Sunday, October 29, 2006

Obscenes From A Mall

My decision to brave the Opry Mills Mall on Saturday was rewarded while battling the oncoming shoppers.

Middle-aged, overweight man with deep rural Tennessee accent speaking to a similarly built middle-aged man walking anxiously & attentively a half step behind:

"You see, this picks up where Busty Beach Bunnies pt.1 leaves off!"

I decided to get an Orange Julius, find a bench & relax a little. Life's too fast. Every once in a while you have to stop & eavesdrop on the locals.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Booms In The Night

I've been at it again. Working on my next big panic attack at the local Lowe's home improvement store. There I was wandering up & down the aisles throwing a tantrum because there was no one in customer service to coddle me & tell me the tiling job is going to be all right. "They're not getting any more of my business... today."

Actually while scrambling for an exit I darted down the mail box aisle. There they had the absolute most ridiculous mail boxes I've ever seen. Apparently they now have them made entirely [post & all] of hollow green & yellow plastic with exaggerated round corners like those awful plastic playground sets you see in people's FRONT yards these days. There were pictures of the mail boxes in action & had they not included a proportional adult, I would have mistaken the place for a Toys-R-Us [Where's the backwards R on this keyboard?].

It reminded me of a forgotten sport we had where I grew up in rural Michigan. Mail Box Baseball was America's 2nd favorite past time - at least for those who didn't have cable. That's where one guy is behind the wheel of his $300 OldsmoBuick & a second guy is kneeling in the passenger seat hanging out the window with a baseball bat. You drive down a farm road or a not-so-dense subdivision & just wail the crap out of all the mail boxes. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Sometimes they forego the bat & just mow down the post & all with the car. For this you need an old car with a lot of mass. Your '94 Tercel won't take the really good posts down - the ones sitting on a railroad tie. But I tend to think the real reason for ramming a mail box with your bumper rather than bashing it with a bat says... you can't find a friend to do the swinging.

One Summer a real major leaguer came to town. This guy had to be the Mulo Enojado of some Mexican league. He had a dark colored car so he was hard to see at night. Mostly we just heard him. He ran the roads every few weeks or so. His trademark was that he would plow down every other mail box. Never would he get two in a row. Kind of like "eenie meanie." Or maybe he just "loved us not."

No one could ever catch the guy. He was really good at arriving just when we forgot all about him. Sometimes it was as though we were a bunch of border town peasants, always nervous, watching the horizon, afraid Eli Wallach was gonna come riding back into the village.

After his rampage through the neighborhood we'd all come out early like Christmas morning to find coal in every other stocking. But mostly we just resigned ourselves to it. There'd be a communal shrug as if to say, "Eh, Whaddaya gonna do?"

But it quickly & quietly started to get to my father. He had replaced about four mail boxes & a couple of posts - digging them out, realigning them. After numerous hard days' work & trips to Ace Hardware & neighbors laughing at our whole family circled around him at the end of the driveway as he dug & cursed, my father became obsessed. He began to drift away, paying no attention to family affairs. He took to missing dinners & working late in the garage, looking distant & incessantly inserting the words 'wrath' & 'thee' into quiet conversations he'd have with himself.

I'd seen my father get mad many times at many people before, brandishing weapons even. He himself looked like & caused as much fear as Charles Bronson. But this became personal to him. The other neighbors didn't seem to get as riled up as he did. They just put up cheap replacement boxes & let the vandal have his way, knowing it wasn't worth the ulcer. But as this had gone on for a couple of Summers, my father became progressively more & more preoccupied. He plotted & schemed. He studied history books on strategic warfare & had pored over diagrams of various sedan-slinging trebuchets & other medieval devices.

But one day after another dark visit from the bully vandal & my father had installed the new mailbox & post, he seemed a little less stressed. A little more satisfied. Still a little maniacal, but satisfied. I didn't think anything of it.

Then... a few weeks later. Midnight. It was a quiet Summer night with all the windows open - we didn't have air conditioning. Other than crickets & such, the neighborhood was almost as quiet as the house. Except you could hear the faint sound of the bug light at the farm next door zapping flies every few seconds. I was in my bed, having a hard time sleeping as usual. Just drifting in & out.

Gradually the sound of the crickets & frogs gave way to a muffled roar of tires on gravel & dirt. It came fast over the hill where my bus stop was. Then loudly down the hill. It seemed closer than even the road was, mostly because my ears were so accustomed to the quiet of the night. And then right in front of our house quickly the sound ended in a transient single bang of metal crunching & a quick dirt skid.

The crickets had shut up immediately. Everything went silent. Even the idiot flies managed to avoid the zapper for a moment. A few seconds or so & then his tires spun, throwing gravel. Then a slow squeak-squeak sound of the car limping down the road slowly out of ear-shot.

I laid silently in my bed for a few seconds. Wondering if I should wake my folks & tell them some dink had just hit one of our trees. But as quickly as the thought came to me, I heard my father at the other end of the silent house.

"Got you, you sucker."

It seems that when my father installed the new mail box, he had welded a plain black box atop a 6-inch pipe, 12 feet long which he had sunk 9 feet into the ground & filled to the brim with cement. He poured cement into the ground 10 inches around the pipe. Then he collected his tools & cords & cement mixer & purposefully walked them all back up the long drive to the garage. Each trip he would spin to look back at his work - both inspecting from a distance to see if it looked innocent enough, but also celebrating & gloating a bit. He'd smile walking backwards, arms full of dangling extension cords & trowels.

He had built a barricade designed to kill. And then waited up for weeks - listening & hoping. For one night - this night. I'm told after he said those words from his bed, he rolled over & slept like a baby till morning.

From my father we learned to keep our eyes on our goals. Don't stray. Keep focused. Do what you're good at. He didn't really say it in those words but we picked up on his example. He always had a way of illustrating how important it was to work through life's challenges. This was one of them. He conquered & then gloated. Just like the time he stopped the neighbor's dogs from coming into the garage & chewing up his workboots by wiring the laces up to a live toaster cord.

It worked.

We went back to the old house this weekend & the damned thing is still in tact, like a bunker over the Omaha Beachhead.
The rocks are little monuments for all those who died trying to take the mailbox.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Is He Ever Going To Write Again?

Question - Did you ever see David Gilmour & Christopher Plummer in the same place at the same time?

Actually my friend Gordie pointed that out to me today. That doesn't really count as a journal entry but I thought it was worth mentioning, at least quietly.

More to come soon. [Mostly about nothing]

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Coming at you live from a WiFi Starbucks somewhere in America

How 'bout this one that's been flying around everyone's email...

I love America. We need to preserve our rare & precious culture.

...How soon is that fence going to be built?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Short & Sweet &... Salty... & Crunchy... & Good With Beer

Got this link from my asbestos-house-buying sister...

Faces Of Meth

Shocking. I guess it's supposed to be.

The internet is a great tool for dissuading certain vices.

...sorry about that.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Big Fugitive

Ever get sleepy driving? On my way home last night I felt pretty drowsy. Could hardly keep my eyes focused on the road. I did that little Homer Simpson thing where I started dreaming I was driving my king bed. Then [blink] I was flying my bed like a plane through the clouds. [blink] Leaned back, closed my eyes & nestled myself into the pillow - the bed soaring like a magic carpet with little angels at each post carrying me safely to some far away quiet land with an ocean breeze where it's always 72 degrees, mostly sunny & a 10% chance of showers.

No I hadn't been drinking. I was just exhausted.

I had already fallen asleep twice at the Belle & Sebastian show earlier in the evening. So my thinking was, if you're getting sleepy, speed up so you can get in bed sooner. After all, don't want to be out here on the road where I could run somebody over, eh?

Then I started to dream again. This time I was fishing - back home in Michigan. Standing in the painfully cold water of an Upper Peninsula stream. Wearing belly-high waders & a floppy Col. Henry Blake hat. Chilly night. So quiet in the woods that the water over the rocks seemed deafening. [In my dreams, I know how to fly-fish. I'm terrible at it in real life. I take out branches & small birds.] Holding the fly-rod still for a moment, I looked up & saw the Northern Lights & how dazzling they were. It was a nice peaceful dream. I just stood there pausing in wonderment of nature & how beautiful God had made this world.

Then I started to come out of it. Waking up, uncomfortably. "Those aren't the Northern Lights. Those are blue flashing lights... in the rear-view mirror. Aww damnit!"

I pulled off the road into a church parking lot AT THE END OF MY STREET. A block from my house. Brilliant. When the cop asked me where I lived, I pointed across the parking lot toward my house.

- "Right over there."

Officer Nightshift McGee - "You live in the Church?"

- "No, McGruff. Behind it in the dumpster. I have to leave for a few hours every Saturday when they have the Kountry Kraft Flea Market in the parking lot."

Actually, he was pretty cool. I know that Nashville police are under a tighter watch with the new chief. They're not really allowed to let so many people off anymore. Too bad for me, I guess.

But I did fall asleep while he wrote the speeding ticket. He had to wake me up to get me to sign his book. I signed it, "Jim Ignatowski"

Maybe I should put more effort into being a big celebrity so I can say, "Do you know who I am?!"

To which any good officer would reply, "Moe Greene?"

Monday, February 06, 2006

I Used To Do This, But With Pictures Of Karl Malden

Got this from ANONYMOUS. Thought I'd post the pics as I received them.

Apparantly ANONYMOUS got mixed up with the wrong crowd at the February 4th Jerry Hager show & succumbed to peer pressure. Everyone was doing it - Rip Jerry's face out of a postcard & voila! COLORFORMS - The Jerry Hager Edition.

Hail Jerry, full of grace...

Wait, that's not Guinness.

A fan recreating the episode that featured Jerry on COPS.

Here we see another friend of The Jerry Hager Show considering dying her hair to match Jerry's.

Hips are great but I hear tell that Jerry's more of an ass man.

I caught you a delicious bass.

Is it me or does the picture of Jerry look like he's smiling a little more in this one?

*This one just in! 2/07/2006 23:15:41
Sasquatch heart's Jerry.

*Update 2/08/2006 20:58:44
What are you hiding, Jerry?

I'm glad you folks liked the words.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Cooter Kept Me Up All Night

This is fun. A friend showed me this envelope today. It was sent from an embroidery company to a courier company - an envelope containing a letter soliciting business. He asked me, "Would you do business with this company?"

I know I'm no Madison Ave type but I'm pretty sure I could get this marketing question right.

After I picked myself up off the floor it occurred to me that the handwriting may belong to an elderly person & therefore I'm not allowed to make fun of it, right? But even so, it's funny because someone decided to mail it out like it was. It passed someone's inspection - good to go.

And barring the likelihood that it was written by a 73 year old Parkinson's victim, it's funny picturing the other possibilities. First thing to come to my mind is some 9 year old with her cheek on the kitchen table, eyes practically closed at 11:30 at night filling out the 212th envelope sitting across from her father who's saying, "You're helping Daddy with his new business. Isn't this fun? Wake up honey. You've got stamps in your hair."

So I opened it.

I kid you not, this is exactly how it was printed - as crooked as you see. Like the guy made copies at a nickel copier next to the time-clock & rental steam-cleaners at Piggly Wiggly.

And then... I saw the e-mail address. And please, please don't e-mail this guy. I don't want to embarrass him. I just want to make fun of him behind his back.

"Corporateservice" huh? Let's see what was that e-mail domain again? I got the "Corporateservice" part but what was the rest of it? I know I know it. It's on the tip of my tongue.

I guess this makes me an immature 12 year old. Well, writing about it makes me an ambitious 12 year old. The incessant giggling is what makes me immature. As evidenced by the fact that when my sister got her new job at a prison healthcare company, I jumped up & down saying, "Wow! Now when someone asks what you do you can use the word Penal!"

Friday, January 20, 2006

WARNING: Serious Blog Ahead

This being the epitome of cliche notwithstanding, the need to write this is powerful.

Dear diary,

I just got spam with the subject "Haunted by your past?"

Actually no. I'm not. If anything, I'm taunted by my present.

As is typical for me these days, I've been second guessing myself a bit. To the point I sometimes have little imaginary power-meetings in my head with anyone I think I should be listening to. But only people that I think I can guess at what they would say. Let's see, this morning sitting around the table, there was me, God, Robert Forster... the list goes on.

See, in the last day I've really been thinking hard & even worrying about some things that I shouldn't be. Things that I have no control of. Well that isn't saying much - other than choices [& occasionally our bowels], we don't really have control of anything do we? Just the way we react, I guess. Anyway, it was all over relationship stuff & I was worrying to the point of asking for some simple recognizable indication from God or whoever was listening as to what to do, how to react, how to perceive it - or even just a sign telling me which direction to face.

From what I hear, we all do this at some point in our lives. From time to time we all get all spiritual & ask God for a sign or some such nonsense when we're so confused or worried about that one thing that inevitably happens - Life.

So I had this meeting of the minds, in my mind, while on my way to an appointment at the medical center. As I walked into the lobby I noticed a man sitting in a chair, motionless. He was in his sixties I think. He was completely bald. No hair anywhere on his face or arms. That & the fact that he was sitting outside the cancer center led me to conclude that he was going through chemotherapy. I'm quick like that you know.

Anyway, he didn't look long for this world. Almost everything about him gave you that impression. His still posture in the chair, the absence of muscle on his arms, his feet lightly pointed all caddywompus. Everything but his eyes.

His face looked bereft of spirit but his eyes looked at me - almost through me- with so much life that I felt joy & shame at the same time. Despite using this phrase many times in the past, it bears repeating: it was like standing in the presence a of woman so beautiful that you feel ashamed of your own ugliness.

I walked on.

A few steps past him I pushed the up button for the elevator. As I mulled the old man over & waited, a middle-aged woman rolled a young girl in a wheel-chair up next to me. The girl was frail. She was clearly very sick. The doors opened just as they arrived. I paused so they could get on. Going by me the young girl looked up with the grandest smile.

"Wow, that was lucky. We didn't even have to wait."

I agreed because usually those elevators are pretty slow. And I'm usually pretty late.

We were all in & the doors closed. As her mother was looking at a map of the clinic & cancer center, the young girl - the prettiest thing in her wavy dark hair - kept looking at me & smiling. It seemed as though to make sure I had thought about what she had said. I started to feel sick. Something about her made me feel like she knew me.

I got off at the 3rd floor.

Still puzzled a little I turned to look back at her, rounded a corner & almost ran into a slowly walking man & woman. The woman was supporting the guy by his left elbow. He had a serious limp; was barely making any ground at all. He must've been in pain because every step was gingerly taken.

Even though I dodged the man, I still brushed up against his beige wind-breaker going around his right. With my feet still moving I spun around toward them & caught his smiling eyes & said, truthfully, that I was sorry & I wasn't watching where I was going.

In an unsarcastic tone, very genuine, the man said so that I could hear, "Let's get out of the way. He's got somewhere to be." I know it sounds sarcastic & hateful but his tone was clearly honest. It was kind of like when you were a child & your grandfather gets excited for you about the smallest things & it seems fake but you know he means it. The man sounded like he was trying to apologize for being out of place & in my way by affirming that I was important enough to be given passage.

I turned & walked on.

But then... in no time at all... a few steps & my feet went numb. I felt like I could collapse right there in the hall, in front of the limping couple.

My head was swimming. In just a mere moment my own life started to play out in my head. I wasn't ready for it.

The time I was impaled in the abdomen, the car accident that took many of my memories & personality, the emergency appendectomy in the middle of the night, the minor heart attack at the age of 35. All the times that life was handed back to me to spend how I chose. To think about what I would buy with it. The gifts I had not yet said thank you for. How much shame I felt in a single moment. More than I may have felt in an entire life.

But with it immediately came relief. Relief from my current worry. Like water over a handful of sand. And there again... underneath... was joy.

Just then, slowly, the images of each of the wonderful eyes I had just walked so quickly past began to appear. One after another. It hit me so blindingly & painfully. My heart hurt.

Did I just walk past & brush off three different strangers? Or maybe it was one very familiar pair of eyes. Did they belong to the one I had been praying & pleading to? Was that one trying to tell me something? Flying from one set of eyes to the next, staring at me? Watching me closely to see that I'm listening? To see that I'm hearing the message? A message that didn't come out of the sky or from a flaming bush? A message that could only be delivered in terms I could understand?

It feels to me that I almost missed it. There in that hallway, the cold chill, the weakness that took me over, the burning in my gut. It feels to me now that, as hokey & predictable as it sounds, we must miss countless signs & messages everyday. How many times have we been looking in the face of God & just walked on? How many times has the voice of God been hovering just beneath the noise floor we've gotten so used to & yet we don't even notice? It feels to me that in the end, life really is easy. We're the ones who make it hard.

I'm thankful & glad I noticed.

And embarrassed at my pettiness. How long will it be before I need to be reminded again. Probably already do.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Word Of The Day, 1/18/06

ther·a·pist ( P ) Pronunciation Key (thr' ê-píst) n.
Person who knows how many pounds of grapes I eat in a week... The real number.