This is the Mercury rocket I built for our grandson, Ayden. He doesn't have it yet so don't tell him!
The guitar shows the scale. It's 6 feet tall. It's made out of stuff from Home Depot. The body is 8" air conditioning duct, the capsule is a duct reducer, the fins are carved out of wood, the nose cone is a basement drainage screen-cap-thingy, and my favorite, an empty caulking tube (the red tower) is supported by dowel rods. The blast deflector that you can't see on the bottom of the engine is some air-vent doo-hickey that has really cool tabs that I bent to make it look like a nozzle. It took like 45 trips to Home Depot to figure what to use. The people there were always very helpful and asked if they could help me. What could I tell them? I'm building a Mercury Rocket. No. I just thanked them and cryptically replied, "Uh, no thanks, you wouldn't believe me if I told you what I was doing anyway." Now that I think about it, they probably went home at night and watched the news waiting to hear about some serial killer that built a weird contraption strictly from Home Depot parts. Never thought about that. Oops. Wasn't me. Just a rocket.
And now that it's done, I'm not sure how to get a 6 foot rocket in a 4 foot Kia. Hmmmmmmm.
Idea, I'll strap it to the top of the Kia and Sue and I can wear space helmets and pretend we're floating in space while we're driving. We can hang some Tang bottles from fishing line too, soundtrack to 2001 blaring on the CD player. Cool.
Now if I can just figure out how to get it on my daughter's Air Force Base without getting arrested for possession of an unlicensed thruster and orbiter...
You wouldn't believe the things I'm learning while on vacation. LOTS of useless TV facts. Last night (at 3 am) I watched a program about Giant Snakehead fish invading our rivers. Next time you go skinny dipping in California, New York or Minnesota - Willie and the Boys (or Amy and the Girls as the case may be) could come up missing unless you wear body armor.
Tonight I plan on watching the life-cycle of the Tibetan Donkey. It's a 3-parter.
Probably the finest and rarest set of handblown artglass clowns you will ever see because the little glass companion clown (we shall call him BoBo) hasn't been broken or lost. The little clown fits on top of the big one for bedside storage. And no, it's not for sale, so don't bother asking.
I will cherish it always, darling. At least until one of the diseases in the book you got me gets me.
It would be helpful at this juncture if you would start humming something like Frosty the Snowman to yourself as you read this... OK... doing it?... go:
1. Arrange all your materials before you begin. You will need: - Wrapping paper (no, wax paper is NOT a substitute, though aluminum foil DOES have a festive feel if you find yourself in a last-minute pinch) - transparent tape (duct tape is NOT a good substitute, nor is chewing gum) - scissors - a prefab bow (you don't EVEN want to try to make one of these suckers on your own) - box for the present - and the present, of course
2. Have a shot of bourbon. It will help set the holiday mood.
3. Roll out the paper and set the box on the paper. What? The paper keeps rolling up on itself? Have another shot of bourbon. This won't help keep the paper flat, but it will calm your nerves. Really, this is a simple task.
4. Set the box on the edge of the paper and as you roll out the paper, simply slide the box down the length of the paper. Voila!
5. Where the hell are the scissors? Did you look under the paper? There they are.
6. Cut the paper as straight as you possibly can.
7. OK, now fold the paper up until both sides overlap. What? The edges of the paper don't meet let alone overlap? Oh, crap you cut it too short! Have another shot of bourbon.
8. Repeat steps 4 through 7, but this time, roll out enough paper to wrap a Toyota.
9. OK! So now the paper overlaps. The next part is simple. But you should probably have a shot of bourbon to prepare yourself. Follow closely now, it's pretty easy: Crease the edge of the paper along the edge of the box, but fold the edge at exactly a 45 degree angle and then fold that edge at a 90 degree tangent to the perpendicular edge of the edge upon which you're working. Tape down that edge to the box. Now repeat that with the edge that is 180 degrees opposite of the edge you've just completed. When done with those two folds, if you've calculated your 45 degree angles precisely, there will result an equilateral triangle at the base of the side on which you are working. Simply fold that flap up 90 degrees and secure it with tape. You've just completed one side.
10. Have another shot. YEEHAA!
11. Look at the other side of the box, yes you get to do that side too. Repeat step 9.
12. Sure, do step 10 again too. YEEHAA!
13. Almost done! Try to remove the sticky paper from the back of the bow. Can't do it can you? Go get the sharpest knife in your kitchen. Try to insert the knife between the sticky stuff and the paper backing. Oops, now you've cut yourself. Have another bourbon as you bleed on the bow. And the package.
14. Stick the damn bow on the package, blood and all.
15. There the damn thing's all done.
16. Look over on the coffee table and notice that the present is NOT inside the box your just wrapped.
17. Finish the bottle of bourbon, wrapping the present in aluminum foil. It IS festive.
We'd gone to our favorite campground alongside a small river in Indiana. Just my wife and I and a couple of friends. One of our buddies couldn't make it but he sent along a "special" firework he'd purchased from a fellow. The only thing he told us was to be careful and that it wasn't the type of fireworks that was on the normal menu. This one came from under the counter.
Oh, goodie. I'm not real keen on fireworks anyway.
I don't remember, but I don't think it was the 4th of July, as a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure it wasn't because we didn't go to jail. We didn't go to jail because the campground wasn't crowded, so there were no witnesses. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
This particular firework, other than looking like a giant roman candle didn't look particularly nasty. Just BIG. It didn't even have the obligatory, "LIGHT AND GET AWAY." printed on it. The skull and cross bones might have been an indication of trouble though.
As the crickets cricketted and the river riverred, we nestled into our lawn chairs awaiting the short show. One of our extremely brave (or stupid, depending on how you look at it) friends volunteered to run off into the field and plant the firework with a super long length of model rocket fuse. He planted it about 100 yards away, thank God, lit it and dashed back. Arriving back, out of breath, he barely had time to settle in before off in the distance it POOFED into the sky like a pleasant little fairy's tail. Then ...
Satan spoke - BOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!!
and he spoke LOUDLY! It blew me backward out of my chair. OH MY GOD!!! This was the loudest thing I have ever heard. And I used to live on an Air Force Base at the edge of the runway --- I've seen Grandfunk Railroad in concert! This was a roman candle with a SERIOUS ATTITUDE!
We all scattered like bugs. I'm not sure what we did next. I don't remember for sure. I think we dumped the cooler on the fire. I KNOW we dove in our tents and hid. If there were Rangers anywhere in the tri-state region, they would have heard THAT. A deaf guy with his ears sewed shut would have heard THAT.
And Satan spoke again - BOOOOOMMMM!!!!!!
Oh, my GOD - it's got multiple shells!!!!
We shivered in the tent.
And again - BOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!
Make it stop, LORD, make the bad thing go away!!!!!!
Like 6 or 7 times, the Devil barked at us before he was silent.
BOOOOMMM!!!! BOOOOMMMM!!!! BOOOOOMMMM!!!!
The Rangers DID come by. We could see their flashlights shining on the sides of our tents. We pretended we were asleep or dead. I'm pretty sure they didn't hear anything in the tents because we'd stopped breathing. It worked. They left. Off to find the idiots that tried to blow up Indiana.
Thank you, God. Thank you for making the Devil go away.
My first car. As shown. Only full of holes from rust. Only cost $140 (the one in the picture is currently selling for a low, low $29,500 - damn the luck). A 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser with pushbutton TurboCruise Automatic Transmission. Yes, that's right, pushbutton transmission. And it was black and yellow just like the one in the picture. Cool. I was hot.
ONE of it's problems was the radiator. Actually not the radiator. The radiator was fine. I had to carry 20 to 30 feet of radiator HOSE with me at all times, about 15 gallons of water, several hose clamps and a complete tool kit. And about once a week, I'd have to replace the hose as it would BOOM! blow all over the place. I didn't bother with radiator fluid. It didn't hold it long enough to make it worth while.
But it ran. Most of the time.
A unique and unmistakable feature of this particular make of car were it's "horse-collar bumpers". They weighed about as much as the engine. My parents bought me the car. I think they bought me the car BECAUSE of the bumpers. It promised to make a good first car for an insane male 16 year old driver.
My high school was too small for the number of students enrolled, so they encouraged us to leave campus for lunch. We obliged them. This particular day I'm discussing, I'd left and had returned. No big deal. And I'd gone to class as usual. What was unusual was the note on my windshield when I returned after classes were finished. It said, quite simply, "Your car has been involved in an accident, please contact Captain Singer of the police force." It was on police force note paper. Gulp.
I looked at the car. I didn't remember hitting anything at lunch. I walked around the car. No dings (like there would be on this steel body or any would show in the rust). I DID seem to recall having parked it a few feet further back from where it was, but that was probably just my imagination. And nothing was gone from the inside. A radio knob was on the floor. How'd that get there? But everything seemed normal otherwise.
Now I'm spooked. What'd I do at lunch. Crap. Did I run over somebody and not see them? Oh my God. Am I a killer and don't know it? My brain's on fire now? What have I done? You fiend! Manslaughter. You'll be some inmate's boy-toy!
Better face the music. I called Captain Singer and squeeked out, "Hello. This is Rick. You left a note on my Mercury saying it was involved in an accident today. Did I do something wrong? ... No? ... He did what? ... He was drunk! ... He totaled his car on MY car? ... Really? ... No kidding. Cool! ... So I'm not in any trouble then, huh? ... Cool! ... No sir, no damage to my car, just knocked off the radio knob. ... Yes sir, BIG DAMN bumpers! ... Yes, I'm sure, I don't want to bring any charges ... Thank you, Officer. Good bye."
I hadn't run over anybody!!!!
A drunk guy had plowed into my parked Mercury, totaled his car and the only damage to my tank was it got pushed forward 3 feet and knocked off a radio knob. Didn't even scratch the bumper. At least we couldn't tell through all the rust.
It is with true regret that I show you this photo. Yes, I was with another girl many years ago. We shared a kiss, but it was only a one night affair. Actually, she was voted the Christmas Queen and I was the Court Geek. Or something like that. We were forced to kiss by the crowd. True. That’s the only way in hell you’d get me to kiss a member of the opposite sex back then. Acccht-phhhffffft!
What you can’t see, is the piss in my pants. The camera flash and the polyester probably interacted to render the stain invisible. Thank you, Lord.
Please, please, please understand she meant nothing to me.
It was just a one night stand.
At least I still have the plaid coat and ascot. I’ll wear it the next time I take you to Denny’s. Deal?
Please forgive me.
PS. To the girl in the picture. Whoever you are, wherever you are, I’m TRULY sorry you had to be seen standing next to me in THIS photo. I hope the slide rule in my shirt pocket didn’t poke you too badly.
The Big 3 auto auto makers have inspired me. My employers have inspired me. I've become cash conscious. No more money guzzling for me, no siree. In the future, when I travel around the country on assignment, no more of those fancy SouthWest jets. This is my new method of transportation - 450,000 mpc (miles per dilithium crystal).
OK. The price of cars compels me to say something about this. The bastards in their SUV’s that think they own the road while they SUCK gasoline out of the planet COMPEL me to speak…
Screw the Big 3. They’re on the Hill today whining to Congress about how they want some of what their Big Brother Bankers got. Screw them too.
Why do I offer this volatile opinion? One, nobody reads this blog anyway, so I really don’t care if I offend anyone (besides I’ve reached that cranky stage in life where I’m supposed to sit in the corner and mumble to myself incoherently, which I do). And two, I heard more bullshit on the news today that further toasted my tortillas, which is what this rant is about. And if you are that one person that reads my crap, you’ll notice I usually focus on humor as I hate dealing with this crap. On with the crap:
Remember when the bastards from GM, Ford and Chrysler flew to appear before the Big Wigs in Washington? – Flew in private jets to ask for 25 gazillion dollars of your and my money so THEY (poor paupers) wouldn’t go broke (BASTARDS!)? And then when they got there, Congress asked them a simple, logical question, what are you going to do with the money? They hadn’t a clue. THAT should have told Congress something right there. But no, Congress gave them what every spoiled, undeserving child wants, the coveted “do-over”. Go home boys, actually THINK this time, make up some shit, put it on paper so when we give you the money we won’t look quite so stupid. OK? So off they scurried, back to Detroit.
Well, they caught a lot of crap about the private jet thing. Their perception of the public must be pretty bad if they think they can fly in on a private, $5-million Lear jet, with a stocked bar, movies, fine dining, etc. and think nobody’s going to pay any attention to the fact that they say they’re “hurting for money”. Duh.
Last week, one of them, I don’t remember which, filed papers with the FAA allowing them to NOT make their flight plans public. Hmmm. No deception there, huh. That helps us trust you already untrustworthy jerks.
Today, a week later, they all drove hybrids to Washington. Yep. Well, that’s what we wanted them to do, right?
Ever heard of Greyhound a**holes? Now THAT’S the way folks that are barely hanging on and are needing to borrow $25 gazillion dollars SHOULD travel. Or why don’t all three of you Hybrid share? I’d love to see all three of their tubby asses stuffed in that Hybrid, smelly feet on the dash, Burger King bags on the floor. GM snoring in the back seat. Chrysler at the wheel because he won't let anyone else drive and Ford trying to get everyone else to join in on "Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall". That would do my heart so much GOOD!!! It does my heart good just visualizing it.
I wanna puke. I mean seriously. How f**king transparent can they be? How stupid can we be?
Have you ever seen the movie Mystery Men? GREAT film! Super heroes with dubious super-powers like the Spleen (Paul Ruebens) who’s power is the ability to fart and empty a room; Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller) has the uncanny ability to throw temper tantrums, often on tabletops or the hood of vehicles, usually to no avail.
And then we have Invisible Boy (played by Kel Mitchell). His talents are as listed: Powers/Abilities: Able to turn invisible, but only when no one is looking at him and when he is naked.
These jokers from Detroit remind me of Invisible Boy. While you’re watching them, it’s quite clear what they’re up to. When you’re NOT watching them, they’re running amok.
For God’s sake. Do they really think anyone on this planet actually thinks they’re going to get back in the hybrids to RETURN to Detroit once the sheep (baaaaaah) in Congress give them their gazillion dollars. Oh hell no.
Do the letters AIG strike any chords with anyone? Different industry, same invisible, naked guys.
I’m done. Going back to my corner to mumble. And pay my f**king taxes.
I used to drink. A lot. I don't drink anymore. This is just one of the million reasons why:
My wife and I were on a cruise. It was the middle of the night. She was sick, so I'd tucked her in to bed and had ventured out on my own like the song goes "the ruler of the night". Well not really, but it sounds cool. Do they really say, "Wrapped up like a douche, you know the ruler of the night?" I don't listen to lyrics very well.
Anyway. Alone. Drinking. Gambling. Hungry. 4 bad states for me to be in. By about 4:30 in the morning, I'm predictably wrecked. The boat is swaying, but I'm right in tune as I'm swaying in time to it. I stagger back to the room.
And I climb into the upper bunk being careful to not awaken my wife. Yes, I'm a cheap shit, bunk beds.
Then the thought hits me, must have BLT's.
So I climbed back down to use the phone, how I managed to not wake her or break my neck is a mystery.
If you've never been on a cruise ship, I'll tell you now, one of the COOLEST things about a cruise is that you can eat 24 hours a day for free. Room service is free. And they'll bring you anything they have and as much as you want as long as you tip them. So the person on the other end of the room service line never faltered when I ordered seven BLT's. Why seven? Hell, I don't know. I was hungry. They were free. And I'd just finished gambling (though I NEVER bet on 7).
So I climb BACK up the ladder to the bunk. And promptly pass out.
Knock at the door. OH, SHIT! DON'T WAKE UP MY WIFE! I clamber back down the ladder not killing myself again. Open the door and there stands the room service guy with a large mistake on my part. I hadn't visualized how much food seven BLT's actually was. The guy glances past me (he could see the entire room it was so small) sees just my wife sound asleep, sees my drunken ass, looks at the HUGE tray of BLT's and I'd love to know what he was thinking.
I hand him a tip. And off I go with food in hand. I slide the tray, which more resembles the hood of a 57 Chrysler onto the top bunk, I scramble up the ladder, nestle in next to the tray and prepare for my feast.
The next morning, I don't feel too good. My head is doing the boingy-boingy thing and I can't remember a whole lot about last night. And there's this god-awful smell. As my eyes open, "Ahhhh!" I'm face-to-face with an alien shape. It's a BLT. I bolt upright. Now my head REALLY hurts and is screaming at me, "MOVE SLOWLY DUMBASS!". As my eyes adjust, I discover I'm surrounded by a posse of seven BLT's and only one of them has a single bite taken out of it. I hadn't eaten any of them before I passed out, but I had managed to thrash about in them as I fitfully slept, so they were scattered everywhere. I hadn't eaten them, I was wearing them.
OK. You're driving your car down the street at 45 miles per hour and a tree jumps out in front of you - hey, it happens - if you're NOT wearing a seat belt, you're toast (you might be toast even if you ARE wearing a seat belt). Almost everything in your car IS toast as it slams into you, the dash or anything that stops it from its headlong forward rush.
Almost everything that is.
Why don't you see flies smashed on the windshields of car wrecks in junk yards? Do flies not only fly fast, but also think fast enough to say to themselves in flyeeze, "Oh, shit, that tree's jumping in front of us, FLY BACKWARD, FLY BACKWARD!" WHAMMMMM! "Whew. That was a close one. Hey, what's everybody doing smooshed against the windshield?"
Go on. Go to the junk yard and look at the wrecked cars. And if the guy with "Bob" on his shirt asks you just what in the "heck yur doin'," I dare you to tell him. Oh please, please, please, please tell him. And then let me know what he does or says.
Our guests in their clever 1940's costumes enjoy a little radio-active cake. Notice the matching, atomic hat? Cool.
First, let me explain I am appalled that we are the only country to have actually dropped atomic weapons on another country. Two, not just one. I wasn't around back then so, of course, don't understand the sentiment involved. It's just wrong.
But on to my Halloween atomic bomb story.
It was Halloween, otherwise, it would just be your plain old atomic bomb story. We knew how to throw Halloween parties. We had an actual hearse in the front yard, a coffin hanging from the hearse, etc. None of this cardboard cutout stuff, mind you, the real deal death wagon and box.
Really cool costumes too. The friends we hung with were almost all into science fiction conventions and costuming. Not the Spock ear crap, but intricate, medieval weapons, armor, or fantasy boots, clothing, etc. Good costumes. Weird stuff, but good costumes. Made even better after about 2 or 30 drinks.
And as with most of my pre-recovery parties, there was far more booze than pretzels.
A friend of ours had invented a strange Halloween concoction he called "Strange Brew" after the infamous Cream song. And strange it was. It had ALL the white liquors in it. Pineapple juice, lime sherbet, Sprite and the crowning glory - chunks of dry ice. And as Engineer Scott used to say, "It's green, Captain!"
Now, if you swallow a big chunk of it, dry ice will PROBABLY screw you up, if not kill you. The Brew Master was pretty careful with it though. He would put it in one tennis ball size chunk at a time for a couple of hours before the party. He prepared the "Brew" in a 5 gallon industrial paint can festooned with biohazard symbols and warnings. But what made Strange Brew a legacy throughout sci-fi-dom in the Midwest was the constant stream of steam it put off that trailed over the lip of the can on all sides, down the can and across the floor. Like a scene from Swamp Thing. When we made Brew in our room at sci-fi conventions, there was no need to advertise the fact that we were having a party, the steam trailing into and down the hotel hall was advertising enough. The fans POURED into our room. They loved us.
But this particular evening, we're in my house on Chippewa. The lights are low. The Brew is flowing. The costumes are great. The neighbors are pissed. And oh yeah, forgot to tell you one important thing, this particular batch of Brew has been prepared in a large cast iron witch's cauldron in the middle of my living room. Hey, we broke tradition ONE time for the sake of authenticity.
So anyway, the party is in FULL swing, and the Brew-Master discovers we have a 10 pound block of dry ice left, but not much Brew. So we decide to WOW the crowd with home-made pyrotechnics.
It is at this point that I MUST insert the obligatory - DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME. WHAT YOU'RE ABOUT TO READ WAS DONE BY UNPROFESSIONAL DUMB ASSES AND YOU COULD GET HURT OR DIE AS YOU'LL SEE - READ ON. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!
I boil a couple gallons of water.
He puts the 10 pound block of dry ice in the cauldron.
We call all the guests around to watch as the Halloween Ice Follies begin. The anticipation builds. Ooooooo ...!!!
We didn't plan on what happened.
When the boiling water hit the giant, 10 pound Snowball from Hell, it got pissed. REAL pissed.
Have you ever seen any of those Discovery Channel films where they show atomic explosions? The blast starts as a vertical column, goes straight up, but rises faster on the inside of the column than the outside so it curls under creating the infamous mushroom cloud? It did that. Ours was ceiling height, 8 foot tall, by about 12 feet in diameter. And with all the weird lighting we had in the house anyway, it was spectacular. It rose in a vertical column, curled over on itself and made an incredible mushroom cloud!
We stood there stunned. Actually friggin' stunned. It was the COOLEST thing I'd ever seen. Well not really, but pretty damn close. Silence. Utter silence. No one expected it to be that incredible. We're talking Hollywood shit! Then we all started clapping (those guests wearing fur animal hands began thumping).
But the Snowball from Hell wasn't done.
Next, it went into exact reverse.
Silence again as we watched.
The mushroom cloud sucked back in on itself and collapsed back into the cauldron. Then it spilled across the floor in all directions.
And that's when all the coughing and dizziness started.
Every guest in the house RAN gagging from the approaching cloud like a scene from the movie The Fog. We HAD to get outside because the mushroom cloud had sucked the oxygen out of the house. We were passing out. Serves us right.
So there we stood in the front yard, bloody nurses, ghouls, warriors, pirates, all coughing and hacking next to a hearse. My wife, the Brew-Master and I waited a bit, aired out the house and we allowed everyone to return. But the party just didn't have the same zing as it did during the explosion.
At least we didn't get arrested. Interesting considering the Mayor was my next door neighbor. Once again, true story.
The first time I saw the film, National Lampoon’s Vacation, actually ANY of the Vacation films they produced, I laughed of course, but it twanged one of my memory chords and reminded me that truth really CAN be stranger than fiction.
It all started out as a simple family trip to Chicago. We left our driveway and the trip disintegrated from there.
We spent a really fun evening with a life-long family friend in Joliet, a suburb of Chicago. My first wife, our daughters and I really enjoyed our visit with Mary and Jim. They offered to let us spend the night, but we’d already made plans and had booked a room at a local motel - a hostelry of the sort where you park your car outside your door. Like a two-story building of laboratory rat cubicles. Only these were painted in those god-awful hotel colors, dusty-green, camelhair-tan and mauve. Actually, I say it was mauve, but does ANYBODY really know what color mauve is? Do you? I’m an artist and haven’t a clue. I think it’s a color invented by Crayola mixing all the different leftover colors of wax they had laying around - “What are we going to call it?” “How about Mauve?” “Mauve? What the hell’s Mauve?” “Does it matter?” “No.” So mauve it is.
Back to the hotel from hell. Fortunately, we would be sleeping most of our time in this decorator’s nightmare. The plan was to get up in the morning, do our morning things, catch a bite to eat somewhere and go to the train station where we would catch our train and begin our family frolic into the Windy City. Woo-woo!
Life has a way of changing your plans.
Rather than waking to the sound of an alarm clock, I stirred from my sleep because of a Hollywood-like dream. In the dream, there was a helicopter outside our door circling our building. And from it, a loud speaker was announcing “THIS IS THE POLICE. EVERYONE NEEDS TO EVACUATE THE PREMISES IMMEDIATELY. THERE HAS BEEN A TOXIC SPILL AND A DANGEROUS CHEMICAL CLOUD IS APPROACHING!” The dream must have come from my childhood remembrance of a movie in which giant brains with tentacles in them floated around a ski-resort in the Swiss Alps killing everyone in sight. (No, I’m not making that up. It’s a real movie.) Parents used to let their children watch that kind of thing back when I was a kid. And you wonder why the Baby Boomers are so screwed-up?
Anyway, the dream became annoying as I wanted to sleep, not evade toxic clouds occupied by meat-craving brains, but the dream was relentless, the helicopter kept circling and the bullhorn kept blasting.
And then the realization hit me. I wasn’t asleep. The brains probably weren’t on the prowl, but there certainly WAS someone making announcements from a circling helicopter outside our hotel. Oh, shit.
I’ve noticed, a lot of my essays contain the phrase, “Oh, shit.” I don’t say that to be gross. I don’t say it to make you think I’m tougher than I actually am (which I’m not). I use those words because they’re appropriate and accurate. I’ll try to watch my language from here on, but can’t guarantee anything. When you get to THOSE words, just put your fingers in your ears as you read them. Be sure to take a picture of yourself doing so and send it to me. Please. I’d LOVE to see that.
Anyway, back to the airborne cops. They were yelling basically to get out. Leave. Depart. Quickly.
So, still in our nightclothes, my wife and I grabbed the kids, ran them to the car and while she strapped them in, I returned to the room to get our luggage. And as I got to the car, I got a whiff of really strong bleach. Bleach from hell. Once again, oh, shit.
As fate would have it, a tanker truck carrying chlorine gas, a HIGHLY toxic, kill-your-ass-gas had been t-boned at the intersection next to our hotel room, releasing a toxic cloud that was casually wafting through the neighborhood seeking victims. Just like my dream. Only no brains.
We drove. Quickly. And made our escape. Whew.
Life wasn’t done playing with us yet.
We made it to the train station, still in our sleeping clothes. I guess folks in Chicago are used to seeing that sort of thing because no one looked at us oddly when we changed out clothes, brushed our teeth and did our morning things in our respective Grand Central Station restrooms (or whatever they call the Joliet train station).
Then we boarded the train. On to Chicago at last! OH, THIS IS GOING TO BE FUN!
An odd fellow sat down in front of us and promptly turned around. He began talking. He didn’t shut up for the next 75 minutes. As a matter of fact, he was enthralled by our daughters. Enthralled in a creepy-raise-Dad’s-antennae sort of way. He wasn’t asking my wife and I questions, just our kids. I began to fidget. He was being pleasant enough, but just really strange. Isn’t it sad that in our society someone being pleasant with children raises our suspicions about their intent? My suspicions were at Defcon 1, or is that Defcon 4? Whichever’s the one that closest to mushroom-cloud time.
The guy never said anything that would cause me to remove his head with blunt force. But I spent the entire trip a nervous bundle of overprotective father just WAITING to nuke this guy.
But as the train pulled into our stop, I breathed a sigh or relief. And then he got off the train WITH us. Grrrr…
I’d like to use another word to reenact my thoughts at that exact moment, but I don’t want you piercing your eardrums with your fingers. So let’s just assume I said, “Oh, fiddlesticks.” I don’t know what a fiddlestick is. Don’t want to. And this is the first time I’ve ever uttered or typed the word (actually, I used it in the subhead, catchy, huh?). There, your eardrums and sensibility are saved.
So the guy starts following us. My Dad Antennae have now become twin destructive laser beam devices poised to attack this guy if he so much as blinks at us.
For the next hour, we couldn’t shake the schmuck. And I’m too passive a fellow to say, “GET THE FIDDLESTICKS OUT OF HERE!” Yes, make the word substitution for accuracy if you’d like.
But I DO come up with fairly intelligent plans at times. This was one of those lucky times, I caught him in the old, “Which way are you going?” ploy. When he indicated he was headed left, I pointed out that it had been a REAL pleasure listening to him blab the whole way from Joliet to Chicago, but we were headed to the RIGHT!
Believe it or not, it worked. Lost him at last. On with the vacation.
Uh, life wasn’t done rearranging things yet. Even after a chemical spill evacuation and creepy-guy.
The internet was still in it’s infancy back then. I was one of those pioneers and had an internet connection. But it was $8 an hour to connect. And the speed was 28.8kbps. For those of you that are electronically challenged like me, 28k means SLOW. Oil-based paint dries much faster than the internet moved back then. So I hadn’t fully explored the parameters of this trip. That’s a really LONG way of saying that when we finally GOT to the Chicago Museum of Art, one of the greatest art museums in the world, we discovered it was only open for another 45 minutes - today was the only day of the week that it closed early.
Remember me mentioning National Lampoons Vacation series of films? In European Vacation, the Griswold’s are forced to tour the Louvre in Paris in about the same amount of time afforded us at the Chicago Museum. There’s a funny scene in which Clark and his family spend about 2 seconds looking at each famous painting before side-stepping to the next. I don’t think that scene’s so funny anymore.
But, we DID get a REALLY quick tour of the museum.
And a couple of months ago, I asked one of our daughters if she remembered the creepy guy on the train. She doesn’t remember him. Or the chemical spill. But she DOES remember going to Chicago.
So although life may be fiddlesticked-up at times, all is well.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone that never happened?
I don’t mean the kind where you’re talking to the little blue people that visited your bedside last night (I’ve had those too), but the kind where you’ve had a conversation with a real person, but you really never had that conversation? —At least NOT according to the other person?
My great grandfather used to do that – he’d just sit there in a world of his own and suddenly burst into conversation about something no one was discussing. He wasn’t senile. He just didn’t wish to participate in this world. Apparently, it’s hereditary.
It’s kind of like an old film movie that breaks in the middle of the show, then the projectionist fixes it, but threads in a different movie. And the audience doesn’t notice that the actors and plot have changed.
1. Go to bed at 9:00 pm Monday night, get plenty of sleep so you can make a rested, rational decision on Election Day. 2. Set alarm for 6:00 am. Polls open at 6:00 am in Indiana, this way there may be a voter line, but you will still have 2 hours to get through it and still make it to work by 8:00 am. 3. When alarm sounds, hit snooze repeatedly until it’s 6:12. 4. Panic because you’ve now blown your schedule by sleeping 12 minutes late. 5. Brush teeth in panic. While doing so, notice clock on bathroom wall says it’s 6:30, not 6:12. AAAHHHH! No time to figure out which one is correct, must assume the later one is correct. GET MOVING!!! 6. Wonder why wife is still sleeping soundly at 6:15, she usually gets up at 5:45. So sneak out of house, not waking wife or the pugs, and back out of drive with car lights out so as not to wake slumbering sweetheart. Almost hit mail box. Almost hit neighbor’s mailbox. Turn on car lights. 7. Drive 900 feet to the school/voting place. 8. Notice no lights are on at the school or in the parking lot at 6:17, but there are cars in the parking lot. Aha, they must be inside voting. Drive around the dark parking lot trying to find a close parking space that doesn’t have a dark blue handicapped sign painted on the dark black lot. Don’t notice that there are people sitting IN the cars in the parking lot. 9. While doing so, notice clock in car shows that it’s 5:17. Whu? Look at new watch on wrist that you reset to proper time Saturday when you bought it. Notice that the new watch is not luminous so you can’t read it in the dark. Turn on dome light and notice that you made a purchasing decision based on vanity rather than practicality because you can’t tell what time it is as the watch has a black face and only shows the 3, 6, 9, and 12 locations. But it’s a REALLY COOL watch. Decide to trust car clock remembering now that the time changed yesterday (daylight savings) – “FALL BACK in the FALL”. You're early, not late. Duh. 10. Try to figure out what to do for next 43 minutes. 11. Go buy donuts and coffee at the other corner. 12. Return to polling place. 13. Now there’s a line. And LOTS of cars in the lot. 14. Start reading book you strategically brought to pass the time. Notice that as you’ve been reading the book for the last 2 minutes, 10 cars have pulled into the lot. 15. Decide that you are now risking missing work by reading as the line is getting longer. 16. 5:42, go get in line to vote. 17. Tell woman standing in line next to you story about the .357 magnum bullet you accidentally carried on board a commercial jet liner last year in your purse (see previous blog/post The Magic Bullet Theory for bullet story). Decide that’s probably NOT the best story to be telling a stranger and everyone within hearing distance, especially when you try to explain why a male is carrying a purse. 18. Shut up and vote. 19. Drive to work. 20. Sign in clock at work shows a different time from all the other clocks you’ve seen this morning. Decide knowing that it’s Tuesday is good enough. Screw what time it is. 21. Ponder, all day, how you made it to work the day before on Monday at 7:15 am. You must have thought you were late (8:15), but were actually an hour earlier than you thought and didn’t notice it all day. Wonder how that can happen. Go back to being satisfied with knowing that today is Tuesday, but VOW to change alarm clock tonight. Will you remember? Probably not.
I picked up a fellow in Louisville to take him to a meeting. As we were getting in my car, I noticed something shiny on the street next to my tire. I picked it up. Shit. It was a bullet. A BIG bullet. A BIG, SILVER bullet stamped .357 on the base. Being a good citizen, I didn't want to leave it laying around so any kids could find it, hit it with a hammer and accidentally shoot someone or blow off a finger or some other such mentally concocted horror.
So I put it in my purse. (See picture) Yes, I carry a purse. I have carried one since about 1980. Women have this all figured out. You can get a LOT of crap in a purse. And even though I'm a black belt in Taekwondo, I'd rather smack the shit out of an attacker with my 15 pound purse than actually try the hand to hand thing.
So, bullet in purse, I drove off to the meeting. And promptly forgot about the bullet.
Now let's go forward a month. I travel as part of my job. I was standing at a soft drink machine in a hotel in Atlantic City and was getting change out of my purse when I noticed something shiny in my purse. The bullet. I'd forgotten about it. Then a shock wave of panic and anxiety hit me like a tsunami - I'D ALMOST CARRIED THE DAMN THING THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY. Phew. Close call. Then, like all good waves, the tsunami returned, "I DID CARRY THE DAMN THING THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY - when I left Louisville to come to Atlantic City!!! Phew. Another close call. TSA hadn't wrestled me to the ground and tore the purse from my cold, clammy hands.
Tsunami wave three - what the hell do I do with the bullet?! I can't put it in a trash can. Some poor, unsuspecting garbageman, probably a father of eleven, would hit the crunch button on the garbage truck and shoot himself and it would be ALL my fault!!! Shit! What do I do.
I've never been recognized as one that comes up with brilliant decisions. This is another good example. I chose to take it to the front desk of the hotel. Why? I have no clue. Maybe I could make it THEIR problem, not mine. So I quietly beckoned to the front desk guy to come over so we could talk. I explained as best I could that I'd found a .357 magnum bullet on the street, put it in my purse, and need to go to the airport where that's a no-no ... would he please take it? Now I know the look that an extraterrestrial must get when requesting, "Take me to your leader." The guy looked at me like I was nuts. Bullet. Guy carrying a purse. I could see his mental machinery shutting down. He looked at the bullet as if it was a miniature atomic bomb and refused to touch it. He called security.
Out walk three guys with no necks, just heads glued onto Chevy-sized bodies. They didn't look happy. And they were talking on their radio thingies. I imagined they were saying, "Terrorist in sight," or some such thing.
They also had ZERO sense of humor. I tried very pleasantly to explain the bullet, good Samaritan, purse thing again, leaving out the part about having found it on a street in Louisville (I figured even a human Chevy could figure out that I'd carried it on a plane, so I just kind of omitted that information). I even played dumb and asked, "Is this a .357?" I figured stroking their security egos would not be a bad thing. "Yes. It's a .357," one of the Chevy's clinically replied.
And now it was time for the big question, "Would you take it and dispose of it for me?"
Instead of being arrested as I had fantasized, they took the bullet and all three of them walked off with it as if they'd found the bullet that shot JFK.
My cab showed up and I got the hell out of there.
But I couldn't help whispering to the TSA officer when I got back to Louisville that I'd accidentally carried a bullet through HIS security gate, that he MIGHT want to mention that to someone. He said he would at a meeting they were having tomorrow.
I suspect they reviewed tapes of my committing the crime and I'd bet my photo is hanging in a back room of the Louisville International Airport with a caption, Suspected Terrorist - WATCH this guy!
Post note: I almost did it again! This time, there were fellows visiting my office from Florida. They went outside to take a cigarette break and when the came back in, dropped a shiny, copper-colored thing on my desk that clunked when it hit. Another bullet. They explained that they'd found it outside in a pigeon. It was an armor-piercing round that someone decided to test out on a pigeon.
1. I don't feel so secure when coming into work early any more. Anyone dumb enough to test out an armor piercing round on a pigeon may decide to try it on bigger game.
2. I put it in my purse. But a week later remembered it was in there and removed it. Thank God, I'm going to Phoenix next week --- IF the guys with the armor-piercing guns don't get me first.
For those of you who think I’m just paranoid, because I’ve publicly voiced my theory last night about the Mouse having taken over, two things:
1. I pity you. You’re too far gone. You’re in the rodent’s clutches and there is no hope for you. 2. Above, I show you photographic proof that the fuzzy fiend has indeed sent his henchmen to do me in.
As I closed my blog last night, I could hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet outside my Disney door. I had to leave you to go save myself. Obviously, I survived the night. How? A simple yet diabolical plan if I do say so myself. I crawled back and forth from the DO NOT DISTURB sign on my door to the shaded window yowling and hissing like a deranged cat. This went on for hours. Eventually, the mouse lost interest in me and moved on to another victim. I fooled him once. I doubt I can do it again.
But as it turns out, the mouse had just regrouped to reformulate his attack.
Having had only a couple of hours of sleep, I packed my room this morning and calmly headed toward the lobby of the hotel to prepare for my escape from Mousville. But the night left me not only tired, but physically drained. Food. Must have food. Twenty dollars later, I settled down to my sweet roll and chocolate milk. I chose a deceptively peaceful seat by the lake (I believe Granny would have called it the Ceement Pond). As I was enjoying my exorbitantly priced sweet roll, I heard a scream from nearby. True. It was a child in terror. I thought the idea in mouseville was to answer the dreams of all kids. That’s what “they” say anyway. Well, this kid was having a nightmare rather than a dream. There, in the too calm waters of the ceement pond, six feet from where I sat, lurked two black eyeballs. Like the dead eyes of a doll.
The mouse had launched an amphibious, amphibian attack! Gators in the ceement pond! Three of them - and they were HUGE - they had to be 4 maybe 5 inches long!
And as with all well-planned offensive attacks, the mouse general also sent the air force, evil black fighters with beady black eyes descended on me from above and began pecking my table. I think they were dancing and chanting.
As I’m being attacked by both air and sea, I muttered to myself, “You should have kept your mouth shut last night about the Mouse Conspiracy. Now you’re DOOMED!”
I lept from my chair nearly knocking over a concrete trash can (with a mouse silhouette on it) in my haste to escape. Had I brought a suitcase on the trip, I would have left it, but I was able to snatch my backpack and camera off the lakeside table and make a run for it.
Dodging dive-bombing birds from all sides and gators snapping at my ass, I threw open the door to the lobby of the hotel. Safe for now. I get on the mouse bus in an hour or so, surely I can find something to do INSIDE without going back out THERE!
But I don’t think the mouse is done with me yet.
Oddly enough, thinking back on it, as I was running for cover, I think the kids were laughing. Probably at me. Brainwashed by the mouse at such a young age.
It's amazing the impact one of the planet's smallest creatures can have on the human race. What creature? The mouse.
I'm in Orlando on an assignment with my coworker, Mandy. Mandy and her husband, Bill, are here because they love to feed the mouse. Yes, Mandy, you ARE obsessed with the rodent. We all have our obsessions, mine is little Japanese trees, yours is a mouse. That's neither good nor bad, not judging here. Just a somewhat twisted observation.
I'm an old conspiracy theory kind of guy. I believe there is really only ONE company in charge of the world. That single company just gives us tens of thousands of smaller company names to throw us off. They actually own them ALL. EVERY business on this planet. What company is it that rules the world? General Motors? Definitely NOT after last week's stock market plunge. AIG? Uh, no. Here's my theory - the Mouse is in the House. The White House that is. At the bottom of the US Government and all its businesses lies the mouse. That damned mouse.
You see, it's all a BIG conspiracy. Mickey has been brain-washing us for years, "Give me your money. Give me your money." He started back in the mid 1900's, when I was just a wee lad. Ever heard the Mickey Mouse Club song? "Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? M-I-C. K-E-Y. M-O-U-S-EEEEE!" Once you sing that little ditty, you CANNOT erase it from your mind. It's like indelible ink on the soul. Only a lobotomy will remove it.
The mouse is EVERYWHERE! Especially in Orlando! Even the PILOT of the jet I flew on to get here prefaced his spiel with, "We'll be heading to the House of the Mouse today." That's scary. Right or wrong, our country has separation of church and state; pilots who are responsible for hundreds of lives should NOT refer to Orlando as the House of the Mouse. It's scary.
In short, who or what is responsible for the soaring cost of gasoline? I believe it's the mouse. The stock market crash? The mouse. Mankind's inhumanity to mankind? The mouse.
Now I don't know just how the little creature is pulling it off, but hey, if an ant can move a rubber tree plant, well, I rest my case.
I'm staying OP (that's Disney for On-Property). So naturally, the mouse is emblazoned EVERYWHERE! The buses, the carpets, the toilet paper ... I'm actually seeing the silhouette of a mouse in things where it's not! I SWORE I saw a mouse shape in a sailor's knot in a restaurant tonight. Mandy, who has mice on her SHOES, insists I was just seeing things, that it was just a sailor's knot. I KNOW better. The mouse can't fool me. I see him in the wallpaper. Cracks in the concrete. He's all around us.
And as I write this in my Disney hotel room, I swear I can hear the pitter-patter of little mouse feet just outside my hotel room door. He's coming to silence me.
My former coworkers (Tom, Scott, Sam) and I were in San Francisco editing the animation on a television commercial we'd developed. Things were going well. So well, in fact, we celebrated that night. Don't remember where. There's a good reason I don't remember.
Anyway, after we left the bar, uh, animation studio, it was dark, but we wanted to visit the Golden Gate Bridge. We could see it in the distance, so we just kind of headed toward it without a map or directions.
I have no clue how we wound up on the street we were on, but it looked like a pretty cool street, it was surrounded by trees and gardens so we assumed we were likely entering Golden Gate Park.
But as we drove further down the street, we noticed it was getting narrower.
Here, in Indiana like many other rural states, we have narrow roads in the country. But nothing quite like this one lane road we found ourselves on in Golden Gate Park. Our rental car barely fit on the concrete. And the further we went. The worse it got.
And then we saw the strangest guardrails we'd ever seen. They almost looked like handrails.
Probably because they WERE handrails.
We'd somehow wound up on the sidewalk to an arboretum near the bridge and thinking it was a street, drove down the sidewalk. Fortunately, as it was after dark and the place was closed, we didn't mow anybody down.
Getting out of there wasn't easy. I mean it's a nice looking place so we didn't want to drive on the grass, so we had to back out the whole way. In the dark.
ZHENGZHOU, China, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Passengers in Zhengzhou, China, say they had to push a 20-ton airplane to the terminal after it flew 500 miles and broke down after landing.
Passengers were summoned to help after an airport tow truck broke down and airport staff couldn't budge Shandong Airline's CRJ7 passenger plane, which flew from Guilin in the south of China with 69 passengers and seven crew members aboard, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.
The plane landed safely before the engine failed on the runway in Zhengzhou, the Telegraph reported, noting it took nearly two hours to push the jet to its final destination.
"Thank God it was only a 20-ton, medium-sized plane," one airport worker told The Sun. "if it were a big plane, it would have knocked us out."
When I was a kid, I made a decision. It wasn't a bad decision, nor was it a particularly good one either. I chose to NOT be a Blue Person.
Those blue guys that play musical instruments weren't around back then. At least they weren't on television. As a matter of fact, TV wasn't around back then. OK, now I'm depressed. Back on subject:
The blue people I was decidedly NOT going to be like were the folks in the Superman comic books. Comics used to be printed on crappy paper using less-than-cutting-edge printing techniques, even for back then. So there was no subtle shading. Shading was accomplished ingeniously by using solid colors or a series of solid colors. When people were in shadow, they were not painted as black, that would be boring. Instead, the basic shape and deepest shadows were inked in black and the artist typically used bright blue for the shadow regions. Never noticed that? Check out Clark Kent's black hair. Grab an old comic and you'll see. It may cost you a couple hundred bucks to grab one ... actually, I'm not going to get into the discussion of valuable comics, I've already mentioned depression. I lost all of my comics. Except a copy of Richie Rich. Big deal. And used my baseball cards in the spokes of my bike. Duh.
So anyway, Superman was always perched atop a gleaming tower of steel and he was always brightly colored (unless he was passed-out somewhere with a Kryptonite hangover, then he was blue too). The huddling masses below, the common folks, were cloaked in shades of blue. Thus, blue people. Hey, it made sense to a nine year old. And it kind of makes sense now.
That was NOT going to be for me.
So I set about not necessarily to be Superman, but in a reversal of the accepted road-to-success process, to NOT be NOT successful.
And it's thinking like that, that has me so screwed-up.
Draw what ever moral values (or lack thereof) from that if you'd like. Knock yourself out. I've spent a fortune in therapy trying to figure it out. It's just easier to assume I'm nuts and let it go at that.
And to this day, I will NOT wear blue. Except for denim.
1970 - I’m an Army brat. My father is a retired Lt.Colonel in the US Army. At the time, he was the CO (that’s Army talk for Commanding Officer) of an ammunition plant in the midwest. They no longer make ammunition there, I think they’re turning it into a shopping mall or something.
Coming from a military family, I’m used to Post Housing. Cinder blocks, usually pale green, cheap linoleum floors and about as much ambiance as an Operating Room. This particular assignment, however, was unlike any other we had seen. Sure, we spent 6 years in Germany, France and England, but nothing compared to this place. The “Housing Area” on the ammunition plant is known as River Ridge. Good reason for that. Our home, which was a mansion, sat on a cliff overlooking 12-mile Island in the Ohio River. We were surrounded by acres and acres of beautiful, rolling fields of grass and woods. There was even a gorgeous reservoir set aside just so the residents of River Ridge could swim. We called it “the Pool” though there was no concrete, just a nice, clean pond surrounded by grass and trees. Like something you’d see in a Disney movie. Sort of.
The home was not your typical Army quarters. I’ve already described it as a mansion because that’s the proper word to use. 3-car detached garage. 5 bedrooms, 3-½ bathrooms, formal living room, casual living room, dining room, etc. Even a detached outbuilding in which my Dad kept his awesome audio equipment. In short, the house and surroundings were like something out of a dream.
Being a teenage boy at the time, and hanging around with other teenage boys, this place was a true adventure.
Now I know that not all teenagers drink alcohol. I don’t drink today. But I did back then. And so did my friends. We drank whatever we could get our hands on . The particular night I’m about to describe, I think the drink of choice (all we had) was Sloe Gin. If you drink and you’ve never tasted Sloe Gin - don’t. Just grab some cooking oil, mix it with Vodka and throw half the spices in your kitchen into it and you’ll come pretty close to that taste. And it was hot. And I was drinking it from one of those squirt-type ketchup bottles, you know, the kind with the little spout on the top? Didn’t take me long to go to LaLaLand.
The rest of the story is pretty fuzzy.
My friends and I spent the night, kind of a camp-out sort of affair, only no tents or camping stuff. I’m not really sure what our intentions were. But, while we were doing whatever it is that we were doing, we got hungry.
I have no idea where the fried chicken came from. I’m really not sure where the Sloe Gin came from either. But they were there. And we were ravenous, drunk teenagers. Other than drinking, we weren’t doing anything illegal or harmful to others. We were good boys. Hell, I was the Commander’s son! I’m supposed to be setting an example for the rest. I never asked for that job and I wasn’t very good at it.
Being the ecologically minded fellows we were, when we were done eating a piece of chicken, we threw it in the reservoir. At least that way the raccoons would have to swim to get it and in the process get some exercise.
Erase the next 8 hours or so because that’s about all I remember, chicken in the pool.
I came to with a throbbing head and little recollection of the prior night. I vaguely recalled flying chickens or some such hallucination. As reality began to wash upon me like waves crashing against the shore, I noticed my face was wet and there was a large, black, moving shadow above my head blocking out the eye-scorching morning sun. The shadow barked. Shadows don’t often do that. I liked this shadow. My eyes began to focus and I discovered my whereabouts. I was in a drainage ditch, head facing down toward the drainage pipe and there was a large dog licking my face. My guess is that unless you’ve drank warm Sloe Gin from a Ketchup bottle, you probably haven’t found yourself inverted in a ditch with a dog licking your face. Actually, it was kind of nice.
I have no idea where my friends were. They must have gone home. So I drug my hung-over, dew-and-dog-saliva-laden body home and crawled through the door to my room. My bed - ahhhhh.
A couple of hours later, I woke up with Monkeys pounding gongs in my head so hard that my eyeballs were actually bulging from their sockets with each clang of the gong. I smelled like dog and chicken.
I trudged down stairs and as I did I could hear my Dad, the CO, on the telephone. He wasn’t happy. Apparently the person on the other end of the line was in the same mood. I could hear my Dad yelling, “WHAT! YOU FOUND WHAT IN THE POOL?! AND YOU CAN’T OPEN IT UNTIL WHEN?! PUT MORE CHEMICALS IN THE DAMN THING AND GET IT CLEARED OUT - MEMORIAL DAY IS NEXT WEEK!”
The line, “YOU FOUND WHAT IN THE POOL?!” was the one that got me. My brain cells, the ones that survived and actually chose to work that morning, were linking my father’s words to memories of the previous night. I think a “gulp” left my throat as the synapses aligned as best they could and a semi-clear memory of flying chicken manifested in my mind.
My father turned to me after he slammed down the phone. I’m dead. “YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT CHICKEN IN THE POOL? SOMEBODY THREW CHICKEN IN THE POOL AND THE ENGINEERS TELL ME THE BACTERIA LEVEL’S TOO HIGH TO OPEN THE POOL NEXT WEEK!”
I managed a weak, “no” as I tried to keep the chicken from exiting from my stomach and throat. Oh, I’m so dead. But the God of Mischief was on my side that morning and my father just left it at that.
I’m sad to say, the pool did NOT open on schedule. And the entire housing area was pissed. Mumbles could be heard everywhere of “if we ever catch the jerks that did that … lynching … torture … death by firing squad …”
Fortunately, my friends also kept the secret, probably for self-preservation sake.
And the dog never ratted on us either.
Now let’s jump forward 30 years. I decided the drinking life was getting me nowhere and I was hurting a lot of people in the process. I’m in a recovery program. Part of that recovery program involves admitting to all your past misdeeds (as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else to do so).
I had a long talk with my sponsor about that particular night. I mean, Good Lord, I had NO IDEA what the consequences would be of my actions. All we did was throw chicken bones in the pool so the raccoons would have fun!
There were a LOT of other things I’d done that were far worse and over the coming years, I’d made up with those I’d harmed and made things right to the best of my ability.
Except for the damn chicken.
You can’t believe how many times I’ve balked at telling my Dad about that. How many times I’ve talked to my sponsor about it. It’s ridiculous!
Last month, 9-years sober, I finally told my Dad. He laughed. He thought it was hilarious.
It was 1971. Mike, Gumby and I were out for a cruise in my ’67 Mustang (yes, I know a fellow named after a tall, green cartoon figure). Cool car. Made even cooler when I cut the tail pipe off in front of the rear axle, put a Cherry-Bomb muffler on it and a chrome extension that exited just in front of the oversized rear tires. Illegal, but way, way cool. Unfortunately, it was a 6 cylinder and Volkswagen Beetles gave me a run for my money. Actually, it generated more noise than power. But it was my poor-kid’s version of a “muscle car”.
I smoked cigarettes in my youth but had run out of cigarettes this particular night and decided I needed some before we drove over to cruise the local scene. Can’t look cool unless you’re smoking right? (stupid)
I turned around in the lot of a bar to head back towards a convenience store where I could buy cigarettes. Remember the bar. In a minute, it will be important to this story.
We drove to the convenience store, Nite Owl, and bought the cigarettes. In retrospect, Nite Owl was a strange name for a convenience store that closed at midnight when all good night owls are just getting fired-up. Sorry, back to the story - as we were returning to my car, the one with the illegal muffler, we couldn’t help but notice the two police cruisers sitting right next to it. Uh-oh. There they sat, side by side, they were pointed in different directions like cops do when they share donuts and talk. Suddenly they hit the lights and sirens and in a cloud of smoke, they peeled out of the lot. COOL! No ticket for me and HEY! - they’re after somebody – let’s follow them and see who!
We would find out later that it was US they were looking for. But I’ve interrupted my own story …
So off we drove, following the police that were looking for us. But we didn’t know it and neither did they.
In two blocks, the two police cruisers turned in opposite directions and shot off. OK, enough of that, I’m not following them any more. The light they turned at was now red. So I stopped. That’s what law-abiding citizens do, right? Now we're back where we started, sitting opposite the bar where we turned around.
As we were sitting there, I notice a very large, black mountain of a man standing next to a much smaller guy in an apron. The mountain was wearing a police uniform. This was Officer L. I hadn’t met him. Yet. Now I’m REALLY paranoid. Here I sit, in a glaringly-white Mustang, blowing very loud smoke rings out of my illegal muffler with a badge-wearing mountain standing on the opposite side of the street.
Suddenly my heart froze! The little guy in the apron looked up, pointed at my car and the mountain lost interest in his notes and gained a new-found interest in me. Or my car. Oh, crap. I gets worse. He, the very large cop, motioned for me to drive over there.
Let’s get one thing straight here from the get-go. I’m pretty much a law-abiding citizen. Well, most of the time.
That explained, I continue: I was terrified of getting a ticket for an illegal muffler, so I kind of, well, looked the other way and pretended I didn’t see him flagging me and I well, kind of drove off when the light turned green. Yes, yes, I know, it’s illegal to ignore the orders of a police officer. But if you didn’t actually see the police officer? (Kind of the tree falling in a forest with no one around to hear it – has it really fallen? – kind of thing) Any way, I got the hell out of there. And drove as quickly as I could about 4 blocks to a burger joint.
Safe at last. I’d avoided a ticket.
My buddies and I bought soft drinks and were seated in the burger joint laughing about our brush with the law.
And then it started.
One by one. Every Jeffersonville Police cruiser on duty that night pulled into the parking lot of the burger joint. Even the K9 unit showed up.
And they all started walking around and around my car. With flashlights. Even the police dog is interested in my car. It looked like Christmas in the lot with all the flashing lights.
Oh SHIT! All this for a friggin’ muffler violation?! Well, you DID run, dumb-ass.
It became obvious that they weren’t going anywhere. So as much as we hated it, my fellow-felons and I decided to go face the music. Maybe they’d just give me the ticket, all get a good laugh and leave.
Uh … no.
As we walked out of the burger joint, there stood the mountain. And he did NOT look happy. I’m not quite sure how a mountain can actually LOOK happy, but this one didn’t. And he was a telepathic cop-mountain too because somehow, he KNEW who we were when we walked out of the door! I suppose the piss in my pants might have given me away.
And then the mountain spoke, actually it was more of a command, “LINE UP ON THE SIDEWALK BOYS.” Mountains ALWAYS talk in capital letters. And when a mountain commands you, you listen. We lined up. Quickly.
I’m not a courageous person. Never have been. Truth be told, I’m a complete coward. But from somewhere in my inner ooze rose just enough courage to utter, actually, it was more like a squeak, “What’s the charge officer?” I knew what to ask. I’d never been arrested before or since, but I’d seen it on TV. So I was an expert. I was holding out on the big one, “I want to see my attorney!” until I actually needed it.
At this point, I figure these guys are REALLY pissed about this muffler thing.
A quasi-law-abiding citizen such as myself generally doesn’t have the misfortune of hearing the words next barked by the mountain, “ARMED ROBBERY.”
did he just say, armed robbery?!
It’s hard to describe my feelings at that point: nausea, fear, simultaneous bladder AND bowel release, dizziness … and one more thing … elation. I was HAPPY that he’d just said, ARMED ROBBERY, because I sure as hell knew we didn’t do that!!! And he hadn’t said anything about my muffler. Odd thoughts for a boy about to be detained by a mountain.
With a little more courage, I replied, “We didn’t do THAT!”
His response, “I HOPE NOT BECAUSE I KNOW YOUR DADS AND THEY WILL KILL YOU.” Or something like that. It was kind of hard to hear because my brains were oozing out of my ears at that point.
No handcuffs. Darn. We DID get put in the back seat of the cruiser and got to listen to all the cop talk on the radio. We were REAL desperados! They were talking about the “alleged escape vehicle being a 1967 Mustang, white in color, 3 dumb-ass kids, etc.”
After about 15 minutes of sitting in the back of the cop car, off we went with the lights on. Had we not been scared shitless, it would have been fun.
Where we went next was NOT fun.
We were taken to the hospital emergency room for a victim ID.
At this point, the story is funny in no way. What had happened was that some person(s) had strong-armed this poor guy in the parking lot of the bar (remember the bar?), the bar tender heard him screaming, ran outside to see what was going on, and saw and HEARD my bright white Mustang leave his parking lot and take off (toward Nite Owl).
There, in the ER bed, surrounded by monitors, beeping and blinking machines, laid this fellow, who had been beaten pretty badly. Officer L. asked him if we were the guys that did it.
My friends and I compared notes later and ALL were afraid he would look up and say, “yes.” But he didn’t. He said, “no”. Thank, God.
The mountain took us back to our car, and as I recall, told us that we needed to get home and get off the streets because it would take a while to clear the APB on the Mustang.
We did. And that was my last brush with the law. Until 30 years later. But that’s another crazy-magnet story for another time. And it’s VERY similar to this one!
The cops never did say anything about my muffler. But I got it fixed anyway. I wish I still had that car. But time marches on.
I've been paying about $5 a day for batteries since the lights went out last Sunday (they're still out). I've now developed a REAL unhealthy resentment for that damn pink bunny, you know, the one with the drum? If you, too, are in debt to the rabbit, take out your frustrations on this site, it's a rabbit hunting game - I enjoyed the hell out of it! DIE RABBIT, DIE!!! Click the link below to nail the little suckers: Rabbit Hunting flash game
Don't remember what year it was, but Sue and I took a highly-anticipated vacation to our favorite spot in Destin Florida. A week on the beach would cure our ills. So we thought. The "crazy magnet" had other ideas.
We'd been watching the weather because we ALWAYS go to Destin in the off season, hurricane season in other words. There was a storm bearing down on our location. The day after our arrival, a Tropical Storm passed to our east and hit Panama City. That's cool. No big deal. However, Thursday, of that week, a category 1 followed the previous one and this time came directly over Destin. No evacuation or anything like that and it wasn't a big deal. The biggest problem was that the beach simply ceased to exist, it was now Gulf right up to the foot of the hill below the condo.
Set the time machine forward about 8 years, Sue and I go to San Antonio. Sue's a Texan, Dallas-born, but had never been to San Antonio to see the Alamo. So we coupled our trip with a business trip I was taking to shoot pizzeria photos. A little wind-storm known as Katrina had just finished demolishing the south. Hurricane Rita followed her into the Gulf and was bearing down on Texas on a straight path to San Antonio. Grrrrrr. We cut our vacation short and TRIED to get out of San Antonio. 12 hours later, we arrived in Florida at 2 am. We spent the night in Orlando and caught a plane home the next day.
Same time machine, just set it for this week. Hurricane Ike creamed Houston and promised to track northest into the Ohio Valley. Where we live.
Sunday was fun. But first, a geography lesson: Jeffersonville, Indiana is on the Ohio River in the southern tip of Indiana. A THOUSAND miles away from the Gulf and Houston. OK, now that we know where Jeffersonville is and have established that it is basically hurricane-proof, back to Sunday. About 10 am, the wind started. About 10 years ago, a friend and I got drunk, passed out in our tents and slept through two tornadoes that passed a mile north and south of our tents. I haven't seen wind like that since that day. We saw it Sunday. Our trees were at a 90 degree angle most of the day. Our trees aren't Divinely Designed to sway in the wind — they just break. And it went on until about 3:00 in the afternoon!
Today's Wednesday. We've been without power since about noon Sunday. The power company guys drove through our neighborhood last night and made the mistake of getting out of their truck. Three of my neighbors and I jumped on them like fleas on a warm dog. We weren't angry, just wanted to know if they had any idea of how long it would take to have our power restored. Friday or Saturday. Oh, crap.
Don't get me wrong, we're VERY grateful for what we have. We've had it much better than those in Houston. Certainly much better than those in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. But we're 1,000 friggin' miles away! What, we get the hurricane but don't get the beach?!
I owe my soul to that damn, pink, drum-banging rabbit and the Ice Man. Sounds like a horror film, huh? Being stalked by a deranged rabbit and a creepy, skinny, pale guy named The Ice Man. Actually, what I'm referring to is the Energizer Bunny (we've been buying about $8 worth of batteries per day) and anybody that happens to be selling ice on a given day (it's a game we play, Who Has the Ice Today?).
How the hell'd I write this post? I popped into the office today to charge my cell phone, check my mail, catch up a few loose ends and then get back home to open the windows and doors and of course, pay my taxes to the Putrid Pink Bunny and play "Who Has Ice Today?".
Oh, well. Just another crazy magnet episode. I suspect there will be more.
It was a pleasant March morning. Brisk breeze. Unseasonably warm for the Ohio Valley.
Today was the big day of the Bonsai Show at the Louisville Convention Center. I had the back seat of my car filled with tiny trees and was excited about the prospect of spending time with other oddballs talking about bonsai.
I pulled into the parking lot of my bank to get some cash (never know when you'll find that tree you just can't live without), and as I drove toward the ATM machine, I noticed two guys walking from the door of the bank toward me wearing ski masks. I remember thinking, "That's odd. It's not that cold out today." I thought nothing more of it. As the two guys passed me, one of them made eye contact with me and I with him, he nodded and so did I. You know, the guy-kinda thing where you're too cool to actually say, hello, so just nod? And they walked casually past me.
I got to the door of the bank. It was locked. Oh, shit. I turned to see if I could still see the guys that were in the ski masks and by now they were sprinting out of the lot and vaulted over a bush into the next lot. Double oh, shit.
The bank had been robbed and I happened to stumble into it. All I wanted to do was play with tiny trees!
Being a good citizen, I whipped out my trusty cell phone and dialed 911 and excitedly explained to the dispatcher that I'd just seen two guys in ski masks fleeing the scene of an apparent bank robbery. She was sending an officer.
I felt proud.
A silver Camaro screams into the lot and a young, athletic, black man in street clothes jumps from the driver door, pulls a pistol, aims it at me, and hides behind the open door of his car. Triple oh, shit!!!!
"IT WAS ME THAT CALLED!!!!" I screamed, holding my cell phone above my head. I think he may have yelled something like, "PUT YOUR HANDS ABOVE YOUR HEAD!" but I didn't hear him, I was busy pissing my pants and putting my hands up because that's what you do in the movies anytime a gun is pointed at you.
All I wanted to do was play with tiny trees.
After yelling a few things at each other, the plain-clothes officer ordered me to get in the passenger's seat of his car. I yelled back, "I HAVE TO LOCK MY CAR. I HAVE BONSAI TREES IN THE BACK SEAT." I learned that day when a police officer tells you to get in his car and you disobey him to protect your bonsai, the police officer gets VERY angry.
So AFTER locking my car, I jumped into the passenger seat of a very pissed-off Jeffersonville cop. And off we went. On a high-speed chase. What pee hadn't come out of me with the gun pointing episode now came out as the g-forces approached about 10. We whipped around corners, shot through openings, it was real Bullit-type shit. If I hadn't been scared that we'd actually FIND these banderos, I might have enjoyed myself - I LOVE to go fast in cars!
The whole time he's driving, he's asking me questions and talking on his cop-radio-thingy. As I said, I like to go fast in cars, but I usually exert ALL of my thought processes on driving the car and NOT doing other things like talking to guys I want to punch and talking on cop-thingies.
I gave him the best description I could. Two guys. One black. One white. Both wearing ski masks and carrying a duffel bag (I hadn't thought about the oddity of the duffel bag before this point - I'm really naive).
We never saw them again. Actually, he never saw them in the first place. I was the idiot that nodded at them before they did the Bambi-thing and leapt out of the parking lot.
He took me back to my car.
All I want to do is play with tiny trees.
I went to another branch, mine was still locked and under investigation. I got my money and made it to the Convention Center.
Finally, I can play with tiny trees.
Now, you'd think that was enough crazy-magnet-shit for one day, let alone a year ... nahhhh:
We had a terrible thunderstorm that afternoon and I don't know what happened, but while my friends and I were sitting in the bonsai booth talking like any geeky-bonsai-enthusiast would about the little trees, a line of fire fighters in full gear runs down the aisle toward us, pushes past us, through our booth, and disappears behind the curtain in the back of the booth.
To this day I have no clue what that was all about.
About a year later, my bank sold the branch that had been robbed (that wasn't the first time it had been the victim of a heist) and another bank moved in. I don't have an account with them. And won't get one either.
I'm an artist, so a bit off-center. My latest hobby is one from my childhood: model airplanes. But as boys get bigger, so do their toys, these are radio controlled. Some are smaller, some are are pretty darn big. But there are REALLY big ones available - I want those, of course. If you're ever looking for me, I'm either downstairs rebuilding planes or out at some field flying (or wrecking) them.
I've been plagued since birth by an imaginary villain I refer to as the Crazee Magnet. These are the chronicles of the Crazee Magnet and a look inside my extremely screwed-up way of looking at life.
These are always in a constant state of repair/disrepair. So there are only two or three flying at any one time.
E-flite Carbon-Z Yak 54
My absolute favorite plane to fly.
Great Planes Reactor Bipe .61
Been building this for a year. Saito 125 with Pitts smoke muffler. Should be sweet. Long, chunky biplane 58 inches long, 48 inch wingspan.
E-flite Pitts Model 12 15e
Gorgeous plane. First "real" plane I ever bought.
Hangar 9 P-51 PTS
This is a BEAUTIFUL, easy to fly plane. Wingspan is just shy of 5 feet so it has a real prescence on the field. My favorite nitro plane.
Great Planes Shoestring
Throwback to the older days of racers. GORGEOUS, foam with sheeting wings and fiberglass fuselage. Got an electric motor in it (Skorpion) big enough to power my KIA! Not ready to fly this one yet. Taking my time on the build.
Great Planes Combat Corsair
Still under construction.
Hangar 9 Twist
Old trim scheme - MUCH better than the new one below. I have both though.
Hangar 9 Twist
New trim scheme. Boring.
E-flite F-15 Eagle
My first jet. Under construction. Retractable landing gear are WAY COOL, but are driving me nuts trying to set them up! Twin EDF motors scare our dogs. Scare me too!
If I ever get this plane finished and can learn to keep the plane above ground, I'll be flying this one as a pylon racer. Will have Thunder Tiger Pro .40 up front.
E-flite P-40 Warkhawk
This tiny plane is a BLAST! With only a 25" wing span and 21" in length, I can fly it across the street at the park. It's fun doing imaginary strafing runs on trash cans and other such targets of evil.
Under construction. Will have OS 55 up front.
Parkzone P-51, modified
Awesome foamie! I've replaced the motor with a Power 10, 40 amp esc and 2200mAh 3s. It moves.
Parkzone F4U Corsair
Constantly flying and breaking this beautiful foam bird.
Parkzone T28 480 size and UMX
Have both of these. I did most of my newbie training on the larger one. EASY plane to fly.
Great Planes Extra 330SC
SUPER FUN to fly!!! Unfortunately, I flew it into the ground. It not fly no mo.
Electrifly Yak 54
Flew great until the manufacturer's crappy clevises failed. Boom. It's a mess.
Parkzone Edge 300
Ooops. This one hit a goal post. The goal post didn't move. The plane did. In about 6 different directions. Gone, probably won't be replaced. Pretty squirrelly plane to fly.