Creative Writing

Man I had a dreadful flight...

I really do not like the New England Patriots.

Actually, let me rephrase that... I don't dislike the Patriots as a team or as individual athletes, for the most part. But I despise their quarterback, Tom Brady. And, as a result of this Brady distaste, I root against the Patriots almost any time they play. Sure, Brady has already secured his place in the Hall of Fame, but I'd rather he finish his time in the league on a sour note -- one so sour as not winning any playoff games in the last four seasons -- even if it means the rest of his team suffers as a result.

Sorry guys. Just the way it is.

Continue reading "Man I had a dreadful flight..." »

My rhyme ain’t done…

A post for Odie
Who loves her a good haiku
Shame I’ll let her down.

Don’t blog while tired
Or your post will suffer bad
Crash and burn, huh Mav?

“When it rains, it pours”
But have you considered this?
Forecasters know shit.

Edwards is a whore
Now he has a bastard kid
Why’d he ever lie?

Avatar at third
On the all-time movie list
I still love Star Wars.

Haiti rocked by quakes
Many residents have died
Why does God hate them?

Golden Globes sucked ass
Most winners were a big joke
But Dexter rocks hard.

Busy taking pics
My camera’s going nuts
Will my efforts shine?

Missed the gym last night
I really wanted to go
What’s wrong with my head?

Still want T-U-A?
Haven’t I written enough?
My head really hurts.


Ode to Joy...

Well, more accurately, An Ode to Pat and Lisa...

It was a quiet morning, the ninth of December,
A day the state will forever remember.

The Feds pulled up and knocked on the door,
Of our governor whose jaw dropped to the floor.

Is this a prank, a joke, a really bad gag?
No sir, you're under arrest, tell your hag.

Word spread like wildfire, news crews deploy,
to cover the fourth busted gov in Illinois.

A Senate seat they claim he tried to sell,
"Golden" he called it. For free? Like hell.

Mr. Fitzgerald, our shining white knight,
Explained to the press the extent of our plight.

Seventy-six pages, the charges did span,
Read it all through? I doubt any [bleep]er can.

The crimes were varied and truly quite stunning,
Were Blago and company really that cunning?

What kind of idiot would be such a yutz,
And effectively kick his state in the nuts?

If we're lucky, Lisa Madigan will succeed,
At reclaiming the power on which Blago does feed.

If Roddie is allowed to continue his reign,
The people of Illinois will keel over in pain.

Appoint friends and family? Flush our taxes down the loo?
Or maybe just give Obama's seat to some yahoo.

The hellish possibilities cause uncomfortable laughter,
So please Patrick and Lisa, end this sad chapter!

I never said I was a good poet.

Hey, and if you're reading this on any site or feed that doesn't have "kapgar" in there somewhere, it's stolen! Come on over to to read the real deal!

Sum, sum, sum, sum, summertime...

Hey all! Happy Saturday to you.

Nothing much going on here right now, so let me direct you over to Secondhand Tryptophan where yours truly is guest blogging as part of Karl's Summer of Love.

I was nervous as hell doing this guest post, but it seems to have gone pretty well. So if you have a moment, drop on by and check things out. Talk atcha soon!


Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I don't care what the naysayers say, Katie and I loved The Dark Knight. Awesome! And Heath was fantastic. It's not just hype. Seriously.

Cry for the feeling... all for the prize...

I guess I have been somewhat negligent in my duties as a cosponsor of the GBBMC2008 project with Carly... I forgot that I was going to mention the weekly blogging winners here on my main site and not just over on the GBBMC site. Whoops. Please forgive me.

Well, we've had two weekly winners so far and I'd like to give them both a little love. They are:

But there's also something I feel I need to admit... I get a bit of an odd feeling by doing this. No, it's not as though I don't feel they deserve it. Not that at all. Both are fantastic writers and both of these were spectacular posts.

The reason I feel, well, off about this is because it strikes me as though I'm playing the role of host to a truly bad game show. "Wow! That's a horrifically painful story you just told us about one of the most difficult things a person can possibly go through! Great! Now tell her what she's won, Don Pardo!"

Don't get me wrong, not all the posts written on behalf of this project are painful stories of survival or bearing witness to some terrible deed. There are many that are heartwarming, inquisitive, and even some downright hilarious. But still...

Am I weird for feeling this way?

Should I feel this way at all?

Does it bother any of the prize recipients or other participants as much as it bothers me?

This post was written in support of the GBBMC2008: Sexography project. Please consider donating to the Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN) and include "GBBMC2008" and the name of any one of our participants in the comments section of the donation form. And while you're at it, please visit our participants' sites. You can also check out applicable posts on our Shared Google Reader.

As a note to participants... please remember to mention and link to RAINN's donation page in any post that you are writing on behalf of GBBMC2008. It's the only way we know that it is intended to be a related post. If we don't see the reference and link, we don't tag it, and you likely won't win much of anything. I hate to be so blunt, but it's the truth.


And the flowers and the trees...

Is the age of the old "Birds and Bees" speech dead and gone?

I'm not sure why I'm asking this or why I'm even thinking it for that matter, but here I am. And I'd seriously like to know if the days of dads sitting down with their sons (and mothers with daughters, for that matter) and delivering some insanely awkward diatribe that is intended to convey the concept of sex from one generation to the next has gone the way of the DoDo.

Did any of you have such a speech from a parent or, as a parent, have you delivered this load of hooey to your kids?

To the best of my recollection, I never received "the talk" from my dad. And, to be honest with you, I'm not entirely positive how I learned about sex other than from the three moving boxes worth of magazines that one of my best friends discovered his dad had hidden in the basement of their house. I'm dead serious here. Three flippin' boxes worth. And they weren't even particularly well hidden.

Of course, every time we visited this friend's house, we were in said basement checking out the goods, as it were. It's amazing how quickly a youth can evolve from being a giggly kid excited about any little piece of illicit porn and chanting words like "boobies" to being a discriminator of what images are well shot and which models look better in which situations. I think that took all of two weeks.

There were other lessons learned from a variety of other sources throughout my formative years, as you might expect. But this Library o' Hef was my formal introduction.

And I'm sure my dad is happy he never had to suffer through "the talk."

So how did you learn the story of the birds and the bees?

This post was written in support of the Grassroots Blogger Book Marketing Campaign 2008. Don't worry, neither this post nor I am eligible for any prizes. Damnable thing about being the creator of the promotion.

Please help support the Rape and Incest National Network by making a donation on their Web site.

Let's talk about you and me...

Just a couple quick notes before I break into the meat and potatoes of today's post.

Sadly I'm not going to TequilaCon this year. Sorry. I really, really want to, but Katie and I are going to Florida again in May and the chance to tour south Florida and see Miami and Key West for the first time in our lives kinda trumps Philly. Sorry all. I will miss you. And I am still going to try to eventually hit up one of the TequilaCons in the future. I just don't know when.

But that's no reason why Hilly shouldn't be allowed to go!

Help send our Hilly Sue to Philly Poo! (Actually, I guess that should be "Philly, PA" but that just doesn't rhyme).

As a note, clicking on either the image at right or the link above will take you to Avitable's site. If you've never been there before, I must warn you that you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. You must be cautious. Oh and NSFW (as in NEVER Safe For Work).

Love the tiara, BTW.

I would also recommend going over to Brandon's site for a well-thought-out reason why ham is the #1 choice of Easter party-goers. Fantastic story that reeks of being made into a South Park script. I miss the SP Jesus.

Oh, and now that I've got you in a charitable mood. Guess what's back!

Yes, for the first time in two years, I'm resurrecting the Grassroots Blogger Book Marketing Campaign!

No, Paul is not releasing another book that I'm aware of. This time, the benefit was intended to be for Carly Milne's Sexography: One Woman's Journey from Ignorance to Bliss. However, once she realized that April was National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, Carly decided to take it one step further and turn this promotion into a fund raiser for the  Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN). Well, it took a lot of begging and promises on her part (check's still in the mail, right Carly?) before I finally relented on my wholly self-promotional ways and agreed to turn my grassroots effort into a fund raiser as well.

If you are interested in joining, please head over to the GBBMC2008 homepage and check out the details. All kidding aside, it is a great organization and we both hope this promotion can help them out in a positive way.

Oh yeah, and did I mention there are prizes? I mean SERIOUS PRIZES. You're clickin' now, aren't ya?

Just as a note, unlike the last time I did GBBMC and agreed to post on my blog for those who wanted to participate but didn't have blogs of their own, this time, you must have your own blog. Even if you start it up solely for the purpose of participating in this promotion. That's fine with me. We'll hook ya yet.


Gonna write you a letter...

I really dug on this post idea that Alissa threw out there yesterday. So, I stole it. Plain and simple.

Basically, you write a letter to a younger version of yourself. The person Alissa took the idea from wrote to her 17-year-old self, Alissa wrote to her 18-year-old self. I think I'm just going to write to high school senior version of myself. Here you go...

Hey Kevin,

This may be coming completely out of left field and you may not really believe it, but this is you writing this letter... just 16 years in the future. Yeah yeah yeah, this is some pretty trippy time-space continuum violation crap. But, get over it now. Let's get to the meat of this, okay? I am here to give you some tips that can guide you through some interesting times that I know you are going through and will go through in the next several years. Sit back, listen, and don't take offense, okay?

Stop dating your friends' sisters. Move on. Oh yeah, that cheerleader in study hall who you think must be on drugs because she's actually nice to you? Ask her out. According to things you'll find out after graduation, she wants you to. It won't likely last long since college is coming soon, but it could be fun and then you'll have that "I dated a cheerleader" story to tell your kids.

I know Mike is away at college, but give him a call and see if he'd be willing to hang out with a lowly high school kid like yourself. You'll thank me later.

If there is still some time left in the football season, put a little effort into your practices and game time. You know all those names that the defensive coordinator is making out of your last name? He's not making fun of you; he's trying to motivate your lazy butt. Maybe he sees something in you that even you don't see. Put in some effort and see what happens.

At this moment, you are in the best physical shape of your life. Don't fuck it up.

Drop calculus. It's pointless. Your teacher will call you a quitter for wanting to drop, but steel up your nerve and walk out. You won't be the last to leave that classroom.

"Undeclared" and "Liberal Arts" are not bad words. I know you're struggling to figure out what you want to do in college, but architecture is not the way to go. Not for you anyway. Grad school, on the other hand, is. Don't let people tell you you're wasting your life by going back for another degree. Katie will thank you.

Oh, and when you meet Katie, just because it feels too good to be true doesn't mean it is. Take the leap.

Don't be afraid of computers. In fact, in another year, something called HTML is gonna make itself known. Jump into it full bore along with several other computer languages. Learn them, love them, and start a search engine called Google. I know it's misspelled, but trademark the name immediately.

In 1994, scrounge up whatever money you can find and invest it in Apple Computers. Yep, the old Apple IIGS's in your junior high computer lab. The company may not look like much at the time, but you'll thank me.

Wishing you all the luck in the world... you're gonna need it,

33-year-old Kevin

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Dariush sent this to me the other night as he is wont to do every so often. Just some random piece of Web humor... this one contains tips as to what to do and what not to do with regard to babies. I should keep some of these in mind as it appears I've been misled thus far. It's pretty damn funny.

I don't do redhead girls from Lou'siana...

And here she be, folks, the fourth and final in a series of posts suggested by readers in the second Kapgar Lyrical Challenge. Today's title suggested by Erin, who was a bit of a fixation on the Old 97s. Read on!

As I'm sure some of you may have noticed from reading this blog, there are tons of little things in life that bug me.

"What???" you might be thinking. "The hell you say!"

Yep, it's true. Things tend to get on my nerves from time to time. Lucky you, I've got this wonderful outlet to get it all in the open and, thus, thrust these problems upon you.

I love you all. Really and truly.

Well, guess what? I have another one for you and I hope you'll bear with me as I detail it.

Let's call this one "There's nothing worse than knowing that you're not wanted."

This happened to me early in grad school in the years B.K. (Before Katie) when I got involved in a Web-based, long-distance relationship with a girl I shall call "B" from N'awlins. That's "New Orleans" for those of you wondering to where my pseudo mastery of the English language disappeared.

As I'm sure is the case in most Web relationships, we got along great online. Why else would we have continued forth, right? When we progressed to the phone, we even held up pretty well there. When some friends and I traveled to N'awlins in November 1997 for a U2 concert at the Superdome (completely coincidental... really), the first in-person meet up we had was awkward, but we pulled through. And when she and a friend made a trip to Chicagoland for a week to visit me, things were great.

So why, in May 1998, when I returned to the Crescent City solo, did it all go to hell in a handbasket?

The second I stepped off the plane, I knew something wasn't right. She was incredibly aloof with me. A very impersonal hug, little conversation, jacked up stereo in the car. I seriously wanted to turn around and get back on the plane right then and there.

I was in town for her graduation and the parties and whatnot that accompanied such an event. Yes, her college graduation, you sickos. She was actually a half year older than me.

During road trips, as we'd travel from her home in Covington to get togethers in Baton Rouge, Slidell, and other towns, I became quite familiar with whatever music the radio happened to be playing. I learned more lyrics to new songs than I thought possible. I developed a love for Ben Folds Five's "Brick" and Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" in particular. Great songs that, up to that point, I had never heard. And, oddly enough, both spoke volumes to the state of my relationship with B. As great as a song might be, the last thing you want to hear when you are in what is clearly a failing relationship are lines like "She's a brick and I'm drowning slowly" and "I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel." Painful.

If anyone ever tries to tell me that music doesn't perfectly capture the mood of now, I'm gonna tell them they're full of it.

To be honest, the only time she did pay me any attention was when one of her friends did.

At a party with several of her college friends, one of them took a liking to me. True she was drunk. But it was attention that I had, to that point, not received from anyone else and was in dire need of. She proceeded to teach me the finer points of crawfish ingestion, a skill that apparently requires powerful oral suction. This girl was a fantastic teacher, on top of being cute and overly fawning on me. Yes, she was also known to be overly flirtatious, but that never bothered me. And, when I would catch a glimpse of B out the corner of my eye, I could tell she wasn't happy with how the evening was progressing. Considering I was none too happy about how the entire week was progressing, I was fine with this bout of jealousy on her part.

A little while later, my teacher became slightly overcome by the effects of her night of drinking and I, along with another friend, helped her inside to a bed. The two of us sat there with her to nurse her through the heaves and whatnot. B came along shortly after I got in there and I'd swear she was calling me to her side like a dog. "C'mon, let's go. She's got plenty of people that can take care of her." I projected an "I'm sorry, but I have no other way out of here" look to the other girl who was playing nursemaid and she returned it with an "it's fine; I understand; I got it" look.

I really didn't want to leave because, 1, I didn't want to bail on my sick friend and, 2, I didn't want to be alone with B in the car again. But I did because I really had no choice.

A couple more days passed and I returned home.

I IM'd and e-mailed her a couple more times and received no response. A few days later, I received an e-mail from one of her friends apologizing for her behavior. She said that everyone who was around us could tell that she was being a bitch to me and they all felt bad because they all seemed to like what little they saw of me. No, this was not the crawfish friend. She also told me that she had been trying to convince B to contact me to apologize and even break up with me to save me any more pain. I thanked her for her honesty.

I then shot off a final e-mail to B. I took the step she was clearly too afraid to take herself. I ended it once and for all.

And my timing couldn't have been better. A mere six months later, just enough time to recover from the sting of this relationship, Katie and I got together.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I hear something there in the shadow down the hall...

Looky looky, not even a week and I remember my challenge post. This is the fourth in a series of posts suggested by readers in the second Kapgar Lyrical Challenge. Today's title suggested by SJ, who was really hoping to learn more about my haunted townhouse. Well SJ, despite our earlier e-mail convo, the story has advanced a bit. So enjoy!

Katie and I have a new housemate.

Uninvited... but not necessarily unwelcome.

Oh, and we have never actually seen him. Not yet, anyway.

I've always kidded around that our townhouse was haunted and I know SJ is firmly convinced of it. Yet I never really bought into it until Katie and I came home one night a week or so ago...

Katie: Hi. We're home.

Me: Of course we are. Who are you saying that to?

Katie: Our ghost.

Me: Our what?

Katie: Our ghost.

Me: You actually believe we're haunted?

Katie: Kinda. I hear a lot more things that you don't get to hear after you leave for work.

Me: Really? So who do you think it is? Only one other family lived here before us and they all moved out intact.

Katie: I think it's the guy who lived in the end unit. He died, remember?

Me: So why doesn't he haunt his unit? He didn't even know us.

Katie: That's just it... he didn't know us, but he knew everyone else. So now he's introducing himself. He just walks in and says hi and checks up to see how things are going.

Me: A bit late for that, don't you think?

Katie: Nah.

After we established that Katie believed it, my own belief began to increase. So it then became time to get a bit more cordial with our guest.

Me: I think we should name him Bernard.

Katie: Our house ghost?

Me: Yeah.

Katie: Why Bernard?

Me: It sounds cool and somewhat distinguished. And we can call him Bernie for short.

Katie: That sounds too much like Weekend at Bernie's.

Me: Well, they're both dead, so it works out.

Katie: Sure, why not.

I think our house ghost likes having a name, even if it wasn't necessarily the name he had when he was, well, not dead.

He also digs on being acknowledged. If we wish him good night and good morning, he stays quiet. But, if we don't, he can make an awful ruckus. Besides just the footsteps I've reported before, you can occasionally hear doors and drawers opening and closing when none of our fellow townhouse denizens are home. They typically sound like they're coming from our attic.

We're doing our level best to work these salutations into our daily routine.

We sleep better for it.

So what do you think the odds are of us getting Bernie to chip in on the mortgage?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Okay, this isn't really unrelated. I was just not in the mood to come up with a naming convention for yet another way to list a semi-divergent topic in a post. So...

You wanna talk about something really creepy? Check out this video podcast from National Geographic (yes, you can watch this right on your computer screen if you have QuickTime). Now that's just a bit disturbing.

There's bloodstains on my ax and I don't know where I've been...

Damn, I almost slipped and forgot my entry this week. This is the third in a series of posts suggested by readers in the second Kapgar Lyrical Challenge. Today's title suggested by Metalmom, who, after a few weeks of stalking many of us and us not having a means by which to stalk her back, finally opened a blog of her own a few months ago. And much cross-stalking ensued. Check her out!

I have a morbid fascination with the human body and how it works. I always have. It's a wonderful machine that God created in us and I've always wanted to understand the steps undertaken to perform basic tasks like how muscles move joints. Of course, when you're young, opportunities in which to explore this fascination are few. Biology class involved dissecting worms and pigs, not human beings. I always found this to be wholly disappointing.

So when the opportunity to explore the human machine arose, I often took it, even if it meant using myself as a lab rat.

One such opportunity presented itself in my junior high shop class. For whatever reason, our shop teacher had us glue a small piece of wood to a larger piece of wood. I'm sure he had his reasons although they elude me now. When the odd glue-based aspect to the project was done, we were to separate them and use chisels to remove the remainder glue from one of the boards that we were going to continue using for the project.

I got a little bored and, I suppose you could say, a bit lazy. When combined, these typically equate to "not paying attention to the task at hand." And that's when my chisel freed itself of its monotonous scraping task and sent itself flying through the air, powered by my right arm, into the webbing connecting my left thumb to my hand.

Unlike a lot of injuries where people don't realize they've hurt themselves until they pass out from blood loss, I knew right away that I had done something bad. I looked down at the gaping cut in my hand wondering what my next step should be.

Did I tell the teacher? Nahhhh. I sat there and played with it. For several minutes. I just kept pulling it open and examining the muscles of my thumb below the skin. Then I would make movements with my thumb and watch the muscles in action. I was fascinated. It didn't seem to matter to me that I was dripping blood, I was having way too much fun with my new anatomy kit to want to stop.

Finally a friend, who saw what I was doing, forced me to go tell the shop teacher. So I walked over to the teacher and said, rather off-handed, something along the lines of, "I'm not sure if this means I should see the nurse or not." Then I raised my hand and, with my other hand, made my wound talk to my teacher. I don't think he appreciated my attempt at humor and he practically yelled at me to go to the nurse.

I don't remember much after that. I don't remember being in the nurse's office. I'm not sure if I went to the hospital although I'm certain I must have gone. I don't even recall if I had stitches in my hand. Everything after that is a bit of a blur.

But I would like to know who got stuck mopping up my blood spill and cleaning the instrument of my fleshly destruction.

Ah well.

Hey, got a meme for you in the extended post.

Continue reading "There's bloodstains on my ax and I don't know where I've been..." »

I have no fear of falling, but I hate hitting the ground...

This is the second in a series of posts suggested by readers in the second Kapgar Lyrical Challenge. Today's title suggested by Odie, whose blog, well, is non-existent. We must work on that one.

What is the stupidest ballsy thing you've ever done? For me, it was the time I went bungee jumping.

I am petrified of heights. Always have been, and I doubt I'll ever get over it. My stomach churns as I approach seemingly unprotected heights. The top of the Sears Tower, despite being enclosed in glass... churn. The edge of a bridge... churn. The Grand Canyon... CHURN! It's never pretty. Heck, I get queasy when someone else gets too close to the edge of a rather daunting precipice.

I can only pray my kids will be as fearful of heights as I am so I don't have to worry about them becoming adrenaline junkies.

So why did I bungee jump? Call it sheer jealousy.

Back in the summer of '94, my entire family went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for my grandparents' 50th anniversary. Being the big deal it was, all family members converged on what we deemed to be the most central point between us in Illinois, my aunt and uncle in Kentucky, and my grandparents in central Florida. So Gatlinburg it was.

For anyone who has ever been there, you know that it's pretty much just another in a long line of what would otherwise be nothing towns if it weren't for the tourist trade. Being the proverbial "tourist trap," there was an odd mix of things to do. Outdoorsy stuff like whitewater rafting and hiking, touristy stuff like Dollywood, and, of course, daredevil central.

Daredevil central, as only I call it, consisted of the suicide rides such as a sky swing, lunar jump, and bungee jumping. They are suicidal in my mind because they are not permanently installed and you clearly take your life into your hands if you're stupid enough to ride them.

In other words, I was going nowhere near them.

My brother, being the little psycho that he is, was more than happy to try the bungee jump. He was gung-ho as he raced up to it and was fitted with his parachute harness, ecstatic as he raced up the stairs. The excitement waned a bit as he first looked off the ledge. In fact, it took quite a bit of coaxing to make him finally jump. But he did. And he loved it.

I felt a minor pang of jealousy watching him leap off the edge only to be yanked back up by the elastic cabling. Not enough to make me actually want to do it, but it was there.

Later that day, my uncle decided to ride the sky swing. This was basically an apparatus in which two riders lay stomach down and are pulled backwards up in the air about 50 or so feet and then released. The duo will then swing back and forth like a giant pendulum. As you approach the peak of the forward swing, you supposedly experience the closest thing to weightlessness you can feel on Earth outside of NASA training.

Since the ride required a tandem, my brother was going to ride with him. Until, that is, my aunt decided she wanted to go. My brother was left in a lurch. That's when, much to everyone's surprise, I stepped up. I really think my parents and brother experienced temporary shock.

But I agreed to it and my brother was now depending on me to get his jollies off... in an airborne sense of it all. So we were strapped in, winched up, and let go. And I loved every second of it. The rush of adrenaline was like nothing I'd ever experienced before.

And I wanted more.

So I looked at my parents and told them I wanted to bungee jump.

They were a bit freaked by my declaration of intent and my brother had the biggest grin of joy on his face.

The next day, we returned to the bungee platform where I was fitted with my harness. I then ascended the staircase and was hooked up to the cables. I looked over the edge at my entire family looking back at me and, on the count of three, jumped. No hesitation whatsoever. I figured I was up there and the only real way to get down was the quick way. So I did it. And, again, I loved it.

Luckily for my recently acquired adrenaline kick, they were offering a two-for-one special. I went up for my second jump. Something felt a bit off this time. I could tell that the clamps were hanging a bit lower as they strapped me in, but I wasn't going to back down now.

And I jumped a second time.

But I should've listened to my gut on that clamp observation. I dropped just a bit further than I should have and my foot actually hit the air mattress on the first dip. I sprang back up and the rest of the jump went fine, but the knowledge that my foot hit what it shouldn't have and the thought that if I had been strapped in using an ankle harness instead of a parachute harness, I might have wound up with a broken neck was enough to kill my thrill seeking for the moment.

Of course, there's still a huge desire on my part to try parachuting. But that may have to wait until my 40th birthday.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Ah, smart little poor kids. Gotta love the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program.

If you want me, I'll be in the bar...

This is the first in a series of posts suggested by readers in the second Kapgar Lyrical Challenge. Today's title suggested by Bec, whose blog, as of this morning, is apparently under temporary suspension by her hosting company. What did you do now, Bec?

Drunkenness can lead to many a memorable escapade. I know from multiple experiences... my 19th birthday, my 21st birthday, my 25th birthday, several other drunken outings throughout my college years, and one time when I was about three years old.

Well, I guess I should clarify, they were memorable to those around me. My own memories of them? Pretty well shot, to be honest. Pun fully intended.

My 19th birthday involved lots of Rumplemintz. What happened after that? Your guess is as good as mine. My 21st birthday? I remember shots one through eight. That's when they hit me with the Three Wisemen (Jack, Johnny, and Jim, all in one glass). After a few rolfing episodes and my roommate sticking me in the shower and dousing me, I can safely say that the only wise thing about them is to never mix them. Three years old? No clue whatsoever. You'll have to ask my parents.

My 25th birthday, on the other hand, I remember fairly well. It was also my brother's 21st birthday (they fall six days apart) and we decided to take part in a DeKalb, IL, tradition known as "riding the rail." This involved paying ahead of time to receive a punch card that lists about a dozen and a half 20-ounce beers that were to be chugged during a single time period during which the bar was open. Each time you drink, you get a punch on the card. The beers ranged from piss water (Milwaukee's Best) to liquid charcoal (Guinness Extra Stout) and everybody you talked to had a theory as to the best way to consume them with as minimal effect as possible.

They were all full of it.

All you can really do is drink and hope for the best. And, more often than not, the best would elude you completely.

My friends BDub and MadIrishMan (MIM) were in town for the festivities and to take part themselves.

I remember making it through all the beers without a problem. There was just the random trip to the bathroom as holding off on breaking the proverbial seal just wasn't going to happen no matter how hard we tried. Better to just take the time and make the trip.

I also remember leaving the bar to go home with little to no incident at all once all the drinking was said and done. I lived about a half mile from the bar so we walked. At the end of my parking lot, apparently, my brother and MIM had enough of each other and started sparring. BDub and I broke it up and we continued on to the steps leading up to my third-floor apartment.

This is where my memory fails. The rest is just a mad spiral downward.

I don't remembering ascending the staircase. I don't remember entering my apartment. I don't remember Katie helping me to the bathroom (she couldn't go with us because she was already sick with legitimate flu symptoms). I don't remember dry heaving until every blood vessel in my right eye popped. I don't remember being left in the tub of my bathroom with the shower running (what is it with me and showers when I'm drunk?). I don't remember my brother passing out in the fetal position in the papasan chair in my living room. I don't remember MIM passing out in my roommates' bathroom with his back against the door and feet wedged against the toilet thus keeping himself stuck inside and everyone else out. I also don't remember my female roommate coming into my bathroom when all attempts to dislodge MIM failed and she just really needed to go, so she closed the shower curtain between us.

About the only thing I do remember is waking up... and wishing I never even did that.

I was too sick to do anything for the next 24 hours. I could barely move. And my parents as well as Katie's parents were coming out the next day to take us all to dinner as part of a mass family surprise birthday dinner planned by Katie. Great timing, Kev.

Seven and a half years later and I still haven't completely lived it down.

The world is a vampire, set to dra-ee-aa-ee-ain...

I truly hate when this happens.

I had what I thought were two great ideas for posts in my head yesterday. I worked them through and began to flesh them out a bit before my softball game. They were prepped to the point where all I had to do was type them out.

But did I?

Nope. I was sitting in my truck and didn't have a computer or a connection.

So I thought I'd grab my Moleskine and write them out. I had the notebook nearby, but, get this, no pen. My truck regularly has three or four pens floating around in it. This time, though, the time when I actually need them? Nada!

And, now, they go bye-bye.

That would've been two posts in the can and ready to go.

Then I thought maybe I'd resort to the aforementioned Moleskine and see what stories I've written in it that I could share. But, as mentioned before, it's all the way out in my truck and, well, I'm not. And I'm just too lazy to grab it right now even though my garage door is not that far away. By the time, I finally considered this as a viable option, it was already about ten minutes before I need to leave for work. If I were to spend the time flipping through it to find a story and then retype it, I'd wind up late.

So basically you're getting bupkis today. How sad is that? You come over here hoping for some story in which I embarrass myself immensely, like so many of my stories have done lately, and I greet you with an admission of defeat.

I'm sorry. Truly. So in light of this, it's probably a good thing that the results of the Lyrical Challenge voting are in so I now have ideas.

The winning lyric, and first one I plan to post about, is:

  • Bec with "If you want me I'll be in the bar" from Joni Mitchell's "A Case Of You"

That'll be an easy one. Got plenty of bar stories to choose from. Mostly the kind in which you don't enjoy waking up the next morning.

Tied in second place, we have:

  • Odie with "I have no fear of falling, but I hate hitting the ground" from The Badlees' "Fear of Falling"
  • metalmom's "There's bloodstains on my ax and I don't know where I've been" from Megadeth's "Sweating Bullets"

I have no idea what I'm doing on that last one but the first won't be so bad.

And tied in third, we have:

  • SJ's "I hear something there in the shadow down the hall..." from Concrete Blonde's "Bloodletting"
  • Erin's "I don't do love, I don't do women named Hannah, I don't do red head girls from Lou'siana" from the Old 97s' "Coahuila."

You might find this odd, but that Lou'siana lyric won't really be all that tough considering I dated a N'awlins girl just before I met Katie. And, while I know what SJ is looking for with her lyric, I don't feel like rehashing an old story, so I'll have to come up with something new.

As for a posting schedule, I know I promised you one, but that may not happen. With how uninspired I tend to feel on any given day, I may wind up doing one of these a week or as many as all five, just 'cause. Having people suggest a theme on which I can blog is going to be a saving grace especially considering how empty my brain was this morning (no comments from the Peanut Gallery, 'tay?). I will guarantee that Bec's lyric will be posted on next week. Probably Monday or Tuesday.

If your lyric wasn't selected, fear not. It is likely I may use it in the near future anyway. There were some really great suggestions, and one comment I particularly liked from The Exception was that I blog on all of them. Maybe I will. But you'll have to wait and see.

Yeah, somehow I'm not sure that typing all this out really took less time than it would have for me to grab my Moleskine and just steal something from it.

Fox fur on my back, bow tie 'round my neck (cont.)...

UPDATE: Added SJ's nomination. Completely forgot. My bad. Please re-vote if necessary!

And now, the vote!

For those of you who didn't play the first time back in September, I've already held the nominations for song lyrics for the Lyrical Challenge. Some of you nominated one lyric while others picked multiple. What I did the last time and will do again, is pick one song lyric from each person myself then I'll post them all below and you guys will pick your favorites of the bunch.

Depending on how the voting goes, I will pick the top several although I'm not yet sure how many that will be. I'll kinda make that up as I go along. Hey! It's my site, I can do that, right? If there are some I really like that don't get the votes, I may just do them down the line sometime anyway for kicks.

What I'd like you to do is pick two lyrics each from those listed below. Put your favorite first and then your second favorite after that. When I tally up the totals, I will give a more heavily weighted score to the first one chosen so please make sure you put them in order with your favorite first. If you tell me, "1. Dagny / 2. August," then Dagny's song will get two votes while August's song gets one.

Here are my favorite nominated songs from each person...

"I hear something there in the shadow down the hall..." - Concrete Blonde, "Bloodletting"

"Tell you to pray, while the devil's on their shoulder"  - Pearl Jam, "World Wide Suicide"

"I feel so foolish, I never noticed" - Bonnie Raitt, "Something To Talk About"

"I have no fear of falling, but I hate hitting the ground" - The Badlees, "Fear of Falling"

"If you want me I'll be in the bar" - Joni Mitchell, "A Case Of You"

The Exception:
"Sometimes I think about what might have been" - Little Texas, "What Might Have Been"

"Baby got back" - Sir Mix-A-Lot, "Baby Got Back"

"If I had your faith that I could make it safe and clean" - The Cure, "Head on the Door"

"I'll never be untrue"  - Al Green, "Let's Stay Together"

"She's got the Jack" AC/DC, "The Jack"

"I don't do love, I don't do women named Hannah, I don't do red head girls from Lousiana" - Old 97s, "Coahuila"

"You wasted life, why wouldn't you waste death" - Modest Mouse, "Ocean Breathes Salty"

"There's bloodstains on my ax and I don't know where I've been" - Megadeth, "Sweating Bullets"

Go ahead and tell me your top choices. Remember, only pick two each. Sometime next week, I will post the winners and come up with a posting schedule.

Have a great weekend!

Down on Sesame Street...

SESAME STREET, USA -- What started as a simple expulsion of bodily waste has resulted in a bloodbath here on the set of one of America's most beloved children's television shows. 14 are dead, another 22 remain hospitalized in critical condition, one is under arrest, and children the world over are left wondering why?

From a newly formed perch atop one of the famed brownstone buildings that comprise the set of Sesame Street, a mainstay on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), Big Bird sat with what he called "massive indigestion" brought on by a crazed sweets binge with Cookie Monster. Without realizing what he had done, the famed yellow-feathered behemoth "dropped a load" right on the shoulder of human cast member Roscoe "Gordon" Orman.

Already enduring a bad day due to cost cutting on the set and the rejection by staff writers of some of his suggested script changes, Orman reached to an inside pocket of his jacket and brandished a 9mm Beretta semi-automatic handgun. At full volume and in view of a full studio audience, Orman shouted anti-animalistic epithets and discharged three rounds at Big Bird before being knocked unconscious by Snuffleupagus. While two shots missed completely, a third round snapped Big Bird's left wing at mid-radius. He is now being treated at the Sesame Street Urgent Care Center.

Although the initial shooting was over, the damage was done and the proverbial Pandora's box was open. What happened next could only be described as "mass hysteria" by one member of the studio audience who declined to identify herself.

Muppets armed themselves with weapons hidden behind and underneath studio sets and began to open fire on what they called their "oppressive human slavemasters" while humans fought back with set pieces and camera equipment.

Clearly the tension had been building for years as the Muppet assault was highly planned. It was just a matter of time before the facade of peace crumbled away letting the true emotion behind the conflict spill forward. Said one anonymous member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff upon seeing a video tape of the melee, "if Bush had planned things this well, we'd have been out of Iraq years ago. Cold, calculated, and efficient. I'm thoroughly impressed."

Dividing lines between the two parties were not quite as clear as human vs. puppet as some of the fuzzy friends crossed the fur-lined Maginot to side with the humans.

"Ha ha!" exclaimed one Muppet wishing to remain anonymous. "If I don't stay friends with the humans, who else is going to tickle my tummy and stick their hand up my ass? Rosie would hate me!"

A full-scale investigation is underway and many additional arrests are expected. For his part in instigating this armed conflict, Orman has been remanded to the custody of Henson Security and bail has been set, according to Count von Count, at "one million dollars, ah ha ha ha!"

The names of those who lost their lives in this unfortunate conflict are being withheld until next of kin and next of loom are notified.

It's gonna be a strange day. Forgive me?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I saw the most disturbing thing the other day while Katie and I drove up to her parents' house. I was looking in my rearview mirror because I could feel a vehicle coming up close behind me. You know that feeling you get? You don't see it, but you know it's there. All I saw was a big chrome grill that reeked of a Hummer, but it was surrounded by pink. Lots and lots of bright, girly pink. I looked again and then in my side mirrors and discovered, to my horror, that it was a pink Hummer H3. What in Samhail...

This is our country...

Well, here's the second post I promised. Sadly, I remember this essay about flying over the Rockies and parts of the southwest U.S. being a lot longer as I wrote it. As it turns out, it's only a few brief paragraphs long. Not sure what happened there. But to flesh it out a bit, I'm going to include some photos I took. They're going to be rather small here on the page, but you can click through to Flickr to view them at full size. Some of the photos may look a bit muddy; I blame that on unclean airplane windows and the fact that I was sitting in the aisle seat reaching over Katie's sleeping body to take some of them. The really clear ones were taken by Katie when she was awake.

The view from up here is spectacular. White-peaked mountains struggling to break through the cloud cover. An attempt by the planet to say "good morning" as we pass overhead. Their majesty is second to none and it makes me long to live among them instead of the featureless flatlands where we currently reside.

In-flight mountains In-flight mountains, #2 In-flight mountains, #3

An hour later, the view changes dramatically. The peaks collapse upon themselves into the earth forming plummeting canyons and ravines. Vast lengths of dried-out riverbeds no longer providing sustenance to the sun-baked clay. Low-level mountain ranges extending as far as the eye can see. Together, they comprise a multi-level, earthen tattoo... the planet's ink... made forever indelible by eons of weather-related phenomena.

Southwest terrain Southwest terrain, #3 Southwest terrain, #2

And yet, despite the longevity of these features, an occasional and unnatural cut weaves its way into the fabric of the terrain. A man-made road winding its way through the earth or some other structure interrupting the natural flow proving that we, as mere mortals, can, far too quickly, undo what has taken millennia to create.

Southwest terrain, #4 Southwest terrain, #5

Every step you take...

I sat atop my stoop like a great stone gargoyle gazing out over the kingdom bequeathed to him by the sculptor who carved him and the architect who chose him to adorn his masterwork.

And, much like the gargoyle, I watched.

I observed trios jogging. Couples walking hand-in-hand. Singles strolling by dejectedly with hands shoved deep in pockets.

While most paid me no heed, the occasional individual would glance my way. Some would eye me just as I was eying them. A few nodded in silent greeting. And yet one scowled as though I were a grotesque destined for an existence of ogling solitude.

To her I simply smiled.

I continued my observational duties.

The redhead who worked fastidiously at fixing her sunsoaked hair in a high ponytail all the while returning my gaze trying to calculate what I was all about.

The couple seated in a nearly indistinguishable mass of unadulterated lust. Both facing out toward the river sheltered overhead by a decades-old bridge of ivory-hued stone. She sat between his legs, her back nestled almost too securely in his chest while her forearms found a perch on his bent knees.

Ah, young love.

Then I saw him. The teenaged loner ambling along the other side of the river. His moppish hair worn long over his face and making scant contact with his shoulders. His baggy pants began their life as an olive drab; years of exposure to the sun had reduced them to a muddied khaki. Their length nearly obscuring his lack of footwear. The full-length button-up shirt that should have been billowing in the mid-spring breeze was held firmly in check by a single black canvas strap stretched from one shoulder across his chest to the opposite side securely held his instrument to his back in a travel bag.

My gut told me it was an acoustic guitar, an instrument that, despite its bulk, was a preference of those in this area. Easily transported and ready to be wielded on a moment's notice.

My gut would be wrong.

As my view of the pouch became less obscured, I saw its elongated neck and the squat, round body. This child was breaking with convention. Instead of committing himself to an instrument that a vast number of his peers claim to be able to play and, thus, becoming one of millions, he was breaking free of the proverbial mold. He had made a conscious decision to be one of the few, of the splintered minority. What he had with him was just as readily playable at any given moment, but one whose sound was not readily heard in every sun-drenched park.

My young friend had opted for a banjo, an instrument I had not seen outside a store in more than a decade. One that had become synonymous in my mind with guitar players who had grown bored with their six-string fantasy and needed a new challenge. One whose sound is so easily recognized yet never fails to turn a head due to the sheer lack of adept pickers. It is also one that is not quite as socially acceptable. Would this child have throngs of women suffocating the air around him as he played in a midsummer's heat? Not likely. But did he care? Again, not likely. His dedication to the art of music making was admirable. Bucking societal expectation is never easy.

I had a new hero for the day.

It's a free for all...

Johnny thinks I've blogged too much about television so far this year. At the heart of his claim is his belief that I watch too much television. In fact, he has developed a rather extensive post in support of this claim.

I'll water it down for you as it's pretty long... I create a New Year's Resolution to give up swearing as a cover for my real problem... too much television viewing, which, in turn, is resulting in too much television blogging.

I think what Johnny fails to realize is that, aside from my witty insight into the craft of television, I'm actually quite boring.

All joking aside, yes, Katie and I do watch an awful lot of TV. It's a fact we've realized for some time and have been slowly whittling away the number of shows we watch. We don't watch nearly the number we used to. We're a good 30% down on how much we used to watch. So I don't really think his claim is as substantiated as he may think. I blog pretty much about the same shows over and over again. Not hundreds of different shows. Heck, several of his examples of my "overdoing it" are just pop-culture references and don't represent recent viewing habits at all.

But, don't think I haven't noticed that an inordinate number of my posts fall in the Entertainment 2007 category.

However, when you're suffering from a minor creative blockage like I am, you tend to write what you know to keep you going. In my case, I like to think I know television. I studied it in college, after all. I have a master's degree in media studies.

But you know what, even though he didn't word it as such, I accept the challenge inherent in his post. Since we're already paring down how much we watch, I'm going to focus on trying to not blog about television.

That's a bit too broad a challenge, though, isn't it? I can't completely give up on something I love like that, right? I just need to scale back a bit. And that much should be done in baby steps. So I'll start with a week. No blogging about television for one week and we'll see where it goes from there. If it winds up longer, more power to me.

But rules must be set, boundaries drawn, clarifications made.

Unlike in Johnny's post, which applies a very liberal interpretation of what constitutes a "television" post, I will be much more clear about it using several of Johnny's "points" as a launchpad.

  • "Movies" do not equal "Television" when they are watched in a theater
  • "Music" is not "Television" even if the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is televised
  • "Stand-up Comedy" is not "Television" regardless of if the comic shot to stardom on his own series
  • "Sports" are not "Television" despite being aired on TV, that's just programming
  • Likewise, "Politics" are not "Television" even if they are reported on the news or covered on C-SPAN

I can talk about movies I've seen on the big screen, music I listen to, comedians I hope to see live in Vegas, how the Bears are doing in the playoffs, and what jagoff is doing what in D.C. I will not be as loose in my interpretation of what is "television" as Johnny was in his post.

Besides, what better way to overcome some mild writer's block than with a challenge? I accept.

And I'll come up with something for you, too, Johnny. Don't you worry.