Friday, September 29, 2006

Chipmunk Status

This is either good news or bad, but when I got home from work today, the chipmunk was gone. It was alive this morning, and managed to move. Maybe it was in shock and managed to kick it into gear today. We don't have any predators that would have eaten it, at least not usually. There have been reports of coyotes, but I've never seen one. I saw a fox last winter, but that's it. My guess is that the little fella worked out his problems and got back to the business of picking up nuts. I would know if he was dead.

The next time something like this happens, I'll call the vet in the morning.

Thanks for all the advice. It's nice to see that so many people care about our tiny neighbors.

By the way, as to my previous long post about my "uncle" Mark; I have his email address thanks to my "aunt." All quotes are because these are not blood relations, but honorifics that only have historical significance. Someone once said to hang onto your friends. I've lost too many in my life to afford the loss of any more.

Stiff Chipmunk

I was away for the weekend, and fall has started shaking the leaves from the trees. And so the pool is starting to fill up. The filter was jammed to the brim. As I started to empty it, I noticed a chipmunk sitting atop the pile. I assumed it was dead, but I was wrong. The little fella was probably stranded on leaf island for a couple days, and was barely able to move. I wrapped it in a towel and left him for the night.

This morning he was still warm, but he wasn't moving. One of its eyes was open, unblinking. I picked it up and it moved a little, so I took it out to the woods and put it by a tree.

I don't really know what to do. As bad as I feel about it, I've got two kids that would terrorize it indoors, and a dog that would eat it first chance. I am surprised it is still alive. Shocked actually. It simply doesn't move. My wife said it tried while she was watching. It sighed and lay still again. We're hoping the cold water tricked it into hibernation, but that's wishful thinking.

What would you do? I have a hammer, and thought briefly about ending it. But that was a little too graphic for me to stomach.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ironic Job for a woman

Here's a quickie: name a job that would be ironic for a woman to perform. One suggestion would be auto mechanic, since classically women are taken advantage of by repair shops. The best would be a business dominated by men, like coal mining in North Country, that would just have fits if they found themselves suddenly working for a woman.

But on the bright side

When I was a small boy, and I do mean small... I'd say I was about seven. Geez, about as old as my oldest son. The time of starting to remember. It was my first exposure to music, and my intense attachment to a song. More actually. You have to be an old bastard to remember, or you just like the golden oldies, but this is when I first heard Rhinestone Cowboy. My uncle, who really isn't my uncle because he was the brother of my then step-mother--the beater just in case you're wondering--is only a couple years older than me. He had long brown hair that a mop-head like myself could really appreciate. The kind of hair that fit right in with the upcoming seventies fad of feathering and blow drying. Think Shawn Cassidy. If you don't know who I'm talking about, then I'll say currently he is the creator of the series Invasion--may it rest in peace. But back in those days he was a famous singer for about one year, and the actor who played opposite Parker Stevenson in the Hardy Boys. If you don't know who Parker is, then I'll say he married Kirstie Alley. If you don't know who she is, then turn the page already, or look it up. I'm tired of typing about it.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Anway, Mark, my uncle, had a record player. Don't make me explain what one of those is. Try Wikipedia. Anway, he had a stack of 45's. Amongst those was of course the Rhinestone Cowboy. Also War's Why Can't We Be Friends, Captain and Tennille's Love Will Keep Us Together, and a song that may have been called Run Joey Run, judging by how many times that phrase was repeated.

You can see that I have a pretty vivid memory of this time. I found out this weekend, at the wedding reception, that Mark also remembers this very well. At the mass preceding the ceremony, I saw a middle-aged man who looked vaguely familiar. Two pews ahead of me, he knelt facing forward, then turned to whisper to an elegant woman next to him, revealing his sharp profile. His once proud hair had thinned and eclipsed back, much like that of his brothers. But the eyes. I knew it was him.

Outside, I walked up to him to introduce myself, as I hadn't seen him since that day so long ago. Before I said anything, he reached out with his hand and said, "Scott! It's Mark."

"You didn't have to say Mark, I still recognize you. God, how long has it been?" even though I really knew.

His manner was slow and unsure. Meek. Beaten. This wasn't the guy I remembered. When we were kids, he was a head and a half taller than me. Now it was just the opposite. I resisted the urge to hug him like a son and tell him that everything is going to be ok. Then I felt a surge of rage at the unfairness of life, of divorce and frustrated expectation. This man before me would have been my friend.

He introduced me to his fiance, a divorcee like himself. Mark was married for around ten years, until one day his wife left him, taking their child with her. The sadness in his voice rattled me. "She surprised you by leaving?"

He could only nod. "But," he managed, "I finally won joint custody of my son."

I could go on and on. We reminisced about those old records, something I thought that only I would remember. Back then I looked up to him, and so I reasoned, why would he even recall? But he did. Who else beside myself have I underestimated in my life?

When I said my final goodbye, I offered my hospitality should he ever come to Boston, assuring him that we have the accommodations if he and his wife (and son!) want to visit sometime.

Sometimes I think my heart is too big. There are so many people I miss, so many that I don't even remember that I miss, people gone by and tucked away in a secret place. Perhaps one day it will become too painful. Even though it can hurt, those memories keep me alive and hopeful that life can be truly wonderful.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I Can

Many people have asked me what the name of my blog means, and I've always had some long sophisticated answer that only hinted at the truth. I still remember the first time my step mother hit me. It was probably the first day. I think it was because I pushed my little brother--her son, my half-brother. That stuff happens all the time with brothers. As parents we try to teach them to use words instead of fists, so we beat the shit out of them until they understand. Does anyone hear Linda McCartney in that last sentence--you know, an off-note that makes your head tilt to one side with a look we wear when we don't get the joke? If not, click Next Blog and don't come back.

She sat me down after a bad report from my teacher. I was a behavior problem, always talking in class, starting fights with the other boys, hyper and aggressive. My teachers constantly spoke with me, but I was unreachable. The only language I understood was screaming and yelling punctuated by kick, slap and crack. I was relieved when dad came home, because his kicks were flat-footed. Step-mom made me pull down my pants and used a leather belt or plastic serving spoon. I still remember the shape and color--white, but yellowed with age, stained red from spaghetti sauce.

So after getting the report from my teacher, she sat across the kitchen table from me and told me what she had heard. She was Saint Lorrie that day, all patience. Maybe she prayed earlier for the strength. Perhaps the local father had her say a few Hail Mary's and Our Fathers, and the holy light filled her to bursting. While restraining the hand that must have yearned to whip me good, she asked me the question. You've seen it before. Maybe.

"Do you have any idea how hard it was to love you?"


"It was difficult," she said, "but I did it." The look of triumph on her face! Surely now she would go to heaven. I could almost hear the trumpets. Was that a halo rising above her head, or the seepage of a thousand Benson & Hedges cigarettes that stained her teeth yellow with sepia highlights?

And do you know that I was grateful? Did I tear up with joy? I did. That worthless, despicable, unlovable, seven year old spawn of his father's previous whore was saved by a missionary of God. He had his own angel to watch over him now. Everything was going to be ok. After two long years, in the house that God built, love had finally come to town.

Can you hear the church choir?


I can.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Writing On The Plane

The post after this one was written on the plane trip home. It starts as a report and breaks down into a rant. There are typos, and I'm leaving them. The writing is raw like the emotions that propelled them.

I don't know if I'll be around for a while. I'm really out of sorts. I've been blogging for two to three hours a morning and I fear I'm going to lose my job if I don't get my shit together. Nothing is for sure right now. I need my job, and I need to start doing it right.

The blog stays, but where it goes, nobody knows.

Tomorrows post was written on the plane too. Partially anyway, until "all portable electronic devices" had to be switched off in preparation for landing.

And That's How It Ends

My brother has a small interest in a new restaurant that just opened in Katy. If all goes as planned, this will be the first of many. His good friend was able to open it for under three hundred thousand, which to me sounds like an easy proposition, considering a house costs more.

I checked it out, and it was a really nice place. They bought a pay-per-view showing of ultimate fighting challenge, which in Texas seems to be all the rage. Basically there are hardly any rules. The fighters wear gloves, the kind you might use to punch a bag with. They kick, wrestle and pound. The fight isn't over until one is passed out, a fighter gives up, or is getting the tar beaten out of him so bad that the ref is forced to call it.

My bro asked me if I wanted a drink. I said sure, soda and lime if you please.

"No way," he said.

"Just get it," and think about one for you I thought to myself. I was still too shy to let him have it. He ordered a beer and forgot the soda. I held out for a while, but the guys were having fun and I was sulking. In the end I decided that he was a big boy, and nothing was being served by having a bad time myself, so I had a beer. And then another, and another. But I couldn't drown the feeling of failure.

We switched venues and went to a bar called Moes. Not a bad place. The band plays in a far corner near the dance floor. The farther you move away the less intense the sound, until a conversation is actually possible.

Out came the shots. The first was something liquid with a submerged shot glass with a dark liquor of some sort. I didn't ask. I threw it down. My bro found a pack of girls to flirt with, so I sat in a stool and watched him work. Hands flying, neck jutted forward, the posture of pure bullshit. His friend Zack, a good hearted self-proclaimed, and true in fact redneck from Nagotious Texas, looked on with pride. "There he goes again. I swear he can talk for hours with the ladies. He's got the gift."

We sat in a ring of stools while the alpha female danced and rubbed her ass on my kneecap. Apparently she is dating one of my bro's friends that she's just out having a good time. A good time in this case seemed to manifest itself in a tall country boy sporting a ten gallon cowboy hat. But that's no problem with anyone but me.

Thank God I'm married. If she were dating my friend, she would have gotten a surprise visit from him on her way to the back of Billy Bob's king cab. It's free floating testosterone that mires the mind of otherwise intelligent men.

I haven't been drunk like that in time way past. The urinal was surrounded by centerfolds, marked up with graffiti of course, arrows pointed at private parts now public, words I can't remember but funny only to a drunk. I swayed in front of the mirror, checking myself out through new eyes, then stumbled back to my stool for the strip show. Which was enjoyable by the way, just upsetting to an empathic drunk.
The wedding ceremony the next day was calm and austere. Blah blah blah. I know I'm married, but there is something totally wrong with weddings all. I've never liked going. I'd prefer a quick trip to the justice of the peace then a commune at the local pub, where a keg is plunked onto the bar and everyone serves up.

If anyone has ever read my short story, Hard Love, you will meet the woman whose ceremony I just attended. When I left for the airport, I said goodbye to her. She gave me a peck on the cheek and left without any more words. I was stunned. I just flew to across country to honor her so, and this is what I get in thanks. I have half a mind to cancel the check we wrote her.

I'm wondering if she is mad because I drank with her son the night before, the son that needs to quit drinking and get control of his life. The entire drive away from there was spent muttering my argument with her. How dare you give me a lecture in morality you blankety blank. If it weren't for my brother in sister, I wouldn't even know you anymore. You don't deserve anything from me. Not a thing. You hang your head in church like you were the virgin Mary, but I wonder if God guided your hand when it balled into a fist and knocked the wind out of me for not cleaning up after the dog one day. Or for the thousand smacks with the spoon, or the yelling and the degrading and the humiliation. You are a beater and a hater, and if that's what being a lamb of God is all about then you can keep the Catholic church, because where I'm rotting in hell with the rest of the sinners, I can rest easy that I won't be sharing real estate with you. At least my conscience is clean. And instead of holding God on a pedestal, I'm doing the same for my wife and children. I may be damned, but I can sleep easy at night. When I'm mad at somebody, I deal with the person involved. I don't beat someone else's child.

So what's next? I go home to my little plateau and try to live my life, take care of my children, and just hope that my brother pulls out of his funk. I just can't image that he will. When I said goodbye to him, it was hard to make eye contact. He knows. I see it in his face. I've always been so sure about what happens next. Now, it's out of my hands. I fucking hate this.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I'm a little sad right now

My brother is having trouble. He fights depression and drug addiction, and smokes at least two packs of cigarettes a day. His ex-wife lives a street away, a situation created on purpose to put him in position to see his daughter, with whom they share custody. And it works out well. But when my brother doesn't have his daughter, he fights the cocaine and ecstasy demons that pull at his idle mind.

The house is a reflection of his personality. Beautiful on the outside, lawn manicured and like the other clones that repeat on down the road, differing only in laughable attempts at individuality. But inside it is an omelet of mismatched broken furniture and clutter. Chipboard shelves are swayed like the back of a venerable nag next in line for the soap factory. One room is littered with forgotten games, bed frames, shower curtains and boxes. His computer was infected with several viruses. I spent until two in the morning cleaning them up.

And he won't talk to me. At first everything was good, but he has retracted into his shell. I've already loaned him money. Once because he had to have a pack of cigarettes. I can't stand it.

I love my brother. I want to help my brother. I want to come in here with my wife and get this house into working order. I want to hang pictures on the wall, get some plates and silverware, some new shelves, and garbage cans, a new desk for his daughters room, a coat rack maybe, a medicine cabinet, door knobs, some throw rugs, scrap the couches and get him something nice--casual but nice. Basically, make this place look like someone lives here who cares about what happens on the inside.

Someone who loves himself like he deserves to be loved.

But I'll be going home on Monday, and life will go on I fear in a predictable pattern.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Planet Houston

It seems I really struck a chord with yesterday's post--no pun intended. One of these days I'm going to record myself and make it available here. I actually have a demo tape from my band days. I really didn't like what the band forced me to perform. It didn't play to my strengths. I had a few opportunities to have my own band, but the kind of time it demanded would have been overwhelming. Something would have had to give, and I made my decision. I can easily see what I would have been, an aging wannabe, playing the off hours of backwoods bars. A couple fans, a girl at every watering hole, a gaggle of ex-girlfriends and an ever increasing disdain for a world that never welcomed me to step higher. Instead I'm happily married and have two beautiful boys.

The dream I'm pursuing now affords me a simultaneous life. I put my kids to bed and wake up with my wife every morning. That's no country song.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I'm on a plane to Houston. It's a funny time for me. Even with my mother gone, my time is split in too many directions. My cousins, my aunt and uncle, my step-mother, my grandma, my sister and brother--are all scattered across suburban sprawl that covers a span of country that, although still considered Houston, is practically as big as Rhode Island. Heaven forbid I miss a freeway exit. I could be driving for miles before I can turn around.

So this is my sign off until Tuesday, unless I find myself in front of a computer with time to kill. Besides, I want to crank on my short story. There's a whole middle part to create. I hope to get some feedback from my writing class tonight, after I read them the first part and explain where it's going.

May the blog be with you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Private Joke

I get so damn frustrated that I can't sing like the stars. For some songs, I sound just perfect. It's not that I can't carry a tune. It's that whole upper octave thingy that really trips me up. Here's a for instance. Any of my friends will tell you that yes, indeed, I was quite motivated to be a country singer when I was younger. Nobody told me that I couldn't, but the private dancing eyeball glances were not lost on me. Still, I figured the voice is a muscle that can, over time, be stretched and perfected. I fell in with a bass player when I moved to California, who invited a drummer to play with us. We started with Mustang Sally, the Commitments version. The drummer was excited from the opening lines. Wow! This is awesome! But then came the first chorus, and my limit was exposed.

Still, he called me a year later to front a country band. By then I had already dropped out of one band and was living with my soon-to-be wife. I had experienced enough humility by then anyway. I had finally come to accept that I would never be more than pretty good, despite the blast furnace inside me.

Being bad, or mediocre--it's a lonely thing. People smile and wave, then conspiratorially whisper to their friends, who in turn smile and wave. They're in on a private joke. And that joke is you.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Berets and Bereta

Beth turned me on to a couple guys making a big splash on YouTube. Check them out on their website. Had I met the right people, this is probably how I would have spent my time at college too. I think my favorite video was Cubicle Wars, but I'm biased towards office comedies like Office Space.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Slow Week

It's likely to be a slow blogging week. If I don't visit or worse, lurk and don't comment, please forgive and forget, for it is truly divine. I'm off to Houston at weeks end to my step-mother's wedding--the other reason people travel--and to put my brother hopefully on the straight and narrow. I'm working hard on my new story, which is really coming to life for me. Many many things happening all at once. I have to close the pool, manage to pack, have my story fragment ready for class on Thursday, and yadda yadda yadda.

Peace. Excepting of course for Montagues and Harkonens. In that case, kill and kill again until no Harkonen breaths Arakeen air.


I know.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Work In Progress

Ray Butler upended cushions and looked under the couch. He rooted about the living room until he finally found it. The tip of a black plastic remote peeked out from a half eaten bag of microwave popcorn that was propped next to the armchair. He grunted, took a long swallow from a can of MGD, lifted an eyebrow and belched appreciatively. As he placed the beer down onto a wooden coffee table randomly riddled with white sweat rings, the old empties from the night before scattered like bowling pins and fell to the floor.

Ray bent over the popcorn bag and reached down to fish out the remote. He sensed the danger before he understood it. Fear froze him in place. His heart thumped double-time in his chest, and he became aware of the effort of breathing. The landlord had just replaced the carpet with plush brown shag, which, from Ray's stooped position, seemed to cover the ceiling. Fresh size-twelve footprints leading to the closet formed deep depressions in the carpet that stood out like flashlights in the dark. Like sleepy tendrils of a sea anemone in a soft current, the flattened fibers drifted languidly back to a standing position.

He forced himself to move again. Only one thought filled his mind as he pulled his empty hand from the bag, knocking it over: the Smith and Wesson .38 revolver, loaded and ready in the cupboard above the refrigerator. But could he get there in time?

Think casual, he told himself. He retrieved his beer from the table and made an exaggerated show of swishing it, then guzzled the last bit of swill. He gave the can a one-handed man-crush and flipped it toward an overflowing garbage can by the kitchen island.

He strolled to the refrigerator and opened the door. On the bottom shelf lay a plundered twelve pack box of MGD with only two cans left. He decided on a bottle of Bud Lite instead, which was lying on its side alone in the crisper drawer. "Damn," he said aloud as he shut the door, "now where the hell did that opener get to?"

He rifled through a few drawers and cupboards on his circuitous path to the gun's hiding place. When he opened the cupboard door, he was horrified to find that the .38 was gone.

"I believe that's a twist-off anyway," said a smooth voice behind him.

Careful to move slowly, like the hour hand of a clock, Ray turned to greet the intruder. The steady eyes that regarded him seemed to absorb the light around them. The man wore a grey, wool slash pinstripe Italian suit and python skin dress shoes. His jaw was square and bounded by a cleft at the end of his chin. And though he was clean shaven, there was just a hint of a shadow mustache and beard. He had crisp black sideburns half the length of his ears, and wore a white straw Panama fedora with a dark grey hatband.

When the man reached into his jacket pocket, eyes fixed on his own, Ray knew his time had come. He had been expecting a visit anyway--it was only a question of when. To Ray's intense relieve though, the man pulled out a pack of Camels and an ivory inlaid butane lighter. "Mind if I smoke?" the man asked.

Roy blinked. "By all means, be my guest."

"Are you sure?" the man said, "Your place, your rules."

"Mi casa es su casa," Roy replied.

The man's brow furrowed, and his tone took on a dangerous edge. "What, are you Mexican or some shit like that?"

Roy stuck waved his hands in front of him with his palms out. "No. It's just an expression. It means--"

"I know what it means. But this is America. And in America, we speak English. Capiche?"

"Yeah, sure, capiche... Uh, I mean, I understand."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rock Star Super Sham

Rockstar Supernova is over, and Lukas Rossi won.

Excuse me while I stretch and yawn. What a joke. I'm glad that Tivo screwed up and recorded a rerun of Project Runway instead.

The show was a total sham. I posted earlier that my favorite was Dilana. If you were starting a serious rock band, the minute this girl auditioned you would walk outside and tell the rest of the people, thanks, but the position is taken. Seriously.

This probably sounds lame to anyone who thinks reality TV is a joke. I don't blame you. Because it really is. This show, although compelling and emotional, is plotted and executed just like any episode of House, ER, Desperate Housewives, CSI American City Of Your Choice--you name it. In fact, it barely managed to depart from last season's formula. But something went wrong. Dilana was so clearly better than the rest of the competition--her music was downloaded from the show's website more than all the other contestant's combined--that she was running away with it. If you were writing a story, that wouldn't make for a very exciting plot. She was comparable to Bruce Lee, winning every fight with a two inch punch to the chest, without taking a single punch in return.

So the producers intervened. They set up an interview show and asked Dilana some pointed questions. Who on the show really bothers you? Easy, she said, Lukas. Who of your competitors is just along for the ride? Magni, she said, who really misses his family and yearns to return home to Iceland to be with them. The producers pummeled her with the replays of those clips, and the world groaned in legion. She fell in the polls, seen now as a egotistical tyrant--a very bad winner. She started to crack; her confidence waned; her performances suffered. The boys from Supernova ripped her publicly, highlighting her weaknesses. She took it real hard and the camera laughed as she cried.

After all that bashing, she won second place, and will front the house band that will tour with Supernova. Which, if truth be known, is probably a better gig. Supernova is really bad. Bad will be brought to new lows with Lukas as lead singer. I truly am baffled at this decision, because the man cannot sing well. Obviously he has some talent, but he's painful to watch. We've fast forwarded through most of his performances. Awful. Embarrassing.

Want to see a real rock and roller do it? Watch Dilana sing Mother Mother on youtube.

There are some rumors floating around that the show was rigged. A leak two weeks ago revealed that Lukas would win.

Can you say, Quiz Show?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In Medias Res

I blew my nose in the car this morning with a used tissue I found on the floor. Thank goodness. Otherwise it would have been a very long drive. The coffee hit me just right, breaking the grip of sleep that refused to let go as I mindlessly navigated my morning ablutions, walked the dog, cleaned the damn pool filter, then sleep walked to the car. Traffic is a bitch once again now that the kids are back in school. Don't ask me why, but if I don't leave by 6AM for work, I get stuck in traffic. The CD player is broken, so I'm left with NPR--that or Imus, or the vanilla knock-off comedy duos that you can hear in any city you live in, whose morning show is named Name1 and Name2 in the Morning.

The good news is, after I blew my nose, the rush must have caused caffeine to flow freely to the places most sorely needed, because my mood asked permission to get really good. I accepted. Now I'm jamming to Stevie Ray and his brother Jimmy, Family Style. Does anyone know what I'm talking about when I say I love the solo in Hard To Be? Man, I wish I could jam like that.

I have to resist the urge to sing aloud, sitting here at my desk with the headphones on. I'm all alone in the office, as I am every morning.

Thanks for all the advice yesterday. I started another story at lunch yesterday. Sure, it's only a paragraph. But what a paragraph it is. I'm already working on its revision. In medias res.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ain't That A Hole In The Boat

Emmett is rabid for the Gameboy. We should have heeded the rule: two of everything. He loves playing the game from the movie Cars, but has no idea that he is controlling Lighting McQueen through the course. Fortunately, without any help, McQueen travels generally towards the finish line, albeit like a total drunk.

Inspiration is at low ebb, and so is my creative confidence. I read over my current short story and I do not like it much. Which begs the obvious question: will anyone else? My wife insists that the premise is quite good. That may be so, but I question my execution.

So now there are two short story fragments on my hard drive. I suppose that's a good thing. My latest effort is five thousand words. Considering that my last completed story was three thousand, I should feel warmer towards it than I do.

Does anyone else have this problem--works in progress that just don't float the old boat?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Tough Season?

My team was a huge disappointment this weekend. I should have know, that after a sparkling preseason, that they would come out throwing ducks. New England fans will surely cry, "See what I told you about Bledsoe?"

But I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet. It was a heartache to watch Bledsoe throw three interceptions, huge gains and even a touchdown negated by penalties--but this game was lost because we made mistakes. Not because we don't have the talent.

I thought we would ease TO into the offense. No way. He was incredible. What a difference a star receiver makes to an offense. He had the entire Jacksonville defense on red alert in the first quarter, and continued to burn them throughout, snagging a touchdown towards the end to put it within seven. The man is worth the money. Say what you want about what TO did in other cities, but so far, he has been polite and a team player.

But Drew. Apparently his back froze up after the first amazing quarter, when we went up ten zip with frightening quickness. After that he delivered the ball to defenders three times, and when he completed passes it was more a credit to the receiver. I'm not ready to push him in front of a bus. Not even close. But please, don't have any more games like this one. Next time when your back freezes up, tell the coaches and let Romo finish the game. You're the starter, and the better of the two. But yesterday…

How did your team do? Patriots pulled one out of their butts. But that's what they do consistently. The Packers got spanked like step children by Chicago. Tampa Bay got skunked as well. Houston got beat by Dallas' nemesis, the resurging Eagles. It could be a tough season.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

New Directions

I no longer thing Dilana will win on Rock Star. She's the best, but two things hinder her ascension. First: rock and roll is about the chicks. A female lead means co-ed backstage parties. Without a virulent male lead, the geriatrics playing the instruments must rely on their own prowess, which is declining fast. With a male lead, they can at least shave off the straggling hopefuls. This is why JD is currently the lead singer of INXS, or INX-who?

JD also excelled at point two: creating original music. Dilana is just ok at this, but Supernova really needs the help. Three or four of their originals have been performed so far, and each gave me a great big yawn.

My advice to Dilana, tell them all to screw. You're better than all of them put together. My wife may have a point. She says that the band is afraid of being upstaged. That could certainly be true. Find yourself some talented songwriters and rise to prominence on your own. Creatively the bad sucks, proving once again that the product is not necessarily equal to the sum of its parts.

Tonight is my first day of Writing Popular Fiction at UMass Lowell. I pray the machine lathers, rinses then repeats, and spits out a novelist ready to lay his problems out on a rolling space scroll. I'm ready dammit!

I may have a new mission in life, a direction if you will. Perhaps, and I haven't decided for sure, but perhaps my magnum opus will be an expose on the dark underbelly of suburban America. The movie tagline will be: In suburbia, everyone can hear you scream--they just don't care.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

First of First

It's Jackson's first day of first grade, and his first ride to school on the bus. The video camera is cued and ready to record. I taped the packing of the first lunch into the Scooby Doo lunch box, and interviewed the new student while he ate a bowl of sugar packed cereal. I'm working at home today so I can be here to walk him to the bus stop. Although he wants to ride the bus now, we've assured him that he doesn't have to. Some people would call that shielding. So be it.

When school is over, it's really over. It only lives inside our brains and in the movies. But it has as much to do with reality as snipe hunting.

Emmett is virtually diaper free now that he does both orders of business sitting on the mini-throne. It's amazing how much build up there is in such a little guy. Just yesterday I got a call from my wife.

"Honey! Oh my God!"

I braced myself for the worst. "What is it?"

"Roxy* just ate some of Emmett's poo."

I'm normally reserved for personal phone conversations at work, but I started laughing, and didn't stop for a very long time after I hung up.

"What should I do? Will she be alright?"

I couldn't stop laughing to answer. When I lived on a ranch, there were two dogs that roamed the property. The horse corral was littered with horse manure, but some were fresh, green and steamy. The dogs loved those in particular, and would face off, all growls and teeth like two boxers before a match while the ref is saying, "Keep it clean boys."

Finally I managed, "I think everything will be fine."

* Our new puppy

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Republicans Need Not Apply

We all know that women are just plain mean to one another, and there's nothing I can do about it. But I am sick of it just the same. There is something inherently wrong with our society, which gives me pause as to whether or not I support spreading such a disease across the world. Still, nobody has ever made me believe it's better somewhere else. Quite the opposite.

Several months ago, I got into a political debate with my neighbors. As you've undoubtedly heard, Massachusetts is a liberal state. That basically means that no matter what buffoonery Ted Kennedy or John Kerry participate in, they are considered to be, if not entirely correct, well intended and thus magnanimous, etcetera, etcetera. George Bush is the antichrist, and when he isn't the biggest fool since Dan Quayle--or rather ironically at the same time--is the evil mastermind, no puppetmaster, behind the 911 attacks. There are several variations on the Dr. Evil theme, but you get the picture. Love Kerry-Gore-Clinton, hate Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld. There is no gray area in between.

So... where was I? Oh yeah. Typically I am the only political thinker of my stripe anywhere I go. So you can imagine that for the most part I keep my mouth shut about it. But on this one particular day, I held my own against four of my neighbors. It was an amiable exchange--a little heated at times, but always respectful. In the end, one of them, Susan, applauded me for having the courage, and laughed that I was actually persuasive enough to make her think about it some.

Great, right?

This weekend was the neighborhood cookout. About forty people were there. My wife and I have seen most of them before, but mostly in drive bys in the brief moments getting our mail by the street. Our house is surrounded by trees, and we don't see much of our neighbors. There are two events a year that bring the neighbors together. We are the new kids on the block. You would think--or maybe you wouldn't, being a student of human nature--that people would welcome you with open arms, want to know your children and all that. But for the most part, we were invisible. Everyone fell into established groups and looked blank when you walked by. Groups of three and four would fall silent if I happened upon them, and pick up when I moved on. Getting the picture?

My wife found an open chair amongst the women. Thinking that she had made a connection with two of the ladies that she sat between, she felt safe in sitting among them. They didn't even look at her, apart from giving her a curt hello. Then Susan, the woman with whom I shared my political discourse, in front of all her liberal girlfriends, strangers almost all to my wife, says: "You know what really ticks me off? All Republicans hate Clinton and love George Bush." She looked directly at my wife, who said nothing. The women stared at her.

So Susan continues, "I know you're a Republican Beth."

Beth stared back at her and still said nothing. All the women looked away. They broke into quiet, conspiratorial conversations amongst themselves.

And for the record, my wife and I are registered independents, who happen to support some of the current policies. And I highlight the word some. My wife thinks that Bill Clinton disrespected his office, and I think he was a victim of desperate partisan politics, who did what he had to do. Who's right? I don't care, and neither should anyone else. It's an opinion, and everybody has a slightly different one. But one opinion that my wife and I share in common is this: we are never going to any neighborhood parties again.

Friday, September 01, 2006

New Lessons

It's been quite a week I suppose. On Wednesday I started with guitar lessons. The instructor is a hard core country boy, complete with handlebar mustache--not unlike that of my avatar. His name is Earl. What more could a guy ask for? You may have guessed that I will be learning some country technique. As much as I try to pretend that my primary interest is rock and roll, inside me is just a simple man who would be happy to live independently, hoeing the land and riding horses. I told Earl that I need more than just a basic strumming pattern to accompany myself. He gave me something to practice where I pick notes between strums.

Whoa. My brother just called and we talked for an hour and a half. Too personal to share right now, so I'll just sign off and wish you all a good weekend.

Oh, real quickly. My wife went to a new hair stylist last night, recommended by a girl friend with a fabulous do. All I needed to know about how she felt was in her runway gait as she ascended the stairs toward me. Pure dynamite.