Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I don't know what this means but it sure is funny

David Brin quote

"I like to imagine--what if everybody gets to share the New Thing? Bottle it. Give it to the masses. Not only is this more interesting, it's what we do."

From an interview from the Sci-Fi channel's website.
Edna Ferber quote

"Life can't every really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death--fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant; the more varied the moods the richer the experience."
The president (still) sucks

"By choosing "ideology over facts," he added, the Republican administration is "not only a failure, but the most dangerous administration in my lifetime.""
The dark troll goes to Seattle and gets drunk and stoned

The friend I took to the airport has decided to update his previously deceased blog while he is visiting Seattle. Those that know him well are placing bets on whether or not he comes back this time. The smart money is leaning toward him staying.

Of course, if he was smart and serious about staying out there he would do serious job searching this time instead of just asking around.

Monday, December 29, 2003


After spending the last year and a half as a bus rider I had become used to feeling very safe while traveling the streets of Charlotte. I was always confident that if I was on the bus and it wrecked there was a pretty good chance the bus was going to outweigh just about any vehicle on the street. Maybe a tractor trailer, a fire truck or a humvee may weigh more but that is about it.

Now I am driving around in a fairly small Honda Civic. The first few days of driving I felt very vulnerable. Every SUV that tailgated me made me much more nervous than I remember being before. Maybe it's because there are more out there now and those driving are idiots so it's happening more frequently. I can't be sure.

Here's a quick list of why those that use giant SUV's for their urban commuting should be murdered in front of their children and surviving parents and grand parents:

1) If an SUV is in front of you at a stoplight you cannot see the stoplight.
2) If they pull up next to you at a stop sign you can't see anything but a giant tire.
3) SUV's are big and those that drive them have no idea how to manouver them in parking lots.
4) Parking spaces aren't that fucking big, chief.
5) On interstate going 80 they handle about as well as a elephant on ice skates.

I swear to god, the next time I look in my rearview mirror and all I see is the grill of an SUV I am going to Wal-Mart, buy a shotgun and go on a rampage. Why can't you fucks drive condsiderately? And get off the phone.

Oh yeah

I just received my copy of Al Franken's new book at the library. I have read a few chapters and it is funny funny funny. Al kills me.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Code Orange!

Yesterday my friend, Chris flew out of the Charlotte airport for a two-week stay with a mutual friend, Beth. Chris asked me to drive him out to the airport and I did. Since the 'threat level' was so high we understood that there would be a security checkpoint before you could drive up to the airport. I was looking forward to driving him there because I was curious to see what it would be like.

As we drove up to the airport entrance there were orange construction barrels all over the place that funnelled vehicles into three lanes and each lane had a security guard. So far all the security measures were able to do was cause a useless bottleneck that enabled me to accidently cut off a minivan. Luckily they didn't get pissed and just kinda waved at me and smiled, "go ahead, you non-driving fuck." I'm still not completely comfortable driving my new car. I feel like a new driver still after taking 1 1/2 years off from it.

When we pulled up to the security checkpoint a guy was standing there looking in the window of each vehicle as it passed. For some reason he made me pop my trunk. He walked around to the back of my car and peered inside. He then shut the turnk and told me to go on ahead.

I don't know how much safer these cursory precautions make the airport. From what I could tell a van loaded with explosives could have ran that check point and blowed up the terminal before mr. security guard could have said stop but I guess as long as the impression of security is visible we will all be a little less on edge.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

40 acre rock

On Sunday the Panthers were playing the woeful Detroit Lions. Since they were playing a shitty team and they had already clinched their playoff spot I saw no reason to waste a nice sunny day in front of the television. There would be plenty of time for TV watching later that night.

Chris and I decided earlier that week to spend our Sunday in Lancaster County at Forty Acre Rock.

Forty Acre Rock is a masive granite rock that sits in the middle of a forest. The entrance to the rock is actually at the top of the rock and the rest of it slopes away from you. It feels like the top of a steep mountain whose bottom you can't see.

There is a trail you can follow to the bottom of a narrow valley that has a stream that opens up to a shallow beaver pond. There is a small water fall and flood valley next tot he rock. The creek that runs around the base of the rock has carved out a steep trough and when we climbed down into it the temperature dropped about ten degrees.

It had been a while since I had gone tromping through the woods. It really felt good to be someplace where I couldn't hear any automobile traffic at all. The only manmade sounds were our voices and the occasional airplane.

Thursday, December 18, 2003


One of my favorite foods is shrimp. I love shrimp, especially steamed shrimp. I avoid deep fried shrimp since the time I went to one of those South Carolina grease factories and had all you-could-eat shrimp. My digestive system revolted later that night. It was horrible.

Last night I was chatting with the wise and knowing Beth and we were discussing our favorite foods. I mentioned my taste for shrimp and that I needed to buy a steamer so I could make shrimp at home. She suggested that I buy a metal collander and boil water in a pan with the collander full of shrimp above.

Today I went to Target to see if I could find one that would fit my need. They had just what I needed and I bought a new frying pan since the one now in my kitchen garbage can no longer had a handle. It's a bitch to make an omelete with a frying pan that has no handle, believe me.

Just a few minutes ago I finished my meal of steamed shrimp and turkey kielbasa, 2/3 of a low country broil. I checked a recipe website and learned that you merely steam the shrimp until they turned pink. I did and it only took about three minutes. Who knew that making shrimp was so dang easy? I bought enough at the Teeter (half off!) to allow myself to do this again tomorrow night.
Thank god

It's about time we shut down our deplorable prison. I'm surprised this camp doesn't receive as much coverage as it does. I find it infuriating. Maybe since we lock up so many of our citizens it just seems like a natural thing for us to do.

Did you watch Southpark last night? They did a take off on the Wizard of Oz with Canada taking on the role of Oz. What I want to know is who did they plan to have as the prime minister before Saddam was captured? Did htey just substitute him for some other notorious personage? Did they plan to have Saddam there from the beginning and just put the recent photo on his face since he had just been captured? Or did they have an inkling that he might turn up around Christmas time? Did they make an educated guess? Just curious.
Return of ze king

I went and saw Return of the King yesterday with an old friend and a neighbor.

Initial response to having seen all three and having read the books numerous times and listened to the books on tape twice is that the Fellowship of the Ring is going to stand out as the best of the three after all the hype dies down and the movies are viewed as they should be. To me Fellowship holds up better because the story is simpler. Hobbit finds out ring he has can destroy the world and he sets out to destroy it, meets new friends, finds enemies while we are treated to a few kick ass fight scenes. As far as covering a story of this scope on film there are just too many story lines to cover once the fellowship breaks up.

That being said the Battle of Pelinor fields is reason enough to see the new movie. All you women out there that get all quivery inside when Legolas does something studly are in for a treat. Whoever the hell that is that plays King Theoden steals the movie with his speech to his men before they ride into thousands of orcs outside the gates of Minas Tirith. The chatting of "death" over and over gave me chills. Thank god they decided to forgoe the scouring of the shire. I couldn't take anymore misery and death. Especially when all you eventual want is for the hobbits to go home and garden.

I have also never seen a series of movies where so many men cry.

Simply stated I will watch Fellowship from start to finish with no problem but when I buy the other two DVD's I will spend most of my time jumping around to favorite scenes.
You know when...

You know you are on vacation when taking a shower feels like an accomplishment.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Hooray the car again

It's lunch time and you may be wondering where I am at while writing this blog entry. I'm at home, baby. I live twelve minutes from work and I decided to see how coming home for lunch would work out. So far it's been pretty nice. I had a sandwhich for lunch and for the first time in months I didn't pay for it. Of course you may say that I could prepare my lunch at home before I leave for work. Yeah, I could but I ain't gonna.

In other work news I am working a half day tomorrow and then going on vacation for six days. I was hoping to go to Savannah for a day or so but with the car purchase I don't have that much free cash sitting around. I might go anyway. At the very least I am going to take a few day trips. Count on that.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

How can something so threatening be so beautiful?

From the new book by Michael Light.
Look up in the sky

All day today it was cold and rainy. It was cold and rainy in the morning. It was cold and rainy at lunch. It was really cold and just as rainy after work. I think I would rather sit through a snowstorm than deal with rain when it's 33 degrees. Snow is soft and dreamy and reminds you of a Christmas when all your grandparents were still alive. Cold and rainy is your head down and an umbrella you keep forgeting to replace.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Before I go to bed, a few thoghts

I know I have mentioned it before but I have to say it again: downloading music has introduced me to so much good music over the last couple of years. Bands like the White Stripes, The Shins and Dismemberment Plan. Heck, I've even downloaded albums by artists I like just because I didn't have the music to buy it. Certain older artists have shown me through some albums I stole that they are still putting out good music so I went ahead and bought their newest albums. If I hadn't stolen their previous album I wouldn't know they were still putting out good shit.

I can't over emphasize the freedom having a car gives you. As someone who has ridden the bus for a year and a half I was in heaven today as I just drove around and did some window shopping, drove by the house I once lived in with my family, stopped by the new store that occupies the same space as the convenience store I first worked at in 1990 and stopped by a library I used to work to say hello. Today was one of my favorite type of Carolina days also. There air was crisp and the sky was Carolina blue with high thin frozen clouds. I just drove around playing CD's on the cheap stereo. Goddamn, it was lovely.

If you live in Charlotte and need to get your license renewed don't go to any DMV in Charlotte. Go to the DMV office on Highway 74 which is just north of downtown Monroe. I was in and out in less than one hour. I had pretty much resigned myself to losing the whole day but left there with free hours I hadn't counted on. That brought on the warm fuzzy glow I felt as I drove around town.

This whole new car thing has me terrified. So far everything has worked out perfectly. I can't remember when a step of this magnitude has worked out so well. I am waiting for the big let down. I am expecting for it to start hissing at a stop light and for flames to creep out from under the hood. Then I will bolt from the car, run across the street and dive into the bushes and safety as my new car explodes, killing families and causing a grease fire at the McDonalds at the intersection. I will then be arrested, tried and convicted, sent up the river and then punked out by a series of murderers in the state pen. Write me while I'm there, please. Can you update you blog in prison?

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Allow me to rave about a band for a minute

Today after work I drove to Manifest Discs (the best record store in the world) and bought the new CD by the Drive By Truckers. This is band from the Athens area of Georgia. Their basic story is they are a southern rock band in the style of (I hate to say it because it's like, "duh!") Lynryd Skynryd. But I must qualify that statement by saying that the main songwriter, Patterson Hood, grew up hating Lynryd Skynryd because all the redneck fucks that tortured his kind in high school loved Lynryd Skynryd. If I recollect correctly he left his small town Georgia town and after a while realized that the guys in Lynryd Skynyrd were artists unlike the bozos that loved them that he hated when he was young. Then he realized that he was southern like the guys in that legendary band and he was an artist and so were the guys in Skynyrd. Once he realized that he also saw that Lynyrd Skynyrd was actually speaking him more than the meatheads from his younger days. Like all great bands they take their main inspiration and run with it and expand it.

I saw the Drive by Truckers at the Double Door here in Charlotte a couple of years ago and they blew the roof off the joint. Rarely do I get to witness a band relish in the act of simply playing music. I didn't buy their album then because it was a double CD and I was poor as hell. The new album is called "Decoration Day" and right now it is competing with the new Dirtbombs' album as my favorite of the year.

The Drive by Truckers are playing here in Charlote on January 17th. I officially extend an invitation to anyone who reads this to join me that night at the Visulite Theater here in Charlotte for a three-guitar attack rocking good time.
Boo yah!

Today at lunch I just made my tomorrow a whole lot easier. Even though I have a car and insurance for it I do not have a license. Well, I do have a license but it expired in February. Before I could go to the license place and get my license I had a fine I had to pay at the place you get your plates for an expired inspection sticker. This fine was levied over two years ago for my last vehicle. For the hell of it I cruised by the plate place to see how big the line was (yeah, I'm driving without a license. So fucking what?). I looked inside and there was no line. Let me repeat that: there was no line at the DMV. There was no line at the DMV. There was no line at the DMV in Charlotte, NC. I paid my fine, got back in my car, went to Wendy's and got back to work with fifteen minutes free to eat my chicken sammich and baked 'tater.

I don't know what's going on. I think I shifted realities for a few minutes and ended up on bizzaro earth. A place where there are no lines at the DMV and long lines to service me sexually.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Praise Jeebus

I got the car. I have a car. I am in debt because of a car. I couldn't be happier.

A supposed 1 1/2 hour trip to the shop of the mechanic who sold me the car turned into a six hour test of my nerves. Partly his fault and partly mine. I didn't have the proper insurance set up and he got caught up in some work and didn't have the car inspected when I got there. Then a wire to the starter went bad and he had to repair that. But in the end I left with a much smaller savings account and a nice little white 1989 Honda Civic.

Can I visit you now?

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Public service announcement

Were you aware that netscape radio has a Led Zeppelin station? Just trying to help.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Car? You betcha

I have been without a car for over a year. The first nine months were freeing and it was interesting to live without a vehicle. The last six months have kinda sucked.

Saturday I went to see a guy about a car. This guy is Palestinian and he used to date my mom. He has a small car repair shop on North Tryon Street and he also buys, repairs and sells cars. I am getting a 1989 Honda Civic. I decided to take a chance and buy an older car I can pay off completely in a few months rather than bind myself to a new car or a more recent used car. Heck, if I can get this baby to last two years it will be worth it.

I am picking it up on Wednsday and will spend all day Friday trying to get my driver's license.

Savannah GA, here I come. I hope she missed me as much as I missed her. I haven't seen a live oak in over two years.
What I want for Christmas

Link via Atrios.

Friday, December 05, 2003

A friend's father

A friend of mine that I used to run with when I moved to Charlotte in the early 90's lost his father Thanksgiving morning. I met this friend over ten years ago and I've known his parents almost as long. I don't remember exactly when I met his parents but I got to know them pretty well. They had me over for Thanksgiving on at least one occasion after my family moved back to Michigan. They're good people.

In honor of the recently deceased John Goebel I would like to relate a story about an adventure I had with him and my friend, his son.

There was a sports bar out on Highway 74 here in Charlotte for a while. It was one of the first big sports bars in the area. It had four or five big screen projection televisions on the wall behind the bar. Each would be showing a different event and you could choose which event to focus on by whichever audio selection you made on the speaker at your table. That speaker in the center of the table always reminded me of the personal jukebox that you used to find in the booths at Big Boy's.

When I say that Jeff and I ran together that means, of course, that in our mid-twenties we were each others main drinking buddy. I loved to watch football with Jeff and one night his father accompanied us to the big sports bar to watch football. I don't really recall why Mr. Goebel came out with us that night. It may have been a big game or because it was the holiday season or both.

After the football game we decided, somehow, to go to a topless bar. I have no idea whose idea it was but we were all drunk and feeling a good intergenerational male bonding vibe and decided it would be best capped off by locating and ogling half-nude women who would dance for our money.

The only topless bar in that part of Charlotte is this scary little place called the Palace Lounge. It's the type of bar you expect to read stories in the paper about concerning bikers knifing each other over the favors of redneck strippers with bad skin and scars. It was the only one within a twenty minute drive so we went, dammit. Sometimes you just gotta.

The Palace Lounge was an authentic shit hole. It was tiny and cramped. There was no real stage to speak of and I don't recall seeing a backstage dressing area for the girls. There was no annoying DJ. The music the girls danced to came from a shitty juke box in the back of the joint. There were four women. Three of them were either ugly or had a body that should not be displayed so (before you get mad I don't dance for tips for a good goddamn reason) and the fourth had a nice body but was almost old enough to be my mother. We got her to dance for us.

Mr. Goebel was having a blast and he was trying to chat up our aged beauty and at one point he smiled and said to her, "You must have seniority here, huh?" I don't recall a time in my life where I have had as hard a time stifling a gut laugh. After about half an hour Jeff and I were able to convince his dad to leave. We ushered him the hell out of there as quickly as we could.

Like I told Jeff on the phone the other night, "I always liked your Dad, he made me laugh."

Jeff made my day when he said, "He liked you too."

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

The outhouse on Lime Lake, part two

The public access area we were playing in was lined on two sides by evergreens, one side by the lake and the other by a narrow drive that emptied onto a rural road.

The Voice was deep and mean like my step-father's and all of us were immediately stilled. Those in mid-throw stopped. I had a rock and it dropped thoughtlessly from my hand. We froze for a tick. I looked at Greg, the oldest. He bolted into the woods behind us. We all followed.

We didn't scramble far into the woods because we had all left our bikes in the gravel by the outhouse. You don't desert your steed even in emergencies. I guess we imagined the furious adult would see an empty area and move on. We were wrong.

He saw our bikes laying on the ground and judged correctly that they belonged to kids.

We heard the voice again. He wasn't yelling but he was closer. "Alright, you kids, come on out or I am going to turn your bikes over to the police."

We could see him through the trees. Greg identified him in a hushed voice as the new high school principal. Even those of us that went to the Catholic school had heard of this guy. He was like a old western sheriff that had been brought in to rein in the rowdy northern Michigan rednecks that had been terrorizing the school. When we knew who it was we slunk out of the woods and all we were sure of was that the police would be called and then our parents would be notified but only after this guy was done hurting us.

We lined up orderly in front of him without being told. He examined us with the dispassionate eye of the established authority figure. He asked us our names, what grade we were in and where we lived. I considered lying but gave him my real name. I was pretty sure he didn't know my Dad. He didn't.

When Greg told him he was in seventh grade the principal smiled and said, "I'll be seeing you real soon, won't I?"

"Yessir," Greg stammered.

The rest of the conversation is a haze of dread and terror. I believe he just told us not to damage state property and to get the hell out of there.

He was still at the high school when I got there and I never mentioned the incident to him. I doubt he even remembered it. I do remember him as being someone people might refer to as "tough but fair" like Vince Lombardi. He was very big on hall passes. He'd twist your nose if you didn't have one on you if you were wondering the hall during class.

The outhouse on Lime Lake

Where I grew up in Leelanau County in northern Michigan was a small round lake called Lime Lake. It was a shallow lake with water that always seemed murkier than the water in the dozens of other lakes in the area. I do remember there was a good fishing spot near the middle of the lake where you could see the tops of some still-standing trees. I always thought the thin dead trees that, instead of arriving at, seemed to appear in the water below were creepy. I felt that if I fell out of the boat I would be impaled on those dead knobby fingers.

In the years before middle school my boyhood chums were Greg, Bobby and Brian. They were three brothers who were all eventually sports stars in our high school. Bobby and I were the same age and Greg was a year older than us. Brian was three years younger than me and Bobby. The summer after my sixth grade year the four of us were hanging out at a public access site on the shore of Lime Lake. We were throwing rocks in the water, tromping through the woods, hanging around and just hoping for something to happen that would be stimulating.

Near the graded area that allowed folks to back their boat trailers into the lake there was a wooden outhouse. I don't know who started throwing rocks at the outhouse but before the first person really got started we were all throwing rocks at the outhouse.

Let me clarify that we were not attempting to knock over the outhouse. We were not even trying to put holes in it. There wasn't anyone inside that we were trying to scare, surprise or deafen. Just know that rocks rebounding off a sturdy wooden outhouse make a hell of a satisfying noise. Smaller rocks have more a crack to them. Bigger rocks tend to thud. We started laughing and running around the gravel drive searching for rocks that would fight nicely into our fists.

Then we heard an authoritative, deep and scary male voice holler, "Hey!!"

Part II will come later, man. I gotta get back to work.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Big Santa

Near where I work is this wants-to-be-ritzy mall called Southpark. Southpark Mall wants to be ritzy as bad as the Coneheads wanted to be seen as human. On the lawn outside the front entrance of the mall there is a tent set up where you can buy X-mas trees. Standing guard is a giant lit-up Santa Claus. I took a picture of it tonight after work.

Just a thought

Remember the hostages in Iran being released on the day Ronald Reagan was inaugarated? What do you think the chances are of us capturing Saddam near the date of the upcoming presidential election? Just a thought...
Serial Mom

This weekend Lee came by and hung out at my place. Wendell was there and so was Chris. We played some music, chatted and had a few beers. We then put in Serial Mom and laughed our asses off.

I've seen the film before and I am still amazed by the facial expressions Kathleen Turner is able to wear and how quickly she shifts from her All-American Mom face to her face of murderous rage.

It's also the film what's-his-face wanted to make when he gave the world "Natural Born Killers." It's a great look at our love of gore films and our fascination with serial killers. These two movies came out in the same year, interesting.


I may also have a car here pretty soon. A guy I know who fixes and resells cars may have a good deal for me. Maybe I can restart my lagging social life.