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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.