Tuesday, October 30, 2007

If I had a hammer.

The Marlboro Man was wearing his Batik linen jungle smock. He was eyeing the clock behind my head, licking his yellow-stained lips with nicotine expectation, the way I eye a a bottle of scotch.

He spoke knowingly of the political climate in Jakarta, and the benevolent despot in power there. His mind wandered from the topic, and he detoured on a diatribe about the relative quality of tobacco versus cloves in the greater regions of Malaysia and Indonesia.

My mind wandered as well.

I thought about the sexy nerdy redhead two desks in front of me. I thought about the pitcher of beer I had before class. I thought about the pitcher of beer I would have after class. I thought about the redhead again. I thought about Star Trek. I thought about my girlfriend. I thought about the redhead.

The Marlboro Man looked at the clock again, and I began to consider the ethereal nature of time. The potentiality of the future. the loss of the past, and the instant measureless moment of conversion from one to the other....

Which then, slowly, turned my thoughts to that really fantastic oversized clock that I bought for my bedroom, which continued to lay in its box next to my book shelf at home. It sat there, mostly, because I was unable to hang it on the wall. Sure, I had the requisite nail. It's just, I didn't have a hammer

I didn't have a hammer.

I didn't have a hammer.

I didn't have a hammer.

I couldn't get that thought out of my head. The trail of thought had curved back into itself and formed a loop. I lost the trail of the lecture on southeast Asian politics. I lost the scent of the redhead. I forgot about the beer.

How could it be?? I had a saw. I had a socket wrench. I had screw drivers.

I just didn't have a hammer.

Maybe class came to an end. Maybe I wandered out early. I really do not know. I was obsessed. I was crazed. However, it wasn't like I had a large carpentry project waiting for me. Nor, was it like I couldn't borrow a hammer. It didn't matter. I needed a hammer.

I navigated my truck out of the parking lot, and down from Kellogg Hill, considering my options. It had to be a good hammer. A big hammer. A tool to pass the test of time. "Craftsman," I concluded, and drove toward Sears.

A short time later I stood facing the wall of hammers. Steel heads, wooden handles, some with steel shanks and rubber grips. I weighed the options, literally. I swung at invisible nails. I imagined the Viking war-hammer forebears of the domestic nail-drivers before me. I took my time. I sensed the importance of this decision, but eventually settled on a selection.

It was the Craftsman 16 oz. rip-claw hammer. The head and handle was made from a single solid piece of drop-forged polished steel. The Solid steel handle was wrapped with a durable air-cushioned slip-resistant grip and it had a hickory plug in the head to absorb shock. For good measure, it had a deep throat design for power strokes.

It was perfect, and I purchased it. I finally had a hammer.

And I still do. I love my hammer. It hangs in the same place, and I always know where it is. It's been through new homes and house remodels, apartment changes, job changes, and a countless legion of nails. It is beat up, scratched up, paint-splattered and oxidized. It is nearly two decades old, but it is my hammer. Perhaps someday, with continued care and proper handling, I will be able to pass it on to my children.

Here's a picture!


Why Do They Bother?

It's a nice room, though I'll be here too short a time to make the most of it. King-sized bed, fireplace, and a kitchenette. The back patio opens upon the Deschutes river. (The small high-country slow moving Deschutes River. Not the wild E-ticket part of the river, made famous in Current Events)

The deposition is scheduled for tomorrow. After which, I'll be heading back over the mountain.

For now, though, I can blog from bed, warm from the fire, wallowing in my own cigar stink.

This is only noteworthy for one reason. See, the room comes with a realtively-nice flat panel TV, and a wide array of cable options, including many many Showtime chanels. And, at midnight on a Monday, that can only mean one thing: Low-grade softcore porn.

Oh, but good god, why? WHY? Why must they insist on a story?? Really, it is meant to serve only one purpose. Just give me five minutes of dirty moving pictures, and let me get to sleep.

But no. They must try to tell a pointless story, and poorly at that. Perhaps it is the only way to lure already-desperate D-list actors to appear in these horrible things, degrading themselves for a few dollars and a few minutes of precious Hollywood screen time before they are chewed up and spit out by the vicious industry.

OK, so, looking at it that way makes it kinda dirty, which is hot, I guess.

Anyway, the writing, acting, plastic surgery, and story are so bad, that I'd rather sit here writing this little ditty than watch the large-juggied trollops trounce about on screen.

That's it, I give up. I'm going to sleep.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hwæt!

Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Oft Scyld Scefing ceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,

egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra
ofer hronrade hyran scolde,

gomban gyldan. þæt wæs god cyning!
Ðæm eafera wæs æfter cenned,
geong in geardum, þone god sende
folce to frofre;

"What the hell?" You say, "Why is the Lounge talkin' all foreign, like??"

It isn't foreign folks, not by a long shot. The text above is English, some of the oldest English ever recorded, and from which we receive through time great masters of the language, like William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, and Keanu Reeves.

This is the Prologue to the earliest and possibly greatest epic saga of the English language. It is, you guessed it, Beowulf.

Look, if you can't work out the phonetic cookie crumbs yourself, here is a more-modern translation:

Lo ! the Spear-Danes' glory through splendid achievements
The folk-kings' former fame we have heard of,
How princes displayed then their prowess-in-battle.
Oft Scyld the Scefing from scathers in numbers
From many a people their mead-benches tore.
Since first he found him friendless and wretched,
The earl had had terror: comfort he got for it,
Waxed 'neath the welkin, world-honor gained,
Till all his neighbors o'er sea were compelled to
Bow to his bidding and bring him their tribute :
An excellent atheling ! After was borne him
A son and heir, young in his dwelling,
Whom God-Father sent to solace the people.

OK, so, with out any help, I suppose the Old-English text looses a little in the reading. No matter, this epic poem was meant to be told aloud, around a blazing fire and several flagons of Meade. It is always best when heard. So, here's a sample: (pardon the dramatic sunset intro...)



OK, so, by now, you may be well confused. You may be asking yourself, what in the world is Mr. Gin&Tonic talking about??

Well, obviously, I'm talking about Beowulf. But the reason is that Hollywood is making a heroic stab at bringing the tale to the big screen.

Sure, they have tried before. sometimes creatively, and sometimes less-so. Here, for instance, is one of the better attempts:



OK, so, the 13th Warrior wasn't a great film, but it was creative.. Still, I'm not sure how Spaniard, Antonio Banderas, was cast to play an Arab, who gets enlisted to help Vikings fight a shadowy army of Grendels... But still, it was a provocative interpretation. And if anyone asks Fred, she's sure to give this ensemble cast of burly men a thumbs-up...

But now, some one has seen fit to throw a bountiful budget and a cast with chops at this age-old tale. And, on November 16, the legend will arrive in theaters. Here my friends, is the trailer:



And yes, that is a fully digitized, fully-frontally nude Angelina Jolie as Grendel's Mother.

Seriously, the movie comes out in two weeks. Who wants to come with me?

Spago's

There is, of course, no one named "Spago." Well, perhaps somewhere in the world there is, but the titular chain of over-priced under-proportioned celebrity-festooned restaurants is not owned by one.

Wolfgang Puck, as you should know, is the creator, owner and operator of the chain. And just for clarification, the chain's name is not actually "Spago's." No, it is "Spago," meaning "twine," and from which we get the word "Spaghetti, " or "little strings..."

Unfortunately, there are many who insist, beyond all curative attempts at correction, to stick a possessive "S" at the end, as if it were owned and operated by Mr. Italian Twine himself.

Spago.

No possessive "S."

But it does not stop there. No, frequently, I hear friendly folks announce their intention to go shopping someplace called "Nordstrom's." Sounds like a nice place. I suppose they might have nice things. Sadly, as far as I've seen, there is no such place as "Nordstom's." Now, two blocks from my office, there is a very large red-brick retail building with a sign outside that reads: "Nordstrom." However, I am quite certain there is no "S" attached to the end.

And while they still existed, you could buy a tie, or an entire set of bed linens, at the Meier & Frank just down the street. However, you could not possibly buy anything at any place called: "Meier & Frank's"

And for your one-stop-shopping needs (groceries, garden supplies, and a gallon of paint) in the Northwest, where do you go??

That's right, you go to Fred Meyer.

Where don't you go? "Fred Meyer's" There's just no such place.

And for pumpkins, this time of year, there is no better place in all the state of Oregon than the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island.

Sauvie. Pronounced: "So-vee." While it has farms and hay rides and general stores and even a nude Columbia River beach, it does not have a possessive "S."

And after all of this running around, pumpkin picking and linen shopping, where might you want to go for dinner? Well, if you are over in Beaverton, there is a fabulous little Indian place called "Swagat." If you go looking for "Swagat's," however, you are not likely to find it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ballad of the Bedroom Surprise

It was dark as I crept down the hallway
My kids asleep soundly in bed
I was at the drunk-end of this long day
With beer farts that could wake the dead

With stealth I slunk slow in to felt sheets
But it struck me as if with a gong
Not four did I count there, but six feets!
I knew at once something was wrong

There was my wife, but also another
A girl, I found to my horror
Four sharp rib-poking inches, Oh Brother!
Of course, Dora the Explorer...

Scarlett Says


You go away. You come back tomorrow. Di di Mao! You go!

No bloggy heer today fo you. Thay nothing you to see heer. Go now.

You not human!

You come back tomorrow.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Suggestion

"Did you hear that? I think it came from within the wall..."

The kids had finally gone down, and I was slowly sliding toward an early bed. The TV was on, but I was only paying half attention. My chanel-flipping fingers had stopped on a horrible "supernatural" expose on the Travel Channel, called "Most Haunted."

A team of "experts" were gathered with a television crew, and were connected via satellite to a live studio anchor. Spooky graphics and expectant music set the scene. The cameras, set in night vision mode, filmed in eerie green darkness, and cast an unnatural glint off the eyes of the medium-in-charge.

She was a shrewish woman with a Hackney accent, her glinting green eyes darted back and forth as she made wild and unsubstantiated declarations about the "spirit activity" in the room.

She would suggest that she felt a sudden chill, and the others would instantly agree. She claimed that a particular corner of the room felt "spinney." Suddenly, everyone else felt "spinney" too. In silence, she would ask if "anyone heard that?"

"Oh yes," they would all say, though no one could pinpoint the direction of the noise.

Then came the Ouija table. Of course, once every one's hands were on the table it started to tilt, but for some reason it would not levitate. Likewise, the glass on the table would not move until everyone cast a finger upon it. Then, voila, the spirits moved it...

Essentially, there was a group of normal folks standing around an empty room in which nothing happened. However, through the powerful force of suggestion one woman was able to conjure up an spooky expectation of paranormal activity. Of course, the modern high-tech set dressings helped, but really, it was all about her.

Watching with my jaded skeptic's eye, it was fun to deconstruct the gimmickry and showmanship. But still and all, sitting here in the dark under house two days later, writing about and thinking about the show, I admit that I'm a little creeped out.

"Did you hear that noise?"

Now, I try to be resistant to suggestion. Living in 21st century America, you have to have a certain filter against the marketing masses. But still, sometimes, it seeps in.

Then, just yesterday, the girl and I were watching an informative documentary about the origins of canned food. One of the featured canners was James Dole, the founder of Dole Pineapple. The documentary went on to demonstrate the development of pineapple canning technology, and presented the current processing system.

Can by can of sweet fruit rolled by...

By the time we reached the end of the pineapple line, I was salivating. I immediately went to the pantry and pulled out a large can of Dole pineapple. I popped the lid, and devoured the golden yellow bits inside, with the help of the girl, of course...

Suggestion indeed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Suck

[Scene 1] [Fade in] A dark alley, wet with recent rain. Blue neon light from an obscured source reflects in the puddles. A young woman in a short skirt and improbable heels enters, running in terror, darting glances quickly over her shoulder.

Her assailant, his back to the camera, descends from the sky directly into her path. He is dressed stylishly in a long black coat. [close up of his black Bruno Maglis dangling beneath his black Dolce & Gabbana pant legs]

The woman stops, gasping, paralyzed. The man floats toward her, fanged jaws open, head tilted, eyes black. Suddenly, he stops. Over the woman's shoulder he sees another man, also floating, also with fanged jaws open. [kung fu battle ensues]

I'm getting very weary of Vampires. More so, even, than pirates. They are beyond cliche. They are overused and over done. They are a used up, dried out, comically uncreative genre. Worse, even, than westerns.

Always brooding, vaguely androgynous, sensual, sexual, undead. And then, just for a twist, they hand us what? A vampire with a soul? A vampire with remorse? A vampire with love? Or what? Maybe a half vampire? Maybe a Vampire cop?

And then what, we get to know the protagonist vampire, and he (always a "he") doesn't want to feed on humans, so what does he do? Eat rats? Dogs? Takes donations from the morgue or the blood bank? Is his refrigerator filled with bags of blood? Wine bottles of blood? Tupperware?

Look, it's been done. Done to death. Even done to un-death. Yet the same generic, creatively retarded ideas get rehashed and rehashed.

And when the fuck did vampires learn Kung Fu? I don't recall Bram Stoker writing about round house kicks and fists of fury. Seriously, when the hell did that happen? It wasn't Anne Rice either. Her vamps were more likely to go antiquing and shopping for the perfect lamp shade than to lay down any Jiu Jitsu. Was it Blade? Was it Buffy?

I can't remember, did any of the lost boys throw any punches?

There has to be some other plausible device to tell the story of an immortal. Take Highlander, for instance, or Jesus, the Gorgons, certain Jedi, the Flying Dutchman, and the Boat of a Million Years...

After all, how immortal can you be if a well-placed toothpick can end your existence...

So, enough already. Enough sexy Gothy stories about black-clad melancholy blood suckers. Enough with the black leather dusters. Enough with the vampy Matrix ripoffs. Enough with the uber-hip vampire dance clubs. Enough staking. Enough biting. Enough slaying.

The genre has simply lost it's bite. Its sun has set. It's time to lay it in its grave. At least, for the time being.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Nuptuals

Authority, once reserved solely for those who believed in god, is now vested in the likes of me. I am an ordained minister, though lazily agnostic, and I am authorized by my congregation (real and actual, located in Modesto, California) to join couples in genuine legally-binding matrimony.

Perhaps I've joined some of you, who are reading this right now.

I love weddings. They are full of magic and potential. I love being involved, and I've been involved in nearly every capacity. Ring boy, groomsman, groom, guest, usher, photographer, videographer, and flower arranger.

I've never been a bride, nor have I been a caterer. However, the single best job in the entire wedding is Minister. If done right, you can make the mothers laugh and you can make them cry. And if you can think fast on your feet, you can cover the gaffes and make the bride look good...

So, I am up for another wedding this year, in just a couple of weeks. A co-worker is getting married, and I was asked to officiate. This will be wedding number 4, though no-less unique than the three before. The bride and groom are performers, and have a certain theatrical flair. Therefore, I will be in costume.

Beginning with:


The clergy shirt. Nothing says "Divine Authority" like a black shirt with white boxy collar. I haven't worn one before, but I am technically authorized. So, soon, there will be another addition to my wardrobe. Because, you know, chicks dig a man in a uniform...

Then, to complete the ensemble, I will be in my kilt from the waist down. Gordon Regimental, square cut, box pleats, sporran, belt, ghillie brogues, dirk and flashes. The whole 9 yards. (Well, 16 yards, actually).

And yes, as a matter of fact, it is true what a Scotsman wears under his kilt...

There are pictures of the meat and potatoes to prove it.


Now, as a final note, I should confess that there will be one additional fashion accessory. A sword. A big ass broad sword, which will be drawn at the end of the ceremony. You will remember what I said about theatrical...

Anyway, it should come as no surprise, seeing how the processional is a Metalica intro...

I Love Wedings!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

2:00 Confussion

The fabulous Vietnamese lunch was working its way through my GI tract, triggering whatever process typically gets triggered after lunch. About one hour had passed. It was time to take a walk down the hall.

I have followed this pattern enough times, thus far, that after five months, our semi-witty and mostly-wicked receptionist has figured it out. If it's two o'clock, and I'm walking down the hall, she knows exactly where I am going.

Which is fortunate, as today, there were client-like folks gathered about in the foyer, and I was not at liberty to announce my short-term excretory intentions.

As I passed the front desk, though, I discovered an attractive young woman in ironic hipster military wear standing there. She was quite tall and thin. Her lustrous curly hair obscuring the fine porcelain features of her face. Her tight jeans accentuated all of the important curves...

I walked out the door and down the hall. A few minutes later, and about five pounds lighter, I returned to the office. The young woman was still standing there talking to her attorney, but something was odd. It was her voice. It was very deep.

Deep, like Dennis Haysbert deep. It didn't fit. She was kinda hot, but sounded like a dude, a scary sounding dude.

I sent an electronic sticky note to the front desk, saying: "hey man, is that another tranny out there?"

(We've seen a few...)

"Why," came the response, "do you want some?"

(You'd think I'd get more respect...)

"No. Not this time. It's just that the voice doesn't match the rest of the package. She must be a tranny, right? A pretty good one?"

"Uh, no man," replied the surly receptionist, "He's a dude."

"Right," I said, " I get that, but he looks like a chick, right?"

"No, dude, he's all dude."

"But I though he was a hot chick. Does that make me gay?"

Well, you can guess what her response was. Anyway, apparently, I didn't really get a good look, and you know these crazy metrosexual guys these days... Well, hell, how about those Cowboys, huh? And the Rockies sweeping the National League...

And, wow, I really like to look at female boobs on women. Really. Hurray for boobs...

Ya, I'm gonna go turn some bolts on my car now. Chop some wood. Maybe I'll punch something too.

Uh Oh

I hate these little quizzes. I was just benig honest...



You Are 82% Evil



You're the most evil person you know.

The devil is even a little scared of you!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Where can I Find Apples Like That?

video

More Cartwheels

Mary has returned from her honeymoon, and has photos!

True to form, here she is, in front of Chapel de blah d'blah in France! Here, you can read all about it at Wikipedia

And, here is the cartwheel:

Monday Muster

It was a good weekend, but not one full of sleep. Not when I spent it with a near-three-year old. Not by a long shot.

But now it's Monday, and y'all are clicking here, hoping to fill two minutes of your dreary morning with some random ray of gin-and-tonic goodness. I am grateful for you coming. I take my duties seriously, but really, I'm just as wiped out as you. Perhaps more so.

I just want to go to bed.

Aw, fuck it.
Happy Monday...
Here are some girls with guns:




My fingers smell like mustard.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Father To Son

Let me be clear. I love my daughter, and I am amazed by her everyday. She and I go on weekend adventures. She helps me with complex tasks. There are many things that I look forward to teaching her and doing with her

This post, however, is not about her.

This post is about the other one. The boy

Having fully expected a second daughter, and therefore a houseful of women, I continue to be amazed that I have a son.

Big bright blue eyes (I still haven't ruled out Tom as the actual father) and a wide sly grin, the Boy is always happy. Even when he is crying, all I have to do is make eye-contact, and I get the big-eyed smile.

He seems to like me, which is good. I like him as well.

So, today, as I returned from a meeting at the courthouse, I walked back to the office in the company of an office mate, who also happens to be an openly gay black man. We discussed the meeting as we walked; I, dressed akin to Johnny Cash, while he was suited and dapper, as he always is.

For those Portlanders reading this, we were on Broadway, northbound, passing Nordstrom, when all of a sudden a woman crossed our path. Tall, maybe 5'10," long blond hair, trim, tan, with her business blouse open and fluttering in the breeze.
"So," said my friend, "what do you think about that?"

"Um, not my type really."

"Regardless," he pressed, "you weren't gawking at the display?"

I thought for a moment, scanning the instant replay in my mind. "No. I really wasn't."

He was perplexed. I mean, as guys, we like to look. It's a natural imperative. My gay friend likes to look, and generally, so do I. We just happen to like looking at different things.

"No," I said again. "I guess I generally don't gawk. My dad taught me at an early age to keep the gaze, in public, above the neckline. Or, at least, try to... Sometimes it catches you by surprise."

(This rule, of course, does not apply at nudy bars. Which is not a topic that was covered in my youth)

Anyway...

We both walked on, pondering the odd exchange. My mind wandered, though, away from the public display of cleavage, to the lessons learned from my dad. I began to wonder, now that I have a son, what will I teach him.

Here are some of the things I came up with.

1) Be vigilant with your Legos. The parts are small and the sets don't work unless you have all the pieces. This is good practice for life. I'm not sure what it is good life-practice for, though. All I know is, I'm anal about my Legos...

2) Clean your tools and put them away when you are finished using them. I learned this from my grandfather. He had a lot of well-cleaned and well-organized tools when he died.

3) Be generous. You may have talent. You may have brains. You may have good looks. However, all of that will amount to nothing if you can't be generous. If you want to have friends and meet girls, you have to be generous with your time, your money and your interest. If you can't be generous, at the very least, smile, and pretend that you care.

4) Know your drink. There are a lot of drink choices out there, and you should try most of them. However, once you've sampled your share, pick one, and be ready to order it. It is a sign of confidence. Whether you are in business lunch or on a date, knowing your drink and ordering it confidently, will give you a subtle subconscious edge. No one is impressed by a guy who waffles between which domestic light beer to order.

5) Do not spit in the wind. I dunno, this is a lesson that Daddy learned the hard way. maybe it's a lesson everyone has to learn for themselves.

6) Know the technical schematic of the human female. Simply stated, to avoid awkward humiliation, disappointment, frustration and resentment, take a few moments, in advance, to learn what all of the knobs, buttons and switches are, what they do and how to operate them. I'm willing to provide instructional reading material if necessary.

7) Know how to make a fire. Heat, fuel, oxygen. Our monkey-like ancestors figured it out. So should my son.

8) Know how to shoot a gun. More importantly, know how to be safe with one. Know how to hold it. Know how to store it. Know how to clean it. Really, though, learn how to shoot the damn thing. I want you to get them before they get you.

9) Know a joke, and how to tell it. You really only need one good one. Just don't fuck it up. Chicks dig funny guys. If you can't tell a joke, then at least know one good story. Preferably with a punchline.

10) Be good at Chess. You don't have to be Bobby Fischer. But you should be able to think ahead at least three moves, or more. This is true in all things. Chess is just a metaphor. Still though, be good at chess.

11) Likewise, be good at Poker. Don't just know how to play poker. Knowing how to play, but not knowing how to play well, is worse than not playing at all. Know the difference between a slow play and a bluff, know how to do both and when. Poker, like chess, is also a metaphor, but really a lot more fun.

12) Mind the three-dollar tip rule. When sitting at the rack, tip one dollar. This is the price you pay for your seat. The dancer doesn't really like you. She does not actually want to go home with you. She is taking her clothes off because it's her job. If you're sitting close enough to see her stubble, tip a buck.

If, within whatever confines exist in your jurisdiction, she provides some extra recognition or attention, tip a second dollar. This is true whether she hikes her leg over your shoulder, or simply wiggles her bits in your personal direction. That, my son, should cost you $2.

Then, if by some miracle, the DJ doesn't cut the song early, and she comes back for a third more-magnanimous gesture, that will cost you your third and final dollar for that song. No matter what else she can come up with from that point, you must stop at $3. Anything more implies that you want her to perform some act that would likely get her fired and you arrested. This creates a bad vibe for the whole table.

If you fold and stack your wad of ones into some towering magical dollar pagoda, then you are a chump and an ass.

13) Dress like a man. And by that I mean, know how men's clothes work, and don't be afraid to use them. First, the tie. Learn how to tie one. Don't worry, I will show you this one myself.

Second, If your shirt has buttons, iron it. Wrinkles are stupid. Cuff links are fun and can add character to your outfit. Also, always wear an undershirt. I don't care what Cary Grant did in that movie back in the 50s. No one wants to see your sweaty oily hairy flesh under your thin white cotton dress shirt.

Third, pants. Pleats and Cuffs are good. Always wear either a belt or braces. Never both. If you wear a belt, match it to your shoes. If you wear your pants in such a way that they hang half way down your ass, I will help you pull them up.

Shoes, tennis shoes are for tennis. When buying footwear, think leather.

14) Good and Evil. Know what it is to be good. Also, know what it is to be evil. Most of all, know when to be which.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Update From O'Bryant Square

It was a good day. Productive. Easy.

It was a good day for a good lunch. Greek Cuisina. Two beers and fried calamari.

White clouds streaked across the cold blue October sky as we walked back up to the park across the street from the office. The air was crisp and the beer sat low in my stomach. We decided to indulge in a small post-lunch cigar.

Sitting on the red brick border, we chatted with the pigeon man, who resembles Nelix from Star Trek Voyager with his gray-blond cornrow dreadlocks. Pigeon man is homeless, but sports a new REI backpack, and and carries a cell phone that resembles mine. The backpack and phone are gifts from his daughter, who worries about and takes care of him. In turn, he cares for and feeds most of the pigeons in the city.

Being Portland, pigeon man could become mayor one day.

So, as we sat and puffed,and pigeon man fed the birds, a giant white police car careened over the curb, across the bricks, and skidded to a Starsky-and-Hutch halt in the midst of the startled and scattering gray birds. In full emergency-like fashion, the short black cop jumped out and began to run around the park for some unseen crisis.

My cigar buddy and I were the only men in the park wearing ties. So, naturally, he approached us first, and asked whether we had called in the complaint. Quite certainly, we hadn't.

Soon, more cruised screeched in around the park. Eventually, Portland's finest figured out that whatever they were looking for wasn't actually at the park. It was across the street from the park, lying down on the sidewalk in front of the Picomart.

Engaging finely-honed swarming skills, they converged upon the unsuspecting (and sleeping) miscreants, all of whom lazily stood at attention to the beckoning of the officers.

We lost ear shot of the state action, but watched with interest as the original short cop began to unroll a rather-lengthy swatch of violet industrial-grade carpet.

After several yards of rug were unrolled, we were able to catch a glimpse of a long shiny black object, which proved to be, quite unexpectedly, a six-foot long Samurai sword. Not exactly what one might expect from a street-kid roust in a city park.

The sword was apparently confiscated from the rather-displeased youth, as was a concealed 8-inch hunting knife. Soon, the scene cleared. The Loiterers were ushered away, the sword and knife were carted away, and we said our goodbyes to the pigeon man.

It's been four months now. The park has yet to disappoint.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Looking Through the Curve

It took them three days to say it, but the real secret to riding a motorcycle, apparently, is to turn your head and look in the direction you want to go. Your bike will follow.

And really, isn't that the key to life?

Calendars full of days fly past. Recognized moments stream out of mind, blurred by habit and repetition. But the Universe or God or Karma throws up curves in your path. Forks in the road. Debris.

You can, I suppose, overcome these obstacles, but it usually requires action. You must look ahead, see where you want to go, make adjustments and then go. Sometimes you slow down. Sometimes you speed up. Some times you swerve. Sometimes you barrel through. But always, always keep your eyes up and look at where you want to go.

I passed the test, by the way. I'm street legal.

Blue Bike

Sorry kids, no actual shots of me on the bike. But the blue one in front is the one i have been riding.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Motorcycle class

Weaving cones in 3rd gear. Only one lay down and it wasn't me. So far so good!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

World Travelers

By now, we all know that Carl does a lot of traveling. In fact, I think next week, he has a deposition planned for the Jovian moon, Io.

Now, we can't all be Carl.

So, for normal mortals, it is usually a big deal to travel abroad. Which leads me to the point: Two of our regular readers and frequent commenters are about to take great journeys.

Amanda, who sails the seas on big boats to begin with, is flying to Venice, Italy. I have asked her to bring me back a gondola.

And then there is Fred, who leaves in the morning for Africa. She's taking a two week safari in Kenya, which to me sounds pretty fantastic.

So Bon Voyage to our globe trotting friends. Be safe. Have fun. Oh, and Fred, I was kidding about that wildebeast. I don't think my dog would get along very well with it...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Superbad

(Sorry, this one has been sitting around in draft form all week. I figured I should probably wrap it up and get it out...)

The 5-story trapeze of escalators climbed higher and higher above the blue and green slate mosaic below. This is where the 20-screen multi-plex was. This is where I was going to see a movie.

Perched high atop the tall mall, I purchased my ticket. It was Friday night, and I was alone in an odd town. I wasn't really sure what was playing. I just walked up to the counter. A quick glance told me that 3:10 to Yuma was about to start. So was Superbad.

Now, I like a good western, and 3:10 had a strong cast. However, I recently received a strong recommendation from Amanda to see Superbad. Since Amanda and I share the same 14-year-old-boy sense of humor, I went for the comedy.

Hindsight being what it is, I can see now that I made the wrong choice. However, it did have its high points. Trust me though, save it for Netflix.

Anyway...

A major sub-plot of the film centers around a young boy with a very bad fake ID getting mugged while purchasing booze, only to be befriended by a bumbling duo of exceedingly bad police officers. The cops are dim-witted, but drunk on power (and beer). They are arrogant, belligerent and juvenile. They protect no one and serve only themselves. They oppress the weak. They never stop for red lights.

And this caricature, it seems, is closer to the truth than I originally thought.

All day Saturday, the next day, I sat quietly in a conference room. Where I had expected a raucous gathering of Klingon-like heathens, slogging ale and riding choppers up and down the hotel corridors, what I found was row after row of banquet chairs filled with serious inquisitive men (in dirty leather jackets) discussing politics, law and taxes. This was a business meeting, not the pagan rite I was hopeful/fearful of.

We were addressed by lobbyists, lawyers and an Idaho legislator. Guys with goatees and beer guts chimed in intelligently about Supreme Court rulings and NHTSA studies. The mood was sober. A generous collection was taken up for a fallen comrade.

As a side note, and counterpoint, the hotel scheduled a simultaneous Quilters convention in the banquet hall next to ours. The quilting ladies broke early to go drinking, while the bikers continued late into the day with their discussion of proposed Senate bills...

So anyway...

I developed a new respect for the organization and its members. While these guys looked intimidating, they were really just doing their own thing, while playing inside the rules.

Then we left for dinner.

We convened en masse upon a local bar and grill. The DJ, taken by surprise by the motley crew, was ill-prepared with his music library. The hip hop quickly stopped, and an odd assortment of altered classics began to play. Free Bird, for instance, with a disco beat. A heavily-sampled Devil Went Down to Georgia, interspersed with disjointed rap lyrics... You get the picture.

I sat at a table with my boss, his wife, and a few other coalition leaders. We drank beer (or gin) and told war stories of the bad old days. Service was slow, but the beer was cold.

Suddenly, a small commotion arose behind us and several folks darted out the front door. We didn't think much of it until, one by one, the bystanders started coming up to our table. While there were several lawyers at the meeting earlier in the day, my boss and I were the only two at the social. "The feds are here!" they said, "They're rousting our boys out in the parking lot. You gotta DO something."

So, we did.

They weren't lying. The parking lot was lit up like a Disney parade, with red and blue lights flashing and spinning. Spokane police in fine blue uniforms stood toe-to-toe with the dangerous old men from the local Christian Bikers club. The cops were fishing for contraband. The Christian Bikers were telling the cops about Jesus.

Behind this crowd, dodging in and out of shadows, were the others. Crew-cut dudes with team jackets bearing initials like "FBI" and "ATF," milled around looking for... something... who knows what. There was no reason for them to be there. The group inside was peaceful, just a bunch of burly guys quietly eating dinner.

Sure, the DJ was committing crimes against humanity, but that wasn't the group's fault...

A small group gathered on the porch behind the evangelicals. My boss and I waded out into the fray. We made our presence known, but maintained a respectable distance.

Now, it was probably all a matter of timing, but once we arrived on the scene, the storm troopers began to pack it in, their fishing expedition having resulted in nothing. I could see that it was a fortunate coincidence. However, to some observers, it had the appearance of the lawyers showing up and chasing the feds away.

Who knows? Who am I to argue over the perspective?

Having had enough adventure for one night, we headed back to the barn. I was actually in bed by a respectable time that night, alive, unharmed, but probably with a brand new FBI file being opened under my name.

Thrillbilly Death Match

I'm not really sure what I want to say about this. It sorta shook me a bit today, and I think I should say something. I'm just not sure what.

It was a long drive, nearly 4 hours from Portland out to Pendleton. I had a motion to argue, and we decided that it would be more affective if I were there in person, rather than on the phone.

I drove out Tuesday night, late, in the rain. I ate on the road. I listened to bad 80s music on the satellite radio.

The motel was basic and fine. No frills. No cockroaches. Coffee maker, but no coffee filters. I pulled in at 11:30 and quickly outlined my arguments for Wednesday morning.

I went to bed at 1:00 and got up at 6:45. I was in court by 8:00, and back on the road around 9:00.

The hearing went well. Opposing counsel seemed fixated on a single losing point. I look forward to the judge's decision.

The ride home was mostly uneventful, except for my choice for lunch, the small diner was called "Spooky's" and yes, I went there for the name. I mean, I used to be a big fan of Sambo's when I was a kid...

Anyway...

I was about 100 miles from home, when I changed the station to Howard 101, it was near noon, and time for that remarkable hillbilly radio moonshine called the Bubba the Love Sponge Show.

I've discussed this show before. It's a show made by smart guys to sound like they are dumb guys. They discuss everything that I am not: NASCAR, football, Professional Wrestling, and S&M... I do not fit at all into their demographic, yet I listen whenever I can. The show is remarkable.

And, it was no less remarkable today, although in ways I had not anticipated.

The caller had asked for protection, meaning that he wanted his voice disguised. I knew that much from the electronic twang when he spoke. The caller also seemed out of sorts, laughing first then crying.

Something was amiss. The crew was not its usual surly self.

As I drove, the story unfolded. the caller had lost his job, his wife and his daughter. He had large debts and little money. He was overweight, drunk and had a gun on his lap.

Of all the people to call, this nut called Bubba.

Now usually, when I tune in, I expect to hear an interview with a UFC fighter, a porn star, or Bubba using a tazer to "shock the puss." This however, was something different.

The caller was unhinged, and I expected to hear a loud bang and a thump at any moment. Rather than make light of the situation, though, Bubba surprisingly took the highroad. For nearly an hour and a half, without the assistance of caller ID to alert the police, Bubba and his crew pleaded, cajoled, and bargained with the man to put the gun down.

It was a struggle, and the man mad several despondent declarations along the way. He was determined. He wanted only to get drunk and then blow his brains out on Bubba's show. He had been planning it for 8 days.

Could the whole thing have been a hoax? Sure, the thought crossed my mind. However the sense of urgency, and barely-contained panic indicated that this was real.

They tried everything, but eventually, after a great deal of time, Bubba's argument that a suicide on his show would cause him a great deal of pain and misery finally carried the day. The man, whose daughter was a teenager, didn't care that his death might hurt her. H didn't care about the rest of his family or his friends. However, the thought of hurting Bubba, in the end, saved his life.

The final stretch of the drive flew by. I was nearly back at the office when the situation came to an end. I felt exhausted. Not for lack of sleep or the long drive. Rather, being caught up in this passionate struggle to save a life simply took the wind out of me.

So there it is. I'm not sure what to make of it. Maybe you all can figure it out for me.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Congratulations Britney

Parenting is hard work. Very hard at times. I mean, you have to sit on the floor sometimes and play with blocks, or maybe put together a farm animal puzzle. I know how hard it is to tell the sheep from the cows...

And Parks! Don't get me started! What a hellish nightmare it is to sit on a park bench while the tots climb around on the jungle gym.



There are simply too many demands on parents these days. Everyone else is constantly telling you what to do. "Feed the baby!" "Dress the baby!" "Don't let the baby play with your cocaine!"

It's just not fair!

So, finally, Britney has found the relief she has been seeking. The nice judge has has finally lifted the burden from her weary shoulders, and is now making Kevin pick up the slack.

Congratulations Britney, You should go out and party, it's been so long since you've had a night to yourself.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Monday Filler

Hey kids, I'm working on a real whiz-bang wrap up of the weekend, but it's late and the kiddies keep waking up. So, here's some Dita to start this Monday off on the right foot. I'll post more tomorrow...