Wednesday, May 31, 2006

If it's Wednesday, this must be Boise


I typed an entire blog about my arrival in Boise and blogger.com lost it all when I tried to save it. I spit upon you blogger.com.

I will attempt to recreate it tomorrow morning. But for now I have a 19-inch television with three channels of Showtime calling my name in this 2 1/2 star hotel.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tag goes to the runner

I was tagged by Mickey to list six weird facts about myself. I believe it is his revenge for tricking him into watching a David Hasslehoff video and for being at a higher level of hell than he is. I am also supposed to tag six other bloggers which is a challenge since he used two of the few I actually know.

First I find this tag ironic since I write a blog named Dizgraceland and expose weird facts about myself on a daily basis, but here goes
1) I have an unnatural fear of those people in grocery and werehouse stores who hand out samples. I will go three aisles out of my way to avoid them and will shield myself with old ladies if necessary to get away without tasting the latest flavor of hot pocket. I will, however, repeatedly visit an unpersoned sample of chips and dips if there are no other people around.

2) I can't stand being in a house unless all of the doors are locked. I will repeatedly check the locks to make sure they are locked.

3) In a similar vein, I can't stand being in a room with the blinds or curtains open, especially at night.

4) Unlike Mickey, I thrive in clutter. But, I get aggitated if there are dirty dishes in a kitchen sink. Go figure.

5) I own the Manili Vanili CD.

6) I hate wearing suits and ties, but I love wearing tuxedos.

There...satisfied? Now I tag Lights in the Wake, Cherish, Gina, Hayden, the Kristy and Zagu.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial: Edgar Austin Clark

I never met my Uncle Edgar. He died in a small airplane crash on February 12, 1949, about nine years before I was born. He was and is a mystery to me.

Edgar Austin Clark was born in Boise, Idaho on September 20, 1922, the firstborn son of Edna and Raymond Clark. He took his middle name from his grandfather, Austin Clark. That, as far as I know, was his sole inheritence.


Edgar was the second in a family of thirteen children. He is the frowning boy on the left in the photo above standing next to his younger brother Herb, his oldest sister Alma, my mother Jennie Ruth and my Uncle Charlie (Dewey). It was not a wealthy family. They knew nothing of the collapsing stock market that unleashed the Great Depression on the country. But they felt the impacts very dearly.

It was December 1941, not long after the birth of the last of his thirteen children, Tom Clark, that my grandfather Raymond died of a heart attack in the one bedroom room house the family shared in the rural outskirts of Southern Boise. His surviving eldest sons had very few options at that time when it came to work. The military seemed to be the only one hiring.

I do not know whether my Uncle Edgar joined the Marines or if he was drafted, but he ended up in Guam fighting as a Corporal during World War II. He returned from the war with no physical injuries. But in the little I heard my mother talk about him, the war had taken its toll on his spirit. She talks of him working on "dead wagons" recovering the bodies of dead American soldiers killed in assaults on the Japanese strongholds in the South Pacific. She said he didn't like to talk about his experience in the war. But it had changed him.

On February 12, 1949, my Uncle Edgar went along with a friend of his in a small airplane for a joyride. The details are sketchy, but apparently his friend "borrowed" the plane from its owner without permission. My uncle survived the Great Depression and World War II. He didn't survive the crash of the stolen airplane he was a passenger in. He was 27 years old.


Last Thanksgiving, Tess and I were in Boise visiting my family. We had gone to Morris Hill Cemetary late one day in search of the graves of my great grandparents and grandparents buried there. While looking for my grandfather Raymond Clark in the military portion of the cemetary (he was a private during World War I) I stumbled upon my Uncle Edgar's gravestone.

I realize this isn't much of a memorial. A man's life deserves more than eight paragraphs and few faded photos. But it is all I have. And it is why I'm determined to unearth what I can find about my family. With that note, I'm leaving tomorrow for Boise to visit my mother and salvage what I can from her memory. Maybe then I can give my Uncle Edgar a bit more.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Big Empty


Weekends, especially three-day ones, seem to be dead zones in the blogger world. My favorite bloggers don't seem to blog much on weekends. So I turn to Blogger's "Next Blog" feature to fill the void. It's like sitting in front of an old shortwave radio twirling the dial and hearing nothing but static. Occasionally someone will post something interesting, but it is faint and temporary.

I feel so voyeuristic when I click the "Next Blog" button, especially when someone's personal journal blog pops up. Suddenly a total stranger is telling me about their desires, their failures or their arguments with imaginary friends. I want to leave comments on these blogs that says, "Please pull your shades...total strangers can see everything."

My forays into Blogger's "Next Blog" feature this last week has made me wonder. What are we looking for? Do we expect to stumble onto some blog out there with the answers? Would whatever power that motivates life's direction use blogger.com as the forum for unlocking the key to existence? Is this all some fantastic DaVinci code where the pieces to the ultimate puzzle are hidden in the detris of mindless blogs about paint ball strategy or minutia about American Idol winners?

I don't think so. If there is an answer in the blog world, I think it may be a collective one. Perhaps it is just that we are all trying to look inside by turning ourselves inside out in a blog post. It's as if the computer has become our confessional and we sit waiting for affirmation that we are not alone in our sins of being human. We want to know that it is okay to not always know where we are going or if it is the right direction.

I think it is human nature to always look for a sign that we are not alone.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Feeling testy?

I only drive people to watch bad David Hasslehoff videos. Mickey Ripped temps us to take tests. Of course I am a sheep and take them. Apparently if I were a tarot card, I would be the High Priestess. But that doesn't matter. If I believed in hell, I'd be banished to the 2nd level with Helen of Troy. It could be worse. I could be heaven with the mormons or the Jehovah Witnesses.

This is worse than a pyramid scheme, but here are my results (I think we are even now Mickey):




You Are The High Priestess



You represent mystery - secrets that are yet to be revealed.

You find yourself sitting between two worlds: one dark, one light.

You tend to hold these two worlds in balance, reconciling the two.

Open and welcoming, you invite others to learn your secrets.



Your fortune:



Something hidden, or latent, in your life is about to come forward.

You need to pay more attention to your dreams, thoughts, intuition, and imagination.

And if that involves tapping into your dark side, it will all balance out in the end.

You have a lot of potential dying to be unleashed, so let those gates open!





The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

LevelScore
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Very High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate


Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Wigging out



This image is left over from my "I want to be King" days. I never did send away for my royal title. It would have been fun, though, to have been King and then go to my 30-year high school reunion in Boise in a carriage dressed liked King George of England. I think I could have carried it off. And it would have been worth it to see the looks on my former classmate's faces as I stepped out of the carriage, scepter in hand with a look of bored superiority on my face (much in the way I step off the train each day after my morning commute).

I can hear the gasps and mutters of "who the hell is that," now. Of course, someone would whisper, "I think he must have been in the marching band...what the hey, hold my beer while I get my picture taken with him."

Oh well, back to reality. I'm not a King and I'm not going to my 30-year high school reunion. I am going to Boise next week to see my 81-year old mom. I don't think I'll dress like King George. Although she would likely take it in stride, I think it would cause her some distress. Because, although middle-aged, I am still her baby boy.

I find it odd after living in Seattle for about 24 years to return to my birthplace. I realize Boise has changed a great deal in those 24-years, but I can't help but sense the time warp aspect of the place in my memory. I won't be staying at the house I grew up in although my mom has plenty of room. I refuse to sleep in the basement in my old room with the leopard-patterned paneling listening to the water pump run every 15 minutes. And after living with 250 premium channels on a HD bigscreen television, I can't bring myself to watch local Boise channels on a 19-inch television in my mom's family room while she sleeps in an easy chair. I also can't bring myself to shower in a bathroom the size of a telephone booth (I can't believe it was once shared by 5 people in one house). But the real reason I won't stay at my mother's house is that there really is no more room there because it is already too full of memories.

You can never really go back. But you can hover above it all, observing where you were. I'll wander from room to room staring at timelines of family photos on the walls, listening to my mom lecturing her dog about chasing the neighborhood squirrels. I'll drive around the town on autopilot remembering the pizza parlour that is now a tattoo parlour. And I'll drive by my grade school remembering those walks home, stopping to catch waterskippers in a drainage ditch in a distant time before kid's pictures ended up on the side's of milk cartoons. I may walk around the downtown or the mall, looking into faces, wondering if I'll see anyone I recognize. But they will all be new faces.

Then I'll return to my generic hotel room that could be anyplace in the country and wonder why I am a stranger in a place where I first drew a breath. And I'll try not to think about the time when my mother rejoins my father and the family home is merely a photograph replaced by multiplexes and townhouses.

And I'll realize that it is all inevitable and it wouldn't have mattered if I'd been crowned King instead of ending up a middle-aged bureaucrat commuting by train rather than a royal carriage. Because even kings have no control over time.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Free us from torpid heaviness


I followed Shandi's lead and clicked on Blogger's "Next Blog" button at the top of the page. The first thing that struck me while randomly skimming through the flotsam of the blogosphere was that poetry is a dangerous tool when placed in the hands of the masses. Though to be honest, I'm not a big poetry fan even if it is written by people with talent.

The title of this post comes from a blog dedicated to the author's spiritual poetry. I will not link to the site. I will not make fun of the author because I am sure he means well and is simply expressing himself. But I will say that "torpid heaviness" is not a phrase I have encountered before. Nor is it a phrase I would consider using in a poem, especially about spirituality. It is a lugubrious term best used in a Russian novel to describe the mating of sloths (i.e. Their torpid heaviness collided in a slow motion passionate embrace seeped with woeful longing of sloths kept apart far too long by an oppresive regime).

I say this in an attempt to be kind to people who write with a thesaurus in hand searching for just the right word to impress. Please put that mutant puppy of a reference book in a bag and toss it off the nearest bridge. Don't use words that you either don't know or don't use on a reasonably regular basis. Don't get me wrong. It is okay to increase your vocabulary. But just put words in your basket that you understand and really can use.

And if you must write either spiritual prose or poetry, please do not use a lot of "thee's" and "thou's" because you think that is the way the people wrtten about in the Bible spoke. The King Jame's version of the Bible was translated using the venacular of King Jame's time (I believe in the 1400s or thereabouts). They used lots of "thee's" and "thou's." I assure you Jesus did not. He didn't speak English. So if you really want to write Christian spiritual poetry (and I don't recommend it), you might want to talk to Mel Gibson and find out how to speak some of the dead Arabic languages.

And if you are wondering what the photo of a doll with my face on it has to do with any of this, the answer is, "nothing." I just wanted to freak out any newbie surfing into my blog using the "Next Blog" button. That will teach them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hunka Hunka Burnin Blog

Lord almighty,
I feel my temperature rising
Higher higher
It's burning through to my soul
--Elvis Presley, Burning Love
According to blogger.com, this is my 378th post. I will have been blogging for two years come August. Although in that time, I have been bored, depressed and lost, I have yet to truly burn out.

I've read the Nonist's pamphlet on Blog Depression and seen all of my own signs. I have gone through the phases it seems all bloggers go through of enthusiasm, self-doubt, anger, and depression. I've agonized about page hits and number of comments. I've been pissed when I see someone write about the same topic I blogged about two years ago and get raves when my post went unnoticed. I've gone through the beginner blog phase of raging in blog posts about blog types I hate only to catch myself later writing about those very same blog topics (like this one...blog burn out).

The only cure I've ever found for any of it is to make another post. I love blogging. I dream about blogging. I'll admit it. I am obsessed with blogging. I'm like that guy in Reefer Madness playing the piano in a manic frenzy. So what? At least I have a hobbie.

I plan to keep blogging until they pry my keyboard or whatever other data entry device they invent out of my cold dead hands. And if there is an afterlife, I plan to keep blogging from that place where the flames never burn out. YOU HEAR THAT WORLD?

I'M TIM AND I AM A BLOGGER!


Call me Mr. Blue


I won't tell you
When you paint the town
A bright red to turn it upside down
I'm painting it too
But I'm painting it blue
Call me Mr. Blue
Call me mister
--Garth Brooks, Mr. Blue
When I was in First Grade, my teacher divided up the class into the Blue Team and the Red Team for a basketball game. I was on the Blue Team. Blue has been my favorite color ever since.

My eyes are blue. My aura is blue. But I wasn't born a blueblood.

I owned a green parakeet when I was 12 years old and I named him Blue (I later bought a blue parakeet and and named him Topper...go figure).

Wallace Stevens, "The Man With the Blue Guitar" is my favorite poem. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is one of my favorite Tom Robbins books. Rodrigue's Blue Dog's are some of my favorite art (but I don't think I've ever seen a Blue Tick Hound).

"Blue Moon" is one of my favorite Elvis songs (though I listen to it once in a blue moon). "Blue Christmas" is my favorite Christmas song. Blue Hawaii is not my favorite Elvis movie, but it is an okay drink. I've never owned a pair of blue suede shoes, but I think they would be cool. I do have a Velvet Elvis painting done entirely in blue.

"Caribbean Blue" is my favorite Enya song and I like to listen to it while drinking Blue Mountain Coffee from Jamaica. "Blue Bayou" is my favorite Linda Ronstadt song. The Blue Bayou Restaurant is my favorite restaurant in Disneyland.

The Blue's Brothers were my favorite Saturday Night Live characters. I like Blue Man Group. Blue Velvet was the first David Lynch film I ever saw.

I like bleu cheese and chicken cordon bleu (even though they are spelled wrong). Blueberries are nice with cream. Blue popcicles really do taste blue. I always dye my first Easter egg blue.

I like it when it is hotter than blue blazes. I can sometimes talk a blue streak. And I think of things out of the blue, now and then.

Blue does come with lots of questions, though. I don't understand why there is a blue bird of happiness, yet the Lady Sings the Blues. Can anything really make your brown eyes blue (other than contacts). Why do Robin Redbreasts lay blue eggs? How can we have blue skys, yet we can be in a blue funk. And why are some porn flicks called Blue Movies?

I don't like the fact that blue, my favorite color, is associated with sad things. It makes me blue.
But then again, it is my favorite color, so I might as well be it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

They call me mellow yellow...


I'm just mad about Saffron
Saffron's mad about me
I'm just mad about Saffron
She's just mad about me

They call it mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow

Electrical banana
Is gonna be a sudden craze
Electrical banana
Is bound to be the very next phase

They call it mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow

--Donovan, Mellow Yellow


Depending upon who you talk to, Donovan either wrote this song about the 60s urban myth that smoking dried banana peels could get you high or a vibrator called the electrical banana. I'm not taking sides.

Bananas are old. Some people claim it was the banana that got Adam and Eve thrown out of Eden, not the apple. This would make a lot more sense. But, I'm not taking sides.

The word "banana" comes from the Arabic word "banan", which means "finger." India leads the world in banana production, providing almost a quarter of the world's banana crop. Alexander the Great ate his first banana in India in 327 B.C. He may or may not have said, "These are great," thus earning his nickname. I'm not taking sides.

It is a well-know fact that Elvis loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches fried in butter. The sandwiches are very good. I wonder if he ever considered making the sandwiches with banana bread. That sounds pretty good, too as long as there are no nuts in the banana bread. There is no evidence that Elvis ever tried to smoke banana peels. But I'm not taking sides.

I have never seen anyone slip on a banana outside of a cartoon. It is possible it could happen. But I'm not taking sides.

Woody Allen did a 1971 movie called Bananas. I believe it was about a Banana Republic (not the trendy clothing store). I do not find Woody Allen films appealing. But I'm not taking sides.

Children sometimes say a rhyme that uses your name and the word 'banana.' It goes something like: Tim, Tim bo-bim, banana bana bo-bim. Fee, fi, fo-fim...Tim. It pretty much works the same with anyone's name. It gets annoying after awhile. But I'm not taking sides.

I once bought a souvenir plastic harmonica in Reno that was shaped like a banana. It seemed odd to me at the time that anyone would want a plastic, banana-shaped harmonica that said "I lost my ass in Reno." But I bought it anyway. Because I didn't want to take sides.

These are all facts about bananas that have no hidden meaning meant to oppress anyone. No monkeys, mechanical or otherwise were involved.

But I'm not taking sides.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Shaken and stirred


I hate it when I write something and then start freaking about how someone is going to interpret it. Then I start second guessing myself and wondering if so and so will read it the wrong way or such and such will think it is directed at them. The Monkey Playing Cymbals is always telling me that I over analyze stuff and that sometimes a "banana is just a banana." The monkey may not be real, but he is pretty smart.

I started blogging as a release from writing what other people wanted me to write. I didn't want to be constrained any more by what sells or what is popular or what would get a positive reaction. Then I catch myself yesterday writing about these unwritten rules that should dictate what people blog about.

It occurred to me yesterday while I was mowing the lawn how wrong that was. Or maybe how hypocritical that was. It was the very act of mowing the lawn and smugly feeling superior to my neighbor's unmowed lawn that drove it home for me. The only reason I was snippy about them not mowing their lawn was because I had to mow mine and I wanted them to share in my suburban yoke of oppression and drag their sorry butts out there and mow theirs. Misery loves company.

I mean, why should I give a hoot if my neighbor's domesticated weeds are groomed properly? So applying this analogy to blogging, why should I give a hoot who or what anyone else blogs about? Is it because I have applied limits to my topics and can't stand to see anyone else dare blog without limits?

The monkey is nodding in agreement now, so I must be getting warm.

So in essence, I have once again given myself a license to blog. This is not to say that I'm willing to trash my job and family and reveal my secret desire to dominate the free world in my blog. If I really felt compelled to do those things I would (except dominate the free world), but I don't. And I'll never say never again but I will say live and let die as long as I'm in her majesty's secret service.

And I expect everyone else to blog about whatever floats their boat or provides utility hook ups for their RV.

The monkey is motioning for me to wrap it up (I think he wants a banana), so I must have said everything I wanted to. I guess I'll go ahead and split for now (the monkey loves that joke). But I'll be back.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Coming clean


It finally dawned on me that many people who blog don't want anyone they know to know that they blog.

I find this ironic. We finally have a cheap medium available to the masses that anyone with access to a computer can use to express their opinions or talents (not necessarily the same thing) and a bulk of the people who use it are afraid someone they know will see it. How many millions of people worldwide use the Web? Hello, you are writing a secret journal now for 20 million of your new, closest friends.

What I find even more ironic is that it is highly unlikely that anyone you know will read your blog unless you tell them about it. That is one of the basic principles of marketing. Someone must know about your product in order to use it. We have one of the most visible mediums since television was invented and you can still be relatively anonymous in front of millions of people.

So we have a paradox here. Or is it a conundrum? Regardless, it is a pretty odd kettle of steaming fish.

I make no secret that I blog or who I am when I do it. If I was worried about people discovering I was doing it, I wouldn't slap my photo up all over it. And I don't hide my name. I'd like to get credit for it. But I don't kid myself one way or the other that it will make me famous or infamous.

I think the mistakes people make who are afraid someone will read their blogs is a) writing about your job and the people you work with b) writing about their family in graphic detail c) writing about their deepest darkest secrets and d) verbalizing their weirdest fantasies or plots to overthrow the world order.

Writing about how much you hate your job and the people you work with (especially while at work) is a sure way to force yourself to find a new one. Writing about your family in graphic detail is a sure way to be written out of the will and guarantee you won't have an honored place at the family reunion. Writing about your deepest, darkest secrets speaks for itself. Remember those 20 million or so random people out there on the Information Highway looking for roadkill? If you want to keep a secret or unburdon yourself, invent an imaginary friend and tell it to them. Anything you write on the Web is not a secret. And finally, verbalizing weird fantasies or plots is a great way to find out how invasive homeland security can be.

I know it sucks to have limits, but that is what civilization is all about. Yes, as much as I believe in freedom of expression, I think everyone needs to put what they blog through a "would I sit next to this person on the bus if I knew they wrote something like this" test.

Now granted, my little theory on the new blog order breaks down in reality. It is difficult if not impossible to define what is acceptable for everyone. The courts haven't been able to do it. That is why you can pretty much do anything you want in Las Vegas as long as you have a bucket of nickels in your hand and you pretty much can't do anything you want to do in Salt Lake City unless you have a Book of Mormon in your hand.

So it all just comes down to common sense and personal responsibility. Don't blog the blog if you can't stand the heat. Save the opinions of your boss for the water cooler discussion, confront your Uncle Frank at Thanksgiving dinner like everyone else, keep your secrets in that shoebox in your head and turn your weird fantasies and plots into screenplays. Then I think you can blog away and hold your head high safe in the realization that only thing to be ashamed of about your blog is how poorly written and boring it is (and I'm referring to my own blog here, not anyone elses).

Saturday, May 20, 2006

All of my marbles


My father taught me how to play Chinese Checkers. He was good in that way in that he would spend time playing board and card games with me. Early on, he would let me win. As I picked up the nuances of the games, I would sometimes let him win.

Chinese Checkers is a mind game. It seems very simple, but it requires that you analyze the board and plan complex moves in advance that can change at the drop of a marble if your opponent moves the wrong marble. Unlike western chess, it is not hierarchial. All of the marbles looke the same. And there are no preprescribed moves that limit what each marble can do.

Maybe that is why I am better at Chinese Checkers than chess. Chinese Checkers also moves quicker. I don't really have the patience for chess.

A Chinese Checkers' board reminds me of a brain. The pattern of the marbles moving reminds me of synapses firing. A truly great move on a Chinese Checkers' board ripples along like a nerve ending being engaged. And sometimes, like a real brain, the synapses misfire and a play goes nowhere.

I don't think linear thinkers do well at Chinese Checkers because nothing moves in a straight line. I feel sorry for linear thinkers. They never seem to know what to do when they encounter an obstacle directly in front of them because it never occurs to them to move backwards or diagonally.

So Chinese Checkers to me is like life. But you really need all of your marbles to play it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Facing the future


This was an odd week. Seattle whipped through some uncharacteristically warm weather, but has returned to it's watercolor gray for the weekend. I'm sort of okay with that. By choosing to live here, I accept the rain.

Pisces love the water anyway. Good thing. Pat Robertson has predicted the Pacific Northwest will be hit by a Tsunami this year. He should know. He apparently talks to god and the leaders of the Republican party.

I'm not sure what a Tsunami would do to us here. I assume it could mean I'd end up with that waterfront property we couldn't quite afford when we bought this house.

Not that I'm too concerned about Pat's prediction. I think he is pretty much full of meadow muffins anyway. Besides, Al Gore's global warming will get us if Pat's Tsunami doesn't. Or maybe it is the ozone layer that's burned away that will signal the end. And we shouldn't forget about the terrorist threat. The killer bees are probably on their way, too. But the bird flu seems to be running neck and neck with the bees.

An 80s singer named Joe Jackson I believe once wrote a song where the lyrics went something like, "Everything gives you cancer, everything, there's no answer..." I think he was being tongue in cheek. Fact is the disasters just need to get in line.

Meanwhile, I'll just face the future as best I can and laugh. Or maybe I'll roar. It's better than a whimper.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A piece of my peace of mind


Every now and then, when I'm feeling down, I go to my happy place and recharge. I've decided to share that happy place with all of you. Just click on this link and enjoy: My happy place.

Peace!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Joke's on me...


"Do you have Prince Albert in a can?"
"Yes we do."
"You'd better let him out before he suffocates."

I doubt if many people remember Prince Albert in a can tabacco. I always thought it was Queen Victoria's husband on the front of the can. Apparently it isn't. Regardless, it made for a great telephone practical joke.

I think technology has eliminated most practical jokes involving the telephone. As much as I love caller ID, it has cut down on those random dialing of telephone number pranks I used to so love as a kid. I mean, when was the last time you called someone up and asked them if their refrigerator was running? If you use that joke now most people would just *69 and call you back screaming, "Yes, it's is running and I caught it."

I still like practical jokes though. But for the life of me, I can't figure out why practical jokes are called "practical" jokes. They aren't like sensible shoes or other "practical" things middle class America would seem to embrace.
"Hey honey, have you seen that paper bag with the dog crap in it? I was going to go over to the neighbor's house, set it on his front porch, light it on fire, ring the doorbell and run."

"I think it's in the cabinet under the sink next to the scouring pads."

"Thanks, I found it. I'll be right back."
Practical jokes aren't really practical at all. They are actually downright inconvenient. The really good ones can take quite some time to carry out. Even a "kick me" sign or thumbtack on the chair require some discrete maneuvering to implement. And balancing a bucket of water on a partially open door requires patience and a delicate touch.

I also wonder what the distinction between a practical joke and a prank are. Why is a joke practical and a prank childish? Wouldn't the Prankster have been a good enemy for Batman along with the Joker and the Riddler? And why are they called joy buzzers and whoopee cushions when they don't make you happy?

That's funny, I think I'm thinking about things too much again.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Lostness Blogger


Sometimes I take more liberties with the English language than a sportscaster. But in my post about being lost and enjoying the television series LOST, I responded to Shandi's comment that I was glad she understood my "lostness." That escalated to the Lostness Blogger and you know I can't resist an opportunity to put my face on things.

But it made me think about the Loch Ness monster. It also made me think about bigfoot, the abominable snowman (not the abdominal snowman...that would be hard to stomache) and cabin stewards on cruise ships. What do they all have in common? They supposedly exist, but you rarely catch a glimpse of them.


I have to go on record that I don't believe in any of them (okay, maybe cabin stewards). The world has just become too small for anything to escape notice. You can bet if bigfoot existed, the park service would be charging them an overnight fee for camping. And in a society where the government can snap a satellite photo of your car in your driveway from several miles up and be able to read your license plate, why can't one person take a clear photo of any of the world's missing links?

Okay, someone is going to cite a new species of monkey recently being discovered in Africa as an example of something escaping discovery for years. My response is: Gee, someone didn't notice that one of the monkeys in Africa was smaller than the rest and had an overbite. Big whoop. Go to a Walmart and you'll discover lots of creatures you swear are new species of human...sort of.

I think it is just human nature to want to believe there are still mysteries in the world. And I believe there are mysteries left in the world, just not in Loch Ness or walking around in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest leaving size 18 foot prints.

That's just my opinion, but if you do have any clear photos of Loch Ness monster or bigfoot, shoot them over to me. I'd love to Photoshop my face on them.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Deep thoughts (or not so pretty in pink)


It's about this time of year that they start playing that song targeted toward high school kid's graduating where a middle aged guy just speaks advice set to music. That advice eventually comes down to always wear sunscreen.

First, I don't like songs that are spoken instead of sang. Second, there has to be more to life to pass on to people graduating from high school than always wear sunscreen (which is good advice, but nothing I'd climb a mountain to find out from a guru).

My advice to young men graduating from high school: Never wear a pink tuxedo.

I don't speak from experience. I've never worn a pink tuxedo. That kind of common sense came naturally to me growing up in Boise. But apparently it isn't common sense in Washington state.

This isn't another one of my random thoughts. Tess and I took her mother out for dinner on Saturday night for Mother's Day. It was also prom night and the restaurant was packed with high school kids in formal wear. I was about to bite into my salad when a kid walks by wearing a powder pink tuxedo with bright pink vest and tie. The first thing that came out of my mouth was, "That's just wrong." Tess tried to tell me it is the fashion to wear a tuxedo that matches your date's dress (and yes his date was a girl).

Here is where my advice to that boy and other poor schmucks like him comes in, "Just say no." Some day that miserable little pimple farm is going to look back at photos of himself wearing a pink tuxedo and realize that was where his life took an awful twist for the worse.

The reason you should never wear a pink tuxedo and especially one that matches your prom date's dress is that no one, not even the girl you wore the hideous tux for, will ever respect you. You may think it makes you a sensitive guy and that it proves to your date that you are willing to do anything to go out with her. And you may think to yourself you are really only doing it to get lucky after the prom. But trust me, there is no way you are making it to home plate wearing a pink tuxedo. You aren't even going to be a bat boy that night. You are making someone at the tux rental place very happy, though.

Again, this is just common sense. I never wore a pink tuxedo. I never even went to prom.

But I do have my dignity intact.

And I wear sunscreen.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day


My mother was being a mother before she was a mother. That is her on the right holding her brother Ira. Her cousin is holding Ira's twin sister Erma. My mother, J. Ruth (Clark) H****, was the third oldest of 13 children and rarely recalls a time she did not have a baby on her hip while growing up.

After being the sister-mother to so many siblings, my mother chose only to have two children of her own. I was the third and last (shown above on her hip) . If you are skilled in rudimentary math, you'll realize that is one more than she wanted. I was reminded many times while growing up that I was an accident, not an intention, and after two boys, she was hoping for a girl. So I grew up feeling as though I wasn't really wanted and I was a disappointment. My mother did not mean this as cruel. She made it clear that, although not planned and not a girl, I was loved. I eventually believed her.

I do not consider myself a great son. Oh, I remember my mother's birthday and I send flowers on Mother's Day, but I would not put me in the category of being a great son because I do not visit more than once a year. This is not to say I don't feel guilty about not being a better son. If my mother needed something, I would be there, but part of growing up the way she did also seemed to make her one of these really strong people that always seem to be able to take care of everything. She is 81 and still maintains her own yard and home.

My father died about 13 years ago and I've regreted not finding out more about his life from him before he died. I've decided I'm not going to make that same mistake with my mother. I've spoken several times about pursuing genealogy and my family tree. Since my father was adopted, my family tree is a bit lopsided on my mother's side. So I've decided to take an unscheduled trip back to Boise to visit my mother and talk to her about her life.

I would like to say I am doing this for my mother and to be a better son. I can't help but think, though, that it is really selfishly for me. My mother holds the living key to where I came from. And though I've heard her stories many times growing up, this time I'm going to listen and write them down.

So although I intended to make this post a tribute to my mother for Mother's Day, I'm going to hold off on the real tribute until after my journey home (probably a couple of weeks from now). In the meantime, although she doesn't have a computer, nor would she have a clue what a blog is if she had one, I want to wish my mother a Happy Mother's Day and tell her I love her (even if I was unplanned and a disappointment).

Friday, May 12, 2006

I think, therefore I jam


I find it ironic that we can think too much about things, especially in a world where I don't think a lot of people even think at all. Though I think it would be cool to be paid for thinking and work in a think tank. It would be easier to describe your day.

"Hi honey, what did you do today?"

"I thought about things."

"That's nice, what would you like for dinner?"

"Let me think about it."

On second thought, if I thought for a living, I'd be bringing work home all of the time.

But I do think it is possible to over think things. I think that is where animals have the advantage over people. I watch our cats and they tend to spend most of their time just kind of moving through the moment. If they appear to stop and reflect on anything very long, they tend to fall asleep. This seems to be a pretty comfortable way to spend your life. But since the cats don't seem to think about it, they may not view it that way.

Thinking complicates things. For example, I've never understood signs at works sites that simply say, "THINK." I wonder how many factory workers have stopped to stare at a "THINK" sign and got their hand stuck in a conveyor belt. Think about it.

Obviously I'm still in my lost mode. I think Mickey Ripped has the right idea. When he is feeling lost, he crawls under his bed with a bowl of popcorn. If you think about it, it seems like a pretty smart thing to do.

Scarlett O'Hara dealt with her issues by not thinking about them today. I wonder if she ever did think about them when she returned to Tara.

Forest Gump limited his thinking to fortune cookie length thoughts and then truncated any elaborations on his thoughts with, "That's all I have to say about that."

I once thought about how bread rises. But that was back in college and I'd been expanding my mind with herbal supplements.

I think that is all I have to say about that.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

But can I be found?



Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once watched LOST but can I be found,
Was blind, but now, I have TV.

-- Amazing Grace (sort of)

No I haven't found religion, but I do watch LOST, the television series. It is a program about miracles, the first one being that it has been on for almost two years now and has only covered three months of the lives of an airplane load of people stranded on a tropical island (which in reality is Hawaii). The second miracle is that these people are stranded on a tropical island with umpteen beautiful beaches and not once has someone tried to sell them Chiclets or wood carvings.

A majority of LOST's multiple storylines take place in flashbacks. I have watched LOST from the beginning and I am still amazed at the writer's abilities to keep track of these multiple storylines. I'm still trying to figure out what the polar bear that was shot early in the series was doing in Hawaii.

I mention LOST only because I like the program, it was on last night and I've been feeling that way lately about blogging....lost, that is. This is not to say that I ever really had a direction I was headed with my blog. But even the television series LOST claims that everything happens in it for a reason.

Sometimes I believe that. I believe I write about certain things at certain times for a reason. But sometimes I lose that feeling. And then I really feel lost. It's that "Horton Hears a Who" feeling again of shouting to be heard, but this time I can't even hear my own voice.

But then again, I think we all lose our way at times. Even Rose almost stopped blowing her whistle at the end of Titanic (after breaking Jack's dead hand from her grip and letting him sink to the bottom of the ocean...a symbolic moment if I ever saw one). But against all odds she decided to keep trying to be heard and was rescued.

Not that I'm looking to be rescued...just heard.

Can you hear me now?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

For whom the blog trolls...



In Internet terminology, a troll is someone who comes into an established community such as an online discussion forum, and posts inflammatory, rude or offensive messages designed to annoy and antagonize the existing members or disrupt the flow of discussion.
--Wikipedia

I have been bothered ever since I read an anonymous couple of comments someone left on a fellow blogger's blog the other day. And I know I shouldn't give trolls any attention because that is what they crave. But the comments were just so mean spirited and cowardly that I was shocked back into reality that, although we feel comfortable in our little blog communities, any twit can do an anonymous hit and run on the Internet Highway and drive off smugly without consequence.

It doesn't help to know it is illegal to annoy people anonymously on the Internet. George W. signed the law in January 2006 making it illegal to harass people anonymously via the Internet (apparently it is okay to harass them if you make your identity known). I'm not sure how you go about evoking that law. I think it is illegal to spam people, too, but I get hundreds of them a day.

The fellow blogger handled his troll much more graciously than I would. He simply deleted the comments and activated the moderation function of blogger. I'm afraid I would have been tempted to rage at the mindless troll and mock their grammer and spelling (which was pretty infantile). That would have shown them.

I have been lucky so far and haven't seemed to have attract any trolls. Perhaps this is because I tend to blog below the radar and don't allow anonymous comments. I figure if you have something to say, you should be willing to accept what I have to say back to you.

I really can't say I understand the mentality of a troll. It must be the same as an arsonist or vandal who gets off on watching the chaos they've created but isn't wired to accept the consequences. All I can say is that the term "troll" is an apt one. You belong there under the bridge with the rest of the scum.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Portraits


My 30th high school reunion is coming up this summer. It doesn't seem that long ago that I went to the 10 year reunion and discovered that nothing much had changed in the first decade since I'd graduated. Oh sure, lots of my classmates had gotten married and had children. Some had even divorced in that short time. But for the most part, everyone was still young and attached to the personae's they had forged in high school.

Ten years later, I went the first night event of my 20-year reunion and realized I didn't recognize anyone (even the ones I sort of knew in high school). I did notice there were a lot less attendees, a lot less hair, a lot more bellies and a lot more water under the bridge. But after awhile, I began to pick up the same vibes I'd felt in high school. The popular people were clustered in groups and the fringe people were on the fringes beginning to feel inadequate in the same way they'd felt in high school. I left quickly and blew off the rest of the reunion activities.

So last week, I received an e-mail telling me about the 30th high school reunion and directing me to a Web site for it. I surfed through it and was startled to see a photo of me from the 20th year reunion. Someone from my class mentioned they'd seen the photo and it appeared that I had "aged well."

Aged well? And that photo was taken 10 years ago. What would they think now? I'm well-preserved? Wines are aged well. Mummies are well preserved. Sigh.


Wouldn't it be nice to have one of those portraits like in Oscar Wilde's Portrait of Dorian Grey that aged for you? Ironically, it's just the opposite. Our portraits remain young while we age and remind us that, although we don't feel any different, we definitely look different.

I think I'll skip my 30th reunion and send an old photo instead.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Orbs


THE Michael has returned from St. Petersburg, Florida and captured some pretty incredible photographs of his adventures including the one above from a cemetary. He claims to have used an orb filter to screen out any spirit photos, but one merely has to look a little closer to discover the truth. Perhaps for a moment, THE Michael stepped into:



Dizgraceland....do, do, do, doo...do, do, do, doo...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Take a picture

Now, more than any time in history, it is easy to take a photo of anything, anywhere at any time. Like anything, this is a double-edged sword. From a security standpoint, this is cool. From a privacy standpoint, this sucks.

The rich and famous have always been aware of the pitfalls of being in a fishbowl and being barraged by the papparazzi. It is the rest of us that I think it is taking by suprise. We have cameras pretty much everywhere in the building I work in. And every now and then I catch myself, let's say, scratching my nose rather enthusiastically while I wait for the elevator and I look up and realize I'm standing under one of the security camera's. Then I sheepishly walk by one of the security guards a few hours later and see them shake their head in disgust.

Cameras are everywhere. They monitor parking lots, freeways, bank machines, and bulding entrances. Television programs like Vegas lead us to believe that you can't even go to the bathroom in a casino without someone filming it. And some sites on the Internet confirm that.

Hollywood also has convinced us that the government has spy satellites that can zoom in from the sky and tell you what color your eyes are. And from some of the satellite photography I've seen, they aren't that far off.

What is worse than the spy cameras are the proliferation of camera phones. It is sad that we now have an entire generation who not only can't go anywhere, including the bathroom, without a cell phone, but now have the means to capture and send photos of their immediate environment. Some athletic clubs are now banning cell phones from locker rooms. Having been in a men's locker room, trust me, it is nothing you'd like to see a photo of. It does, however, add a whole new meaning to the old advertising slogan for the telephone company: Reach out and touch someone.

Digital photography has revolutionized how we think of photography. Photographs used to be reserved for special occasions and you'd often have a roll of film in the camera for up to a year or two before you'd finished off the roll and sent it in for processing. You could easily have Christmas, birthdays, Easter and Halloween shots on one roll.

Digital cameras have eliminated discretion when it comes to shooting photos. And I'm as guilty as they come. I catch myself shooting photos of everything in my hotel rooms when I'm on vacation. You never know when you'll need a photo of the toiletries on a bathroom counter.

On the plus side, digital photography does allow every aspect of history to be documented for posterity. I fantasize sometimes about how our perspective would be changed if we could actually see real photos of some of the great events in history. We'd probably be greatly disillusioned to discover many of the great events probably never really happened.

It is the beauty of human nature to allow their built in defense mechanisms kick in when faced with even photographic evidence. To this day some whack jobs think the moon walks were staged on a Hollywood set. But I'm no one to talk. Almost every day I prove that it is fairly easy to tweak a digital image to allow you to become part of just about any scene in history. Who knows, maybe I have discovered time travel and the photos THE Michael rages on about are all real.

In the meantime, I have just one word of advice for you when faced with a world that is captured with a camera lense at an ever increasing rate -- smile.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Where it will go...


I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where will it go
--Fixing a hole, The Beatles

It may come as a suprise to some of you that I don't always have something in mind to write about when I begin a new post. More often than not, I start with an image and let my synapses fire at will. Okay, maybe it isn't a suprise to some of you.

I was inspired a couple of months ago by an article in The Onion called, "I can write 600 words about anything," by Jason Alford. He brags about his uncanny ability to write 600 words about anything, including 600 words about his uncanny ability to write 600 words about anything.

I believe I share his uncanny ability to write 600 words about anything. I proved it back in June of last year when I blathered on about the horned viper and I had never heard of the horned viper until I opened up a dictionary to a random page and chose the horned viper as my subject (it too, was an uninspired blogging day). Not that I counted the words. I’m sure there were at least 600 words. It takes discipline though, to write a specific number of words.

Oh, I suppose it is kind of a cop out to write about your ability to write anything about 600 words. Though I don’t think it is as big a cop out as writing nonsensical, convoluted logic about only wanting what we already have. I have to admit, that was pretty lame. I shouldn’t use the word “lame.” I was chastised several years ago after using the word “lame” as in “lame excuse.” I was informed that I was making fun of people with disabilities by using that term. I really don’t think It was, though.

But I am digressing. I do that a lot. Ask Lights in the Wake.

I guess writing about writing about anything isn’t as big as a cop out as not writing at all. But then again, I’ve been writing professionally for almost 20 years, so it really doesn’t take me much time to write in my blog everyday. The digitally enhanced images I’ve become so fond of (and THE Michael seems so down on), however, do take a bit of work. And come to think of it, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I really am ahead of the curve whenever I include an image in a blog post.

I wonder why they call them posts. You don’t put them in the ground. Oops…digressing again. Focus is the key in cranking out 600 words about anything. I suppose focus is the key in doing anything that requires focus. But then again, I do wear glasses, but just for reading now. I had that Lasik surgery about three or four years ago. I had worn glasses since I was 14 years old. It is quite the miracle. It doesn’t really help you focus on writing 600 words about anything, though. That takes training, experience and appreciation for words. And I do appreciate words. They fascinate me. But they also baffle me at times. For example, why does a rooster crow, but a crow doesn’t rooster?

Oh well, what’s important about writing is understanding words and how they are strung together into coherent sentences that sound like they mean something meaningful. And when you are writing 600 words about anything, you have to be able to stop when you reach exactly 600 words and not one more.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

If I only...


Try as I might, I end up with themes. The damned flying monkeys keep bringing me back to Oz. Ironically Seattle is nicknamed the Emerald City. I remember the contest they held back in the 1980s to name it. It was the city's desperate attempt to get away from being simply known as the Rainy City. Even if you paint spots on a pig, it still oinks.

But I digress.

I am struck that, like the characters in the Wizard of Oz, people spend a great deal of time longing for things. Now granted, a brain, heart, home and courage do seem to be pretty basic expectations. But the moral of the Wizard of Oz was that a great deal of time was spent searching for something that each character had in the first place.

However, if you actually didn't have a brain, heart, or courage, would you really have the cognitive reasoning capacity, emotional integrity and backbone to actually go out of your way to try to get them (I left out home on purpose because not having a home would definitely motivate you get one)? I don't think so. I have encountered brainless, heartless cowards before and there didn't seem to be anything in their character that would motivate them to seek improvement.

Therefore, one would have to conclude that we only long for the things we already have. But according to the Rolling Stones, you don't always get what you want, you get what you need. So if you only long for what you already have, but only get what you need, then doesn't that mean you only need what you have? But where did that come from and why do you want it if you already have it? I have my suspicions that this is all just an elaborate plot to convince people to settle.

I was never very good in logic class and my brain now hurts.

But at least that is a good sign I have one.

And the courage to say so.

Not to mention alot of heart.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fading away


About a year ago, I wrote about being invisible. I could have simple copied and pasted that post here today. No one read it the first time, so it wouldn't be like I was repeating myself. Though that is what we tend to do as we begin to fade into the woodwork.

I used to wonder why my 81-year old mother repeats things. I'd be on the phone and she'd tell me the same story umpteen times. I'd stop her and say, "Mom, you told me that already." She'd pause for a moment and then start up where she left off. I think I understand that now.

It's not just that we forget what we've said as we get older (though I'm sure that is part of it). I think that we repeat things because the process of becoming invisible as we get older also affects what we say and what people hear. We begin repeating things to try and be heard.

Sometimes I stand invisibly at the checkout stand and listen to the checker chattering to the person bagging the groceries about what they are going to do that evening. I could be dressed in a chicken costume, flapping my wings and crowing and they would not acknowledge me until they've printed out the receipt, read my name and say, "You've saved $5.33 today, Mr. H****. Have a nice day." It is the same at video stores, dry cleaners and the post office...wait, they've always ignored everyone at the post office.

It is my karma. It is all of our karma's for being arrogant in our youth and believing we will be unique and not age. We believe we will never have hair grow in odd places or get confused or move slowly. And we never stop rushing blindly into the future until we reach the top of that hill, see the downgrade sign and frantically start braking.

Maybe nature makes us invisible as we age to protect us from scrutiny if we try to ignore the process. If people can't see us then they won't notice the comb overs, the pony tails, too much make up or, god forbid, the black socks with shorts. Nothing can shield you if you are wearing a Speedo. You deserve whatever ridicule is heaped on you.

I got into a discussion a couple of weeks ago about famous people who died young. The person I was talking with tried to say that great talent was what created fame. I took the position that talent was only part of it but it was the youth we worshipped. Elvis, Marilyn, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and James Dean wouldn't be icons if they'd lived and faced the inevitable ravages of time. I cited Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor as perfect examples. And anyone who watched the Rolling Stones during the Superbowl halftime seem to concur that one more tour wasn't a great idea.

In many ways, I don't mind getting older and disappearing slowly. It is kind of pleasant to slow down and notice the scenery. But I'd be lying if I didn't say it gets to me sometimes to hover unnoticed in the crowds of younger people rushing by and not be seen or heard.

Maybe that's why I blog. Everyone is more or less invisible here, even the young. So it kind of evens out the playing field. It's my travelogue as I coast down the hill. And just between you a me, I don't always use my brakes.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fly, my pretties, fly...



Maybe it was all of this talk about angels and wings, but for some reason I started thinking this morning about the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. And the flying monkeys made me think about the Wicked Witch of the West and the Wicked Witch of the West made me think about my 5th grade teacher because she was the spitting image of the Wicked Witch of the West. But in all fairness to the witch, my 5th grade teacher was nastier.

First, I want to go on record at this point and say I was a perfect student. I say this in all modesty, because I was just one of those kids who was terrified of authority and did everything he was told to do by teachers. I didn't talk. I listened and I did all my assignments. Teachers loved me. My first grade teacher named her firstborn son Tim because I was such a delight. In hindsight I would probably say it was because I was a good monkey and danced on command. So it was a major "life is not fair" lesson when it came time to go into 5th grade and I was assigned to a harpy who wanted a monkey who could fly as well as dance.


Mrs. Gussie had been around awhile. She was legendary for simply being evil. I spent all summer before 5th grade sweating which teacher I would get. I wanted Mr. Spencer. He was from Texas and wore a cowboy hat. He taught P.E. He played guitar and sang to his class. He was cool. But of course when I rode my bike to the school a week before school started to look at the class roster list tacked up on the front door, my name was right there under Mrs. Gussie.

If a ten-year old can experience true depression, that was my moment. For some reason karma had pegged me for serving hard time in 5th grade and Mrs. Gussie was my jailor. I could almost hear the kids around me murmuer, "Dead man walking...," as I headed down the hall for my first day of class.

This is probably where you are thinking this is going to be one of those cute tales about a strict teacher with a bad reputation that turns out to be a life changing mentor. No. Mrs. Gussie was a witch. To this day if I was in my car and saw her in a crosswalk, I'd seriously consider gunning it.

She looked so much like the Wicked Witch of the West that I used to find myself sitting in class kicking my heels together and whispering, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home..." And to make it even freakier, she had this flaming red hair that looked like her head was on fire. I used to fantasize that someone would throw a bucket of water on her to put it out and she'd melt away into the floorboards like the Wicked Witch she was.

I found out too late that the reason I was assigned to Mrs. Gussie's class was that I had signed up for band that year. All of the band kids were in her class. And three times a week we'd be excused to go to the auditorium to go practise with the district music teacher. The non-band kids would stay with Mrs. Gussie and she'd teach them singing. After our first band class, we returned to Mrs. Gussie's room and made the mistake of just walking in to return to our seats. She immediately began shrieking at us that we should never interrupt her singing class. We were to stand in the hallway when we returned and wait until she came to get us.

The next time we returned from band class, we stood obediantly waiting outside the door for ten minutes until she finally popped her head out and began shrieking at us for just standing there keeping the rest of the class waiting. Even at aged ten I realized she was a major whack job.

Every day was like that with Mrs. Gussie. I think she was bi-polar. I was terrified to set her off and I was one of the unusually well-behaved monkeys. I pitied the more spirited kids in the class, particularily Al Eichols. He was this weird, gangly boy who couldn't sit still and wasn't much on paying attention. Unlike other teachers who sent kids to the principal for discipline, Mrs. Gussie believed in cutting out the middle man. She kept a ominous looking paddle next to her desk. And almost daily she'd drag Al into the book room next to our class and we'd hear the sound of the paddle echo loudly down the hallway as Mrs. Gussie whaled away on Al's behind.

But oddly enough, Al would always come swaggering back into class with a big grin on his face followed by Mrs. Gussie with her eyes bulging out in anger that he wasn't crying after the paddling. Al became our Coolhand Luke.

It seemed like the longest year of my young life. I created one of those paper chains at home that you used to make to count down to major events by ripping off one of the links at a time. Only this time I was counting down weeks until I got away from Mrs. Gussie.

Finally, I ripped off the last link of that chain and I was free from 5th grade. I walked out of her classroom and I could have swore she cackled, "Fly, my pretties, fly..." When I was out the door I began singing, "Ding dong, the witch is dead, the wicked witch, the wicked witch. Ding dong the wicked witch is dead!" But I kept looking over my shoulder.

I still can't watch Wizard of Oz all the way through without twitching.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I'm no angel


To work it out I let them in
All the good guys and the bad guys that I've been
All the devils that disturbed me and the angels that defeated them somehow
Come together in me now
--"Phantom's Theme", Phantom of the Paradise, Paul
Williams


No, it isn't going to be angel week at Dizgraceland. After Wild West Week bombed, I'm kind of down on theme weeks (not down with, either). So expect a week of random things (more random than normal).

But back to angels. What are they? By definition, they are god's messengers. My mother used to tell me they were god's thoughts being sent to man. But I still have lots of questions about them.

Lot's of the angels have masculine names, but why do you rarely see a male angel? When you do see a painting of one, they are all pasty faced and never have beards. What is that all about? Isn't Jesus always depicted with a beard (except in the manger)? Is there alot of waxing and shaving going on in heaven?

And how do you get to be an angel? Apparently there is a whole intricate hierarchy involved in the angel world. Depending upon who you talk to, angels are divided up into these categories --

First Hierarchy: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones or Ophanim
Second Hierarchy: Principalities, Virtues, Powers
Third Hierarchy: Dominions, Archangels, Angels

The Saraphim are the highest order of angels. They apparently get to sit around god's throne singing his praises all of the time (sort of like Bush's cabinet members). Apparently Satan was once a Saraphim, but he wanted to sing solo and was booted from heaven.

We hear alot about archangels, but apparently they are just god's bureaucrats dealing with earthly matters. The pope has identified seven of them: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Simiel, Orifiel, and Zachariel.

The lowest angels are called simply, "angels" (as in Charlie's Angels). They are the ones who have to deal directly with people (kind of like god's customer service representatives).

I've never been much on clubs or structure, so being an angel doesn't sound like my cup of tea. And apparently hell has it's hierarchy of devils as well. They are all fallen angels and have names. The fallen seraphim are Lucifer (the head cheese), Beelzebub (his second in command), Leviathan (he came along for the ride), Asmodeus, Abaddon, Samael, and Semyazza.

The fallen cherubim are Balberith (the leader of the fallen cherubim), Azazel, Lauviah, Marou, and Salikotal. The fallen thrones are Astaroth, Verrine, Gressil, Sonneillon, Focalor, Forneas, Murmur (he's hard to understand), Nelchael, Pruflas and Raum. The fallen powers are Carreau and Carnivean. The fallen dominions are Oeillet and Rosier. Verrier is the only fallen principality. Finally we have the fallen virtue, Belial; the fallen archangel, Olivier and a fallen angel, Iuvart.

This is another reason why I'll never be an angel or a devil. My name is too short. The Archangel Tim just sounds stupid. And apparently you have to have a name that sounds like you are clearing your throat to be a devil or demon.

So bottomline, I'll never be an angel. But it would be cool to have wings.