Saturday, March 31, 2007
"Fool me once, shame on you...if fooled, you can't get fooled again."
--George W. Bush
I may be having memory lapses lately, but there is one thing I don't forget -- a slight. I can be extremely stubborn that way. Some may call it petty, but I call it being persistently vindictive and a firm believer in karma.
Earl from the television show "My Name is Earl" has a list of things he has done to people. I keep a mental list of things people have done to me. I don't dwell on them, but as I said, I don't forget them.
When I was in first grade, my class went to a neighboring class to sing. I was in Mrs. Blair's class. We went to Mrs. Kimbro's class. While we were in there the kid next to kept talking. Mrs. Kimbro was old school and demanded to know who was talking out of turn. Mrs. Blair pointed to the kid next to me. Mrs. Kimbro thought she was pointing at me. She proceeded to whack me in the head. I imagine Mrs. Kimbro is dead by now, but if she isn't she'd better hope I never see her inching across a street in front of me with a walker while I'm driving.
Oh and Mr. Fahr, the principal at my grade school who poked me in the back with a pencil in the lunch room and made me pick a piece of meat loaf off the floor (that wasn't mine) and put it on my plate and then chastized me for wasting food: I hope you are living on a diet of cat food, particularly that batch that has been recalled.
There are also a whole slew of schoolyard bullies I remember who I'd like to wish an IRS audit on: John Zior, Louie Strahler, Gregg Hutton, Bill Miller and David Wilder. I hope you all have grown up to be fat and bald old men who forget what your teeny little private parts are for.
As for the person who hit my parked 1979 Honda Prelude in front of the Rainbow Tavern back in 1985 and left a note with a fake name and telephone number, I hope you busted a headlight while doing it, got busted for DUI and ended up in a drunk tank with an amorous tattooed man who told you that you have a real pretty mouth.
And finally for all of the editors over time who rejected my submissions to your magazines, I hope you now working in manufacturing plant editing instructions for shaving cream cans.
I feel better already.
Friday, March 30, 2007
I have always prided myself on having a pretty good memory. Well, at least I have always had a pretty good memory for things I want to remember. I am not one of those people who keeps lists of things I need to do or have to do. I just make a mental note of what I need to do.
I don't know whether it is a byproduct of aging or the result of lots of things on my mind, but some of those mental notes have begun to become illegible. Lately I find myself sitting in meetings listening to some of my staff rattle off information I have asked them for while I stare at them blankly. Then I calmly ask, "Does anyone happen to recall why I asked you for this information." Then it is their turn to stare at me blankly.
Fortunately there are just minor things I am forgetting at this point. If I start forgetting to wear pants to work, it could start to become a problem. But then again, Albert Einstein was absentminded and did stuff like forget where he lived. And he was a freaking genius. So perhaps my becoming more absentminded could be perceived as the downside of me being a genius.
Well it's possible.
What was I talking about?
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Olive Juice: Shandi was almost my first blog visitor. Her humor, art and insightful take on life has always sparked my synapses and made them fire more than once. Her blog is by invitation only now, but it's worth tipping the doorman to get on the list.
Mickey Ripped: Mickey has gone walkabout Down Under, but in his day he waxed brilliance. Of course he is also Jesus, so he's got that going for him.
Lyric Flight: Hayden and Jake team up to provide lots of food for thought. Her cooking posts will particular whet your appetite for more.
Eats, shoots and leaves: Kristy makes me wonder. I'll leave it at that. But watch your grammar and spelling.
Finally, whether it is against the rules or not I nominate Jane Poe, Nevermore: JP combines poetry and prose to inspire many. Her positive thinking is also a model for us all. Plus, I think she needs to come up with yet another five blogs that make her think.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
As a boy, I was a dreamer. I would read constantly and get lost in other worlds on a regular basis. So it wasn't difficult for me to imagine a white rabbit in a waistcoat with a pocket watch and chase him down the rabbit hole in search of Wonderland.
I don't get there much anymore.
I'm sure the White Rabbit is still out there but the older you get, the harder he is too see and there is less likelyhood you would follow him if you did.
Actually, I can now relate more to being the White Rabbit than the one who chases him down the hole. My pocketwatch, however, has been replaced by a Blackberry constantly beeping to tell me I'm late for a very important date. And most of the meetings I'm late for are just as surreal as the Mad Hatter's tea party.
Maybe it's because I don't read books as much anymore. The good ol' Blackberry is partially at fault for that, too. I spend the time I used to spend reading on my commute, frantically responding to e-mails or playing video games.
I miss Wonderland, though (or at least a Wonderland that doesn't involve a crackhead screaming while sheparding a Shop Vac down the sidewalk). I miss climbing an apple tree and imagining I am an astronaut or turning a card table and a quilt into a castle. I miss picking up a book and reading it from cover to cover in one sitting. And I miss a life of mystery and adventure spread out in front of me like one of those books waiting to be devoured.
I think I've come up with a solution for my dilemma. I'm going to put a new meeting notice in my Outlook. It will be one of those reoccuring meetings. Everyday it will pop up on my Blackberry and tell me it is time to go to Wonderland. And when I jump up and run out the door and someone asks me what the hurry is I'm going to tell them, "I'm late for Wonderland."
Friday, March 23, 2007
Just for the record, the Mad Hatter is never actually referred to as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. He is simply the Hatter. In today's politically correct world, he would probably be referred to as the Mentally-challenged Hatter anyway.
The phrase "mad as a hatter" existed before Alice in Wonderland disparaged the hatter anyway. It probably stemmed from that fact that hatters (people who made and sold hats) used to use mercury to cure the felt some hats were made of. During that process they inhaled lots of mercury fumes which caused brain damage and eventually progressed to having hallucinations and the random psychotic episode.
This fascinates me because I have often wondered if you were "mad" would you actually know you were "mad." The hatters probably assumed they were simply engaged in cutting edge marketing as they paraded up and down in front of their shops naked (except for a hat) screaming "Twinkle, twinkle little bat."
I suppose there are various levels of crazy (a bit off, touched, crazy as a bedbug and major whackjob). And I suppose there are socially acceptable levels of crazy (wacky, zany, and eccentric). But how do you know you are crazy? Oh sure, you can be examined by a psychologist or psychiatrist. But most of the mental health professionals I have met are pretty much major whackjobs themselves and are no ones to judge (a rash generalization I know, but it is my blog).
I've also never really bought off on the "not guilty by reason of insanity" defense for murder. In my opinion anyone who kills someone is a psycho and needs to be culled from the herd anyway. I feel the same way about "temporary insanity" arguements. Give me a break. That could just about give you license to do anything you want say you weren't at fault because you were "temporarily insane." A lapse of judgement does not make you insane.
I suppose this post stems in part from my most recent post about the whacked out crack heads and in particular the screamer on the sidewalk with the Shop Vac. It also stems from a news story I saw yesterday about a nutcase that was on trial for attacking a woman in Washington. Five guards had to subdue him and wheel him into the courtroom shackled and masked like Hannibal Lector. He still shouted obscenities until the judge had him removed from the court. The reporter said he had been examined and some doctors said he was competent to stand trial. Others said he was faking it.
So isnt' that a paradox? Are you sane for faking you are insane and insane for trying to pretend that you are sane? The guy attacked someone. Having to be trussed up to a chair while you howl like a Gibbon in heat is crazy even if you are faking it. It also doesn't excuse him from the crime he committed (I don't have to say allegedly committed because this is my blog).
We live in an insane world and sometimes it drives me crazy.
But only temporarily (and I'm faking it).
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
One thing about working downtown in a relatively large city is that after awhile not much fazes you. My office is located in a marginal part of downtown Seattle. We occasionally have narcotics police in our stairwell with binoculars watching for drug deals on the adjacent streets. So suffice to say encountering a whacked out crack head when I'm going out for coffee or lunch is pretty much part of my average day.
Today was no different. I was standing on the sidewalk waiting for my friend who has quit smoking to finish his cigarette before we went into our favorite Chinese restaurant that serves Korean, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese food. Suddenly a crackhead walks by pulling a Shop Vac by the hose and screaming that the Mexicans are stopping him on the street asking him to give them a blowjob and he is an American. He seemed pretty passionate about it.
I resisted shouting out, "That sucks," even though the Shop Vac gave me the perfect excuse for the pun. But one thing you learn about working downtown is not to make eye contact with screaming crack heads and definitely don't engage them in conversations. Instead my friend and I just continued chatting until he finished his cigarette and we went into the restaurant. The orange beef was very good by the way.
It dawned on me later though that being around that crap all the time has made me numb. I walk by people passed out in doorways or relieving themselves on sidewalks and don't blink an eye. Oh occasionally I will hand a dollar to the guy sitting next to the train station entrance with his three dogs. But wonder if I'm more compassionate about the dogs than the poor man.
I suppose it is emotional survival. I walk along with my mindless grin and ignore the fact that the street is home to hundreds if not thousands of lost souls in my city. It is survival because I know there is really nothing I can do to save any of them. All I can hope is not to become one of them.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
This would probably explain why I got odd looks yesterday when I randomly went around saying, "Beware the Ides of March." It really freaked out these Girl Scouts selling cookies outside the Safeway. I thought for a moment their mother was going to dial 9-1-1. That's what I get for trying to interject a little sophisticated humor in people's lives.
I was born near the Ides of March on March 18. I try not to read anything prophetic in that. But I usually do have a feeling of impending doom as my birthday nears. I used to celebrate it on St. Patrick's Day until I started doing my family tree and made the horrific discovery that it is highly unlikely that any of my ancesters originated in Ireland. So I'm back to celebrating on March 18 (which is just as well since that green body paint is a pain to wash off).
It's not an age thing, either. I stopped fretting about becoming middle aged after hitting 40 (which was celebrated by my friends taking me to a Hooters restaurant where I had to stand on a table while the waitresses threw chicken wings at me...it's a long story). I just have never really liked my birthday. For one, my mom wasn't big on us celebrating birthdays. Her interpretation of Christian Scientist teachings was that, since our material body didn't exist, birth and death were an illusion and birthdays didn't make sense (try explaining that to a five year old who really just wants cake and presents). Oh, she still made us a birthday cake and we did get presents, but each year she tried to tone it down a bit. By the time I turned 13 she just wrapped up a package of jockey briefs and tossed it to me on the morning of my birthday.
I have since switched to boxers (too much information, I know).
Another thing I've never really liked about birthdays is being the center of attention. I know this is very difficult to believe about a man who has superimposed his face on quesadillas, kalamata olives and more recently a Timber Wolf, but I am really quite shy. I never know how to react in a restaurant when the servers run out with a cake, slap a lobster bib around your neck, pop a bedpan on your head and sing happy birthday while beating a bass drum. It's even more embarrassing when it is your birthday.
Okay, maybe the whole age thing does tweak me a bit. I just think that whole "walk into the light" thing they associate with your soul leaving your body is very likely the candles on your last birthday cake. That makes it very hard to make a wish.
On that happy note, I'll leave you with Ceasar's last words on the Ides of March, "Etu, Brutus?"
Saturday, March 17, 2007
St. Patrick wasn't Irish. He was kidnapped by Irish raiders from Roman Britain when he was 16 and forced to herd sheep for six years before he escaped and returned to England. He entered the church and returned to Ireland as a missionary. He died around the year 493.
Legend states that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland and taught the holy trinity to the masses with a shamrock. There were no snakes in Ireland so the snakes he drove out were probably of the symbolic kind that represented the pagan relgions in Ireland at the time. And there is no real proof that he did anything with the shamrock. But that is the way of history. There is generally more sham than rock about it.
St. Patrick's religious feast day is March 17. It has escalated into a major American celebration of sorts that centers around frat boys painting themselves green, dressing like demented leprechans and drinking green beer until they hurl. You have to love religious holidays.
I don't really celebrate St. Patrick's Day anymore. Although my name is H****, as with St. Patrick I'm not technically Irish. My father was adopted and the name H**** he assumed originally stemmed from Hele, an old English name. Plus corned beef and cabbage gives me gas.
But not being Irish doesn't mean I can't respect the St. Patrick's Day phenomenon. One of my most memorable St. Patrick's Day was spent in New Orleans eight years ago the day before my 41st birthday. New Orleans has a reputation for knowing how to party and St. Patrick's Day is no exception. There is a huge St. Patrick's Day parade there. Since the police force there used to be predominately of Irish descent, much of the parade is made up of police cars and presumebly off duty police officers.
As with most parades in New Orleans, you spend much of your time standing in huge crowds shouting at the people on floats to throw you something. I remember clutching my green beer on Bourbon Street as the Irish Parade Princesses pelted me with green condums and heads of cabbage. Then a very large police officer marching in the parade, stopped, hugged me, kissed me on the cheek and told me I was blessed amongst men. He handed me an Irish wool tie and moved on to his next blessed victim.
I love New Orleans.
Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone and remember that Irish phrase I taught you last year: Whale Oil Beef Hooked!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
The irony of getting as many if not more comments by writing nothing has not escaped me. I do not take this personally. I am touched that anyone stops by at all (which would indicate that some of you are more touched than me).
I have waxed poetic on the art of writing about nothing before so I won't beat that dead horse (one of those idioms that is kind of repulsive if you think of it literally). I won't be beating any dead baby seals, whales or puppies either, so we can all breath a sigh of relief.
Not that I'm breathing that well lately. My sinuses are still angry after my long bout of travel exacerbated illness. I am taking antibiotics that are so huge that I am greatly relieved that they are taken orally. I also purchased a personal steam inhaler and spend a large portion of my day breathing in hot Vicks laden vapors.
But enough about my physical frailties. I started out talking about silent blogging and its advantages. I'm sure many of you surfed in and were relieved only to have to read a couple of sentences so you could get on with your day. I'm the same way. As I ritually click through my blog roll I am delighted when someone...anyone...posts something new. I am especially delighted when the post is only a few paragraphs because my attention span has grown woefully minute on the Web. If the words scroll off the screen I begin focusing on dust particles on my monitor and wondering what I'll have for lunch.
I'm not saying this is a good thing. But I work in marketing and have been conditioned to communicate tons of "messages" within very small spaces and within a very short timeframe. I have toyed at times with switching careers and working in a mall inscribing the Lord's prayer on grains of rice at one of those annoying little carts that have sprouted up in the center walk ways of every mall these days.
I am at a loss as to what people expect when they read someone else’s blog anyway. I’ve toyed with the idea of just typing “YOUR NAME HERE” at the top if the blog and simply writing blogs to order (note to self: sell personalized blog posts on eBay).
But I suppose we read other’s people’s blogs because it gets a bit tedious simply reading our own. Though I must admit, sometimes I read some of my archived material and I laugh. It’s kind of an “out of blog” experience and I occasionally forget I’m reading something I’ve written and it could be considered conceited to be amused by your own material.
Speaking of silence of the blogs, I want to voice my opinion about those of you who embed your favorite song into your blogs so they play automatically. Don’t. It is annoying. It forces me to scramble for the mute button. It wastes bandwidth. And just because you like Britney Spears, doesn’t mean the rest of the world does.
I’m glad I got that off my chest. I don’t mean to be harsh, but it is a pet peeve of mine. Not that I would normally keep a peeve as a pet. I’m not even sure what you would feed a pet peeve. And I don’t want to clean up after one either. They sound pretty messy.
But I digress.
Funny, I have the urge for some Fava beans and a fine Chianti. But regardless, there you have it my friends, 600 words about nothing.
I am back.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Photographs of people from the 40s and the 50s always look so much happier than people from our own era. Of course, the grass is always greener in retrospect. In reality the good old days rarely were any different than the good old nows.
I was born in 1958 so I don't really remember much about the 50s. The 60s are a bit more clear, especially since I wasn't old enough to experiment with psychedelics. The 70s I'd just as soon forget. I did forget the 80s and the 90s are pretty much of a blur, too. Now that I'm in the 21st century, I am a bit curious about the 22nd.
Einstein was right. Time is relative.
Speaking of relatives, my nephew and his wife are expecting...a baby that is. I'm excited to be a great uncle, literally. It seems like only yesterday that I was parading my nephew around as a baby on my shoulders when I was 19. I remember being horrified at the goo he projectiled onto my head. Now it's his turn to be slimed.
I also remember sitting at his wedding in Las Vegas three years ago at the Graceland Chapel trying to goad an Elvis impersonator into singing Freebird. I'm getting all weepy just thinking about it. Anyway, I'm about as proud of the boy as an uncle could be.
But I digress.
I think photographs used to capture better times because they were special occasion things (birthdays, weddings, holidays). Now all anyone has to do is whip out their cell phone and they can capture a mugging on video.
I wonder if the ability to capture anything at anytime with a digital camera is making photographs meaningless. Or is it just reshaping our expectations and making us relax our memories. Will the next generation rely on computers to be their memories? When asked to recall the good old days will they simply pop in a flash drive and relive them.
Cool, but there is something vaguely troubling about it. I just can't remember what it is.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
I have always been fascinated with old photos. Even as a kid I loved to open up my grandmother's old desk and pull out photo albums and flip through the pages, making up my own stories about the people and places in faded photographs. More often than not I had to make up stories because my grandmother couldn't remember who half the people were anyway.
That's the thing about photos. Unless you write down who the people in the photographs are, eventually they will just be random people captured in eternity by light and chemicals. At least digital images automatically record the time the photos were taken so you will always have some clue about when they were taken if not who they were taken of.
I treasure all of my family photos. I love looking into the faces of family I never knew or the young images of my parents or grandparents when they still had the spark of youth and hope. They are my window to the past...my past.
Years ago I bought a box of old photos at an auction. They were random images of people, many of them out of the early 1900s. They were nameless people, mainly posing for portraits in long gone photographer's studios from the past.
I find it sad when I find old photographs at auctions or in antique stores. It means the families of these people either didn't care or the photos ended up in the trunks of someone who died and didn't have any family to pass them onto. Either way, the photos symbolize to me the lost souls of people who will never be remembered.
I've scanned most of those old photographs of unknown people. And every now and then I use them on my blog. I occasionally put myself into the photographs to symbolically give the people some connection in a world that has forgotten them.
Maybe, just maybe, I'm helping these people's soul live on though their names have been forgotten along with the stories of their lives.
I like to think that anyway.
But you can't really go against time. Or at least you can't really go against how the majority decide to measure it. Because since we can't control time we have to be content to measure it, watching it dribble away as we fret about ways to keep it at bay.
I've noticed that much of the blog community I am privy to has been aggitated of late. There is lots of starting and stopping and wringing of hand's posts. I can't help but think it is related to our futile efforts to control time. Or maybe it is part of our futile efforts to control anything.
Which is why when someone is debating whether or not to keep blogging, I encourage them to write even more. It may not help you control things in your life, but it puts a certain sense of order to it. It's very much akin to measuring time and our lives. Plus it gives you a written record of it.
So little time, so many blogs.
Friday, March 09, 2007
I have always had lots of hair on my head. Believe me, this has been comforting as I age. It may have turned silver and gray, but it is there.
I had very long hair as a teen ager. It was the style in the 70s. It drifted dangerously close to being a mullet in the 80s and then a god awful Steven Seagal ponytail in the 90s. Now it is just short.
Up until about six months ago, I was able to get a good haircut from the same stylist at the same salon for years. I didn't have to tell her how to cut it. She knew. And she'd descretely trim my eyebrows and the occasional stray hair on the ears without being asked or even acknowledging it. We could also discuss trash television without guilt. I went seven years without having to worry about my hair. Then my stylist got pregnant.
My head has been in chaos since. I have been thrown to the mercy of junior stylists with names like China, Sunni and Brandi. They begin every session with, "What are we going to do today" and seemed puzzled when I suggest, "cut my hair?" And so far I have walked away each time with my hair looking like a gardner has gone amuck with a hedge trimmer.
That pony tail is starting to sound like a good idea again.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
G'day Mate! I guess it is Outback week here at Dizgraceland. My Aussie friends seem keen on seeing my face on a bunch of critters from down under. I finally figured out a way to put my face on Skippy. Which reminds me of a joke: A kangeroo hops into a bar and the bartender says, "Why the long face?"
Stop! Stop! I am killing me.
Okay Whitesnake tells me a have to put my face on an echidna. I have never even heard of an echida until now. Turns out it is just a hedgehog with an attitude.
But I kind of like the hedgehog better.
What the hey. As long as I'm at it I might as well put my face on a dingo and cover just about all of the species of animals the Aussies have.
Oh, and if Mickey is still reading this. I am sorry dude. I know you have a thing about dingos.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
I'm trying to ease my way back into Photoshopping my face onto random things. This is for my friends down under there in Queensland or Woop Woop or wherever Whitesnake and Madame Butterfly live there in Aussie land (I'm still working on the hedgehog...the spines are a challenge).
I have come to believe Photoshop is the universal software that can make us all one people (or animal object). After all, a picture of yourself Photoshopped on something speaks a thousand words. Plus it becomes a challenge to figure out how to do.
A koala bear wasn't really very hard. I tried a kangaroo first. Now that's a challenge. I do really look good with a pouch.
Whenever I think of kangaroos, I think of this old Australian television series I used to watch in Boise as a kid...Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. I think it was Australia's answer to Lassie, Flipper or Gentle Ben. Skippy was this game warden kid's pet who helped him catch sheep theives and stuff. It had this catchy theme song that went something like, "Skippy, Skippy, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Skippy, Skippy, Skippy your friend ever true." I swear I'm not making this up.
But I digress. Forgive me, I'm feeling a little jumpy. Ha, ha....
Anyway, an all new episode of LOST has started and I need to find out what random thing they'll be Photoshopping themselves into tonight.
Monday, March 05, 2007
I wish I had interesting things to say about Las Vegas. If I were 21 and unleashed on the city I still probably wouldn't have much happen that would stay in Las Vegas after I left. Because if I were 21 I wouldn't be able to afford anything there.
Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire
--Viva Las Vegas, words and music by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman
Jesus! Bad waves of paranoia, madness, fear and loathing, intolerable vibrations in this place. Get out! The weasels were closing in. I could smell the ugly brutes.
--Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
I was at a conference. And despite the "nod, nod's, wink, wink's" people give you when you go to a conference in Las Vegas, some of us actually drag our butt's out of bed and catch those 8 a.m. sessions on "Forging Partnerships and Building Ridership" even though watching bread toast would be more interesting. Call it work ethic or call it Catholic guilt (though I'm not Catholic), but if someone pays me to do something, I do it. Point is, it wasn't a vacation. And public agency expense accounts are not generous or forgiving despite what the news program watchdogs tell you.
I did hop the Vegas Monorail to the strip a couple of times and walked through the obligatory big casinos like Paris...
....and of course, Ceasars Palace.
I didn't go to any shows, but my hotel room had a plasma screen television and a 26th floor view of the strip. I ate in one buffet, but mainly ate sandwiches. I gambled a bit, but not alot. I drank a bit, but not a lot (though I had a Star Trek martini in a Ferenghi Bar at the Hilton that had me seeing Klingon families dining...turned out they were real). I bought my wife a Las Vegas sweat shirt. I bought myself a pair of dice with my name on it. I didn't steal any ash trays. Oh yeah, it snowed.
I think I did see the weasels, though. And they were ugly brutes.
But that could have been the fever that went along with my sinus infection.
I think I'm getting old.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
I came down with the creeping crud before we went to Guatemala. It hung around the week were there. And it rose to the top in Las Vegas. The seven different flights, five airports, and two hotels in less than two weeks didn't help matters.
Growing up a Christian Scientist has not made me good at accepting being sick. But I spent last night in the grips of a fever that had me seeing things and talking in tongues. So I had to finally admit I was sick. And it sucks.
I think the worst part of having a fever is what it does to your dreams. I was drenched in sweat, caught in an endless series of repetitive dreams. And I can't remember a single one.
I went into work yesterday and people reacted to me like I was a leper and avoided me like the plague. But Tess has been taking care of me, filling me with Veraflu, tea, orange juice, and chicken soup. I am lucky.
Anyway, I'm home. My fever has broken and I've stopped coughing up a lung every ten seconds. So I guess I'll live.
And maybe by tomorrow I will blog in a semi-normal fashion.
Whatever that is.