Sunday, May 30, 2004

VFW Post 2148 Places Bounty on Tom Selleck's Head

This is a picture of our nation's thirty-fourth President, Dwight D. Eisenhower:

This is a picture of Tom Selleck:

When I found out Tom Selleck was playing Ike on TV I giggled. It's not that I don't think Tom Selleck is a decent actor, I just can't make the leap. The movie promo voiceover guy in my head said, "Kim Bassinger is Golda Meir!"

I was listening to a radio ad for the show and it featured Tom Selleck (as Ike) making a speech about sacrificing young lives for freedom. Heavy stuff. Although it sounded a lot like the scene in Three Men and a Little Lady when Selleck confesses his love for the Little Lady's mother. That aside, I did find out that Tom shaved most of the hair off his head for this role. These days something like that, or a prosthetic nose, is enough to win you an Oscar (or at least an Emmy).

I really liked Tom Selleck in a movie called Mr. Baseball. In that film he dug down deep to play a pampered major league ball player forced to finish out his career in Japan. Selleck's performance was incredible. If he can channel that same intensity into his portrayal of the man who led our troops in Europe to victory during World War II then we're in for something special.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Local Man Found Doodling at Desk

The other day I was sitting at my desk, at work, drawing faces on a Post-It note pad. Here's what they looked like:

As I was drawing an analyst walked into my cube. He startled me and I flipped over the Post-It note pad quickly. The pad made a loud slapping noise as it hit my desktop. Then I twisted my head around and widened my eyes at him in an effort to distract the guy from what was under my hand.

He did stare straight into my eyes for a moment (probably to see if my pupils were dialated). Then he looked at the pad under my hand. Next he asked his question. I answered it and then he left.

I flipped the pad over and examined my work. I wondered if anyone has been fired for occasionally doodling? I'm sure if I spent hours a day on the task there might be an issue. However I'm thinking my billing hours for doodling would add up to four sessions (ten minute per session, at the most) each year.

That's, possibly, forty minutes of doodling annually.

Uh-oh. That sounds bad when I put it like that.

What's more it's usually on a company Post-It note pad. And my company uses brand-name Post-It note pads which means they're expensive!


I'm getting the boot. I just know it.

It'll be tough to find another job in this market. Particularly if prospective employers ask me why I got canned from my previous position.

I'll tell them straight out, "I've got a doodling problem. I've worked it out and those days are, thankfully, behind me. I'm clean now. I'm ready for a fresh start. . . If you're willing to take the chance."

Local Man Finds Torment While Tormenting Child

I'm a mean dad. I'm one of those smart-ass guys who searches for more opportunities to tease his kids rather than teach or nurture.

Last night was a good example.

I decided to call Alex by her sister's name last night. "Did you have a good day, Julia?" I asked Allie.

"My name's not Julia."

"I'm sorry. So Julia, did you get to play with Sabrina?"

"I'm not Julia!"

"You're cranky Julia. Maybe you need a nap or something."

This went on for about half an hour. The funny thing was, after about ten minutes Allie gave up and stopped protesting. She even started responding to the name Julia.

This drove me nuts.

I was being beaten at my own game by my four-year-old. She could sense my desperation as I looked for excuses to call her by the wrong name. Are you comfortable, Julia? Julia, do I have something on my cheek? Hey, Julia. Do you want something to drink?

Each time I spoke to her, Allie would ignore me or politely answer my question.


I knew I was close to being defeated which meant I had to resort to violence to assert my dumbass daddy dominance. Violence means grabbing Allie and tickling her until she almost pees her pants. There have been occasions when things do get out-of-hand resulting in a quick change of pants for the poor girl. But those instances are rare and we kept things under control last night.

The most important thing is that, in the end, despite the brutishness of my tactics, I had achieved victory.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Now you can access home movies in the gallery (the one that asks for a password).

There's a new one called, "The Jumpy".

It's a 2.4 MB file which means if you don't have a high-speed connection you'd better have a crossword or something entertaining on hand as you wait for it to load.

Just click on Multimedia.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Bongos for a Buck?

Allie and I were at the dollar store on Sunday.

I get the appeal of these places and my greed is enough to get me through the doors. However, once I'm in there I don't want to stay long.

I'm not snobby. I love buying junk and buying junk for just a dollar is even better. But I get depressed when I walk up and down the aisles. It's like wandering though the Island of Misfit Toys. Nobody wants a Charlie-in-the-Box. . . Well, nobody wants a year-old bottle of off-brand ketchup from Romania either. Or at least I don't want it.

I think Allie had the same feeling about the store. She slowed down to look at the racks of toys but didn't really linger over any of the day-glo, molded plastic playthings. She just cocked her head trying to figure out how a pink "Bubble Sword" would fit into her play repertoire. I made the same move when we got to the set of six corn-on-the-cob butterers. Neither of us had too hard of a time walking away from these items.

The only thing Allie was interested in was a green plastic chew toy for her sister, Julia. Julia is successfully teething right now which makes going in after all the small objects she jams in her mouth a dangerous proposition. Allie and I both agreed this toy would be a better thing to have in Julia's mouth than all the other crap that's been in there. This weekend, for example, I pulled out a very dirty, very old Cheerio, two metallic stickers, part of an envelope, part of a grocery receipt and a length of pizza crust that unexpectedly turned sideways on her.

After half-an-hour in the dollar store, reviewing hundreds of value priced products, the only thing we chose was the green plastic chew toy for Julia. Allie and I made our way to the cashier and noticed a line snaking all the way down the tool aisle. There was only one cashier working (crazy low prices; crazy low overhead). The people in the line ahead of us had carts filled with stuff. I looked at the chew toy and realized it wasn't worth the wait. I was expecting a fight from Allie when I told her we were going to put her gift for Julia back on the shelf, but she just shrugged.

We were both happy to get out of there and wound up in a music store. Allie was fairly patient as I pulled guitar-after-guitar off the wall and played the same licks she's heard me play time-and-time again. Just when Allie started squirming she noticed some violins on the wall. She begged me to show them to her. We walked over and I chose the most beat-up violin they had (just in case).

I tried to play the thing and only got squeaks and growls of protest from the instrument. I handed Allie the bow and held the little violin in front of her. She dragged the bow across the strings and produced a perfect, clean, sweet sounding note.


I thought it was a fluke. After all, I couldn't get the thing to sound like that. I took the bow from Allie and tried again. I made a noise that sounded like I was trying to saw the thing in half. I handed the bow back to Allie. Once again she reproduced the same perfect note. I started fingering the string and we played a nice, simple song together.

Images of all of those Suzuki Method tykes flashed through my head. Standing tall among them was my four-year-old who is obviously a prodigy. She must have this violin! I looked at the price. $299. Crud. I'm sure Mozart's Dad didn't have the dough for his son's first harpsichord, but he found a way. It was time for me to make the same sacrifice for my kid.

So I gave the little violin a good going over, trying not clue Allie in on the fact that I was thinking of buying it for her. As I was looking at it I handed it over to Allie. I tried to show her how to tuck it under her chin. Holding the bow, shoving the violin under her chin and twisting her left hand to support the neck of the instrument was too much for her to take. She whined a little and then almost, accidentally, dropped the violin on the floor.


Suddenly the little bongos over in the next aisle looked pretty cool.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Spring Cleaning

Lots of blog renovations going on so I thought I'd better clean things up a little.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Photos of our weekend in the M&J Gallery.

Click on the More Pictures link.

If you need the password send me an email.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

So you might think something is wrong with me -

First I blame hormones on my desire to pummel some guy because he didn't say hello to me.

Next I post news about child abuse in Japan.

Now I'm writing mean things about some guitarist I've never met.

That's not what I had in mind for this blog.

That's why I think I'm going to cool it for a little while and take a break.

If you can't say anything nice. Don't say anything at all. I always say. . .

This is Esteban!

He is the guitar master that can be found from time-to-time peeking from beneath his black leather hat on the Home Shopping Network.

I was surfing channels one evening when Esteban popped-up on the screen. At first I thought I was watching sketch comedy.

I wasn't.

It was Esteban!

I've never seen anything like this guitarist from Pittsburgh who kind of dresses like a cross between a sleazy caballero and an aging pimp.

The Home Shopping Network (HSN) was trying hard to establish a mystique for Esteban. The dark set with subdued lighting was working for me. There was also a man from HSN who went back-and-forth between letting me know what a legend Esteban is and trying to sell me a $99.99 guitar that featured Esteban's autograph.

Esteban played some songs on one of the $99.99 guitars. He didn't play like a man who had studied with Andres Segovia (as Esteban lets us know on his website). He played more like a man who studied with Mel Bay. And the guitar looked and sounded like a $97.99 guitar at best.

Esteban's Web site says Segovia named him. I'm guessing Esteban's name is Steve and Segovia, being Spanish and all. . . well, you get the picture.

I shouldn't comment on Esteban's skill. I'm not a great guitar player. I'm not even a good guitar player. The most I'll say for myself is I know a few chords. However I'm not trying to sell you anything, either. Therefore I believe I have some wiggle room to poke a little fun at our friend Esteban.

And speaking of wiggle room, Esteban's Web biography says he was in an auto accident that kept him from playing for ten years. So I'm guessing that's the explanation for his halting style. But there's not a lot that can explain his appearance.

Take, for example, Esteban's long fingernails. Perfect for plucking guitar strings. I think they make him look more like a coke dealer from the seventies who liked the way his pinky looked and decided to let the rest of his nails get just at long.

The pony tail he wears helps reinforce the drug dealer image. It's a long pony tail, too. Combine a long pony tail with a hat that never seems to come off and you've got to assume male pattern baldness. I'm probably wrong about that, though.

Oh well, crud.

I must be in a really horrible mood.

The last time I wrote something this mean was when I said something about Steve from The Sneeze.

Then Steve wrote me.

Ulp. . .

Esteban, you don't deserve this kind of treatment. I'm sorry. I thought I was being funny but it turns out I'm just being a dick (once again). You are selling thousands of $99.99 guitars and making reasonably good music that entertains hundreds of people. Combine that with enough marketing savvy to know more people are going to come see Esteban in concert rather than Steve from Pittsburgh and you're all set to blow me out of the water.

Sitting at home on my butt watching the Home Shopping Network is not a very solid perch from which to throw criticism.

So please don't write and tear me a knew one, Esteban. I take back the caballero/pimp stuff. However, you really should trim those nails.

It's just not very safe.

How 'bout somebody write something positive and uplifting that will help blow away the stink of my Esteban attack?

Saturday, May 08, 2004

I came across these headlines on a Japanese news site:

FUJI, Shizuoka -- A woman who scalded her 6-year-old daughter by compressing a steaming hot bowl of rice on her legs has been convicted by a court here for assault but will avoid going to jail. Presiding Judge Sengan Kurasawa suspended the sentence for three years and placed Kiyoshi on probation after noting her remorse. "Part of the problem came from the mental stress the defendant felt at being in an environment where she felt isolated," Kurasawa said as he handed down the ruling. "She has also showed deep remorse."

SAKAI, Osaka -- A woman has been charged for unleashing a brutal attack on her 4-month-old baby boy, using a razor blade to hack away at his genitals to curb her frustration at being beaten by her lover, the Sakai Branch of the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office said. "My partner keeps on beating me and refuses to acknowledge that he is the father of our boy, so I developed a real mistrust of men and did it to let off steam. But, I still can't get thoughts of my kid out of my mind and want to live with him," Tamura told the prosecutors.

Next I read this on the same site:

After decades of wishing for a rebirth as a man, a growing number of women now want to be reborn in the same gender, according to the survey conducted at five-year intervals since 1953.

From the 1953 start of the survey until at least the '70s, more than 60 percent of respondents felt Japanese society contained more enjoyment for men than women, with the number believing the reverse was the case never reaching 20 percent.

Then, for 20 years, respondents were not asked about which gender they felt had a better time. When they were asked again during the last survey in 1998, however, women had closed the gap.

In last year's survey, however, for the first time more respondents believed Japanese women had more to enjoy in life than men. At 56 percent, a majority of women surveyed believed their lives are more fun than their male counterparts.

I know two back-to-back stories describing physically and psychologically abused Japanese women committing violence against children does not mean there's some sort of epidemic.

But when you swallow that last snippet as a chaser you begin to wonder what the hell is going on over there.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Testosterone is a blessing and curse.

Yesterday I was trailing behind Allie as she pedaled around the block. We passed a guy standing in his driveway clipping his fingernails.

"Hi," I said to him.

He glared at me.

I slowed my pace and sort of turned toward him and, in a tone I usually reserve for telemarketers, I said, "HELLO."

"Hey," our nail clipping neighbor said.

It was the most confrontational hey I'd ever heard and I promise you, it wasn't just my imagination. This guy continued to glare at me as if it was obvious I was looking for a place to crap on his lawn. He was acting like he wanted to mix it up and suddenly I wanted to accommodate him.

Instead I just shook my head as I watched Allie pedal away from me.

"Why's that man clipping his fingers in the driveway?" Allie asked as she continued pedaling.

"Because he's an impudent dickhead, sweetie. Dickheads always do their personal grooming in public. It's a lot like the baboons in the monkey house at the zoo. I tell you what, honey. After I kick this baboon's ass, I'll let you use those clippers to take off his eyebrows."

That's what I wanted to say. Instead I just said, "Better to drop nail clippings on the driveway than on the living room carpet."

When Allie and I got home we ran upstairs and found Debbie on the floor playing with Julia. I described to my wife the disrespect I had just experienced. She didn't say anything. But the look she gave me was a mixture of confusion and disdain; as if I had just smeared mustard all over my crotch.

The look was enough to calm me down a little. I understood why my need to vigorously massage the nail clipping man's face with my knuckles didn't make much sense to her. This moment of clarity didn't help much with the fact that I was still in need of some sort of outlet for my aggression.

I realize I'm starting to sound a little maniacal. For the most part, I'm honestly not prone to thoughts of violence. However there are times when I can actually feel these fiery red chemicals coat my brain. And Debbie, you can rest assured this phenomenon is not exclusive to your husband. Ask any male and he'll confirm there's a raving lunatic somewhere inside him.

So you're asking, "If this is true, then how can you claim testosterone is a blessing?"

Well, the fiery red sometimes changes to cool purple. That's when I'm able to tell myself that I am overwhelmingly desirable to the opposite sex despite the fact I cut the same profile as a pony keg.

Yes ladies, if I weren't married. . . LOOK OUT! And it's all thanks to the delusional powers of testosterone.

So Debbie, LOOK OUT! I'll be upstairs in just a few minutes. . . to talk about setting up the punching bag in the basement again.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

It can get loud down in the basement.

This was nothing. I got the camera out as they were winding down.