Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Texan I Shall Miss

Aloha, Molly Ivins. She was one of the first to call a bush a shrub. She had our President pegged as a Pinhead while he was just a Pinhead of a Governor. She was a straight shooter, whether she was writing about politics or the disease that finally caught up to her. "I'm sorry to say (cancer) can kill you but it doesn't make you a better person," she said in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News in September, the same month cancer claimed her friend former Governor Ann Richards.
She was even less afraid of being labeled a liberal: "Even I felt sorry for Richard Nixon when he left; there's nothing you can do about being born liberal — fish gotta swim and hearts gotta bleed." From November, 2003: "The day President Clinton tried to take out Osama bin Laden with a missile strike, every right-winger in America said it was a case of 'wag the dog.' He was supposedly trying to divert our attention from the much more breathtakingly important and serious matter of Monica Lewinsky. And who did he think he was to make us focus on some piffle like bin Laden?"
You've got to love a gal who will use a word like "piffle." And now, alas, her voice has been stilled. We eagerly await another to rise and rail at the injustices of the world, and poke holes in the gasbags that push the buttons and pull the strings. Until then, "We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!'"
Aloha, Molly, and vaya con Dios.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

That Was No Pick!

There's trouble brewing in my household. I haven't wanted to say anything, because I have so very much respect for my son and what he stands for. We agree on so much, and that's why I hate to see a little thing like a Super Bowl come between us.
As a matter of record, the boy grew up in an environment that gave him little or no choice as to who his favorite football team would be. He also had the excruciatingly good fortune to be born into a world in which the Denver Broncos actually won Super Bowls. Not just one - two. For the first two years of his life, my son knew only one world champion: the team of his father and his father before him. Not that it made a vast difference in his world, save the Terrell Davis Beanie Baby in his crib and his father's insistence that he wear his tiny John Elway jersey on game days. That was nine seasons ago. Now he really believes this stuff.
Which brings us to this year's big game. We both felt the Broncos' season slip away near the end of the year, and we both started eyeing the possible playoff teams. He liked the Saints because he has a classmate who used to live in New Orleans. He liked the Jets because he likes jets. When it came down to just two teams, I kept my mouth shut, and listened to him reason through his pick: "The Broncos' colors are blue and orange, and Cal's mascot is a bear, so I'm going to go with the Bears." For just a moment, it occurred to me to give him the "root the conference" line, then I thought better of it. I've lived a happy life where my son thinks Bruce is the Boss and John Elway is the greatest quarterback that ever played and cheeseburgers are haute cuisine. For nine years I've had my way with him. Now it's his turn. I wonder how many points he wants on that spread.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Voice Of Reason

I know I brought this on myself. I could have used, as some sort of screening process before purchasing, a quick call to the customer service center of the cell phone company that I chose. To begin with, I should say that I avoid interactions with customer service representatives like the plague, since I generally feel that any angst or ennui that I might bring to them is wholly without merit, at least as far as that individual is concerned. Usually I begin these interactions with the following disclaimer: "I know that you have nothing personally to do with the difficulty or problem that I am about to ask you to resolve, but you are about to receive the stress and frustration from my entire day - including the part that your company has played a part in. Now it's your turn to turn that attitude around."
That's where this cell phone thing began. When I bought my cell phone, I barely noticed that it was from Virgin, a very hip company owned by an amateur hot air balloonist. This company is so hip, that it has a persona for the initial customer service interactions when you call their 800 number. "Simone" is perhaps just a little too cool for words, at least intelligible ones. I suspect that her hope is to set you as a user at ease with her breezy, urban tone. I confess - if I am going to talk to a computer, I want it to sound like Stephen Hawking. I am no fan of this faux conversation that I am asked to have with a voice recognition machine. I know that simply repeating "agent" or "operator" will usually push me through the maze just as soon as pounding on the * or # key, but what I'm after is my pound of flesh. I want that pure chewing satisfaction of getting an obsequious breathing entity to respond to my trivial concerns.
Once I did get through to a human being, a very pleasant woman whose name was Sharon (not too hip), she quickly resolved my issues and did what a good customer service representative should do: She made me feel like I had a right to call her anytime with my problems - as they related to my cell phone service. And before I hung up, I asked her if she had heard any complaints about her electronic doppelganger. She said that she had a tally sheet next to her desk on which she kept track of customers who had trouble "relating" to "Simone." She told me that she would happily add me to an ever-expanding list. Thank you, Sharon, and I hope you have a wonderful evening.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Caution: Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery Or Television

I'm still suffering the after effects of a cold. I know this because I laid in bed with my eyes glazing over to the hypnotic sounds of Chuck Woolery's voice, enticing me to buy property in White Bluffs, Texas. To be fair, he wasn't giving me a hard sell. He wanted me to come out and visit - an all-expenses paid trip for two, just eighty short miles from the Dallas, Fort Worth metro area. Deluxe hotel accommodations, air fare, and a "no-pressure" tour of what has to be the fastest growing vacation and resort community in the United States.
Luckily, the remote control was in my left hand, and the phone was across the room. It made so very simple sense: Just $399 a month would ensure me my lot, and I could pick my time to build - a year from now, or five years, even ten years from now. Did you know that the Texas State Golf Championships were held in White Bluffs for the past three years running? I didn't know that Texas had a state golf championship before I started watching. As an owner, I would be allowed up to thirty-six rounds of golf each year - for FREE! Imagine my shock and disbelief.
I know what you're thinking: Isn't White Bluffs a little isolated? That's part of its charm, and still withing easy driving distance of the cultural mecca that is Dallas/Fort Worth. It's only seventeen miles from scenic, historical Hillboro - or is that Hillsboro? They do mention an outlet mall. From the Hillsboro, Texas website: "A sightseeing must! This 1890's structure flamboyantly combines architectural accents of Classical Revival, Italianate, and French Second Empire.
The old Saturday Evening Post called it 'a monstrosity.' But Harper's described it as 'like an outstanding cathedral.' For years tourists have been coming to Hillsboro to see for themselves. You be the judge..."
Chuck told me, and anyone else who happened to be trapped in his real estate vortex, that home sites would be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. My nerves were jangled and I could feel myself teetering on the brink of dialing the 800 number, or was it just the cough syrup kicking in? Then somewhere, through the haze came a clear and confident voice: "Change the channel, Dave." I blinked once, twice. "You do have the remote, don't you?" It was my wife, the calm voice of reason. The spell was broken. I moved on up the dial to "Pageant School: Becoming Miss America." Ah, sweet relief.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Power Of The Manipulated Press

Remember the good old 1970's? Foghat, The Carol Burnett Show, Reggie Jackson, Viet Nam, Nixon's Enemies List? If you don't, you can always turn on TV Land or download a few choice tunes - or you could take a look at the testimony from "Dick" Cheney's former top press assistant, Cathie Martin.
Testifying at "Scooter" Libby's trial, Ms. Martin described the rating of certain journalists as friends to favor and critics to freeze out. The most pressing example comes from the story of ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson, who happened to be married to a CIA agent. His wife's unit at the CIA had sent him to Niger in 2002 to check a report Iraq was buying uranium for nuclear weapons. Cheney and the departments of State and Defense wanted to verify that. Wilson thought he had debunked the report, but Bush mentioned it anyway in his State of the Union address in 2003. The story helped justify war with Iraq.
Wilson claimed Cheney's questions prompted his trip and Cheney should have received his report long before Bush spoke. Wilson's charges first surfaced, attributed to an unnamed ex-ambassador, in Nicholas Kristof's New York Times column. But Martin testified she felt no urgency to set him straight because Kristof "attacked us, our administration fairly regularly." The liberal bastion of the media, the New York Times, had made the list.
But the questions wouldn't stop. It was decided that CIA Director George Tenet would issue a statement taking the blame for allowing Bush to mention the Niger story. Cheney and Libby worried Tenet would not go far enough to distance the vice president from the whole mess.
You may remember George Tenet as the recipient of the Medal of Freedom. Who resigned in disgrace. And that creaking sound you hear is "Scooter" twisting in the wind.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Humility Benchmark

President Pinhead has decided to accept the Republican version of the House resolution to set "benchmarks" for progress in his plan to send more troops to Iraq. How very noble of him. Add this to his utterance of the words "global warming" the other night in the State of the Union address, and one might think that he was becoming almost contrite. Don't worry, it won't last long.
"He said, 'I have faith in the leaders to craft a proposal, because I know in their hearts they want this country to succeed,"' said Eric Cantor, House Republican chief deputy whip from Virginia. Once again, the question of which country is he referring to comes to mind. The one with the civil war, or the one with the massive public image problem?
The part about this that struck me closest to where I live is the "benchmark" idea. Teachers give their kids benchmark tests to document their progress. Not necessarily for the kids, but for the bureaucrats who insist that No Child wild be Left Behind. Benchmarks are the proof that we are doing our job - really. Don't we want our armed forces to be as accountable as our schools?
Pinhead had this to say after meeting for two hours with his fellow Republicans: "If failure is not an option, then it's up to the president to come up with a plan that is more likely to succeed."
While many of the president's lines drew applause, lawmakers sat in silence after he said that.
First benchmark - achieved.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bachelor Pad

I got home around five thirty this evening. Not too late for a Thursday, but tonight was different. Tonight I had the house to myself. I could go crazy. I could eat whatever and whenever I wanted. I could eat in the living room. I could eat in the bathroom if I got it into my head.
I could watch whatever I wanted on the television. I could pick any one of the hundreds of DVDs to look at, or just watch the extras off the ones that I never had the chance to wallow in before. Or maybe I could just pick a few CDs from my collection that don't get played much when mom and son are around. There's not much that offends my dog, so as long as I remember to feed her, I could probably even blast a little Rush through the subwoofer.
Instead I came inside and immediately set to work: Gathered the trash and recycling for the trip to the curb, started a load of laundry, went back upstairs and stripped the sheets off our bed to fill up the second load. Somewhere in there I managed to pack a lunch for tomorrow and get the rugs up off the floor to prepare for sweeping. After I vacuumed, I swept and mopped the floors, then set about replacing all the displaced furniture and dog toys. The microwave sounded and I wandered back to the living room and did in fact eat in front of the television as it played a Green Day DVD. Then it was time to bring up the laundry to be folded, and heck, why not give the dog a bath while I'm at it?
It's now almost eight o'clock. The second load of laundry is almost done. Now I'm too tired to do whatever I want.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pasta Interruptus

I remember having dinner in Louisville one night. I remember a lot of those dinners, my family has had a long love affair with the Italian restaurants just over the hill from Boulder. On this particular evening, we were dining at Luigi's. I was fourteen. I was in ninth grade.
When I got up from our booth to go to the rest room, I thought I recognized somebody at an adjacent table. It was my typing teacher. Well, he had been my typing teacher in eighth grade, now he was my wrestling coach. He had also been my football coach the year before, and he would be my track coach when spring came. I was pretty sure that he didn't see me, so I hurried back to the men's room without making eye contact.
When I came back, after I washed my hands of course, I slid back into the booth only to be greeted by my father's smiling face: "Say Dave, isn't that Mister Carnival over there?" I froze. I had no interest in making personal contact with my coach or typing teacher or anyone connected to my existence in the outside world. In this regard, I was the polar opposite of my father. Perhaps as a result of my father's gregariousness (he was on a first-name basis with half of Boulder County), I was painfully introverted.
Still, after considerable goading, after I had finished my spumoni, I got back up and made a winding path through the tables in the center of the restaurant until I found myself standing three feet away from the considerable profile of Mister Carnival. He was with his wife. He was chewing. I waited for a swallow. "Hey, Coach." Even though he was the typing teacher at Centennial Junior High, Mister Carnival liked it when kids called him "Coach."
For an instant, I thought he might hit me. Then a flash of recognition: "Caven? You out with your folks?"
It didn't occur to me to tell him that I had been kidnapped by circus acrobats and that he was my last chance of escape. Instead, I just said, "Yeah."
And then there was absolutely nothing else to say. I mumbled something about "enjoying your spaghetti," I meandered back to my seat and waited for my parents to finish their Chianti and pay the check. I hoped that next weekend we'd to to the Blue Parrot.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The State of the Union - LIVE!

At five fifty-five, I get this clever idea: Why not do a real-time response to the State of the Union Address? In this information age, what could be more invigorating than a fresh response via Al Gore’s Internet?
Now it is 6:01, and we’re waiting for Pinhead to enter the chamber. He is preceded by the seating of his librarian wife, Laura – to much applause.
"Madam Speaker," they keep saying. Oh yeah – that’s right. She’s a lady.
6:03 – can’t we skip all these introductions and bring out the Pinhead? Is it really necessary for all these people to chat it up while they make their way inside? Find a seat already. Most of these guys and gals will be seeing them in Senate hearings over the next few months anyway – get on with it.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think there are more blue ties in the crowd this year.
They keep cutting to this ominous shot of a closed door. El Toro Presidente must be behind there – be alert! And here he comes, out of chute number one – Even he’s got a blue tie. Maybe I should be reading more "GQ". The applause follows a certain vainglorious hooting from the cheap seats – folks who may think they’re attending a reunion show for Foreigner.
I wonder what is in those little envelopes he gave Nancy and Dick. Maybe a gift certificate for Bed, Bath and Beyond? They have to sit next to each other for quite some time now. An most of all, they have to appear interested for the entire run of the speech.
"Madam Speaker" gets Pinhead his first cheap standing ovation. Nancy looked very pleased. It’s not what you kiss, but when.
"Decisions are hard, and courage is needed." Gee, I wonder where he’s going with this one.
He wants to balance the Federal Budget? Without raising taxes! Huzzahs from the crowd! He wants to eliminate the deficit in the next five years. Wait a second – was there a deficit when he took office the first time? Well, I guess it’s nice of him to clean up his mess before he wanders off into the sunset.
Ted Kennedy is asleep, drunk or has a raging migraine – more on this as it develops.
Parents who have children stuck in failing schools? What about failing students stuck in schools because of No Child Left Behind? Maybe there's something in the health care plan to provide for more on-demand brain transplants.
Does anybody do the math on this tax nonsense before the speech, or does it all have to get argued about after the fact?
It is now 6:25, and changing the tax code is now vital to making health care affordable. Of course! How could we have been so blind? At this same moment, it seems that "Dick" Cheney is sucking on a lozenge of some sort.
Yeah - I'm right - this place is rotten with pale blue neckties.
The border patrol is now going to be going after drug smugglers and terrorists, since the visiting worker program will limit the immigration problem. I'm sure they'll be thrilled to be chasing coked-up zealots with high explosives instead of their usual scared rabbits.
Now to the energy program: We're going to be using wood chips? What about that hydrogen car? Cut back on gasoline? How are we going to power those Hummers - and not just the ones in LA?
Pinhead just uttered the words: Global Climate Change. What sort of voodoo is that?
At 6:36 I went to the kitchen to grab some dinner. How did we end up on terrorism? Was there a link to Al Qaida and Global Warming?
"Harsh and Narrow Ideology" is this us or them? I've got to finish dinner to figure out what he's talking about.
I with it had occurred to me to keep a count of his use of the word "duty." He's full of a lot of duty.
At 6:41, Nancy is looking less enthused. Dick seems to have finished off that lozenge.
"It's not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it's the fight we're in." What the heck, any port in a storm, right?
Watching Dick and Nancy behind Pinhead just gave me flashback to Statler and Waldorf heckling Fozzie Bear. That would make this more interesting. The Brits have that part right.
Joe Biden doesn't seem to be buying this. I've also lost track of the "September 11" refrain. It's only getting a fraction of the applause that it used to .
At 6:51, I wonder if Richard Clark will be asked to be on Pinhead's new bipartisan committee to confront terrorism.
6:53: We will not allow Iran to gain "nookyoolur" weapons.
6:54: Same with North Korea - no nookyoolur weapons.
What if we used nookyoolur weapons to wipe out HIV/AIDs and malaria?
Hey! Dikembe Mutombo is sitting next to Laura Bush. He used to play for the Denver Nuggets. Now he's building a hospital in his hometown in Africa. Then the Baby Einstein lady. Then the subway rescue guy. And a war hero! Now we're getting them out of the seats! Where's John Cougar Mellencamp when you need him?
Time out: 7:03. He says "The state of the union is strong." All that for just one adjective? If you're staying tuned for the Democratic response - I'll be in the loo.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Born Under A Bad Sign

I'm not expecting to send a ton of business to, nor do I expect to scare anyone away. That being said, here's what a study conducted by these blokes tells us: astrological signs are a significant factor in predicting car accidents. Still with me? I know. I tend to glaze over just a bit when I see the words "astrological signs" in any sentence. Care for an example? "Experts say astrological signs help determine the outcome of the Iraqi conflict." If you're still reading at the period, then you'll be with me for the next few paragraphs.
How doe astrological signs help predict car accidents? I reward your curiosity by telling you that Libras (born between September 23 and October 22), followed by Aquarians (January 20-February 18) and Aries (March 21-April 19), as the worst offenders for tickets and accidents. Leos (July 23-August 22) and then Geminis (May 21-June 20) were found to be the best overall. And what was the reaction to this news? The first and most logical one would be to breathe a sigh of relief if your birthday doesn't fall into any of those month-long periods because you would spend a good amount of time trying to prove the theory correct or patently false. For my part, I was pleased to see that the somewhat arbitrary cutoff that occurs in all zodiac charts for Gemini narrowly missed my birthday. I am told this is because I am a "cusp" and I maintain the attributes of both Gemini and Cancer. I used to be a horrible risk. I bounced my first three cars off of trees, rocks and other cars for a good ten years before I really got the hang of the whole driving thing. Lee Romanov is happy to share his findings: Leos, described along with the study results, are "generous, and comfortable in sharing the roadway." Aries, on the other hand, "have a 'me first' childlike nature that drives Aries into trouble."
Now, that's what I call science. Gemini/Cancer cusps tend to have a "you've got to be kidding me" attitude that keeps them from finding this anything more than an idle time sink. Lee, however, is president of, and he wants you to know "I'd rather get into a car with a 24-year-old Leo than a 25-year-old Aries." And in case you were curious, I won't be getting into a car with Lee.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

That's Not Funny, That's Sick

It has been suggested that I don't get "a little sick". When I get sick, I go all out. Food poisoning, kidney stones, knee surgery. These are "Big Sick". I don't tend to get the sniffles.
On Friday night, I noticed my joints were a little stiff, so I took some Ibuprofen and headed out to dinner with my family. No worries - sometimes when I miss a day running I feel it in my bones. By early Saturday morning, however, it became clear that there was a storm brewing somewhere in my immune system. My sinuses filled, my throat began to close, and my head played the Anvil Chorus. I went to the medicine chest and started to line up my remedies.
By noon there was little that kept me connected to the human race. I had become a mutant with phlegm wielding powers beyond mortal understanding. My muscles had begun to scream and cry in a way that brought William Hurt in "Altered States" to mind. I watched, or was vaguely aware of Gene Simmons' reality show on in the background. Add to this my inability to find a proper temperature in which to lie in bed, and I had the makings of the super flu described in Stephen King's "The Stand".
I know that there is a strong psychological component to any illness, and I know that I had, to some degree, held my body at bay until the weekend. There was little or nothing to keep me from collapsing on Saturday. The week before had been a full one, with plenty of fourth grade drama and intrigue. I couldn't imagine missing a second of it. Just like I can't imagine missing a second of the upcoming week, which is probably why I find myself sitting upright for the first time in more than twenty-four hours. I can still feel the vestiges of my attackers - a little snot, a little cough - but overall I feel as though I have passed through the fire. Thanks to my family's kind attention and patience, chicken soup, and a fistful of over the counter pills, caplets and syrups, I am back on my feet. Tomorrow, after all, is a school day.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Vacate And Shun

A few days ago, my wife and I decided to start discussions about a family trip over Spring Break. I spent about an hour poking around the Southwest airlines, looking for something that a pleasant little family could do in four or five days. Away from home. Not too expensive. You know - pleasant.
It turns out that even "pleasant" costs. You need to have a job to pay for the vacation that you take from your job. As a result, I set my eyes on a low cost, low impact objective: San Diego. I shared this with my wife, and she found this suggestion intriguing.
Here's what I forgot: By opening one alternative up, I was creating a world of choices. Over the next few days, I received an e-mail from her that told me that she was undergoing her seven step process for considering this option. She said that she was moving up to her second step, which involved more research - and more "processing".
That's the one that always gets me: Processing. I recognized that my own process involves two steps: Think and Do. this makes me one of those knuckle-dragging males who make their wives miserable by moving in straight lines that make sense primarily only to themselves and other males. I was wise enough to see potential for struggle and strife, so I decided to respect the mission that my wife had chosen. On either side of my straight lines are these massive, sweeping, creative arcs that eventually lead to the same destination. Surrender to the inevitable and enjoy the ride.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Blank Check

Oh dear. Nancy Pelosi has aroused the ire of the White House. The Speaker of the House suggested Friday that President Pinhead is rushing new troops to Iraq and betting that Congress won't cut off funds once they're in battle. The White House called her assertion "poisonous."
Ouch. To be honest, I would guess that Speaker Pelosi has braced herself for much uglier confrontations than that. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino retorted that lawmakers are involved in a "sound bite war" against our Pinhead in chief. Asserting and retorting, isn't a wonder that nobody's getting hurt?
Well, okay, unless you're counting all those Iraqis and American soldiers - but let's get back to those sound bites, shall we? "The president knows that because the troops are in harm's way, that we won't cut off the resources. That's why he's moving so quickly to put them in harm's way," countered Pelosi. Or was she affirming? It's so hard to keep up. I am so very grateful not to be one of the twenty thousand individuals, not to mention their friends and family, that are most immediately impacted by this political jousting match. One might guess that Congress can stop the troop surge. Well, they can't exactly. They can stop the check, but they can't stop the order from going out.
What are we left with, if not our "sound bites"?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kool-Aid And A Snickers Bar

I wrote about a page - whining about my day and complaining about the kids in my class - and then I realized that I had failed to recognize the obvious: My Mother Is Celebrating Her Birthday. That's the news.
It would be indiscreet to mention just how many trips around the sun today marks, but it is important to note that it is a significant number, one that allows for a certain amount of dignity and respect. Far be it from me, however, to openly acknowledge that respect, but I feel compelled to mention it nonetheless.
Here's the deal: Without my mother's love, faith and encouragement, I would not be here to whine and complain. When I was a kid, I walked home from Columbine Elementary School every day to find a snack ready for me at the end of the kitchen table and a question: "How was your day?" She was really interested. And here's the really amazing thing: She was really interested in what was happening with all three of her sons. She asked us all. She listened to all three of us tell her about the trouble we had in gym, or the way that fractions were just like decimals, or the kid that sits next to me smells.
In all that time, it never occurred to me to ask her, "How was your day?" I was so caught up in downloading my elementary travails that I never bothered to find out. As I've grown older, I want to believe that I've gotten better at this. I want to know, especially today. I hope that she had a great day today - her birthday.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gnawing At Me

Today the Doomsday Clock moved two minutes closer to midnight. According to the group of very clever scientists who are in charge of this curious timepiece, we now stand - symbolically - at eleven fifty-five. The clock ticked forward amid fears over what the scientists describe as "a second nuclear age" prompted largely by standoffs with Iran and North Korea. In addition to the world going boom, they were also concerned about the world melting, citing global warming as another threat to our home planet.
This is all well and good, but they failed to mention zombies. Nowhere in their published statement did they address the mounting concerns about the walking dead. Recently, I was sent a book by my good friend and co-conspirator on the right coast that blew the lid off this whole ghoul issue. "World War Z" , by Max Brooks, is an oral history of mankind's finest hour, telling the true story of how dangerously close the human race came to extinction. It gave me pause primarily because of the way that it presented an eventually unified globe, coming together to fight a common enemy. When it comes to dealing with zombies, ideology becomes unnecessary, since their first and last concern is eating human beings. There isn't a lot of debate over philosophy, just about technique: How Best To Kill Something That Is Already Dead. In hindsight, after hostilities have ceased, Brooks helps us remember the hard won lessons of the last great conflict.
Okay - maybe it is fiction, but the book reminds us all to be watchful and ever vigilant, and to never let our guard down. Zombies are among us now - jut turn on the television if you don't believe me. I know that reading stuff like this will rot my brain, but I'm okay with that. When the zombies come, they won't want to eat mine.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ten Points For Execution

It's times like these that I wish that I had carpet in my office. Times like these when I fall off my chair laughing at a headline. Please, if you are sitting or standing somewhere that might cause undue harm if you were to fall down in hysterics, please take proper precautions. Ready? You have been warned: "Bush chides Iraq over recent executions."
Yes, you read that right. I'll give you a moment to collect yourself before we continue.
President Pinhead, who presided over one hundred and fifty-two executions when he was Governor Pinhead, is chiding (not cajoling) Iraq about the government sanctioned hanging of Saddam Hussein, saying that it "looked like it was kind of a revenge killing." Really? That was the farthest thing from my mind. I assure you. It looked a lot like a botched revenge killing to me.
Sadly, Pinhead opines (the obvious next step after chiding), "It makes it harder for me to make the case to the American people that this is a government that does want to unify the country and move forward, and it just goes to show that this is a government that has still got some maturation to do." And since I'm not completely clear here - to which government was he referring? Perhaps it has become somewhat incidental, but I believe he was referring to "them", not "us". Still, it's hard to argue with his assessment: "No question, 2006 was a lousy year for Iraq."
Now, feel free to get up off the floor and go about your business.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Coming of Age

It used to be a fun to sit a baby on my lap and watch my reaction. It's an old, time-honored trick. You find the single guy in the room and then plop an infant into his arms and watch him deal with it. I always had the suspicion that parents were filling their children with volatile chemicals, shaking them, and then offering them up just before the baby did a Regan MacNeil all down our collective fronts.
The big spit was never a problem for me. Most of what came out resembled what had gone in only recently anyway, so it wasn't as horrifying as watching grownups "sneeze food." Regurgitation was a matter of fact and I came to expect it as a matter of course. The thing that I had a hard time with was the crying.
I consider myself a leading authority on what kids find amusing. When I can't get an infant to giggle and coo, I take it as a personal affront. I work very hard at my peek-a-boo and mouth noises. If they grab my glasses or pinch my nose, I know I'm getting through. When they arch their backs and make that sound that only dogs can hear, you know that you're doing something right.
Eighteen years ago, I had a close encounter with the baby that would become my niece. She laid in my lap and I imagined that she could make sense of the colorful swirls in front of her. Her fingers opened and closed around mine. This no special project or pleasant diversion. This was my flesh and blood, my kin. This was the moment that prepared me, years later, for the birth of my own son. Happy birthday.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Trojan Women 2000

"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young," to serve, Barbara Boxer told Condoleezza Rice. "You're not going to pay a price, as I understand it, within immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families.''
No, it's not quite the Donald/Rosie feud, but it is quite the provocative suggestion. I listened to the senator's remarks a number of times, went back and read them, and then waited for some response from Secretary Rice. Then it occurred to me that this is the beginning of the culture war that was inevitable as soon as the election in November was over. Public opinion is erupting all over the place. The comfort zone is being eliminated, and the hard reality of war is coming home for everyone. While there are elements of Senator Boxer's comments that I agree with, I feel that they did not belong in a public forum. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Ms. Boxer reflected on her assumptions: "I was just saying what I felt.'' She said she would not apologize for the exchange because "I delivered a very strong message and tried to find common ground with her ... and I tried to draw us together, and not apart.''
Perhaps feelings are best left to closed rooms and personal blogs. The missing component in this discussion is that there are millions of men, women and children who are missing their husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters today because of the war in Iraq. There is no moral high ground here. The cost is apparent in every casualty - civilian or military. I can sleep peacefully at night because I know where my son is sleeping. I can remember a time when my mother was planning to ride up to Canada on the back of a motorcycle with my older brother to escape a draft that he was never part of and a war that ended before that choice was truly necessary.
In an all volunteer army, a great deal of respect is due to those who choose to serve. In a world in which women continue to struggle to find equal opportunities with equal reward, a woman's career choice should be respected. At a time when rhetoric is becoming the common discourse, the simple words should be used - words from two thousand years ago:
Hecuba: Alas! Alas! Alas! Ilium is ablaze; the fire consumes the citadel, the roofs of our city, the tops of the walls!
Chorus: Like smoke blown to heaven on the wings of the wind, our country, our conquered country, perishes. Its palaces are overrun by the fierce flames and the murderous spear.
Hecuba: O land that reared my children!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

You Meddling Kids

I have a pretty good idea when I turned into an adult. It was the night that I waited in the shadows next to our garage, waiting for the neighborhood boys to come sneaking over our back fence to grab our apples under cover of darkness. I watched three of them come in, and when one of them climbed up into the tree, I made my move. The two on the ground left their treed friend high and dry, and I caught him as he tried to untangle himself from the branches. I asked the first of what would be a series of mind-numbingly ridiculous questions: "What are you doing back here?"
That's how it starts. Kids think that grownups are stupid because they ask such stupid questions. Grownups think kids are insolent because they give smart aleck answers to such moronic inquiries. The phrase "Duh" was created specifically for this interaction. This kid and his buddies were hopping our fence to grab some apples in the time honored tradition of Tom Sawyer and Adam and Eve. It is what kids do. Little did I know that I was fulfilling my biological imperative by serving as the cranky old neighbor who chases them.
I marched this boy out the front gate of our yard, up the steps of the apartment building next door and knocked on his father's door. There was a lot of shame and embarrassment tossed around, and we all agreed that it would never happen again. And it never did - at least while we were home. Eventually we got a dog, and that made strangers less interested in wandering into "The Old Caven Place."
I listen to Green Day. I watch "Pimp My Ride". I'm not a grouchy old man. I'm still in my prime. Or at least that's what I like to tell myself. Sometimes when I hear myself start off on a lecture to my son or the kids in my class, the eyes of my inner child roll to the sky. What's the matter with the kids today? I'm not sure I'm equipped to say. I just know that I am, and have been, on the other side of that fence for a while now. "Nothing so dates a man as to decry the younger generation." -Adlai E. Stevenson
And since I'm old enough to quote Adlai Stevenson, I guess it must be true.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Spin, Parry, Thrust, WHAM

I had a near-death experience today. I suppose it could be argued that any day in Oakland is a near-death experience, but that would be another lengthy dissertation. And yes, I'm almost certainly overstating an event that will be referred to later as "My Boo-Boo." It was, however, significant trauma for the end of my week.
I bumped my head. To be more precise, I slammed the left side of my head against the divider of the shelves where my students usually put their coats and backpacks. If I had done this on purpose, I don't think I could have achieved a better result. I was standing up and turning to put a piece of paper into the recycling bin - curse my ecological conscience - and as I made my graceful pivot to the left, I found the corner of the shelf with my temple.
My cat-like reflexes and spider-sense must have taken off for the weekend early, because I didn't even see the offending chunk of wood before the impact. I found myself abruptly on my back on the tile floor of my classroom, eyes shut, and fingers fumbling for the spot where I was certain to find blood and gray matter leaking out of my skull. I do not recall what expletives I uttered, but I know that they were more vehement and expressive than any that I have used when children were present. If there was a bright side to this blunt force trauma, it was that it occurred after school hours and I did not have to explain my salty vocabulary to any of the gentle ten-year old souls who came into contact with me in the moments after my collision.
As is my custom, I got back to my feet, found the form that I needed to deliver and headed up the stairs. When I reached the office, I was greeted with great concern and fear: "That's grotesque!" and "Have you seen yourself?" I had a pretty good sense of just how large the swelling was on my forehead, as I had kept my hand over it most of the way up the stairs in case it happened to rupture.
I was given ice for the swelling and sympathy for the pain, and I started to focus both eyes for the first time in several minutes. Soon I was told that I no longer looked as though I had a growth, and that I no longer appeared to have spawned an additional being - not unlike Athena from the head of Zeus. When I finally got a peek at myself in a mirror, I understood the concern. I approximated the circumference of a silver dollar - the old Eisenhower jobs, not these new-fangled Susan B. Sacajawea deals - and imagined the reaction I would receive at home.
Dad found something with his head again. Yup. Happy Friday.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Notes From The Bottom Of The Stack

"Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me," so sayeth the Pinhead. The trouble with the contrition is that it comes along with a heaping helping of additional troops being sent into the whirling maelstrom that is Iraq. "If we increase our support at this crucial moment and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home," he said. By "support" I can only imagine he means "potential targets."
Somewhere in the midst of all of this bluster and chin wagging, I had a vision of Yertle the Turtle. Yertle figures the best way to build his kingdom is on the backs of his subjects - literally. After he has stacked turtles up past two hundred, the turtles down near the bottom are getting especially uncomfortable, especially a plain little turtle named Mack: "Your Majesty, please... I don't like to complain, but down here below, we are feeling great pain. I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights. We turtles can't stand it. Our shells will all crack! Besides, we need food. We are starving!" groaned Mack.
I agree with Mack. Pinhead is seeing great sights, like Democracy blooming in the desert, but down here at the bottom we are feeling great pain. Eventually poor little Mack burps, and the throne of Yertle comes tumbling down into the pond on that far away island of Sala-ma-sond. And Yertle is reduced to being king of the mud, for that is all he can see.
"Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents, and there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have." Keep stacking, then see what happens.
And today the great Pinhead, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course... all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Oh, Grow Up

Remember "Thirtysomething"? I do. The problem was, at the time that it was on, I was twentysomething. I looked at the zany antics of the Steadmans and their close circle of friends, and pined for their comfy suburban existence.
Okay, so the antics weren't so zany, and I didn't exactly pine. I sat there, slack-jawed and imagined a world of arts and crafts furniture and jobs in advertising that involved little or no creativity. This was a planet of pleasant looking people with very photogenic houses with very appealing friends. The Steadmans and their progeny lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The city of Brotherly Love, in the county of dramedy. Twenty years ago, there was no such thing as "dramedy." These clever TV guys, they decided that life was a series of ups and downs, laughter and tears. Michael worked with his best friend Elliot. Elliot wasn't nearly as nice as Michael. Most of the really nasty stuff happened to Elliot and his wife. Elliot, unlike his pal Michael, was not married to Hope.
In the end, Michael flees to California. He ponders setting up shop with Elliot one last time. Hope threatens to leave him. Then there was no more thirtysomething. The end came fifteen years ago. No long goodbyes. No three hour series finale. Just a periodic flurry of reruns on Bravo.

Since then, I lived through my own thirtysomething. The rollercoaster of life roars on, and I keep holding on. It occurs to me now that we have no idea what fortysomething ought to look like. Elliot's son would be closing in on the big three-oh himself. Was there a baby boomlet caused by all the yuppies curled up in front of their televisions watching ABC and dreaming of a life like Mikes? A life full of Hope?
They used to plug the series by saying, "It's a lot like life - with better writers." My life doesn't need better writers - just a better editor.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Am I There Yet?

I was doing the math as I rode home from work today. One hundred and eighty days (not counting summer school and in-service days), for the last ten years multiplied by the two miles (give or take) that I pedal there, and then back. One thousand eight hundred days times four miles - I've ridden my bicycle about seven thousand two hundred miles. I could have been in New York City and back by now. And well on my way to Key West, if I straightened this little commute out a little.
But that's just mileage. How about wear and tear? I just took an on-line quiz to help me feel better about my career choice. The results of this exhaustive battery of ten multiple choice questions told me "You are a shooting star! You are poised for career advancement. You have mastered the essential skills of your job and more, and you may find yourself at an enviable level of accomplishment and career satisfaction." I wouldn't have been quite so enthusiastic if I were describing it myself, but who could argue with such a comprehensive inquisition? The advice they gave me, "But you still don't have that "I have arrived" feeling, right? Sometimes the good can be the enemy of the great. At this stage in your career, complacency is a big threat to your contentment, but there are ways to overcome it." Wow. Do these guys know me or what?
Okay - not so much. I wouldn't expect an eight minute tap of the keyboard to give me insight into the way I choose to make my pizza money. Who among us got to be what they wanted to be when they grew up? Put your hand down, Paris Hilton. Really. I'm not working for Mad Magazine, nor am I working for Rick Baker's makeup crew. That's okay, since the computer didn't mention either of these as viable paths for me to follow. The blinking line at the bottom of the screen: "Back to school for you, teacher boy."
Next time I think I'll play Tetris instead.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Just Win, Baby

It's the time of the year for football coaches to sit down, move over, change jobs, or retire. Here in Oakland, Art Shell is being relieved of his duties after winning just two games this season. The team's owner, Al Davis, is looking to hire their fifth head coach in the past eight years. After compiling the worst record in professional football, who could blame him?
Or maybe, just maybe, the problem isn't the coach. Maybe the problem is higher up. The fans continue to show up and buy the black and silver tchotchkes. The players keep showing up for games. But the grumbling is getting loud enough to hear, even in the cheap seats.
President Pinhead is doing some shuffling too, installing two new commanders for "The Troubles" in Iraq, substituting them for generals who had qualms about a fresh buildup of U.S. troops in the war zone. This occurs as a Democratic controlled congress heads back to work, with an eye toward making things more difficult for the carte blanche changes that have taken place for the past few years. More money, more troops, more casualties, more excuses. We keep buying the yellow ribbons, the troops keep doing their job, we all watch the human cost continue to mount. Pinhead is firing the coach when the game plan doesn't seem to be in doubt, more like the idea of playing the game at all.
Perhaps Al Davis could take a page from Pinhead's book. Maybe if the Raiders were allowed to play with a few more men on the field, it wouldn't matter who the coach was.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


I don't know much about art, but I know what I like. Okay, I know a little bit about art, and I confess that has hindered my appreciation somewhat. I have a brother who makes all manner of fascinating and intriguing pieces - reproductions of movie stills and detailed renderings of neon signs. He's even done a series of silhouettes on the back of industrial baking sheets. These days his focus has shifted to electrified gases - he is now creating his own neon. I'm happy to have many of his paintings and now his neon sculpture hanging in my home. As appealing as I may find many of the images, the thing that brings me back over and over again is the process he goes through. Knowing the artist gives me a great leg up in the appreciation department.
Hearing stories about the creation of any piece of art makes that work more significant to me. The story of "Guernica" is every bit as fascinating as the mural Pablo Picasso made. For me, most of the stories about Picasso's work make me more interested in seeing what came out on the canvas. This same ideal holds true for the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo's struggle to mount his vision is every bit as captivating as the finished product. It's probably why I stopped being a studio art major after a semester. I like the story too much.
For example: "Blessed Art Thou," painted by Kate Kretz is getting a ton of interest presently for its depiction of actress Angelina Jolie as the Virgin Mary hovering over a Wal-Mart check-out line. "My intention was to ask a question and get people to think," Kretz said in a telephone interview Friday from Miami. "I had no idea so many people would be asking a question and thinking." And what might that question be? For my amusement, and those who share my fascination with the creative process, Ms. Kretz keeps a blog, detailing her thoughts and feelings. Such as: "Angelina Jolie was chosen as the subject because of her unavoidable presence in the media, the world-wide anticipation of her child, her "unattainable" beauty and the good that she is doing in the world through her example, which adds another layer to the already complicated questions surrounding her status." And wouldn't that look lovely hanging over your sofa?
Again, I don't know a lot about art, but I know what I like: The Stories.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

It's Over - Now

I saw "Rocky IV" at one of the lowest points of my life. My roommate and I were fending off some personal demons of rather extraordinary magnitude. It was Thanksgiving day, 1985 and we had decided to avoid the messy family gathering to stay at home and wallow in our self-pity. That combined with a dinner of processed turkey breast and a number of other foil-wrapped goodies that my mother had prepared for us ahead of time gave us a perfect chance to stand on the cliff and stare down into the abyss.
Jingoistic as it was, it was hard not to get caught up in the struggle of Rocky Balboa avenging the death of his good friend and fellow warrior, Apollo Creed. My friend and I were completely absorbed in every punch given and received as Ivan Drago, the red communist machine bore down on poor, tormented Rocky. For ninety-one minutes, we were relieved of our torment. We were part of a crowd, cheering for the underdog, and it felt good. We hadn't felt that way for a long time.
Fast forward twenty-one years. I talked to my friend who is now happily ensconced in his east coast life. He told me how he and his son had gone to see "Rocky Balboa," and enjoyed it quite a bit. I thought about the thirty years that have passed since I first saw Sylvester Stallone run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I went to that one with my father. When we came out, I was ready to run twenty miles, eat raw eggs, and do a dozen one-arm push ups. That's where I learned about going the distance. I saw that movie at least six times in a theater, before video tape, and before I had HBO. Back in the present, I decided to take a chance - a chance that I might feel that old "Gonna Fly Now" magic.
The chance was "Rhinestone," and "Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot," and alas, "Rocky V." Sylvester Stallone is sixty years old now. I told my wife I wanted to go, and bless her heart, she didn't even flinch - she said she'd go with me. I didn't need it to win best picture, I just wanted it to go the distance. I laughed a little, and I cried a little. I winced when the action in the ring went into slow motion. The Italian Stallion deserved to go out on a high note, and this was it. He wasn't an American icon, he was just a boxer who had one more fight in him, and he left on his own terms. It didn't make me feel young again, but I did feel. It felt good.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Are You Asleep?

Vacation ended this morning with a whimper, not a bang. The whimper came from the father, who at six o'clock in the morning pulled the covers over his head when his son appeared next to the bed whispering, "I had a bad dream."
His mother welcomed him under our covers as the whispering and mumbling continued. When could the television be turned on? How much longer until it would "really be morning?" I tried very hard to appear as unconscious as possible, so my muddled understanding of the situation could remain focused on the prime concern of going back to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream. This all could have been a dream. It fit well with the kind of dream I have at regular intervals when I am trying to cling to the broken remnants of dawn. The purple gorillas and melting doorways that would be helpful clues to what side of consciousness I was on are nowhere to be found. These are the matter of fact ramblings of my too-rational mind as I get out of bed and take a shower, have a bowl of granola and head back to the bedroom to get dressed before I realize I'm still lying down with my eyes closed.
Before Bruce Willis was a mega-star, he played David Addison in a nice piece of late eighties TV fluff called "Moonlighting." David Addison once made this very clever observation: "Vacation never ends - it just changes location." To this end, I expect that I will get a good night's sleep tonight, then the reality will come crashing in long before Monday morning when everything starts back again for real. The irony of this will come in the form of the prone body of my son, who will undoubtedly need a team of paramedics and the jaws of life to wake him up in time to get ready for school. Or maybe it was all just a bad dream.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Feel Bad? Take A Pill!

To quote one of my favorite authors, Dave Barry, "I am not making this up." In light of the premonitions of God's little elf, Pat Robertson, about our pending nuclear annihilation (okay, so it's probably only going to affect several million people) - I decided to start figuring out how I was going to live through what will most certainly be our nation's darkest hour.
Did you know that since the "dirty-bomb" scares after September 11, 2001, there have been a number of states and institutions that have stockpiled Potassium Iodide pills. These pills will protect your thyroid from any of that nasty radiation that will kill everyone else around you. Imagine how smug you'll feel as those doubting Thomases drop like flies with your thyroid clean and fresh as a summer's day.
And now a little extra reality from "While demand for the drug has never been higher, potassium iodide may not help with so called 'dirty bombs.' It's thought that such bombs would likely use other radioactive materials, and not radioactive iodine, and the drug is only thyroid-protective in the even of exposure to radioactive iodine." Oops. What about all those Potassium Iodide pills that have been purchased in California, and Washington D.C. and anywhere else fear needs a magic cure? There is even a federal law requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to draw up guidelines for stockpiling and distributing the pills. Now I feel better, knowing that a government agency is looking out for my thyroid's health.
Still feeling skeptical? If you knew that Iosat makes a fruit flavored pill for kids, would that make you feel more secure? If you buy more than three hundred packs (eight pills apiece), you can get them for as low as $5.99 each? Why not buy your whole Emergency RadDecon kit for just $299.99? That warm feeling your getting is a sense of security.
Or maybe it's your DNA being scrambled even as you choke down your protective blast of iodine. What about the rest of your internal organs? Maybe there isn't much that can be done to save those, but your thyroid will be your legacy. Or maybe Pat Robertson owns a big chunk of Iosat pharmaceutical stock.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Shiny New Year

I've felt a little bad about the gloomy way that I sent 2006 to the shed. Certainly there can't be that much doom ahead of us in 2007, can there? Well, , Pat "God's little elf" Robertson, would like us all to think again. Robertson said God told him a terrorist attack on the United States would result in "mass killing" late in 2007. Major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September. "I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he said during his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that." He knew it was the Lord because he pronounced it "New-Clear" instead of "Nook-Yoo-Lur."
While I admit that Pat Robertson is no Criswell, but he did remind us all that last year God told him that storms and possibly a tsunami were to crash into America's coastline in 2006. Even though the U.S. was not hit with a tsunami, Robertson on Tuesday cited last spring's heavy rains and flooding in New England as partly fulfilling the prediction. He even predicted that President Pinhead would have "victory after victory" in his second term.
Are you terrified yet? Robertson said God also told him that the U.S. only feigns friendship with
Israel and that U.S. policies are pushing Israel toward "national suicide." Remember back in January 2006 when Pat suggested that God punished then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with a stroke for ceding Israeli-controlled land to the Palestinians. I confess that I tend to miss Pat's broadcast most evenings as it conflicts with my viewing of "The Daily Show". For some big laughs, I just might have to reset my Tivo. In the meantime, start digging those bunkers!

The Truth Is Out There - Way Out There

Let's start with a definition: UFO means "unidentified flying object." Nowhere in that acronym is there a suggestion of anything sinister or menacing. Still, it has been vital for the past half century to assure one and all that there is a lot of swamp gas, weather balloons, or low grade atmospheric disturbance that helps explain why we are definitely not being visited by large-headed beings from other planets. There is no need to panic. If there was a need to panic, your government would have told you about it.
Then we have this item: A group of United Airline employees swear they saw a mysterious, saucer-shaped craft hovering over O'Hare Airport last fall. Fair enough - there are at least twenty different, rational explanations for what they saw, and none of them include higher intelligence or death rays. Reports like this used to give me a serious case of the heebie-jeebies (a medical condition associated with being a hyper-sensitive twelve year old). Whenever I read these accounts, usually buried near the back of the front section of the paper, I started to imagine the first wave of attacks. I read "War of the Worlds" and I knew how these things began. Then I saw "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", and my view of the galaxy shifted. Maybe extraterrestrial contact would be a thrilling adventure, not a violent confrontation.
Which brings us back to O'Hare: There is a scene in "Close Encounters" in which a couple of pilots are tracking something they can't identify. After it accelerates past one of the planes and disappears, the air traffic controller on the ground asks they pilots if they want to report a UFO. Both pilots are shaken by what they saw, but neither one wants to report anything. The workers at O'Hare, some of them pilots, said the object they saw didn't have lights and hovered over an airport terminal before shooting up through the clouds, according to a report in Monday's Chicago Tribune. The Federal Aviation Administration said, "That night was a perfect atmospheric condition in terms of low (cloud) ceiling and a lot of airport lights. When the lights shine up into the clouds, sometimes you can see funny things."
Funny "ha-ha," or funny "we wouldn't tell you the truth even if we knew it"? O'Hare controller and union official Craig Burzych was amused: "To fly 7 million light years to O'Hare and then have to turn around and go home because your gate was occupied is simply unacceptable." Okay Craig, but if they've got disintegrator pistols, I'm getting my re-integrator ray ready, just in case.

Monday, January 01, 2007

After The Big Game

I woke up this morning. I went into the kitchen and cleaned up from the fondue party we had the night before. I had to scrub some of the cheese out of the pot. There were a lot of plates and glasses that needed to be put away. I was pretty tired from staying up late watching Marx Brothers movies and bad lip-syncing to pop songs I could not identify. I knew that I had a day full of watching college bowl games and truck commercials.
I went out to the front yard and, with the help of my younger brother, we took the Christmas lights down from the trees and off the fence and the front porch. We stuffed the inflatable snowman back into its box for another eleven months. The holidays were coming to a close as 2007 began.
In the back of my mind there was a vague sense of ennui. It was probably linked to the loss of my favorite team the night before. I was finding ways to rationalize the defeat by figuring that the Denver Broncos probably don't belong in the playoffs if they're going to play the way they were playing yesterday. I've lived through winters like this before. The difference was in years past I didn't have the death of one of their players in addition to the end of the season.
Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed early Monday when his white stretch Hummer was sprayed by bullets after a nightclub dispute following a New Year's Eve party. Darrent didn't get up late this morning. He didn't take down the Christmas lights or clean up the dishes. The holidays are over for him and his family. Football seems pretty insignificant, all of a sudden.
And I felt lucky. Happy to spend the day with my friends and family. I am looking forward to whatever 2007 holds for me and those close to me.