Saturday, September 30, 2006
It happened to me again today. I'm down in the cellar, puttering with one thing or another, and find myself with an urgent need to be upstairs in the kitchen. There was something I definitely needed there, but, for the life of me, I now can not remember what it was. There I am, standing in the middle of the kitchen, unable to recall what brought me there. So I walk back down in the cellar, by the work bench, as if that would jog my memory. It did not. So I go back up and pour myself a cup of coffee; plausibly, that is what brought me to the kitchen in the first place. So I'm sipping my coffee, and I'm thinking of a report I read one time where it said that every day you lose like 1000, or 10,000 brain cells every day. I can't remember. I used to know. Anyway, it got me to thinking about how the human mind works. At least how mine works sometime. I can't remember an apparently important errand I was suppose to do for my wife today, but go ahead and ask me who was the last Red Sox player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season. Go ahead. It was Tommy Harper. I think. Speaking of, I can probably tell you the names of all the players on the '75 Red Sox, but I can't tell you the names of any of my kids teacher's names, the names of their friends, or the names of their friends parents. We were at a Cub Scout function one time last year, and I was shmoozing and chatting with one of the parents. Me and my wife walk away, and she says, sarcastically, "$100 if you can tell me their name". I didn't get the money.
Every time I hear the song 'Brown Eyed Girl' by Van Morrison, I have a distict and clear memory. I am back in 1983, I am in Baltimore, and it is a beautiful sunny day. I am working for my Uncle Frank in the big construction tour of '83. All the other guys are hard at work. Frank pulls me aside and tells me that he needs me to go to the Lumber Supply store 45 minute away, and pick up a big order with the company van. He tells me, additionally, that I should make an all day project out of it. In other words, take it easy and don't come back 'til quitting time. So it's 85 degrees, I don't have to be anywhere, I don't have a care in the world, every girl in Bal'more is wearin a halter-top and shorts, and, oh, did I mention I had a styrofoam cooler full of ICE-cold's nestled beside me in the ZVI van. I'm just thinking to myself how could things be any cooler, when on comes 'Brown-Eyed Girl'. I'm singing, sipping, enjoying the sun in the City Park. Life is good. That's what I remember every time I hear that song. Now, ask me 5 people I graduated High School with.
Now ask me where me and my old friend Barely Spragged were when his Monte Carlo turned over 70,000 miles. Frankfort, Maine. Right in front of the General Store. Now ask me my wife's eye color. Uuuhh....Hazel? Not that I don't love my wife dearly. I love her so much, in fact, that I can even remember her telephone number when we started dating, fifteen years ago: 827-3845, thank you very much. Now if I could only remember her cell phone number, so I could call her and ask her what I need so badly in the kitchen. Anyway, I digress. Frequently. It's like my old Buddy Shag asked me one time: "Remember the time we all got drunk".
At least I can put on my resume that I can recite all the lines from "Subterranean Homesick Blues", by Dylan. Course it wouldn't matter, because I'd forget about the interview. And if you need to know the chronology and lineage of any Norman Lear TV show in the 70's or 80's, from 'All in the Family' on, I'm your man. Relatedly, did you know that I used to have a hat just like Jimmy Walker used to wear in 'Good Times'. Fact. Also, did you know that I once ate dinner with members of the band Oingo-Boingo at Legal Seafood in Boston. True story. I just remembered that. My wife says I repeat myself sometimes and tell the same stories over and over again. I don't know what she's talking about. Reminds me of the time I was dining with Oingo-Boingo. Danny Elfman was telling me about a movie he was doing the soundtrack for. I think Rodney Dangerfield was in it. But again, I digress. Any way, I guess it just goes to show how the Human mind works. Maybe it's a matter of attention. Maybe I remember the things I want to remember and ignore the things I find trivial. You see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear, knowhatImean? I didn't think so.
Anyway, I just remembered what brought up to the kitchen in the first place: the smoke alarm was going off. Lunch is ready. I'd better call my wife and tell her. What the hell is her Cell phone number anyway?
Friday, September 29, 2006
To(11) make(12) it(13) even(14) worse(15) I(16) didn't(17) have(18) much(19) time(20) to(21) drink(22) beer(23).
half way there..take a breather...
did(26) have(27) a(28) good(29) time(30) this(31)summer(32).
They(33) spent(34) most(35) of(36) their(37) days(38) in(39) pools(40).
pant pant..must continue..10 more to go...I
(41) was(42) hoping(43)Karin(44) would(45) find(46) a(47) lesbian(48)lover(49).
I'm sitting here drinking a BEER and pondering what I did over my Summer vacation....(15)Those who
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
As my son and I wrestled the tuba into the bathtub, I had occasion to consider how far we’d come in just a few weeks.
At the end of August we’d closed up the camp, and slowly drove up the dirt road from the banks of Long Pond and back to our “normal” house, the one where we live the other ten months of the year.
In no time at all the endless summer had become a vague, happy memory. The boys came back from Messalonskee Middle School and Belgrade Central with backpacks full of urgent missives: broadsides announcing the dates for Picture Day and Curriculum Night, requests to sell t-shirts for the annual fundraiser.
And along with all this start-of-year stuff, there was a note from Mr. Califano, the middle school band instructor, concerning my son’s future as a tuba player.
If he was going to practice at home, he said, we were going to need to find Zach a tuba. The “district” tuba could stay at school, for lessons and concerts. But we’d need a second one for the house.
We’d already learned you can’t take a tuba on the school bus. As it turns out, it’s easier to take a fully grown Angus beef on the bus than a tuba.
Unfortunately, a good tuba is hard to find.
You can’t rent them, like you can almost every other instrument, including glockenspiel, wood block, and oboe. So we made a quick call down to Al Corey’s to find out how much a new tuba might cost.
The answer: over five thousand dollars. D’oh!
Briefly, I checked ebay. A man in Bejing was selling a “Chinese tuba” for three thousand dollars.
I don’t know how to say “D’oh” in Chinese, but if I did, I’d have said it then.
Then—a miracle! Mr. Califano found another tuba, at Messalonskee High School.
I stopped by the school on the way back from work, and brought it home, and Zach and I opened up the case, and there it was.
The Haunted Tuba.
This tuba clearly had not been played for a hundred years. It was covered with an odd red tarnish that I soon determined to be “tuba rust.” Zach looked on in horror. “It looked like the last person who played this died,” he said. “While playing.”
Refusing to be beaten down by a tuba, we got out the brass polish, and set about scrubbing and rubbing. How long does it take to polish an antique tuba, you wonder?
Longer than you’d think.
At long last, we began to rinse off the polish. But as we did this, the toxic foam sloshed onto the floor, burning a hole in the rug. So instead, Zach took his shirt off, and hauled his tuba into the bathtub. Where he gave the tuba a bath.
Soon, we were drying the instrument with bath towels.
The only problem was that now there was water in it. Everytime Zach played it, it sounded like the tuba was gargling.
So my son carried the tuba onto the front porch. Where he gave it one vast, majestic blast.
At this exact moment, my spouse returned in the mini-van with our other son, Sean, just in time to see a gallon of grey water blasting into the air.
Deedie and Sean looked at Zach and me, covered with water and brass polish and foam. “Are you two all right?” said Deedie It was clear enough, she feared we’d lost our minds.
The next morning, I was woken by the call of a barred owl in the woods. “Who cooks for you?” it said.
Later, after the boys had headed off to school, I drove down the dirt road, back to the camp, and looked at the lake.
I was sad summer was over, but then we’d made a good start. Sean was selling t-shirts. Deedie was coaching soccer. And Zach was playing tuba again.
It was haunted when we started. But in less than a week, we’d made that tuba shine.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Don't stop me if you've heard this one:
So this pharmaceutical salesman(or car salesman, or politician, or telemarketer, etc.) happens to die one day. Because he is a pharmaceutical salesman( or telemarketer, etc.), obviously after he dies, he goes straight to Hell. When he gets to the gates of Hell, he is greeted by one of Satan's minions, whos job it is to show him the different stations of Hell in which his Soul will be writhing away in agony for all of eternity. First, the servile follower of the Dark Prince takes our recently deceased and damned salesman to a room where people are standing naked in a freezing blizzard of ice, flailing desperately against the incessant cold. 'Bummer', thought the salesman. Next, our unfortunate soul is taken to a room where people are surrounded by a storm of fire and smoke, cringing helplessly against the unstoppable fury of heat that virtually cooks their flesh. 'Not much better', he insightfully introspected. To a third, and final room our boy is taken. In this room, men and women are standing around in business suits, waist deep in Shit and foul Piss, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. 'Verily, it is certainly a sorry fate', says our boy, 'but exceedingly more palatable than my first two choices: I'll take this one'.
So he gets himself settled in, wades through the shit and piss over to the coffee machine, just about to pour himelf a cup, when Satan comes in and says, "Okay you swine, back onto your heads, coffee break is Over"!
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Okay, so I’ve been seeing this guy Iraq? For a couple years now? What a disaster. When Iraq and I first started going out, it was special. It was like, every day he gave up another city to me. Now? The moment I get home, he starts up with the insurgency. Quite frankly, sometimes when we’re together? I shut my eyes and fantasize about Iran.
I’ll admit that going out with Iraq was my idea. He’d been with Saddam for-ever. Everybody knew Saddam was bad news. So three years ago, this one crazy night, it was like, okay, I’m invading. Next thing you know, Iraq had thrown Saddam’s stuff out the window onto the front lawn.
Iraq was like: too bad, Saddam! You are not the dictator of me!
And so for a few months it was just this wild carousel ride. Everything was enchanted: me and Iraq, running through the desert together, the sirocco in our hair.
Sometimes, people would say, wow, you two are starting to look alike! Which, quite frankly, was fine with me. Iraq shaved off his beard, started wearing Dockers. Think: a young Broderick Crawford. With oil money.
To be honest, I’d gone out with Iraq before, in 1991. It was a wild relationship, but we were young. When we broke up, we both thought it was the right thing. We said we’d stay in touch.
But then, like less than a year later, I found out he was going out with Saddam again. I mean, Hel-lo? What does that say about me, that the second I’m out of there, he’s back with his ex?
Personally, I thought Saddam was terrible for Iraq, but what are you going to do? Sometimes I’d see them together, and there’d be Saddam with his zipper all the way down, and I’d think, Oh for heaven’s sakes. Talk about a no-fly zone. Somebody needs a little inspection.
So what can I tell you, we’re together again. But now, he’s just so immature. I mean I know Saddam made him this way; I keep thinking, there’s a little democracy inside him, trying to get out! But then I have to wonder: how long am I going to wait for him? Forever? What about my thermonuclear clock?
Was it so egotistical for me to think I could improve him? I mean, Iraq struck me as very good material. And okay, so he was rich, but that wasn’t all I was interested in. Although, as my mother always says, “it’s just as easy to invade a rich one.”
Some people say this is one of my big problems. My ex-friend France is always like, “America, whenever you see anyone, it’s like all you want to do is turn them into a little version of you. You’re smothering and controlling!”
I’m like, France? Remember how you just gave it up to Germany that time? Like she’s some big expert.
I had this same fight with Iraq last week. He was all, “I need my space! I need to be my own country!”
This from a guy who can’t even turn his own lights on. Oh, and he’s growing the beard back, too.
So now what? Quite honestly, if Iraq was a little more mature, I wouldn’t worry about dumping him. We’d have a little talk, and I’d explain, listen, I’m not happy with this invasion any more. We’ve grown in such different directions. I mean it’s like: me, I want national health care and better schools, and you, it’s like, jihad this and jihad that. You’re like a broken record sometimes!
The thing is, though. I can’t leave him. He needs me too much.
It’s like we’re trapped in this hopeless cycle of codependency. I wish we’d never started seeing each other.
It’s like that Rod Stewart song. “Wake up, Iraq, I think I got something to say to you!”
It’s not that I don’t love Iraq. It’s just that I’m not “in” love with him any more.
I just want us to be good friends.
By the way—and I’m just asking—but is Iran seeing anybody?
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Here's an exiting contest for the Fall, if'n you don't have anything better to do. Submit, in 1000 words or less, but at least 50 words or so, an essay based on the title, "What I did on my Summer Vacation". Points are awarded for humor, vulgarity, vagary, and references to Beer, however the points don't mean anything. All participants will receive a free copy of the recently compiled musical CD, "Art Deco's Copyright Infringement Compilation", with some of the best of today and yesterday like Wilco, Gram Parsons, Rolling Stones, and The Reverend Horton Heat. Can't beat it with a stick (that'd be just silly). All participants wanting the free CD will have to submit to me their mailing address so's I can mail it to them. Don't worry, I won't misuse your address; who's got the friggin' time. If you don't know how to post, just leave your essay on comments from this post, and i will post for you. Anyhow, get them cards and letters comin' in, and remember, 'non illegitimi corrundum', don't let them bastards wear you down.