Welcome to the Hotel Illness

Cagey VIII

2/27/03 @ 12:00 PM

"What happened to the tower?"

"It fell."

That was it, no explanation, no disappointment, nothing.  Brett didnít seem to care one way or the other.  He just grabbed his apron and his keys and left for work.

Iíve always had trouble getting to sleep.  I usually donít have any trouble once Iím out, but finding that switch in my head that kills all the thought processes can be a struggle sometimes.  Almost seems like somebody changes the wires around ever so often just to mess with me.  Out of all the other things that happened that month, one of the few things I specifically remember is not sleeping well that night.  I woke up ever couple of hours it seemed, and always thinking of Brett.

I dreamt about him too, in that vague, fragmented way the mind has when it lingers in limbo between sleep and wakefulness.  At one point, I saw him riding his motorcycle on a little mountain road.  My scape shifted from the front, his head panning slowly over the densely wooded terrain, to some spot just behind him where I saw the wedge of light skimming along the path.  It wasnít a silent dream.  I could hear the whir of the engine loping just off idle, the creak of the shocks as he bounced over a pothole or loose piece of asphalt, and somewhere, in the depth of the forest, I could hear a faint cicada chorus.  It wasnít a silent dream, but I had no voice.  I couldnít even feel a breeze, although I could see Brettís hair wisping along just above his shoulders.  It was almost as if the whole thing were a film.  Like when your watching one of those horror flicks and you keep telling the pretty young extra not to open the garage door or go into the pool house because you know it will be the last thing she does.  Well, the last thing besides showing a bit of skin and screaming.  You know she canít hear you, but you repeat it anyway as if simple recitation could somehow splice in a new ending.  As I watched Brett searching, all I could think was:

Heís taken a wrong turn.  Heís lost.  He needs to go back to the beginning and start over.

Never mind that I didnít even know what he was looking for, or where, exactly, he had taken a wrong turn.  I just knew the road he was on wasnít going to take him anywhere.  Somehow, I knew it.  Just like you know the sexy little flirt is going to die the minute she steps through the door of the pool house.

A drunk introvert philosophizing

2/26/03 @ 8:08 AM

Trish linked to an excellent article in the Atlantic about introverts.  I'm not looking for special treatment, but acceptance, if not understanding, would be nice.  It's kind of ironic that all my ex's have been extreme extroverts.  Ah well.

The best part of the entire piece?  The Sartrean "Hell is other people at breakfast."

Thanks to some good friends and a lot of great beer (Bass, and I think there was a Guinness or two in there somewhere) I had a great B-day dinner last night.  Beer and philosophy go together like a Les Paul and a Marshall.

The only bad thing was that both commenting systems seem to have disintegrated.

Look, it's Hiroshima. Oh wait, that's your cake.

2/25/03 @ 12:08 AM                                                                                     Boom.

It's here.  D-day.  That horrific 3 followed by the ominous 0.  I am now officially too old to trust, and all I can offer are some tips for surviving without a domesticated other.

1) Closets, dressers, and laundry hampers are useless wastes of space.  The sole purpose of a dresser is to collect dust, change, and receipts.  Well, that and sobering you up by catching your toe as stumble to the bathroom at 3:00AM. (Note:  Closet doors also perform this function with startling efficiency)  Contrary to popular belief, you do not need these things for clothes.  All your clothing storage needs can be handled by those two metal cubes in the utility room.  Dirty clothes go in the washer.  Clean clothes come out of the dryer.  What else do you need?  I must, however, advise against ironing clothes while you are wearing them.

2) How to fix dinner without dirtying any dishes.  
Preheat oven to 450į
Take one Totino's pizza
Open package, insert pizza into oven.
Place directly on oven rack
Close oven door
Set timer for 10 minutes.   No, you will NOT remember!
When timer goes off, remove pizza from oven and place the pizza on the empty pizza box.
Allow pizza to cool slightly to prevent spontaneous sputtering of epithets.
Roll up pizza like a burrito.
Eat pizza while standing directly over the kitchen sink
If you absolutely must be in front of the TV while eating, the empty pizza box can double as a TV tray.
When finished, place empty box on floor, and after a week or two you will have a stack of boxes that will serve (with a bit of duct tape) as a perfectly good end table.

These are nuggets, folks.  Use them wisely

Moving . . . and other things that suck

2/24/03 @ 5:58 PM                                                                                                 T-1

After two 26 ft. U-Haul loads, 1-2 inches of ice, 6-8 inches of fresh snow, and many beers, they are moved.  Out of the city and into a nice brick home on two acres with a heated and air-conditioned 16 x 30 outbuilding.  Or their stuff is at least.  They've still got a lot of sorting and unpacking to do.

Q:  What do you use to extracate a fully loaded, 26 ft U-Haul truck stuck in the ice and snow?
A:  Two shovels and about four hundred pounds of rock salt.

Awhile back, I wrote about some brands/companies I liked.  To be fair, I think I should mention a few that suck.

Amtrak/Greyhound - Two companies that truly don't give a bucket of bong water about their customers.  Repeatedly late.  Repeatedly rude.   Nevermind the lovely people that always sit next to me (a topic for another post altogether.)  Amtrak is a little better than Greyhound, but that is only because they suck down taxpayer dollars like White Castle Sliders.

Rio/Sonic Blue - While their MP3 players are relatively decent, their customer support does the Hoover maneuver like nobody's business.  I recently upgraded to XP and contacted the suppliers of all my peripherals (scanner, camera, printer, etc.) for the necessary changes.  Fuji, U-Max, et al, were very easy to work with and provided prompt responses to all of my questions.  Rio/Sonic Blue, however, sent one lone email that stated very simply:  "Your model is not compatible with Windows XP."  An MP3, is an MP3, is an MP3.  What the email should have said is:  "Your model is disposable.  Your business is not worth the time it would take to adapt our software."

I will be buying another MP3 player, but you can bet your digital derriere it won't be one of theirs.  Actually, I've been looking at the portable hard-drive versions from Archos - same idea as the iPod, but with adequate storage and half the cost.

The Critiquees

2/23/03 @ 11:05 PM                                                                                                 T-2

Blogcritics have voted and the top musical for 2002 are up.  The top ten Albums of the year are listed here

2/21/03 @ 3:54 PM                                                                                                 T-4

Breakin' out of Chi-town to help my sister move this weekend.  Hope everybody has a great one!

Simon Says

2/21/03 @ 1:39 AM                                                                                                 T-4

Trish posted her disdain for Paul Simon the other day.  I've always been kind of fond of Mr. Simon's quirky lyrics.

I need a photo opportunity
I want a shot at redemption
Donít want to end up a cartoon
In a cartoon graveyard . . .

Get these mutts away from me
You know I donít find this stuff
Amusing anymore . . .

He ducked back down the alley
With some roly-poly little bat-faced girl . . .

Iím not the kind of man
Who tends to socialize
I seem to lean on
Old familiar ways
And I ainít no fool for love songs
That whisper in my ears
Still crazy after all these years . . .

And I could say Oo oo oo
As if everybody knows
What Iím talking about

Alternate Love Story endings.  For Dust

2/20/03 @ 12:33 AM                                                                                                 T-5

#1  The next time he saw her, she was in her Golf heading his way at a considerable speed.   She swerved off the road, crossed the ditch, and slid to a stop at his deck.  Leaping out of the car she started babbling "That's so sweet!  That's so sweet!"  So, they got married, made naked babies and all lived happily ever after.

#2  Sometime later that week, Jason noticed an personal ad in the paper.

Did you send cookies?

(317) 555-6942

He hemmed.  He hawed.  Finally, he called.


"Ah, yes.  Uh, this is Jason.  I live up the street. . . with the deck?"


I was, uh, just calling to tell you that I made you those cookies, and . . ."

"You dirty rotten [BLEEP] [BLEEPITY] [BLEEPIN'] [BLEEPER].  What the hell were you trying to do, kill me?  I just spent two weeks in the hospital because of those damn things!  Ever had your stomach pumped Jason?"

"Uh . . ."

"Well, let me tell you it hurts like hell.  And just so you know, I'll be forwarding the hospital bill to you!" CLICK

Jason, of course, plummeted into misery and guilt.  As nothing dilludes misery and guilt like a bar, that's where Jason began to spend his off-work time.  One bleary-eyed night several weeks later, a barfly, Suzy, attached herself to him.  "What the hell," he thought, and decided to take her home.  Halfway home, with Suzy still attached (literally), Jason swerved to miss a dog, over-corrected and ended up cracking into a telephone pole on the opposite side of the road.  He survived with three cracked ribs and a broken collar bone.  Suzy didn't.  Jason was sentenced to five years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.  He will be released on parole in August of 2004.

My, what big beer you have . . .

2/19/03 @ 12:17 AM                                                                                                 T-6

The "Interpretation" poster on this page is a page straight from my grandmother's life.  I opened her fridge one day and there were all these 40oz bottles of beer.

"Expecting company, Grandma?"

"No, the doctor told me I should drink a beer a day."

link via Giggle Chick

Cold Coffee Blues

2/18/03 @ 9:50 AM                                                                                                 T-7

Looked in the mirror
Felt twice as old
Out of cigarettes
And my coffee's cold

Or try here. It's a race to see which commenting system gets their server in gear first.

Oh no.

2/17/03 @ 10:35 PM                                                                                                 T-8

"Yoko Ono has become philosophical about the days when many Beatles fans hated her and blamed her for the band's demise."

Erm, why is that in the past tense?

It would also seem that Ono is taking lessons from Courtney Ho  Hole Love.   Call me old fashioned, but this is just wrong.

A love story for the real world

2/17/03 @ 8:40 AM                                                                                                 T-8

Jason finished mixing the dough and washed his hands.  He appraised the situation and decided the dough needed another sprinkling of chocolate chips.  That would be milk chocolate chips, none of that semi-sweet stuff.   Real milk chocolate was the key, as far as he was concerned, to really good cookies.  Milk chocolate and the right sheet.  For cookies, nothing but shiny will do.  Dark, glass, or overlarge pans almost guaranteed the cookies will end up browning too quickly and becoming brittle little rocks instead of chewy enchantments.  There was nothing like a good stainless steel cookie sheet

Spooning out the dough, he began to speculate what Amy's response would be.  How would he respond to a plate of cookies left anonymously outside his door?  He didn't think he was quite jaded enough to be suspicious, but then again, he wasn't sure.  A lot of how she reacted would rely on what was going on in her life, which admittedly, he knew almost nothing about.  She lived in a little stone looking cottage two houses down and across the street from his.  She drove a white Golf convertible, and spent most of the evening daylight tending the rose bushes that circled the cottage like exterior wainscoting.  The last few hundred yards of his drive home from work had become the best part of his day.  The previous Monday had been the cliche' of Mondays.  He was sure it had been a Monday like that one that had initially garnered Mondays their infamy.

He had just turned on to Mulberry St. after eight and a half hours of reprimanding salesmen who promised the world, encouraging engineers who were adamant that it couldn't be delivered, and soothing customers who expected it, when he saw her.  Her blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail and kneeling with clippers in hand at the island of a rose bush next to her mailbox.   There was something about the scene that caught his attention.  Even in old Levi's and an Ohio State sweatshirt she was stunning, but that wasn't it.  At least not all of it.  There was something about the slow, casual, but precise movements of her hands mixed with the calm of the early evening street that struck him.  After the day he'd had, she looked like the epitome of serenity.  Without being aware of it, he'd taken his foot of the gas and was merely idling down the street as he watched her.  He had been so taken with the peacefulness exuding from her quiet work that he hadn't even realize he was staring.  That is, until she looked up.  And smiled.  Her smiled jerked him out of his trance, but elicited a smile from himself as well.   When your that busted, you might as well play it out, he thought.   So he rolled down his window and slowed to a stop.

"Those are beautiful.  What's your secret?"

"Ah, no secret really.  Just water, sun, and keeping all the dead stuff trimmed away."

No magic potions, huh?"

She laughed.  And God, what a laugh.  "No.  Actually, I do it more for me than for the roses - it keeps me sane." She laughed again, a smaller laugh, but every bit as rapturous.  "I'm Amy, by the way."

"Jason," he offered.  Well, looks like you're doing something right."  He smiled, and tried to think of something else to say.

"Do you live around here?" she asked.

"A couple of houses up" He pointed to his own little house.

"Oh, the one with the deck?  I love that."

He blushed a 'thanks', and, sensing an awkward silence on the rise, he waved bye and slid on down the street to his driveway.

So he'd decided to bake her a little anonymous thank you for unknowingly lifting his spirits with her friendliness.  He spooned out the last dollop of dough, slid the sheet into the oven, and set the timer.  After several failed attempts at reading the paper, he settled into pondering the various outcomes of the situation.  He wanted it to be anonymous, but if she happened to figure out who left them . . . well, that just might be an added bonus.  But then, he didn't even know if she was already seeing someone.  He thought about the best way to leave them without her little scottie sensing his presence and raising ten kinds of hell.  He decided early morning would be best.   Less chance some critter would find the cookies before she did, and then he could just head on in to work and catch up on some things before the world started abusing his patience over the phone.  He dug out an old sketch pad and tried to compose a short note.  After switching from pen to pencil and amassing a pile of crumpled sheets at his feet, he finally managed to write something acceptable, and more importantly, legible.

Because you smiled

Because you spoke

Because you laughed

Just because

He folded the paper in half and taped it to the plastic wrap that covered the cookies.

The next morning before daylight, he carried the tray of cookies up the street, and placed it with slightly shaking hands on her doorstep.  At the office, he submerged himself in work to keep from driving himself crazy thinking about what might or might not happen.  But, sometime after lunch he was overcome with a horrendous thought.   What if something was wrong with the cookies?  He hadn't tasted them.  They should be ok, but what if . . .   She wasn't outside when he came home that day.   Or the next.  Paranoia was really starting to get the better of him.  He had to go to Jersey the next week in order to ensure continued business with customers that, personally he would like to see go by the wayside.  That week passed slowly and when he finally returned, was dismayed to see that fall was beginning to set in.   Two weeks went by, and still he hadn't seen her.  The tray was gone, but he didn't know if the cookies had turned out ok, or if she had even found them or if some stray dog had carried them away.  And that felt worse than any of the other outcomes his insecurity had cultivated.

Uncertainty is always the hardest thing to deal with.

2003 Chicago Auto Show

2/16/03 @ 11:25 AM                                                                                                 T-9

The bad news is: The Camaro and Trans-Am are history.  

The good news is:  The 2005 Mustang looked every bit as cool as I'd hoped.

With so many stinkin' people it was hard to get a clear shot at an entire vehicle, but the pics didn't turn out half bad if I do say so myself.

click to view

Out of Context

2/15/03 @ 10:40 AM

Cagey has been taken Out of Context.   Go check it out, there's a bunch of good stuff over there.  One particular favorite:

"Dear world,

Please stop being such a total bastard."

Quantitative Reasoning

2/14/03 @ 7:52 PM

                  P(A) ∑ P(B|A)
                P(A) ∑ P(B|A) + P(AÁ) ∑ P(B|AÁ)

A = I will use statistics
B = I am an English major

Stupid Question

2/14/03 @ 9:28 AM

Wouldn't it make sense to give the polygraph test before you issue an alert?

I am a Brand Whore

2/13/03 @ 10:42 AM

Eh, not really.  Far from it actually, but recently I've become in critical need of a new pair of boots.  My current dog protectors are nearing their 6th year and have been worn every single day for the last three.   Anyway, I am loathe to buy anything but Rockies.  I positively hate Nike, and not because they force toddlers to manufacture their shoes out of puppy and kitten skins (for .00005 cents a week) or any such tripe.  No, I'm opposed to Nike because I think they are overpriced, poorly constructed (the few pairs I have owned have never lasted longer than a year), not to mention ugly.  I'm opposed to Nike because they seem to think that by making an athletic shoe brown, this somehow qualifies it as a boot.

I'm not 100% monogamous to any certain brand, but I do have very strong preferences and convictions based solely on my experience.  So, here are a few brands that I have absolutely no shame in promoting.

Rocky shoes and boots - Rockies are what Timberlands used to be before they became a fashion statement instead of a boot/shoe.  And selection?  You bet.  They've got everything from snow pac boots with 1000 grams of Thinsulate all the way down to slip on casuals.   What's more is that most of their shoes have GORE-TEX booties.  Eh, no.  Not that kind of booty.

KitchenAid mixers/food processors. My mom's mixer is almost as old as I am and is still kicking all sorts of culinary butt.  It slices and dices (literally), and handles divinity like its Cool-Whip.

Kenwood receivers & CD players.  This is a hard one, because due to the price of audio/video products I haven't been able to test as wide a range of brands as I would like.   However, in comparative shopping, Kenwood receivers have always came out on top in the bang for the buck category, and my current Kenwood models KR-V7070 and DP-R4060 have more than adequately pummeled my speakers for the last seven years.  Not to mention the head Kenwood unit/CD player that went through two vehicles, lots of cigarette smoke, and the occasional beer splash in the nine years it was in my clutches and is still functioning perfectly as far as I know.

Crate amps.  No, people don't clamor after a 'Crate sound' like they do Marshall, Fender, or Vox, but they have received some notable mention for their BlueVoodoo series as well as their VC series.   Crate amps are built in the USA and I've owned my current model since 1989.  That's 14 years of being tossed in and out of trunks, rattling around in the bed of a pick-up, and pissing off neighbors with only minor maintenance.

Ingersoll-Rand air tools.  Having spent two or three years earning my daily bread with these things, I'll take an I-R impact over all the others any day. Of course that was 10+ years ago, so I guess it is possible (although I think improbable) that their quality has changed since then.

There are others I'll think of when my memory cooperates.  How about you?   Any brands you couldn't live without?

Cagey Pt. VII

2/09/03 @ 10:02 PM

There are events in our lives, that when recall them in that little studio of our mind, we see things we missed during the initial production.  Sometimes these details elucidate the events by filling in gaps we hadn't realized were missing in the storyboard.  Elements that, once recognized, immediately become ingrained into our interpretation as if they had always been there.  Yet, there are other details that only seem to complicate our account.  Details too odd to be either coincidence or explicit, and merely make us wonder just what exactly did happen.

And that's what it's like when I look back on those next few days.   There are things that happened, things that I would have known were going to happen had I not been so preoccupied with my own trivial catastrophies.   The promise of summer was overshadowing any relevence of the last few weeks of school.  Sarah and I had settled into a close, but unfortunately plutonic relationship.  Brett had backed off his little spiels, actually Brett had been pretty quiet all the way around.

A day or two after my first taste of riding, I was sitting on my bed before school when I noticed a book laying open on Brett's bed.  From where I was sitting, I could see blue lines marking off a particular passage.  I stepped over to the bed.

"If I am right, then Ďtruthí may, like Ďproofí, be a term with only intra-theoretical applications."

I remember thinking:  "This guy sounds just like Brett, or I guess, Brett sounds like him. I flipped to the cover. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. 

The screen door slammed, and I sat back down on my bed to put on my socks and shoes.  Brett tossed his apron on the floor by his bed, closed the book, and started building.  In the time it took me to finish tying my shoes, he had worked up his usual five or six levels.  He barely hesitated as he placed card after card on the growing tower.  I hadn't seen (or stuck around long enough to see) his house of cards get any higher than seven or eight stories, and, like I said, he hadn't been giving me any of his unsolicited wisdom lately, so I just sat there for a while and watched.

He placed the last card of the eighth layer and reached over to fish a new deck of cards out of the nightstand.  The mattress creaked and the tower shuddered on top of the book.  I caught myself holding my breath as he pulled the cellophane off the new deck of cards.  Brett looked calm as always.  The new cards looked too bright next to the dog eared deck he'd used for the last seven or eight months, and I wondered if there newness might be a problem. Too slick or too stiff or something.  He clenched his fist with a trill of popping knuckles, and stood up.

Pulling the first two cards off the top of the deck, he leaned them against each other on top of the tower, that by all apparent logic, should not be standing.  Brett's hands were automatic, placing one card after another until there was only one layer left.  I had completely forgotten about going to school, and he laced the next six cards so slowly I was beginning to think he was avoiding finishing the level.  The king of clubs.  The three of diamonds.  The nine of diamonds, and finally, the Jack of spades.  I counted all eighteen layers just to make sure.


Brett didn't even look at me.  He just sat there staring at the tower.

"There's nothing any greater."

That seemed a bit of an overstatement, but I was still pretty impressed.  "I'm gonna get the camera."

"There's nothing less."

I heard him say it, but I wasn't going to let him ruin my good mood with one of his rants this morning, so I just ignored it.  I found one of those disposable cameras in the kitchen cabinet and walked back into our room.  

"There's nothing any greater.  There's nothing any less."

Brett had fallen into a slow repetition of those lines.

"Smile," I said, and snapped the picture.  I set the camera down on the desk and noticed the clock.  Shit!  I grabbed my backpack and ran out the door.

For some reason, I thought Brett would leave that tower standing for awhile.  I don't know why, but I just assumed it would still be there when I got home.  It wasn't.  All the cards were in their boxes, which were stacked neatly on the nightstand.

Say you, Say me . . .   Say, it's Rob Zombie!

2/08/03 @ 5:22 PM

It appears Mr. Hellbilly and his House of 1000 Corpses aren't just a bunch of stiffs after all. According to RockRage.com, Rob Zombie:

has teamed up with rap Trina and former Commodore Lionel Richie to remake the Commodore hit "Brick House."

Evidently, the remake will be included on the soundtrack to Zombie's upcoming movie debut, due for release April 11.

For those in search of . . .

2/07/03 @ 8:14 PM

For those of you arriving here in your search for G*e*n*e*l*l*e F*r*e*n*o*y, I have one little thing, and that was mentioned only in passing, here.

For those who searched for "Molly Ivins is a whore," well, I have to ask:   Is that a question or an assertion?   Either way, the only thing I have on Molly is here .   If you really want some good stuff on Mrs. Molly, you should go here.

When the streets get strange

2/07/03 @ 1:05 AM

There's something eerily surreal about a midnight walk down Taylor St. with Beethoven's 5th in the headphones. 

And I was all out of cheese . . .

2/05/03 @ 7:53 PM

Eh, sorry about the whining last night. 


2/05/03 @ 10:2 AM

The comments are down again.  Haloscan is falling apart. Not sure what the problem is or when they'll get it fixed, but if it is not fixed by tonight I will probably end up switching to Enetation.

Actually, I may do that now - here is a test:


2/04/03 @ 11:28 PM

Well, it would seem my Give-a-shitter has quit working again.  Iím thinkiní itís the batteries, but itís really hard to tell considering I canít even find the damn thing.


Cagey pt. VI

2/04/03 @ 12:39 PM

Our town had two doctors. One was an old, half-blind fart of a man that managed to stay in business because people visited him when they didnít want to answer too many questions.  Need some Xanax?   "Yes, the nerves . . . the nerves . . ." he'd mutter, his own hand shaking as he scrawled out a prescription.  Want to dictate your own physical?  Just remember to speak slowly.  The other doctor, Deborah, was a young woman with a newly framed license.  She was a pretty woman, in a plain sort of way, and moved all the way from Chicago looking for a quaint home in the country.  What she got, however, was an old two-story farmhouse two creaks away from being condemned.

Anyway, one morning Brett was on his way home from work when he spotted this morning glory trellis masquerading as a motorcycle next to Deborahís shed.  All it cost him was a quick stop by her office and the aggrevation of getting me out of bed on a Saturday morning.  After we stripped all the vines away, I stood there in disbelief that he had the nerve to drag me out of bed for this.   I could barely make out the faded Honda logo, or the Ď750í embossed on the engine.

Mom was gonna be thrilled.  Brett was always carting home junk, but usually it was junk that ended up in our room, not sitting outside the house or taking up space in the car-port.  I think mom and I were both kinda surprised that he actually restored it.  He spent hour after hour getting high and massaging the ports in the engine with sandpaper and steel wool until they reflected like a funhouse mirror.

He even bought this yellow cafť racer fairing kit for it.  He rode it everywhere, and of course gave the people around town something new to laugh at.   The Banana Bike.  Yeah, thatís my brother.   Ha ha, a monkey riding his banana, youíre a scream.  Granted, it was kinda goofy looking and out of place in a town full of Harleyís, but it was fast.

It was a Saturday morning almost two years after we drug that thing out of the weeds, when Brett woke me up and told me it was time I learned how to ride.   I didnít move at first.  I just kind of looked at him, trying to figure out what he was up to.  It was an unspoken rule that I wasnít to go near his bike.

"Come on, I donít wanna be up all day."

But he was.  Brett rode out to the Methodist Church parking lot, and I followed in my car.  Looking back, it amazes me how much patience Brett had that day.  For the first hour or so, I did nothing but pop the clutch until I was sure the bike was eventually going to jump out from under me, that was if I didnít break the clutch first.  Brett never once raised his voice.  In fact, he didnít really say much of anything until I was visibly shaking.  I parked the bike, ready to forget the whole deal when he pulled out his pipe.  He took a hit and put it back in his pocket.

"Itís like learning Algebra."

Oh God, here we go again.

"If your teacher were to start out with 1+1=2 and work his way up to algebra, youíd get bored and stop paying attention before he ever got to that point.   But if he started talking about factoring or quadratic equations on the first day of class, youíd be so lost youíd just give up.  Now, imagine two discs Ė oneís spinning really fast and one's stationary.  Imagine that when you let out on the clutch, that youíre moving those two disks together.   Do it too quick and they'll both stop dead Ė too slow and they'll burn up.  You've got to feel around for that balance."

Brett stood up and walked over to my car.

"Iím gonna go get a soda."

And he was gone.  I didn't know what to do, so I just sat there looking at the bike.  A half hour went by.  The bastard's not coming back! It was almost one oíclock, and I had to be at work at four.  If he thinks I'm gonna walk, heís friggin' nuts.  But he wouldnít just leave his bike out here all night.

I walked over to the bike and got on.  After four excruciating kicks, it finally started.  I gradually let out the clutch and suddenly I was whizzing across the incredibly short parking lot.  I panicked, and mashed down on the rear brake, bringing the bike and the engine to an abrupt stop.  I flexed my aching hands, and looked back across the parking lot - I'd covered a whole twenty feet.  I laughed, held my breath and started the bike again.  Before I knew it, I was riding figure-eights around the parking lot.  I stopped the bike and looked at my watch, almost three.  I was feeling pretty good, but I still wasn't ready to take it all the way across town.  I glanced around the parking lot trying to decide what to do.  And there, leaning against the corner of the church with Dr. Pepper in hand, was Brett.

"'Bout ready to take on Laguna Seca?"

That bastard.  "Where's my car?"

"'Round the church."

I sat at work feeling a little buzzed.  People rented and returned tapes, but I didn't really see them.  I was to busy going over the day in my head.   Remembering the feeling of riding.  For once, I felt balanced and graceful.  It had been a strange day, but a good one.  I was so psyched about learning to ride that I didn't even stop to wonder why Brett was teaching me to ride.

Killing Cagey

2/04/03 @ 9:36 AM

I think I need to flop Cagey in the weeds.  It just keeps sitting over there, gasping and lurching.   If either of you care, I'll be working on the best way to put it out of my misery.

The Root of All Evil

2/02/03 @ 9:50 PM

Out of all the ills we, as a society, face today, it would seem the most detrimental of all is being ignored.  No, I'm not speaking of crime, riots, homelessness, racism, or even the regrettable fact that we have television shows like Joe Millionaire.  The social ill that is going to ruin this great nation of ours is rarely mentioned as such in newspapers or magazines, and it is this obscurity that allows it to propagate throughout our society.

It is an ill that thrives in bars and other such places under the guise of entertainment, under the falsehood of giving the little guy (or gal) opportunity, and as so often with other social ills, under the thin veil of leisure.

The social ill of which I speak?   Karaoke.  It has infected nearly every social establishment in every city of our country.  Going out for a relaxing drink without fear of exposure now involves solving a labyrinthine formula of physics, statistics, geography, and astrology.

"Jack's has it on Sundays, Tuesday's and Saturdays."
"Stan's Still has it every other night beginning with the first Saturday of the month."
"Ok, we divide the square root of the number of possible bars, by the number of days until the next full moon and multiply that by the probability of B . . . What does 'B' stand for again?"
"Well that depends, what day is today?"

Educating people in the skill of a tort et a travers vox et praeterea nihil avoidance (or dodgingkaraoke) is perhaps our only true hope. We, as a nation, cannot hope to overcome or even endure this disease unless we make it a firm fixture in the consciousness of the American people.  This, dear reader, is a call to action, nay, it is an appeal to you to 'Just say no' to karaoke.  And should you find yourself in a moment of doubt, simply recite one or more of the following phrases as your mantra.

"Guns don't kill people, karaoke kills people."
"No blood for karaoke!"
"It's not a choice, it's karaoke."

As Uncle Willie used to say:
"Your voice is such as dreams are made of.   Indeed, nightmares."

Another shot of hope, please . . .

2/01/03 @ 10:55 PM

A friend of mine sent me this rough outline of a poem:

I can either sit at home and hope
for things that I will never be
or will never happen
or give up
close the shades on the windows of my soul
the only drug I know
do I dream of hope?  - Brian Walker

What struck me about this was the metaphore of hope as a drug.  Many years ago (pre-PETA) I heard or read about an expiriment where two groups of rats were placed in tanks of deep water. One group could not see anything that resembled a way out, while the other could see 'land', but could not reach it. Both groups eventually drowned, but the group that could at least see land survived significantly longer than the group that couldn't.

We have a true dependence on hope.  We need it.  However seemingly insiginificant that hope may be, we cling to it with everything we've got.  What other reason is there to get up in the morning, save hope?   And yet some hopes, like the image of land, are nothing more than hallucinations - pipe dreams that will never be realized.  How do we recognize which of our hopes have potential?  

They say it's not the destination, but the journey.   If, at the end of our journey, we find ourselves drowning next to a glass wall, will the journey really be any consolation?


2/01/03 @ 9:30 AM

This is the first thing I saw when I turned on the computer this morning.  The thing I hate about the news media is that they never really tell you what you want to know.  All they want to talk about is what happened at launch and the fact that there is an Israeli astronaut on board.  

2/01/03 @ 1:19 AM

If you feel like refried hell and someone says you look nice, do you believe them?


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