Saturday, September 11, 2010

I’m one mixed up OLD DOG!

As I have gotten older I have started to worry that people will judge me when they find out that my DNA was hijacked by some sort of street dog. I am not completely sure what kind of dog yet, but I am fairly certain I’m a mangy, reincarnated ‘Chupacabra’ (goat sucker) mongrel mix instead of a high-brow fancy Purebred. Given the content of my usual blog posts and my propensity to eat, I am starting to lean towards some kind of rare BULLdog and CHOW mix.

Since I often curl up in some corner of the room for a nap, and I am unusually skilled with my hands at digging in the yard I have definite dog tendencies. I am constantly dog-breath challenged, prefer ‘collared’ shirts, and of all things I really enjoy canned hash. If you never have had the pleasure of eating this stuff, when you open the tin it looks and smells EXACTLY like dog food – YUM! But when it’s cooked up into a fattening crispy patty, my wife has to start shaking a can of pennies to scare me away from those delicious but caloric ‘Gains’ burgers.

I have mellowed and yellowed a bit as I have gotten older however. I don’t ‘bark’ orders as much as when I was young and rarely if ever, do I shred the Sunday paper before getting it INSIDE the house. Also, despite being raised by culturally challenged Appalachian wolves, I now have learned the joys of indoor plumbing. As long as there is the fragrantly musky scent of Pine Sol and Mountain DEW in the air to remind me of home, I’m happy!

I guess it’s true that I am more of an old loyal dog these days instead of a lean and mean junkyard scrapper. Apparently the wife has trained me well and has done an exceptional job at keeping a short leash on me. As a self-proclaimed ‘LAPtop’ dog I don’t mind it so much especially since being a ‘Setter’ is a job requirement for a blogger. I only wish someone could give me a few ‘Pointers’ on getting old though - since now, I am rapidly turning into a ‘GREYhound’!

Friday, September 10, 2010

‘Leaf’ me alone

Oh no, I can sense it is that time of year again. I’m too resilient to let a little cold weather on the horizon scare me, and I am too old to have to worry about youngsters heading back to school. So what is it that causes sweat to spontaneously break out on my brow, my spine to crawl, and my knees to turn to jello (or is that my gut) – millions of falling tree leaves of course.

Yes I love Nat King Cole and his ultra-smooth, wistful rendition of the Johnny Mercer classic tune, Autumn leaves, but that is as far as I go with my limited love affair with leaves. Leaves in the fall are akin to that car load of junk-foodie fat kids driving in front of you littering. You know those kids, they are the ones throwing an endless supply of Twinkie, Zinger, and Ding Dong wrappers out the car window, and that is just their shameless birth control packaging.

At the first hint of cooler temperatures, why is it ok for cowardly trees to turn ‘yellow’ and just spontaneously start casting off their outerwear everywhere? Funny, the whole world books expensive airplane tickets to see that show, but when I strip in public, people always run away in fear and call the cops? I also don’t know why I am expected to clean-up after trees when it is obvious that THEY were the ones who decided to BRANCH out and make a mess, not me.

Is this Mother Nature’s best effort at raising her spawn, by letting them ‘blow-off’ their responsibility and throw leafy caution to the wind, then expecting we earth immigrants to pick-up the grounds after them? I think it’s clear my trees need Nanny McPhee to set them straight, and stop my leaves from TURNING even further to the ‘bark’ side. So wish me luck over the next 6 weeks – I’ll be the guy being RESPONSIBLE and doing the heavy lifting for my lazy good- for-nothing trees. Yes it takes an awful lot of skill, character, and hard work to AIM a gas chipper and leaf blower into my neighbor’s yard!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The ‘Prime 9’ interview questions most often asked of Spiders

One of my favorite books of all time is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. I’m not sure why the book speaks to me but maybe it is because its main character is Charlotte, a talking spider, and the book features Wilbur, the conversational pig as well. My personal relationship with swine thus far has been limited to eating various slabs of their body parts slathered in BBQ sauce so rarely will they grant me an interview.

Though spiders mostly ignore me as well, cleaning up after their webs is a constant source of frustration. Spiders are like the brood of children that I never had, who provide my garden with benefits but at the same time leave a mess everywhere they roam. If I could sit down over a plate of nachos or maybe a mummified fly with a talking spider, I think, like most deranged people, I have a lot of important questions to ask. Just in case, I ever get the chance for such an interview, I have prepared the following top nine queries that most people REALLY want to know about spiders:

1) Are you bothered when garden bullies call you ‘four eyes’ even when in reality you have four PAIRS of eyes?

2) Does ejecting limitless yards of floss out your rump hurt and is it Waxed or Mint?

3) As a spider, do you have any phobias like myself, such as ‘of the birds and the bees’ or hairy-bristle legs?

4) Does it bother you that no ‘macho’ high school on earth bills itself as “Home of the Super-Silky Spinning Spiders”?

5) While it’s obvious that you don’t shave your legs; are your eight armpits essentially hairless, like those of ‘baby-face’ Tobey Maguire?

6) Everyone wants to know, do you drive a Fiat, Ferrari, or Alpha Romeo ‘Spider’; or do you prefer the daring spelling of the Maserati Spyder for that ultimate ‘bad arachnid’ image.

7) If I gave you ‘two sense’ for your thoughts would your ‘spidey senses’ be twice as valuable?

8) Given your – uh, appendage situation … are you offended that the terms ‘Eight Ball’, ‘Dr. Octavius’, ‘Octo-Mom’ and the 70’s TV series ‘Eight is Enough’ all have primarily bad connotations associated with them?

9) While everyone knows you are ‘Web savvy’, do you prefer Yahoo or Google as your primary search engine.

So who cares about any more trendy interviews with ‘emo’ Vampires or other soul-less hacks like Hollywood actors and political zombies. Now if you ever meet old Charlotte and her spider family in person, you’ll be well on your way to a hard-hitting ‘web’ interview without any of the ‘spin’. Oh yeah, and if you happen to meet curly-tailed ‘Wilbur’ along the way, be nice – or better yet, have him for DINNER!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Local News Honey

Like a lot of people, I try to stay engaged with the real world through the nightly television news and animated children’s programming. Normally I do not get too invested in stories since I never completely trust the idea of learning ‘facts of life’ through sound bites, and 30 second blurbs from ‘perfect hair’ newsies and anything named ‘POOH’. This is especially true of the local news geeks since often these people don’t have anything substantive at all to talk about, except car accidents, sports, and weather.

Take for example our local news broadcast tonight which lured our ‘talking head’ anchor-people into titillating ‘tizzie’. They had not one, but TWO stories on how local folk were traumatized due to local wildlife. Now we are not talking big scary bears, lions, or things that will kill you like hungry politicians. No, these SEPARATE but important news stories were about ‘Coyotes’ and ‘Bees’. Even worse, it wasn’t that the coyotes had attacked anyone, or even a local KFC restaurant looking for chickens, they had simply been spotted in the area and they appeared ‘hungry’.

WHAT? I look hungry all the time. I hope my neighbors don’t start calling the authorities and news vans every time they see me outside a Taco Bell. Anyway I heard somewhere that pepper spray fends off attacking animals so will load up my gourmet pepper grinder as a substitute to keep my neighbors at bay. By the way, the bee story on TV said the yellow jackets ‘flew around and stung some local kids’ in a PARK! Oh my - BEES IN A PARK – now that is an important and unusual news story.

So forgive me if I often seem uninformed, unimaginative, and unenlightened. It is not my fault really that I am ‘UN’-challenged since I am one of those morons who looks to local TV programming to keep me unbelievably ‘UN-informed’. At least now I know the dangers of that buzzing in my ears and that those ‘hive’ earrings forming on my earlobes are not normal. As for the coyotes, I would welcome their company right now – maybe they’ll scare off that creepy Pooh bear who keeps dipping his finger in my ear and calling me ‘HONEY’.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Compact High-Tech bathrooms make me blue!

I may tend toward the ‘lazy’ at times, and I will go out of my way to avoid manual work anytime an automated machine is available. Yes if an appliance or fancy invention is available to do the job better, in a smaller space, and save me time too – who can beat that? Some of my faith in technology comes from my keen interest in machine design and practical problem solving, but mostly my techno-love is because I was raised in the presence of robots.

No my parents were not literally robots, but compared to the generations before me, most of my time has been spent with technology helpers at every turn. I never had to wear overalls and use a washboard to wash clothes or crank a car engine by hand to get it to start. I have grown up with soft leather loafers, electronic calculators, word processors, microwaves, and everyone’s favorite in 49 states - indoor plumbing.

Now that I’m older, sadly it seems that I am destined to have difficulties in the bathroom. You see I had to replace the toilet in the master bathroom and I tried to get the wife to let me put in one of those automated Japanese toilets with the heated seat and automatic bidet, but she said ‘no’. I think she is either afraid of having a toilet that is harder to drive than our car, or concerned that my over-use of the thing would cost extra electricity and affect our ‘bottom dollar’ utility rates.

Quality time anywhere is hard to come-by, but these days it’s particularly difficult in these tiny but ultra-automated public restrooms. The dance goes something like this: I address the auto-soap spigot open-handed and my shoulder triggers the automatic towel dispenser to spit out a towel tongue for my pleasure. As I shift in response to a bevy of whirring gears in my ears, my hands activate the automatic water spigot. I quickly try to move my hands to get wet, but sensing the delay, the water turns off and the automatic soap makes a mess in the sink. Exasperated and off-balanced, I stand taller and somehow my backside lights up the automatic toilet valve, which releases the sound equivalent of Niagra Falls. As I whirl to dodge the overspray my shoulder catches the automatic towel dispenser, rolling off yet another foot or so of compacted dead trees.

This little circus chorus of circular mayhem goes on unimpeded until I either have exhausted all of the bathroom supplies, or am left whimpering, lonely and defeated, in a sticky corner of the ‘latrine’. I did not know there is so much exhaustive potty-training involved to join the ranks of the few, the brave, and the automated “Toileteer” these days. I’m glad my wife crushed my dream of a Japanese automated tidy bowl – because this is one piece of ‘white hot’ electric technology that always seems to make me ‘BLUE’!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Beer hater turns boozer

Uh with the exception of toasts at weddings, I typically go years between a glass of alcohol, and even then it is usually fingernail polish or mouthwash. Generally I am not a fan of booze because it creates lots more problems for people and society than the pleasure it can bring. Since I am already out of control most of the time anyway, I detest anything that has potential to add to my mania.

While I can accept the high-brow wine types and their quest to acquire a taste for varietal vintage ‘vino’, I have never understood the same affection for beer. I really dislike the stuff and even the smell of it will often make me nauseous. It is a beautiful drink to look at, but when it comes to taste and calories, the wife and I will slug back a Diet Coke anytime over any kind of beer.

Now with that said, my wife and I were on the prowl this weekend and found a beer making kit for sale at a garage sale for a bargain price. From an early age, both the wife and myself, really enjoyed our chemistry sets when we were young, so we mulled over the opportunity to learn how to make beer. The kit came with all the fermenting vats, hydrometer, sanitizers, brushes, bottles, caps, and capping machine. I could not believe all the gear involved just to make some foamy brown water when I have a perfectly good fizzy cesspool in the backyard that can do the same thing equipment-free!

So we will see how this experiment turns out in a couple of months. My first shock was that the grain and flavorings cost about $40 just to even mess with brewing your own beer. The second surprise was that you have to be clean – I mean REALLY clean to brew beer successfully. Who knew you have to take a shower to cook up a batch of mash and make beer? I always thought you just had to sidle up to a lamppost with a sack-covered can of malt, all itchy, unshaven and ‘fermenty’ - then nature would do the rest. I’ll keep you posted on my progress down the bumpy road towards ‘Monoblog Moonshine’. Gee maybe if I become a confusing, derelict boozer someday, my blog will read like a Hemingway novel!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Glass and the Evaporating Cash

I started taking on the horribly lengthy task of cleaning up the garage. Now I don’t want to give you the wrong impression as I am more disorganized than I am some kind of freakish un-washed hoarder. Ok, I’m frequently un-washed but I can assure you, my house and garage are not stacked floor to ceiling with a combination of mongrel cats and old newspapers.

Still I have an awful lot of things stuffed into our poor old garage beyond tools, cars, and sports equipment. I am wholly to blame for this problem. When things break for other people, they simply throw the offending object away. But for me, if I cannot fix something, I like to hold on to it and let it season like fine wine. Since there is NO SUCH THING as fine wine (sorry), I eventually will strip the junk of any potentially useful parts and finally, though begrudgingly, throw the rest away.

My wife puts up with this strange ritual because at times in that melee of spare power cords, motors, plastic, and bolts she finds something useful or maybe a nut that she might need (that being me of course). Recently I crossed the line however as she discovered my trash can full of broken glass and expected an explanation. Like the Grinch of ‘Suess-ian’ legend, I had to think up a lie and quick, so I told her I was going to melt the stuff so in 60 minutes I would have an hour glass. She said my protests reminded her more of a ‘WHINE’ glass than the truth, so I knew I had better change my trashy ways or else.

So during my glassy-eyed effort to organize, classify or dispose of the surplus garage materials into appropriate food groups, I decided to actually melt that glass for my wife as promised. It took about an hour but with the addition of an aluminum nail, a lot of heat, and oh yeah my TWO CENTS, I made a delightful uh … bird thing, chicken WHATEVER sculpture. Now most of you won’t appreciate my ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ effort, but I felt truly empowered! Not only had I made my wife a delightfully quirky recycled love gift with a ‘glassy soul’, but just like the Federal government, I had the pleasure of making money EVAPORATE into thin air.