Saturday, October 30, 2010

Barely Awake

The first cup of coffee seems to be working..........To a degree anyway.  I am here typing, pecking.......knocking at my creative door.  Seems no one is home.  Should I come back later?  Or sit here getting huffier by the moment as my knocks turn to incessant pounding and I will either bloody my creative hands in futile efforts to open the door or it will finally cave to my insistence and spring open, beckoning me inside to partake of many sweet creations I can bring home with me to share with anyone who might be interested or unlucky enough to have been vapor locked onto this site.

When I was a racing fool..........That is a bicycle racing fool back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the first thing I would do upon putting my feet on the floor in the morning would be to check my resting pulse rate.  Somehow knowing it would make me faster.  Just as riding stupid miles at stupid puke your guts out paces would make me faster.  I got faster, but it stopped being fun, so I stopped racing and just rode.

Now 20 years later, the first thing I do is hack up a lung, pull my crotch back into the comfort zone, grab a cup of coffee and usually sit in front of this damned computer.  Once the porn lost its allure, and the newsgroups and forums started making me yawn, I found the blog.  That was.......Let me check.......... It was Tuesday, Dec 21, 2004.

Well it has been almost 6 years now and what do I have to show for it?

(Hmm.  This is where and how I will determine what kind of day it may turn into.  This is where I figure out if it was Ying who woke me up or was it Yang?   I can never remember which one puts me in an ugly mood, or if they trade off duties just to keep me off balance, but those two bastards seem to have control over the flow of my day)

(Double Hmm - Seems one cup of coffee is not quite enough stimulation to recognize the day that may be headed my way.)

So what do I have to show for almost 6 years of punishing the blogosphere with my opinion, my creativity such as it is, my mindless drool that almost always is politiely referred to by civil visitors who might want to say what they mean, but most often just move on after a polite "how do you do?"

Well on the plus side (or is it the negative side?  Still too early to tell), I do have a body of work made up of 872 posts stretching erratically over the last 6 years.   I have an audience now.  Why?  Hell I don't know.  But I sure appreciate them swinging by.

After reading some of my earlier posts, I seem to have developed into a better writer.  Not a good writer, but a better one.  But then is not this one of those intangible notions we blow off to "the eye of the beholder"?  If financial success or fame is any indication, then I would say calling me "good" would be a stretch.  Adequate maybe.  Acceptable might fit.  Occasionally Okay seems about as good a pat on my back as I can honestly come up with.

Regardless, as I sit here contemplating the inane notions and thoughts that have popped up early AM on Saturday, Oct 30, I will take my leave of this sacred place, this blogoshere, and allow you to sigh in deep relief that I have moved on. 

Have a super day.  If you can't do that, then have a shitty day.  Either one beats the alternative.

See Ya.........................................................

Friday, October 29, 2010

Run it like a Business

"If I ran my business like he runs the government, I'd be out of business."

So some flounder on the tube thinks we should run our government like a business? And why is that? Take second and consider what is the prime goal of any business...............Go ahead, take your time........I'll wait......

Yeah that's right. Profit. Everything a business does is generally aimed at bringing in more of your dollars into their pockets. Based on the outrageous claims coming from the folks who drool to the Right, they should be happy then. The government is doing just fine picking our pockets just as any business would love to do. What's the beef?

I hear way too much whining leading in with tired old notions like "less government, "lower taxes", blah blah blah.

There will never be less government. That ship sailed long ago. With the population of this country well over 300 million and climbing steadily, any thought to trimming government is folly. And claiming to be for less government when the Republican's actions over the last 40 years have proven this is not the case, they just look like lying hypocritical idiots everytime they whip out their go to slogan of less government.

Might it not be better to shift our goals to ones that might have a snow ball's chance of happening? Like I don't know......Maybe instead of less government, how about we aim for better government. Wasting our time on futile effort only detracts us from making government work better.

Tearing it down is not the answer just as building it up for the sake of building it up is not either. Demand of our leadership better stewardship of the responsibilites we handed them when we elected them.  Don't fall prey to empty promises and slogans. 


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Militia Camp Massacre

What follows is my submission to Flash Fiction Friday, a fairly new writers blog created to fill the void when the other FFF had run its course. Since this is the haunting season, predictably the prompt for Cycle 4 (as it is called) was to incorporate at least one classic monster into any genre we would like. I incorporated the ones I was weaned on, the best of the best.

Militia Camp Massacre

The boys had gotten soft. Jeez, they had not been out terrifying the citizenry for years. Just holed up here at the castle stuffing their faces, watching old movies and playing video games. I know Frank had to have picked up another 150 pounds. Drack had gotten so lazy, he had his meals delivered by a nice kid  from the local blood bank. Those losers over to the SciFi horror gang had been grabbing all the headlines.

I was no better. Hell, I hadn’t made any waves since Clarice gave up looking for me, got married, got pregnant and left the FBI. What do I do? I take over as the guardian for a bunch of washed up B movie monsters from the 1930s. It was time we took back what was ours.

“Okay guys gather round. “

No response.

“Guys?” I walked into the game room. Frank and the Doc Jeykyll were lost in a game of nine ball. Frank must have been losing. As I walked in, he smashed his cue stick over Doc’s noggin.  I smiled.

“How much he into you for Doc?”

“Huh?” Doc was always a tad slow on the uptake what with that awful crap he drank every day, but he swung his face in my direction and smiled that unnerving smile of his. “Uh yeah Hannibal, the stupid bastard is down four games at the moment. He’s gonna owe me bigtime.”

Drack spoke up. “Whoa there my fine fearsome friend.” He and Wolfman were hunched over a game of Chinese checkers. “You boneheads still owe me big after last night’s poker game. Especially you Doc. Whatever possessed you to draw to an inside straight I’ll never know.” Jekyll’s smile disappeared and his eyes glowed as he flexed obscenely long fingers.

Wolfman glared at Drack and howled. Drack looked at him with mock surprise.

“I did not cheat, you flea bitten loser.  Can I help it if you can't keep a poker face longer than five minutes. Remember, I cleaned you out first.”

“Guys, guys, guys. Cool your jets. We have to pull it together. Time to put on your game faces and get down to business. You guys have been sitting on your laurels and your asses for so long, John Q Public has forgotten you even exist. Don’t you guys have any pride left? Look at you. Sorriest bunch of has been monsters as I have ever seen. “

This got a rise out of them. They rushed me snarling and growling. It was just like old times. “Now that’s more like it……………. What we need is a plan. A night of horror to bring some pride back to the crew and let the World know who really makes them pucker with fear. Who’s with me?”

All hell broke loose. Frank toppled a few columns causing the game room ceiling to cave in. Wolfman shredded those new satin curtains I had installed so Drack could wander around in his whitie tighties during the day, And the Doc, well, he just drooled, wrung his hands and cackled. It almost brought a tear to my eye.

I don’t know what I was thinking when I took on this crew of loose dogs. Not a one of them had a clue about teamwork before I hooked up with them. But that was part of their charm I guess. Spontaneous Evil without any direction can create wonderful fear. I just had to get them headed in the right direction and look past their individual foibles. When they were on a roll, no other crew could touch them. Nothing but blood and fleshy tidbits left in their wake.

I finally had their attention. So I went over the new mission. They were suspicious at first. Sending them all out together was not their style. They were more comfortable as solo acts. The occasional cameo appearance to help a friend was okay, but none of them wanted to play second fiddle, especially at this time of the year. Top billing at Halloween would make them strut for a month. But I explained to them that an awesome performance by an ensemble cast would magnify their images. They settled down and focused as best they could.

“Okay guys, let’s make this Halloween one to remember. This excursion has to involve all of you so I'll cover any camera and sound work.  If I can chip in with a slice here or a dice there, I will.  But this will be your show, your chance to shine.  All we need is the where and who gets your special kind of attention.  We all know this caper has to go down in the dark of night.  Nothing  scares like bloody fangs coming out of dark shadows or body parts dripping blood in the soft light of the moon.  So where and who guys?  It's up to you."

Doc Jekyll was first to speak up. “How about a high school basketball game? Lots of cheerleaders and uptight teachers to disembowel.”

Wolf Man yipped.

Drack looked at him. “You always want it to be in the woods fer chrisakes. Come on guy step outside of your box for once. Besides, where in the woods are we gonna find enough delectable victims for all of us?”

Frank raised his hand.

“Frank, you don’t have to raise your hand.” I was never going to get used to this 7 foot monster who acted like a first grader. It was too bad his brain sat out so long before it was installed.

Frank slowly dropped his hand. Looking sheepish, he mumbled, “Well we could invade a militia camp. Uh, you know, they are popping up all over the place now. That way Wolfman could stay outside and that would make him happy. Besides, I don’t like those militia types. Bunch of wannabe badasses.” Frank clenched his massive mitts.

Drack started o speak up and then stopped. Doc looked over to the Wolfman and the Wolfman looked at me. No one spoke. I think we were absolutely caught off guard at such a brilliant suggestion coming from the dumbest among us. Christ, I had to remind the big lug every day how to tie his hob nail boots. From the mouths of babes………………..

The silence continued as the gears turned and churned inside each warped mind. I could feel the excitement building without so much as a word of discussion passing between us. So I ended it.

“It’s a lock then guys. Militia Camp Massacre here we come.  Just save me a few brains and maybe a liver or two.  I seem to be running low.”

"Now go out there and spill some blood!"

1100 words or so. I know it is silly. But come on.  Monsters are silly. Real Life is so much scarier.

Image from Deadly Movies

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crotch Pullers

Anxious citizens hold signs with one hand and pull at their crotch with the other.  They understand what pulling on their crotch does, but have less of a clue about that sign they so boldy raise.  Standing in large groups, their anger multiplies with each fool who joins their fray.  They say they know why they are unhappy, but cannot put a finger on the cause without the words and ideas fork tongued agitators pound into their tiny brains.  Blind to anything beyond what their own hands can grab, these anxious citizens turn ugly when they realize that they have consumed their way into the Asian Giant's arms.   And instead of owning their responsibilty, they pass the buck up or down.  It makes no difference as long as they can return to the safety of their own denial.

They blame those with less.  They point fingers at those with more.  The mistrust that once lingered on the fringes now directs their focus and they refuse to admit their culpability in the downturn of their own lives.

The bosses know this about these anxious citizens.  Using sleazy pseudo slogans, they embark in  subtle campaigns to first turn the anxiety into anger and then collect it into mass movements that will enhance their bottom lines.  They employ ministers, politicians, and the guy down the block to carry their message of hope without substance.  They promise nothing other than change.  They assure us that by tearing down what we have built will magically build something new and better.  "And it won't cost you a dime.  Matter of fact, we will give you some money back."

From where this money will come is not explained.  For if we are to believe the redfaced ringleaders, there is no money to give, yet somehow they will give it.  And the anxious fools do not see the contradiction.  All they have is their anger and a desire to tear something down. 

And so it goes.

Keep it 'tween the ditches.....................................................

Monday, October 25, 2010


The piece I wrote over at Thinking Ten a couple of weeks ago.  As it was inspired by my own recent efforts to put a new roof over my head, it sort of ties in with the home improvemnet mode I find myself hard into.  Anyway it was based on the prompt - "What else should I be?"


“What else should I be? Or better yet, what else could I be? I’ve been pounding nails for……….”

“Don’t give me that crap Ben, You love building. You also love to whine. Now hand me that lead flashing and let’s finish this bitch.”

Ben and Rene had grown up on the same street in the same factory owned houses in the same mill town many years ago. Just as they hit high school, the woolen mills shut down and moved south. With no jobs to go to, they decided they would become builders. At eighteen years old, they were sure it would be easy.

Those first years were rough. Between them they barely had a clue of which end of the hammer to hold. They fed off the crumbs and bones tossed them by other builders more established and experienced. Rip and tear jobs, rehab projects for shady slum lords looking for the cheapest possible fixes, roofing too high for the regular crews in town. They built their business doing what no one else wanted.

All this ran through Rene’s mind as he scrambled up the 10 pitch roof to grab the lead flashing. He reached down to pick it up and realized something. They were back where they started. Over the previous 40 years they had built a strong business. They had owned lots of equipment, ran lots of crews, and pissed through millions of dollars. And what had it gotten them? Both of them alone again at 60 years old on some roof low ball bidding just to put food on the table again. **

Handing the lead flashing to Ben, Rene started in again. “Ben we are back where we started. 40 years of hard work and what do we have? Yeah, we both own our homes, and we both managed to save the best trucks and some tools after the bank was through with us. But…………” Rene looked off into the distance over the town they had lived and would likely die in.

“But what?” Ben was not the philosopher of the duo. He was a simple man. Give him a job to do, he did it. Anything else was a waste of time.

“Well, I was just thinking about how we always seem to end up where we began. Ashes to ashes and all that shit. Ever think about that?”

Ben sighed hard. Rene was not in the working groove today. He stopped tapping the lead into shape around the corner of the brick work of the chimney and stood up. He put a hand on Rene’s shoulder and looked at him. “Bottom line guy, are you happy?”

Rene looked at Ben. Then they both looked out over the community that had fed and clothed them for so many years.

“Yeah Ben, I guess I am. Standing here on a roof with you makes me happy.......... Now let’s finish this bitch.”


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pool Anyone?

What follows is my fiction piece for the first challenge tossed out by Icarus' Flight to Perfection, a new writing blog.  The challenge was actually a choice of three options.  I chose the four word prompt:

Trip, Tryptych, Pick, Tropic

Pool Anyone?

Jim was not sure why his mysterious employer had sprung for the private Leer jet. This trip did not seem anything more unusual than most of his journeys overseas seeking ancient relics and icons. There was a time constraint though. He had to locate and return the 8x4 foot triptych in less than two weeks.  It would have been a two day trip on commercial carriers.  The private jet made sense.

Jim smiled at the thought of sneaking such a large work of art through the various borders he would have to cross to see it safely ensconced in the gallery basement in So Ho. But that was his shtick, his claim to fame. He had never once failed. If the pockets were deep enough, he always found a way out and then in before anyone noticed.

As he twirled the swizzle stick in his third scotch on the rocks, he ran through his transport options. None of his go to schemes would fit. The time line was too narrow, the object apparently too big. He considered the method he had used on a recent trip to the tropics. That early Mayan statue had been a monster. But he worked it out and 2 months after he was back in the States, a barge off-loaded 300 tons of bauxite. All he had to do was cut open the hull with a torch and there it was.

Jim buried his concerns and ordered another scotch. He knew a solution would come to him. Worrying about it before he had a chance to see the triple panel of golden figures was wasted effort. “And Lord knows,” he thought, “I never waste effort when I can get wasted on good scotch.”


Sally was on the phone. She had no clue why Jim wanted to know where he could find two new chalk boards in southern Kazakhstan, but assured him she would. Jim was always requesting the oddest things. She had become used to it. And since he paid her way more than she thought she was worth, she did not ask questions, she found answers to his. But chalkboards in Kazakhstan? She knew it was not going to be easy.

It was not easy. There were no suppliers she could locate. So she searched for schools that might have what he needed. She called him back several hours later and directed him to the International School in Almaty about 200 clicks from where he was. They would not be new chalk boards and he would have grease the right hands, but for a price, they were available. Meet a man name of Sergei Nimogushij at 4:00 PM local time tomorrow. He will take care of you. Says he has several to pick from.

“Perfect Sally. Have I told you recently how much I love you?” Jim rung off shaking his head. Having her at his back had made all the difference for his operation. Her ability to find the tools he needed was almost magical. Wasting only enough time to check out his load on the thrashed Maz flatbed he had rented, he slapped the driver awake and they beat it for Almaty.


“Uh Mr. Jim?”

Jim opened one eye and looked at Viktor serenely threading his way through the insanity of downtown Almaty. “What is it Viktor? And for the last time I told you it is Jim not Mr. Jim.”

“Mr. Jim we are almost to the International School. You wake up now okay?”

“I’m awake.”

Viktor pulled up in front of the school and Jim hopped out. “Wait here Viktor, I need to find a man.”


At 3:15 AM three days later the same Leer jet that had dropped Jim in the middle of central Asia taxied into a hangar at an airfield in New Jersey. Waiting for them was a rather large group of police - state, feds, US Customs and international. Jim stepped off the plane and acted mildly surprised.

“What the Hell fellas? What is going on?”

“Jim McDermott?”

Jim just smiled.

“Are you Jim McDermott?”

“Why yes sir I am. And who might you be?”

“Inspector Vladmir Puchennik of the antiquities division of the Kazakhstan National Police. We have been notified of a possible illegal transfer of a national treasure. May we search your plane?”

“Not my plane Vlad. But be my guest.”

The crowd of cops descended on the plane. Two hours later, they gave up their search and left frustrated. Vladamir walked into the customs office and sat down next to Jim. Leaning over he whispered in his ear. “Okay Mr smart guy. I know you have smuggled the tryptych into this country. That we have not found it does not mean we won’t. How is it you Americans say ?.............One day your ass, it will be mine.”

“Whatever you say Vlad. One day could be a long time away.” Jim got up and left.


“Well Mr. McDermott, I am impressed. I had my doubts given the time frame constraints, but you came through. My client is pleased to no end. You will find your fee in your bank account by end of business day tomorrow.”

Jim looked up from his scotch and soda. “Well it was a tough one. I hate being rushed. I didn’t have a solution until the fifth or maybe it was the sixth scotch on the plane. Then I noticed the undersized pool table. The rest of the scheme just fell into place. I had a tougher time finding chalkboards in that damn country than finding someone who could re-felt a pool table.”

About 900 words.  I would say it was a tough one, but I guess it was not.  Once I got rolling, the story such as it is, wrote itself.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Been avoiding this blog the last few days.  Not sure why.  Maybe it has something to do with not having anything on my mind but mundane issues like the roof, the trim on the eaves, and other boring homeowner concerns.  Well, the roof is basically done and now I can move to the next chore on the list that goes on into infinity and beyond. 

I would comment on the recent elections but I am exhausted and pissed off.  This country does not seem to want to do anything but ask for immediate fixes by kicking out experienced help and replacing it with new unexperienced help.  And that's fine.  Maybe it will wake up both parties to the reality that being complacent is not going to work anymore.  And maybe if Obama does not have his party at his back with the power of a majority, he might just show us some of the sand he insinuated when running for office.

I don't regret voting for him.  He was and still is the best pick of the litter we had back in 08.  I did not expect him to have things fixed, just progress on fixing them.  For a variety of reasons, he and his party have disappointed me.  The lack of intestinal fortitude being highest on my list.

So I refrain from venting my spleen as we countdown to election time.  I have accepted the notion that my state will most likely have a poor governor once again.  If either party's offering wins, that is what we will have.  I have decided to vote for the dark horse just because I cannot give my vote to the front runners.

So just call this a a post to keep the process moving along.  I'll be back with something more when I can.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Green and Naive

I was 24 years old and had only been in Dallas for two hours when this employee card was made.   For insurance purposes I was  25 not 24.  Roger fudged the form he had to file with the insurance company.  Seems the insurance company would not insure any driver under the age of 25.  But I had come highly recommended by Ron, their top driver, and they needed a new driver immediately. 

Just prior to the snapping of this special Kodak moment I had been crawling around inside, outside and all around the sweetest almost brand new White Freightliner I had ever been inside of.  New everything.  Big motor, AC, air ride seat and it had a real sleeper.  I had never driven a truck with a sleeper.  If truckers had a heaven, this was surely it

It had only been 24 hours earlier that I told Don, my boss at Advanced Moving & Storage in Towson, Maryland, that I would not be humping furniture for him anymore.  I was headed for the brightly lit stage of RocknRoll.   His only question before he told me "Good Luck" was "How much does it pay?" 

I remember looking at him and saying, "Who cares?  It's RocknRoll.  My first tour is with the Who."

The following two years wiped the grin off my face, but left me with no regrets.  It was no picnic pounding the highways with a band's equipment on board.   The night driving, asshole promoters and band managers, and sycophants who would do almost anything to use me to get close to their idols.   I would get more traffic tickets than I could count, I would suffer more than a couple of beat downs, robberies, and truck break ins.  I would find love and then have it snatched out from under me.  I would spend time in a couple of local jails for being too loose a dog.  All in all I have to say 1976, 1977, and 1978 were some of the most interesting years I can remember.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tear Down the Roof - Some Light at the End of the Tunnel - Chap 3 or 4 - Take Your Pick.

I had planned to make it into the bike shop on Thursday.  I figured a break from being the hump and grunt roof bitch would freshen my immediate outlook and leave me smilin once again.  I had not counted on a noreaster that was scheduled for arrival on runway Maine sometime in the wee hours of Friday Morning.

Shit.  There was still entirely too much of the roof still open to whatever elements that might happen by.  So Thursday morning I climbed back on the roof with my tool belt, my sawz all, many sections of bitcha-thane, and a couple of 50 pound bundles of  shingles.   I was going to button up as much as I could before the cold wind blew and the rain came in sideways.

I had given up hope that this time my local weather guy would be wrong and the storm would sweep to the south or better yet die of natural causes somewhere over New York City.  Every weather site, every weather bozo, everyone I talked to, listened to, or tried to ignore agreed we were in for some weather.  Bad weather.  Lots of bad weather.  Maybe 3 or 4 inches of bad weather.

I got busy.  Up, down, kneel, stand up, forget something on the ground, a hammer, damn out of nails again - all day long I fought my tendency to be unorganized.  By 7:00 PM I had only about 20 percent left to do.  By 7:00 PM my energy level was running a deficit.  It was time to quit and get down off the damn roof.  I covered the roof I couldn't get to, battened it down and climbed down the ladder.

The noreaster landed right on schedule.  The rain was coming from the east so hard Stubby would not step off the porch to do her morning business.  I had to pull on a rain coat and shoes and head out into the storm before I even had one sip of coffee in my system.  I figured while I was outside nursemaiding my weather intolerant mutt, I would check the roof to see how my make do tarping effort fared.  It held up just fine. 

Back inside and after some coffee and toast, I told myself I would head to the bike shop.  But I didn't.  I was so thrashed from my marathon roofing efforts, I convinced myself I needed a day off from everything.  I passed out and slept while outside Mother Nature pummeled us with as much moisture as she could muster.

Yeah I felt guilty, but not enough to roust my sorry butt out of bed.  I was tapped out and I knew it.  So today I hope I have recharged enough to at least open the doors.

We'll see.......................................................

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Written Word

Bombarded and overwhelmed by sensory stimulation that insists we only keep our eyes open to enjoy the effect, it boggles my mind so many millions still persist in communicating through the written word. Yet many still do.

Our civilization has reached the point where all we need do is click on the TV, point a mouse in a general direction, or hold an oddly phallic like gadget in our hands and aim it at the screen to get our entertainment fix. Certainly too many of us waste our time settled in on couches while watching that Andy Griffith marathon or back to back to back half hour segments about the 1000 ways to die.

Thankfully there seems to be enough of us still out there interested and focused on creativity. Enough people either creating it or actively seeking others creations for their own pleasure. And contrary to how I often feel about the endemic mind rot that came along for the ride as our ability to communicate instantly expanded, the creativity that will spring from this new age of communication is going to be mind blowing.

It won’t all be good. Current trends certainly point that out. But when a new community is created made up people from around the globe who have focused interests, new creativity will and has already resulted. Networking works.

The worry I also have from time to time that reading and writing will soon be a thing of the past is misplaced. That Johnny can’t read nor can Betty write will not kill the written word. The written word is still alive and well. It is just evolving along side and taking advantage of the new expansion in mass media alternatives. Many new electronic gizmos coming on the scene are helping. Kindle, I phones, books on CDs all are helping to ensure the written word will be here long after you and I are worm food.

And then there is my favorite new spin off, the blog. 25 years ago I would never have dreamed I would be hooking up with Muslim Marv from Tim Buck Too or Aussie Al who lives on some god forsaken sheep ranch miles from anywhere. And I certainly would not have guessed that I would become the writing fool I have become. It is not important whether  we write well or write poorly. It is only important that we write.  Writing keeps the written word healthy and ensures it will be around as long as our species exists.

See Ya.........................................

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Wasps of October

So it goes.  Some days when I think I have no urge to write, I find myself in front of the computer pouring out nonsense so fast, I can't keep up.  I start typing and ten minutes later, I've got 500 words down on whatever thoughts that managed to escape.

And then there are days like today.  All day long as I worked on the roof, all I could think of was writing a story about my interactions with the wasps of October.  I was sure it would be a grand  tale of  tiny wasps protecting their nest of future generations from the evil human even as their lifespans were winding down.  They would battle valiantly but in the end it would be their last stand.   Evil would prevail.  Good would go down hard.

I would include some comic relief as I described my sorry self in retreat after being tagged a few times.  The battle would erupt spontaneously when the cool morning temps warmed cold blooded bodies up to fighting temperature.  Running down the roof wailing and flailing my arms in a panic, the horde circle me searching for vulernable tissue to jam some venom into.  As I step on the ladder one fearless soldier would heroically sacrifice her life with a well placed shot to the small of my back and I would tumble down, down to the ground.

After my fall of disgrace I would hatch half baked schemes to pay the little bastards back and become a gimpy wounded terrorist, invading their homeland and taking out their hive.  I would use chemical weapons, blunt instruments, and if that failed, I would poke sticks in their eyes.  But still the courageous wasps would send warriors on suicide missions, fighting to the bitter end even as toxic foam encrusted their hive making their  nervous systems lock up hard.  I would dance a little victory jig and cackle as the gallant wasps herked and jerked struggling to take flight again to fight with their last gasp.

Yeah, it was gonna be great. 

But something happened.  I overestimated my physical endurance.  I did not stagger off the roof until the moon came up around 7:15 PM.  I had tuckered out not only my body, but apparently my brain as well.  Which left me number and dumber than usual.

So what do I end up with?  A vague taste of what might have been.  A weak glimmer of what could have been.  Decidedly less than the best I had hoped to offer.


The excellent image was poached from The Micropolitan Museum

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Symbolic Gestures

Chef Cthulhu has made a comeback.  His Columbus Day post was a classic mini rant about commuting among idiots and other social commentary.  He also opined about the silly seriousness too many of our fellow citizens place on holidays.  He went on about how we as citizens are expected to celebrate holidays in specific ways according to what appears and I agree some kind of arbitrary list of rules that when jumbled together could cause confusion or better yet, some excellent off the wall ways to not celebrate a certain holiday.   He called it a "mad-lib" list.

I probably have projected more into what he was thinking about when I commented -

"Please refrain from wearing solid colored speedos to that next Tea Party rally. If you must wear a speedo, please make sure it is the red or blue one with stars on the crotch and the stripes on the butt."

But because I am becoming more and more disgusted with our stupid infatuation with symbolism drawn from everything and anything people might want to read into, out of, or draw from because they have only one thing on their mind, whether it be God, Country, Taxes, Pinkos, Queers or what color we wear in what neighborhood - I decided that rather than get angry over this stupidity, I would try to poke fun at it.

So with fun in mind, I figured my comment on his blog deserved further expansion as a post here.  And as is my habit, I always try to find an image that comes as close as possible to enhancing my thoughts as I write them down.

Imagine my glee when I found this image of American manliness in about .000004 seconds on Google.

I know and understand that humans and symbols are inextricably linked.  I guess it comes with the ability to think beyond the instinctual habits of breathing, eating, sleeping, and fornicating.  But I swear to ____ (name your favorite deity) that much of the symbolism we favor indicates many of us on any given day are just barely beyond those instinctual actions.   And also that by using a symbol in one way and assuming others get it and are not put off just highlights how clueless many of us are about what symbols used poorly can do.

Take for instance this fellow.   I do not know him.  He is just some clown I found when I googled "Flag speedo, images".  For argument's sake though, I will assume (yeah, I know what assuming does, but that boat sailed years ago for me) - I assume he is exhibiting his patriotism while Vay-Kaying on some beach somewhere.  I hope he wasn't shot, stabbed, beat down or humilated by young folks sporting six pack abs shortly after exposing himself in such an in your face way.  Even old farts should have the right to decrease their tan line in peace.

The flag desecration crowd - and I mean the purists who frown on stars and stripes displayed in any way other than from a flag pole - I can just hear the tsk- tsk- tsk and imagine frowns turning into ugly scowls.  And should this fellow be part of any parade where men are bumping and grinding to the sound of the Village People, I would guess the flag desecration police would be joined by the holier than thou bump and grind police and this fellow would be found dead in some alley with his speedo around his knees and a flag pole.......... Hey, sorry about that, but I do still have a vivid imagination.

But of course, this fellow would never be caught wearing this particular outfit in a parade waving a rainbow flag.  Everyone knows that if nothing else, the Gay crowd know fashion and this guy is obviously clueless.  The hat just does not work with the drawers.  Add in the fact that he is several pounds over what would be considered decent exposure,  no gay guy would be caught dead looking like this. 

All of this brings me back to my point I guess.  A point that so far has not only eluded you but apparently me also. 

Our recent uptick in using symbols to identify others of similar intent or others we despise has gotten so out of hand as to completely lose any real relevance in the sane exchange of ideas.   Instead of just using them subtly and politely, we Americans seem determined to use them to intimidate rather than show allegiance.  Symbols have become weapons of our ongoing social struggle.  Instead of helping us to feel better about ourselves, they seem to have become nothing more than expressions of anger and frustration over a societal situation most of us feel has or is spiraling out of control.  And rather than realize that our problems are not one groups fault, but all of our faults, we use symbols to attack rather than unify. 

And before everyone here thinks I am aiming my derision solely at one side or the other, I am not.  I find the symbolic bump and grind of men wearing speedoes at a parade to be absolutely as stupid as wearing tea bags on hats or an athlete raising a clenched fist on the podium at the Olympics.  I get it that America is angry.  But in your face symbolic gestures do not resolve the problems.  All they do is continue to feed the anger.

Isn't it about time we stopped being children and buried our insignificant differences so that all of us can begin to look for symbols that make us all happier?
Okay so the post did not end up as cheerful as I hoped.  Hope it appears is getting harder and harder to get my mind around.  

Friday, October 08, 2010

Tear Down the Metal - Part Deux

I thought that humping the shingles up the ladder would be what I would whine about.  Or maybe the bending over as I tore the old roof off and laid down the new one was what would do me in.   I was wrong.   The part of my body that is still complaining and not working right even after massive doses of across the counter pain pills are my hands.  They have become useless claws.  Just holding a hammer hurts like Hell, nevermind swinging it.  The pain in my right hand and wrist was so bad early on I  switched to swinging with  my left hand.   Accuracy suffered, but I was good for a few more hours until the left hand curled up and refused to work. 

But the section I wanted to roof for this year is 95% complete now.  Maybe 3 more bundles of shingles, some caulking, a temporary cap and I am done with the roof for this year.  Next year I will take on the opposite inside section on the front of the house. 

Oh boy, I can't wait.

I am pretty sure it was 1983 when I put on the steel roof I have just removed.  As I fought to pry out the hand pounded 16 penny galvanized nails I used to attach the wood runners under the steel roofing, I asked myself repeatedly just what the Hell was I thinking when I put this existing roof on by myself.  Each section came off so hard, I was sure that I was not thinking, just pounding nails because I could.  I was 31 years old and still numb as the 28 ounce framing hammer I used to persuade those big spikes into the ancient hemlock rafters that supported my roof.  I am sure they went in as hard as they came out.

The fact that Bike Shop Jim and I had to struggle to remove the nails was actually a good thing.  It showed us without having to remove much of the subroof that the framing was sound.  But I still cussed and fussed.  Damn those nails came out hard.

I have 3 days coming of sunshine and decent temps to finish the job.  Today, I think about it and maybe clean up some of the debris.  Maybe I'll grab a coffee and head down to Town Hall and see if I can roust a demo permit for the dump.  Or maybe I will work on the perimeter trail I am cutting in around my property.  Or  maybe today, I'll do what I do best and just contemplate all the work I ought to be doing instead.  Thinking things to and then past their logcal conclusions can be almost as satisfying as viewing the finished product.  Visions of possible leak free winters to come makes me smile. 

So today I leave the hammer, the sawz all, the crow bar in the garage.   Forget the bitch-e-than, roofing nails and caulk for a day or so.  Let a normal day unfold instead.

Besides, my hands hurt like Hell.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Tear the Metal Down

I had to enjoy several years of putting it off until tomorrow, joyously spend many nights of lost sleep anquishing about problems that might or might not happen, and wasting months on end generally screwing the pooch before I buckled down the other day and  grudgingly began to open my roof and deal with whatever demons I just knew were lurking under the sub roof and in the framing of the house my family has called Home for over 45 years.  Visions of rotten rafters, spongy joists and algae encrusted insulation floated through my mind.  Bee hives, bird nests, and mouse hotels were all considered as not something I might find when I ripped the metal roof off, they were a sure thing.  Several winters spent with a 5 gallon bucket under a certain spot to catch the occasional, sometimes more than occasional drip that would find it's way in from the frozen cold if I wasn't quick to remove any snow fall over six inches or so.

Well you see I figured it was a damn sight easier to put a bucket under the leak than rip the roof off for a little snow.  It was only one leak after all.  Half the year the bucket stayed in the garage.  A seasonal adjustment to exterior conditions that only necessitated the proper placement of a moisture receptacle seemed a more efficient use of my highly honed Life skill sets.  Time wasted fixing my roof  would only eat into my time busily considering more important and crucial matters like contemplating my naval, opening emails, blogging, watching the Pats,...........Jeez there were so many things more important than replacing my roof.  I told myself as soon as a second leak cropped up, I would jump on it, get right to it, not waste any time and fix it ASAP.

If I was single, this plan might have worked........... at least for a few more years anyway. 

So, a few days ago, Bike Shop Jim and I tore into my roof.  Both of us have more than a casual knowledge of  home construction, home destruction, home re-construction.  Jim made money during the boom years building houses and I made less doing the same thing.  But both of us got out of the building business for a reason.  Ripping into my roof reminded us why.

I didn't use to mind roof work when I was younger, number, and dumber.  Bike Shop Jim, well he claims he'd rather paint than climb up on a roof.  Not the height he says, although he is no fan of being up high.  It's the humping shingles, standing for hours on a downhill surface that can be slippery and  will dump you in a heartbeat if you numb it at the wrong time.  He has learned to hate any chore relating to roofing.  I had to agree.  I guess he's right.  Roof work does indeed suck.  But so does a stick in the eye.

And the battle begins.....................................

Sunday, October 03, 2010

As Ugly An American As Ever Came Down the Pike

Acid filled rhetoric spewing from lips inflamed by too much flapping bombard my senses and suck hard on my patience.  Patience that is already but thinly disguised tolerance for the idiotic ramblings and opinion others want to jam hard down my throat.  In defense I mount my own offense for the sanctity of my sanity.  I step up and try to shout them down with my own version of  the past and present tense that will surely corrode our future tense.  As I attempt to hold onto to a clue, the bile rises up and chokes off any common sense I started out with.  And all us fools become one.

Labels are applied liberally and more often than not erroneously, but not one of us unhappy campers care.  We are cold even though we have blankets.  We are hungry even as we sit fat and chatty on couches in front of drive in movie screens bolted to our living room walls.  We whine and complain over sumptious meals of meat and potatoes.  We nurture and raise more whiners and complainers into our culture of entitlement without even once considering that any and maybe all of our problems are for the most part self induced.  Each generation expecting more but having to get by with the less that's left but is so much more than is found almost anywhere else on the planet.

Since we are so sure we are blessed and special, we know that being on the wrong side of the Bell Curve now is not our fault.  It must be the influence, the confluence of invasions of foreign infiltrators who hijack our skills and take them home to lands far away.   Because we have been trained to only consider our immediate needs without even a token notion of what that immediacy will drag along in its wake, we only know that the trough is not overflowing anymore.  We have become ripe for the picking.

In response to all these threats to our girth and our worth, we lash out at those who have less to begin with hoping that taking more of what they have less of will give us the more we feel we deserve  just because our flag is red, white, and blue.  We become invaders of foreign lands and crusaders for grand schemes  based on the words and ideas of mythical beings and princely forebears who might just exist only because we insist that they do.   Lofty ideals passed down, filtered down, washed down and squeezed hard until they fund and support our current states of mind. 

Once known for being generous, we are now becoming known for being selfish and brainless citizens who are no longer envied but despised.  And yet we persist in believeing our own hype that America is the greatest country on Earth.  I used to consider us so and would like to again in the future.  But until we get our own house in order and stop our everyone loses infighting, we are not even close to being great.  We are just 340 million chumps whining our way to becoming another 3rd world country.

Friday, October 01, 2010

A Little of This and Some of That

I feel obligated to post something today.  But what?

There's the gubernatorial race here in Maine.  That is certainly worth mentioning.  After all our Republican candidate managed to get himself some national exposure by promising to tell Obama to go to Hell.  But I did not want to waste time or words on buffoons.  While the man is not an idiot, he surely played one on TV the other day.  Just the sort of class act I would love to see in Augusta. ........Riiiiight.

Maybe everyone would be interested in the excitement that visited my humble abode yesterday morning.  But no, I think not.  There are no words worthy enough to describe the edge of the seat suspense of watching Jeremy clean out our furnace.  Words would just fail me. 

I might mention the fellow in downtown Portland who doused himself with gasoline, walked out into the busy day and flicked his Bic.  Seems no one knows why. 

Then there's the ongoing trial of one Jason Twardus.  He is accused of strangling his ex-fiance in Alfred and burying her on land his father owns in northern New Hampshire.  He claims he was framed.  The State of Maine feels otherwise.  An interesting case if for no other reason than the defendant's name - Twardus.   I have had several fun filled moments considering the possible variations of that name he has had to deal with as he grew up.

A customer dropped off a bike a couple of days ago to be fixed.  This fellow is a respected doctor here in our area.  He is also one of the few I feel comfortable talking politics with.  So naturally when I saw him coming and noticed there was no one else in the shop, I pulled out my soapbox and was ready before he even made it in the door.  What should have been a two minute "Here's my bike, it needs fixing" exchange between customer and repair guy turned into a half hour sermon to the choir.  We covered healthcare, the election, with both of us mutually disgusted with the current political climate.  He was more forgiving of the Left than I was, but for the most part we came away from the conversation feeling good about ourselves.  At least I did.

One of the spontaneous thoughts I came up with as I spewed my outrage over the stupidity I was witnessing coast to coast stuck with me.  It was somewhere between where I was sharing my disdain for the cowardly leadership of the Left and my total contempt for the lying and shameless Right when I mentioned I thought someone from the Left should start spreading untrue rumors about the exalted leadership of the Right.  After all, spreading outrageous lies seemed to be doing the trick for the Right.  Fighting fire with fire sort of thing.

So even though I am but a token member of the Left..........Or should I say a very unreliable follower of the Left, I will now make up some rumor that will hopefully spread like a disease through out this land to help offset the blatant lies coming from the folks on the Right who will believe anything as long as it comes from Rush, Hannity, Greta, or Beck.

Maybe Obama was born in Kenya, maybe he wasn't.  At least he was born on this planet.  I have it on good authority that  Glenn Beck is really the offspring of a coupling between a waitress in Utah and an alien from a whirlpool galaxy far beyond the borders of our own Milky Way.  

Xriden had stopped off at a rundown greasy spoon and two pump fuel stop in the middle of the Salt Flats for some chaw and a donut.  He just could not take his eyes off Wanda, the 300 pound waitress with the big hair.   Apparently aliens of Xriden's race like their females large and with hair on their upper lip.  So he took her with him.

Wanda did not mind.  It was not as if she had many men courting her anyway.  Besides, when Xriden picked up that donut with his tongue and twirled it in circles, she just melted.  Her one good eye twinkled.

So off into Space they went.   As this is almost a PG rated blog, I will spare you the sordid details of what went on inside the capsule as they plummeted from asteroid to asteroid.  Use your sick imaginations if you must.

At some point in this heated romance, the spark died.  Neither Xriden nor Wanda were to blame.  They just grew tired of each other.  Once the excitement of physical contact waned, they were left with what?  Conversation?  Yeah, you can only imagine what an alien from beyond the Milky Way and a waitress from Utah might have in common to talk about.  

Xriden decided that it was time to dump this broad.  Being from a race that prided itself on being forthright ( it was actually one of their commandments), he told Wanda he was tired of her and would be dropping her off as fast as he could boost his ship back to Earth.

"Yeah well that's fine with me jerk wad.  I was getting bored with the tongue twirling anyway. "

The now unhappy couple headed back to Earth.   It was to be a long silent ride for both of them.  During that 6 month return trip not ten words passed between them.  Wanda, already a rather large full sized woman, did not notice what was growing inside her.  She thought the discomfort in her gut was from eating that god awful crap Xriden called food.  In reality she was with child.    About a week before touch down, she felt immense pain in her stomach.  Assuming it was something she ate, she excused herslf and headed to the ship's privy.  Before she had taken three steps, Glenn Beck dropped into existence.

Xriden looked at what had plopped flopping on the deck of the ship.  "Oh great, I did it again."

Wanda was in shock.  She stepped back and looked on in horror as Xriden calmly pulled a mason jar half filled with pickles off a shelf and stuffed Glenn into it.  Screwing on the lid, Xriden turned to Wanda.  " He'll keep just fine until we touch down in Utah."  Xriden handed the mason jar to Wanda.

"But Xriden, what am I supposed to do with that?"  Wanda scrutinized the being wiggling inside the jar amongst the homemade pickles Xriden had brought from his home planet.

"Darling, I don't care what you do with it.  But it came out of you.  You own it now.  Consider it a gift."

A week later Xriden dropped off Wanda and the pickle jar with Glenn inside at the Grey Hound bus station in Salt Lake City.  Handed her a twenty dollar bill.  "It's been real darling.  Have a good life."  And then he was gone.

Wanda had some tough times for a few years.  But eventually she let Glenn out of the jar and they both settled down in some backwater burg in Utah.  Wanda hooked up with a guy named Jack who changed tires at a local truck stop.  Wanda went back to waitressing and Glenn grew up to become the towering intellect we have all learned to appreciate.  Wanda never ate another pickle the rest of her life.

There it is.  The true story of how Glenn Beck came into being.   Don't believe the hype he was born in Everett, Washington.  Has he ever shown us his birth certificate?  I don't think so.