dozen songs for a trial run. This flippin’ thing probably weighs about as much as a tube of lipstick. Holds a gig, and it sounds great. I’ve gotta get one of these for myself. I’m about ready to start working out again, and having one of these guys loaded with some good tunes while doing cardio stuff would be great.


Had a good time catching up with Henley Friday night, watching the Orioles whomp the Rangers 10-5. Such GREAT seats… just perfectly situated. Front row, second deck, by the foul pole. The view was great in all directions.


We actually went to the ballpark yesterday too, but not to watch the game. I screwed up and bought tickets for that date before realizing game time was 3:05pm. I’d be cooked better than rotisserie chicken if I’d sat through that.

The giveaway seemed cool though: Texas Rangers Wobblers. Eh, they’re like Weebles (remember those?) with Rangers faces on them. So we zipped by the stadium and walked in just to pick up the Wobblers.


Driving by the water park reminded me of going to the Schlitterbahn as a teenager and riding on what I remember only as the “wedgie-matic.”

It was a tall slide, one of those deals where the attraction is all about the speed you travel down this thing.

I waited my turn, sat down, folded my arms like they showed me and ZOOM—I was off.

But about halfway down I hit a dry spot, somehow, and my swim trunks gave me a righteous wedgie that brought me to a complete halt.

I was mortified.

I had to do something though. I stood up and used both hands to pull my trunks out of my ass. That’s when one of the lifeguards (overseers, overlords, whatever) yelled, “No standing—sit down!”

My ass crack was no longer jammed with cloth, so I sat down, still on the dry spot, and had to scoot the rest of the way down, making an “eeh eeh eeh” squeaking noise the whole way.

Ah, the wedgie-matic. And you know, there’s really no sensation like having all of your body weight come to, literally, a screeching stop because your butt cheeks are suddenly gripping dry fiberglass.

Heck, I’m lucky my ass didn’t burst into flames sort of like that big crash in the opening sequence of the Six Million Dollar Man.

“She’s breaking up, she’s breaking up…”

Would they have had the technology to rebuild my ass with bionic parts?

I’d better not even consider what sort of super powers that might have given me. I’ll just have to be satisfied living as a normal mortal with a fairly normal ass.


Once upon a time I thought, or hoped at least, that maybe I had a good-looking butt. I’ve always been fairly slender, thought maybe, just maybe, my best feature was one I couldn’t really see.

So back in ’94 when I was a production assistant at KTBC, the weather man left the set after the news one afternoon, but he left his blue screen rig up. We P.A.s started horsing around, giving our own weathercasts.

As you probably know, you stand in front of a blue screen, and the weather maps and such the viewers see are superimposed by computerized gizmos. To see what a viewer is seeing, you’ve got to peek over at an in-studio monitor.

So I was giving my report, horsing around, going for laughs when I turned around to face the blue screen. I peered up at the monitor, and for the first time in my life I saw MY BUTT as everyone else saw it.

I was aghast to learn that it was (and most likely remains) COMPLETELY FLAT. Folks, the Llano Estacado features more exciting topography than my back porch. I thought maybe I had a little package back there, you know? Something worth a look maybe.

I was wrong.


I know my butt’s been looked at on at least one occasion though. Back in ’90 when I was single, my then-most-recent foray into junior college took me up the road to Alvin. I was looking for a fresh start, wondering if I’d meet interesting new (female) people.

My first day there went well I thought. Cute girls everywhere, and I went home almost certain that, for the first time in my LIFE, I’d caught a couple girls looking at my butt.

When I was changing clothes I realized that I was right, and that they had indeed been looking at my butt.

My back pocket was turned inside out, hanging there like a bunny tail. Yes, I started the day trying to be Hugh Hefner and ended the day feeling like Peter Cottontail.

(There's a bunny joke to be made that I just can't come up with at the moment...)


So Kelli is off with Heather right now, doing Arbonne stuff (or “Arbonnding,” as Heather’s beau Nick calls it). I’ve got Nebula pounding on the iShuffle, and the baby is asleep.

Combine all that with the fact that my semester is now over, and that I’ve met the requirements for grad school admission, and I’m feeling fine.

Now let’s never speak of my butt again.

Friday, August 05, 2005


I missed one question out of 50… not bad! I don’t know how I got it wrong, but I guess I shouldn’t gripe.


At about 9:30 this morning Whit gave his exit interview and left the corporate world for good. He’s no longer “drafter Whit.”

He is Sifu McClendon exclusively.

(That’s him in the skeleton costume, circa 1975. My sister is the bunny, and I’m the Spiderman with the heinous head injury. Have I mentioned that I would look bad bald?)

I'm proud of you, Whit.

No Score on the Final Exam

Sounds ominous, right?

I hope it’s no big deal. I took the online final last night, submitted it for grading and… nothing. It didn’t go through. The site says I completed the exam, but it doesn’t take the next step. Normally online quizzes and exams are graded automatically. It’s been that way all summer. Without warning something has apparently changed.

I went into a brief panic, as this prof doesn’t give a damn if we have computer issues that muck up our online stuff. So I worried that my iMac was the problem.

I emailed several classmates though, and I’m not alone. I feel a little better about it.


And you know, I think I did very well.


Plop plop! The toothpaste AND my deodorant fell out of the cabinet and into the toilet this morning. Happy Friday!


I’ve had my scone and my iced coffee, and I feel… good. Not great though. I wanted to be elated. I wanted the good news on my test, dang it. I can’t access the site from here, so I’ll have to bug Kelli to poke around and see if the grading situation has been rectified.


Heard “Suffragette City” by David Bowie this morning. Always makes me think of Bruiser, and his tale about a woman getting mad at him for singing along to “Suck a Tit City.”


Whoa... Launch is playing something called "Are You Beautiful" by someone named Chris Pierce, and it's GOOD. I don't know the name, but it's a fine slice of subtle, old-school soul. Marking this guy for increased rotation...


At least the kids slept like champs last night.


Tonight Henley and I are headed to the Ballpark in Arlington (eh? What other name…?) to see the Rangers take on the Orioles. The birds fired Lee Mazzilli yesterday, so I have no idea who’s calling the shots now. Well, I mean besides Miguel Tejada ("Sosa! Dame mi jock strap!").


Current music: “You Borrowed” by Helmet.


Kelli had a job interview for Now magazine in Corsicana yesterday, and it went well. And she and Heather had an Arbonne wingding while down there as well, which I’m told was a success.


Little Milton has died at 71. I liked what little music of his I heard, like “The Blues is Alright” and “Grits Ain’t Groceries.” I heard Annie Mae's Cafe back in the 80s and liked it, always meant to pick it up. I should seek out more of his stuff.

Earlier this summer he played a music festival in Corsicana, and it was even on a weekend when we were going to be down there. I passed though. Gotta stop taking these guys for granted.


Thanks to everyone who participated in the little survey I posted, and to those of you who commented on my rambling missive about why I left Belo. In the days following that I kept remembering other reasons, so really that piece is only about two-thirds as long as it could have been.


Happy Friday. Really.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Tools Are Down at Work, So I'm Bored...

When you go to the zoo, what animals do you want to see the most?

What does our culture misunderstand about beauty, if anything?

What musical reunion would you love to see? Keep it among living folks please.

Who wins the Oompa Loompa vs. Munchkin war?

When you were 10, what did you think you’d be doing at this point in your life?

The greatest bag of potato chips on the rack is…?

Does corn belong in picante sauce?

Have you ever used a fake name?

What’s for supper tonight?

When is the last time you were giddy? Why?

Who has great, unrealized potential?

What charity is closest to your heart?

Aches, pains… we’ve all got them. Think you’re holding up okay, or is something likely to require some medical attention at some point?

Favorite Beatle?

Know someone who’s attractive but they don’t seem to realize they are?

Gee Brian, Why Didn't You Sleep Much?

Thanks for asking.

Wasn’t exactly a great evening in our household.

We put THEGIRL down at 8pm, and she cried until 11p. She seemed a little congested, but nothing awful, and she’d certainly managed to play and scoot around the house in a chipper mood before bedtime.

Kelli hit the sheets at 11pm, and I told myself I'd wait until the baby stopped crying. I HATE just lying there, listening to the crying and wishing I could sleep. As I learned when both my kids were infants, I do better just staying up.

At 11:30 or so I decided it's safe.

11:40 or so, of course, she resumed. I listened to the crying, wishing I could sleep...

Kelli got up around midnight I guess, and I slept a bit. I know she brought the baby in the bed with us for a while. Around 3am, I think, she put the baby back in the crib.

3:15 and THEBOY yelled for us, as he said he's scared. I walked in exhibiting BAD form. I went face-first into his pillow and nearly fell asleep with a Hulk figure jabbing my cheek. He asked, "Why are you sleeping on my bed?" I could barely talk... "Uh... you're, uh... scared?" I turned on every light in his room and left. It was brighter than Reno in there. Anyone driving by at that ungodly hour probably thought our house was about to implode a la the climax in Poltergeist.

15 minutes later he was yelling again... he couldn’t find one of the two baby blankets he still clutches when he sleeps. I went off on him, telling him to LET US SLEEP, and that we're tired of that. God, he'll yell at all hours of the night because his music's too quiet, can't find his blanket, rolled over on a toy...

I was furious, and then got to lie in bed fuming for an hour.

I have my psych final tonight, and all I could do was worry about how taking the test EXHAUSTED will affect my performance. Reasonably, I think I know the material well enough, and probably won’t do worse than a B.

I explained to THEBOY this morning that, pretty much, we don’t want him yelling for us overnight unless he’s bleeding out of the eyeballs.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Well, That Answers That...

Just found out where Wade Boggs got all that hair he was sportin' at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony...


I'm not making bald jokes either... It hits a little too close to home. Although baldness does not appear to run in my family, I've got a forehead that's as tall as the pyramids and twice as dense. I think I was five when barbers first started asking me if I was balding.

I'd look like Michael Stipe if I went bald, and that's on a good day. I've got so many scars and bumps and veins up there that if I went bald I think I'd just wear an afro wig, shave my butt and learn to walk backwards.

For Kelli

"You and the Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful"
by XTC

And every morning before I'm awake
I walk around the world to make sure she's alright
And every evening 'fore I bolt the door
I give the stars a stir to make sure they will spin all night

For I see people who will scratch and spit and kick and fight
And I see nations war about whether right is left and whether wrong is right
And I know storms inside your head can amplify the blight
But no matter what the weather, you and the clouds will still be beautiful
No matter what the weather, you and the clouds will still be beautiful

And every Troy with wooden horse
I take to peaceful waters but can't make him drown
And every Bastille that gets stormtroopered
"Hail to the chief" comes rainin', rainin', rainin', rainin' down
And I've seen people conduct lightning down to a summer's day
And I've seen nations playfully hurl snowballs packed with stones and clay
And I know rain inside your head can seriously put a stop to play
But no matter what the weather, you and the clouds will still be beautiful
No matter what the weather, you and the clouds will still be beautiful

So let it rain

And when we see flying saucers, flying cups, and flying plates
And as we trip down lover's lane we sometimes bump into the gate
And I know thunder in your head can still reverberate
But no matter what the weather, you and the clouds will still be beautiful
No matter what the weather, you and the clouds will still be beautiful
No matter what the weather

So let it rain
So let it rain

You know you'll still be beautiful
So let it rain

It doesn't matter what the weather you know you're beautiful
Just let it rain

You're just, you're beautiful
So let it rain

Yeah, since the clouds all part the clouds just rose
So let it rain

From your pretty little mouth to your pretty little nose you're beautiful
So let it rain

It doesn't matter if the rain wants to fail if the rain wants to fall
Just let it rain
So let it rain
So let it rain

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Steven, Rhonda, Jerry, CW, Ernie, Ryne, Wade, Whit and Me... with a side of canned veggies

Steven and Rhonda are expecting! Congratulations, ya’ll. If you need parenting advice, well, don’t ask me. I have no idea what the hell I’m doing.


Ah, Launch has just segued from Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses” into “Convoy” by CW McCall. Suddenly I feel like I’m eight years old again.


And now it’s “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford. What’s next—“Big Bad John”?


Sandberg and Boggs are now in the Hall of Fame, which is great. Two class acts. But where did Boggs get all that hair?


A coworker is giving me grief over the fact that I feed my kids canned vegetables instead of fresh. OH does she have a wakeup call coming someday when she has kids…


Whit is now a Sifu twice over, having been certified by Master Arthur D’Agostino Congratulations!


Man, nothing guarantees a blog entry will be read like trying to tell people it’s completely self-serving and would be a waste of their time… wow.


Tuesday’s gooooooooone… (almost)

By the River

Every time I listen to “London Calling” by the Clash and hear the line, “And I… live by the river” I think of some old Chris Farley skit. What was it? He’s some sort of high-pressure sales guy or motivational speaker… can’t recall. I just remember that he keeps telling them he lives “in a van by the river.”


Been listening to Buddy Guy’s Sweet Tea album a bit lately, as Launch finally picked it up.

Imagine this:

You’re Buddy Guy. You’ve played with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and somehow managed to get some acclaim from your overlong partnership with Junior Wells. Eric Clapton says you’re the best guitarist he’s ever heard. Jimi Hendrix stood at your feet while you staked your turf back in the 60s. You’ve won tons of awards, you hung out with Stevie Ray Vaughan, and in fact, you helped put Chicago on the blues map.

And suddenly you make an album styled after the new sounds coming out of Mississippi’s hill country. This isn’t the delta stuff, the wellspring for the blues as we know it. This is the repetitive, droning, riff-based music knocked out by guys like RL Burnside and the late Junior Kimbrough. Hell, some areas up there are so isolated that a fife and drum “blues” tradition has survived, which has distinct parallels and origins in Senegal.

Was it your choice? Or did someone point out to you that the blues is evolving without you, maybe wield a little influence? Maybe you found yourself diggin’ the sounds of guys like Robert Belfour and other Fat Possum artists.

(Strange, eh?)


Come on lunch!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Don't Read This

Seriously. Some folks jog, some chop wood, some pick fights with strangers… I blow off steam by writing.

This is not an entertaining piece. This is a self-serving bit of hatred, something I did simply to vent my spleen (now THERE'S an odd saying). It's probably the worst thing I've posted since my bit on intelligent design theory. You should just skip it and wait for my next entry about cute stuff my kids do. I’ll probably get mad at myself for posting this and yank it down soon anyway.


With apologies to Georgina, who actually did a terrific job with a vaguely similar theme.


Dear Ex-Employer:

I gather that since I left you’ve asked everyone you can why I left and why, subsequently, five more people left in eight weeks.

I know I left suddenly, but once you found out I had another employer you made me pack my stuff and leave immediately. You only asked me if I wanted to give an exit interview 15 minutes before my train was due to arrive. Are you surprised I declined?

You were a rebound employer, and I never should have stuck around as long as I did. I’d been without an employer for nearly six months, and by the time you came around I was desperate. I’d have mopped your floors if it meant a paycheck.

You were fresh and new, and didn’t even have a name yet. You weren’t really sure what I’d be doing, but you knew I could write, so you brought me on board to, at least, write manuals for you.

In one week’s time you proclaimed me to be an expert on your software. You told me to put on a headset and answer questions from anyone who had a software question, and my primary guidance was that I was not allowed to say “I don’t know.” Two of us shared this job, for a few days at least, until poor Charlotte proved to be less than an expert and you fired her.

Customers could sense my stress and the bullshit I had to spew to keep from saying “I don’t know,” and despite the fact that I was cursed at, called names and made the subject of ugly emails, you did not come to my aid. In fact, you suggested I “develop thicker skin.”

I ended up being fairly good at the job, despite the handcuffs. You got me some training (months after I was deemed an expert, but better late than never I suppose). Customer ratings were high, issues were being resolved. I hated what I did, but did it well. That’s its own sort of curse.

When you didn’t like the way something was handled, you emailed the entire department and did not refer to me by name, just as “the help desk.” When I replied—also to the entire department—quite angrily, you chastised me and pointed out that I was not the only person on the help desk. No, occasionally someone had to cover while I took a lunch break or went to the toilet.

Maybe that’s what really started it all. Some lowlights after that:

One of my supervisors standing at my desk, just over my right shoulder, and reading a memo she’d written to me aloud to make some point.

10 minutes’ notice for a surprise “interim review,” during which I was chastised for:

Being disrespectful to my supe. Days later I heard her tell one of her reports to “get his ass in here,” but no one cared about that.

Bringing in too many CDs, which was odd since I paid for streaming music and actually brought in almost none

For leaving at 4:25 daily to catch my 4:37 train. It’s an odd trick when an employer gives you a rail pass as a perk, then makes it impossible for you to actually USE it. In fact, I’d asked for permission twice and received no reply. I’m no kid—at that point I’m pretty much just going to do whatever the hell I want.


I walked out of that review furious and utterly bewildered. I went to HR, who shrugged and smiled sympathetically. I warned coworkers that something awful was afoot, and THAT got me another closed door meeting: “Stop spreading venom.”


More lowlights:

Not having my back when a sales manager missed one of the oft-quoted-but-never-enforced deadlines and I locked the log without her spots. That got me yelled at by the sales manager AND my manager.

Not having my back when this same sales manager, a screamer, left this longwinded voicemail about something I’d supposedly done. In fact, neither my supe nor I understood what the hell she was talking about. After we both stared at the software and tried to see just why she had a bug up her butt, my supe decided the most prudent course of action was to go ahead and give me an open-ended dressing down.

We worked in a big room with no windows, and you actually had the gall to send an ugly email to those of us who walked down the hall and gazed at an annual Dallas snowfall for about two minutes last winter. I stayed at my desk, but I think I was probably angriest at this terribly insensitive gesture.

Writing me up for leaving early to tend to a sick child. My own supervisor was away, so I notified my station (giving them my cell number) and left. My work was done anyway. Another manager decided to rat me out. Ah, 36 years old and getting written up for that kind of garbage.

Moving me to programming for the only Fox station you own, and three weeks later giving me the Superbowl to work unassisted. The year prior an experienced programmer did it with help from several managers. Only a sales assistant stepped forward to give my work a once-over this year. It looked good to her but it was messed up anyway, and I took the fall for that.


And I DID. I stepped forward and said that no one was accountable but me, despite it all. Because believe it or not, despite all this griping, I consider myself to be someone who does not use external influences as excuses. I’m smart, I’m capable, and I believe in doing a good job. I’m recounting the truth about an utterly despicable and hostile workplace, but despite it all I didn’t want to do work that I couldn’t be proud of.

Such an environment does affect morale, of course, so I had no “110%” ethos.

You had absolutely no idea how to make employees happy. None. Oh, we had some chuckles at potluck lunches and birthdays, playing some games and such. But you thought themed meals and free sodas and popcorn would somehow bring up morale.

I hate popcorn, and I didn’t appreciate how the machine you wheeled in made the entire floor smell like old socks all afternoon.

I rarely drink sodas, and I told you so all three times when you emailed me to ask what kind we should stock.

And you know, despite the surface themes at the potlucks, we all knew what the real theme was: Put on a happy face and the peons will be more productive.

Luckily your insurance was great, and it paid for the six months of counseling. You got to foot the bill for the therapist who advised me to leave.

So I did.


And that, your honor, is why I was running through the Sack ‘n’ Save naked.

Sniff Sniff...

A nice feature on my man Anders Parker.


I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again: Air fresheners in restrooms should not utilize food scents. It happened at BACS, and it happens here. I walk in and am hit with strawberry or worse, VANILLA. That’s just wrong.


I dreamed I could fly, a recurring theme throughout my life.

I sailed effortlessly over a bay, and in the clear water I could see big, silver fish scattered about.


In the same dream I won some money at a poker game. Let me just say that the flying bit is much more likely to ever occur in reality.


Rafael Palmeiro has tested positive for steroids. This is the player who most vehemently denied ever using them when he and those other players appeared before Congress.

He now amends his statements to include “intentionally,” and thus we’re expected to conclude—since he never says it in so many words—that among the many supplements and training aids he takes, something slipped in that he didn’t know was/contained steroids.

His language is clear and strong, and he talks about the No Tolerance Committee work he’s done, and how this needs to be an example of what can still happen if one isn’t careful enough.

I really don’t know what to think. I like Raffy, but… if an athlete is serious enough about his/her profession to use supplements, isn’t this person compelled to be thorough? Steroids are a huge issue in professional sports. The tox screen for ‘roids is either picking up something players don’t think is a steroid, or the players are full of crap.


I think the clock is slow…