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Monday, September 30, 2002

Could it happen here?

It's the hackneyed tease line to every bad TV story.

"Rabid marmoset hijacks bus load of school children. Could it happen here?"
"Mother Theresa dies. Could it happen here?"
"My toe feels funny. Could it happen here?"

But, a good friend in New York sent me a clip from the New York Times about a Houston Chronicle reporter who lost his job for operating an anonymous blog. Steve Olafson used the pseudonym "Banjo Jones." He'd been with the Chronicle for seven years. He had a little fun with his local politicoes, but it wasn't like he was operating BoyThisIsSomeGoodPorn.com. Fired. Kaput.

The paraonoid part of me hastens to ask, "Hey, Otis? Could it happen here?"

I work for an organization that encourages creativity, but frowns on public displays that could damage my reputation and my company's reputation as a result. My boss has even asked for the link to Rapid Eye Reality. As far as I know he doesn't have it yet. He hasn't mentioned it if he does.

So, paranoia sets in. I steal looks over my shoulder even as I pound out this missive. Do my boring stories of public drunkeness, sloppy politics, and useless nostalgia rate getting canned?

Here we go...the gauntlet.

I don't care. Fire me. This has been my one true creative outlet for 13 months and I'm not about to stop.

I almost want to get caught. Life gets a little boring sometimes and it would add some punch to an otherwise hum-drum day.

So, this is me saying, "Hey, look at me" (wildly waving limp arms above my head) "I'm your poster boy for irresponsiblity" (still waving the arms and now dancing a jig) "I'm the guy who once spent an entire post defining the word 'Wootler.'"

Does anyone have the number for FEMA? I could be asking for a disaster here.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Listening to the homily

If there can be shotgun homes, I was in a shotgun church last night. Long, skinny, full of stained glass and large organ pipes. The wedding soloist didn't need a microphone. The acoustics were as you might expect them to be in a mountain Episcopal church.

Typically, weddings are for following the scorecard until the wedding march outro. Get a program, follow it through the greeting, the singing, the blessing of the married couple. Get the hell out and find the open bar at the reception.

Last night, I found myself listening. Not sure why exactly. Could have been that I knew my parents were tending to a family crisis that involves the health of my longest-living relative. Could have been that I was uncomfortable enough in the chruch pew that I couldn't think abot anything but what was being said. I dunno.

The homily was recycled and I knew that. Fill a jar full of rocks, you can still fit more pebbles. Fill it with pebbles, you can still fit it in some sand. Do it backward and you won't be able to fit in all the rocks. And the rocks are the things that are important to you in your life.

But recycled or not..it made me wonder if I should be spending more time getting to know my family. More time on hiking trails with my wife and dog. More time on back porches with my friends, strumming guitars.

And less time sitting at work (I logged about ten hours this weekend that I probably won't get paid for). Less time thinking about what job I may work next. Less time worrying about the future.

I dunno. But I'm at work right now and I should be home with my wife and dog.

It may be time for some sort of change, friends.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

The Wilted Wootler

Parents have covered their child's eyes at the sight. Dainty women have run into the street to avoid it. My wife has threatened physical violence if I didn't put them away.

My Wootlers are things to behold.

First, so we're all on the same page, I'll need you to form a Wootler of your own. Put your ring and middle finger together. Tuck your thumb into your palm. Now spread your index and pinky finger out. You should be looking at a "W" shape on your hand. The "W" is for Woo (a general description of excited, party, rage guy). Now do it with both of your hands and put them on your head like antlers.

That is a Wootler.

When one has "his Wootlers on," he is ready to go. Ready to ramble. Ready to rage.

For several months, my Wootlers have been erect. But after a recent trip to Sin City, my Wootlers have wilted. I'm not ready to rage. I'm not ready to ramble. I just want to sit at home.

Right now, this is disguising itself as a good thing. Frankly, I needed to calm down a little bit. I'm too old to party like a rock star.

My fear is this: Maybe my Wootlers have developed a sort of wimpotence. Maybe there will be no more raging, no more rambling. Maybe, to steal from and distort the words of the Yonder Mountain String Band, there is no more ramblin' in the rambler.

Surely not...but at the same time...anyone know where I can find some Wiagra?

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Fatigue of the highest order

Emeril was bamming in front of me. His food must have been some form of ambrosia.

My wife was breathing next to me. What she had to offer...we'll not discuss that.

Everything seemed ripe for a night of carnal pleasure. Then I felt the nudge.

"Huh?" I said, a little confused.

"You were snoring. Loudly."

My wife was rolling over. What she had to offer...that thing we're not discussing...well, she wasn't much up for discussing anymore. And Emeril was putting the finishing touches on the ambrosia.

Simply put...I fell asleep while in a near-sitting position.

I'm just tired. I have officially pushed my body past the point of tolerance. I'm cooked. I'm Caspar. I'm done.

I slept for 12 straight hours last night. My neck is a mass of strained tendons. Soon, I will recover.

I just hope my wife doesn't marry Emeril before I wake up.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Smiling...but glad to be home

Back...many stories and memories.

Much to tell about one of the finest trips a guy can take.

No time to tell it.

But this moral...it sometimes takes a trip like this to help you remember how much you love everybody. Your wife, your friends, and even your dog.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Up here (pointing to my noggin') I'm already there...


Rapid Eye Reality is taking a brief hiatus. Everyone be safe and watch out for Tropical Storm Izzy (my pet name for the soon-to-be hurriance).

Wish you all were with us in Vegas.


Monday, September 16, 2002

Bound only by conscience...

...we, a barely-motley crew of semi-adults, are bound for Las Vegas.

Still...72 hours separates us from our mission. They are hours that will not pass quickly. They are 72 hours where we will be forced to consider why we are going. We will be forced to defend our motivations. We will be forced to reinforce our argument. That argument is as follows:

We have achieved a degree of freedom in our lives. We are adults--if only by age and statute--who answer to just a few things. Those things...are the law, our collective conscience, and our wives.

While it might be easy to write off our motivations as carnal in nature, it goes beyond that. We seek freedom. Not because we don't like our lives, but because we do like our lives. There is an inborn part of each man that demands he seek freedom in all forms. To seek that freedom is to grow on all levels.

However, freedom from the law puts us in jail. Freedom from our conscience puts us in dispair. Freedom from our wives puts us in divorce.

So, how then do we find freedom?

Las Vegas offers the opportunity to find that freedom through meeting the reasonable demands of those things to which we answer.

We wil not break the law. We will not violate our conscience. We will not break a marital trust.

We will have the freedom to violate every demand and, yet, we will not. The freedom to do so will be enough.

It promises to be among the best trips a group of men can take. The 72 hours between now and departure will pass as slowly as they can.

We are more than 20 strong, bound for Las Vegas and bound only by our conscience.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Self-diagnosis and the art of denial

After a couple of days of sheer paranoia and fearing certain death, I have determined through hours of internet research that I am dealing with latent anxiety, fueled by a high level of caffeine, and made worse by indigestion and being generally out of shape.

The aches and pains where they shoudn't be seem to be disappearing. I'm thinking a spirited game of frolf pulled some stuff and made me sore in strange places.

Feeling much better now. All of this leads me to believe that I perhaps am dealing with a little problem that large part of the Willis family experiences...hypochondria. Minor aches and pains mean it is time to beg for sympathy. Bah.

Now...time to start thinking about being young again. Which way is Vegas?

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Mortality Paranoia

Last night I hid from death under a comforter. In a moment of pure death paranoia, I decided to go to sleep instead of dying while awake. Does death fear a sleeping 28 year old man?

I don't fear external factors. If I get shot, I get shot. If the West Nile comes on hard and gets in my cephalitis (that's a joke), then bring on the blood suckers.

But even at my early age, the minor aches and pains, the general malaise, and the shooting pains where they shoudn't be are scaring the poppies out of me.

What's worse, I refuse to go to the doctor. I have some major events coming up. Vegas, LEAF, etc. If I go to the quack and he tells me I have uromisitysis and am restricted to bed rest for three months, I won't be able to handle it.

So, you'll now find me hiding in bed, reading by flashlight, and hiding from certain death.

Until at least November.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002


Blogging will resume Thursday.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Code Orange

The United State government has shifted all Americans to an Orange level of alert.

Open your eyes. Don't be afraid. If you care to think about colors, think about red, white, blue, desert camouflage. Save the oranges for the Florida farmer. Save the orange for your garden. Save your orange for the foothills of South Carolina in October.

Tomorrow will come and go. We will remember. We should remember.

Go outside. Look at the orange sun. And don't be afraid.

Everyone has a story from September 11th, 2001. Most of the stories are horrible. I will not tell you mine. It was a very bad day for me and I find the story interesting, but it will do you no good to read it. Ask me over a beer one night if you care to hear it.

For now, sit on your porch and drink something frozen. If you care to make the drink out of oranges, do so. Find your own kind of "high alert."

Hug your dog. Hug your cat. Hug your kid.

Just remember. And don't be afraid.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Organization Nation

I've tried just about everything. Spreadsheets, computer programs, one failed experiment with an abacus, and hiring my dog as an accountant. Nothing worked.

I am a mass of unorganized personal business.

I might be able to accept it if I didn't have such skill in organizing the lives of others. Give me a mass social event, I'll plan it. Whether it is a party (including food, drink, and entertainment) for 60 people, a camping trip for 25, or a trip to Sin City for 23, I can plan an event. Times, dates, financing, lodging. I got it. Even if it becomes too much for me, I know about the powers of delegation and hand the responsiblity to the right person (if they don't recognize the need for it immediately and take it upon themselves). Even small events...like yesterday...I quickly turned my home into a sports bar, complete with three televisions (all broadcasting different football games), seating for everyone, and a kitchen and wait staff (thanks, honey).

The disconnect is a painful one. While I have a detailed mental list of everything I need to do (post office, balance checkbook, vet appointment, Brazilian wax, etc), none of it gets done. Why? I don't know. It's not for a lack of time. I haven't been diddling while the fiddler fiddled. I haven't been going to the Holiday Bowl (home of the WAC Champion, by the way). Stuff just doesn't get done. That's a pefectly passive way of saying...I don't get stuff done.


I've been thinking recently that I need a new desk. The one in my office is too small and is covered in small scraps of paper and various advertisements for call girls. When I need something, I spend six or seven minutes looking for it before I find it underneath a pamphlet from Trixie the Three-Dollar Tramp (not a hooker, but a method actor who lives with the homeless six days a week and performs a one-woman show on Saturdays). I think she's up for a Tony.

I'd vow to be more organized, but I would probably get sidetracked by a party or road trip that needed planning. What's more, I have to go. My dog has spent the last hour with a ten-key adding machine and has just notified me that I'm overdrawn.

I knew I was paying her for something.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Um...what the hell was that?

You'll find me on many nights strumming an acoustic guitar. Folk or bluegrass music will usually spill from my stereo speakers. Maybe a little rockabilly if I'm feeling saucy.

But there was a time when ripped blue jeans and ripping guitar soloes dominated my musical life. Last night I tried to recapture that part of my youth.

Billed as "The Rock Never Stops" tour, Skid Row (minus Sebastian Bach), Vince Neil (minus the rest of Motley Crue), and Tesla hit the stage promising to sing us songs to which we knew all the words. They promised rock and roll. I think I heard Vince Neil promise to lose 30 pounds.

I tried to play the roll of an aging rocker. I drank beer like it was water. I wore tattered blue jeans. I was ready to rock that house.

I'm going to make this review as short as possible. Skid Row sucked. Vince Neil was fat, but still has most of his chops. Tesla...that's where things got a little strange.

Jeff Keith could still sing. He got drunk--rock and roll!--and eventually had a hard time standing up. He used roadies as crutches. I think he passed out on the drum set stage.

Then the remaining members of Skid Row came out for a group sing-along. They were drunk, too. Hell, my friends, then broke loose.
(continued below)

(continued from above)

A guitarist threw his guitar into the crowd. Remember, Tesla and Skid Row are not rich bands anymore. They can't afford to be throwing away instruments. The band didn't care, but the roadies did. Two guys dove into the audience, exasperation on their faces, and emerged with the guitar. A bassist started diving off the stage into the crowd. Eventually the crowd got tired of it and the bassist dove into an empty row of chairs. He didn't die, but he was chased out of the arena by a police officer.

It was about that time that I realized that men ten to twelve years older than me were far drunker than I was. My only duty was to stand there and clap. They were trying to play music. Trying...an operative word here. By the time the show was over, it sounded like my friends and I sound when we've had too much to drink and try to play music. They just looked more sad doing it. Leather pants, long hair, and a middle aged gut.

The only redeeming thing about the entire show is that Tesla's guitarist, Frankie Hannon, still plays a technically mean guit-fiddle. He was the only one on stage that didn't look like he might need to pass out before they screamed, "GOODNIGHT GREENFIELD!!!"

I'm in support of drunk rockers. It's all rock-and-roll, man. But, frankly, a good drunken gaze looks a lot better on a 22 year old kid with anger in his eyes and music in his heart than it does on a 40 year-old man who is just a drunk. I don't drink at work...and that is why.

Maybe it is a lesson to all of us who are getting a little older and still drink like we're 18. Then again, if you think a little eye opener at a bad rock show is going to teach me a lesson, you have spent far too few Friday nights with me.

Regardless, you'll find me back on some deck listening to the diggy-diggy music of mandolins and banjoes. A blast from the past is fun and all...but when the blast from the past is blasted...well, I'll stick with my acoustic guitar.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Sheriff Sam Simmons...September 16th, 1952--September 4th, 2002

A man who championed road safety, a man married to a woman who dedicated her life to reducing the number of wrecks on the road...died tonight in a car wreck.

Late note...Simmons suffered from advanced coronary artery disease that led to a massive heart attack and eventually an irregular heartbeat that led to the wreck

I have said a lot tonight. I don't feel like saying much more. One thing you rarely think about, though, when you go out to be a news guy...is actually covering the death of someone you know and like.

I will probably write more on this later. Until then, keep the Sheriff's family and colleagues in your thoughts.

We'll miss you, Sheriff.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Notice: Women Welcome

Trace yourself along the gently sloping curves, the rises and falls, soft in places and hard in others. Slip into a place so serene and respected that it seems almost dirty to associate it with such scandal.

Those slopes, curves, rises and falls are hard ashphalt roads and dirty, gravel short cuts that lead south from anywhere, through the back-counties of South Carolina and eventually into a place called Augusta...not the home of golf, but a Spring cottage of respite where perhaps the most important thing in the game ever happens.

I am not a golfer. Never had the patience for it. Nevertheless, I love the nuance, the science, the respectiblity of the game. Which is why I'm disturbed by the recent goings-on at Augusta National. In essence, this is the message: No penis, no putting. Or, to be more accurate, no member, no membership card.

Rather than bow to liberal womens' groups and start allowing women as members, the Augusta National Golf Club has canceled all its sponsorships and will underwrite coverage of next year's Master's Tournament on its own. The idea is to let its sponsors (IBM, CitiGroup, etc) off the hook. No need to get their hands messy with all this "Women don't belong here" stuff.

Of course, perhaps I'm not one to talk. I like to take part in all-male events, including an upcoming trip to Vegas sponsored by the HeMan Woman Haters Club. Further, I'm not a big fan of women's sports. I enjoy watching female soccer players rip off their jersey after a game-winning goal and I like watching the tennis players sweat all over the clay, but give me an hour to watch sports and you see me intently staring at fat men in too-tight pants.

Nevertheless, I'm not sure where it would hurt to allow women to become members at one of America's greateast golf clubs. Women golf. Many of them play much better than a lot of men I know.

Maybe it is a "Boy's Club" thing. I can understand the concept in a tree house or in the back room at the Elk's Lodge. Men DO need time away from women. No doubt about that. But when your club becomes a national sporting institution and you're no longer just banning women from a night of beer drinking and card games, it may be time to let women hold your putter.

I don't know if this makes me a sensitive man...or a man of poor rationale. All I know is that women are welcome here at RER. In fact, ladies, bring a friend.

Monday, September 02, 2002

The Kid

Fans of University of Missouri football are long suffering. Somehow the ball never falls on the right side of the goal line. Whether the referees give their opponent a fifth down or whether a kicked ball in the end zone results in a last minute loss against the number one team in the country, Mizzou football fans rarely can get drunk enough to numb the pain. An early 90's coach once summed up the feelings of his fans when asked in a halftime interview what he hoped to do differently in the second half.

"Score points, " he said.


Which is why most fans started drinking early on Saturday. The third head coach in ten years announced he was starting redshirt freshman Brad Smith as quarterback against Illinois. The Illinois that went 10-2 last year. The tailgate keg taps didn't close for several hours. Redshirt freshman, a coach named Pinkel, and a nationally televised game. That sounded just about right.

And then this freshman did something a little surprising. He rushed for 138 yards. He completed 15 of 26 passes. He...um...won.

What was even more surprising was this...he didn't talk a bunch of smack. He acted the role of the neophyte, just happy to be playing the game. No "Bring on Nebraska!" No "Orange Bowl here I come!" Just a kid ten years younger than me (damn, almost eleven), playing the game and being happy about it.

Of course, we can credit a strong offensive line that didn't allow one sack. We can credit a perfectly pathetic Illinois team that couldn't figure out which guy was their quarterback. We can credit the Illinois offensive line for doing its best impression of swiss cheese.

But we can also credit this kid who just enjoyed playing the game.

Now, I'm no Missouri optimist. It's one game against a team that probably should have stayed home for the day. It's one kid that could get really cocky if he continues to do well. It's one win at the beginning of a very long season. The...um...powerhouse Ball St. has to go to Columbia next week. That could spell doom for the boys from the 'Zou.

But, damn, it's nice to win one.

Even if it is...just one.

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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
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