Tuesday, November 28, 2006

'tis The Season

So once again I have strung our Christmas lights, so that our house is now, officially, "festive."

It's the same basic gag every year, or has been so far, with our helpful reindeer getting "caught up" in the festivities, only to be horribly trapped under high-voltage wires, get slowly but surely spot-burned by the bulbs as they heat up each night, and, ultimately, starve to death.

Except this year, our newest ornament, a large concrete Lawn Buddha, gets to join in the fun as well!

Of course, one assumes the Buddha is actually dead, and looking down on all this frivolity from the ethereal plane.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another note

WAtching CAsh CAb, that show where the guy drives people around NYC, quizzing them for money. End of the show, last 15 minutes, and three girls get in th cab. And they are stupid. I mean, they are sooooooooooo stoopid.

They are missing the most obvious stuff. They are asked what tax is levied on the sale of a stock. "An income tax?" one surmises, "because, you know, it is income!" They do what's called a street shout-out, where they get help from someone on the sidewalk. The guy they ask answers "Capital gains tax," as if they were kidding him or something.

So they got two strikes, three and they're out, and the next question is "What time-travelling Vonnegut novel takes place both on another planet and in a WWII POW camp?"

They are tossing out titles, some of which aren't even by Vonnegut, and one of 'em says "OK, guys, we gotta know this one. We work at The New Yorker . . . "

. . . .

The fucking New Yorker.

OK. That explains everything.

(Their answer? Cat's Cradle.)


SO I figured that it had ended, and maybe it has. A week is a good, measurable chunk of time. Why would the God/s extend their wrath?

SATURDAY: Went and recieved my birthday gift from my wife, a TASCAM didgital mixer/recording machine and a pair of condenser mics. It turns out the TASCAM requires phantom power to run the condenser mics, and the mics you might use that don't require phantom power (experience tells me) will sound like crap on the TASCAM machine. TASCAM: You've Been Had.

So we went out to the University area, which, although being by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is really shorthand for the burgeoning retail shopping area that has been burgeoning over the last fifteen years or so, where I went to the music store I prefer-- a part of a small, relatively local chain, which passes for The Local Music Store. Phantom power? No. But Augustine Blacks, yes, and I got a pack for my Takamine and a pack for Carlita. (To those of you new here, those are my classical guitars.)

Thence to a bike store, where Rachelle finally bought a bike, a Trek mountain bike which she test-drove before buying it. Also, we got a bike rack which fits the Mini nicely. So far so good.

Later in the evening we change into our fancies, me wearingthe Lawsuit (my gray pinstriped, double-breasted suit), off-blue shirt, MC Escher Tessellations tie, rachelle in skirt and blouse, and we headed off for the celebratory birthday dinner. A short way down the road, the Mini started making a screeching noise, from the left rear wheel, clearly a brake problem. Bummer. After a brief discussion, we decided to turn about and switch the Mini for the Miata. After a quick stop to move our reservation from fifve-thirty to a quarter of six, we plopped into the Miata and off we went.

To Mortons!

Downtown, at Trade Street and Church Street. A little traffic, not bad. The valet kids were swamped; there were two of them, and I think they had been expecting less traffic. Anyways, I swung the miata into the valet station with a swing-and-hook maneuver that scared the bejesus out of the Wifey and amused the hell out of the valet kid. He gave me the ticket and took the car. "Take good care of her!" I said as he took the car. He liked that. He gave me a nice grin.

Inside, seated, cool waiter, great service. Terrific food. Appetizers, entrees, sides, two beers (for me), then a dessert to share and a coffee (again, me). One hunred and eighty bucks after tip. (Including a fiver to the valet kid, who gave us a grin that said we were his favorite customers that night.)

SUNDAY: There was some walking and stuff, but mainly the Wifey spent the day obsessing over the notion that we were spending too much money.

MONDAY: The Wifey hung around until the tow truck the Mini people sent out got here and took her car off to the dealership for a diagnostic. As soon as that had been accomplished, we jumped in the Miata and I took her off to work. About noon the dealer's service guy called: they examined and tested all four brake assemblies, found no problems, figured a stone might have gotten wedged in or something. Anyways, the car had a clean bill of health, and they were washing it for us even as we spake. So I called the Wifey, and we decided to ga ahead and go pick her up. So, I zapped down to the office, grabbed the Wifey, and off we headed to what we figured was as good a route to the dealer as any.

On our way up 485, the wifey said "Wow, look at all the Troopers!"

Four of them sat behind a barrier well off the road. I dropped off the gas, but I saw one of them go active in the rear-view as we passed. "Well," I said, "Looks like I'm getting a speeding ticket today, m'love."

Cop pulls us over. "We had you clocked at 81 at the bridge back there." He took the license and reg, and as we watched the other motorists being pulled over, up the road ahead of us and down the road behind us, by maybe a dozen troopers, out in force, it dawned on me: the bridge. The trooper who ran us down had been stationed a good tenth of a mile past the bridge. Someone else was there with a radar gun, cherry-picking and transmitting the offenders for the hounds to chase. We had been had. We were set up, we were knocked down. Sure, I was speeding, but still.

So we stewed about that, both of us, the rest of the drive to the dealer. We got the Mini, free of charge and sparkling like new, and Rachelle went back to work and I went home and spent the rest of the day feeling subtly cheated and judged wanting.

So today, a gray, rainy, lousy day, I confined my activities to a single trip to the store, for lunch and a few sundries, and a call to a law office so we can get this goddamned lousy ticket taken care of without affecting our insurance payments. E Pluribus Unum.

Friday, November 17, 2006


So this past Tuesday was my birthday. I turned 41.

Which is not big deal. Turning 40 was pretty cool, since I got to hear alot of "Gee, you don't look 40!" And I have the added advantage of having ditched my one serious attempt at a career profession about four years ago, instead relying on the Wifey's corporate wiles to float the household, so I didn't have alot of that mid-life, am-I-where-I-ought-to-be angst alot of people end up with at my age. This year promised to be much of the same. Here's how my week went.

Let me add the caveat that I know I'm whining, and I feel doubly stupid for knowing so.

MONDAY: Nothin'. I got up, had coffee, and then just didn't feel like doing anything at all, total indolence. Very uncommon for me. I spent the ENTIRE DAY playing solitaire on the computer. OK, I went out for a sandwich a little after 1:30. Other than that . . . Nothin'.

TUESDAY: Upside: The Wifey woke me with our traditional birthday song, adopted from an old Boynton card:

Hippo, Birdy, Two Ewes

Hippo, Birdy, Two Ewes

Hippo, Birdy, Deer, Ewe

Hippo, Birdy, Two Ewes

(And Many Moooooooo)

For the record, I started it, probably on the morning of the her first birthday during our Atlanta year. Later in the day I got an idea and wrote a short story, which I think will need some fiddling with, but overall was pretty good. Downside: The Wifey was in training all day, thus was MIA, not to say incommunicado, all day long. On top of which, her group decided to go out for dinner at the end of the day, so she didn't get home until after 8. So I sat here at home, allllll day long, on my freakin' birthday, feeling like a mook.

(Upside: She brought dinner back for me, which included a pretty good chicken enchilada, some good black refritos, and a very weird carne asada. Anyways.)

WEDNESDAY: I did some pretty minor futzing around the house, watched some junk on TV, and almost had a pizza for lunch. (For whatever reason, the thing didn't cook, despite having been in the oven at the right temp for the right amount of time. So I ate half of it and tossed the rest, which gave me an opportunity to take out the trash, so that was good in its way.) Upside: met the Wifey and her co-horts for dinner at Mac's. Ate too much. We always eat too much at Mac's. It is not possible not to. (There wasn't really any downside to this day, except that it rained allllll daaaaaay loooooooooong.)

THOISDAY: (That is how I spell that word; it has to do with a one-off gag from the old Police Squad series, and you either know it or you don't.) I got up early, had coffee, showered, shaved, dressed, and went to an appointment at my dentist's, with my hygenist, whom I love. The Doc then saw me, following on the infection previous (which prompted the Darvocet/John Wayne poem nobody likes). She was astounded-- she literaly gasped!-- at how much improvement there was. Still, she recommended I see a root canal specialist. I drove home, called the specialist's office, got an appointment for a half hour later, jumped back in the car, drove back across town (at this point, at least, the rain had stopped), and went in and filled out forms. Finally they took me back, ex-rayed the tooth, and the guy came and examined me. It turns out I will be having root canal surgery on two of my lower front teeth. The rest of the day: nada. I didn't feel like doing anyting else the rest of the day. I just sat around trying not to mope. I don't want root canal surgery! WHAAAAAAAA!!!!

FRIDAY: Today looked like all upside. The sky is blue, the air is clear, I have been able to not sit around and think solely about my teeth. We're having a friend over for dinner and a movie tonight-- Chinese from Hop FegII! YAY!-- so I have spent the day cleaning house off and on. Real upside: My guitar string came from JustStrings.com, so I have a brand new set of strings for all four of my 12 string guitars. YAY! DOUBLE YAY!

Downside: While stringing up Beatrice, my oldest guitar, my Canadian Seagull 12 string, I jabbed myself with the end of a B string on the top of my right index finger just behind the nail. YOUCH. I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE that!

Upside: the fine folks at JustStrings.com sent me a handfull of cheapo guitar picks! (Cheapo guitar picks that wear down and have to be replaced are my favorite kind. You can have all those high-tech, silicon, shing-wah alliance CRAP! guitar picks. I tried 'em all. I don't like 'em.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My News Is The Best News

So our carpenter came Monday, finished the demolition the Wifey and I had started, and then worked in the rain ALL DAY yesterday. You can see he fixed the hole in the house, but also he re-configured our deck. You can kind of see it here, how the thing is cut off at an angel rather than wrapping around the corner of the house. He also essentially re-built the deck, replacing all the deck boards and doubling up the 8x8's on the suspension band, and replacing the railing boards and tops wholesale (which was great as one of the old ones was severely snaggle-toothed).

So this is good news. I guess the elections results are good too, since it looks like the Dems will wrest control of the legislature from the GOP's, which, feh. I can't get all that excited about it yet. We might come back from deficit. Social programs might get fatter. Meh. I never use any of that stuff anyways. Rumsfeld is being replaced. Fug. Bush will just find some other schmuck to tell us everything will be fine, so long as we got our boys and girls out there shoving the Iraqis around. Some years back, Doc Nagel included, as a capper to a series of satiric "articles" on the presidential campaign, a bit entitled "White Guy Wins Election." Had he done the same kind of thing this year, I would have suggetsed he just run the exact same bit as the capper. Cause it's true, doubly so since Pelosi won.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voter's Rights

So I did it. I went and voted. Not that it does any good.

I voted for a few judges I like. I think that is very important, to vote for judges you like when you have the chance. This is based on the careful observation that most judges, either through having pursued the rank of Judge or having had the unpleasant necessity thrust upon them, are assholes.

I voted for our local Rep, whom I have met, and I can honestly say is as nice a schmuck as one could hope for in a Rep.

I didn't get to vote against the plastic, fakey, wrinkled bitch who Reps the other part of town, but I did vote, so I still take it as my right to complain that she is a fakey bitch with no one's best interests in mind, maybe not even her own, and I take consolation in the fact that, as the years go on, she looks less and less like the Wicked Witch of the West and more and more like the Cryptkeeper.

I voted for two guys to help protect our land lotsa land under starry skies above. Pray God they do so.

I voted for money to build low-to-moderate-income housing. I do that despite the fact that the incompetent assholes who run the programs around here have, traditionally, chosen to insult the poor by providing insultingly bad housing and encouraging crime by making sure the insulting housing is nowhere near anywhere the poor might find opportunity to work. I hope that will change. Hope springs eternal.

I voted for money to fix the roads. I like a good road, I do.

I voted for money for neighborhood improvements. I figure why the hell not. So long as they're taking my money, I guess I will try to make them spend it on more-or-less joyful things.

The long view, the media view, is that the elections this year will send a message to the administration that they're wrong about some things. Like the Iraq thing. All the evidence so far insists that the Admin is deaf, dumb and blind, couldn't find it's asshole with both hands, and couldn't tell a kiss from a kick in the head. But the media, at least, are hopefull. Hope springs eternal.

But the schmucks are schmucks, and will always be schmucks. And that's politics. Hell, I can feel free to say so, now, today. After all, I voted.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Almost Back

Well, I thought I was back, or almost back. Then Blogger ate the first entry I tried to make after I could see the end in sight for my latest seasonal gig, and then I came down with a gumline infection, which, at the very least, has resulted in a new poem.


As I recline on the Darvocet cloud
Intended to becalm me
While penicillin stormtroopers
Fight a war of attrition
Against the invaders at my lower jawline,
I rest my twisted mind
Against your comfortingly fakey history.
I ought to hate it, but I can't.
It's too stupidly beautiful
Not to float on its comforts
As on a fever-borne hallucination
And tell myself I might expect
Some sort of psychadelic revelation
While watching She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.