Saturday, September 30, 2006

A boy and his dog



Old Shep

"When I was a lad
And old Shep was a pup
Over hills and meadows we’d stray
Just a boy and his dog
We were both full of fun
We grew up together that way

Old Shep he has gone
Where the good doggies go
And no more with old Shep will I roam
But if dogs have a heaven
There’s one thing I know
Old Shep has a wonderful home"
--Elvis Presley (words & music by foley - westpar)

When I was a baby, our family had a dog named Lucky. Lucky wasn't. He had a tendency to bite people so my mother sent him away to live on the perverbial farm when I was a toddler.

The first dog I really remember when I was growing up was Shep. That's me in the photo above, towering over him when he was a puppy. It was nice to have someone in the family shorter than I was.

Shep was a Beagle-Dachshund mix. Our neighbor had been hunting and found Shep and his brother abandoned in field. And being your typical five-year old boy, my radar discovered the puppies the minute the neighbor brought them home. I would run over there the minute I got home from school and roll around letting the puppies swarm over me trying to lick my face. The puppies were identical except one had a a small tuft of white hair at the end of his tail. That made him special to me.

I should have known then I'd have a career in marketing. It didn't take me more than two days to convince my parents we needed one of the puppies. I remember bringing the "special" puppy home, adament that I carry him despite the fact that he was almost as big as me.

I named the new puppy Shep. I'd never heard the Elvis song, "Old Shep." At the time, I don't think I knew who Elvis was. Shep was short for "shepard," because it was around Christmas and I liked the phrase "the shepards stood watch in the fields at night." Give me a break, I was five years old.

Shep would be waiting patiently for me when I came home from school and respond untiringly when I threw a ball or stick. My father built him a doghouse. I drew pictures of dog family portraits and glued them on the inside walls of the doghouse. Shep seemed to like the drawings. At least he never complained about them to me.

Shep soon became part of the family. He would go everywhere with us. He loved riding in the car. He would ride in the back seat with my brothers and I'd ride in the front seat with my parents. I used to get car sick so both he and I would have our heads out the car window at the same time. Shep was much more sympathetic than my father was when I'd toss my cookies out the window onto the side of the car on a particularily windy road.

Shep was chronically flatulent (something he and my oldest brother Ted had in common). So I always appreciated that, with Shep's head out the car window, his butt was in my brother's face for hours during most trips. Shep would also get very excited when he was going on a trip. The more excited he got, the more flatulent he became and the more my brothers suffered.

I remember on trip in particular. My brothers started hollering for my father to stop because they were sure Shep needed to relieve himself (apparently the farting was reaching a new level). It was a mountain road and places to pull over were few and far between. My father responded to the emergency in his usual fashion. He yelled at my brothers to shut up. My mother responded in her usual fashion. She started giggling uncontrollably and rummaging in her purse for a tissue. I forgot about being carsick momentarily as my brothers began calling out, "It's coming out." My mother found the tissue in the nick of time and I relished the fact that my brothers were forced to catch Shep's crap in a Kleenex. Shep meanwhile continued to enjoy the scenary. Dogs are pretty nonchalant about such things.

Shep loved to go camping with us. He loved the outdoors. He was one of the few ones in the family (other than my oldest brother Ted) who actually liked to accompany my father fishing. He'd trot along for hours with his Beagle body and Dachsund legs without complaint as my father worked the Middle Fork of the Boise River for trout.

On one trip Shep actually saved Ted from drowning. Ted had waded out into a particularly deep portion of the river and lost his balance in the swift current. Shep, happened to be paddling around nearby and Ted grabbed his tail. Shep pulled him to shallow water (though I think he may been more interested in saving himself than Ted).

Shep lived to a ripe old age of about 12 years. To the end he loved the ladies (unlike the polictically correct society of today, we never had Shep "fixed"). Any chance he could, he'd be over the fence looking for a date. It's what eventually did him in. One night he never came home. My father went out looking for him and came back in about an hour crying and carrying Shep's limp body. He'd been hit by a car. It was one of the few times I'd ever seen my dad cry. I helped him bury Shep in the backyard under a tree. And we both wept together at the loss.

To this day, when I visit my mom in Boise and walk out into the backyard of the house I grew in, I think of Shep. I pay my respects at his grave and, though I'm not a religious man, I know his spirit is somewhere chasing the wind and laughing the way dogs do when they are happy.

And if this post seems maudlin to you, than so be it. Shep and I were children together and were best friends as only a boy and his dog (or a girl and her dog) can be. He was a good soul. I think he deserves a tribute.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

You want the Tutu-ruth?


"So chances are that the truth could come waltzing up to most people wearing a pink tutu and a feather duster in its bum and no one would recognize it anyway."
--Tim Id,
Lost and Profound
I've always wanted to quote myself. So here is the pink tutu. You'll have to use your imagination when it comes to the feather duster. Some things are just private. And I can't really waltz.

The truth is that I am just an ordinary person with extraordinary aspirations. But then, aren't we all?

Take geniuses for example. Someone is considered a genius if they have an IQ of 140 or more. Wouldn't it be a bitch to have an IQ of 139? Wouldn't that just suck? No one wants to be known as almost a genius. "Hey, there is my son. He's not quite a genius, but he is close."

The truth is, I'm not a genius, but I want to be. I want to win the race, not just finish it. I want to be Miss America (not literally), not be the first runner up. I want to be on the red carpet, not standing behind the rope. I want to be in First Class, not sitting one row behind the curtain eating peanuts. I want to be somebody, not just somebody's brother.

The truth is that it is important whether you win or lose, not how you play the game. Coffee is for closers. Winner's do get the spoils. The meek won't inherit the world. Nice guys do finish last. No one will respect you in the morning. Government doesn't work for your good and no, there is no check in the mail.

The truth is that the truth is not pretty. Just look at my picture.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dark wings


I'm feeling a bit lugubrious (yes, there is that word again) about my blogging of late. My flights of fancy seem to all be taking a dark turn. Maybe it is the time of year. Fall always has me flirting with melancholy.

It's not even that I feel like I'm in a rut when it comes topics for my posts. Making something out of nothing is my speciality. I'm just wondering if nothing is enough.

I'm beginning to feel like my friend Gunter. But at least he has his lack of command of the English language to blame his incomprehensibility on. I'm beginning to think all I can blame mine on is being obtuse.

My essay on how Leon Spinks is not really the legendary Sphinx of Thebes fell flatter than the Sphinx did when it threw itself off the wall when Oedipus answered its riddle. Shoot, I even have michael suggesting I have Lights rewrite my Dr. Zeus poetry and Kristy correcting my grammar. How can you get much lower than that?

I suppose I should just call it quits. I should board up Dizgraceland and fire all of the servants. I should slink off into the electronic ether of the Internet and fade away like the rest of the shadows. It would be just as though I'd written everything here in the sand. If I walked away the waves would come and within minutes there would be no sign that I'd ever been here.

But that's life.

I told you I was feeling lugubrious.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Incessant chatter



Blather is blather whether you talk it or write it. I try not to engage in it. I prefer these Blizkrieg-like posts where I get you in and send you packing in under two minutes. If a post requires most people to scroll past one screen, I've pretty much lost them.

Unfortunately that is the way I am when I read things on the Web. Put it on a printed page and I can read Moby Dick (but not necessarily like or understand it). Put it on a computer screen and my attention span becomes gnatlike and I become a good candidate for ritalin.

Putting images in your online text helps. Make them animated and I will stare at them like my beloved lava lamp and ooh and ahhh like I'm watching Fourth of July fireworks. But make me scroll and read long blocks of text that aren't even broken into bite sized paragraphs and I'll soon be tapdancing like a chicken on a hotplate.

It's not that I don't appreciate well-written prose or profound insights into life. I'm just like the millions of other attention deficit time-impaired people who need to multi-task while they skateboard down that information highway. Most of the time I'm also watching television or reading something else while I'm surfing the Web. Give me a fast lane, not a detour with speed bumps. Say what you want to say, don't get too poetical and keep it within one or two screen scrolls.

It's a new medium we are creating out here. Call it junk journalism or minute essays, but if you want to get your message across, do it quickly and concisely. Make it interesting. Make it shocking. But don't make it drone on forever.

None of us are getting any younger.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Riddle of the Sphinxes


What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?
--Riddle of the Sphinx

I know a lot of people think I'm dumb. Well, at least I ain't no educated fool.
--Riddle of Leon Spinks

A sphincter says, what?
--Stupid riddle


In Greek mythology, a Sphinx (a winged creature with a lion's body and a women's torso) sat outside of Thebes and asked a riddle of anyone stupid enough to pass by and stop. If the person failed to solve the riddle, then the Sphinx killed and ate them. But if the traveler answered the riddle correctly, then the Sphinx, a bit of a prima donna, would destroy herself. Until the Sphinx met Oedipus, this wasn't a problem.

If you aren't familiar with Greek myths or psychological syndromes, Oedipus was the son of the King of Thebes. The king was told by an oracle (the ancient Greek version of Psychic Hot line) that he would be killed by his own son who would then marry his mother. The king was obviously kind of bummed by this revelation and ordered a servant to pierce his son's ankles and leave him to die on a lonely mountain.

A shepherd found the boy and took him to the King of Corinth. The queen didn't have any children of her own and believed the gods had sent this one. She named the boy Oedipus (which is Greek for swollen foot...I'm not making this up). They never told Oedipus that he was adopted or that his name meant, "swollen foot."

As fate would have it, another oracle told Oedipus that he would kill his own father and marry his mother. Oedipus loved his parents (but not in that way). So he left Corinth rather than risk having the prediction come true. On the road he ran into his real father, the king of Thebes. The king was rude to Oedipus and the two ended up fighting. Oedipus killed him. Personally, I think the guy had it coming.

Oedipus proceeds to Thebes, runs into the Sphinx who asks him her riddle: What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon and on three legs in the evening? Oedipus thinks and says, "Uh...a man?" The Sphinx replies, "No...er...well, yes." Then she falls off the wall and dies. Most of the people in Thebes were relieved. The Sphinx was kind of putting a damper on the tourist trade.

Oedipus was treated as a hero and taken to the palace where he meets the widow of the Thebian king (his mother). She hasn't seen her husband in a year and seduces Oedipus. They marry. Eventually they find out that the oracle's prediction has come true. Oedipus' mother hangs herself and Oedipus plucks his eyes out (personally I think he should have plucked something else off, if you catch my drift).

The lesson here, other than not killing your father and marrying your mother is not to mess with karma and solve any Sphinx's riddle. If you do, you could end up like Oedipus or Leon Spinks.


Okay, and just for the record, Leon Spinks technically has nothing to do with the Sphinx of Thebes. Some people may think so since his last name sounds like "Sphinx," but is spelled, "Spinks." Spinks was the Heavyweight Champion of the World back in the late 70s. He beat Muhammad Ali in a historic fight in Las Vegas in 1978 to gain the crown. Muhammad Ali was kind of old at this point and a boxing legend, so it was kind of like symbolically killing your father. But he made up for it by fighting Ali again in September of that year and losing the title.

After getting the crap beat out of him for several years, Spinks went on to make his living signing authographs at major autograph signing shows throughout the United States. Ironically it is said that if you approach him on the street, he will sign an autograph for free.

There is a lesson somewhere here, but I just can't put my finger on it. But if someone ever does say to you, "A sphincter says, what?" Don't respond, "What?"

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dr. Zeus



Sometimes I wish I was the god Zeus,
Don't laugh and point, I'm not a silly Geus.
I just think it would be fun to live on Mount Olympus,
I'd be big, and strong and not a human Wympus.

Being king of the gods would really be a feat,
I'd be loved, I'd be worshipped, I'd be one of the eleat.
I could throw bolts of lightening and start lots of fires,
While woodnymphs and fair maidens serenaded me with their lires.

But sadly, Zeus was just a god of the Greeks,
If you believe in him now, people will say you're a geek.
Still, now and then, being Zeus would be fun,
Being a god really rules, when all's said and dun.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Third eye wide shut or salute to the pineal gland




"Man, I'll try just about anything, but I'd never in hell touch a pineal gland. "
--Dr. Gonzo, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


I've never really given my pineal gland much thought before I started writing this post. It is a small gland (about the size of a pea) located in the center of the brain. Being a gland, I always assumed that it secreted things. And I don't associate pleasant images with the word "secreted." It is right up there with "ooze." It conjures up images of slugs and poisonous toads "secreting" vile liquids.

The pineal gland's job, however, is to produce melatonin. The production of melatonin is inhibited by light and stimulated by darkness. Thus melatonin is apparently known as the "hormone of darkness." This would make the pineal gland the "Gland of Darkness" which would be a bitching name for a comic book anti-hero.

But I digress.

Near as scientists can figure, melatonin plays some role in our sleep patterns. You can take melatonin tablets to help control jet lag or other sleep deprivation problems. Anyway, the pineal gland works the night shift producing melatonin. It goes to work when the retina sends a signal that it is dark out.

It was only recently that scientists figured out what the pineal gland actually did. Brain surgeons apparently kept poking it with a needle and asking each other, "Hey, what does this thing do" for a long time before they figured out the melatonin angle. Before that, people like Rene Descartes thought the pineal gland was the "seat of the soul" (which would have ment our souls are the size of a pea). And to this day, some mideastern philosophies associate the penial gland with the elusive "sixth chakra" or "third eye."

Growing up, I would have associated having a third eye with being a Martian like one of my Aunt Gladys' kids. But on a more spiritual level, the third eye is how we focus on the spiritual world (i.e. elightenment and psychic visions). It has been speculated that, in addition to melatonin, the pineal gland may also cook up another substance known as dimethyltryptamine or DMT. DMT may be responsible for our dreams. Ingested in larger doses, it can cause hallucinations. I think the pineal gland makes and takes DMT to stay awake at night while it is making melatonin. This is just my theory.

Anyway, all of this makes me respect my pineal gland. It is a highly underrated gland that definitely doesn't get the press it deserves. I would suggest that before you go to sleep tonight, you stop and thank your pineal gland for regulating your sleep patterns with melatonin and urge it to knock itself out with the DMT production. Because such stuff are dreams made of.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A black and white point of view

Yin is a Chinese term that literally means "shady." Yang is a Chinese term that means "sunny." It's pretty basic. Yin is feminine and Yang is masculine. The Yin/Yang represents opposite yet complementary parts. They are most often represented in the western culture by the Yin/Yang symbol. The dark half represents Yin and the light half represents Yang. So in essence, it reduces the world to black and white.


To me the Yin/Yang symbol has always looked like two sperm chasing each other's tails. It also reminds me of my Astrological symbol, Pisces, which is symbolized by two fish chasing their tails. I could go down all kinds of philosophical Taoist roads in talking about Yin and Yang, but I think it just boils down to two opposites chasing each other's tails.

Oh we could use more eloquent terms like duality or dichotomy when we talk about Yin/Yang. But I truly do think it is the delicate dance between opposite natures that is the building block for our world(s). I don't think anything is actually all Yin or all Yang. To me the goal is to balance the two as they chase each other's tails within you. But then again, I have a tendency to oversimplify things.

It isn't always easy to see opposites as complementary. We are taught to view good and evil, happy and sad, hardworking and lazy, and so on. And some religions even go so far as to justify all of the evil in the world by blaming it on free will. They say polar opposites are neccesary in order to provide us with a choice. The concept of Yin/Yang short circuits that concept by mergering all of those opposites into balanced parts of a whole. You don't have to choose Yin or Yang. You just have to accept both. It kind of kicks the concept of sin in the butt.

Again, I have a tendency to oversimplify.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Cousins


My mother had 12 brothers and sisters. Most of them were as prolific as my grandparents at producing progeny. So, I swear you can't swing a dead cat without hitting someone who is very likely one of my cousins. The sad thing is, I can't even tell you how many cousins I have without looking it up on my family tree software program. What's even sadder is that I honestly don't really know a single one of them.

Although my 81-year old mother has difficulty remembering what state she lives in, she can still pretty much tell you the names of each of my cousins, their spouses and their offspring. She can also tell you which one robbed a bank, which one is a cross dresser and which one thinks they are the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Most of my interaction with my cousins was when I was a kid. The photo above is of me (center in case you couldn't recognize my smile) with my cousin Mike and his sister Mary Lou. They were my Aunt Irma's oldest kids. Mike was a year older than me. Mary Lou was my age. Aunt Irma had another six kids before divorcing her husband. His name was Coombs. That was reason enough to get a divorce.

Aunt Irma was a twin. Her brother, my Uncle Ira was special. When he wasn't in that place in Idaho where they keep special people, he was living with my grandmother sequestered in his bedroom convinced the communist Chinese were tunneling under the house to get him. Apparently he felt he had something the communist Chinese wanted.

My Aunt Irma always reminded of Jimmy Dean, the country singer who went on to lend his name to pure pork sausage. She kind of looked like him, but she really sounded like him when she talked. I could never understand why my mother's side of the family all talked like they had just stepped out of the Grand Ole Opry. Perhaps it is just the way country people talk.

Odd as she was, Aunt Irma at least had a sense of humor. My Aunt Gladys didn't. She was just odd. We used to call her Aunt Happy Butt behind her back (Glad Ass...Happy Butt...get it). Aunt Gladys married a man named Otis. It was his second marriage and he came with a passle of kids from his first marriage. From the looks of them, Otis could have very well been married to a first cousin when he produced them. My brothers and I nicknamed them "the Martians."

I could go on and on. Aunt Dolly had eight kids. Uncle Jimmy had five. Uncle Dewey had three. Uncle Marion had five. Aunt Alma had four. Uncle Tommy had three.

Don't even get me started on second and third cousins. It's a wonder Tess and I weren't related before we got married.

I guess that could be another post.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Swing low, sweet chariot



Sometimes I'm up and sometimes I'm down
Coming for to carry me home
But still my soul feels heavenly bound
Coming for to carry me home
--Wallis Willis, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

I find it ironic that I took this photo years ago in Las Vegas outside of Caesar's Palace. I was struck by the juxtaposition of the chariot with the giant eye staring down from the ad for Cirque De Soleil -- the Sun Circus. I think it is a pretty cool photo even if I do say so myself. Anyway it obviously reminded me of the song, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Former slave Wallis Willis' inspiration for the spiritual, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot was the Red River. It reminded him of the River Jordan and the Prophet Elijah being taken to heaven via a chariot. Incidently, according to the Old Testiment, Elijah wasn't actually taken to heaven. He was just being transferred to another of god's assignment to condemn the wicked King Jehoram of Judah in another part of the country. But I'm not going to quibble here over biblical facts here. Suffice it to say, Elijah was carried off in a chariot pulled by horses of fire. That in itself is pretty impressive.

Maybe it is because I work promoting public transit, but I am struck that throughout the history of man, gods have employed high-occupancy vehicles to transport souls around. In Greek mythology Charon, the ferryman of the dead, transferred souls across the River Styx (not the rock group, but I think that is where they got their name) to the underworld or Hades via a barge. As with modern day transit operators, I believe he required exact change. Passes weren't valid since you theoretically only made the trip once.

And let's not forget Soul Train. Wait, that was that Don Cornelius R&B television show from the 70s. It was a hell of a show though.

Trains would be a pretty convenient way to transfer people into heaven or hell. I'm actually convinced that tunnel people describe in the near death experiences is a subway. And the light you are supposed to walk into has a turnstile at the end of it where you had damn well better have a token ready to get through.

I don't think the gods ever use buses to transfer souls. Nobody would ride them then either.

And what about SUVs? Well they all have four-wheel drive so the owners don't have any trouble going to hell.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Da blog, da blog


They say no man is an island, but I disagree. Dizgraceland is my island. I created it. I spread the sand and pumped in the saltwater. I built the beach bungalows and I stacked up the lounge chairs next to the lagoon like pool (complete with water slide and bar service). I am also the ghost of poor Herve Villechaize running along the dock screaming, "Da Plane, Da Plane," when a seaplane (I created) lands bringing visitors.

And I am Ricardo Montalban sitting on my chair (covered with Corinthian leather) waiting to greet the guests as they arrive and ushering them off to bungalows to await whatever plot the scriptwriter (also me) has devised for them. It is nice having an island.

The only thing I can't control here on my island is the visitors. I don't pick them. I don't coerce them into coming and I don't force them to stay. Some other force picks them. Or they pick themselves. So Dizgraceland is not a totally self-contained island.

It is actually not a new idea for a fiction writer to fantasize that their story lines are alive. I think there was a Twilight Zone episode in which characters kept starting down a storyline only to have it abruptly end and start over with a slightly different twist. In the end they were all just type on pieces of paper a writer was wadding up and tossing into the trash to start over.

Now that paper is replaced by a delete key on your laptop. Or in the blogger.com world, your storylines aren't so much deleted as lost due to a programming error.

I just thought of something terrible. If my blog is like Fantasy Island, and I created it, that would make me Aaron Spelling. That would mean I will be creating other crap like Charlie's Angels, Dallas, Dynasty, Melrose Place and 90210.

I must be stopped.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A lot of bull



"John Wayne - Autopsy revealed that John Wayne's colon weighed 82 pounds. 77 pounds were composed of dried fecal matter. The remaining 5 pounds was living tissue."
http://www.wholistic.net/nutrition/whitaker/colon_health.htm

Do a Google search on "John Wayne's colon" and you'll find various "facts" stating that John Wayne's colon weighed between 40 and 82-pounds when he died due to everything from eating beef to consuming Herve Villechaize (the little person who played tattoo on Fantasy Island...okay I made that part up). What a load of crap. There was no autopsy performed on John Wayne. And it is physically impossible to have 40 pounds of anything in your colon even if it is impacted.

Thus is the danger of the Web and Web searches. Any idiot, including myself, can spout something as fact on the Web. Then someone else does a random search, finds the information, posts it on their blog and you have a documented "fact." It's the same way Urban Myths are hatched.

Believe it or not, I'm here as a voice of reason urging you to verify anything you find on the Web with several sources before you spout it as fact on your own Web sites. And if something is your opinion or heresay, label it that way. Writing isn't just recreation. It carries with it responsibility.

I realize this is odd coming from me, but I've spent months believing the Duke walked that way because he was carrying 80 pounds of beef around in his colon. I even suggested to a server at the local Claim Jumper that they name one their mega meat entrees the "John Wayne's Colon Plate."

Now I know why she looked at me funny.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Looking at clouds from both sides now


Why is the natural impulse to look up when we are thinking about a higher power? Why do Christians believe heaven is in the clouds? Hasn't space exploration debunked that theory?

Still, I like to look into the sky. I like clouds. I've never been really good at seeing things in them like bunnies and Bob Hope or anything like that. I don't see rows and flows of angel hair, or ice cream castles in the air. I don't even see feather canyons everywhere. I just see clouds. I find this odd, because I'm not a very literal person. I should see things in the clouds.

When I was a kid, I would lie on my bed staring at the texture stuff on the ceiling and see faces and alien creatures. The tiles in our bathroom looked like lions. In my old house, I could see whales and walruses in the knotty pine paneling of my bedroom. But I can't see shit in clouds but clouds.

But I think clouds are beautiful just being clouds. I like to look at them from both sides. I like laying on the ground, and watch them roll over me. And I like sitting in an airplane and watch them roll under me. I wish you could really walk on clouds or lie on them the way they do in cartoons.

I like the way clouds show emotions. They can be friendly, fluffy and white. Or they can be angry, dark and ominous. They are unpredictable drifters who can crash a party or ruin a picnic. They can frame beautiful scenery or drop the curtain on it.

But even though I've looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down, still...somehow... I really don't know clouds at all.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lost and Profound


I'd like to say that I once was lost but now I'm profound, but I'm not feeling very profound. Not that me being profound is important. To date my most popular post has been a link to a Pimp Name Generator. I think it even beat out my link to David Hasslehoff's video of "Hooked on a Feeling."

But I think most people are just looking for diversions on the Web, not epiphanies. Actually I think most people on the Web are looking for porn, but I have to draw the line at just calling myself Fine Ass Tim Sweetness.

I actually think I've gotten over this belief that I should be seeking some deeper meaning in life. I'm not saying that there isn't some deeper meaning, I'm just not going out of my way anymore to find it. Because something tells me that I'd be having that major ephipany just as someone was pulling the plug on my resperator and my last words would be "oh shit."

So if you are looking for deep and profound things, you have come to the wrong place. Besides, if you meet the Buddha on the Information Highway, you should kill him or her in the same way you should kill him or her if you meet him or her on the road (not literally kill...it's a figure of speech). Your bullshit meter should be red lining anytime someone blogs about knowing "the Truth."

Also truth is a relative thing. Anyone who has ever served on a jury can attest to that. And there are also many more than two sides to any story. So chances are that the truth could come waltzing up to most people wearing a pink tutu and a feather duster in its bum and no one would recognize it anyway.

So stop worrying about the truth. Go click on my link to the Pimp Name Generator and see how many different player names resonate with your inner player. It's not profound, but it's entertaining. And if you do find the meaning to life while you are doing it, well...your path their started here. But I'm not promising anything.

So don't be hating...start appreciating.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sheik Tim Flash


At the suggestion of my nephew R. and the prompting of Shandi, I am trying out a new look for me that helps remedy my issues with wearing hats. In the process of finding my new look, I discovered a site -- www.playerappreciate.com -- where you can "Pimpify" your name and come up with your very own player nickname.

Here are some of the possibilities the generator came up for me:

Dopetastic T. Large
Silicon Slick T. Ice
Fine Ass Tim Sweetness
Pimp Daddy Tim Gates
Sticky Fingers T. Flow
Papa Tim Shmoove


I'm kind of partial to Fine Ass Tim Sweetness, but I'm open to other opinions about which name you think suits me best.

Oh, and "Don't Player Hate, Player Appreciate." Here's where you can pimpify your own name:
Get your pimp name.

Wake me if I have an epiphany


I'd kind of like to think of my life as one extended epiphany. But I suppose that would contradict the true definition of the word as a "sudden realization" of the meaning of something profound.

Back in college I had an epiphany about what made bread rise and toast crunchy. I was quite proud of the insight for the 30 seconds I was able to retain it. Then I returned to staring at my lava lamp.

I've always thought that Epiphany would be a great name for a baby girl. "Hey everybody, we just had an Epiphany!" But then, as a father, later in her life I would never want to here anyone else saying they had had an Epiphany.

I tend to believe that epiphanies are kind of like computer programs running in the background of our brains processing data we've been feeding it over time. When the program reaches a conclusion, the answer pops into our consciousness and boom, we have an epiphany.

In Zen, the moment of comphrehension or awakening is known as kensho. It is often induced through meditation and focusing on koans -- Zen riddles such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" The intent is to have a kensho moment that is presumably a bit more profound than what makes bread rise and toast crunchy. But the mind rush is very similar and you hopefully retain the knowledge longer than the epiphany I had in my college dorm room.

My problem with the Zen approach to kensho is that I think ephiphanies should just sneak up on you. You can't throw your own suprise party if you catch my drift.

I think I just had an epiphany!

It felt good, but for some reason I feel like smoking a cigarette.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wearing many hats


I don't literally wear many hats. I actually have a hard time finding hats that fit. My head is embarrassingly big. It's a wonder I could find a mortarboard that would stay on my head when I graduated from high school and college. Although I joke about it, I don't think my head is big because of my tremendous brain capacity. I inherited my large head from my father. I think I ended up with his ears, too. Those don't make wearing many hats any easier.

Since I don't wear a hat well, it is fortunate that I have a full head of hair. But ironically, if I was bald, hats would likely fit my head better. I will forgo shaving my head to test that theory.

Although I have a hard time finding hats that fit and thus I look very stupid in hats, I seem to own a tremendous number of baseball style caps. Everytime I travel, I end up with a hat that has the name of the place I've been (or some bar in the place I've travelled). I rarely wear these hats.

I have tried to wear cowboy hats. But for some reason the hats always make me look like the Flying Nun. Plus there is not alot of places in the Pacific Northwest where you can wear a cowboy hat. Seattle is more of a fishing cap place. I don't fish.

I was a drum major in high school. We were the Boise Braves. Instead of a drum major's high, furry hat, I wore a full headdress. It fit and looked kind of cool to me, but it wasn't a very practical hat and you couldn't really wear it in the rain without looking a bit like one of those poor birds that has been caught in an oil spill.

When I had long hair, I experimented with bandanas. This did help keeping my hair out of my eyes, but I was overcome with this overwhelming desire to talk like a pirate or ride a Harley. I also got tired of being mistaken for a gypsy.

Football helmets hurt my head. Sweatbands give me headaches. Visors are just wrong. A fez makes me look like I have a pointed head. Tophats have the same effect. I can't keep a sombrero on. Stocking caps mess up my hair and I refuse to wear a foam hat shaped like cheese.

When it comes down to it, I've tried on many hats, but I can wear very few. But my hat is off to those who can carry it off.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The suburban jungle


I mowed my lawn on Sunday, trying not to reflect on the sad fact that I have been sucked into the suburban vortex of competitive yardwork, trying to shame my neighbors into keeping up with me. It is not difficult in our neighborhood. We live in a brand new house in a small housing development, yet no one around us seems to care that their lawns are so overgrown with weeds that small children could easily get lost in them.

I shouldn't be critical of their unkept yards. Before we moved into this house, I was one of them. Water, weeding and mowing were signs of weakness to me. I would not be slave to peer pressure and the perculiar American obsession with domesticating weeds in the form of a lawn. But there is something about moving into a house with a nice yard that sucks you in.

Both Tess and I are infected. I catch her sometimes muttering at the beauty bark and snatching at the mere hint of a weed peeking out. And I've discovered her staring out the windows on some evenings with her head cocked to one side as if she is listening to something.

"Do you hear something," I'll ask.

"Can't you hear it," she'll reply.

"What?"

"The weeds, I can hear them growing out there."

Yes, suburban jungle fever grips us both.

I catch myself mowing symetrical crop circles in my lawn while listening to Rob Zombie on my iPod. I imagine low flying aircraft will be able to read the messages I'm creating or at very least marvel at the symbols carved in my well coiffed turf. My electric mower purrs and mulches as I walk back and forth, cutting swathes of order out of the chaos of uneven blades of grass. Joseph Conrad would have called his book Lord Tim if he knew how I tamed my own jungle.

But as I cut the motor, and silence Rob Zombie, I can swear I hear a distant, yet steady drumbeat and I am filled with primative fear. Or perhaps it is the faint sound of a pan flute coming from my stone statue of Pan watching me from under the pine tree in my backyard that is taunting me.

In the back of my mind I know, that although the lawn has been tamed, the minute I put the lawnmower away and scuttle back into my house, the grass - and the weeds - will grow again. And the fever will return.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Being Dr. Lao



Dr. Lao: My specialty is wisdom. Do you know what wisdom is?
Mike: No sir.
Dr. Lao: Wise answer.
-7 faces of Dr. Lao

Dr. Lao: Mike, the whole world is a circus if you look at it the right way. Every time you pick up a handful of dust, and see not the dust, but a mystery, a marvel, there in your hand, every time you stop and think, "I'm alive, and being alive is fantastic!" Every time such a thing happens, Mike, you are part of the Circus of Dr. Lao.
-7 faces of Dr. Lao


When I was sixteen years old and still young enough to want to believe in magic, but old enough to publicly deny it, I saw the movie, 7 faces of Dr. Lao. It was a 1964 adaption of a 1935 fantasy novel written by Charles Finney about the effects of a magical circus on a small southwest town. The movie starred Tony Randall and Barbara Eden.

I loved that movie. I wrote about it in the journal I'd started keeping in junior high. It struck a chord in my angst ridden teen mind that was hanging on for dear life to that bucking bronco of puberty I'd just started riding. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were in their dying throes in my life. The movie told me that it would always be okay for me to believe in magic.

In the movie, the seven faces of Dr. Lao are: Dr. Lao, Pan, Apollonius of Tyana (a Greek philosopher and teacher), Merlin, Medusa, the Abominal Snowman, and a goldfish that turns into a sea serpent. The make-up artist for the film won a honorary Academy Award for his work on the film. Tony Randall was pretty impressive playing the characters as well.



The movie is full of great quotes. When asked if he is an acrobat, Dr. Lao replies, "Only philosophically." Merlin, the magician, protests, "Tricks? Gadzooks, Madam, these are not tricks! I do magic. I — I create, I transpose, I transubstantiate, I break up, I recombine — but I never trick!" And Apollonius, the circus fortune teller provides his own disclaimer, "I only read futures, I don't evaluate them."


The most startling dialogue, especially for a movie filmed in 1964 also came from Apollonius when he was doing a reading for an airheaded woman from the town:

Apollonius: Tomorrow will be like today, and the day after tomorrow will be like the day before yesterday. I see your remaining days as a tedious collection of hours full of useless vanities. You will think no new thoughts. You will forget what little you have known. Older you will become, but not wiser. Stiffer, but not more dignified. Childless you are, and childless you will remain. Of that suppleness you once commanded in your youth, of that strange simplicity which once attracted men to you, neither endures, nor shall you recapture them.

Mrs. Cassin: You're a mean, ugly man!

Apollonius: Mirrors are often ugly and mean. When you die, you will be buried and forgotten, and that is all. And for all the good or evil, creation or destruction, your living might have accomplished, you might just as well never have lived at all.

My god -- Mirrors are often ugly and mean. This came from a 1964 movie starring Tony Randall! Years later, when I wrote a short story call "Reunion" I think I inadvertentally patterned the lead character (also a fortune teller) after Apollonius. That's how powerful an affect the movie had on me.

So what is my often elusive point? Whether it is real or not, it is okay...no, it is crucial, that you believe in some kind of magic. And above all, never miss an opportunity to run away to join a circus.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Wonders of the world



"For Pete's Sake
I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I've breatherd the mountain air, man
Of travel I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere"
-Johnny Cash, I've been everywhere

Out of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the only one remaining is the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. If you are wondering what happened to the other wonders, they were destroyed by fire and earthquakes. Wonderful.

I have never been to the Great Pyramid of Giza, but I plan to before I die. I have been to Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plains of England, but it isn't on the list. I liked it anyway (even though you couldn't actually walk up and touch the stones or scratch your name into them...the British are picky about things like that...and you have to walk through a gift shop get to it...I bought a t-shirt).

I have been to the top of the Empire State Building in New York City. It is considered one of the modern wonders of the world (and I did spend a long time in line wondering how long it would take me to get to the top). I have also seen and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It is also considered one of the modern wonders of the world.

I have seen the Reno Arch...the new one and the old one. I have also walked by the Reno World Bowling Convention Center. It is shaped like a bowling ball. I've been to Philadephia and seen the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the house Betsy Ross lived in (she didn't really sew the first United States flag). I've also seen the steps Rocky Balboa runs up in the Rocky movies. And just for the record, Philly Steak Sandwiches are made with Cheese Whiz and fat.

I've been to Boston and visited the bar that inspired Cheers. Oh, I also saw the Old North Church and Paul Revere's grave. I've been to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. It is where Buffalo Wings were created.

I've driven past a gas station shaped like a tea pot off of Highway 82 in Zillah, Washington. It was built in 1922 in protest of the "Teapot Dome Scandal." The real Teapot Dome is a rock formation in Wyoming.

I held Poppy, a baby alligator at Everglades World outside of Miami. I didn't buy a t-shirt commemorating that event, however (they wanted $25). I've been to the MAUNA LOA MACADAMIA VISITOR CENTER in Hilo, Hawaii (you have to grab your samples quick before the senior buses arrive...old people can be pretty pushy). Hilo is also proud home to a Walmart our tour guide pointed out.

I have never seen the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eifel Tower, the Panama Canal, the Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest, Mount Rushmore, Rio de Janeiro, Macchu Picchu, Niagra Falls, the Galapagos or Graceland.

So unlike Johnny Cash, I haven't been everywhere. But I have been to Disneyland, Disney World and Las Vegas, so that makes up for a lot.