Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mark's Haunted Room

Last night, Mark (age 3) lumbered out of his bedroom into ours.

"What's wrong, buddy?" my wife asked.
"I'm scared," he mumbled.
"Scared of what?" I added.
"I'm scared of my room," he said.

This confused me a bit because the kid isn't scared of anything.

"Why's your room scary?" I inquired.
"My room talks to me," he replied.

At this point, I started to chuckle a bit, but I must admit to being a bit uneasy. All I could think of was that kid in The Shining. For a moment, I wondered if Mark had written "Redrum" on the wall.

"Your room talks to you?" my wife asked.
"Yes. It says bad things."

At this point, I'm figuring that he'd either come up with a great excuse to climb into bed with us, or he'd heard some voice saying, "Kill them all!" Perhaps it was both.

"What does your room say?" I questioned, wondering if they made straight jackets in his size.
"It says a the S-word."
"The S-word?"
"No, shit."

I couldn't help it. I started laughing. I don't let my kids swear, but he wasn't cursing. He was just repeating (sort of, I mean, I don't think that his room actually said the S-word).

"Your room says shit?"
"Yes. I'm scared of my room, and I want to sleep with you guys."

I looked at my wife and mouthed "What?" She shook her head in uncertainty.

That's when it dawned on me. I have my Xbox 360 hooked up in my basement, and the TV is right below his bedroom. Whenever I play, it's clearly audible through the vent in his floor. He must have either heard dialogue from Gears of War, or perhaps he heard an inadvertent exclamation from me during one of the harder levels. At any rate, I no longer worried that the kid was schizophrenic. In fact, I was greatful that the only word "his room said" was the S-word.

"Mark?" I said.
"How about if I take you to your room and tell your room to be quiet?"
"No, I'm scared!"
"It's OK," I assured, "I'll come with you."

So I took his hand, and we entered his room.

"OK, room, you need to stop talking!" I ordered. "If you say the S-word, then I'm going to spank you on the wall."

That seemed to work. I helped Mark into bed and covered him.

"Will you sleep with me?" he asked.
"No, buddy. I'm going to my room. But I'll leave your door open, and you come tell me if your room keeps talking, OK?"

He didn't even answer. He rolled over onto his stomach and was asleep before I left the room.

Oh Boy!

It's a boy! He won't be poking his head out until June, but we've confirmed that he has all of his appendages, including the masculine one.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Tom Waits

In 1978, singer-songwriter Tom Waits wrote and recorded "Blue Valentine," a brilliant album with more insight into the culture of lowlife urbanity. His cover of West Side Story's "Somewhere" is as poignant as it is different, but his original work of poetry set to music, "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis," takes the cake.

It's a sad tune, with a light jazz-piano feel. It gets to the core of a typical "lost soul." While I think that such a person must sleep in the bed that he or she has made, I cannot help but feel the sad desperation of the narrator. Kudos to Waits for creating such a pathetic, sympathetic character.

Charlie, I'm pregnant,
Living on 9th Street,
Above a dirty book store
Off Euclid Avenue.
I stopped taking dope.
I quit drinking whiskey.
My old man plays a trombone
And works out at the track.

He says that he loves me,
Even though it's not his baby;
Says that he'll raise him up
Like he would his own son.
He gave me a ring
That was worn by his mother,
And he takes me out dancing
Every Saturday night.

Charlie, I think about you
Everytime I pass the fillin' station,
On account of the grease
You used to wear in your hair.
I still have that record,
Little Anthony and the Imperials.
But someone stole my record player,
Now how do you like that?

Charlie, I almost went crazy
After Mario got busted.
I went back to Omaha
To live with my folks.
Everyone I used to know
Is either dead or in prison,
So I same back to Minneapolis
And this time I think I'm gonna stay.

Charlie, I think I'm happy
For the first time since my accident.
I wish that I had all the money
I used to spend on dope.
I'd buy me a used car lot,
And I wouldn't sell any of 'em.
I'd just drive a different car everyday,
Depending how I feel

Charlie, for Christ's sake,
If you wanna know the truth of it.
I don't have a husband;
He don't play the trombone.
I need to borrow money
To pay this lawyer, Charlie, hey
I'll be eligable for parol
Come Valentine's Day.

Graham Bauer Is a Dead Man

Listen. In a few weeks, when Jack Bauer kills his brother, Graham, you will here me writhe--no, quiver--in joy. Given my current state of obesity, it should register at about a 4.0 on the Richter scale.

All of you old fogies who wanted someone to shoot JR, only to wonder, "Who shot JR?" here's a show that's really worth watching, and a character worth shooting (after he's been beaten, choked, disemboweled, castrated, forced to watch all seasons of Mr. Belvedere, and stabbed just beneath the patella in an upward stroke).

The writers. actors, and director of 24 have made me actually want to see another human being suffer unbearable pain. This has not happened since... never mind, it happened yesterday.

What can I say? I'm high strung.

Still, anyone who watches 24 but says that Battlestar Galactica is a better show is--how do I put this nicely?--retarded, crazy, or just flat out "happy" (search classical synonyms for the best word to put in those quotes).

Aristos, out!

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Eighty Years ago, Hoagy Charmicheal abandoned his career as a lawyer. He was at an important crossroad in life, and he decided to go far a walk in the solitude of darkness. Instead, he found himself strolling beneath a blanket of stars, and soon he was remembering long, lost loves. Soon after, he wrote a wordless but reflective jazz tune.

Two years later, Michael Parrish developed lyrics, and Charmichael revised the tune, opting for a more melancholy, drawn-out feel instead of the syncopated jazz. Together, the two men composed
one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs in all of history.

It's been recoreded by many, including some of the most legendary singers of all time: Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, etc. For my money, Cole's is the best, followed closely by Willie Nelson's. I'm not joking. Nelson sings almost perfectly in his special way. I would say perfectly, were it not for Cole's flawless earthiness.

Sadly, I cannot include the music, just the lyrics. However, if there's an ounce of a poet within you, you'll take one look at these lyrics and get ahold of a recording (I recommend Cole and Nelson).

"Stardust" By Hoagy Charmichael and Michael Parrish

And now the purple dust of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart.
Now the little stars, the little stars pine,
Always reminding me that we're apart.
You wander down the lane and far away,
Leaving me a love that cannot die.
Love is now the stardust of yesterday.
The music of the years gone by.

Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely nights
Dreaming of a song.
That melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you.
When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration,
Ah, but that was long ago.
Now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song.

Beside a garden wall,
Where stars are bright,
You are in my arms.
That nightingale tells its fairy tale
of paradise where roses grew.
Though I dream in vain,
In my heart it will remain
my stardust melody,
The memory of love's refrain.

Ah, but that was long ago
Now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

Beside a garden wall
Where stars are bright
You are in my arms
That nightingale tells its fairy tale
of paradise where roses grew
Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
my stardust melody
The memory of love's refrain.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

United 93

My wife and I just finished watching United 93. I stand by my post from long ago, that it is not too soon (as the patheticos would have us believe) for filmmakers to portray the events of September 11, 2001 (as history, mythology, or both--as it appears).

It was a pretty good movie, except for the part where they left out what really happened at the end--when an Air Force jet shot the plane down over rural Pennsylvania.

The ending presented was great mythology, just the kind of stuff to keep us feeling good about ourselves, hating the terrorists, and being proud to be American.

The U.S. Government does not want us to realize two things: First, that all those tax dollars that they've taken over the years "to provide for the common defense" have been a poor investment. The feds themselves have made the troubles that now harass us.

Second, that after three successful attacks, the feds finally got their act together but had to shoot down United 93 (killing innocent civilians) to save the Capitol. Don't get me wrong: they had to do it. It was the right thing to do, no matter how tragic of a decision it was. However, they'll never admit it, just as they'll never admit to the ineptitude (and arrogance) that allowed the passengers of all four planes and the people at the WTC and Pentagon to die.

It's not Bush. It's the federal government in general. All governments are inefficient. All governments are tyrannical. All governments are inept. The bigger the government, the bigger the inefficiency, the tyranny, and the ineptitude. And the society that clings to a government as its guardian angel is autophagic. Get a damn clue, people.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bad Men

Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are the most dangerous people on the planet. Evo Morales, like Tattaglia, is a pimp.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Sky Is Falling?

To the junk scientists who feed off of fear, particularly those "Doomsday Clock" guys: You're so phony that the more level-headed thinkers have been on to you for ages.

The Romans said,
Astra non mentiuntur, sed astrologi bene mentiuntur de astris ("The stars never lie, but astrologers lie about the stars").

And that's all that you guys are, astrologers. You look at real things (e.g. stars, weather patterns, etc.), and pretend to foresee portents of doom. It makes you feel wise and important when so many duck and cover at your beck and call.

But you're not important. Your ability to frighten the masses makes you powerful (especially in places of universal suffrage), but for all of your power you are shallow, pathetic beings.

There were once many (and still are a few) people who knew that science is rooted in the Latin word for knowledge: the kind of knowledge based upon observable facts and without traces of bias or speculation.

I am not afraid. In my best Englishman mocking a Frenchman accent, "I fart in your general direction!"

Monday, January 15, 2007

Jack is Back!

24 returns with a furious four hour, two day debut. I cannot yet say if it is better than ever, but I stand in awe at the best show on television.

The only problem thus far is a philosophical one. By having the intel about the other weapons come from some of the prisoners in that illegal detention facility, it serves to justify fascism in defense of liberty.

Watch for a rising star. I don't see how Jack will be able to return for another season. He might make it physically, but the mental toll that he's taken over the seasons should be enough to reduce even a man of his magnitude.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The problem is not that the United States government launched an invasion of Iraq with insufficient troop strength. The problem is that the United States government launched an invasion of Iraq with illegitimate rationale.

Increasing troop strength will not erase this primal and gravest error. Seriously, we keep giving the feds more power, even though they're the ones who fudged things up in the first place. Any company would have fired the hell out of such employees or gone out of business for such practices. Instead, we make them stronger then ever.

For all of you who voted either Democrat or Republican, you're part of the problem, if not the actual core of the problem.

Hell yes, that's an accusation.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Wascally Wabbits and More

About a month ago, "PA" (akin to the A-Team's "BA") and I went rabbit hunting at my wife's uncle's farm in Emmit Township. I was carrying my new gun, a two barrel over-under that I had received for my 3oth (gasp!) birthday. I brought my beagle, and PA brought his two beagles.

I had never before fired the gun, so it happened that as I kicked a very nice sized rabbit out of some brush, I pulled the trigger and nothing happened. I still had the safety engaged. However, I vowed, such an episode would never recur.

Fast forward to yesterday, January 7, 2007. PA and I (aka "Hannibal"--the guy with the plan and the stogie) arrived at that same farm for an afternoon hunt. I had forgotten to call my wife's uncle with sufficient advance notice, so he was unable to attend (and for that I deeply apologize--even moreso if he reads this).

The two track between the road and the field was wet and muddy. So much so that I had a hard time getting traction. Thank God for four-wheel drive (I thought).

Once out of the car and into the field, it was a quick trip across to the half wooded and half wild grassy area. It was in this grassy area that I had tried to shoot that rabbit a month earlier. However, as I kicked the same pile of brush, no rabbit emerged, so we moved on to a piney area to the east and beyond some trees.

It was there that I flushed out the first one. "Rabbit!" I yelled as I let loose a quick shot.

"Did you get him?" PA shouted from the other side of the grove.

"I don't think so," I answered, but that was when I saw a twitch on the ground about five yards from where I'd pointed and fired.

"Hell yes I did!" I shouted back. And so it was that I took my first rabbit.

The feeling was exhilerating. I'd been hunting rabbits several times and missed once and had to hold my fire three times out of fear that I'd kill a dog instead of a rabbit. Other times, it was PA who was faster on the draw. This time, however, I was the champion.

I posed for the picture (above) and PA and I agreed that there was still at least two hours of solid daylight for hunting.

We criss-crossed through the woods for about an hour. It was during this time that I located several good signs of deer. I made a mental note for next October's bow season.

Soon, Roofus (PA's large beagle) began barking. The sound was unmistakable: he was onto a rabbit scent.

I moved toward him a bit, and a few minutes later caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my right eye. I turned and saw a rabbit shooting across. It was moving so fast that I could not even shout "Rabbit!" I just pointed and fired.

The rabbit flipped over and flopped about--I had only wounded it with a shot to its rear leg.

Roofus was on it within a few seconds, and that's when I noticed the screaming.

Apparently, rabbits scream. It sounds a lot like the combination of a pissed off cat and an upset baby. I ran to it and pulled the dog off of it. The rabbit was wounded but nowhere near dead, and it kept screaming and flopping.

"It's leg is busted. Should I put it out?" I yelled to PA. I was admittedly disturbed by the rabbit's screaming, for I did not know that they did such a thing.

"Yeah," he replied, "but do it without shooting," he answered, so I took aim and kicked the rabbit in the back of the head. It flew about three yards, but kept screaming, so I kicked it again.

As it turned out, all I was doing was kicking the crap out of it.

"Stomp it with your heal," PA said, closer now by about twenty yards, so that's what I did.

It took two stomps, but the rabbit stopped screaming and laid still.

In this picture, you can see PA's smaller beagle, Chloe, still trying to get a piece of the rabbit. My dog, apparently, is third man on the totem pole and only watches from afar as "PA's" bullies go far what was rightfully mine.

Soon after, we decided to hunt our way back to the car. We arrived at the car about thirty minutes later, only to find that my four-wheel drive as not working. We were stuck in the mud. I tried to get out, but we were stuck. PA--a good 100 pounds lighter than myself moved into the driver's seat, and I got out to push. I pushed us out of the first hole, but we only moved for about fifteen yards before getting stuck again, with ninety yards left to go. We tried every method available to get us out (e.g. filling in the rut with dry grass and wooden planks), but nothing worked. In short, we were screwed.

We walked a short ways up a dirt road to a friendly farm house: The Woodlands, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Wood--very good people about whom nothing but praise can be said. It was, however, their sons who five or so years ago took a ten point buck that I had been tracking, but that was their good fortune and my bad luck.

We knocked on the door and were directed to the back. Mr. Wood answered, and we told him our story. We asked if he had a tractor to pull us out, but he did not have one. He scratched his head and gave us a few telephone numbers, none of which were answered.

Nonetheless, the guy drove us in his Trailblazer (his four wheel-drive was working) to my Trailblazer and tried with a tow-rope to pull us out. It did not work. While he left to find a local farmer to help, I called AAA.

About twenty minutes later, whilst I was giving AAA the coordinates to our location, Mr. Wood pulled up with the news that none of the nearby farmers were home. He invited us to his house if we got too cold waiting for the inevitable tow truck. We declined for the moment but told him that we might take him up on his offer if we needed to do so.

The truck arrived about forty minutes later. Now it was dark. We were wet and cold. I pointed from the side of the dirt road to my car, about ninety yards down the muddy two track, and he followed me to it. I explained that my four wheel-drive had stopped working, and he knew it was true when he saw that I was stuck in mud that I should otherwise have been able to escape.

After hitching me up, he pulled me out bit by bit. Finally, after about forty minutes, we were out and clear. So ended a good day gone bad.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

People Are Stupid (what's new?)

I just finished reading a rather dry article (so dry that I decline to take the paltry few efforts involved in posting it) that lamented how difficult it is to sue health gyms because you have signed waivers absolving them of everything from malfunctioning machines to theft of goods.

I hate it when people sign waivers and then bitch because something went wrong. What in the heck were you thinking when you signed the waivers? Companies have you sign waivers because there is a chance that something might go wrong, and they don't want to be sued.

If you cannot agree that you will not sue, then don't sign the stinking waiver. It was right there in black ink against a white background, something akin to "Company X is not liable in the case of any malfunctions or accidents involving proprietary equipment." If you sign such a waiver, then you can't sue. That's it. If you don't like it, then don't sign it. Look elsewhere. If you can't find such a place, then buy a home gym like the bowflex.

Do your research first. If an organization has a legacy of negligence or "accidents," then be wary. Sign waivers if it's worth the risk (worth it to you, that is), or look elsewhere. Once you've signed a waiver, you have no right to sue. In fact, I think that anyone who sues despite a signed waiver should be charged with breach of contract.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Fire Millen

Matt Millen won't quite because doing so will be an admission that he is a loser. While he is a loser, he's also an SOB unwilling to accept the truth.

I do not support violence, but consider this. In a city where innocent bystanders are killed by gunfire, and neighborhood thugs are whacked for a dime bag, Matt Millen walks safely.

Bill of Rights