Monday, January 30, 2006

Yard Work

With this being the 'achievement' (?!) of my 100th blog entry, I decided to use in the inspiration of another blogger, and mix in what I do best: self-deprecation.

After all, the truth doesn't hurt when it's funny. Especially when it's me I'm truthfully making fun of.

A fellow blogger recently regaled her readers with some of the health issues she's battled, and bemoaned the fact that, in the winning of these various battles, she'd..uh.."lost her butt". But -- no pun intended, unless you got it -- she has vowed to get it back.

You go girl.

Which leads me to a seeming digression: yard work. I hate it.

Bear with my seeming digression. It ain't.

Being an apartment dweller, acquaintances occasionally ask me if I ever miss the pleasures of conventional living. Like having and maintaining a yard. I tell 'em I don't lack that luxury; I have a yard. One I really don't care to have. But have it I do.

It's around my middle.

Back in my more sveldt days, I wore a 33 W 34 L. Until the early 90s, it was 34 W 34 L. Then came the year that some good things -- and one really bad one -- came to an end: 1994. Along with everything else, I had a yard. Around my middle. I was 36 W 34 L.

It was the arrival of the riders of the Apocalypse, far as I was concerned. My middle was now bigger around than my legs were long. Gravity was not only sinking my chest into my abs; it was sending me horizontal.


Granted, this yard had some distinctive advantages: it didn't need mowing. Weeding. Raking. It didn't require aeriation or watering. It thrived without spreading compost. The real kind.

An appetite for an abundance of the wrong things helped it thrive, too.

But that spare tire shape kind of annoyed me. Just not enough to get proactive about.

A few years later and given its' way, it went beyond a yard. To 38 W. I was going butterball. I couldn't visit a swimming pool or beach whereon Greenpeace wasn't trying to frantically push me back in the water.


Finally in 2001, I actually got serious about something (for once). Ten months later, I'd shed 45 lbs. I'd made it to almost less than a yard.

I was able to return the unordered, unwanted back-up alarm to OSHA. Along with a really helpful suggestion of what they could do with it.

That was '01. I did pretty well, maintaining my 'yard' for a while.

But now it's '06. The yard is threatening rebellyion once more. Greenpeace is back to covert shadowing of me near water. OSHA even sent me a new product catalog.


For that reason, I'm not even going to dwell on my butt. The thought of it meeting/exceeding a yard is ... well ... snarf.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Easy Listener

An up-to-date, current music aficionado, I ain't. On the occasions I try listening to what passes for current "Pop 40" or the top hits of the moment, I find solace in having grown up with another era in music.

Though, I make an exception for Enya. She has one of those amazing voices that can absolutely melt me in music, which will factor into the upcoming list.

But my favorite singing voice of all time, and probably always will be, is none other than the late, great, adored Karen Carpenter.

1983 was a dark year in my life, indeed. But her incredible voice lives on.

At any rate, lists seem to be quite the thing in blogs. So here's one. My very subjective "Favorite 25 Easy Listening Songs Of My First 49 Years", with no particular order to the list, other than the very first listed. Each song has a meaning at some point in my life, and thereby makes my favorite easy listening list.

1. Yesterday Once More Carpenters
2. Poor Side of Town Johnny Rivers
3. Deora Ar Mo Chroi Enya
4. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart Bee Gees
5. Dreamboat Annie Heart
6. Lyin' Eyes Eagles
7. Stones Neil Diamond
8. For All We Know Carpenters
9. A Day Without Rain Enya
10. Rainy Days and Mondays Carpenters
11. Did She Mention My Name Gordon Lightfoot
12. Let It Grow Eric Clapton
13. Help Me Make It Thru The Night Sammi Smith
14. Sunset Dreams Enya
15. Today The New Christy Minstrels
16. Moon River Henry Mancini
17. Last Date Floyd Cramer
18. Against All Odds Phil Collins
19. Like A Woman Bob Dylan
20. Same Old Lang Syne Dan Fogelberg
21. Spooky Classics IV
22. Baby As You Turn Away Bee Gees
23. My Cherie Amour Stevie Wonder
24. Never Found The Time America
25. Songbird Fleetwood Mac

Friday, January 27, 2006

God(s) Must Be Laughing

I'm not known to be an incurable optometrist among friends and colleagues, but I am known to enjoy a good/silly/absurd laugh. At times, even a raunchy one. I am convinced that in my 49 years thus far, I am not alone in that regard.

What's more, I am even more firmly convinced that God enjoys a good laugh as well. In defense of that firm belief, if perhaps debatable statement, one need only ponder France, flatulence, Ted Kennedy and Pat Robertson -- all, in one way or another, creations of God -- and ones I feel sustain and buttress my opinion.

Perhaps an atheist would beg to differ, believing that a non-existent diety can't have a sense of humor, being non-existent. My response to that digresses -- what do you get when you cross an atheist with a Jehovah Witness? Someone who knocks on your door for no reason -- but that's my digression and I'm sticking to it.

At any rate, I think God has a sense of humor. Here's a great example: there is a notorious (aka, low-life puke slug) televangelist who, during his heyday in the late 1980s, was raking in about $80 million a year, debunking the faithful from his TV pulpit. Robert Tilton. Once he was defrocked by a national TV investigation (Diane Sawyer and Prime Time Live on ABC, I believe), his fortunes ebbed. For a time.

Now he's black on BET, and raking in lesser millions a year from a new crop of televandelized sheep.

But that's not the funny part.

The funny part comes in the mid-1980s. So one version of the story goes, two American men -- unidentified by any online account I've been able to find so far -- absolutely hated this guy and his show. Among his many annoying attributes (besides living and being on TV), he had this really annoying habit of scrunching and contorting his face, along with pauses in his fauxpassionate auditory, as if he had really bad gas pains.


One day with apparently too much time on their hands, they undertook a pet project. They taped a number of segments of his show. Cut and spliced them. And then dubbed in sound effects at strategic moments.

So the story goes, the wife of one of the pranksters came home from a business trip, and found the two of them convulsed on the floor, while the original of their handiwork played on the VCR. Like most women, I'm sure she rolled her eyes and pondered the male fascination with flatulence. Then gave in to the irresistible humor of the creation herself.

From that inauspicious beginning, dubs of the original were made and ever so slowly distributed. Friend to friend. Party to party. Until what has now become known as the Pastor Gas video has reached most of the civilized world, if not beyond (it wasn't revealed as a causal reason for the attack during the Mars Attacks! movie).

Examples of what one will experience if you haven't as yet seen this four minutes of faith-debased methanic mirth:

PG: "Father"
*face contortion followed by a medium pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbt*
"oh yes, I sense your presence...."

PG: "I'm just wild enough to do what God said, that's why"
*face contortion followed by a sharp pbbbbbbbbbbt*
"results happen..."

PG: *shouting* "She paid her bills and her neighbors got BLESSED.."
*face contortion and long pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbt*
"Ahahahaaaa, the day of miracles has COME!"

Just last week -- though the video originators have not apparently stepped to the fore -- I stumbled upon a website for Pastor Gas, where you can, if you haven't seen this hilarious 4 minute video, order it in VHS or DVD.

Or, if you'd like a short sample of the audio/video before purchasing it, you can visit, and take a 55 second listen (middle, left side of page).

Either way, it convinces me that my opening thesis is right.

Of course if I am wrong, I'll find myself on Judgement Day sitting on hot rocks with sizzling hemorrhoids, peeling exploding potatoes for cream of month-old-in-southern-July-sun possum roadkill stew. Down wind.

But I think not; I'll bet God is even now laughing at the ludicrous image I just described. I can probably improve my prospects by scrunching my face and pbbbbbbbbting.

Think I'm being blasphemous? If you doubt me, what do you think the real cause of thunder is?
Ever stop to think that God likes Tex-Mex cuisine, too?

"Pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbts happen".

Friday, January 13, 2006


Insomnia's a funny thing. Sometimes.

Having a bout of it, I did a little web surfing in the wee hours, and stopped by a site I've visited infrequently in the past couple years. Seeking news or an update, I happened upon a note posted to the site just yesterday:

Please Read
(Name Omitted) is no longer signing pictures, books or posters. Any mail received from persons unknown will not be answered. Any packages containing books will not be accepted by the post office. We feel it is time to retire and get some peace and quiet in our old age.

My initial reaction was, "wow. Guess they told us". I was immediately ashamed of that thought.

It isn't important who this person is; suffice it to say, they found fame late in life, for things done in their youth; things that, on the 50th anniversary of the events, a nation gratefully remembered them for. Indeed, a good deal of the nation only learned of these men and their exploits for the first time, thanks to tributes like 50th anniversary books and movies.

Tom Brokaw referred to them as being part of the Greatest Generation. 'Nuff said.

For a time, I'm sure the remembrance and adulation -- in essence, the fame -- was appreciated and enjoyed. But this particular individual, and his surviving 'band of brothers', are in their middle/late 80s now. And with fame, comes a price: being sought out by the public at the cost of peace and quiet in the twilight of their years.

It's not something I've ever had to deal with; I'm about as noteable as a fart on the wind. I'm not unhappy with that status, either. I like simple, austere, low-key. Life occasionally chooses another manner, but that's part of living that I'll deal with as need be.

They say fame is fleeting, and that you should enjoy it today, for tomorrow it's gone. With some, tomorrow can't come too soon. Thus for this man and his family.

Such should be respected in my view.

I work in an industry wherein I have occasion to see, perhaps even meet, persons of celebrity status, be they local, sports, and more widely known. I have a rule for such occasions: if I'm working, or if they are not present at a function wherein their celebrity status is an integral part, I leave them be. It's what I consider to be nothing more than common courtesy.

It's not a shared belief, as I've been witness to.

Recently, I came to work and learned that present on the floor were two Denver Broncos, one of which is well known throughout the NFL. I contented myself with a look on camera, and went about my business. Later, I noticed the more famous of the duo having some animated words with a floor supervisor just prior to his leaving. During a break, I spoke with the supervisor to inquire as to what was up with whozits.

Apparently, the supervisor approached whozits while whozits was engaged in what people do at our place of employment (in this case, playing Texas Hold 'Em poker), and asked for an autograph, which whozits quietly declined to provide. The supervisor pressed the issue, saying it was for his 10 year old; whozits again refused. When whozits left the room later, he stopped by to express mild annoyance with the supervisor.

In the supervisor's mind, he (the supervisor) pays whozits' salary, and whozits should have been more accommodating and less of a "jerk".

My response was simple: "when he was here, who was paying who's salary then? Don't you think you were a bit out of line?"

He didn't think so. Too bad.

There's a time and a place for such things. Granted, some celebrities are more gracious about being interrupted in public for autographs, etc., than others. And some aren't terribly gracious about it when they show up at a function where it's expected and understood. Probably the most famous person I've ever actually met was retired Green Bay QB Bart Starr; he was the keynote speaker at a luncheon I happened to be invited to attend. I was accorded the honor of meeting with and shaking his hand, and he was every bit as gracious and modest in person, as he was awesome as the QB for Green Bay Packers, winners of Super Bowls I and II. On another similar occasion, I was the 'go-to' guy to get autographs for those who were too shy to ask for them, whereas I wasn't. No problem, and everyone went home happy. On another occasion, I met Wayne Rogers (of MASH fame); he was about as gracious as a cornered porcupine.


At work, a few famous people have happened through while I was there doing what I do: most notably, Peter O'Toole and Bill Cosby. Since I didn't figure that they'd shown up to see me -- and they hadn't -- I figured then and since that it's enough to leave them to the reason they did show up there. Same when I encounter such persons in a restaurant, a grocery store, or in another public venue when all they're doing is going about their private life, like I am.

A life I'm allowed to go privately about when in public, while they're not. Because of who they are.

Yeah, I know: they chose the profession, and the fame that goes with it. So they have to take all that goes with the fame. Or so some believe.

Not me. Their privacy is as valuable to them, as mine is to me. That's all I need to know. Others will do as they will; so will I. I have yet to have any level of celebrity complain to someone else that I didn't bother or pester them.

I suppose that anything's possible.

At any rate, so much for my insomniac ramblings at 2:30am, January 13.

Peace. To the gentleman, his family and their website request, I can only say that I know what you did, and I have had an occasion in the past to send an email thanking you for it. That's good enough. If peace and quiet in old age is your wish, speaking strictly for me, it's yours to have.

Frankly, no one I know of in this life has earned or deserves it more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Rumor of Zen Christianity

When most folks are sought out for help, their response tends to vary by (a) the circumstances (b) the seeker (c) their knowledge of the seeker (d) their cultural upbringing (e) their faith (f) a combination thereof and/or (g) what they can expect in return.

And then there are those greedy, mean-spirited conservative types, who callously reject the request, especially from a stranger. Some will even sink so low as to make light of the request.


Judge for yourself the following request for help I received late last week (titled Urgent Assistance Needed Now), followed by the quality/generosity of my response (in italics).

"Dear Friend:

I hope you are my friend. I am contacting you in regards to a business transfer of a huge sum of money from a deceased account. Though I know that a transaction of this magnitude will make anyone apprehensive and worried, but I am assuring you that all will be well at the end of the day. I decided to contact you due to the urgency of the transaction. PROPOSITION; I discovered an abandoned sum of $9 M (Nine Million US Dollards) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customers who died along with his entire family In an airplane accident. Since his death, none of his next-of-kin or relations has come forward to lay claims to this money as the heir. We cannot release the fund from his account unless somoene applies for claim as the next-of-kin to the deceased as indicated in our banking guidelines.

I now seek your permission with urgency to have youstand as a next of kin to the deceased as all documentations will be carefully worked out by me concerning the funds to be released in your favour as the beneficiary's next of kin. It may interest you to note that I have secured from the probate an order of madamus to locate any of the ceased beneficiaries. Please acknowledge receipt of this message in acceptance of this mutual business endeavour by furnishing me with the following:

Your Full Names and Addresses.
Direct Telephone and Fax Numbers
Bank Name, Address and Account Numbers where you will secure the funds upon release
Your Passport as verification and for use in documentation

These requirements will enable us to file a letter of claim to the appropriate departments for necessary approvals in your favour before the transfer can be made. I shall compensate you with 35% on final conclusion of this project.

My means of living, and that of my family, are distressed; I reach out to you as a person of faith, a good Christian, and one that believes in helping those in need. My children cry at night by their hunger; my wife lays awake at night, worried at our economy problem. You have the way to make this all better for the children. Being a good Christian, I know you like children. It is not possible otherwise.

If this proposal is acceptable to you, do not take undue advantage of the trust I have bestowed in you. I await your urgent reply.


Dr. Wongo Ndielem
Bills & Exchange Manager
Bank of Africa (BOA)
Burkina Faso, West Africa

Moving, eh? Now to my reply:

*in assumed position to aaaaummmmmmmmmmmmmm*

Dear Wombat Dildo: I am truly...and I sincerely mean TRULY...gratified that your cosmic karma has provided for a cornfluence with my comic karma in a moment of Gorkus** proportions, enabling you to offer to give me this business you so fervently seek to give me. You are, of course, right: I am a Christian. I like children. Sometimes sauteed, but I digress.

That you have secured a writ of madamus is entirely non descriptis extookum falangork fandango partem poof; that's Liechtenstein legalese for "very good". It shows you are a man with a plan.

Alas, some comic karmic cornfluences do not arrive in fashions that play well in Paris, let alone in a timely manure, having themselves been duped with a cheap copy Rolex. My long-dead zen philosopher Pharto once imparted (along with a powerful onion flatus that destroyed a well-manicured row of hibiscus) this snippet of finite wisdom: a danish with no holes could be a Belgian with a geographic shift; a donut with no holes isn't necessarily a danish, but cannot be construed as a duck if not quacking. But a danish or a donut with coffee can be eaten. Aaummmmmmmmmmm.

Pharto also said for you to get off your lazy, chicaneresque ass, and go get a real job; and that goes for your sit-on-her-fat-ass-watching-Maury wife, and your in-training-gangbanger rugrats, too.

Pharto was all knowing and all seeing, y'see.

I wish you peace and severe gastrointestinal flatus, Wombat Dildo, in your search for the more perfect dupe.

Dr. U. R. Phulovit, pUd

You wouldn't expect that heartless reply, that sheer act of inhumanity and rudeness on my part would endear me to Sally Struthers, Walter Coppage, or UNICEF, right? But it did draw me a sharp rebuke from Wombat Dildo:

PHULOVIT: why you insult me you are no Christian. People like you make people suffer. Die.

Guess he told me.

At any rate, at my great arraignment in the afterlife, God -- whatever I hold Him to be, since I'm no Christian according to Wombat Dildo -- may well hold me to account for this.

Hope He has a better sense of humor than Wombat did.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

New Year, Old Movie(s)

Not being much of a party animal in my middle years*, I spent this past New Years' Eve the way I usually do, if not working: at home, watching a couple-three rented videos. The pet rock and pet ear of corn (aka, Seymour and Jane) love to partake in such recreation, almost as much as they do the usual movie snacks. Though Jane -- once understanding just what popcorn starts out as -- indignantly recused herself from the repast, leaving that much more for Seymour and moi, but I digress.

Generally, I'm not much of a movie-goer. The last movie I saw in a theater when the movie was just out was Star Wars (officially, Part IV, but in actuality Part I of eventually VI). The last movie I saw in a theatre was in '00 (City of Angels). I saw it on account of Meg Ryan; I still like Meg, despite the movie.

At any rate, when discussing my upcoming planned festivities for NYE, a coworker -- one who loves to bust on me about my pronounced dearth of current movie-going acumen -- recommended I see two that I hadn't yet: Napolean Dynamite and Toy Story. Figuring that Seymour and Jane would love the latter, I sought these at my local Blockbuster. Napolean Dynamite was to be had (small wonder after I saw it); but Toy Story wasn't. So I sought an alternate. Something silly that I hadn't seen.

And I was sure I'd found something in the mode of classic Airplane! genre: Mars Attacks! Yep, a movie that came out in 1996, and I was only now -- on New Years' Eve, 2005 -- getting around to seeing it.

Told ya I'm a happenin' dude.

Now, I'm less a movie reviewer than I am a movie goer; my review is, in essence, I liked it or I didn't. I don't go in for trying to dissect scenes, plots, director intent, etc. If I think the movie will be funny, that's all I'm interested in at the end: was it or wasn't it?

I will tell you that while I found Napolean Dynamite to in a strange sort of peculiar way, Seymour spent most of the movie bearing a look not unlike a family dog, when confronted with something that causes it to give you a "are you for real?" look. Jane did find humor in the time machine sequence, and I used the opportunity to remind Seymour that there was a lesson to be learned about online shopping for unique bargains on Ebay. Especially when it's my credit card, but I digress again.

Then came time to 'up the intellect' (which, after Napolean Dynamite, no where but up was left to go). With Seymour's love/hate thing of science fiction, I settled in to witness both the insanity of what I anticipated would be a Tim Burton classic (having seen Beetlejuice and the first Batman movie) and the reactions of a precocious pet rock and ear of corn.

Thus began the epic feature of the evening, Mars Attacks!

Oy vay.

Now, I did some pre-post movie research: for those of you who've seen it, you already know what you think of it. I learned that it was generally panned by the critics, and is considered Burton's biggest flop. One might not think so, when seeing the illustrious cast of Hollywood veterans in the movie: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Martin Short, Jim Brown, Rod Steiger, Paul Winfield, Pierce Brosnan, Pam Grier, Michael J. Fox and others. And, of course, the Martians.

I suspect Burton came up with their language from Bill the Cat of Bloom County/Outland fame; I'm still laughing at listening to Seymour and Jane "ack ack RACK!"ing during the times when they weren't hiding under the loveseat.

At any rate, and for those of you who are even worse about seeing movies than moi, here's a sorta-brief precis: the Martians come to Earth. In force. After making contact with Earth by pre-empting a TV interview between a suave scientist (Pierce Brosnan) and a bimbo TV journalist (Sarah Jessica Parker, who was perfectly cast in this role because she didn't have to fake the part), the Martians and the humans first meet in the desert near Pahrump, Nevada. The Martian 'ambassador' proclaims that they have come in peace, and some hippie relic from Woodstock releases a peace dove over the cheering assemblage. Which the ambassador turns into dove fricasse, followed by the Martians opening fire.

Despite the carnage just witnessed on TV, the President and his advisors convince themselves that it was all due to a cultural misunderstanding. So another meeting is arranged, this time with the Martian ambassador addressing a joint session of the US Congress.

In the ensuing chaos, the ambassador and his two associates do a better job of term limitation than the voters ever managed, and the President -- still not convinced that peace can't be had -- goes on TV to try to convince a nervous nation that "two out of three branches of government are still representing you, and that ain't bad".

With a variety of subplots popping and flopping hither and yon, eventually the Martians get down to business: a full-blown attack. An attack that, at least to me, resembled a parody of the 1950s version of War of the Worlds combined with National Lampoon's Animal House food fight, all conducted by little green men who talked like Bill the Cat on helium. The destruction of Las Vegas -- and the subplot of Tom Jones, singer and collector of womens' panties on stage, with a role as himself in this movie in particular -- achieves the sublemon, though is gratifying for those who enjoy high tech destruction on a grandiose scale. As well as watching a lawyer (Danny DeVito) get lasered out of existence by a Martian who wasn't convinced he'd "need a lawyer to conquer the world". Not quite as graphic as the lawyer in Jurassic Park, but what the heck: a hosed lawyer is a hosed lawyer.

And the dialogue. Oh, the dialogue. Perhaps the single best line of a movie replete with a lack of single best lines, was:

The President (addressing the nation): It is profoundly moving to know that there is intelligent life out there.

The President's daughter (watching the speech elsewhere in the White House): Glad they got it somewhere...

With Washington DC thoroughly trashed, Las Vegas ravaged, a donut shop in Kansas blown up, and when absolutely no one and nothing in the American military arsenal seems able to cope with the advancing Martians, what/who will come in like the cavalry to save the day for humanity?

Not the flu; not a nuke. Nope. Sylvia Sidney and Slim Whitman.

With her listening to one of the most gawdawful-sounding 1940s-50s CW songs perhaps ever recorded, the Martians come to zap her and the music instead does the zapping, exploding their brains. And with that discovery, Sidney and her grandson (Lukas Haas) take the offensive.

Even Seymour, after less than a stanza of the song, felt sorry for the Martians.

In the end, little animals emerge from the ashes, a Mexican string band plays the American National Anthem on what's left of the White House steps, and the late President's daughter (Natalie Portman) and now the acting President, awards medals to Sidney and her grandson.

How heartwarming.

All in all, Mars Attacks! isn't so much in the mode of Airplane; it's more like Hollywood Knights, without the knights, but with lots of versions of flatulated Volare! and urine in the punch, in a manure of speaking.

Y'wanna hear the worst part? I thought it was funny.

At the end, as the President's daughter awards Sidney her Medal of Honor, Sidney responds with "Thank you honey; but don't you dare let this happen again".

I don't think she has to worry; I've heard nothing about a follow-up Mars Attacks! II.

Though, to see Sarah Jessica Parker's head on the body of a chihuahua again, might make it worth a sequel. Perhaps Uranus Attacks! ?

* or any of my years, come to think of it...

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

The X (Skier) Files

Colorado ski country USA. Having a banner year, with incredible amounts of snow across all of the well-known Colorado ski resorts, with more falling as I type. Base amounts up to/beyond 100" in some cases. A boon to the Colorado ski industry, Colorado tourism, and the summer of '06 water supply.

Great news on the water end of things; I hate drinking reservoir dust and the catfish dung that lurks therein.

Phffffft on the rest.

Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against tourism or the ski industry. They both have their uses. Just not for me.

*smattering of gasps in the audience* yes, I live in Colorado. Have since 1971. And yes, I am not your average Coloradan: I don't ski. I don't snort coke in Aspen, either, but I digress.

My reasons are my own (for not doing either), but you might get a sense for a couple of them by perusing the illustration (above) and the linked column (from '03):