Saturday, April 29, 2006

Beep Beep

So there's this mysterious bird in our neighborhood. Is this a roadrunner? We didn't think roadrunners live around here, but Kelli's seen it twice, and snapped some appropriately blurry/mysterious shots of the critter walking (slowly) around here.

Can anyone tell from this shot if this is a roadrunner?


Big post later maybe.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New Blogs

My sister and friend Bruiser are now blogging.

See the links to the right. Amanda's site is called This is How It Goes, by the way. Glad to see her give this a crack!


In fact, I'm going to both sites in just a sec.

On Calvert

According to that Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, he was introduced to speed courtesy of Elvis Presley in none other than Calvert, Texas.




Now, I don’t know whether that’s based on accurate information or whether the filmmakers just picked that place at random. But I find it pretty amusing.


I spent a fair amount of time there as a child. Our grandmother, aka Babbi, lived there. It’s a very old, sort of forgotten place. It had seen substantial railroad activity at some point in the distant past, but the place just never took off, never had a boom or a growth spurt that changed the town much.


I always liked it there though. Quiet, and with some great cemeteries. Downtown had those old buildings. I remember the bank building on the corner where we turned to go to Babbi’s house. And I remember the mortuary where my sister and I were taken to see the corpse of Mr. Mojo.




There’s a patch of woods behind Calvert High School (“Home of the Fighting Trojans”) where I’d explore sometimes. A forgotten cemetery is back there in the overgrowth. It’s small, but the headstones are legible, with old dates.


Once while in those woods I experienced the panic of getting lost. Every direction I went seemed to lead me into denser, less-maneuverable places. I finally saw a clearing, stumbled into it and found I was on the highway about 50 yards from where I’d started.




A tornado ripped through town in the late 70s, causing great destruction. It ripped the big tree out of Babbi’s front yard and dropped it in her back yard, leaving her house untouched.




I was there about a decade later, and there were still piles of rubble where some buildings had been.




I collected beer cans for a stretch as a kid. Tiny Texas towns sometimes had the most offbeat, obscure beers. At some point I’d usually convince each of my grandmothers to buy a six-pack of, say, Pearl in a can I’d never seen before, or something with a weird Czech name maybe.


I can still see Babbi mid-morning once, doing me the favor of emptying some beer cans for me. That is, she polished off the six-pack before noon, woozily telling me she didn’t usually drink so much so early. I didn’t understand why she did that since I only needed the one can and I, but who was I to say anything?


I still chuckle thinking about it.




Babbi’s not doing so well right now. Won’t go into all that, but you know, she’s on my mind a lot at the moment.




The times I’m talking about, the times I was in Calvert, were in the 70s. Seems long ago to me, but to the generations ahead of me it must seem like only yesterday. I guess that’s how it works. The days when we make day-trips to Corsicana or the weekends we go to Brazoria County will be the source of nostalgia for my own kids I suppose.


And before I burst into “The Circle of Life” on ya’ll, I’ll sign off.




Hot Knife

Had a decent evening. I fed the kids some pasta, then headed out for a kickboxing class.


It went… okay. After Saturday, when something clicked and my punch combinations were flowing, last night was like a step back. Everything was deliberate, didn’t get much faster, didn’t ever start feeling very natural. Phooey.


But I enjoyed the workout at least.




One guy asked me if I was enjoying kickboxing classes. They have a rep for being real endurance tests (and for good reason). I told him that I do, “because I’m a sweat junkie.”




I came home and watched some UFC Unleashed. Seems they’re chopping up/repackaging old broadcasts now, and that’s fine with me. I could stand the history lesson.


The one I watched last night featured Royce Gracie. Holy cow, no wonder that guy’s name is synonymous with UFC (and MMA in general I suppose). They had guy after guy with good credentials in there with him. These were guys with multiple black belts in Kung Fu, Karate, TKD… ranks that take YEARS of hard work to achieve… and he mostly went through them like a hot knife through butter. At some point he’d get them on the ground and then it was just a matter of time.


Kimo put up a good fight, and even though he was touted as being a “freestyle Jiu Jitsu” fighter, he was clearly reluctant to take it to the ground.




Just about to register for summer and fall. Looks like I’ve got to take a class this summer from the head of the program. I like him, as does everyone else, but this class has a reputation for being very difficult. You get put through the wringer in this one, but supposedly walk away very well-educated.


Taking a deep breath here.




Ya’ll have a good day.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Quiet Saturday Night

Good day here I'd say. Class this morning was not bad considering my level of burnout and fatigue, not to mention the fact that we had a quiz for which I hadn't studied much. Ended up doing okay on the quiz anyway I think. One more class, and of course, finals to deal with.

Came home for a moderate lunch, then hit KM. We worked HARD today! I mean this was one heck of a rough one. We worked on some stick defenses, then went to the bags.

And you know, I listened, I worked on the combinations per the instructions, sweated a lot. At some point I thought, THAT was the best combination I've ever thrown in my life. No thought behind it, just solid form. And the funny thing is, once it becomes automatic like that it gets faster! After that first one I knocked out about three dozen more just like it. It was an exciting baby step. I'm looking forward to building upon it.


This afternoon THEBOY and I went out to run some errands. At Starbucks he wooed the barista. Yeah, she left her post so they could toss his styrofoam airplane back and forth for a while..


Tonight the kids are watching Wallace and Grommit while I take in some baseball.


Man, I'm gonna be sore.

Ya'll have a good weekend.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Dr. Crook went to a small private college in northern Minnesota, St. John’s. It’s an all-male Benedictine school, complete with monks, of course. He went on a football scholarship, and finds it funny that he got the chance to do something “wise” because he was good at hitting other people.


The football program there is quite good, he says, and their coach has won more games than any other college coach. I believe the current total is 439 games. The man who coached Jon Crook in the 60s is still there.


So the alumni are a fairly tight-knit bunch, especially the football players.




Dr. Crook received a letter from the university president 14 days after the 9/11 attacks. As it turns out, a St. John’s alumnus, a football player, was on US flight 93, the one that crashed before reaching its apparent target. He hadn’t played with Dr. Crook, but “he was one of ours,” he said. And he began to break down right there in class.


He went on to tell us that he’d contacted the man’s wife. This player had called her from the flight after the terrorists took over. She told him what was going on in New York, and asked him what he was going to do.


“I’ve still got my plastic fork from breakfast, and I’m not going down without a fight,” he said.


And that was the last time they spoke.




Sharing this story with us prompted some emotional moments in class. It started because someone brought up the movie that’s coming out about this. Almost all of us said we’re not going to see it.




It was a fine evening. Class was good. I didn’t get to present my project, but that’s okay. Seeing what the others presented bolstered my confidence a bit. I wasn’t nervous. I just mean that I felt that my choice of topics was somewhat validated, right in line with what Dr. Crook was looking for. I mean, he only gave us one primary criterion: Learn something and communicate it.




Today Kelli intends to take THEKIDS to some sort of party/festival/wingding for her own school. THEBOY is pretty pumped up about it.




I’ve had (some of) my coffee, had my scone… I hope it’s a good day for you and for me.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

I've just commented on the appearance of another man's chest.

“Christine Sixteen” by Kiss is one sick song, man.


And I like it anyway.




Had a decent evening at home. I got the kitchen cleaned up nicely. You know, as long as the dishes are done and the floor is vacuumed I can get by. If those two things need attention it bugs me.




Kelli went to Krav Maga, learned a couple of knife disarms. This is so much doggone fun!


We’re both crazy sore, and in strange places (in my case at least; I caught a mitt to the nose the other night). She had trouble sleep due to it (the soreness, not my nose).




I more or less wrapped up my cultural identity project. It’s going to be an oral presentation, so the written component is mainly for the prof to have something to grade. I feel like I learned a lot, and got some great information from you guys (thank you again to those of you who participated). I was tired when typing and didn’t feel sharp or very insightful, but if I present this tonight (we’re chosen randomly) I feel I can do a good job.




And how about that crazy storm that blew through overnight? Wow. Tree limbs are down, everything’s soaked…


I’m pretty surprised that we never lost power. At one point I heard a crack that I was sure was a big tree falling over.




Say… did anyone else notice that Andrei Arlovsky was suddenly lacking that carpet of chest hair he’d had before? I guess he had it lasered or something. An improvement for sure.


Wow. I’ve just commented on the appearance of another man’s chest.


Hmm… nope, still straight.




Happy Thursday.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006


You know, having a beard is like having a motorcycle: It prompts people to give you their unsolicited opinions about them, even if it’s something really awful and offensive.



Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I successfully burned not one but TWO breakfasts this morning.


For starters I put my biscuits in the oven (and not that’s not a euphemism for anything) at 475 instead of 375. That’d explain why they came out, you know, black on the bottom and all.


And then THEBOY’s waffles burned because something had knocked the temperature slider to the far right.


Strange coincidence.




Last night was pretty good. I was tired, but having had a look at this week’s scheduled I figured it’d be best to go ahead and hit Tiger Klay for a kickboxing class. This leaves me the option of staying home Wednesday night, and I imagine I’ll want that time to do more work on the ethnic identity project.


So I went in rather tired from the get-go, having had only a banana and some Gatorade.


But it’s a cool class! We worked on defensive maneuvers, then combinations of roundhouse kicks and punches. And when we weren’t working on strikes we were on the ground, doing pushups or crunches. Sensei had a good laugh walking around, drinking some water and enjoying it for our benefit.


And some new folks were there. Lots of new folks lately. I’m pleased to report that I’ve finally encountered a student older than I. There were a couple, in fact, one of whom surely has a decade on me. But he looks trim, fit, and didn’t embarrass himself.




THEBOY came along again. He played his video game for part of the class, but by the end he was standing at the mat, kicking and punching the air. Sensei had the introductory video playing, so THEBOY also got a chance to watch some weapon disarms.




Kelli had a big presentation that went fairly well yesterday. She’s entering a real crunch time. I am too, but man, they pile the work on her.


And because of all that it looks like I can’t head to Houston this weekend to attend the fights I talked about. Well, hopefully I’ll get another chance.




Ya’ll be good.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Bunny, the Bunny, Whoa--I Love the Bunny

That’s from Veggie Tales, for you non-parents. I sang it for THEGIRL last night as she clutched her new stuffed rabbit, and in the middle of the song she thrust it at me and made a “RRROOOOOOWWWWR!” sound like he was the most ferocious bunny I’d ever seen. And maybe he was.




So yeah, Easter was good! The kids and the in-laws behaved. I thought the weather was gorgeous (though I’m told it was rather hot). It was nice seeing Kelli’s uncle and cousins. One of those days where some of the moments seem like you’ll remember them for a long time.




Backing up a bit, it was a good weekend, largely. Saturday TX Wesleyan and Tiger Klay were closed for the holiday, so that freed up my schedule a bit. Kelli slept in, THEBOY and I got haircuts, and we just generally went about things at a rather relaxed pace.


I disappeared late that afternoon to work a few hours on the ethnic identity project I have due Thursday. To those of you who have participated I wish to say thank you. I’ve learned a lot. I still have much work to do, and I now think a big re-write will occur one night this week.




That night was a nice chunk of BB time. I went to another damn Hooters so I could see UFC 59. The one in Grapevine wasn’t quite as packed. It only took me half an hour to get seated. And I had enough bimbo waitresses called me honey and sweetie and touch me way too damn much to remind me just why in the hell I hate having my wallet targeted through my libido.


But they seated me at the end of an atrium with a TV of my own right above the table. I faced away from all the other diners and to take in the bouts.


A few thoughts:


Forrest Griffin was robbed. Yes, Tito beat him silly in the first round. Those elbows were hard to watch. I thought it’d end quickly, but Forrest had enough heart to keep him going when his ground game wouldn’t. After that round he did what a skilled athlete does: He adapted. He knew he was outmatched on the ground, so he very skillfully avoided the takedowns. Tito and Forrest mostly fought standing up for the remainder of the fight, and I’d give the edge to Forrest there. He landed more shots, was more aggressive.


And when they did return to the ground, Forrest was elbowing Tito from the bottom! Tremendous display of willpower there. I thought Forrest took rounds two and three. (You out there Geoff? Did you see this? Please chime in if so. You too, Whit.) I was disappointed that he lost the decision.


Nick Diaz, tsk tsk. Out-striking Robbie Lawler way back when is probably the worst thing that ever happened to him, as he now feels he’s more well-rounded than he is. So he and Sean Sherk, who is also no puncher (despite his incredible physique), went toe-to-toe much of the time for what looked like three rounds of mildly agitated slapping between two sisters. Holy crap guys, take it to the ground! Diaz is an artist on the ground, and I gather Sherk is no slouch either. Sherk did deserve the decision he got.


I used to like Diaz, but I’m growing tired of his bad-boy crap.


And Sylvia and Arlovsky—what a freakin’ disappointment! These guys have met twice and still haven’t managed to have a proper scrap. This time they each seemed intimidated. After a couple minutes of sizing each other up, Arlovsky caught Sylvia flush in the face, and Sylvia nearly took a nap right then. He recovered somehow, then sent Arlovsky almost immediately to the mat with his own perfect punch. From there it was all over as Sylvia pummeled him in the ear half a dozen times before Herb Dean stopped the fight.


(Side note: If you gave me 100 random photos of guys and asked me which one was named Herb Dean, I’d have picked 99 of the photos incorrectly before figuring HE was the one. That man does NOT look like a “Herb.”)




Whit wants me to come down and be a cornerman for a couple of fights he’s got on a San Shou card this weekend. I find the idea really interesting and cool, though I don’t know if I can get down there. Kelli’s slammed with big projects, and it’s entirely possible she’s got a big one due a few days later. Or is it a week later? Will see.




Have a good afternoon.


Friday, April 14, 2006

It's Iron Panther versus the Meanest Martian!

I’m alive! Yes, for what it’s worth I’m here, alive and kicking. Between my sister and my friends, man, I feel like my family is the only household that’s healthy on the planet right now.




My own cold is steadily going away.


Had a good KM workout last night. I keep working out with a much more experienced guy, and it’s not easy! He pushes me, hits hard, doesn’t just roll over during our drills. I’m taking some lessons from him in really being a good partner, you know? Learning that’s important not to release the weapon simply because the other guy’s working on a disarming move. He’s got to really DO it.


Met a new guy there last night, one almost exactly my size. I was hoping I’d get a chance to pair off with him to train, but we were at opposite ends of the room when that time came. Dang.




Came home and watched some UFC stuff on TV. I like Ken Shamrock, but you know, he’s got some genuine jerks on his team.


But, like Mike Llorca said: He’s got a bunch of testosterone-fueled fighters—go figure that some aren’t so nice, right?




THEBOY is so into superheroes at the moment… he’s always asking me to draw them for him, and I’m a so-so artist at best.


This morning I had to leave before he was awake. I stopped, and right there during my foggy pre-coffee moments I whipped out a drawing of two new guys I’d made up: Iron Panther (good guy) fighting the Meanest Martian.


Iron Panther is what you get when you don’t know who/what you’re going to draw even as you put pen to paper, and you realize that you’ve drawn a guy who looks like a really blocky Black Panther who spent all winter eating at Pancho’s Mexican Buffet.


You know, like Roger Clemens…




And the Meanest Martian was really my knockoff of the Vision.


Did I mention I hadn’t had my coffee yet?




We’ve been reading Fantastic Four comic books at bedtime each night. Like I’ve mentioned, voicing all the characters is a challenge, but I tinker around with it. If I don’t do a character voice he points it out.


A few of them:


Ben Grimm (aka the Thing): Gruff and deep, of course. On the one hand, this cold has helped me do that voice. On the other, it also gives me coughing fits when I do it for a while.


Reed Richards: Deep and clear, a scientific guy who is still the boss.


Johnny Storm: Higher, as he looks like he’s younger, with sort of a rocker mentality.


Sue Richards: This is the one that might be most amusing to a bystander. I think I sound like Nathan Lane in the Birdcage when I do this one.


The Black Panther: I don’t know what sort of accent a Wakandan should have, so I just pepper in a vaguely UK crispness that’s enunciated clearly and boldly.


Sometimes the random characters get the best laughs from THEBOY though. Thugs on the dock, whom I just do as “dumb,” or maybe a random taxi driver, whom I do with what is probably an awfully un-PC accent, just bust him up.




Lunch. Be good.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Central Park Freakout

On a whim we loaded up and went to the park tonight. We still had some daylight left, the weather was nice, and I just didn't want to settle into an evening with the TV.

So we headed over to Central Park here in Hurst. It's got a playground on one end, and at the other end is a fairly open, grassy area I hoped would be good for launching THEBOY's cool rocket toy.

Kelli and THEGIRL stopped at the playground as THEBOY and I proceeded into the grass to set up.

Thing is, a man was out there at the far end of the park near the woods. I could see boots, a backpack and assorted stuff strewn across a blanket. He was mid-20s maybe, about 5'8", wearing a black stocking cap, a shirt too small for him and khaki pants.

(Did that look like a description one might give the police? Why... it did, didn't it?)


The direction of the wind meant we had to set up closer to the guy than I wanted to keep the rocket out of the trees. A second grader soon fell in with us, taking turns as we shot the rocket and chased it around.

But the weirdo was pacing back and forth, talking and singing out loud, and generally drawing attention to himself. It worked, and I made no secret of the fact that I was watching him from 50 or 60 feet away.

I even told THEBOY, "That's a bad guy. If he comes to talk to me, run to Mama and tell her to call the police."

The fact that I was that alarmed was already telling me I should probably get on the phone, but it was across the park in the van. Crap.

The weirdo suddenly set off towards the playground area, singing and babbling as he made a beeline for a trash can.

On his way back, though, he headed for the swingset, where Kelli and THEGIRL were having some fun. I guess they were doing their best to ignore him despite the fact that he was within 10 feet of them. From 50 yards away I watched him.

He stopped behind them, glared back at me and suddenly went into what I can only call a bodybuilder's "flex the biceps pose." They missed it, but the deal was sealed. He'd been just erratic enough, just unnerving enough, and now he was making a point of messing with me. He walked back to his blanket after that.

Our guest said he was done, and I suggested to THEBOY that he join his mother on the playground. I packed up the rocket, headed to the van and called 911.

I gave them good info from afar. They wanted me to stay on the phone with them. I was across the park from the freak at this point, and he suddenly started walking towards the playground again. He was much closer to my family than I was. I told the dispatcher I might have to go, and suddenly he turned around and headed back to his gear. He started packing up; maybe he'd seen me on the phone. I hung up, headed for the family met them just as Hurst PD arrived.

I was relieved to see them. He took off his cap and looked entirely too young to be homeless. He also suddenly seemed much more coherent. I was kind of angry that it had come to this, but the guy made a point of behaving in a strange, threatening manner. So be it.

The plan all along was to retreat if something got ugly. Get between the family and him so they could get to the van. Fight only if given no choice.

And I will be honest with you: I didn't have great confidence in my ability to whip out a stunning display of Krav Maga and send this turkey to the turf. Sorry, but three weeks of classes don't get a guy there. At least I had the snap to realize that.

The police sent him on his way, and told me afterwards they'd dealt with him before. They mostly wanted him to just keep moving, and to stay away from the park. Fine with me.


Ever feel like crazy stuff just happens to you?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"Progression," a One-Act Play

This short play features three characters:


THEDADDY, aka me, BB, Brian. Befuddled, dazed, grad student, parent, martial arts wannabe who recently tried to tally how many diapers he’s changed in his life but gave up. Age: 37


THEBOY, formerly known as Wooga Wooga, aka the Gatorade Thief. Age: Five


THEGIRL, aka the Queen, the Boss, or She Who Must Be Fed. Age: Two




Scene: THEBOY’s bedroom, where THEDADDY and THEGIRL are playing peacefully with THEBOY’s cool new Batman race car thing.


[Enter: THEBOY, clutching a half-full bottle of Gatorade]


THEBOY: Say Daddy, are you going to finish your drink?


THEDADDY: Yes I AM. Where did you get that?


THEBOY: It was on the kitchen table.


THEDADDY: Just put it down here beside me. You’ve had enough to drink you little mooch.


[THEBOY puts down the drink and sits down to play the game too. THEGIRL gets up and leaves the room for a moment as play continues. She returns after a moment, carrying her mug full of Gatorade. Play continues.]


THEGIRL: Mess! Daddy, mess! Napkin!


THEDADDY [seeing a little spilled Gatorade on the rug]: Oh, okay baby girl. Did you make a mess? It’s no big deal. Just a minute.


[THEDADDY ducks into the restroom and fetches an old wash rag from the back corner of the cabinet, then returns to THEBOY’s room]


THEDADDY [to THEGIRL]: Here you go, darlin’.


[THEGIRL takes the rag and vigorously scrubs the spill, doing a surprisingly thorough job]


THEDADDY: Thank you.


[THEGIRL stands up and leaves the room, unnoticed by THEDADDY, who is wrapped up in using the Batmobile to blow up spinning Joker heads. Really.]


THEDADDY: Good one! That was great!


[Sound of a flush from the restroom. THEDADDY stops what he’s doing]


THEDADDY [thinking]: Did she just… wait…


[Time slows down as THEDADDY leaps up and runs to the restroom. THEGIRL is standing by, watching the swirling water as THEDADDY arrives. He considers plunging his arm into the toilet but knows it’s too late. The wash rag is gone]


THEDADDY: What… what did you do? Did you flush the wash rag?


[THEGIRL grabs the handle, flushes again]





At least it was an old “headed for the garage” rag, and it didn’t seem to clog the pipes, somehow. It was rather small.




Lunch soon.

Monday, April 10, 2006

My Days as a Human Pincushion

In the right light you can see scars on the veins in my arms.

I was never a junkie; I was a subject in medical studies. Lots of them.


Back when I was working on my undergraduate degree at UT in the early 90s, I was a regular at this place called Pharmaco. They’d offer a wad of cash to people who were willing to participate in their studies. These were the sorts of trials used to gather data to present to the FDA to get approval for new medicines. And lots of studies were for already-approved drugs for whatever reason. When you think of medical studies you may think of genuine experiments, where subjects are given drugs and guys in white coats stand around to see whether the drugged person gets better, gets worse, springs an erection or turns into Mr. Hyde (or the dreaded Mr. Hyde with an erection).

That wasn’t the case, at least not with me. Mostly I participated in studies regarding topics such as how fast ibuprofen was absorbed into the bloodstream on an empty stomach, or on a stomach full of greasy breakfast foods (seriously).


You had to meet some criteria, of course. You got a physical and had some blood work done.

You also had to be at peace with the idea of phlebotomists sticking needles into your veins over and over.


Everything was done at their facility off of Ben White Blvd. Studies lasted for any number of days. I was typically in there from two to four days I’d say.

I’ve never been in a prison for any reason, thankfully, but some of the rules and procedures certainly made me think about life behind bars. There was no departing the building until checkout time. And I remember being strip-searched upon check-in once. It seems some folks snuck contraband into the facility.

The man with the clipboard told me to remove my shirt, my pants, and then my underwear.

“Whoa! This is going to be one thorough search!” I sputtered as I imagined him snapping on latex gloves.

“I just need to see that nothing’s tucked into the waistband of your underwear,” he replied.



Once inside we were assigned bunks and given a schedule of doses, blood draws and meals. They controlled exactly how much and what types of food we consumed. If they served something you didn’t like you had to eat it anyway. I was fortunate enough to be able to at least tolerate the grade C cafeteria fare we got there. More than anything I hated the studies where we had to skip meals. That was a one-way trip to Headache City.

In our free time we could lounge around, nap, watch TV, play pool or read two-year-old copies of Time and Sports Illustrated.

I napped a lot.


The blood draws, of course, were no fun, even for a guy like me who has no unreasonable fear of needles. For some studies they drew blood four times an hour, and folks, that just meant jabbing the needles into the same wounds over and over.

Some phlebotomists were better than others, of course. There was this Indian (native) guy who wore a long ponytail and some cool-looking jewelry and seemed like he’d be interesting to talk to. He was sullen, and lousy with a needle though, a real butcher. It got to where we hated seeing the phleb we called “The Chief.”

Others could be absolutely painless.


Once in a while we’d get a heplock, a valve gizmo that they’d affix to a vein for quick access that cut down on the needle sticks. But to get a heplock going they had to inject a saline solution each time, and the sensation of cold fluid traveling up the arm always made me feel like I was being embalmed. It wasn’t much better than multiple sticks.


I think the closest I came to receiving an interesting drug was when they put us on gurneys and gave us female hormones via IV. Our faces all turned beet red as some sort of reaction.

I felt dizzy and loopy, and I serenaded my phlebotomist with a spontaneous Springsteen/Soundgarden hybrid featuring the lyric “Black hole sun, born to run.” He wasn’t amused.

I narrowly missed being in a morphine study at one point. I heard it made some folks sick, but mostly it made them lie around and watch TV.

(What could they possibly have needed to know about morphine in ’93?)

I heard a couple of rumors that a study was coming in which they’d pay ten grand if you’d agree to have a pinky toe chopped off. Pharmaco always denied it.


Study participants were mostly male, by the way. It was explained to me that males are “biologically simpler” for study purposes. The few women we saw were kept in another quadrant of the building, and were usually participating in something specifically related to menstrual or reproductive issues.

When women were there we didn’t see much of each other. There was one little lounge area we shared, and sure enough guys would head over there to try to chat them up.

Now, picture how this looked, okay. We were a bunch of guys with nothing to do. We didn’t shave or shower often, and mostly we sat around in our pajamas. I often remarked that any straight woman who had a look at us would be tempted to switch teams. We were a gross looking lot.


We were occasionally given a piece of paper to explain our track marks upon being dismissed. That is, if a police officer started asking about all the needle marks in our arms, we were supposed to present the paperwork to clear things right up. I’m glad I never had to.


Eventually I got too busy (that is, gainfully employed) to do any more studies there.

I was grateful for the cash I got. It always seemed that getting about a grand for three or four days of lying around, even with the needle sticks, was pretty damn sweet. It’s how Kelli and I funded our trip to London, heck.

I think Pharmaco is long gone, but I’d do it again if I could. These breasts and my third arm come in handy sometimes.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Ah, Ouch, Ah...

Happy Sunday morning, gang.


It's a fine morning here. THEBOY had a sleepover at a buddy's house last night. Between Kelli and THEGIRL's late-sleepin' ways and the dose of night-time cold relief stuff I took, shoot, we've been awfully slow to get moving today. Kelli's still out.

I slept too long though, and jacked up my lower back.


Scored some free tix to Six Flags for Friday evening. I hadn't been since I was five. I took THEBOY, and you know... I thought I was prepared, but I wasn't. Just... wasn't.

For starters, it's $15 to park, and that's the "general" parking. You can pay up to twice that much for decent or valet parking. Crap.

So I paid to park and we caught the tram for the mile-long ride back to the main gate. Nuts.

Now, some crazy wind storm had just blown in around 6pm. As I left work I could see this massive dust cloud blowing in. It was an eery damn sight.

This meant that as we arrived at Six Flags the temperature was dropping. THEBOY was in shorts, but I did at least think to bring a couple jackets for us.

So we got to the park. Yeah.

I don't know if the whole park is this way or if it's just the direction we picked, but there were arcades everywhere. Lots of $3 a pop games that THEBOY was lured into. Fork over $3 and the kid squirts a clown's mouth with a water pistol for 10 seconds. Someone else wins the prize, we're done, my cash is gone and he wants to do it again.

You just BLEED money at Six Flags, even if you do snag free admission.

I steered him away from those as much as I could, but we did end up in a video game arcade. Two things I spent money on all evening were worth the price. The first was the Marvel superheroes game he played in the arcade. For 50 cents he got to play for quite a long time.

He wouldn't stop down long enough for us to eat, so I grabbed a couple pretzels and a lemonade which he grumbled about sharing.

I don't even like pretzels, but the line was short and I had to get some calories in me.

It was dark by this point. I didn't give THEBOY any attitude about what a ripoff the whole place is. I largely let him dictate where we went and what we did. Now, he DID want to ride some water-based ride where you get soaked at the end. Had to put the kibosh on that.

This indulgence, though, meant that he might spend five minutes at a drink stand in awe of the artwork on some souvenir drink cup. Or zip into another arcade just to horse around with machines we had no tokens for.

It was getting dark, and often we'd see these rides zipping by for which we simply couldn't find an origin. He'd ask where we should go to get on, and I'd have no idea. We'd make a stab at finding it and get sidetracked by something else.

We did eventually get on a train, which was a fine little ride. It went here and there, and it seems we ended up someplace different from where we started. Ah, now I was REALLY lost.

We found a funhouse, though, which was promising. Short line, kid-friendly...

Inside one of those crooked floor setups, they lined the kids/short folks up near the rail to watch a presentation with a bunch of anti-gravity looking tricks. THEBOY lined up, and apparently in the .05 seconds that I looked away a grownup behind him bumped into his head, which was against the rail. I looked down and he was crying with a bloody, split lip. My voice was nearly gone from the cold as I barked at the woman, "WHAT JUST HAPPENED??" I picked up THEBOY and she managed to spit out a "sorry" between giggles (no idea what she found so @#$%ing funny). The show came to a complete halt as performers came to our aid, asking if they should call park first aid. I wanted to tear that woman a new orifice, but I knew better. I had to attend to THEBOY anyway.

His injury wasn't that bad, and after a few deep breaths he told us all that he'd like to stay and watch the show.


It was fairly entertaining, and I thanked a performer for his attention afterwards.


From there we hit a gift shop, where the cash outpouring would continue. I was just glad it was warm in there. In fact, we found a $12.99 Batman toy that was the second thing we spent money on that was actually worth it. It's a cool little race car thing with smashup finale.

At that point THEBOY said he wanted to go home--hurrah!

The monetary bloodletting wasn't over, however, as a merchant selling glowing THINGS near the exit caught his eye as I was asking whether he'd like to ride the carousel before we left. He didn't answer me, fixated on a glowing sword. Okay, $7 more, fine. He started zipping it around, fighting imaginary bad guys as we left and... asked to ride the carousel.

I explained that we'd just exited the park, and he looked CRUSHED.

So I took him to the gate to ask if we could go back in.

First person said no way, she'd gotten in trouble for doing that before. But she called over a security guard, who looked at us and asked me, "Are you season ticket holders?"

I just said no, even as my mind was tallying the cash I'd dumped into that place since our arrival.

He conferred with another security guard, ran us through the metal detector and let us in.


It had been 32 years since I'd been to Six Flags. I hope it'll be 32 more.


THEBOY had a good time, and that's what really counts.

The tally:

Two rides

Two toys

One funhouse

One split lip

One lost voice

One brush with security


Yesterday I felt like fertilizer in class, and between the cold, the cold medicine and my fatigue I TANKED on a stats quiz. Ouch. But it's my first non-A grade of the semester, so I can live with it. I'm not even sure I passed.


Krav Maga went well though. It was the first time I lost track of time. When we wrapped up I was surprised, as I'd just been wrapped up in the workout. Cool.


We had a fine meal at Red Hot and Blue last night, then came home for a quiet evening as Kelli worked on a paper and I watched UFC stuff and surfed.

Almost noon. I'd better go wake Kelli. Have a good Sunday, ya'll.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Buzz Buzz Buzz Buzz Throb Throb Throb Throb

Ah, Friday afternoon. Work's pretty well buttoned up. I'm in casual clothes, the weather is gorgeous, and I have a throbbing ear.
Yeah, after lunch with Kelli I stopped to get the mail at home. On the front porch something stung me. A bee, a wasp, something. Kelli didn't get a good look at it since I was in the middle of my best Bug Fu defensive move. We didn't retrieve a stinger from my ear, but she said the critter looked like a bee to her.
I don't think he got to execute a full sting on me. My ear doesn't hurt that much and it's only a little swollen. I can live with it.
Tonight I'm taking THEBOY to Six Flags. Scored some free tickets, and he's been dying to go lately.
Tomorrow will be stats class (complete with a quiz--ugh) and then Krav Maga. Sunday will be yard work.
I didn't get to see all of the UFC season premiere last night, dang it. I saw everything up to the fight. Shamrock's coaching one team and Ortiz the other. Hoo boy. We're in for a lot of fireworks this season.
And it looks like an interesting bunch of fighters they've got on there. Heck, they've got a couple of Brits and a Hawaiian guy mixed in.
Last night they went into the Shamrock/Ortiz feud a bit. Seems that Ortiz fought Guy Mezger, from Shamrock's Lion's Den school, some years ago and beat him. While celebrating the victory, Ortiz flipped off Shamrock and the others in Mezger's corner. Didn't go over well, needless to say.
So they scheduled a Shamrock/Ortiz fight. Lots of feuding in the press and some confrontations here and there.
In the ring, Ortiz whipped Shamrock badly. I've since heard that Shamrock was fighting with a bum knee.
So yeah, Ortiz came off as kind of a punk, but I must admit that there's a good chance we don't know the whole story. I'm guessing the bad blood predated the whole bird incident.
Ortiz and Shamrock are going to fight again in July. I'll be pulling for Shamrock, but I don't know, man. He's not as young as he once was, and he got seriously whupped the first time.
Ya'll have a good afternoon.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I Used to Know a Person...

Who insisted on being called “Ice Money.” Yeah, he was a white rap wannabe. Still laughing about that.


Who liked to smoke dope and watch midget documentaries for fun.


Who was the host of a morning TV show who told viewers (several times) that her guest that morning specialized in finding homes for retired racing groundhogs. They were actually greyhounds.


Who was once a male roadie for Jimi Hendrix, then became a woman named Sandy.


Who could keep his eyes open while sneezing. (Try it)


Who stole a Motley Crue CD by stashing it in his baby’s stroller.


Who was a weatherman in Austin who told us he’d been on “one of those outings where you’re naked in the woods with a bunch of guys and you’re shooting guns” and he therefore had sunburned privates.


Who thought Michelle Shocked was a Satanist.


Who wrote a song called “Living with a Invalid” (sic)


Whose bedroom was a tool shed in his parents’ yard. And that probably wasn’t the strangest thing about him.


Who was an editor on Leave It to Beaver


Who used to be Lyle Lovett’s manager


Whose parents kept a bottle of moonshine in their fridge and a Tupperware tub full of marijuana in their bedroom.


Who was a different weatherman in Austin who told viewers with a smile that if anyone laid a hand on his dog they’d pull back a stump.


Who was hired to hang around with Gary Busey for 48 hours for the sole purpose of keeping him out of trouble. He failed.



BB's OCD Plant Excursion and More

Happy Thursday.




It’s been a busy couple of days. Rewinding a bit…


Tuesday evening I went to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class at the school. Seems Sensei ran out of gas and everything ran late. I was there with folks who normally stay for BJJ anyway, so the decision was made that we’d roll.


BJJ ain’t easy, lemme tell you. But I had some fun, and really, sitting around before Sensei arrived and getting to know some of the other guys a bit was enjoyable.




I was off yesterday. I’d planned to hit some nurseries, maybe work in the yard a bit.


But I started taking my time, trying to put together a plan, started comparing plants and their characteristics… I really indulged myself, just going from place to place… I spent about six hours shopping for plants. Yep.


Got home, finally, with a variety of things: hydrangeas, gardenias, holly shrubs, some cool ground cover… Still gotta do the work and plant this stuff, but hopefully this is a good first step towards making the yard look great.




So THEBOY and I met Erik and Vicky at the ballpark last night to take in Rangers/Red Sox. It was a good time! Good weather, good company, and a real nailbiter of a game that Texas lost 2-1.


Kam Loe held that team to 2 runs over 7 innings. Shoot, I’ll take a start like that any day of the week.


Vicky was in full Sox regalia, and you know, there was quite a Boston contingent there. You should have heard the alternating chants in the crowd. I don’t think I’ve ever heard more spirit out of a crowd in Arlington.




I’ve got a cold now, which I felt coming on last night. Drainage, voice bottoming out… it’s not bad.




Almost lunch. Ya’ll have a good afternoon.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

40,000 Ecstasy Pills

Check this out:,,1746333,00.html?gusrc=rss

It's about what happens when you take tens of thousands of ecstasy pills over almost a decade.

Thanks for the tip, Bruiser.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Watch Those Knees...

Good afternoon, good evening, all that good stuff.


Hope you all had a fine weekend. Ours was good. Let’s see…


Saturday morning we got back our stats test. As I said not long ago, it was one of the hardest tests I’ve ever taken. I was pretty anxious as he handed them back.


The grade: 94!


I was pleased for sure. Heck, I was ready to do a backflip. He started talking to us about how many folks knocked their averages for a loop because of the test, and were below a B now. So it kicked some folks’ butts for sure.


Oh, and the prof said he thought the test was “about five percent harder than” our licensing exam would be. Good to know.




After that it was home for a quick lunch before gearing up for Krav Maga.


You know, it occurred to me that I may have found what I’ve been looking for. I’ve often lamented the fact that I can’t attend Whit’s school in Katy. I know they teach a good variety of stuff, have personable, skilled instructors, a good facility… After my experience in a grim-faced Judo class (where I wrenched my back and dislocated a toe), I thought maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.


But the KM school really fits the bill. There’s a good variety, it’s close, and the attitude is positive. Pretty much everyone there manages to work hard while having a laugh where appropriate.




I ended up training with a guy easily 100 pounds (and four inches) bigger than I. Hoo boy. He’s new too. He’s as strong as a bear, but not exactly a gracefully coordinated fellow. Every punch he threw to the bag just felt like DEATH knocking on door. If you know who Tank Abbot is, I’d say that’s a good comparison.


So we worked on some combinations. We both progressed steadily, going from slow and awkward to more fluid, faster. But this man’s aim was a bit lacking, and at the end he caught me with a knee to the crotch three times in a row.


Thank GOD for cups.




Saturday evening I hit the Rangers/Marlins exhibition game. I’d scored freebie tix in the home run porch. It was okay and all, but I’m not fond of sitting out there. I’m one of those rare folks, I guess, who DON’T care to catch a home run ball. I couldn’t see much of the action anyway, so I bailed out after about seven innings and hit Forever Young records in Arlington.


There I scored Deadwing by Porcupine Tree, a Sea of Green CD (forget the name), and Townes Van Zandt.


I heard a student once describe Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera as “beautiful and badass,” and that’s how I’d describe Deadwing. That’s a rather unique brand of metal/pop/cerebral/ethereal/heavy craftsmanship at work there.


The Sea of Green I haven’t heard enough of to form an opinion yet, and I haven’t cracked the Townes CD at all.




I bought THEBOY this great air-powered rocket gizmo Saturday too. One Sunday I took him, his sleepover buddy, and THEGIRL to a soccer field to let it rip. It’ll go well over 100 feet straight up. It’s a hoot! Lots of fun for sure.




Having discovered that kickboxing is just too doggone much at the moment, Kelli is headed to KM herself tonight. It’s no walk in the park, but I think she’s got a better shot at handling the pace in there.


30 minutes ‘til quitting time. Ya’ll have a good one.