Monday, July 30, 2007

Just One Word

I say this word way too much.

I was once told that if I made an ugly face, it would stick that way forever. The curse must also apply to purposely contorting one's diction to include fad phrases or what, at the time, seems to be a cool word to say. When we got Bosco and Smooch, we loaded up on Tibetan Spaniel books and general guides about dogs. It seems that every paragraph in the books had require in it. (i.e Your Tibetan Spaniel may require a daily walk. This breed requires one cup of food per day.) I started going around saying things like "I require a glass of water."; My car may require gasoline. and "No, I do not require a second helping."

This has happened to me before. I once talked like Snagglepuss for at least 6 months. I must have said "far out" a few thousand times in the 60s. Then there's the faux, er, falsos, Spanish habit where one sticks on an "o" after every word. I had that.

Require is going on 3 years as a staple of my spoken language. I think part of my aging brain has set like concrete and require has been locked into that region. So it is.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Data Recovery

The song "Tossin' and Turnin'" by Bobby Freeman and its opening line "I couldn't sleep at ALL last night" rang true at 6:45 this morning when I said, "Piss on trying to sleep"

I jumped out of bed , got dressed, and we went out for a big breakfast. At the restaurant, Patti asked, what do you think about when you're lying awake all that time? I hadn't thought much about it and frankly couldn't remember much at all about what I contemplated through the long night. (It was actually only 4 hours because I watched Big Brother After Dark until 3:00 a.m. - more on this passion of mine later. ) One thing did stand out. A neuron fired at about 4:30 a.m. that unlocked a lost memory. It was of the Presto Hot Dogger.

I had one of those in the pre microwave days. Presto boasted that it could cook a hot dog in 6 seconds. It could. You took the wiener of your choice and stuck one end into a a spiked electrode and did the same with the other end, bridging the gap between the two electric skewers. You turned on the power and zapped the dog. Six seconds later, you had up to 6 fully-cooked dogs. The ends were usually charred and all the fat was burned off. leaving them smoking and withered away. If you left a budget dog on too long, you could produce a flame. The time saved cooking was given back and then some during cleanup.

I don't know what became of the old Hot Dogger. Most likely it was sold at a garage sale or thrown out. It may even be lurking somewhere in my old house. This is what I contemplated. Where have the Hot Doggers gone ? Since the safety device of having to close the lid before the power would come could be easily circumvented, I wondered if this had been tried. I never attempted to grab both spikes and turn it on or know of anyone who did. But like I've always said, "If one can think of it, someone has already done it. "

In the wrong hands, I imagined, all kinds of mischief could be wrought. Torture device? Rodent control? The ultimate whoopee cushion? My brain ran with this for a disturbingly long amount of time. I am not proud of the many diabolical uses for a discarded Hot Dogger that I mentally listed. I hope I sleep well tonight.

News: I'm an uncle again! Tyler James weighed in at 10 lbs 2 oz. when he debuted yesterday.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Changing Colors

I'm declaring myself to be a Cincinnati Reds fan. I was a St. Louis Cardinals fan from the time I was a wee one until maybe, yesterday. Maybe earlier. I do know that I was cheering for the Reds this week during two televised games and that I watched them instead of the Cardinals and Cubs game. I also know that when the Cardinals won the World Series last year I wasn't nearly as geeked up when the Cardinals were in the postseason in earlier years. In fact I simply had a "that's nice" attitude. Eh.

This isn't a matter of being a front runner. In fact, the Reds are the worst team in baseball right now. I was a Cardinal fan in keeping with a strong family tradition. My grandfather and father were Cardinal fans. Being from northeastern Arkansas, it was a matter of geography for them. In my father's later years he wasn't as enthusiastic as before about the Cardinals. With free agency, 30 teams, and players moving around so much, it became a mater of rooting for the "shirts" as Jerry Seinfeld once noted, rather than the players who filled the shirts. One of the last Cardinal thrills was the Mark McGwire 70 homer season. Besides that feat now being tainted and the record broken soon thereafter, it still was like McGwire was on loan from the Oakland A's. My father is gone now, and I'd like to say that he died a Cardinal fan, but in all honesty, he really didn't give a shit about them anymore. He was more of a White Sox fan because he was able to see them on TV in South Bend. Baseball has long since abandoned many traditions and all bets are off when it comes to team allegiance.

Fantasy baseball has also eroded my loyalty to the Cardinals. Sorry, but if Tim Lincecum shuts St. Louis out, that's good for me. The current collection of players gathered in St. Louis are the enemy on that night when my fantasy team's pitcher faces them. I guess that goes for the Reds too, but the Cincinnati Reds are now the local team.

The Reds have started showing their games in HD. I can see just about every game on TV. The drive to Cincinnati is only 90 minutes and there are always "many good seats available".

The Reds will do just fine as my new favorite team.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Special Seating

We did see the IRL race completed on Sunday. It was a good race that didn't disappoint. Danica finished 3rd, which made Patti happy. This was our day to drive home. We had planned to vist the Maker's Mark distilllery in Kentucky on the way back just to fill in the day. As it turns out, we arrived home about the same time as we had originally expected. No problem. We'll catch The Bourbon Trail next time.

Thanks, Jack for being a patient and gracious host.

Pictured is the ideal seat for guys like me that don't care much for crowds. I seldom go live events because someone seems to always be doing something to annoy me. Yes, I am a aware that perhaps that I'm the one with the problem. I'm working on it. For now, the "seat" would be the solution. No more people getting up and excusing themselves to pee every 10 minutes. No more being the middle man in beer transactions. No more folks on their cell phone. Maybe I'm not totally the problem after all.

Putting a sign on the chair that says. "I'm watching the race, dammit." would make it the perfect seat.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nashville: Part Three (Double Ought Chance of Rain)

Later on Saturday:
Nashville Superspeedway

As mentioned yesterday, we are just a bit late and Jack has to settle for a semi-shitty parking spot in the handicapped lot. We have ample provisions and are also well outfitted for viewing the race. Everyone grabs all they can and we make the trek across the hot, hot, hot fan area outside the entrance to the grandstand and up multiple flights of stairs to our seats.

The shade on this sunny day is over us early in the Indy Pro race. After the JV is done racing, we enjoy the wait for the main event. Beautiful day. As race time nears, we endure multiple displays of demonstrative patriotism and the introduction of what seems to be the entire work force of Bridgestone / Firestone. Then it happens.

"See that cloud over yonder?", remarks one of the local fans. "That's rain comin' down from it." Sure enough. Menancing rain clouds are converging on the track. Our Southern-talking friend then adds a bit of scientific background: " It's comin' from the skah."

The skah opens up with a heavy downpour, dousing everything. The idiot P.A. announcer proclaims, "We're just moments away from racing!" (We decided that the announcer 's job has been outsourced and he's somewhere in India.). We seek refuge under the stands. Big mistake. Soon the water pours in on us through the cracks of the bleacher style seats.

We go home soaking wet and grumpy after another shower rolls in on a day that Nashville's Channel Five predicted a ZERO chance of rain.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Nashville: Part Two (Endangered Newts)

Saturday: The Race

The cornerstone of this trip was joining our good friend, Jack, at the IRL's Firestone 200 at the Nashville Superspeedway. If you are interested in Indy racing and want details about the race, you can bail out now. The race was rained out.

We arrived at the track at 2:00. It was a bit later than Jack had wanted because Patti and I had to get a cooler and fill it with food, drink, and ice for the long day ahead. Our cooler is M.I.A. It was left at one of the in-laws' shindigs or was mis-taken at a pot luck affair. Who knows? Who cares? We wind up at Wal-Mart.

This is not your typical Wal-Mart. It sits on the edge of the affluent town of Bentwood, TN. It's far fancier than the Wal-Mart in my neighborhood with a facade that makes it look like a medical arts building. It's a big sucker too. The drive up to the parking lot reminded me of the entrance to the Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C. We cross a satellite parking area, go over a bridge and pull up next to the store only to find that the small lot next to the building is almost exclusively handicapped parking. We have to turn around and place our car deep in the satellite lot. It is hot. Southern hot. They should have shuttle service, but don't. We transverse the parking lot, trudge across the bridge and weave through the disabled peoples' vehicles. Finally - We enter.

The coolers are maybe 5 football fields or more away from the food. We split up. I grab the first cooler I see and hurry back to help gather the food. Patti is auditioning fresh peaches and has yet to make a selection. ( No comment. ) We are still many minutes away from the lengthy walk back to the car and the rendevous at Jack's house. It's astonishing, but we're only about 15 minutes late.

Jack tells us that the Wal-Mart is set up that way because:

1. Bentwood didn't want the Wal-Mart there to begin with.
2. To halt the move, some of the citizens claimed that there was some kind of endangered newt that lived in the trickle of a stream that runs right through the property. It was ruled that this habitat could not be destroyed.
3. Wal-Mart simply throws a few zeros on the contruction cost and builds a bridge across Newt Land.

Our newt-related tardiness was only the beginning of an unusual day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Nashville: Part One

Friday evening: The Bluebird Cafe

We drive 5 hours to a small strip mall on Nashville's Hillsboro Road, a few miles southwest of downtown. If you aren't looking for The Bluebird Cafe, you won't notice it. If you are trying to find it, like we were on our first visit, you will drive by it and won't be sure you are there until you pull into the small parking area in front. No more than 95 people pack the place to hear country music from its point of origin.

We are not big fans of country music. After Music Row processes many of the songs we've heard performed at the Bluebird, they become indistinguishable from that lightweight tune that seems to be always playing on the country hits station. The acoustic versions delivered by the songwriters are often masterpieces. The songwriter is every bit the talent as those who record their music. In the instances that the songwriter also recorded the song, the rendering at the Bluebird is usually better. Besides being entertained in a venue that demands silence during an act, you are very close to the performers. On our last trip, Patti was performing roadie duties for the performers, passing them lead sheets, water bottles, etc. One of the artists, Shelley Fairchild asked into the microphone, "Patti, hand me that pick." We are pictured (right side of photo) at the performance here. It's like having the event in your living room! It seems that half the crowd consists of the performers' family, friends, and business associates. It's as if we have been invited to a private party.

The opening show this trip was a display of virtuoso guitar playing from Tim Thompson, Tom Boyer, Kent Gray and Rick Udler. The styles ranged from samba to that of Chet Atkins and George Benson. Marshall Chapman and Tim Krekel took the stage for the main show. You couldn't ask for a better evening of entertainment.

It was our fifth vist to The Bluebird Cafe. We intend to go many more times.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Interstate 265

I can't be the first. In fact, I think I'm one of millions who have driven through Louisville on I-65 and asked the question, "Who the hell is Gene Snyder?"

Gene was first on my list of things to Google after returning home from an extended weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. Turns out he is some fellow who was in the U.S. House of Representatives for many years and from what I can gather, wasn't a guy I'd vote for, let alone name a stretch of highway after.

His claim to fame was being a Barry Goldwater supporter and voting against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I can think of a number of Kentucky Derby winners that would be more deserving of the honor. OK, that's a little harsh. I never met Gene and must have done something to endear him to many fellow Kentuckians. Still. Gene Snyder isn't as famous as Secretariat and I think politicians are far too revered in this country.

I would rather have seen the highway named after Muhammed Ali. I did see that a Louisville street bears the Louisville boxing great's name as does the city's convention center, but for those passing through Louisville these tributes go unnoticed.

I have to wonder how Gene Snyder reacted to the former Cassius Clay back in 1964 when Snyder was a young congressman.

[ More on this year's Nashville trek in the coming days. ]

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I went with Patti to the doctor. We arrived in plenty of time, but as often is the case, Doc was running behind schedule.

The reading selection was limited to a National Geographic from 2004 and health pamphlets. There were too many people sitting nearby to talk about anything of substance with Patti. Since they weren't talking - I wasn't going to talk. The art on the wall was the typical waiting room art. They were prints / paintings that attempted to indicate that an artist was actually involved in their creation and that Doc had an art dealer procure them. The situation was somewhere between driving across Ohio and sitting in church on the misery index, but tolerable.

The misery meter went into the red when the series of commercials playing on the tinny sound system ended and Sail On by the Commodores, No Body Does It Better - Carly Simon and How Can You Mend a Broken Heart - Bee Gees were played. It was B105.7 , "Indy's Only (Thank God!) Soft Rock Station." I was powerless. No buttons were available to change the station or even turn it off. I was saved by another string of commercials and Barbie and Ken doing the weather report.

I can't grasp the concept of soft rock. Some purists limit rock to Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and the like. Even the loosest definition of rock includes no more than the Beatles. Rock is supposed to make you want to fight and fornicate. Soft rock is an oxymoron. It makes as much sense as a flacid dildo. But even as non-offensive, formula pop goes, the stuff I had to hear was the worst of the worst. It bit ass 30 years ago and chomps deeper with each playing.

The ride home with the sun roof open and XM Radio set to 101- "The Joint" was a far better way to spend a hot sunny afternoon. It almost cleared my brain. A Carly Simon song has a half-life of about 36 hours.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Wonder Dog

8:30 a.m.

Bosco bursts into the room. He's barking so loudly and furiously that I thought a cat sneaked into the room and was hiding under the bed. I walk over to Bosco and he leads me into the hallway. He continues to bark and trots to the back door. I let him out. The cat must be in the back yard. He circles back into the house, barks some more and leads me outside. Then he scurries to the fence where a work crew is installing a utility barn for the neighbors behind us. When he's convinced that I have seen the disturbance, he comes to my side and stops barking.

Lassie has nothing on my Bosco.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I've Been Everywhere, Man, I've Been Everywhere

The results of the vote for the revised Seven Wonders of the World have been announced. I have yet to travel to any of the seven. I'm somewhat embarrassed about this. I take little comfort in the fact that Johnny Cash probably missed out on them too.

The problem with the list is that very few voters have been to all the wonders let alone the scores of attractions that would be needed to fill an adequate list of nominees. My rule would be that you can only vote on places you've experienced first hand. With that being the qualification, the most wonderous thing I've seen is the Palace of Versailles. But I'm not going to talk about it. Rather....

While thinking about my seven wonders, I was reminded of one of the most jaw-dropping attractions I've ever seen.

It's pictured above and Frommer's description follows:

Munich's oldest church (1180), known locally as Old Peter, has turned over a new leaf, and it's a gold one at that. The white-and-gray interior has been decorated with gilded baroque accents and trompe l'oeil medallions. It contains a series of murals by Johann Baptist Zimmermann, but nothing tops the attraction of the bizarre relic in the second chapel on the left: the gilt-covered and gem-studded skeleton of St. Mundita. From its resting place on a cushion, it stares at you with two false eyes in its skull. Jewels cover the mouth of its rotten teeth, quite a contrast to the fresh roses usually kept in front of the black-and-silver coffin. The church also has a tall steeple, which you can climb. Colored circles on the lower platform tell you whether the climb is worthwhile: If the circle is white, you can see as far as the Alps

Hey, it's my list, and for now, St. Mundita and her expensive smile make the cut.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Blazing Sevens

It's July 7, 2007 (7-7-07) and I've got to ask myself a question: Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

No, I don't.

Apparently a number of people do feel lucky . I was amused when reading about all those flocking to Las Vegas to get married today. I'm sure the craps tables will be filled with those confident the sevens are restricted to come out rolls. The 7 horse in the 7th race will see lots of action. Many will go "all in" with pocket sevens. You'll have to get in line to play the Blazing 7 slots

On the way to St. Ives, I learned that sevens or any other number are neither blessed or cursed. On June 6 last year, I didn't read any reports of a multiheaded beast swooping down on Vegas and plucking up blackjack players like so many party nuts. The world didn't end on January 1, 2000. Bad things don't come in threes. Some of my best days have occurred on Friday the 13th.

The odds of making 7 on a come out roll are 1 in 6. This is true today, yesterday, last year, on Elvis' birthday, and on Earth's last day.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Holiday Report

It won't be the most memorable of Independence Days , but simple as it was, it will stand as one of the best.

We didn't go anywhere or had anyone over to visit. This is in contrast to the many years when we are out of town for the holiday.

Patti (Mrs. Sparkle) spent the afternoon making cotton nightgowns for our twin nieces. I was able to get outside and knock off a few small jobs that included mowing a big patch of grass that I missed the day before. Bumping off 8 or 9 nickel and dime chores is very satisfying to me. We got the grill out for $1.99 / pound boneless chicken breasts I thawed. The meal was enhanced when our neighbors (Hailing from Louisiana) gave us a big bag of southern style ribs.

Baseball on TV was only a mild bust, with the HD game being from the American League. At least the Yankees and / or Red Sox weren't on. Bosco and Smooch (resident critters) amused themselves for a couple hours by watching the neighbors behind us play beanbag.

Evening came and all those buy 1 get 5 free fireworks were set off around the area. Bosco and Smooch were pissed off at first and exhibited growling and barking, then turned on each other for a good chase and fight. Someone got nipped, yelped, and the combined 35 pounds worth of flying fur and fury was over. After that, they watched the fireworks for a few minutes before turning in for the night. Patti's sewing turned out very well and she treated herself to reading the entire newspaper while waiting for the east side to run out of ordinanace.

I had to fast for a routine blood test today, so the big early dinner served me well. Late last night, I knoocked off a few DVR shows I saved up and caught part of the TV marathons going on. A tall glass of ice water was refreshment enough.

It's good to be an American.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Add one can of water, heat, and serve.

I think it was an Arby's ad a year or two ago that suggested some of us need to move up to their adult food. The implication was that other fast food offerings like the standard hamburger at McDonald's should be looked on with disdain. You do want to be a mature adult, don't you?

This implies that anything that's served in restaurants that includes a crayon like macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza is kid food and should be likewise avoided. I hope none of you bought in to this bullshit. Food is food. There is no kids food outside of breast milk. Kids should be able to enjoy calamari and federal judges can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread whenever they want. Eating a six buck sandwich with a swirl of dark wheat in the bread, fancy lettuce, deli meat, and mayo mixed with mustard and paprika doesn't make you an aristocrat.

I took issue with such an ad campaign that touted some kind of chunky-assed, sophisticated sounding soup as being an adult soup. Frankly folks, my favorite soup is Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup . No, not the low sodium, or low fat variety, but the original recipe with the globules of chicken stock, the random specks of chicken and the numerous flavorless, but easy to negotiate, noodles. I eat a can of it about once a week.

M'm M'm Good.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Bad Beat

I traveled 50 miles to Muncie, Indiana every week for the last 4 years to play poker at a place simply called The Hold 'Em House. I knew just about every player by name. The floor staff and dealers were friendly and even on nights I didn't do well in the tournaments I had plenty of fun.

In Delaware county, poker was allowed because it was considered a game of skill much like a golf tournament. But the Indiana legislature and our rat bastard governer Mitch Daniels trumped the local laws and deemed any card game not played at a licensed casino to be illegal gambling. Mitch gets plenty of perks from the casino lobbyists who don't want the competition.

The Hold 'Em House closed last night when the new law went into effect. It was fun getting the 80 or so regulars together for one last big tournament. It was tough walking out the door for the last time.