Thursday, April 28, 2005

Old man and the sea


I grew up surrounded by sagebrush desert. The largest body of water I ever saw as a kid was Lucky Peak Reservoir outside of Boise. It ebbed and filled as they opened and closed a dam on the Boise River. It was really nothing impressive as bodies of water go, but to me it was the ocean I only knew about from educational films in school.

Many summer Sunday afternoons were spent at Lucky Peak. For the longest time I thought Luck Peak was named after the first family dog I remember -- Lucky. Lucky was a golden retriever. Lucky developed a habit of biting strangers (including me soon after I was born). So one day a man in a truck came and took Lucky away to the proverbial farm parents always send errant pets to. So Lucky apparently wasn't.

But I digress.

Our trips to Lucky Peak were always to the same "secret" spot my father had found to fish without competition. Not that competition mattered. The only fish in Lucky Peak were trash fish -- squawfish and carp. But that didn't stop my father from teaching us how to cast our lines and watch the bobbers until we got a bite and then haul in the bounty that we would then quickly dispatch, gut and look for tapeworms to bait the next hook.

Dad's secret spot at Lucky Peak involved parking in a gravel turnout and winding our way down a small path worn through the sagebrush (alert to my mother's neverending warnings about ticks and rattlesnakes) to the edge of the reservoir. The edge of reservoir varied according to the whims of the people who controlled the dam. Sometimes the water came up to the edge of the sagebrush and sandstone. Other times it was low and you'd have to made your way down endless sandy terraces that looked like something the Incas would build in the Andes in Peru.

I liked it when the water was low. My brothers and I would spend hours gathering driftwood and looking for old lead sinkers from fishing lines snagged on old tree trunks. Then we'd float around on inner tubes and listen to Dad cuss as pulled in yet another carp.

For the longest time I thought Lucky Peak must somehow be part of the sea. Since the Boise River would eventually flow into other rivers which eventually make it to the ocean, I suppose it technically was.

Years later, I finally saw the real ocean and stood in awe at how it stretched infinitely into the horizon. I felt its pull on me and knew that Lucky Peak had only been a space saver in my young life until I could return to the water.

I suppose that is why I was born a Pisces.

I hear voices coming from my Blackberry



Okay I think epinions.com is the devil and Alexander Graham Bell is satan. So that leaves demons, devilish imps and bad joo joo or evil spirits to claim responsibility for my Blackberry. And I know I wrote about the thing before, but man, this little bugger is getting to me.

I swear sometimes I hear voices coming out of it. Of course you do, you are saying. It's also a phone. But I'm not talking about the phone. It's like these vague whisperings just out of comprehension level talking to me seductively:

"Hey Tim, shouldn't you check your e-mail? It's only been 2 minutes since you checked your e-mail? And don't forget to play Brickbreaker. Maybe you'll get beyond the dreaded steel wall this time and break your top score of 9300. "

That's sick. It knows I was so proud when I bested my all time high on the original brickbreaker and then it calls in a software upgrade and adds about 32 new levels of brickbreaker that I probably will never get through.

All I want to do is read a book again without that little bastard vibrating on my hip telling me it's time for some appointment or urging me to check movie times or play Jumble.

Playing Jumble via a wireless device sucks, by the way.

Last week I stepped off the bus and somehow my Blackberry hooked on my jacket and flew off my hip. The battery popped out and it lay there right next to the rear bus wheel. I looked down on it stunned and for a moment I hesitated. This was my chance, I thought. It's broken and it can't torture me anymore. But then, and this may just be my imagination, it sneered at me. I scooped it up and popped the battery back in. And what appeared on the screen? Two words:

I'm Back!

Damn you Blackberry!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Mini-Elvis (the series)


As is my habit when I travel, I look for Elvis. And I don't mean the Elvis that shows up in 7-11's and hitchhikes everywhere. I look for his image. The one place you can bet you'll always find Elvis is a Hard Rock Cafe. And sure enough in the Hard Rock in Puerta Vallarta, there he was shining down on me.

I find great comfort in that (and the shooter in the Hard Rock shotglass I always have to have to add to my collection).

So when CBS, the network giant whose symbol is a giant eye, announced that they are showcasing a brand new mini-series about Elvis, I once again know that Elvis has given me a sign that he watches over everything and everyone.


What really clinches that fact that the King is once again presenting me with signs is the contest CBS is holding to promote the mini-series. They are, get this, giving away a lovely set of ceramic poodle dogs that decorated the set of the mini-series. These aren't just any poodle dogs either. They are SIGNED by Camryn Manheim, the actress that plays Elvis' mother in the mini-series. Well, I have to have these, so don't even think about entering the contest. Because there is nothing more I need as I try and consolidate two households after my recent marriage, than four ugly ceramic poodles signed by Camryn Manheim (who also once appeared in Scary Movie 3). God knows Tess will understand the importance of ceramic poodles that appeared in the Elvis mini-series.

But I digress.

What is earthshattering about this new Elvis mini-series appearing May 8 at 9 p.m. ET/PT and May 11 at 8 p.m. ET/PT only on CBS, is that it proclaims to be "fact-based." Well smack my ass and call me Sally, it is about time we got to see some fact-based information on Elvis. Because I'm looking to learn something I haven't been able to glean out of the 50 some books I've got that have just about scab-picked to death every aspect of his life (and death).

But what I'm really looking forward to is Randy Quade as Colonel Tom Parker. I guess his role in National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation (a fact they leave out in his bio on the CBS Web site) has prepared him for this important role.

Oh, I suppose I should say something about Johnathan Rhys Meyers who plays Elvis in the mini-series. Okay, he looks kind of like the King, but good luck with the rest of his career. He's gone from Bend it like Bendham to playing Elvis in a made for television mini-series. I'm afraid he's destinied to someday be sitting in a room shooting out his television with a .357 shouting, "I played the King, man."

And what can you say about Antonia Bernath as Priscilla? Apparently her biggest film credit was Kisna, the Warrior Poet, so what did she have to lose by play Priscilla?

Oh, I know, you are saying that Tim-Elvis is just being a nattering naybob of negativity again. But something tells me this is just another attempt to rekindle interest in the King with a generation who thinks he is a myth like the Easter Bunny. I mean, as the rabid Elvis fans get older and older and have less money to purchase Elvis Presley Enterprize-authorized TV trays, the marketing people have got to be looking at ways to increase the percentage of market share in the younger demographics.

But I have news for you, a mini-series on CBS isn't the answer. You want to light a fire under potential new Elvis fans, you have to get on cable. HBO needs to launch a mini-series on par with Deadwood and the Sopranos...maybe something like, Untold King or Real Elvis or Memphis Mafioso. You produce a real, "fact-based" program on the King that doesn't have to be censored or interspersed with Toyota ads and you will create a whole new generation of Elvis fans.

Now that would be taking care of business and something I'd TIVO for sure.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The monkey is back and you're going be sorry...

A few days before I left to get married, someone in my office stole the Monkey Playing Cymbals and left a note reading:

Dear Tim,
I couldn't tell you to your face because I'm jsut too emotional right now. I'm leaving you and I won't be back. Well, i may think about coming back on one condition:

You must call the wedding off now!!

I just can't beat the thought of sharing you with another. i know she's much prettier than me and her hair is real and she can do many other things besides just play the cymbals!

But I know you so much better than she does. our relationship goes way back, I stuck with you through thick and thin, throgh hell and high water, from ponytail to salt and pepper.

I love you, man!

I'm beggin you, I'd get down on my knees if I could, DON'T DO IT!!!

If you decide to call it off send me a note care of Bonzo and leave it at the main reception desk. One of my other friends will pikc it up for me.

I fyou decide to go through with this, will, all I can say is: Smell ya later!

Your dear old friend,
Cymbal Monkey
Okay, I know the note wasn't really from the monkey. The monkey is a much better writer than that and the monkey didn't know me when I had a ponytail. I figured the monkey paid off some of my co-workers and went off on a bender. He's done this before so I didn't think anything of it.

The day before I left for my wedding I got another note:

Dear Tim,

Here's a poem for you:

No more carefree laughter
Silence ever after.
Walking through an empty house,
Tears in my eys.
Hear (sic) is where the story ends
This is goodbye...
memories: good days, bad days.
They'll be with me always
In these old fimiliar rooms
Children would play.
Now there's only emptiness,
nothing to say.

Boo hoo,
Cymbal Monkey
Okay, I really know the monkey didn't write that crap. He's a cynical little bastard and he wouldn't be caught dead writing childish poetry like that. Plus, call him what you will, but the monkey can at least spell.

I was a little pissed at this point, because the monkey owes me money. But I ignored the note and left for my wedding and honeymoon (locking my office to avoid anything else disappearing) figuring the monkey would be back when he sobered up.

So I get back from my honeymoon and still no monkey. Then a note shows up with photos of him hanging out at a commuter train station in California. I'm really pissed by this time because normally he just hangs out in Seattle when he goes out on a binge.

The next day I get another note from him showing him out on the California desert with some family that took him in. I'm figuring, great, the monkey has duped some poor family with his "poor monkey" routine. He probably ate them out of house and home and then stole the family silver. He is a mean little cus.

Finally, he shows up yesterday in my bosses office (fortunately she wasn't in) with another note begging me to take him back in. I could tell from his glazed look he's been stoned for weeks. And he'd lost the stupid green pom pom he'd been wearing on his head since the Seahawks lost their playoff game. He tried to concoct some while tale about monkeynapping and spankings, but I just put him up on the shelf to sleep it off.

So, if you go to his blog and he tries to feed you crap about where he has been, keep in mind that he is a pathological liar.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

There's no point in being pointless...

I'm one of those people that firmly believes that everything has a purpose or a point, if you will (except certain reality programs like American Idol and Survivor which I'm proud to say I've never watched...though I have taped and watched the Bachelor on occasion...nobody is perfect). I believe that everything is connected and fits into the cosmic theme of things. All things have meaning.

William Blake summed it up well when he wrote, "To see a world in a grain of sand And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And eternity in an hour." Of course Blake is widely believed to have been a few bricks shy of a wall and talked to angels, but as I've said, nobody is perfect.

I suppose you think I'm wandering into a treatise on Elvis and Quantum Physics again, but I'm really just reacting to the selection of the new pope. Because on the surface, many people are wondering why anyone would select a 78-year old German man who bears a striking resemblance to an aged Walter Mondale as the spiritual leader of one of the most powerful religious bodies in the world.

I for one was ready to place big money on the new pope being one of the Italian contenders. But MSNBC tells us not everyone was suprised by the selection:

"Thousands worldwide placed bets on him through the Web — and an inspired few
hundred even correctly guessed he'd take the name Benedict.

Among a handful of Internet-based bookmakers who offered odds on the next pope, the biggest player was Paddy Power PLC, the No. 1 bookie in Ireland,
Minutes after Benedict XVI appeared in St. Peter's Square, Paddy Power was collecting — or paying out — on more than 10,000 bets totaling more than $260,000.

The biggest winners: Someone who put down $1,050 Saturday on a Ratzinger victory at odds of 6 to 1, which meant a payout of $7,350; and somebody else who waged $260 on the new pontiff's taking Benedict, which at 3-to-1 odds meant $1,050 back."

The lord and bookmakers work in strange ways. But beyond answering some gambler's prayers, I think there were some bigger forces at work in the selection of a pope who, how can I put this delicately, probably only has a few good years of blessing people left.

I think the main reason Ratzinger was selected was "Market Share". I think the networks saw what kind of ratings they got with Pope John Paul's death and funeral and convinced the Vatican PR people that picking a more, let's say, seasoned pope has potential for raking in a big Nielson rating in the near future, if you catch my drift.

I image there are some FOX Network people who are even now pitching a new reality program to the Holy Father. I mean, Ozzy Osborne could pull it off for two maybe three years, so why not the pope? And if he happens to expire in the final season, well, can you say Emmy?

So, it all makes sense to me. I mean, there really has to be a point, doesn't there?


Monday, April 18, 2005

Deadwood: it's not your father's television show

Unless you are living under a rock (or worst yet don't have HBO), you've at least heard about the television series, Deadwood. It's a western, of sorts, unlike any western you ever dreamed you could watch in the comfort of your home while sitting back in the good ol' barkalounger. I watch the show religiously every Sunday (or at least play it back on my TIVO when I get a chance) and at the end of every episode, I shake my head in admiration and ask myself, "How did they get away with that script?"

You see, Deadwood is based on the wild west as it likely was, not as we grew up to believe it was on Gunsmoke. Whereas Marshall Dillon would always call out the bad guys and shoot them in an honest gunfight at the beginning of each show and then bury them on Boothill, characters on Deadwood tend to shoot people friends and enemies in the back, stab them unexpectedly or push them off cliffs at random moments. Then they dump the bodies at Mr. Wu's and his pigs eat them. Damn!

Deadwood is where characters like Wild Bill Hickcock and Calamity Jane really lived, fought, and died. And if the scriptwriters are true to the venacular of Deadwood at the time, everyone was inflicted with Tourette's Syndrome. Because every other word that comes out of the mouths of the characters on Deadwood (including women and children) begins with "f," ends with "k" and rhymes with 'suck' (which is coincidently part of another word many of the characters use frequently). I mean, you've got to love the simplicity of the dialogue:

WHERE'S YOUR FUKIN' HORSE?

HE'S IN THE FUKIN' STABLE.

WHAT'S HE FUKIN' DOING?

HOW THE FUK SHOULD I KNOW, YOU COCKSUCKER?

I think you get my fukin' point. Even Al Pacino's character in Scarface didn't use the fukin' word that many fukin' times in the entire movie as they do in ten minutes of Deadwood.

But the beauty of it is, we stop hearing the profanity and realize that this series is genius. The characters are all vile, yet they have more depth than any western we ever had to sit through growing up. It's history, yet it's entertaining.

It's kind of like what I was trying to elude to in my last post. It's like sending a camera back in time and watch history at its most fascinating worst.

So, my fukin' hat is off to the creators of Deadwood.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Picture, if you will...


There is just something about taking an ordinary snapshot, running it through some filters in a digital photo editing program that fascinates me. It makes an image of me hugging an arch in Puerto Vallarta very surreal.

Actually, just the whole world of digital photography fascinates me. On our recent honeymoon, I must have snapped 300 images with my digital cameras. Not only do I avoid about $75 in printing bad snapshots, I can manipulate bad shots into something at least I think are interesting. And on a morbid, but practical point, when I die, all they have to do is toss out some CDs instead of boxes of old photos that no one but me cared about.

Though I am kind of fascinated by old photos, too. When my dad died, I rescued some albums of photos from his Navy days in World War II. They were random shots of his ship passing through the Panama Canal and photos of him with Navy buddies and a few women I assume were old girlfriends. Now, my mom would have simply tossed the photo albums saying that they were of people we didn't know and thus weren't important. I totally disagree. They meant something to my dad. They were his memories. Since I never got to ask him about the people in the photos, I simply fill in the gaps with my very active imagination.

Think how fortunate we are to live in a generation where there is a photo record of everything. Think of past generations of people who only knew the names of the president but never knew what he looked like...okay, bad example.

But aren't you ever curious what famous figures throughout history actually looked like? To get slightly controversial, take Jesus. There is no record of what he looked like yet we all conjure up images of a bearded white man. Why? Because painters throughout history painted Jesus to look like their contemporaries. It's the same reason why Biblical quotes always have "thee's" and "thou's." The most popular translation of the Bible was done during King Jame's reign in England and translated into their venacular. It never ceases to amaze me that many Americans actually believe they spoke English in Biblical times.

Even Mel Gibson hung onto the image of Jesus as a white man in his mega movie. He was obsessed with realism in every other aspect of the film, including having them speak the ancient tongue of the time and depicting violent scenes of crucifiction none of us could even have imaged back in the old 1940s and 50s films depicting Jesus, yet Gibson makes Jesus a white, bearded man. Go figure.

But, I digress.

I used to fantasize about a timemachine that could be sent back and photograph great moments throughout history. But would we accept them?

Meanwhile, we have instant images of everything. But even as I marvel at our technology, I must go back to the original point (?) of this particular blog entry: with our increased abilility to document everything comes an equally sophisticated ability to doctor the images to match our expectations.

And when I hug arches, it is always in a very surreal world.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Traffic

I've given up on blog traffic. I went to BlogExplosion again today and I've determined it is not worth it to sit there looking at mindnumbingly boring blogs to get people to in turn stare at mine for a minute in hopes of getting "mystery credits." I have no idea what you do with the mystery credits, but I think it has something to do with fibonacci numbers.

I swear I spent five minutes staring in horror at a blog that featured a baby's sunsuit some woman had crocheted. I find something very wrong about this.

I also have begun to believe that I have no sense of humor. The blogs I've randomly been forced to look at that declare themselves to be humorous make absolutely no sense to me. So I must conclude that they are staring at my blog about feeling bad about being relieved that the Pope did not die on my wedding day and scratching their heads in confusion.

I'm trying not to be negative. This was my resolution after we got back from our honeymoon cruise. One of the couples that were seated at our dinner table on the cruise were the most negative people I'd ever met. Everything that came out of the husband's mouth at every meal was a major downer. This guy looked exactly like an age-progressed Beavis from Beavis and Butthead. He gleefully informed us one night that Peter Jennings had terminal lung cancer. This was in between pronouncements that we shouldn't go ashore in Mexico because of all of the kidnappings and the fact that he was sure Mexicans had stolen some tools he had loaned to his daughter in California. Despite his own warnings, he and his wife did go ashore but were pissed that they couldn't buy Valium and other narcotics over the counter in the Mexican pharmacies.

Plus the guy told Polish jokes at the table during a discussion of the Pope's demise. Even I found this in poor taste....that and his insistence that everything on the menu tasted like chicken.

But I digress.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that life is too short for useless conversation with dimwitted strangers and too short to sit glued to my computer staring at photos of the joys of tabletop gaming and crocheted baby clothes.

So bye bye Blog Explosion. I'll just coast along in my own little blogosphere oblivious to the rest of the world and comfortable in oblivion.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Bless a my soul, what's wrong with me?


I know it's wrong, but I couldn't help but be relieved that the Pope didn't die on my wedding day. It's just not something you want to associate your wedding anniversary with. I mean it was bad enough he died the day before we got married. But then again, the sunami happened the day after we got engaged.

Don't get me wrong. Even though I'm not Catholic, I thought the Pope was okay. I think he meant well. And I thought his Pope Mobile was pretty cool. If he'd taken a different stand on condom use, I truly believe he would have really done the world a heck of a lot more good. But that's just my humble non-Catholic opinion of it.

I'm old enough to remember the last two Pope's before John Paul dying. I remember this mainly because back then there were only two or three television stations in Boise and all you could watch for days was images of people waiting for the white or black smoke when the Cardinals vote for a new Pope. This was a major bummer for a little kid being raised on television. I also remember staying up late watching it because I had a bee sting on my hand and it had swollen to the size of Rhode Island. Being Christian Scientists, this meant all I could do for the discomfort was watch it swell, think positive thoughts and watch the process of a new Pope being selected. This process is much like watching paint dry, especially when you are five or six years old.

Today, they make the process much more like the American election process and try to dig up dirt on all of the potential Popes. This doesn't seem quite right to me. But I am thinking of checking out what some of the odds are in Vegas on some of the Pope-idates...or are they perhaps Popeabees. My money is on one of the Italians.

I know, I'm going to hell.

But since I'm not Catholic, I'm not sure what kind of hell that will be. Christian Scientist's didn't really have a hell (though I associated it with having to go to Sunday School on one of the only days I had to sleep in). And having been a Buddhist for a brief stint, my afterlife could be a bit confusing no matter where I end up.



But no matter where that is, I hope they have TIVO or at least the premium channels.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The great escape in Mazatlan


When we stepped off the ship in Mazatlan (one of the stops on our honeymoon), we were immediately greeted by many helpful people with maps wanting us to truly enjoy the hospitality of their city. One particularily helpful young woman offered us a free cab ride to a major resort, two bottles of water and the opportunity to dine for free at the resort restaurant and enjoy all of their amenities. Well, I just didn't fall off the potato truck yesterday. I asked her if we had to listen to a timeshare presentation. Noooooooooooo, she assured us. We just had to take a brief funfilled tour of the resort and then we could kick back and enjoy ourselves.

Did my experience with the Sea Monkeys teach me nothing?

We accepted the offer and they quickly whisked is to a cab for the ride to the resort. I won't go into a cliche description of a cab ride in Mexico. Suffice it to say "Mr Toad's Wild Ride" in Disneyland could learn a few pointers from this driver when it comes to a thrill ride.

So we get to the resort in Mazatlan's "Golden Zone." A representative greeted us and informed us we just had to endure an hour-long tour and presentation and then we could eat and enjoy the resort amenitities. Unfortunately, all of their tour guides were busy and we'd have to wait at the pool area and they'd come get us.

Okay, if you've ever been on a cruise, you know that time ashore is brief and very precious. Tess and I sat fuming at the pool watching ten very portly seniors doing water aerobics and getting pissed at ourselves that we'd got sucked into the timeshare scam. And then it occured to us...all we had to do was make a run for it.

We scurried past a ceramics demonstration and a napkin folding seminar and beelined it for the beach. All the time we kept looking over our shoulders sure the timeshare police would be swooping down on us demanding $10 for the cab ride and wanting their bottle water back. I was bracing myself to ask to see some badges and having this burly guy snarl at me, "Badges...we don't need not stinkin' badges."

We hit the beach at a brisk speed walk, clutching our bottled water. Once we were past the hotel property line we breathed a sigh of relief but then the beach vendors swooped down on us like a scene out of "Night of the Living Dead." I shouted out a string of "No Gracias'" and bolted for an alley that led back to the main street and freedom.

Bottomline is we escaped. We found a small restaurant, ordered a reasonably priced lunch that didn't require us to sit through an hour long sales pitch (though there was an American dude there who claimed to be from West Seattle who tried to get us to check out another resort). He finally admitted to us that all we had to do to enjoy any of the beach resort amenities was order a drink at their bar.

So we ended up at a hotel called Costa De Oro where it was Happy, Happy Hour (two for one drinks). We sat in their beach chairs, enjoyed their pool and it only cost us about $5 US. That's where I snapped the above photo. If you look closely, you'll see a parasail in the distance. Five minutes later the drunk parasailor almost landed on us. He ended up hitting a coconut palm ten feet away from us instead. We finished our four margaritas and caught a cab back to the ship.

I love happy endings.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

It was a nice day for a Web Wedding...

Okay, so the Webcast of our wedding lasted maybe nine minutes and looked like a surveillance tape from a 7-11. But you have to admit it was a unique idea. So what if my mother thought the candle sticks in the image were Tess. She got to see our wedding. If you missed it, one of my friends copied the images for posterity:


Tess and I are standing before the Captain of the Diamond Princess.
I was relieved that he was British until I realized I didn't understand a
word he was saying. You would think those people would learn to speak
English. I was taken aback when he asked me to repeat the phrase "lawful
impediment."



Tess and Tim exchange vows (and no that is not my belly, it's my jacket and I know it made me look like Alfred Hitchcock).




Tess and Tim sign the ship's log (a journal, not a piece of wood).


Tess and Tim are introduced as husband and wife and experience the blinding light of spiritual rapture...well actually it was a flash going off at exactly the time the Webcam refreshed. But we were very happy.

I plan to post some of the more traditional photos of our wedding soon whether you like it or not.