Monday, February 26, 2007

Elvis has left the building

My first trip to Las Vegas was back in 1990 or there abouts. I was on a pilgrimage of sorts, seeking the holy spots where Elvis had been during his Vegas years just before he became the fat and bloated king who died on the toilet. And the holiest of holies in Las Vegas is the Las Vegas Hilton. This is where Elvis stayed and performed while he was in Las Vegas. And this is where I am staying 17 years later attending a conference.

On my first trip to the Hilton I was in awe of a statue of Elvis the Colonel and Priscilla had donated to the Hilton back in 1978. It sat in a place of honor near the main entrance next to a glass case that housed one of his jump suits and guitars.

As the flame of Elvis' memory begins to flicker, the Hilton has followed suite. They have moved the statue out of the hotel and onto the sidewalk. So Elvis has literally left the building. The jump suit and guitar are nowhere to be seen.

To add insult to injury, Barry Manilow is headlining at the Hilton and has his own gift shop in the lobby. Oh, you can still buy Elvis memorabilia next door in the Vegas shop, but it has settled into the kitsche category (though I did snag myself a cool TCB money clip for good didn't seem to help me on the Elvis slot machine however).

It is sad. The old Las Vegas is dead. Elvis has become a joke and they honor people like Barry Manilow and Celine Dion instead.
Even the slot machines have changed. They no longer have handles and you get your payout in a coupon instead of the clinking of dirty quarters. There are no more $1.99 steak and egg specials. A cup of coffee even costs $4.25. And if I hear one more person say, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" I am going to puke.

Oh well, at least when the sun goes down the lights of Vegas still shine. And if you squint, you can imagine you are in the old Vegas and downstairs in the showroom, the King is singing "hunka, hunka burnin' luv."

I miss you Elvis.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tim Travel

I have to admit it is nice to be away and not have to worry about too much more than what to order from room service, when to go to the pool, when to workout (yes there is a gym here and I have used it every day), when to go to dinner and what to watch on television. Of course it is Spanish television and we tend to watch the English programs with Spanish subtitles instead of the other way around. But I tell you, sometimes I catch myself watching about 10 minutes of Bewitched before I realize it isn't in English. And of course we get the Fox Network so we can keep up on the latest news about Anna Nicoles' corpse.

Neither Tess nor I speak a great deal of Spanish. But I am trying to learn by reading the Spanish subtitles on the English speaking programs. It is particularily entertaining to see what Spanish words they come up with for English idioms and swear words. "What's up dog," becomes "Que Paso Amigo."

Most of the staff at the hotel speak English and respond to most of my attempts at Spanish with, "Okay." I do love the way Spanish sounds. And it is fun keeping track of how to greet people depending upon the time of day (Buenos Dias, Buenos Tardes or Buenos Noches). I tend to talk low and mumble in Spanish the same way I do in English, so I am getting by okay.

We do like spending time at the pool. I sunburned my ankles the first day and have been slathering on the sunscreen. I used so much today that my wedding ring slipped on my finger in the deep end while I was dog paddling around. I had to talk a couple of kids to dive for it and then give it back to me when they found it. Both Tess and I were relieved.

We are flying back to Seattle Friday. Fortunately it is not a red eye home. Unfortunately I won't have much time to recover from traveling. I have to head back to the airport on Saturday to go to a marketing conference. The upside is that it is in Las Vegas. The downside is that it is Las Vegas.

Oh well, it's been awhile since I Photoshopped my face on something from a casino. That's something to look forward to.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Where in the world...

It is Tess' mid-winter break and we are travelling. We took a redeye out of Seattle on Saturday night and arrived at our destination Sunday at about 12:30 p.m. Other than sleeping through the inflight movie (How to eat fried worms) in between being woken up by flight attendants who insisted we take juice or water, the flights were uneventful.

I am now a foreign correspondent for Dizgraceland. I am amazed that no matter where you are in the world you can very likely get an Internet connection and blog. So here I am sitting in our room blogging.

But this is no travelogue. Suffice it to say, we are in some place much warmer than Seattle and you can lay by the outdoor pool in comfort (which we did). I looked up from my lounge chair and this statue was peering down at me.

Since I am on a vacation of sorts, I probably won't be Photoshopping my face on anything for the week. Besides after responding to a request by "Tia" and "Cara" to Photoshop my face onto a chihuahua I feel as if I may have fallen victim to a cruel prank by my enemies to lure me into a false sense of security by preying on my ego and making me think there were others out there who really do appreciate the fine art of Photoshopping your face onto things. I don't think there ever was a "Tia" and "Cara."

I'm not naming names, but I think it could be a dirty trick by one of the denizens of another land that hates ice cream in response to an ice scream that was heard throughout their land. Or it could have been someone who likes sock monkeys but hates the Beatles. Or it could have been any number of drunken bloggers who wanted to mess with me.

But then again I am a paranoid cuss. I won't worry about it today, though. I'll worry about when I get back from vacation and return to Dizgraceland.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nuthin but a hounddog

The Monkey Playing Cymbals intercepted a comment that must have been intended for me yesterday. It was a request of sorts:

SUPER FANS said...
Well, Tim "Snake Eyes" Elvis,

We stumbled across your site when searching for "carnival towel animals." We were pleasantly surprised to find your addition of the "hanging monkey" to the list. We are very sorry about the lightbulb. Those carnival mofo's!!! (They also refused to change my lightbulb...what is wrong with them?!?).

Now we see you have many blogs, how fabulous for us.

We, too, LOVE (L-O-V-E LOVE) to superimpose our heads onto the bodies of animals and computerized characters (ancient kings, etc.). Let's share secrets? Keep in touch? Who's your FAVORITE thing to be the head of? We LOVE you as the snake. ssslllliitthheerr!!!

Please write back to us. Make a post about us and we will respond. Dooo it, Tim Elvis. Do it.

PS Maybe put your head on a chihuahua?

Tia and Cara (please reference us in next post. Thanx.
Okay, I don't normally take requests. Plus I think Tia and Cara may fall into the CUI category. But what they hey. If I can put my face on a quesidilla, how hard could a chihuahua be?

But personally I prefer the pug.

As for "Who's your FAVORITE thing to be the head of," I'm going to ignore the Freudian implications and assume you mean what is the favorite thing I've Photoshopped my face onto. I could suggest a vanilla ice cream cone, but that could only set off the revolting peasants again. So I will have to say a timber wolf.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

They might be angels

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:2

I am quoting the Bible as literature, not as gospel. I want to get that out of the way right up front. My intent is not to insult nor encourage any religious group. I hate to have to begin with a disclaimer, but there are people out there who believe even opinions require fineprint and footnotes.

This post was inspired by Madame Butterfly's post about the Torment of the Ocean and Hayden's post about Exterrestrial Intelligence. The posts really had nothing in common. Madame Butterfly wrote of a primal fear of the ocean and a metaphorical angel who embraced her when she arrived at port during a sea voyage as a child. Hayden wrote about people's obsession with finding intelligent life in the universe (presumebly because there isn't much of it here on earth).

For some reason both posts resonated with me. I have always loved angel imagery and I have always been fascinated with the concept of intelligent life both in and outside our "world." After all, what is more exterrestrial than an angel?

Or are they? Exterrestrial I mean. My mother used to tell me that angels were God's thoughts sent down to us. If I merge that definition with some of my dallying in Buddhism, I can kind of theorize that the angels or "God's thoughts" are actually coming from my Buddha nature or simply from me.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying I am an angel or anybody else's angel. I am just suggesting that angels (and demons for that matter) originate from within us and not from outside us.

Okay I can see the shaking heads and here the "pooh poohing" of this as more of my simplistic "we create our own reality" platitudes. It's not that at all. Just because an angel comes from within us doesn't make it any less powerful of a metaphor. On the contrary, I think it empowers us because the angels are always with us.

Fear comes not from being alone, but from feeling alone. If the angels are always within us, we are never alone. Which brings me back to Hebrews 13:2. If we apply it to my theory, the strangers we are providing hospitality to are our own new thoughts and ideas. Because those thoughts and ideas just might be those angels (or exterrestrials) we are looking for.

But don't take my word for it. I'm just a stranger on the Internet.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Portrait of a blogger

I didn't wake up one day and say to myself, "Tim you should become a blogger." I didn't have a clue what a blog was until about three years ago. It wasn't that I wasn't Internet savy. I'd had my own Web site since about 1995. But I was just oblivious to the whole Blog world until I stumbled into while running a search on Google.

Being familiar with building a Web site, the technology of how to start a blog didn't phase me. It was the why of starting a blog I had to wrestle with. What was the point? I browsed through several blogs before starting. Many were started by subject experts focusing on a single topic like politics or technology. Some were forums for hobbists. But the bulk of the booming blog rush seemed to be individuals just looking for a place to express themselves.

So I began my blog the way most people do -- with random posts about whatever popped up in my head. And that is pretty much the way it has stayed. I've toyed with theme weeks and reoccurring topics, but for the most part, my blog is random.

I did discover that blogging is the perfect vehicle for experimenting with words and images in a way that is spontaneous and almost limitless compared to traditional writing. And blogging has added a new dimension to the traditional writer-reader roles. You no longer simply read or write when you enter the blog world. You do something unique for writers who normally write in solitude -- you interact.

Blogs are designed so that you write and people can instantly comment. You in turn read their comments and you can respond. It definitely requires stepping outside of your comfort zone if you are locked into the traditional "I write, you read" model.

Blogging also has odd side effects. I don't know how many bloggers (including myself) have complained about blogger's block, blogger's depression and the pressures of blogging. I wouldn't be suprised to see a whole new branch of psychological study and treatment crop up targeted at bloggers.

I am shocked at how many people I have seen begin a blog, flourish and than panic and quit for no apparent reason. The Information Highway is littered with the broken down bodies of abandoned blogs.

Since my non-blogging profession is also writing, I have never really experienced the pressure some people succomb to when faced with writing in a blog on a regular if not daily basis. This is not to say I haven't suffered from depression and insecurity when it comes to blogging. It can be a major ego blow when you produce a masterpiece post and you are rewarded with a resounding "yawn" on the comment front. I have just learned that the only way to deal with it is to write another post.

I also have experienced what I call "blogger's rage" when bloggers clash over the equivalent of being flipped off in the comment section of a blog. The relative anonomity of blogging and commenting can lead normally rational people to say things they wouldn't dream of saying to a stranger in the real world. And there is sometimes a tendency for some blogger's to delude themselves that the virtual alter egos they have assumed is more than just a fantasy title and doesn't make them invulnerable. I think the solution for blog rage is similar to that for road rage -- learn anger management and never drink and blog.

Sure maintaining a blog can be challenging and intense. But it is also rewarding (in a strictly non-monetary way). Despite the pitfalls, I view blogging as a theraputic activity. And lord knows I can use all the free therapy I can get.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pointing out the obvious

Believe it or not, I never know what to do when I pose for a photo. So most of the time I just point at whatever I'm standing next to. It has become kind of a reflect action (fortunately I resisted this reflect action in my wedding photos). I call this pose "pointing out the obvious."

Unless you are aware you doing it, the "pointing out the obvious" pose is pointless. But if you are aware you are doing it, the "pointing out the obvious" pose does have a point. It adds exaggerated emphasis to something in the photo, even if that something is of little or no significance. So everytime someone looks at the photo they will wonder why the hell you are pointing at something insignificant and think there is some significance that they are missing. It's a great way to mess with people.

I find the "pointing out the obvious" principle can be applied to blogging as well. Sometimes you can blather on about some mundane and blatantly obvious thing and people think there must be some hidden meaning or ulterior message that they are missing. So they create one. It's kind of fun to watch.

But it can also be kind of annoying. Because sometimes you are just blathering on to blather on. It doesn't have to have sinister significance.

Or does it?

Patty Griffin - Rain

One thing I love about the Web is the instant access we have to music. I found this song by accident while trying to find the lyrics to another song. I ended up buying the album it comes from (1000 Kisses) at iTunes. 

 I don't know why certain songs appeal to me. But when they do I end up playing them over and over ad nausem. My iPod facilities this particular obsessive behavior of mine. I like moody music. I like to be carried away by a simple guitar rhythm. I like good lyrics, but they don't really matter if the music and voice can capture me. Anyway, I think you can tell a great deal about a person based on the music they like. 

For instance, Kristy doesn't like the Beatles. This explains her obsession with sock monkeys and police spokespersons. Hope you enjoy Patty Griffin.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Tim he is a-changing

I have never quite gotten used to being a grown up. But I am a little over a month away from turning 49 and it is hard to ignore the fact.

The worst thing about turning 49 is that it is one year away from 50. And I've heard that platitude about 50 being today's 40, but I'm not really buying it. Fifty is half a century no matter how you rationalize it.

It is not that I feel old (or grown up). I just feel changed. It's not just my body. My outlook has changed as well.

When you are young, it seems as though time will last forever. When you are older you look back and realize how fleeting it actually is. I am sure I am not the first person to discover this. But I think the knowledge comes in a time release capsule.

There are many things about aging that are actually not bad. Raging hormones have begun taking Yoga classes. I don't have to make up stuff under the "experience" column on my resume. I never get carded when I buy liquor. I can begin anticipating AARP discounts. And I can sneer at eager and ambitious young people with a sense of pity knowing that life will eventually wear them down as well.

There are things I am desperately trying to avoid as I age. I refuse to refer to myself as 49-years young. I won't eat dinner before 7 p.m. no matter what discount I can get. I won't wear black socks with shorts. I will watch for the "I want to gnaw my arm off to get away" look in people's faces if I catch myself telling one too many stories about the good old days. Finally, I will never buy a sports car and get a perm.

That being said, it is almost 7 p.m. and I am getting pretty hungery. I better go and fix dinner. Or we could go to the Country Kitchen Buffet. I think rush hour is over.

Tomorrow is another day

If Kristy can publish photos of Sock Monkeys gone bad, I can post a photo of me as Scarlett O'Hara. I realize they are both very wrong things, but I won't worry about that today. Everything is relative (especially in Arkansas).

It has been an odd week in the news. An astronaut was arrested for driving from Houston to Orlando wearing diapers to threaten a woman she was jealous of with a BB-gun, garbage bags and a steel mallet. Anna Nicole Smith died and Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband claimed he was the father of her baby. Her ex-interior decorator Bobby Trendy is being interviewed on the FOX network as a definitive expert in the case.

Locally, in Washington state an initiative is threatened to go before voters requiring married couples to procreate within three years of getting married.

I really hope tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

My head examined

I have been told on a few occasions that I need my head examined. Okay, here goes.

I have a big head. This is not an ego thing. I just have a big head. I think I mentioned this a few months ago when I was ranting about hats. Because my head is so big, I have a hard time finding a hat that fits or doesn't look stupid.

Fortunately, I also have lots of hair. It would suck having a big head and not having enough hair to cover it up. Though I swear if I ever start losing my hair I will not do the comb over thing. I'll shave my head before I do the comb over even though it would mean having a very big bald head.

When I was a young boy, my hair was blonde. It gradually turned brown. Then after I turned 30 it started to turn gray. Now it is pretty much all gray, though in some light it kind of looks blonde again. The irony doesn't escape me.

I've heard people describe how different parts of your body shrink as you age (and get your mind out of the gutter, I'm not talking about that part). This doesn't apply to the ears and nose. They seem to get bigger and bigger, especially the ears.

Then there is the hair that grows randomly on the ears, in the ears and in the nose. And I swear I'm starting to get Albert Einstein eyebrows. I'm starting to feel like a chia pet.

I have blue eyes. I've had Lasik surgery but now I have to wear reading glasses. The irony of that doesn't escape me either.

That's about all I have to say about my head.

It is pretty big though.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Legend in my own mind

Not long ago, someone accused me of being a "legend in my own mind." Other than being a cliche and unimaginative thing to say, it really didn't bother me. I am lots of legends in my mind. Or more precisely, I have lots of legends in my own mind. That's why I like to plaster my face on kings, cowboys, clowns and mimes. It's fun to bring my legends to life.

When I was a boy, I wanted desperately to be an astronaut. I watched Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin on our black and white television launched at the tip of rockets and walking on the moon. And I wanted to be them. Lately being an astronaut has dropped a notch in the legend category, but when I was a child they were truly legendary.

At various times in my life I've wanted to be Van Gogh, John Lennon, Elvis, Einstein, King Arthur, Braveheart, Edgar Allen Poe, King Tut, Ceasar, Wild Bill Cody, James Bond, Cyreno de Bergerac, Bart Starr, Hans Solo and the Godfather. The digital world allows me to play virtual dress up and be those legends.

So being a legend in my own mind really isn't that bad of thing. Oh, and I really never wanted to be a cheese quesadilla, ambergris, or an omelette, but sometimes it's fun just to be a random object in my own mind, too.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

We are what we eat

True artists in the kitchen know that presentation is almost as important as the food itself. My blogger friend Hayden is just such an artist. I was inspired by her last post. It was simply a description of her breakfast: kale and mustard greens sauteed w/ onion and garlic, 2 egg omelet w/maitake mushrooms, garnished with ikura (salmon caviar) and radish sprouts.

Her breakfast presentation was such a work of art I offered to do what I do to all major works of art -- Photoshop my face on it. Shandi egged me on, too (egged me on, get it...ha, ha). I call it Baccus of Kale and Mustard Greens.

I think it is very tasteful.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Inconvenient truth or dare

Tess and I watched Al Gore's film about global warming (An Inconvenient Truth) last night. I have to admit that I wasn't too keen on seeing it at first. It's not that I don't believe global warming is a problem, I just didn't want the buzz kill on my world view that we are all doomed.

I was wrong. The movie does tell us that there is indeed a dire problem facing us, not centuries away, but mere decades. That is a sobering fact. But it tells us something I didn't expect. Global Warming can be stopped. It isn't a conundrum. Scientists know the solution. The solution is us.

The film points out that we can all make a difference by doing little things to reduce the amount of CO2 we contribute to the atmosphere. It can be as simple as recycling, driving less, maintaining your car or choosing a more fuel efficient mode.

I toyed with deleting this post because it's not what I normally write about. I hate preaching and I hate regurgitating politics and current affairs. That is what the evening news is for. But at the very least perhaps this post will encourage someone to watch An Inconvenient Truth. Even if you don't change or reinforce your beliefs about global warming, you might discover that Al Gore is a pretty smart and funny guy.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Punxsutawney Tim

Yesterday was Groundhog Day. In Punxsutaney, Pennsylvania, Punxsutaney Phil (coincidently enough, a groundhog) came out of his den in Gobbler's Knob, didn't see his shadow and tradition says we now will have an early spring.

I'm hoping Punxsutaney Phil is right. Because if you can't trust a groundhog to predict the future, who can you trust?

Punxsutaney Phil was made famous by the 1993 film with Bill Murray called coincidently enough Groundhogs Day. If you haven't seen it, you are living in a hole because they play it over and over. Ironically that is what the movie is about, one man reliving the same day -- Groundhogs Day -- over and over until he gets it right.

The film is the most brilliant description of karma I've ever seen depicted. Bill Murray goes through phases of despair and then acceptance when he realizes he is stuck in the same day. He begins to use the day to improve himself and the environment around him. He reads. He learns to play the piano. He rights wrongs and eventually becomes an enlightened individual. That's when he is free to move on from that one, perpetual day as a new man.

I think about that movie sometimes when I feel stuck in the same situation over and over or feel frustrated that I keep repeating myself and no one seems to hear it. Because even though it feels like I am part of an endless loop, the movie reminds me that we need to keep doing things until we get them right or saying things a little be different until people finally understand them.

Groundhogs are pretty clever animals.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Free at last

I vow to never join another group blog. And I vow never to attempt humor (outside of my own blog) with people who haven't a clue about my sense of humor.

But it has been a learning experience. I've learned not to engage pompeous or overly verbose people in a debate, especially about such burning topics as why the term "vanilla" when referring to someone who is not part of the BDSM community might be termed condescending (if you don't know what BDSM stands for than you are part of the group they are definitely referring to as "vanilla").

I suggested alternative terms like Cherry Garcia or Neopolitan, but that apparently fanned the flames of the controversy. It was too late, I crapped in the punch bowl of the community blog and the sheriff there called me out. After I suggested that people call me Cherry Garcia instead of Vanilla the self-appointed sheriff said (with quite a bit of righteous indignation), "Shame on you."

Apparently people in this blog community take there ice cream pretty seriously

Well it only escalated from there. I pointed out that I was joking but regardless there was such a thing as free speech. The sheriff of the community said that free speech didn't give me license to say anthing I wanted. I suggested he shouldn't take the sheriff thing too seriously. He told me that I was a real wit, and I quote, "A legend in my own mind."

Well that was it. Nobody hurls those kinds of insults at me. We did the virtual equivalent of guys belly bumping each other at a bar mouthing off at each and then walked away muttering.

As with a real dysfunctional community, people are still posturing as to what happened and what it all meant. I'm not fairing well in the translation. At last tally, vanilla was still the ice cream of choice for most people there and my little satirical tirade went over as well as the President's plan to send more troops to Iraq.

Bottomline, I've left the group blog and I'm really pretty relieved. I can look back at the whole ridiculous experience and laugh now, but at the time I was pretty pissed at the hypocrisy of it all. Freedom is freedom. Once you put subjective parameters on it (other than don't be hating) it ain't freedom.

So I'm home now. I don't have to apologize and I don't have to explain myself. And best of all I don't have to debate anyone about the merits or meaning of what I just wrote.

Finally, I feel free.