Rapid Eye Reality -- Home of Brad Willis' writing on family life, travel adventures, and life inside the poker world

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Friday, November 30, 2001

My guitar...weeping...maybe not so gently

I'm standing in front of a teleprompter at noon today (for those who don't know...that's the thing that makes TV people look smarter than they really are). I see the words "Baby Boomers are mourning..." at the top of the screen. I know the story is going to be about the death of Beatle George Harrison. I start to get a little miffed. Baby Boomers? What about the rest of us?

When I was much younger, I broke away from music like Styx, Taco, Bon Jovi, and Duran Duran and found the Beatles. I was way past their prime. John Lennon died before I really got into the music. But, the Beatles changed the way I listened to tunes. And they changed the way a lot of people in my generation listened to music.

I can remember spending hours with Dave (bass player for the now defunct Flaming Puppies) trading Beatles trivia, trading Lennon and Harrison guitar licks, and seeing who could harmonize to "We Can Work It Out." I remember countless Dec. 8 John Lennon Tributes. For about three or four years, the Beatles were my life. I even wrote a thesis on Charles Manson and some of his ramblings about Helter Skelter.

Of course, most everybody knew John was The Beatle. All of them had their talents (with Ringo maybe being the exception), but John was what we were into. So, Harrison's death...while sad...isn't anything like Mark Chapman gunning Lennon down in front of his New York townhouse. I didn't know enough to be sad when that happened.

But, I know things have changed a bit. I'm not sure the young'uns of today will treasure the Beatles as much as we did. Why?

As I watched the teleprompter scroll down to the rest of the story...I saw that the young producer had written "BEETLE George Harrison has died of cancer." In one fell swoop she had taken the BEAT from the Beatles.

So...just in case you're one of those people who doesn't know...The Jeff Healy Band didn't write "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." George Harrison did.

And he died today.

Waiting for the phone to ring

...is about 60% of my job. I call people. They're doing something else. I wait for them to call me back. That's what I'm doing right now. Three hundred people have lost their jobs in the technology/communications sector. I'm reporting the story and trying to provide some context. My contextual people are finding more context in their power lunches than my story. So, I'm waiting for the phone to ring.

Speaking of power lunches...I am a remorseless eating machine. I shattered my personal California roll eating record today. Thirty, soaked lovingly in wasabi, in my tummy right now. I don't feel so well. However, I am still nimble afoot. It is Friday after all.

I have a full weekend planned. Tonight...dinner with the wife, poker with the gamblers. Tomorrow...maybe some Christmas shopping, a haircut, maybe some frolf. Somebody remind me I need to clean my garage, too.

Something very scary is happening to me. I'm going gray.

My birthday is next Tuesday. I'm not getting that old, but I'm starting to note gray streaks around my temples. I've considered a number of solutions...buzz cuts, a fashionable chapeau, wearing poultry on my head. None of those solutions will allow me to keep my day job, however. I think my boss would frown on me wearing a duck on my head during a breaking news live shot..."over here you can see where the car went through the front of Bed, Bath,and Beyond. And by the way, Quackers says howdy. And what's that Quackers? Oh yes...AFLACK!"

Speaking of my boss and frowning...I have been reprimanded for my Dispatches from Mt. Honesty. Apparently the higher-ups in the company don't take well to me sending company-wide e-mails accusing scotch tape thieves of being the "type of person who would take their mother to an all-you-can-drink biker bar, filling her up on the juice, then putting her on a tractor in the middle of a hilly hayfield and waiting to see what happens next." Mr Honesty...censored.

So, you folks...the fine readers of RER will get the brunt of my rants from now on.

Also...don't forget the new comments section directly below the posts.

The phone still isn't ringing. I'm going to look for Quackers. I think he's buying some low cost insurance...or maybe a washcloth and some bath beads at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Thursday, November 29, 2001

When I'm not inspired...

...I try to give you a chance to do your thing. I've added a comment section to RER. You'll find it at the bottom of each post. If you've got something to say about what I've written, you can do so by clicking on the word "comment." It has a section where you can enter your name, your e-mail and URL, and whatever you have to say about what you're reading on RER.

Use it now and use it often. But be careful, because anybody who reads RER will able to see what you write.


One of my fellow reporters (you'll find him at One Step Left) told me yesterday that my boss says there is no "good news/bad news." It's just "news." So , here's the news from today...

It sounds like some 12 year-old wants to be like Susan Smith. I'm withholding judgement, but as of this moment a 12 year old boy is telling investigators that a black man shot and killed his grandparents, burned down their house, kidnapped him, drive him to a county just to the north, got stuck in some mud and ran off. So, dogs are tracking a black man who most likely doesn't exist, a daycare center in the search radius is locked down, and so on and so on. Guess how this one is going to turn out.

I'm so fabulously uninspired right now, I can't find a way to express what a good mood I am in.

Here's something...Brother Beaker is boycotting winter. It is a novel concept.

I might write more later. I'm feeling a bit like a hack right now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Pop Culture Victim

I'm so embarrassed I can barely look at myself in the reflection of my monitor.

I pride myself on...if not being on the cutting edge...at least being somewhere near the blade. Since I was a senior in high school...and a couple of years later when I met a guy named Marty (you know who you are, you swarthy, influential man, you), I've abandoned most things...um...popular. I took the Top 40 crystals out of my car stereo. I wear a lot of blue jeans and t-shirts. I watch a lot of reruns and movies about angry people. I'm no Marty, but I ain't the feather-haired pansy from Willard, MO that I was when I was a freshman in high school (I was always trying to impress those Pop 40 girls...never realizing that they would never pop).

I'm not anti-pop, mind you. I still get into some things that are popular...but still good. I say this in fear that someone out there might call me an elitist. Or some people who really know me will say that I'm really more of a pop culture freak than I realize. I dunno. I'm rationalizing too much. Moving on...

I'm embarrassed.

I can't get enough of those new Gap commercials.

It began with hearing Sheryl Crow as she gyrated to Supertramp. Then Dwight Yokum. Even that Shaggy character. I have no idea who he is, but I hear he, like Ms. Crow (and me) is from Missouri. Now, every time the commercial comes on...I'm glued.

Part of my fascination...I love to hear regular artists pick up an acoustic guitar and cover some old song.

Now, I'm on The Gap.com, downloading Quicktime and watching the commercials on my PC. I'm strumming the opening D-A-D chord progression on my guitar. I'm trying to make my voice sound like Shaggy without asking Scooby where all the snacks are. I'm sick.

The thing is...I have no more desire to shop at the Gap than I did last month. But I wonder if there is some subliminal message..."Give a little bit...give a little bit of your dough to Gap..."

I'm really afraid. There has to be some support group out there for me. I mean, they have a home menopause test now. Surely they have something for people like me.

Give a little bit, people.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

More inspiration

I've given Ruth some time to get her blog up and running. She is a high school friend who happens to be married to one of my two best friends in the world. She's a teacher who lives near my hometown. She's still struggling to work out the "gotta-post-everyday" thing, but she's getting there.

Check her out at her updated site.

Prison Bars and Grandchildren

He thought he was going free. Twenty-six years in prison, a clean disciplinary record, and a get-out-of-jail-free card from the parole board. What the cop-killer didn't know... the parole board acted when nobody was watching.

So...after a re-inspiring bit of work by yours truly and a lot of yelling by a lot of people...the parole board said today...the cop killer stays in prison. I think he's miffed.

I got up at 5:45 this morning, shaved in the dark (didn't want to wake up the wife and pooch), and headed down to our state capital. I sat through about ten parole hearings before the one I was interested in came up. It gave me time to notice a couple of things that made my eyebrows dance.

First of all...the elevator in the parole board building is named Otis. I like that. I nicknamed myself Otis a few years back...as a nod to my grandpa (who actually spells his name Ottis), the drunk in the Andy Griffith Show, and a Mojo Nixon album of the same name. Turns out I share it with a brand of elevators as well. That's neat. [Note: I do not approve of giving one's self a nickname. But, the Otis Incident was part of a Drunken Ski Trip and it occasionally pops up. Deal with it. I also nicknamed my old car Otis the Black Dart. He's since been traded in for a gas-guzzling monster named Emelio who has a tendency to talk like Cheech]

Second...a victim's family member knocked my socks off with the number of branches on her family tree. She looked no older than my mother and she said this: "I have 33 grandchildren. When I get back to New Orleans I expect to have 34." Thirty-four grandchildren? My mother has...let me count...oh yeah...none. That is one prolific family.

I'm now sleepy. I have about two more hours of work before I can go home.

One last thing...my last post talked about my disdain for dishonesty. I realized last night that I wasn't being completely honest about that. See, Mr. Honesty has a thing for movies about thieves, con men, and hustlers. I watched "Color of Money" for the 20th time last night (digital cable is going to be the end of me). I love movies where people take things that don't belong to them. Bank robbers, cat burglars, grifters, cheats. I love'em.

Honestly...I think I have a problem.

Monday, November 26, 2001

Mr. Honesty

Maybe I have a problem.

I live in a world of sharks, vultures, and sick twists. Liars, thieves, and confidence men skulk about pushing their lies, booty, and cons on unsuspecting pigeons.

I've grown to accept this. I even embrace it from time to time. I have a friend (we'll call him "T") who can run a scam on just about anybody and pull it off with ease. He can park in football parking lot spaces that have been handled down from generation to generation. He can get discounts where he doesn't deserve them. He is a master of the scam, and yet one of the nicest, most caring people I've ever met.

My problem...I'm too honest. I have a hard time lying to my dog about being out of treats. The most dishonest thing I've done in the last year is sneaking my mini-swiss army knife into a Widespread Panic concert (you just don't know what you're going to run into in a crowd like that...I needed pen-knife precision protection). I can't keep excess change given to me by absent-minded cashiers. I can't keep a found five-spot.

Recently, I've been on an honesty crusade at work. People tend to venture into the world of petty theft around here. Stolen sodas. Stolen pens. I just can't take it. I've designated myself Mr. Honesty. And people are coming to me with pleas for help.

Find my stolen pizza. Find my soda. Find out who didn't flush the toilet in the men's bathroom.

I am now the Honesty Czar.

It's not a bad job. Honesty, after all, is the best policy. Unfortunately we live in a world where honesty is not the only policy. Politicians, police, lovers, teachers all lousy with half-truths and sometimes downright lies.

But that's okay. I'm not on a mission to make everybody honest. I'm just on a mission to expose everybody's lies and thievery.

Don't worry...I'm not after you.

Or maybe I am.

You never know who is telling the truth.

Sunday, November 25, 2001

The Rainy Day Ice Cream Man

Don't trust him.

After about 48 hours of soupy skies and periodic downpours, I can again see the moon. The drought took a shot in the crotch this weekend as cold and warm fronts dumped a couple inches of rain on the Upstate. Which is why the visit by the ice cream man seemed so out of place.

Yesterday afternoon as the sky spit and the fog hugged the asphalt, I heard the music. It echoed off the empty streets. I never actually saw the guy (partly because of the fog) but I knew he was out there. An ice cream man, in late November, in the rain. Something just isn't right there. It was like something out of a Stephen King novel...working title: The Rainy Day Ice Cream Man.

Saw a couple of movies this weekend. "Spy Game" and "Requiem for a Dream." "Spy Game" was fairly Hollywood. It struggled between being a character study and a Hollywood action flick. It didn't accomplish either very well. But it kept me entertained for two hours and was a great excuse to get my wife in front of a Brad Pitt movie again. She always seems more randy after those. Or maybe it was Redford. His leathery face just can't disappoint.

"Requiem" was a little more of a film. Basic theme: We all have goals and often take extraordinary steps to achieve them. Sometimes the methods we use to achieve the goals become sick goals in themselves and often end our quest for what we were looking for in the first place. Add some drug use and a little water and you have one perfectly disturbing film.

Today was cleaning day. I didn't get out to play frolf and I feel weak for not having done so. But the house is much cleaner. I would no longer be embarrassed to have people over for a drink and a screening of a Brad Pitt movie. Just as long as he's not naked. I don't think my self esteem could handle it.

Friday, November 23, 2001

Euchre and the power of the ether

This was a non-traditional Thanksgiving at best. My Brother Beaker flew solo (sort of) on the family trip. My wife and I both worked. We had turkey at work, but our friends backed out on us for dinner, so I made food and we ate it in front of the TV.

To avoid must-see TV, I came upstairs to play Euchre on-line. I do it anonymously. Yahoo! is a wonderful thing sometimes.

If you don't know how it works...people from all over the world hop on-line and play a virtual game of Euchure. You generally get your partner at random. It just so happened that the partner I drew had to quit in the middle of the game. We opened up the table to outsiders. Some guy with a name I never saw before ended up at the table across from me. We played a few hands, chatting idly with our opponents. Pretty soon I broke out a Frolf reference and my partner's virtual eyebrows went up.

To make a long and very spooky story short...my accidental partner turned out to be my good friend and Su's husband. Millions of people on line. Thousands playing Euchre. And I end up in the same four-player room as Su's hubby. Small world.

It's now midnight and I have to work tomorrow.

It's nice to have my non-holiday done with.

Thursday, November 22, 2001

More Thanksgiving Dispatches

As part of my "I'm-going-to-boycott-work-as-much-as-I-can" effort today, I didn't carry a pen or notebook with me as I went out on my story today. It wasn't that big a deal, but it was enough to give me a sense of non-accomplishment. Then I needed something to write with. Not because of work, but because of nice people.

I went to Red Lobster where a group of volunteers was serving hundreds of meals to the less fortunate. While photographer Mr. E was working, I walked around talked to people. Before long, a woman asked me for my autograph.

I feel silly giving my worthless signature to anybody...in part because I'm nobody. I don't get asked for it very much and I consider that a good thing.

I tried to beg off.

"It's not worth anything," I explained with a smile.

And then the woman said the thing...a simple thing...that sort of made my day. Not because of vanity or sense of fame...but because it was just a nice thing to say.

"It's worth something to me," she said.

Before I knew it, I was borrowing a pen from a homeless woman and finding paper napkins to sign my name on. I signed napkins, envelopes...whatever they could find. And they smiled and said thank you.

That was nice.

I'll have some turkey and a schooner of Bud

I was all prepared to moan and whine about my holiday situation. Admittedly, it blows. And sucks. I'm trapped in the news business and far from family and food. In a moment of protest, I didn't wear a tie to work today. What's worse, my wife and I aren't even cooking dinner tonight after work. We're headed out to any open eatery to stuff ourselves with whatever they have. I'm guessing I'll end up drinking chicken wings and eating beer. But, we'll be with friends and that's a good thing.

If you want to know what I'm missing, you can check out Brother Beaker's description at Code Orange. He's flying semi-solo through the family tradition skies. I miss those days a lot.

So that's it for the moaning. I am really a lucky guy. And rather than sit here and lament my ugly situation...I'll do what everybody should be doing today.

Why I'm lucky...and thankful...

I have a wife who almost likes getting sick when I'm sick. She does it so she can empathize with my pain. We've both been sniffling, coughing, puking mounds for the last week and a half. She surprises me by breaking out baking skills that I didn't know she had. She learns new languages and humors me when I try to remember my old French classes and try to conjugate the verb avoir. And she feels like she's been bad when she stays up late.

I have a dog...Scoop...who doesn't care when I'm sick. She doesn't care that we're not making Thanksgiving dinner tonight. As long as somebody plays fetch with her and doesn't move her off of her space in bed, she'll wag her tail and be happy.

I have two parents who try to make me feel like I never left home. Mom calls every phone I have to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving and leaves three of the same good tidings messages. When I call back, Dad gets on the phone we we talk about the Missouri Tigers fantastic win last night. It's almost like I'm rolling out of bed in southwest Missouri, smelling my mom's food, sharing a cup of joe with my dad and getting ready for the Willis Thanksgiving Marathon.

I have a brother (See Brother Beaker above)...who fills in for me when I can't be home. The extended family will be wowed by his tales from the ER. He'll fill them in on what he's doing and some of what I'm doing. Then he'll e-mail me and tell me about all the silliness I missed. I'm proud of him and his success. It's rough having a best friend who lives six states away.

And I've got a lot of good friends. Many of them read RER. They come from my childhood, my college years, and my pseudo-adult years. They keep all parts of me sane.

Now, I have to run and off and work.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Eat a lot for me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

A Legacy

Anyone who might have read Monday's piece about me dropping my...whatevers...will remember the story of my old coach...Rube Berry. I was getting a little nostalgic. Started looking around on the 'net. As it turns out, his son is now the coach of the Army Black Knights.
That's him. Todd Berry. Looks a little like his dad.
That's all for now.

Get me a Turducken!

I was in a discount store today. I wasn't happy about being there, but I wasn't unhappy either. More than anything, I was bored. And so was the 11 year-old kid standing down the clothing racks from me.

I hate to admit it, but we were both occupying ourselves by doing the exact same thing.

We were looking at fashionable panties.

Like you might expect in a discount store...there was a big bin. It was full of multi-colored, rhinestone-studded, big-enough-to-put-your-ass-and-a-turducken-inside-the-fabric panties. I was standing a goodly distance away. I didn't want anyone to see a lesser-known TV personality eyeing up the shiny underwear. The kid didn't have any worries. He and each of his four eyes (no offense to my bespectacled friends) were staring deeply into the Big Bin O' Panties. He looked like he wanted to touch them. I saw something light up in his eyes. It was as if...for the first time...he saw what is exciting about women.

His dad was nearby looking at Member's Only jackets. I'm pretty sure his dad wanted to touch the panties as well.

What worries me is that some woman is going to buy these panties. She's going to walk in to her husband's bedroom in the back part of the trailer and he's going to say, "Honey, those rhinestones really bring out your belly button." And then they are going to make mad, greasy, monkey-love. What is even more worrisome is that this kid is going to be thinking about these panties for the next three years or so. Every time he looks at his homeroom teacher, he's going to imagine her wearing a pair of lemon-yellow, sparkly underwear. And he's not going to be able to concentrate on math.

If this poor kid only knew what was in front of him (I'm now speaking figuratively). The next ten years of his life are going to be be one big Panty Obsession. You focus on that first thing that gets to you. For me...and I won't get too graphic here...it was a Zest soap commercial. I still can't walk through a supermarket soap aisle without getting a little sweaty.

The kid didn't linger long. He wandered off...his eyes just as glassy as his glasses. Poor kid. He's never going to be able to hear the song "Rhinestone Cowboy" again without needing to take a cold shower.

Monday, November 19, 2001

Hey look! Willis just dropped...

One of my favorite stories to tell (and one of my friends' favorites to hear) is an old high school football tale.

Coach Reuben Berry (former CFA coach, turned high school mentor/coach, turned cancer victim) was a bit of phrase-smith. My favorite (in referring to the Willard High School Tigers offense): "We're like high water running over low land and all they have to hold us back with is a squeegee."

He also had a phrase for when a young player stepped up and became a man on the field. For those of you who don't know what happens to young male bovines when they become big stud bulls...think of it this way...you've got two big oranges and a grocery sack. When it's time to leave the store, you've got to carry those oranges in something. So do the bulls.

So...Danny Enos would throw a fantastic pass. or my buddy Gary would pancake some unsuspecting linebacker...and coach Berry would let out a whoop in line with his native american heritage and yell, "Look at that! So-and-so just dropped his balls!" And then he would let out a thunderous "BOOM! BOOOOOOOM!" Each boom, you understand, represented the...uh...oranges.

It was a point of pride for any player on the team.

One hot afternoon in practice, I was doing my usual duty (read: I was doing a lot of running around for no particular reason, because the chances of me actually getting into a varsity game for any length of time were close to nil). Enos threw a long pass down the sideline...I laid out...the ball touched my fingertips (I can hear skinny Coach French screaming "Make the triangle! If you can touch it, you can catch it!") and the ball sunk into my dirty hands. I landed like a sack of ice, more surprised than anybody that I caught it. I didn't catch many passes. And then I heard that whoop. Coach Berry was about to bestow on me the greatest honor he could.

"Look at that! Willis Just dropped his balls!"

I waited a moment for the BOOMS to come, knocking the dirt of my pants. The BOOMS were the best part.

He winked at somebody. I saw it from 50 yards away. And then he said..."tink...tink."

And still, I admire that man...may he rest in peace.

I only bring it up, because I needed some way to introduce two new blogs. And an old football story is always a way to introduce someone.

First up...my brother (another disciple of Coach Berry...I don't know if he got the BOOMS or not). I've told you about him before and I will let you introduce yourselves. He's still working out the kinks on his site but you kind find him at Code Orange.

Second...a new buddy of mine. He's still learning the HTML and all, so be nice to him. He's a lot like me...or maybe I'm a lot like him. Regardless, I admire the hell out of his talents. You'll find him at One Step Left.

Both of them are a lot busier than I am, so I doubt they'll write as much as I do. But maybe with a little encouragement...they can become another daily read.

Tink, tink, indeed.

Scratchy and Random

Usually when I get sick, it starts with a scratchy feeling in the back of my throat...like a mild chile pepper seed caught just beyong my uvula's reach. It generally goes pretty quickly from there. One day scratchy, the next day sick. I'm a little concerned. Scratchy Throat has been teasing me for about five days now. No illness. Just Scratchy Throat. I'm starting to think I might be sick but just don't realize it. I think there's a lot going on around me that I don't notice.

Here's a thought..."Life As We Know It" creates an energy by pursuing "Life As We Want It." The two will never reach an equalibrium. And in turn, the energy created by one pursuing the other fuels the initial life (sort of a self-perpetuating engine) and a life beyond it. That life beyond it is actually the equalibrium the two seek, but cannot reach.

That's sort of been bouncing around in my head for the last few days and I didn't really want to say it out loud because it sounds like some dime store philosophy that I gave up years ago while aimless circling a swimming pool with my buddy Gary. We were talking about anarchy at the time, but I think it was the peak of my dime store philosophy years. There is a certain headiness in the freedom of knowing nothing while thinking you know everything.

So, Live Music Weekend is over. I don't have any more live music plans until Dec. 14th. In fact, I don't have many plans at all. My birthday is coming up but I don't find much excitement in that.

Here's something else that's been lounging around in my tempoary vocabulary files...Ass Chaff. Sounds sort of crude, doesn't it? Not even sure exactly what I mean by it, but I'd really life to call somone that. "Hey, Ass Chaff, get outta my way!"

The Weatherman is threatening to cut my Indian Summer off.

The cops are getting ready to charge somone in Melissa's death. She's the one they found strangled in the trunk of her car.

Okay, that's it. I think the Scratchy Throat has moved on to my brain.

Sunday, November 18, 2001

Craft Show Bootlegs

Just back in from a two-day whirlwind trip to Charlotte. A double bill of Widespread Panic and 18 holes at a treacherous championship frolf course. There are a lot of stories from the weekend. but one stands out.

Anybody familiar with Widespread Panic (or Phish or the Dead, for that matter) knows about the parking lot scene. It is usually full of aging hippies and youngish too-contents. This time was no different. I felt a little old, but not so out-of-place as to feel uncomfortable. Two quotes that stick out in my head...

"There are 11,500 people here and they have six porta-potties. Somebody wasn't thinking."--Some guy standing behind be in line.

"I just woke up. I've been passed out in that van over there...no, maybe it was that van."--Some guy at 8 o'clock on Saturday night.

For those unfamiliar with the scene (I'm none-too-experienced myself, but I've seen it enough to know it)...imagine a lot of people who haven't showered in a while. About 10% of them are selling grilled cheese sandwiches or burritos which in many cases are described as "fatty." About 20% of the people are selling some kind of drink out of the back of their cars. Often beer or water. I saw a few juice boxes this time. About 10% of the people are looking for tickets to the show, 10% are selling counterfeit t-shirts or bootleg tapes, about 10% have dogs. And every twenty minutes or so someone will come by quietly and offer you drugs. It's quite possible to be quite sane and consort with this crowd. But only if you are emotionally prepared for what you'll see.

Somebody at Charlotte's Cricket Arena (formerly the Independence Arena) must have been eating a really good steak or watching a really good game when they set up the schedule for this weekend.

We got to the parking lot about 4:30 on Saturday. We sat at the back of the vehicle, sipped some beers, and watched the show go on around us. By 5:30, the lot was full and in full effect. Music was playing, the police weren't interested in the drug dealers yet, the smell of grilled cheese was everywhere. The masses were gearing up.

Then we saw the woman with Christmas Tree pin on her shirt and a big Santa Claus shopping bag. She looked lost and scared. She couldn't find her car. She didn't look like she belonged in this particular lot. Another woman who had found her car wasn't fairing much better. She couldn't fit the mid-sized fake Christmas tree in the trunk. She was trying to do it as if she were the young sex pot in a horror flick and all the hippies were the killers. Mothers and grandmothers were wandering aimlessly through the parking lot, clutching their children and shielding their eyes from the sin.

Turns out, the Cricket Arena hosted a Christmas Craft Fair on the same day as the Widespread show. Culture Clash.

The woman could've been smart instead of scared. If they'd just opened their cars and started hawking their wares (Fatty Christmas Trees, Kind Wicker Baskets!) they would've made a killing.

I'm tired.

Thursday, November 15, 2001

The Seventh Juliet

Juliet was the seventh. Her family had a thing about the name. She kept a portrait of the first. That one came from the old country. The Seventh named her daughter Juliet. The next generation had one, too. That makes nine. There are only two who are still alive.

Juliet died this week after some riff-raff in a primer-scarred Toyota drove by in a mall parking lot, grabbed her purse and dragged her for several feet. She was 74. She was a volunteer. The purse-snatcher is just a shadow.

She had cared for her husband for years. He died from cancer two months ago.

I met Juliet's family this morning, including the eighth and ninth. The came to town to bury the seventh.

I've seen enough in my short career to be numb to most things. Death doesn't bother me too much anymore. So, I can't quite explain why I felt a little sad when I left my meeting with the family. But I did and I guess I wouldn't be human if I didn't.

I did some looking around when I got back to my desk. As it turns out..Juliet means "youthful" or in some cases "soft-haired." I'm sure there is something to say about either of those descriptions. But I don't know what it is.

No real point here...just wanted to get it off my chest.

A few other notes here...today is Su's birthday. Log on and give her some youthful wishes.

In just a couple of hours I'll be headed out to Clemson to see Eddie from Ohio. I wonder how they'll fit in with the Limp Bizkit and kid Rock crowd? Or maybe I'm just so old and out of touch that I don't realize that some of the best music critics are college students and I'm just seom old fogey music-elitist.

Now, here's something you don't hear a guy say very often...I have to go and put on my make-up. Clinique #3 "Stay Beige."

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Insides...staying inside

The Bout with Botulism (a close second to the Thrilla in Manilla) seems to have passed. Still dealing with the after-effects. I think I pulled every muscle in my neck. Puking hurts sometimes.

I spent the day feeling weak and worried about the state of our country. I think we're on top of all the security issues...at least I hope we are. I'm more worried about Adult Contempoary Radio. I won't go into why I was listening to Lite Rock in the first place (we news reporter-types are often at the musical mercy of the people who drive our soft-asses around). But I feel I would be failing my few readers if I didn't express some concern over some musical artist re-mixing "Baby I Love Your Way" with Skynard's "Freebird." I didn't know whether to flic a Bic and sway with the redneck crowd or just flic a Bic and light myself on fire.

Now, I'm trying to make myself feel well enough to survive until Live Music Weekend. Tomorrow night I'm traveling to Clemson to see Eddie from Ohio play to the college crowd. Then Friday and Saturday nights, I'm catching a double-bill of Widespread Panic in Charlotte's Cricket Arena.

On a work-related note...the parole board officially rescinded Wakefield's parole this morning. Now the poor guy has to stay in prison. He gets a new hearing on the 27th. We'll see what happens this time around.

On the "Why I'm Not Sure I Wan t to Work in a Big City Front:" This weekend, a 74 year-old woman was killed in the parking lot of our biggest mall. She was walking along in the parking lot, a car rolled by, somebody leaned out of the backseat window, grabbed her purse, dragged her along the ground, and drove off. She hit her head and died. She was a volunteer who lost her husband to cancer three months ago. Police have no idea who did it. In most cases like this, the police ask the surviving family members to talk to us so we can put the story on TV and help with the investigation. In this case, the victim's relatives are from Boston and Atlanta. Now, I can't say much about Boston media. Never been there. I know Atlanta TV is run and gun stuff (that is to say, they work fast and hard there). Regardless, the family has a conception about the media that we're all vultures and aren't out to help them at all. I'm talking wth them tomorrow and I hope I prove them wrong.

One last note about the Illness at Mt. Willis. My wife...who hasn't eaten pork or beef since she went to some Communist Training Camp in Upstate New York ten years ago (my apolgies to any Communist readers)...has decided that she is swearing off chicken for now. That means, Chef Willis can now only cook fish and tofu. Looks like we're going to be ordering a lot of veggie pizza in the coming weeks. I think I'm going to have to make an appeal...Blame me...don't blame the chicken. The chicken didn't know what it was doing. It had been frozen in a state of suspended animation for weeks. How was it supposed to know? Poor chicken...poor scapegoat.

By the way, anyone know how to filet a scapegoat?

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

So, that's what my insides look like

Shortly after my last post, my body revolted. It declared its indepedence, sang a new national anthem, and raised a flag out of my navel. In short, I thought I had a touch of botulism most of the night. After 14 hours of mentally making out my will, I can now sit up without fear of dying.

The bad part was...my wife caught whatever I had. She's about three or four hours behind me in the cycle and still thinks she's going to die. My guess is we either have some ugly 24 hour bug, or I really screwed up when I cooked dinner last night and gave us both food poisoning.

Regardless, we're both home from work today...which I'm sure is raising some eyebrows there. But I'm sure they'd rather do without us today than catch our botulism.

I think I stink.

If time had wings, I'd build a cage

I sat down a few hours ago, planning to kill some time before the news came on. The news came and went. My wife went to bed. Next thing I know, I looked up and RER looked completely different. So, here's the latest incarnation of Rapid Eye Reality. If you like it, let me know. If you don't, keep it to yourself. My self esteem hasn't been eating its vegetables. And by the way, thanks to Su for the tools I needed to do the job.

I'm feeling a little detatched from the world. I can't find much to focus on except the past.

Here's something silly though. As it turns out, I was blogging before I even knew what a blog was. I was searching through some old files and found a copy of the "Deep South Update." It was a weekly newsletter I started when I moved to Mississippi from Missouri. It kept me sane while I lived alone in that particular fat roll of America. Here's a snippet from 1997...

One More Thing to be Paranoid About

I've never really lived on my own. My entire life it's been my parents, the dorm rats, my roommates, and then of course, Chelle. But now that I have my evenings to spend alone, quietly, lost in thought, things that I never used to think about are starting to worry me. For instance, I noticed a freckle in my belly-button that wasn't there before. I don't know if you can get cancer of the navel, but I can't sleep at night thinking about it.

Another example...my clothes dryer makes a strange ticking noise when it's not running. I haven't received any bomb threts, but you never know. I haven't done much laundry as a result. I stink.

And now, thanks to a recent issue of "Mississippi Geology," I'm a little worried about going to work. Turns out, by some crazy twist of fate, my office is positioned almost directly above the mouth of the only volcano that exists below a major American city. The movie "Volcano" was fiction. This...the so-called "Jackson Volcano" is not.

"...the chances of any of us seeing an erupting volcano on the Gulf Coastal Plain are very small." MISSISSIPPI GEOLOGY, V.18, No.3, September 1997, p.42.

Very small? Very small? For the love of all creatures great and small...how am I supposed to crash-edit a package on the credibility of Mississippi's Governor with the possibility of molten rock being shot up my ass?

A little blast from the past for you. I forgot the damned thing even existed. Okay...one more...a short one before I put this thing back where it belongs. It also speaks to living alone...and far away from the lady of my life.

Is Salmonella a Sexually Transmitted Disease?

I know I've been away from home for too long. I realize I came home two weeks ago. But I have a problem.

I was tenderizing a couple of chicken breasts a few nights ago and I started getting aroused.

Okay...that's really it. Night...

Monday, November 12, 2001

Pay No Attention...

...to the man behind the curtain.

Feeling strange today.

Incidentally, my friend Beth made it home today. She flew through Charlotte and made it home before noon. However, there may soon be a mandate from the FAA that she stay out of the air (for those who haven't been paying attention, that is a twisted attempt at humor).

Other things of note...remind me to be careful with what I write here. I forgot that search engines run spidery crawls though my site constantly. I've had to delete a couple of posts as a result of some stuff I've written about. Certain things can't be made public. From now on, when I refer to specific people and places...you'll probably see a lot of initials and single-name references. I'm still learning, you see.

I promise however, my writing will remain as honest as always.

Wordless and worried

Bad coincidences always make my stomach flip over. And I have to believe that is all this is. A Bad Coincidence.

You know, on September 11th, my friend Beth was flying back from LA. Her husband lives there. She was stranded in Cleveland and ended up hitching a ride back to South Carolina in a rented car with three elderly folks on their way to Florida.

This morning, Beth is en route back from LA. She was visiting her husband again and was due in here early this afternoon. I don't know where she is now.

But if it is a bad coincidence, they won't shut down al the airports, will they?

Hopefully by this afternoon, Beth will be back and the nation will feel a little more at ease. It seems horrible to think that the nation will feel better that 200-some people died as a result of an accident instead of terrorism. But I don't know how to rectify that in my head.

So, I'll leave it at that.

Thursday, November 08, 2001

Every time I think I'm out...they pull me back in

Or something like that.

The thing is...my job make me like it again today. After weeks, nay, months of apathy and near-disdain for my profession, my job got interesting today. And now I like it again...which is really annoying. It's kind of like dating a girl for a long time. Over the course of the relationship you start to figure out that she doesn't smell good all the time, she tends to harp on your little inconsistencies (like flirting with waitresses and bartendresses), and she will occasionally eat your Chinese noodle leftovers when you're not looking. You're all ready to find some trollop from the local beanery and then Girl #1 surprises you with a lemon tart and some fancy new marital aide that is really going to spice things up.

Here's the deal. Local news (especially TV news) is often very reactionary. You only do stories if someone is outraged enough about something to fax over a press release. And then you only do it if the Anthrax Scare at the local daycare center has affected the nap time of fewer then six little monsters. It gets to be a grind and you start wondering if you are any more than a mouthpiece for the newsmakers.

Today, I had nothing. Each morning at 9:30 we meet to discuss what we'll be doing for the day. Like many days in the last few months, I looked at the floor and picked cookie crumbs out of my colleague's desk cracks. Before I knew it, I had been assigned to do a story on South Carolina banning all outdoor burning (for you city folk, we here in the rural part of the country burn our junk when we're tired of looking at it) because the risk of wildfires was getting too great. I didn't really care. I had become far-too apathetic to mind my daily work duties. I rode out to Pickens, interviewed a guy from the Forestry Commission, played with some dry leaves, and came back to my desk.

My voice-mail indicator was bright red. I didn't think much of it. I dialed in and started listening.

My stomach fell into my shoes. The guy on the voice mail worked for the state department of pardon, probation, and parole. I had been pestering him for a few days about an upcoming parole hearing. He told me on Monday that Charles Wakefield's parole hearing had been canceled at his attorneys request. I said I could wait and he promised to call me and tell me when it was set to come up again.

Charles Wakefield killed a county deputy and the deputy's father in 1975. Deputy Frank Looper noticed a guy walk into his dad's garage. He grabbed his service revolver, headed to the garage into an ambush. The police eventually caught up with Wakefield. A jury convicted him and gave him the death penalty.

In 1978, the Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional. Wakefield's sentence was commuted to life in prison plus 25 years.

He went to parole hearing after parole hearing. In 1997, the parole board actually paroled him. But after a huge public outcry, the parole board decided it made a mistake and said Wakefield had to stay in prison because he hadn't found a suitable place to live. The overriding though at the time was Wakefield had some friends in high places who thought they could let him go without anybody noticing.

So, the guy on my voicemail was telling me that, despite what he'd told me, the parole hearing went on as planned and the parole board granted Wakefield a conditional release. Sorry you weren't here to see it, maybe we'll see you next time.

After I made about a dozen phone calls, I realized I wasn't the only one who was led astray. See, state law requires that and living victims, victims' families, the police, and the prosecutor be notified anytime there is a parole hearing. They are supposed to have a chance to speak in front of the parole board to oppose parole. As it turns out, nobody here was notified. Everyone I talked to went crazy. The police chief, the former police chief, the sheriff, etc.

In a period of two hours, the law enforcement community was in a tizzy. The woman who chaired the parole board was backpedaling. She says she didn't know the locals weren't notified.

Now, there's a very good chance the parole board will rescind the guy's parole and call for a new hearing in which everybody gets to speak.

Now, maybe Wakefield has paid his debt to society. I dunno. Not my place to say. But, if he's going to get out, it has to be done by the book. And if I wasn't doing my job today, there's a chance he could've been out and gone before anybody knew (read: the editor is giving himself a shameless pat on the back).

So, for tonight, I like my job again. I feel like I did something. Rather than being reactionary, I caused a reaction. Or, at least, I reported an unknown fact that caused a reaction.

So, this little harlot has tied me around her little finger again. She'll eat my noodles, smell bad, and slap me when I flirt with Ani (that's "Annie" to the sober-headed) the Naughty Bartendress.

And next time I go on a rant about hating my job, remind me...I like it sometimes.

Bad ju-ju on Mt. Willis

The Hatfield and McCoy feud began as a battle over pig ownership. It ended in a very bloody fashion. A lot of people died. All this despite the fact that the two families lived in different states (Kentucky and West Virginia) and had a small mountain range divided the families' property.

I only bring it up because life around Mt. Willis is getting ugly.

To be fair, Mt. Willis isn't much of a mountain. It's more of a hill that sits as a border to a perfectly suburban cul-de-sac. The cul-de-sac contains five homes. We live in one, a woman my wife calls Repo lives in another. A quiet couple who likes the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Georgia Bulldogs lives in one.

That leaves the Hatfields and McCoy (singular).

Crazy Pat lives at the end of the cul-de-sac. The B's live right next to us. They just moved in about six months ago A young couple with a three year-old daughter. They're inactive military folks who are quite smart. My wife is good friends with the lady of the house. Crazy Pat and The B house are only separated by about six feet of short grass.

The feud began in earnest about five months ago. Mr. B is pretty good with wood. Acting as a good father would, he was refinishing his daughter's furniture in the opening to their garage. Then he decided to build a fence in his back yard (nice, well-constructed, and pretty). The Crazy Pat put up a For Sale sign. Her gardener (yes, Crazy Pat has a guy who does her yard) revealed to Mr. B that Pat thought Mr. B was a redneck and she couldn't live there anymore.

Mr B doesn't take well to being called a redneck. He increased his woodworking, even building a candlelit Happy Halloween structure that clearly went against Crazy Pat's sensibilities.

Then the first letter came. Crazy Pat had written the homeowners association saying that Mr. B was consistently driving across a small portion of short grass that belong to her. She didn't ask him to stop. She just reported him to the HOA Nazis.

So Mr B goes over to ask why, deny driving on her grass, etc. She rebuffs him. So he asks her to keep the Crazy Pat Cat from walking on his car. She says it isn't her cat. So he says...that's good...I can kill it next time it comes over.

Mental note: Don't threaten people's animals.

(Editors note: It is about this time in the feud that I stop taking sides. Sometimes Mr. B gets a little too mouthy for his own good and I can't be associated with it Plus...I don't like animal threats, either).

Then Mr. B writes a perfectly nice parable about The Wretched Old Hen. I'd share it with you, but its pretty long. I don't think he shared it with Crazy Pat, but he did erect a Thanksgiving structure in his front yard that bore the legend "Happy Thanksgiving, You Wretched Old Hen."

That's when the Sheriff's Office showed up.

Mr B has now been served notice that he is in violation of HOA Rules and Regulations.

I don't know where it goes from here. But the social gatherings at Mt. Willis are going to be postponed for a while.

Security issues, you understand.

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

My brother...oh, my brother

It generally happens this way. When I get in a good-story-drought, my brother can always come through.
Background: He's a med student at the University of Missouri; bred on promptness; a lot like me, but a lot smarter; and in a long-term relationship.
Here's an e-mail I got from him yesterday...in its entirety:

It’s Saturday night. I am on my way to my girlfriend’s house.

We are planning a quiet evening together… maybe some booze, maybe some other stuff. Running a few minutes early, as usual, I think I might just stop and fill up the tank while the gas prices have reached their probable nadir for the year. The gas cap is open; the nozzle is in my hand. Pay inside or Pay outside? A no brainer. I love the convenience of modern technology that allows me to abuse fossil fuels without dragging anyone else down with me. I press “Pay Outside”.

Wait! Powerball is over 50 Million! Cancel! Cancel! Cancel! Whew. It’s not too late. Pay Inside. The fuel begins to flow. The numbers on the pump just keep going up, and up, and up; I don’t care, I am going to be rich in just a few hours. The pump finishes its work, and I screw the cap back to its rightful place and stroll inside, still a few minutes early for my date.

Several young girls are standing in line. I take my place behind them. They're a little under the influence of marijuana, I suspect, judging from the armfuls of chips, soda, candy, and Dashboard Diner sandwiches. Sure wish I could be that young and stupid again. Nah! Who needs it? Oh! My turn already.

"Pump number 7 and five Powerball, please." No direct response, but she nods and begins to process my request. The lady behind the counter is about 40ish, obese, none-too-attractive, and doesn’t smell like roses. Seems nice enough, though.

“Hmm,” she says, “expiration date error. That doesn’t seem right. Let me try again.” Pause. “Hmm, I can try one more thing.” My few minutes early are just about gone. I pride myself on my promptness. I had better solve this problem myself. I give her a second card. The card will work, but I am a bit disappointed. This is just a check card. It isn’t the original Discover card, for which I would have received approximately $0.247 in cashback bonus money at the end of the year. Time, however, is currently more important than earning these few cents.

I hear the familiar beep of a successful credit card transaction. The receipt is slid across the counter for me to sign. I quickly scribble something which may or may not actually be my name. Finally, the transaction is complete. I have Powerball tickets in hand, a full tank of gas, and a night of relaxation in sight. Oh, here comes my copy of the receipt. Better not forget that.

Wait, what’s the fat, old, ugly lady behind the counter doing? Is she writing something on my receipt? I’ve never seen that before. It must be because of all the trouble she had with the card, she wants to make sure it is documented that I was not overcharged. No. Wait. What is that she is writing? “I-d-a 8-1-7—4-4-2-4”. Hmm. That’s strange. Oh well. Time to go. I look up to nod goodbye.

Suddenly, the fat, old, ugly lady says “If you want to go out some time...” and hands me the receipt. Shit! What do I do? No time to think. Just run. Damn! My feet aren’t moving! How long have I been standing here? Should I say something? Just walk out calmly! Damn! Feet still not moving! Ok. Calm down. Just do what comes naturally.

I wink. I smile. I slowly walk out the door.

My brother...

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Costa Rica and Crankiness

I got to take a ride out west to Clemson Univeristy this morning. Our assignment editor gave me one of my favorite photographers...a man who I'll call Mr. Efficiency...or Mr. E for short.

The ride was great. After we skirted through the mid-level traffic mecca of Easley, SC, we rode along Highway 123 toward the university. The fall leaves are still on the trees and occasionally fall down toward the truck's windshield like mother nature's version of Asteroids.

It almost always happens this way. Mr. E and I get in the car, talk about caffeine, then start talking about our lives. It generally eats up the entire ride. Today we talked about Costa Rica.

Mr. E wants to move there. He wants to own a coffee plantation or a mountain biking lodge for tourists. You don't hear people talk about those kinds of things very often. It's hard to get people to think about what they want to do this weekend, let alone what they want to do in Central America.

He said something like...and I can't quote him exactly...but something like...I wonder how many people don't do what they really want to do because they won't let themselves think about doing it?

Right now, I think I'm sort of in that position. When I signed my three-year contract back in April of 1999, three years seemed like a lifetime. But it is almost over and it is forcing me to consider my future. I don't realy feel like it. Almost everyone I know who IS considering what they are going to do in the next few years is really upset about it. It runs the gamut. Family life, professional life, hair styles...

When I got back to my desk, I started looking at Costa Rican real estate. You'd be amazed at how cheap it is. I wouldn't mind running a lodge in Central America. Hire me a guide, put up rich tourists for a week, cook them breakfast in the morning, hop on an ATV around lunch time, run them out a bowl of soup, then go back and cook a monsterous dinner for them. Live in the mountains, sandwiched by two big oceans, ride a horse (or maybe a mule) though the mountains.

Alas, that is Mr. E.'s dream. I have to come up with my own.

The good thing about all of this is...I feel very balanced right now. Nothing is overwhelming me. I'm living in a blissful state of apathy that is taking care of my heart and mind quite nicely.

Before I go...a dispatch from the world of cranky wives (and I add this only because it cracked me up when it happened)...

My little lady has been taking early morning Spanish classes and hence goes to bed a little early on Monday and Wednesday nights. Last night she went to bed and locked the dog out of the bedroom (which I've told her is a bad idea...because the dog won't stand for being locked out the bedroom). Sure enough, within two minutes the dog is yelping outside the bedroom door. I don't do anything except continue watch the documentary on the TV. Because as sure as I go up and get the dog, she'll run back upstairs and yelp. After a full hour of listening to the yelp and watching TV, I hear the bedroom door open and a cranky yell from the top of the stairs:

"Could you turn up the TV? I can't hear it over the dog barking!

The door slams, but it sounds like the dog made in into the bedroom. Then all is quiet.

Costa Rica, huh?

Monday, November 05, 2001

On the 8th day...

I'm eight days into a 12 workday marathon.

For the last three months our staff has been covering for a weekend reporter who hobbled herself on the steps of our live truck. Bum knee, she says. The unofficial station motto has become "Stay off it for a while."

So, I had no weekend to speak of. However, I did use my time wisely. Friday night I caught the Cigar Store Indians at our local listening room, The Handlebar. The band has a new live disc out that's been keeping me a little rowdy for the last couple of days. Saturday night I went out with some friends for dinner and filled up on barely cooked red meat. Then a sports bar to watch the Game Six rout. Then to the movies to see "K-PAX." Not a bad flick. Some trite Hollywood stuff in there, but a real neat theme if you can decipher it all. Sort of Biblical.

My creativity and blood sugar are at all time lows. I think I'll work and maybe have something interesting to say later.

Friday, November 02, 2001

Oh, no

This looks bad.

See, I have a big nose. I've broken it twice. Once with my own knee (don't ask). Once with a softball (never ever play catch with a guy named Rocket Arm in a dark gymnasium). I've never really liked my profile or the way I look when I interview somebody. My lips get poochy.

So you can imagine my horror when a rush of people came to my desk just as I was about to leave for the day.

It appears a candidate for Governor here has decided that I can help his cause...or something.

Do I get paid for this?

A good day for Peak and Parentheticals

I can only hope everyone who reads this is getting the same weather I am right now. It feels like early April. Just about time to break out the old Peak ball for an afternoon tournament.

Thing is....I've been feeling rather nostalgic. I've been thinking about my old college buddies and the time we spent at 1931 Juniper Circle. For as little as we actually did there, we did a lot in the years we lived together. We laughed, cried, fought, drank, and most of all...we played.

Peak began during a fit of boredom. We stood in our little front yard, doing our best not to roll down the hill into the street (that happened from time to time). Somebody had the basketball that Cappy had brought back from a recent game. They tossed it up on the roof. "Hey, look how close I got to the top of the roof!" Those weren't the exact words, but accurate accounts of that time are lost in a amber haze.

Soon, the days grew longer, and the games of Peak grew longer. The contest: Who could get the basketball to climb the farthest up the roof (toward the Peak, you see) without letting it fall over into the back yard and into Frank's BBQ/Bonfire Pit (he made it out of cinder blocks and industrial grade metal mesh...we cooked bacon on it one July 5th morning...that entire scene was ugly).

Eventually, the game evolved. First, the basketball was just two heavy of an instrument. It didn't provide the correct bounce and I think Cappy was getting upset with the shingle-scuffs on the basketball nubbins. So we switched to a finely-filled soccer ball.

Second, we were men of distinction (which is to say, we were distinctively bored) and simply trying to push the ball to its farthest Peak wasn't enough. So were turned the game of Peak from a sport (a competition of objective scoring...like baseball, football, etc) to a bit of performance art (subjective scoring...gymnastics, synchronized swimming, etc).

We had moves. The Slow Roll Across the Top (an ultimate Peak feat of pushing the ball to the roof's apex, making it roll a few feet along the Peak, then roll back to us on the ground without knocking over a beer). The Gutter Roll (pushing the ball close to the peak, then making it roll back down along the rain gutter). The BIG BOUNCE (throwing the ball high enough in the air that it only bounces once on the roof before it comes back to earth). The were at least a dozen moves. Some would take more time than I have to describe.

We became masters of our own game. We built a trophy. We had tournaments. The neighbors were confused. Our visitors begged us to play. It was such a phenomenon that a spontaneous game broke out several years later at a BBQ at my house the day after I got married. My friends were all in town and itching for a game.

This would be a perfect day for a game of Peak.

I know my college friends are feeling the same way...here's a e-mail snippet from a friend of mine who I won't identify because I didn't ask his permission.

Endless days of John Madden 2002, beer, bbq, perhaps even a meat and
three located right next door. Sounds like some sort of nirvana. I
miss the care free days of long ago. Drinking, spending all my dough on
CDs, and sleeping like there was no tomorrow. Funny, there was a
tomorrow. Incidentally, that tomorrow is today...
Perhaps the aging hippies had it right. Shirk responsibility. Live a
minimal life... If you never had too high of a standard, you would never be
terribly burdened with the things that come with setting one's goals too

Life ain't bad folks...but it sure was nice back in those days. We have to make sure we remind our kids that they're living the best years of their lives...because that's what depressed college kids want to hear.

Have a good weekend, all.

New doggy?

Don't have much on my mind this morning. So I'll relate a story just told to me by my executive producer. She said it came out of her son's head, the product of a ghost story-induced dream. It may be a real ghost story or urban legend that people tell each other, but I've never heard it before.

The Family is on a trip (that is, the general family we all recognize, not the desert drug and sex cartel/cult led by Chuckie Manson). They're riding in a motor home and cross the Mexican border. They clear the border patrol and set off for a few days of sightseeing, wandering through marketplaces, and driving along the Mexican coastline. Along the roadside, one of the Family's young sons sees a small dog. It looks lonely, doesn't have a collar, and the boy and his brother want to pick it up. The parents say that's okay (because in an eight year-old dream world, parents let their kids pick up strange animals from the roadside).

The Family makes its way through Mexico. The dog, which the parents identify (conveniently) as a Mexican Hairless, seems happy, if not a little hyper. He bounds around the motor home, takes the walks through the marketplaces, and enjoys the Mexican coastline. But all trips must end and soon the family makes its way back to the border with America. As the Parents start clearing their new toys through customs the Boys see an argument beginning. It soon becomes clear that American Border Patrol Agents are refusing to let the new doggy go home with his new owners. Then the Boys hear the Agents yell at his father, "Sir! This is no dog. You have a rat on a leash! And it has rabies!"

Scary enough for me, let alone en eight year-old boy. A few days in a motor home with a rabies-infected rat. That's spooky stuff. Or maybe not.

On another note, check out the new look at Flutter Glub Meow. Again, it highlights the boundless talent of a young woman I'm proud to call my friend.

More later...

Thursday, November 01, 2001

I knew she liked the beach...but this is getting silly

Mental note: When the Hurricane People name a tropical storm after your wife, don't announce to a room full of people that you're not surprised because you often see a small Depression turn into something much more violent. Humor is not always the best marital aide.

So, Tropical Storm Michelle is getting ready to turn into a hurricane (note the lack of humor here). She's going to bitch slap the Gulf of Mexico. It should come as no surprise that the potential Hurricane Michelle comes on the last official day of hurricane season. Michelle's previous job was reigning as the Queen of Procrastination Nation. And she ruled it with an iron fist and occasional wind gusts of 98 mph.

It feels like Spring today. The sky is shifting between blue and smokey grey. The temperature is warm. It feels just humid enough to storm. It was a nice day for a trip down to Ware Place, SC.

I hopped out of the truck and looked at the pasture land around me. A John Deere tractor sat near a barn. And two old people sat inside a double-wide mobile home. It is the Del Boca Vista for lower middle class rural people. I know. My grandparents did the same thing when they gave up on mid-size-city life. I don't like it, but they seem happy.

Inside the camper-condo, James and Nancy sat waiting for me to arrive. James had a quadruple bypass, then pneumonia, then a pacemaker installed over the last six months. He's getting better, but his heart hurts a little. His son Charlie, 11 years my senior, is on the USS Teddy Roosevelt, somewhere in the North Arabian Sea. Over the course of our conversation, Nancy, a woman of considerably better health, wandered into the hallway. She had just finished scolding James for talking harshly about the uneducated state of our soldiers. Later, when I turned to ask her a question, she had her head against the wall. She was struggling to hold back tears. She's old, but not seasoned enough to be apathetic about her son's work overseas. ""When you see on the news everyday something scary that going on and you know your son is right there, its not always easy to take," she explained. When I left, they followed me out to the front porch and pointed to the pasture across the street. Cows, they say, often come up and stand along the fence line. They weren't there right then. Probably down by the creek. They obviously didn't want to the conversation to end, but I had to go. They were still talking as I walked down the crooked walkway to the truck.

I talk to a lot of people everyday, but its not very often I get to talk to elderly folks. They all seem so frail to me. It's like we live our entire lives so we can some day live with the scars of our experience.

All the more reason, I guess, to not feel sorry for ourselves while we're young.

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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
All poker stories, travelogues, food writing, parenting and marriage advice, crime stories, and other writing should be taken with a grain of salt. It is also all protected under a Creative Commons license