Sunday, December 28, 2008


So Christmas is finally over. Things went pretty well this year, all things considered. Now we find ourselves embroiled in something we're not as a unit at all accustomed to.

We're all home at the same time.

At our house we've always more or less divided time. We had the D some eight years ago, and our work schedules have fallen into a pattern. For the most part, I'm home in the mornings, everyone is home in the afternoon for a while, then Tracy has the night shift. With this have also come our little patterns. Like the way I generally do dishes when I'm the only one home during the day. I'm sure Tracy's schedule has been likewise affected.

Now we're all here, and it's odd. Balance is off. Holiday stress hasn't quite dissipated, we're stumbling over one another. And we still have the freaking dog, which quite frankly isn't helping anyone stay any saner.

I think what's happened is that I've taken most of the holiday stress, internalized it, put it into a time lock safe that couldn't be opened until, say, now.

On the up side, this year did have a few perks. We got to see our friends Marijke and Sean; it'd been literally years. So that was nice. Our camera died but Christmas lootage took care of that nicely. Tracy can start making movies again, which will be especially nice once the scourge of Winter has gasped it's last breath.

We're weathering winter speculating on this summer's camping plans. I may well be able to manage two entire weeks off within a month or so of each other, so we may get to go for several days at a stretch (I think our current camping record holds at three days). I can't wait. Getting out of town, to a place where no one can reach you by phone or email or IM, is fantastic.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Day Before the Invasion

'Tis the day before the night before....time to prepare the troops for battle. I'm oddly not sure what the Christmas plan actually is, other than trying to cram all the relatives into one Blitzkrieg of celebration. We're both working Christmas Eve morning, so we'll get there when we're damn good and ready.

Most of Christmas Eve is usually spent with my in-laws. This is not a problem. Despite growing up with every sitcom planting a subconscious imperative to dislike future mothers-in-law, I actually like Tracy's family. They are, as they said of yore, the bee's knees. Most of my brood went out of state, so we'll be seeing them when they get back. Then there's dad to consider, and my grandparents...we'd better get up and eat our Wheaties tomorrow morning.

A lot of people may think it's a drag that I have to go into my office on Christmas Eve, but my office is like a party on an average week. Christmas is super fun at work, possibly because only one of the five people who will be there is a Christian. All that tedious "Reason for the Season" jazz is instead replaced with my boss running around with a little bag of prizes, handing them out to whomever knows the answers to the bizarre Christmas Trivia game we play every year.

There is one hitch, however. Someone, and I'm not sure who, has supplied all of us with Christmas ties. Musical Christmas ties. Mine has a snowman on it. Never mind that the last time I wore a tie to work was my first day, when I didn't realize that standard office dress code at Fraley Publishing was a T-Shirt, preferably with something cheeky on it, and jeans. I remember the day I showed up in a shirt and tie a coworker was wearing a black T-shirt that read "Satan" in script letters very like the Coca-Cola logo. I don't think I've worn a tie to work since, barring a day when there was a funeral I had to go to after work or something to that effect.

And yet there is this tie.

I considered just wearing a black tie in protest. I have about twenty ties that I seldom wear, and it sort of irks me that on a day I'm expected to wear one I'm also expected to fall in line with that time-honored Christmas imperative, "don we now our gay apparel".

Maybe I'm just feeling bitchy today. The house isn't up to the Christmas standard...which means I should be cleaning instead of sitting here supplying you, tiny audience, with a reason of your own not to be doing whatever it is you should be doing. But since I have you - Merry Christmas. Here's hoping 2009 is footloose and fancy-free.


Monday, December 22, 2008

War Zone

In a recent post on Edgehill House Tracy said something to the effect of my growing up in a war zone. Allow me to explain.

I grew up in the remnants of an ethnic neighborhood, one of probably many predominantly Italian neighborhoods in Clarksburg. I remember feeling like a minority, being predominantly German amongst all the proudly Italian kids and families. Like many working class neighborhoods in the 80s we had factory closings affecting many families. There wasn't a lot of middle ground - you were either rich or poor. Most of the people in my neighborhood fell into the "poor" category.

I was afraid the war zone comment (and I'm not blaming her; I'm sure I've said it myself more than a few times) would conjure up images of the modern war zone neighborhoods. We didn't have people shooting each other or stabbing someone over their shoes. What we had was more of a propaganda war, waged in grim determination by my grandmother.

The way I heard it as a kid, everyone was potentially out to get you. This was the eighties, the height of Satanic Cult hysteria. If someone offered you a ride, they were killers or kidnappers. If you went to the NVAC (North View Athletic Center, where we played our little league games) alone, you WOULD be found in the surrounding woods, dismembered in a black garbage bag. This was presented as fact.

Now, on the other hand, the following really happened, in no particular order.

Once, when I was fourteen or so, a man knocked on our door about midnight. I was the only one up, and had been warned never, ever to open the door for strangers. I turned on the porch light and looked out to see a guy covered in blood. Literally. He was bleeding from his mouth, nose and his freaking EYE.

I had to know. I opened the door. The guy was drunk (big surprise). He told me that so-and-so had jumped him and wanted to know if I would drive him to the dudes house. They guy who beat the hell out of him - that's who he wanted to go see. I told him I didn't have a license and offered to call him an ambulance. He said he'd be fine and staggered up the street. I watched him go, falling down a few times. I wound up calling 911, explaining that a bloody guy was wandering around, trying to get to the guy who had bloodied him. I thought he needed an ambulance, but the police were the ones who showed up and took him away.

The other example that springs to mind happened before bloody guy. I had stayed up all night drinking Mt. Dew, and decided about 9AM that I was hungry. I didn't know how to cook, maybe there were no groceries...for whatever reason, I decided to walk about four blocks to get a hot dog at the Dairy Mart.

As I walked home with my hot dogs an older kid was walking up the street; we met up right in front of my house.

"I'll fight you for a dollar."

What the hell. I didn't know what to say. I just looked at him, bag of hotdogs in hand.

"You want me to pay you a dollar to fight you?" I don't know why the hell I said it. I had been up all night, so I wasn't thinking straight.

"No, we'll fight, and the winner gets a dollar from the loser." I remember him being super calm when he said this. I didn't know this person, he wasn't mad at me or anything. I guess he just thought fighting was a good way to win a buck.

"No, thanks," I said.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah man, I'm sure." I remember being glad that I was right in front of my house. I thought I was about to get mugged.

"OK," he says, and just walks away. Just like that.

Now, neither of these examples led in any way to my being abducted or murdered. They did, however, drive home the lessons my grandmother constantly drilled into us: people are out to get you. I've been combating this mindset for years. I don't carry a gun around. I broke myself of the compulsion to carry a tactical knife, butterfly knife, switchblades...I even broke my brass knuckle habit.

I still think about it all the time. Tracy says that it's unhealthy to have this mindset, and she's probably right. But my friend up the street was beat up twice in two months over the summer, and once at Dewey Street I caught a drunk guy peering through my back can't be too careful.

So maybe I am a little paranoid. I try not to be, but I think some things are ingrained in your personality, put there by well meaning family as you grow up, little seeds that germinate into madness in your adult life. I try to look at people and not think, "if that guy were to grab my throat, I'd hit him with this beer bottle". I'm down to a flashlight and a kubotan as my only weapons. So I'd say I'm making some good progress.

But I still think my mother is right. Whenever this conversation comes up at family gatherings, she always has the same final insight.

"Sharon Tate didn't expect anyone to kill her, either."

Thanks mom!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The True Story of Tommy Holiday stealing my bike.

I wish I could remember how old I was exactly when this happened. I know I was in grade school. It was the year that Ryan and I got new bicycles. Shiny new silver bicycles with red BMX pads that were supposed to keep your teeth from getting knocked out through the magic of an 8mm layer of foam, bikes with handbrakes - yes, handbrakes! - they were awesome. Our prides and joys. Before that we rode around on the old bicycles that were left over from another age but had survived in our garage like living, working, fossils.

We were only allowed to ride these bikes in our driveway and the driveway next door where Mrs. Turnis lived. Mrs. Turnis had a huge driveway but didn't drive due to advanced age. When you added these two driveways to the adjacent yards we had a pretty good area to ride around in.

Then, one day, my bike was gone. Ryan's bike was still there; we could tell which was which because we wrote our names on the inside of the rad BMX pads. Someone had come in the night, got into our garage, and stole nothing but my bicycle. I was crushed.

My grandfather, noting that there was another bike to be stolen, hatched a plan. He spent the next two weeks camped out in the garage with a forty ounce bottle of beer, a thermos of coffee, and a loaded semiautomatic 16 ga shotgun. Alas, the thief was happy with only stealing my bike, because my grandfather didn't shoot anyone over the following weeks.

As this happened when I was young enough that I wasn't allowed to roam very far (being allowed to walk the streets at all hours didn't come until years later), I had no idea that my bike was a scant two blocks away. This kid that lived in our neighborhood, Tommy Holiday, had it for days and I had no idea.

Then, one day while I was playing basketball or G.I. Joe or whatever the hell I was doing in the driveway an older kid from up the street came into my driveway. His name was Frankie. I knew Frankie because I knew his little brother Mike. If I was, say nine, when this happened then Frankie must have been more like fourteen. Normally fourteen year olds look at nine year olds as little more than vassals or prey, but Frankie was all right. A good egg, if you will.

Frankie walks up to me and says, "I know where your bike is. We're going to go get it."

Now, I was an intensely shy kid. I had panic attacks if I had to go up to the counter at McDonalds and ask for ketchup. I wanted that bike back, but was torn. My grandfather, who practically spent all summer every summer drinking beer in the garage overheard this conversation. He encouraged me to go with Frankie and retrieve my stolen property. He starts talking to Frankie, finds out where it is, then gives me some grandfatherly advice.

"You get your ass up there and don't come back without that bike." Thanks, grandpa.

I remember being very nervous about this whole thing. Other than my cousins I had never been in a fight before in my young life (though my cousins and I fought viciously and continually, it never occurred to me that these were skills that could come in handy with non-relatives). But then again I had a teenager - a teenager!! - with me. So off we went.

As we walked the two blocks to the Holiday house we encountered another neighborhood scallywag named Brian. Brian was in my class and had been since kindergarten. He was in his front yard with an old BB gun, the kind that looks like a Red Ryder without the forestock. I remember specifically that he was putting yellow dandelions in the muzzle and shooting them in a little three or four foot arc through the air, because the BB gun was so worn out that it wouldn't propel actual metal BBs anymore.

"What are you guys doing?" he asks.

Frankie says, "Tommy Holiday stole his bike, and we're gonna go make him give it back."

"I'm going with you," Brian announces. He shoots the dandelion out of his BB gun, brings it with us, and we're off.

Now I'm flabbergasted. Brian and I weren't really friends, as neither of us at the time were allowed to walk the two blocks to the other's house. All of a sudden it went from Frankie making me go take my bike back from this kid (he didn't make me, but that's how it felt at the time) to being in a freaking gang going into enemy territory to rumble with those greasy Jets. I remember feeling like I was going to throw up, but also feeling that my chances of getting my bike back were looking pretty good.

We make it to the Holiday house and, son of a bitch; there's my bicycle. The pads are all gone, but it was definitely it. A young boy can spot his bike like a young mother can spot her toddler on a playground, definitively and instantly. Tommy was busy taking the rear wheel off with a pipe wrench and a pair of pliers. I remember him looking up as we walked into his yard.

"That's my bike," I said. At the time this was a wildly bold thing for me to do. You have to understand that when I was a kid I took this asthma medicine twice a day. It made me so nervous I jumped if a cat purred when I didn't expect it. Except when I was mad, when it made me so nervous I flew into what they call red murderous rage. Saying this was an unfamiliar ground; it was a reasonable reaction to the situation. Maybe that's why I remember this so well; it was surreal in many ways, from having other kids actually helping me out, to being what passed outwardly for calm - it was alien territory for me.

"I found this bike," Tommy says. "Finders keepers."

"Bullshit. You stole that bike out of his garage. You're lucky his grandfather wasn't home when you did it. Try to steal it again and you're gonna get shot." Frankie was pretty eloquent when he wanted to be.

"Look..." Tommy begins.

This next part I will never forget as long as I live. Brian takes his BB gun that will only shoot flowers about three feet through the air, cocks it, points it at Tommy Holiday and says, "Put that wheel back on."

Holy shit! All of a sudden it's like being one of the Magnificent Seven! Tommy Holiday evidently didn't know that this BB gun was physically incapable of damaging anything but a flower, because that wheel went on fast. I remember Frankie and Brian and I sitting around talking while Tommy sweated through putting the wheel back on, then off we went. In retrospect I'm surprised the police didn't come see us about menacing people with BB guns, but then I don't remember calling the police when my bike was stolen either. I was too young to worry about police, but I did have my bike back.

Tommy Holiday moved away not long after this happened. Brain and I went to school together until we were seniors, but probably never said more than a hundred words to each other the whole time. Frankie I talked to for years and years afterward; he wound up working at the store half a block from my grandmother's house. He died in a motorcycle accident years later, seeing how fast he could take a sport bike up a 50mile per hour stretch of Rt 50. Brian I never think about, though I see him on Facebook once in a while. Frankie I'll never forget as long as I live.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dig This

My friend Willy was here Saturday night. Tracy had gone to get pizzas, Chris had to run back to his house to get a magazine he'd forgotten, and the other gamers were still somewhere on the long road between Arthurdale and my kitchen table. It was wicked cold outside and Willy had walked to my house so we decided to do a warm-up shot of whiskey.

We're standing in my kitchen and Willy turns to me and says, "Lucas and I made a tattoo gun."

I had to admit to being a little jealous. They made it out of a motor from Radio Shack, some aluminum tubing they'd milled down, either a pen or mechanical pencil (I forget which) and, of course, a guitar string.

According to Willy the test run consisted of a few lines that Lucas drew on his leg, to test depth and whether the lines would blow out or not. The test was quite satisfactory. The test run was done with India Ink, but some tattoo ink (which is an acrylic suspension, just so you know) is being ordered via the internet. Then the fiesta begins.

I have to admit that there is some draw to this. Calm down; I'm not going to do it - but I have to admit to wanting to a tiny bit. It appeals to me in the same way that a $20 music player appeals to me more than an iPod, or the way my cheapo cell phone appeals to me more than a touch screen Blackberry. Somewhere along the way, we've all come to believe that more expensive not only means better, but also means that we must have it. I know a lot of people (casually, that is) that won't have anything if they can't have the best. People who will spend more on gas than they make on a given day so they can have the necessary luxury of driving an Escalade.

It's their money. But it still makes me mad. The economy is going down the toilet, and all the pundits will have us believe that it's because people spent more on houses than they could possibly afford. Whether or not that's strictly true (it doesn't explain why the car companies are going broke, though their insistence on making huge gas guzzlers instead of small efficient cars does), it is a prevailing attitude.

I digress. The home made tattoo is more than just a cheap alternative. It's a lot like giving the finger. Tattoos used to be the finger to society at large, but every frat boy and sorority girl sports them now, so a lot of the social deviancy is gone. But it is still deviant to get said tattoo in your friends kitchen. It's the same part of me that looks forward in the future after the D is settled and happy to selling everything, buying an Airstream and just becoming a wandering gypsy.

Again, don't worry. I'm not going to do it.

Stupid blood borne pathogens.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Internet Survey Says!?

I was just reading a survey, one of the deals that goes around on MySpace. You know what I'm talking about. The women's magazine-type surveys that people pass around on the MySpace bulletin board.

I gotta come clean - I love those things.

It's not so much the "getting to know your friends" vibe that attracts me to them. I know my friends. My friends are a bunch of smartasses. They're not alone. I too am a smartass. AND given that I like to lie, those things are just too good to pass up.

The best question on this survey (and the best question of any survey I've seen in quite a while) was, "Have you ever been Hornswaggled?" This, then, is the complete fabrication of the last time someone attempted to hornswaggle me.

I was in Utah, where I didn't want to be in the first place. Utah is not the state for me. They have to make special, lower alcohol content beer to sell in Utah. If you want anything worth drinking you have to drive clear to freaking Wyoming. Yet there I was nonetheless.

The reason I was lingering in Utah is because my car was missing, presumably stolen. I told the police it was stolen, but to be honest I just parked it somewhere that I thought no one would come across it for a very long time, walked through the seediest part of Salt Lake City (it was seedy because there was a news stand there that sold Cosmopolitan), then took a cab to the police station. They ask a hella lot of questions in a Utah police station, a disconcerting number of which concern whether or not you've accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior and, if not, why, but I persevered. Eventually they bought my story; I told them I was going to California to become an actor. If you're ever in a Utah police station, tell them exactly that. That you are going to California to become an actor. When you tell them that, they can't wait to get rid of you.

So anyway after I reported my car stolen I had to wait around a few days. It actually turned out to be about a month, because I wanted to wait out the insurance company for a check. I stayed in the seediest hotel I could find, which turned out to be a Howard Johnson.

Here's where the attempted Hornswaggle came in.

I decided one night, after finishing the last of the booze I'd smuggled into the state, to go out on the town. The HoJo was a good ways from anything that might be even a little fun, and I was running short on cash, so I decided to hitchhike. I don't advocate hitchhiking, but I was in Utah and wasn't an unmarried 16 year old girl, so I felt pretty safe.

Anyway, after a while this dude picked me up. I say "dude" instead of "guy" because of his jacket. His bedazzled denim jacket. The one jackass in the state with a bedazzled Confederate flag on the back of a Wrangler denim jacket - that's who stops to pick me up. Son of a bitch.

When you're hitchhiking you have to talk to whoever picks you up. If you don't they freak out, think you're a serial killer, and jump out of the car. So I start talking to this guy about my "stolen" car, waiting for the insurance check, and just wanting to get out on the town after being cooped up for a month.

"Well hell," he says. "I can sell ya a truck!"

Oh boy. The conventions of hitchhiking mandate that I have to hear him out. I bite.

"Oh yeah? What kind?" I thought this was a good, fairly noncommittal question.

"A Henweigh!" he replies.

Now, I didn't fall off the back of a Utah bible truck the day before this happened. I knew what this dude was up to. He wanted me to ask what a Henweigh was so he could yell, "About six pounds!" Nevermind that he should have said he would sell me a truck that had a Henweigh. (That's how the joke works. The mark is supposed to say, "What's a Henweigh?")

I decided right then, and I remember these words running through my head verbatim, "uh uh, baby". I countered.

"First thing's first-does it have a Five'cross?" I asked this with a completely straight face, a trick I learned from Bob Newhart.

"A five'cross?" He's still smiling, just wanting to get through this "five'cross" jazz I threw at him so he could deliver his punchline.

"That's right, baby. Five'cross yo lip!" POW. Old bedazzled jacket never saw it coming.

I didn't wait to see what he'd do. I jumped out of the truck, which was whizzing down the highway at a pretty good clip. I figured he'd be less apt to give me any static if he thought I was some sort of maniac. He kept right on driving.

And THAT, people, is what happens when someone tries to hornswaggle me.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Adult Content

I myself made my blog an adult content blog. I did it just the other day because I noticed that every now and again, against my better judgement, I drop the old F bomb. In the interest of both protecting innocent young minds and not hiding my light under a bushel, I just came clean and admitted to the mark of the untalented - I work blue.

Which brings me to something I've been thinking about for a while. I used to keep a very sporadic blog on MySpace, before I moved it here full time. MySpace used to be a lot more active than it is now. A lot of my friends have switched over to Facebook instead, but I still check the MySpace a lot. I've noticed it's missing something.

I used to have friend requests on MySpace every time I logged on. I put them into two rough categories: Boob Girls and Butt Girls. The Boob Girls are the ones who would have a picture of some girl in a bikini or some such, the Butt Girls were mainly pictures of butts. Sometimes butts in jeans, sometimes butts in underwear. Butts. (That last time I just wanted to say it again).

Both the Boob and Butt Girls were just robotic advertisements for porn sites. Most of the time if you just ignored them the profiles associated with the requests would disappear, as someone would flag them as spam. But I can't help wondering whether MySpace has gotten better at blocking spammers or if, for some reason, the Boob and Butt Girls have just collectively lost interest in me. I checked my MySpace before I logged onto this - no Boob or Butt Girls.

Alas, all I got was a crappy band inviting me to be friends. As pop music offends me far more than boobs or butts, I had to click no. So good bye Boob Girls, so long Butt Girls. I hardly knew ye.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Passive V. Overt

I just spent way too much time reading, a nice little website where people can post the notes that we all encounter in our daily lives. Most of them are either from room mate situations or workplaces.

I don't get notes here at home, at least not notes that annoy me. "Call me if you get home before I do and we'll go out to lunch" are the kind I get, so they don't qualify. I do get notes at work, but they don't count either, as they are usually either questions that I have answers to or replies to questions I had about something. So as I read the site I was trying to think back to past jobs where I may have gotten or left P-A notes.

Turns out I'm not the passive-aggressive type. I'm overtly aggressive. I used to work at a fast food place that specifically serves fried fish. We'll call it the Diarrhea Steamboat to avoid any annoying mention of corporations and such. Anyway, I fried stuff at work. The dude who worked the shift before me fried stuff as well, but he was a disgusting pig. He didn't mop the floor at all during his shift, which used to piss me off. Thinking back on it, I could have left little annoying notes like "It's your job to mop the floors too" or "Don't be too lazy to clean the damn floors." I didn't do that, though.

Instead I did this. I went up and said, "John, mop the fucking floor before you leave tomorrow."

John didn't like this, and muttered something about not being able to get to it when there was a rush. I countered with something to the effect of, "Dude, if you can't handle this job you're a liability to the human race and should go jump in front of a bus right now."

Bear in mind that I'm not some hulking giant. I'm all of 5'8" tall. John was much, much bigger than I am. He was bound to notice this. I expected it. I kind of wanted him to try to exploit this size differential, in fact.

John looked at me and said, "If you don't like mopping the floor, maybe you should quit."

I said, "If you don't mop this floor by the time I come in tomorrow, I'm going to drag you out into the parking lot by your throat." Then I left.

I came in the next day and lo, behold, the floor was mopped. Nice. John had left before I got there, I got my way; score one for being overtly aggressive.

Then, later that night, I found out that my manager had mopped it.

"What the hell, Sherry?" I was so pissed off. It wasn't just that the floor wasn't mopped every time, it was specifically that the jackass who worked there before me was too lazy to do it. She told me she didn't want me to drag John around by the neck, so she mopped it for him.

A few days later the general manager called a mandatory meeting. When we were all there she starting saying something about how someone, she didn't know who, was starting trouble about the floors and general mess.

I couldn't take it. I said, "Yes, you do."

"Pardon?" She was looking at me with eyes wide open, almost popping out.

"You know exactly who's pissed. I'm pissed. And you know why. It's because John is either too lazy, too stupid -or both- to handle a job frying things in a vat of hot fat."

No one said a word for about three minutes. I sat and waited them out.

John finally spoke up. "Sometimes it's too busy..."

"Bullshit." When I get mad I like to cut people off. "You're an asshole. Mop the floor or I swear to god I'm going to take that mop handle and beat you in the head with it."

I can not, to this day, believe they didn't fire me right there. My manager didn't even write me up or whatever it is they did in the way of discipline. The most that happened was that I never again was named employee of the month. I worked there for months after this happened. I wound up quitting after a year because they gave me a whole dime for a raise and I was tired of smelling like hot grease all the time.

The moral of this story is that, while you can indeed annoy someone with a prissy little sanctimonious note you're much better off (in my experience anyway) addressing the problem directly. So here are some tips on how to be overtly aggressive.

1. Bitch loudly, bitch often, but bitch to the right people. Specifically the people who are driving you to do all this bitching in the first place.

2. Don't be afraid of people who are way bigger than you are. Most people are so shocked at being yelled at that they instinctively cringe even if they are twice your size. Use common sense and don't go doing this to obvious psychopaths or ninjas, but bear in mind that normal people are not used to being confronted.

3. Bear in mind that the above events happened almost a decade ago, before we lived in a police state.

4. Don't be overtly aggressive in traffic. This is only for when the only person you endanger is yourself, not everyone on the road.

Enjoy, and remember that with Christmas also must come Krampus. While Santa rewards the good little boys and girls Krampus beats the bad ones with a wooden whip and shoves them in his wicker backpack, presumably to be devoured later.

I love Krampus.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Plan B(ooze)

Still no Christmas decorating done. So far my main accomplishment today has been unloading the dishwasher and doing some laundry. And now the dubious accomplishment of another blog entry.

I stopped by the bakery today and got some bad news. My father-in-law is in the hospital. This makes me sad, not just for him but for everyone involved. This also makes the cultivation of a jovial attitude imperative, lest we have a repeat of the Christmas that saw us too lazy and malcontent to decorate the tree.

If all else fails this holiday season, there is still Plan B. While I think there is some pregnancy prevention drug by this same moniker, I'm talking the old fashioned Plan B. The Plan B that our wonderful West Virginian Scotch-Irish ancestors used to while away the long dreary Appalachian winter.


This is not a politically correct endorsement, nor is it healthy or even particularly responsible. I do, however, want to come out right now in favor of tying one on this holiday season. As soon as this weekend, in fact. Maybe even sooner. I need a good, stiff drink.

Back in the Good Old Days, a good stiff drink was taken for granted. Tough day at work? Have a drink. Dinner not ready yet? Have a drink. Depressed as all hell? Screw it; have two.

Most of my friends are confirmed beer drinkers. There are one or two wine drinkers (talkin' to you, Ohio). Then there is the third party; my people, the boozers. The dudes who will sit around drinking glasses of whiskey with me, the chicks who say, "You, come with me. We're doing shots." I generally don't even ask what we're doing shots of.

It has come to my attention recently that, for $63 a bottle, you can buy absinthe at my local grocery store. Absinthe with wormwood in it. My naysayer friend Steve says it lacks a vital ingredient called "Thujone" (or something to that effect). I say it's 150 proof and lacking one ingredient is a shortfall we're not all that likely to notice.

Still, it's $63 a bottle. For some perspective, Black Label is like thirty four cents a can.

Anyway, it's been a while since the other boozers and I have had the leisure and inclination to go out and sin like we mean it. I've been feeling cooped up for a week or three now. It's time to round up the drunks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Winter Fun

In the interest of not being a whiny bitch all the time, here are some fun things to do in the winter. It's best to do these things where there are a lot of people. Since it's the shopping season and you're likely to be spending some time in a mall, let me help you while that time a way in a counterproductive, smart-assy manner.

1. This is perhaps the most important thing to remember when you go into a mall this Christmas season-park next to whatever restaurant in your mall that has a bar. Go in, walk up to the bar and order a double shot of whatever you like. Try to down it in the time it takes the bartender to get your change. When he or she comes back say, "Thanks, that's just like being back home." This will hopefully give you a chance to do the second best thing at a mall.

2. Lie to strangers for no reason. Going back to point one-if you're lucky, that bartender I was talking about will ask you where "back home" is. This is your big chance. Here's how I like to think this conversation will go for me.

Bartender: "Oh? Where's home"
Me: "Latvia."
Bartender: "Really? Latvia?"
Me: "Yeah, verily. I am from Latvia. No shit."
Skeptical Bartender: "You speak awfully good English for someone from Latvia."
Me: "Yeah, that's a pretty common misconception. Our education system is more advanced than even our dairy industry. We all speak perfect English there."
SB: "I don't believe you."
Me: "It's cool, baby. Smell you later."

Then you just leave. It's easy. They're at work, so they can't follow you.

3. Fun thing number three is righteous indignation. This is best at the "X Items or Less" checkout express lane. For example:

Me: "It says eight items."
Asshole Who Can't Count: flat stare at me.
Me: "You clearly have more than eight items."
AWCC: "Mind your own business."
Me: "Up yours, baby. It IS my business. "
AWCC: "Well, I never!"
Me: "Well, now you have!'

Man, that's the best. People almost never say, "well, I never!" Bound to happen someday though. I'm ready for it.

4. Fun thing number four is tearing ass through a crowded mall. When there are too many people in a mall, traffic grinds to the pace of the slowest slackard. When I walk through a mall I like to pretend someone is chasing me while I'm trying to be all cool about it and walk as fast as I can without actually running. This is extra bonus fun if, like me, you are covered in tattoos. Security guards love tattooed people hightailing it out of their little domains. Try to look guilty if you can.

5. Messin' with security is a fun game unto itself. There are lots of ways to do this, but I find the best is to just keep an eye on them. They're used to following people around and spying, but almost no one thinks to return the favor. Follow them around as long as you can. Taking notes while you do it will, if you're super lucky, get some attention. It's never happened, but I dream of one day having a security guard demand to see what I've been writing about him. Man, that would be sweet.

I have to run. I hope this helps someone besides me cheer up this winter. If none of this works I'll spend next post elaborating on Plan B(ooze).

Feliz Navidad!


Winter can suck it. Every year about this time I start wincing every time the furnace kicks on, because to me it's the sound of money being tossed into a fire. I'm wearing three shirts, a hat, gloves and a scarf right now. I'm freezing, but I can't bring myself to crank up the heat any higher than it is now. Add in getting dark at five o'clock and everyone in the house but me (knock on wood) either actively being sick or getting over a cold and things start feeling pretty grim.

Intellectually I know that if I actually got up and accomplished something I might feel a little better, but it's taking all the energy I can muster to sit here and type this instead of just going back to sleep. This constant compulsion to hibernate is one of the main indicators I have that I'm getting depressed, that and weight loss. All other signs fly under the radar of my normal level of irritation, but this sleep thing just isn't me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Monday, so good to me

Well, it's not quite ten AM and I've already had four cups of coffee and breakfast. Mondays in the summer are a lot keener than Mondays in the winter. For one thing the prospect of taking the recycling to the recycling center is a lot more attractive when its 75 degrees than it is when its 30 degrees and raining. Also in the summer monetary thoughts are more along the lines of "I think we can swing going camping again this weekend" as opposed to "what the hell are we going to do about Christmas".

I do sort of have a tentative plan for the day. If we can get the recycling done, then maybe hit the grocery store and still have time I hope to start getting ready for Christmas. When your house is in a state of untidiness its hard to get into the Christmas spirit. When the London Philharmonic is belting out the holiday tunes and the Christmas village is in the planning stages it becomes a lot easier to feel all cheery.

Part of the problem today is that I feel all like a pile of crap. Mentally, not physically, which is a nice change of pace in the not being sick department. It's hard not to get bummed out this time of year. There is a lot of family strife going on at my grandmother's house this year, and I'm trying not to let it affect me overly much, but it is tough going. It's way too early in the season to feel utterly defeated, so it's going to take some serious staving off. It may be time to start speaking loudly and carry a bigger stick. Then maybe I can fight off the main symptom I suffer when I start getting depressed, which is an almost unstoppable desire to just sleep all the time. Normally I'm a night owl who has very little trouble getting up and moving in the morning, provided there is coffee and a compelling reason. Delia kicking me in the head demanding I get up and make her some breakfast is usually all the urging I need.

Today, I'm sorry to say, my ass is a dragon. I could go back to bed right now and not wake up until it is time for me to go to work. Not only would this be easy, it's very appealing right now. I must resist, even if resistance is well neigh futile.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Well, tomorrow officially kicks off the Christmas season. It's time to pull the ghost lights off the porch and break out the multi color C9s! I love the big cheery Charlie Niners. They are my favorite Christmas lights, next to the neat bubbling tubes of colored liquid they used to put on trees when I was a kid. You can still buy those today, but they aren't the same. When I was a kid you could roast a marshmallow with one of those lights. Long third degree burns were a sign that Christmas was nearing.

Stupid safe LED technology.

I think we're going visiting today, but when we get back I hope to prep the living room a bit for Christmas Village. It's time for the town people to gather round and listen to Sister Sarah and her Band of Sinners in the tiny village, displaying their unflappable Christmas spirit despite living in a town that's often overrun by zombies and fishmen.

The fishman is a little hard to see.

It's amazing how these people keep a-wassalin' despite roving packs of Krenshar.

So, here's to you unflappable citizens of Christmastown. Neither poor economic climate nor rampaging monsters keep you from spreading goodwill and cheer in your little town. I hope you don't loose too many carolers to the cult of Dagon this year.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Red and Green Crush

Thanksgiving is over and done with. It went pretty well this year, all things considered. Now we're facing the slide, kicking and screaming, into the Christmas season.

The main thing about Christmas that makes it one of the most stressful holidays ever is money. Christmas always coincides with days off for holidays, most notably Thanksgiving. My job is pretty awesome, but the rare holidays that I get off are of the unpaid variety. AND when an unpaid holiday falls on a Thursday (stupid Thanksgiving) there a disturbance in the economic force that is my paycheck.

I know I shouldn't stress about this. People like to say that Jesus wouldn't want us to commercialize his holiday all the time, but you may note that of the three original Christmas presents one of them was freaking GOLD. This, I believe, is what lead to the evolution of Christmas movies where the hapless dad turns to a wacky life of crime to finance the big day.

I had wanted a guitar for Christmas, but I'm revising my Christmas want list right here, right now.

1. Razor blades. I like Gillette Mach 3, which are pricey but way the hell cheaper than the fancy dancy four-blader they have out now.

2. The H.P. Lovecraft compendium that Barnes and Noble printed. It's a thirteen dollar hardback on the bargin shelf. Can't miss it.

3. Some string.

4. A rock, to wind the string around.

That's it. That's all I want for Christmas this year. I'm not going to say anything cheesey like world peace, though it would be nice if we could collectively get through this fiasco without anyone getting pissy with anyone else.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I logged in to Facebook this morning to find a friend invitation from someone I went to high school with. This is the second time this has happened, and I think I'm going to have to click the little deny button again. It's not that I have anything against these people; both of them were nice to me and nice people in general.

The thing is, on Facebook when someone sends you a friend request you can look at their list of friends. In both cases the list of friends seemed to be mainly comprised of people I went to high school with. I skipped out on my 10 year reunion (a number of years ago, in fact). I did it on purpose too. Other than geography throwing us together for a few years of public school I don't feel like I have a lot in common with these people. I only talked to a handful of people in high school to begin with and only talk to one person from the Dark Days here in the Present Era. And that's because I married her. That and she's pretty rad.

I remember one day in a college history class a feisty professor telling us to look around at the people in the room, proclaiming that these people were the pool from which we would draw the people that we'd be friends with until our dying days. She told us that the people we went to high school with would fade away into obscure memories and our college friends would last us until our golden years.

I didn't really make a lot of friends in college either. There are five or six, but not people who I met in classes. They were neighbors in crappy leaning-to-one-side-quite-noticeably apartment buildings, friends of friends, relatives of my future wife. The other people I met in college were just there, the people you talk to more out of proximity than inclination. Not that I have anything against most of them. Maybe I just don't connect with people very well, or at least very often. I did make one friend, but I haven't seen him in person for years.

Anyway, back to Facebook. I feel betrayed, like Facebook has ratted me out. My cover is blown; my vague ideas that I would be the one student from high school that no one would remember more than vaguely are shattered. Thanks, Facebook. Thanks a lot. Asshole.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like the Same Old Thanksgiving Blitz

So, Dad got a divorce. This happened a while back; I can't remember if it was after Thanksgiving last year or the year before, though I tend to think it was last year. My parents divorced a long time ago, so for the last 20-something years I've been one of those people that has at least two of every major holiday. Two Thanksgiving dinners, two Christmasses. Then, oh about eleven years ago, I got married. Bang! THREE holidays. Mom's house, Dad's house, T's parents.

It's exhausting.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining that there are so many people who want to see us on the Holidays. It's nice to be in demand, even if it's just a couple of days a year. But the divorce did lead me to trick myself. I thought to myself, "OK, back down to two holidays. Two is do-able."

Friday Dad and Maria (his girlfriend, who is a lovely woman who talks and smiles and does everything else that a nice, normal person does) came to dinner at our house. I asked what his Thanksgiving plans were, thinking he'd say something about ordering a pizza and watching football. To my surprise (I almost said "Horror" instead of "surprise", but really that would be a vast exaggeration) he drops the bomb.

"We're having a ham and a turkey. Are you going to come by?" Dad asks.

Hell's Bells and cockleshells. I say yes.

So, now we are at two dinners, minimum. My Aunt Donna will be at my mom's place. I don't know what's going down there on Thursday, but I imagine that we'll be expected to put in an appearance. I didn't have the mental fortitude to find out for sure. This was a mistake, because now it's looming on the horizon like a tropical storm. Hurricane Third Dinner.

The only real problem with a three-dinner run is that you have to seriously pace yourself. At dinner numero uno, you have one plate piled low. This is vital to the mission if you don't want to end up in the hospital tent with army doctors hovering over you at the end of the night, shaking their heads and muttering how you are the worst case of exploding stomach that they've ever seen. Even if you do manage to pull this tricky balancing act off, you endure a dinner of "you-barely-eat-anythings" and "that's-why-you're-so-skinnys". This usually takes place at the first house. At Dinner Two, the Plan dictates that you eat a bit of the food left out for people to graze on. If you're lucky, which means getting there after everyone has already eaten. If you get there on time, it's another uncomfortable round of "is-that-all-you're-going-t0-eats". Dinner three is too much for most humans. I generally fold and just have a cup of coffee, enduring the dirty looks of whoever spent all day in the kitchen.

I'm ready for it. I can take it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow Day!

Last night I walked out of my office into a Winter Wonderland. It was a twenty mile an hour drive back home on the fifty five road, snow everywhere. You couldn't even see. There is always a noticeable disparity in the weather between home and work. I only work something like seven miles from my house, but that seven miles includes an elevation change. So if we have one inch here, there are generally three or four there. Things got a little less out of hand as I got closer to my house, but there was still snow. Impressive snow, at that.

I came home and joked around with Tracy that if it kept up like it was we wouldn't be having school tomorrow. I even checked the Snowbird report. (Side Note; Snowbird is a penguin mascot at a TV station in the town I grew up in. I loathe the Snowbird, but he is a reliable source.) Then I went to bed and set an alarm.

I get automated phone calls from the county school system to keep me posted. So my phone rings at 5:30 to tell me there is a two hour delay. I reset the alarm and go back to sleep. Forty five minutes later it rings again; no school. I try to go back to sleep. My daughter wakes up and it's all over. The dream of sleeping in is officially DOA. I give up, get up and start in on my morning coffee.

There isn't enough snow to go out and play in, but it's beautiful outside. Last year we didn't have any snow until just before Christmas. We have a tradition of going out to a tree farm (King's Family Tree Farm), and we don't go until we have snow. So the D wanted to go get a tree today and start decorating for Christmas. I had to invoke the "not before Thanksgiving" rule.

So here we are, our first day off due to inclement weather. It's freezing outside, so we can't really go out and run around. Later when Tracy gets home we'll huddle into the car and go to the bank and grocery store. My car is a VW, so it has a heater that can cook a ham. It seems like a good day to cook soup.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Damn It!

W. Virginia Town Shrugs at Poorest Health Ranking

Huntington, W.Va., home to highest percentage of obese; also tops in diabetes, loss of teeth

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Big Funeral

Saturday I missed a phone call from my dad. That evening I happened to notice that I had a voice message. I checked it while we were planning out what the pizza order for Dungeons & Dragons night would be. Dad is always straight to the point when he leaves a message.

"Hey, your great grandmother died. The funeral is tomorrow at two. Call me back."

Well, crap. I called back and left him a message, then reflected on what a crappy great grandson I was. My parents divorced when I was five or so, and after about the age of 13 I just sort of fell out of contact with most of dad's side of the family. So my great grandmother had never met my wife, let alone my daughter. Being the terrible person I am, it didn't bother me overly much. I don't mean to sound callous, but what's done is done and wailing in lamentation does little in the way of positive action.

I decided to go to the funeral. This was going to be awkward. My great grandmother had fifteen children, most of which are still alive and kicking. They all had children, most of those children in turn there would be something like five hundred people who may or may not know or care what a terrible grandson I am.

We get in the car and drive to the funeral. I had to call dad three times on the way because he gives terrible directions. Sorry dad, but "it's in Salem" and "it'll be on your left" aren't very specific. Pulling into the parking lot some older guy comes to my window and starts asking how I'm related. Sadly enough I can't name many of my relatives, but I damn sure know the answer to this. After a while I get, "Eh, I don't know any of 'em. I'm just a neighbor".

We walk in and spot dad sitting with his girlfriend Maria. Joe, dad's friend, is behind him. They're in the section reserved for family, which I am, so we go plant ourselves in chairs. Now, I've been to funerals with dad before. Neither of us has ever seen the other inside a church, but funerals are old hat. With typical reverence dad leans over and tells me he's hungry.

We sit there a little while, trying to figure out who's who. I play a little game I invented at the last funeral dad and I both attended. It's called, "Let's Find the Guy Who Looks Most Like Johnny Cash". I believe my uncle Mike took the trophy.

At one point I lean over and whisper to dad, "Hey, if there is anyone from out of state that doesn't know us and asks who we are, we should tell them you're Popeye and I'm Popeye, Jr."

Dad consents.

Finally the minister guy (these are Methodists we're dealing with, by the way) gets up. Apparently he's also a relative, though I believe he married in. There was no singing, though there was music over the PA. I believe I detected some Conway Twitty, but I could be way off-base there.

The funeral ends. We all get up and file past my great grandmother, who I do indeed remember. Then we start re-meeting relatives. Aunt Candy knows us right off the bat. Uncle Kenny knows who I am by sight, as I look exactly like my dad and his father before him. My grandparents, of course, know all of us. I only got a few skunkeyes, but did get a lot of "I haven't seen you since you were a little kid" remarks. Most of them were very kindly. As usual at funerals, I begin to sort of enjoy myself. Again with the not wanting to sound callous, funerals don't bother me overly much. I've never been happy that someone is dead, but if you're in a casket your problems are over. I much prefer to celebrate that this person was alive to begin with and think that since you're in a room with a bunch of people who all know each other but seldom gather you might as well make the best of it.

We get in the car and drive to the cemetery. Salem, WV isn't that big a place to begin with, but we drive for something like forty-five minutes on roads that get progressively more remote. We make a 315 degree turn up the hill to the cemetery proper. Had it been snowing a Sherman tank wouldn't have made it up this road.

We were there for all of five minutes. Another prayer and we're off.

Dad and I are the first ones out. The trip that took forty five minutes in a funeral procession takes closer to twenty when dad is in the lead car. We are the first ones at Van Horn school. Van Horn School is where we were told everyone would meet for the post-funeral food gathering. Van Horn School is not where this was all going down. It was going down next door. We find it after milling about for a while, trying to open doors that are ajar but chained shut from the inside.

The food part of a funeral is, of course, the best part. People begin to realize that they're all alive and start enjoying it. I'm glad my wife and daughter are there, glad that we're at the same table with dad and, oddly, glad that some of the people did remember me. A few people may have wondered what prompted me to come visit my grandmother after she died instead of before, though no one said anything to that effect and I may well just be imagining it. Jerry was giving me a flat, hard stare, but he gives everyone he meets a flat, hard stare. We hang out a little while, eat dinner, talk mainly to the relatives that we're most familiar with. All in all it was a positive experience. My daughter wrote an essay about it in the back seat on the way home, dad and Maria agreed to come to dinner at our house two weeks from now. Things went so well that I'm going to try to make it to the family reunion this year, for the first time since 1988.

Friday, November 7, 2008

End Times

First off, I'm glad the election is finally over. I was a nervous wreck for the last few days leading up to it. Being a Democrat is kinda like being a Vikings fan; your team goes almost all the way before something goes awry.

I apologize to anyone I was mean to over those few days, except for that girl in the green car. I'm not sorry about that at all.

Anyway, I'm glad things turned out the way they did. I'm hopeful that we will see some meaningful change. I'm not expecting magical koalas to crap a rainbow in the economy overnight. I don't expect that anytime between now and, say, Christmas my situation will improve any. I do expect things to get better in the next four years, but I think people have to come to terms with a few things before that can happen.

First off, the tax increase. Those of you making over $200,000 to $250,000 a year will pay more taxes. I'm sure you're pissed about this. I've heard a lot about how this is unfair. Consider these few points: The extra burden may mean you have to make a few sacrifices. Things like having to maybe not buy a new car every year. Perhaps only going on one vacation. Maybe even eating out less. These sacrifices will help out those making less than you do.

Screw them, you say?

If you own a business, you cannot have this attitude. Consumer spending is drastically low in our me me me economy over the last 18 months or so. Helping out people who are currently unable to buy anything in your stores may well keep your store from folding. Or from having to lay off a few people, cut back hours-you know, taking steps that keep people from having the money they need if they are to frequent your business and keep you afloat.

Harken back to the days of WWII, the Big One. We had a culture of sacrifice in this country. People rationed food and gas for the common good. Now we have a culture that moans about how much gas costs to fill a gigantic, fuel inefficent SINGLE PERSON vehicle. I see it all the time, one dude driving around in his H3, one lady driving around in an Expedition. These very people may be lamenting that a tax increase will prevent them from hopping in their tanks and driving five blocks to Starbucks every morning to spend five dollars on a fancy lad coffee.

Is this what we've come to?

For a little perspective, let's take a look at a family that will benefit from a new tax plan. At the price of your massively unfair new tax bracket these people will now have money to squander. They will go wild with it. Maybe they'll be able to go to the grocery store without worrying wether or not the money they spend on food will prevent them from other wild luxuries, like electricity. Or taking a child to a doctor or dentist. Maybe they'll even be able to go to your precious businesses and spend the money you need them to spend to keep your doors open.

The generation that fought WWII would puke at the current attitudes in this country. No one wants to even think of the greater good if it means they can't live a Blackberry, BMW, Starbucks lifestyle. Our auto industry is in the shape it's in because people just had to have bigger and shinier SUVs to drive five blocks in. People bought more house than they could possibly afford not because they needed the space, but because they felt they deserved it. The level of gluttony and self-indulgence is staggering.

No one is going to make things better without the support of the poeple in America today. We've got to get away from this Hollywood, record industry, selfish, stupid culture we've been slowly buying into. Personal responsibility must make a comeback in a big way if we're going to have even a chance at getting out of this morass. Being an American doesn't have to mean having the biggest, shiniest, best. It can mean being the best. If you're not willing to help out in any way to help ensure that everyone in the country has what they need to survive, if you're so incredibly wrapped up in a sense of entitlement that owning a Lexus is more important than ensuring that families aren't sitting in cold houses with no food, what good are you to your country?

Monday, November 3, 2008

It Might Be Time to Grow Up, America

So tomorrow is the big election. "The most important election of your lifetime" is what they're calling it. A lot of people are going to be disappointed Wednesday morning. This is a given in any election, but this year I'm kind of worried about it.

No matter who wins, the winner will be president. There has been a lot of talk this election cycle about "real Americans". As far as I can tell this is mainly a Republican tactic (and don't get up in arms, I do realize propaganda comes from all sides), but it deeply worries me. Should Obama become president I'm concerned that these self-described "real Americans" will take a "your president-not my president" stance. Everyone is so up in arms this year, passions are running high. It's nice to see so many people engaged in the political process, but I think we need to think back to our time as children on playgrounds-you can't always get your way. Deciding that a president isn't worthy of the office is one thing as a personal view, but we can't let things get out of hand here. Someone is going to be president and, as my daughter says, "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit".

I haven't felt very well represented for the last eight years. I'm of the opinion that President Bush was a terrible choice in '00 and was flabbergasted when he was reelected in '04. I've bitched, moaned, mocked; you name it. What I didn't do was decided that if I couldn't have the president I wanted that I don't have to follow any of the rules. I continued to pay taxes, obey the speed limit, vote...I continued to be an American.

This year I'm hearing a lot of disturbing talk to the tune that if Obama is elected there will be riots, looting in the streets, even civil war. One guy got so worked up about it that he was actually yelling at me at work. "Not everyone wants to be socialist!" He was red-faced, angry, almost out of control. I wasn't even arguing with him. Hell, I didn't even bring it up. I realize not everyone wants Obama to win. This is why we have elections in the first place.

I didn't want Bush to win, I wanted Al Gore and then Ralphie-Boy Nader in the last two elections, respectively. Both times my guy lost. "Hell," I thought. "What the Hell?!"

Then next election I went out and voted again.

I realize I'm rambling here; it's morning and I'm only on my second cup of coffee. So let me boil it down. I'm talking to you, "real Americans". Talking about armed insurrection against the government if your guy doesn't win isn't just childish and unrealistic (they have helicopters and satellites and tanks, you know). It's treasonous, poisonous, cowardly talk. Have faith in our system and our ideals as a people. There will be another election in four years. If you can't work within the system that long, if you can't have faith in your own government to meet the challenges of the modern world, then why are you here? How are you a "real American" if you can't accept the system that we've used for over 200 years? "Real Americans" don't undermine their government when they don't get their way. In fact we have words for people who attempt to undermine their governments. One is "rebel". We fought a big civil war with rebels once, creating a rift in our country that people still, to some degree, suffer from today. The other word we hear quite a bit on the news. It's "insurgent", synonymous with "armed enemy combatant."

I hope Obama wins tomorrow. More importantly though I hope our citizenry can wake up on November 3rd and act like a people who can be trusted with democracy. The alternative is a mob that destroys things when they don't get what they want. I like to think we as a people are above that.

Guess we'll find out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

HA HA Halloween

So, Halloween party time. Life being what it is, we've slacked hard this year. Not just me personally, not just the dubious denizens of Edgehill House, but the whole lot of us.

Some background; we have a Halloween party every year, have been for over a decade. Sometimes it turns into a huge bash with a lot of people we don't even know wandering around asking random people if they have any drugs, sometimes it's just the usual suspects (our group of friends that stays up late drinking beer on my back porch, bothering the hell out of my Morman neighbors who, quite frankly, put up with quite a bit of noise). This is looking like a Usual Suspects sort of gathering.

It's crunch time. It's looking like all party preparation will take place on Halloween proper, the night before the party. This is not a tragedy. In fact, it's par for the course. This we can do. The pickle is costumes. Money is tight (thank you very much, gas-station-toilet economy), so we can't just go out and buy some fancy getups. Not that we're the types to do that anyway. This situation reminds me a lot of being in college and not doing a project that was assigned months earlier. It's time to get creative, from the Latin "crea" ("cheap") and "ative" ("the special sort of genius that can only be inspired by waiting until the last possible minute because you are essentially a stressed-out slacker." Latin is very expressive.)

Last night one of my friends (this year's party host) and I were talking about our level of slack-assiness. We did what all good citizens do when things go awry; we found a scapegoat. Sorta. Current Wisdom is blaming our lack of initiative on not getting into a properly Halloweenie state of mind on our failure to go check out anything Haunted.

Last year we got to go to Moundsville State Prison. They do this big haunted house there every year. The attractions and such aren't scary, though those things never are. (Helpful Hint; when going to a haunted anything you can boost the fun by imagining that one of the sets will turn out to be real because no one thinks to do background checks on these things and one of the carny types they hired is actually America's Next Top Psychokiller). The building itself is terrifying though. And none of us will ever forget the visceral horror of stopping on the way to eat at a restaurant that was half KFC and half something else, maybe Burger King. That place was like the Amityville horror, complete with hordes of flies buzzing around and a weird kid walking up to our table and sticking his nose in my Mountain Dew.

I digress.

Anyway, we didn't do anything fun. No haunted prisons, mental hospitals...not even a haunted hayride. I didn't even make it into the good Halloween store (the Illusive Skull; dig it) because my daughter wanted to go with me, up until the point that we opened the door and she got a load of what's going down in there.

This is not the time to give up. Like a flagging McCain, we're sticking to it. Grimly marching down the skull-paved road, hellbent that we will be rocking this town inside out on All Saint's Day, we persevere.

This is Halloween. La la la.

Finally, and about time too.

So, it's been a hella long time since I've posted anything. I'll come clean - I couldn't remember what my password or username were. I made my first post after the bakery my wife worked in closed down due to gross incompetence. I was mad, vented, and forgot all about it.

I do like the idea of having a blog, so I thought I'd try yet again to log in. Then I got the bright idea to click the send me an email button and lo! behold! There it was. So now I'm back. And since I wasn't really planning an entry, I'm going to tell you about a conversation I had at work Monday night.

I work with one guy we'll call Commander Crazy. The Commander is a very conservative Republican, one of those mysterious types who still likes President Bush. So it's understandable why he's so upset at the current state of affairs in the polls. I don't know why I try to talk to him about these things. He invariably starts yelling, no matter how conciliatory a tone I take. Monday he started telling me crazier things than usual, to whit: 1. Barak Obama is actually Karl Marx. 2. If elected, Barak Obama will spark a civil war, this time between the formerly rich and the undeserving poor that Obama gave all the money to. 3. If we know what's good for us, we'll all buy and bury automatic weapons in our yards.

I didn't know what to say to this guy. He went on and on about how some people in this country don't want socialism. I think he's missing the main point. Not everyone wanted a conservative president, nor did everyone want the religious right to have so much sway in government in the last few decades either.

This is why we have elections.

Whichever person you'd like to become president, whatever policies you want to see or avoid seeing - you have a chance to vote. This armed insurrection talk is crazy. Things didn't go all Mad Max when conservatives held sway. I was alive during Jimmy Carter's administration, and I don't remember rioting in the streets. Voting is sort of a great power, and with it comes the inevitable and cliche great responsibility; if your candidate loses, suck it up. You get another chance every four years. Part of being an American is knowing that your team won't win every single time. Part of being an adult is learning to cope with losing.

And, while I'm at it a few parting shots:

Barak Obama is not Karl Marx.

Democrats do not, in fact, drink blood for sustenance. That's just a personal habit, not one due to political affiliation.

If your candidate loses and you immediately think of starting or participating in a second American civil war, then you might want to seek some therapy, strong mood elevators, or at the very least a Coke and a smile. Bitches.