Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ho-lee Jayzus!

In Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, R. Lee Ermey plays Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, whose infamous opening monologue is perhaps one of the most profane, horrifying, and hilarious in modern cinema. Most of you are probably familiar with R. Lee Ermey even if the name doesn't ring a bell: he's the guy you see on the History Channel's Mail Call, often barking into the camera and/or hurtling watered-down insults at the audience; he was the ex-coach in Saving Silverman; he was the judge in Murder in the First; he did voice work in Toy Story and I just heard his voice on a rerun of The Simpsons last night.

Now, I mention all of this because Full Metal Jacket is one of my favorite movies of all time, and Sergeant Hartman is one of my favorite characters with one of my favorite lines: while performing hygiene inspections, Hartman empties a very young and fat Vincent D'Onofrio's footlocker, sees a jelly donut, and growls in that trademark drill instructor drawl, "ho-lee jayzus."

I told you all of this simply because in moments of extreme duress or absurdity, I'm known to mutter either that exact line or something like it.

And you needed to know that because I've muttered that line many, many times over the past several days. How else does one respond to seeing one's father shake his ass to Sir Mix Alot's "Baby Got Back?"

My stepbrother's wedding was essentially four days of minor league debauchery with a few errands on my part thrown in, since I'm moving to that town in a few weeks. But alcohol was consumed in impressive quantities every single night by every single person of age, up to and including my 80-something stepgrandpa. The wedding itself was fine; a thoughtfully brief ceremony in a Methodist church spared those of us in the wedding party, since the 5600 was unusually windy and unusually hot: low 90s, which in the 5600 is damn hot. The reception, however, quickly turned into a dance-a-thon featuring my dad and an old family friend competing for Most Unusual Dance Move Performed by a Male Over the Age of 55. You had to see it to believe it.

So while Pop's dance moves definitely topped the weekend, here are some other highlights:
  • Kathryn laughing so hard her ribs hurt the next morning because the bar band we were watching not only played very bad music very well (think small town 40-somethings wearing black t-shirts doing covers of Blue Oyster Cult, Ted Nugent, and ZZ Top), but because they had a groupie in a sundress several sizes too small, wearing a she-mullet and stiletto whore heels.
  • The slightly removed (and slightly - how does one put this? - gauche) contingent of family from Denver doing the electric slide en masse.
  • Dad taking me aside and whispering something about the potential value of Kathryn's family's land, which he learned from a friend who is somehow familiar with Kathryn's family.
  • My cousin's Irish girlfriend threatening to kick my dad's ass for cracking a joke about the IRA and bomb threats.
  • At the gift/brunch ceremony, a group of strangers singing "Happy Birthday" to me.
  • Seeing the biggest effing trout that ever graced God's green earth in a state park near the 5600. Three feet. No joke. Three effing feet of effing trout.

That'll do for now. Back in the 7200 with a job and an itch to move, soon, to the 5600.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

One More Day...

My stepbrother is getting married this weekend in the same town I'm about to move to, henceforth referred to on this blog as the 5600. The 5600 is tucked into the base of a big ol' mountain range, down in a little valley, so it gets way less wind and way more snow than the 7200. There is also epic fly-fishing nearby, but you have to earn it by hiking over nasty terrain.

Anyhoo, I'm taking off tomorrow morning for the 5600, about 3 hours away, and will get to see my dad and stepmom's side of the family, some of whom I haven't seen for years and years. To top things off, Kathryn is making the trip from Denver tomorrow night, and my family being the reasonable progressives they are (for domestic issues only - they're color-by-number Republicans when it comes to taxes, the war, the President, and education), Kathryn and I are sharing a hotel room. This isn't a big deal to either of us (as far as I know), and I'm not exactly sure why I'm writing about it. But writing about it I am.

While I'm in the 5600 I'll also be stopping by my future employer just to check stuff out, as well as looking for places to live. I may just wind up taking my stepbrother's place, which is like a block from my employer, but I may not. Dunno.

So, for those of you keeping track at home, the schedule looks like:

Th - Arrive at the 5600. Check into hotel. Meet up with dad and stepmom. Acquire fly-fishing rod that was a Christmas gift but couldn't make it on the plane. Drink beer or four with stepbrother and/or anyone else. Kathryn arrives sometime in evening.

F - Golf in the morning with stepbrother and others from wedding party. Encourage Kathryn to drive golf cart. Stop by employer. Hang out with family. Do the rehearsal dinner thing.

S - Wedding.

Su - My birthday. Return to the 7200 in the evening.

M - Hang out with Kathryn in the 7200. Do minor summer job stuff. Prepare for major summer job stuff to kick off this week.

That's it! I may or may not update the blog between today and Monday.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Cold

I've had a cold or something for like two and a half weeks now. It was much more horrible when it first started, but it's still kind of lingering around: I'll randomly cough when I go to bed; I'll wake up with a minor sore throat, I'm congested pretty much all the time.

So yesterday I went to a doctor. He determined that it probably wasn't in my lungs but was definitely in my sinuses - most likely bacterial, and most likely it's been there for a long time. He gave me this bottle of stuff called Zmax, to which one adds water and drinks in one dose. This particular bottle was cherry banana flavored, kind of, and went down pretty well for medicine.

Still a little stuffy today but generally feeling better. According to the label I probably won't really notice for another day or two. Fair 'nuff.

Oh, hey, I'm running again. Right now I'm at about 1 mile per day, which is a hell of a lot for a flabby almost-34-year old.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Of Fishing and Bank Accounts

Yesterday, Dave, Kathryn and I met up in Silverthorne, CO, for a day of "Gold Medal" fishing on the Blue River. I use scare quotes here because until about 4:00 in the afternoon, I wasn't even convinced the river contained any fish at all. I didn't catch any. I didn't see any. I didn't see anyone else catch any until about 4 - and an hour later, I pulled a gorgeous 16" rainbow out. Unfortunately Kathryn didn't have the camera at the ready, so there is no photographic proof. But trust me, it was a blazing pinkish rainbow [insert your own joke about homosexual fish here].

Now, yesterday morning on my way out of the 7200, I stopped by McDonald's for breakfast. I usually avoid fastfood restaurants, especially McDonald's, like I avoid church picnics... but for sentimental reasons, I often get breakfast at McDonald's at the start of early-morning road trips. This goes way back to my childhood and memories of cartrips with my mom.

Anyway, I tried to use my debit card to pay for breakfast and it declined. This put a damper on the rest of the day, except for those brilliant few minutes where I had the rainbow on the line. You see, readers, there is nothing - quite literally nothing - that makes me feel ashamed and incompetent and stupid and irresponsible and very unlike an adult as fiscal loserliness.

I turn 34 this Sunday, and I still effing borrow money from my parents. Kathryn did her best yesterday to convince me that anyone could have done this in my situation - on student loans with no steady income and various random costs lately, etc. - and I'm trying really hard not to berate myself. But it still sucks, and I'm still ashamed, and these things go deeeep into my psyche about not measuring up.

At least I caught that effing fish.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Guitar Tab Friday

As my loyal, 200 million-strong readership knows, I'm playing guitar again. The past few days have been spent trying to get my left hand, fingers, and wrist to simply get back in the swing of things.

Today I'm working on Bob Dylan's "Man of Peace" from his album Infidels. The Grateful Dead (you knew it would come back to the Dead, didn't you?) do a cover on Postcards of a Hanging, an album composed entirely of Dylan covers and/or collaborations.

It's an easy tune. I play it in A, funkified courtesy of Garcia/Weir. The riff focuses on the descending blues thing, particularly the G string.


Repeat 3 times. Move to 7th fret 4 times. I think the progression is resolved by some E chord thrown in there somewhere.

Good stuff, easy to sing, a perfect song for Willie's band.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday is Stupid-Teachers-in-the-News Day

Seriously. How stupid are these people?

That's Dave on the left. Posted by Picasa

Some haiku from the 'Zon. Not sure when it was written.

You pushed the button
The fault is clearly yours
I apologize

A cog in the works
is ground eventually
to shavings and dust

Just make it five years
Then quit a young millionaire
Or so we all thought.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Seattle, 1998

Seattle's trick: it looks cleaner than it is.
Rain scrubs deep and hard,
behind the city's ears and between its toes,
so that even syringes don't leave tracks.

There's a reason its sports teams color their jerseys
turquoise, silver, gray –
there's a reason so many people come, and then leave.


Fumbling against the will of others,
you and I go to the river to fish and curse:
as an art form,
as an oath,
as a prayer.

On the drive to the river we discussed ethics.
deception and barbs
yanking the weak from their element
displaying the trophy
doing unto others
what has in other spheres and places
been done to us.

I wondered to myself, then, about karma,
if we'll pay for this someday
or if we're the masters now,
paying someone back

Why Helloooo, Left Hand Fingertips

A few years ago, when I lived in Lexington, KY, I worked at the 'Zon for something like 70 hours per week. Most of my time at the 'Zon was spent answering email, checking inventory discrepancies, and firing people who consumed a LOT of tobacco products. It wasn't exactly a happy time in my life.

The one good thing that came from that experience was that, when I wasn't working, I was playing guitar. I didn't have much of a social life (never have, actually), so my waking hours at home were generally spent picking around on my Taylor or Stratocaster. A guitar was always nearby in my apartment and I got this weird giddy feeling whenever I picked one up; I was excited to play each and every time I played. I got pretty good for a bit there, especially my fingerpicking, and for a few brief hours in the summer of 2002 I could improv blues solos with something resembling soul and technical competence.

Those days are long gone.

When I came back to school my guitars and banjo all went into storage. Sure, I eventually pulled them out of storage and into my dorm room, but that only served to relocate the place in which they were stored. Long story short, I was too damn busy to play guitar on a regular basis.

Now that summer has arrived at the 7200 and yours truly doesn't have a whole lot going on, I decided to restring my Telecaster and Stratocaster, polish 'em up a little bit, and start playing again. The strings were crusty and nasty, the fretboards gummy, and years-old smudges covered the bodies. After an hour or two of TLC they look damn good now, but my skills are way, way behind.

I ran some blues scales last night and plinked around on some open chords. I played through a few Dylan and Dead songs and tried to sing - with the remnants of a wicked head/chest cold still playing havoc on my voice.

This morning my left had fingertips are a little sore, but that giddy feeling of having a guitar around is back.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A rare photo of me. Not sure who the doofus in the sunglasses is. Posted by Picasa

Utah's Green River, 5/12-5/14

After moping around Kathryn's apartment for a day and a half, I headed over to Steamboat Springs to meet my good friend Dave. Steamboat is only 2 hours from the 7200, but all attempts to spend a weekend at his place were foiled this winter - weather, Dave's appendix, my crazy schedule, etc. So Dave was eager to take me on a fishing trip, and I was eager to hang out with Dave for a few days, cold or no cold.

We left Steamboat Friday morning and arrived at Utah's Green River around noon. I won't bore you with geographical, geological, or hydrological details, but I will say the Green is one of the most beautiful rivers I've ever seen – and I've seen my share of rivers, bitch.

We met up with Dave's friend Bruce and Bruce's stepson, and by Friday afternoon we were floating the "A" section just below the dam. This is strictly a flyfishing habitat, and the Pabst swilling bait-and-bobber types were nowhere to be seen: artificial lures only, a restrictive keeper limit, and absolutely no motorboats of any kind. Heaven, if you're a touchy-feely tree hugger like me.

A few miles downriver I cast a streamer (a lure that acts like a small fish) into a promising pool beneath a cliff, and as I stripped my line I saw a silver flash in the water, a fish darting to my line, and then the unmistakable tug. The rest is a blur, but someone was smart enough to take a picture.

We camped at a local campground on both nights, and Saturday we floated the "B" section but I didn't catch anything. Dave caught a few more, but mostly we just enjoyed the float – well, I enjoyed it as best I could, since my cold hadn't improved at all.

On Sunday Bruce and his stepson took off early, and Dave and I spent a few good hours at the boat ramp below the dam. We each had bites and fish on the line, and we each lost them without ever pulling them in. Around 1pm we headed back to Steamboat in time for grilled meat and cans of beer on his condo's porch.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Real Reason Behind the NSA's Data Collection

The following transcript of a closed session of Congress was found in a dumpster behind the Capitol. The exchange is between Rep. Jim Hilgus, R - Alabama, and Trout.

Congressperson: Mr. Trout, you’ve been called before this committee today because the NSA has detected a strange pattern to your telephone calls. As I’m sure you’re aware, the NSA did not record or transcribe the telephone calls of American citizens; they simply documented the times, dates, and durations of calls.

Trout: I’m aware of that, Congressperson.

Congressperson: Now, like I said, in the course of examining the phone records of millions of Americans, the NSA found a pattern in your calls that suggests consistent contact with another individual. Can you tell us anything about that?

Trout: Yes, Congressperson. I call my girlfriend almost every night, right around 9:00 Mountain.

Congressperson: Now, this girlfriend [the Congressperson has used finger quotes when saying girlfriend – ed.] . . .

Trout: Kathryn.

Congressperson: Right. Kathryn. Am I to understand she works in Denver?

Trout: That’s correct, Congressperson.

Congressperson: And you live in the 7200, about 150 miles away?

Trout: That’s right.

Congressperson: And what does this Kathryn person do?

Trout: She works at a non-profit, Congressperson. Is there a point here?

Congressperson: I’m getting there, son. So Kathryn works at a non-profit? That sounds rather leftist to me. Would you consider it a leftist organization?

Trout: I would not.

Congressperson: You wouldn’t?

Trout: I would not. I’d consider it an organization dedicated to helping inner city kids, with little or no political agenda.

Congressperson: Uh huh. Sounds leftist to me. Do they hand out food stamps and punish kids who pray?

Trout: I don’t know, Congressperson.

Congressperson: Okay, we’ve established that you contact a leftist almost every night at a predetermined time. I think everyone in this room has a right to know what you discuss.

Trout: Kathryn and I talk about how our days went.

Congressperson: And?

Trout: And that’s about it. Sometimes we tell funny stories.

Congressperson: Funny stories. Like how you’re going to mastermind another terrorist attack?

Trout: More like, how my ass becomes a water knife after I eat Ethiopian food.

Congressperson: I see. What other sorts of things do you discuss?

Trout: Well, sometimes we talk about our families.

Congressperson: And?

Trout: And that’s about it.

Congressperson: I find that hard to believe. Here you are, a strapping young man, and you have a girlfriend… come on, Mr. Trout, surely there are some details you’re leaving out.

Trout: I, uh, I’m not sure this committee really needs to hear those details.

Congressperson: Does Kathryn ever discuss things of a sexual nature with you?

Trout: I’m really not at liberty to say.

Congressperson: Mr. Trout, this committee is charged with finding out whether or not you’re a threat to the American people. Now, for the sake of national security, kindly tell us the details of those discussions.

Trout: Congressperson, that is simply none of your business.

Congressperson: National security, son. Now, does Kathryn ever ask you what you’re wearing?

Trout: No, Congressperson, she does not.

Congressperson: Does she ever ask you to take off your shirt?

Trout: No, Congressperson, she does not.

Congressperson: So she never asks you to rub butter all over your stocky, thick, manly frame?

Trout: No, Congressperson, she does not.

Congressperson: And she never asks you to do pushups so she can imagine your rippling biceps and meaty pectorals pulsating with a primal rhythm?

Trout: Congressperson, this line of questioning is making me uncomfortable…

Congressperson: . . . And she never asks you to press your hard and firm body against hers so she can smell your manly scent …

Trout: I plead the fifth.

Congressperson: . . . and in your wild embrace she senses your burning manly loins, eager to sate and be satiated by an older, more mature man than yourself . . .

Trout: What?

Congressperson: Nothing. I, uh, nothing.

Trout: Are we done here?

Congressperson: Yes, yes. Certainly. Mr. Trout, on behalf of this committee and the American people, I thank you for your time and candor today. I’m confident that you and Kathryn are fine upstanding Americans and will lead happy lives together. Thanks again.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Good Uses for Blankets

I felt a tickle in my throat yesterday morning, and by the afternoon it has escalated into full-blown assault on my sinuses. I fell asleep sometime in early evening, and by the time Kathryn called at 9:00, I was wavering in and out of consciousness. I vaguely remember talking to her. Apparently I sounded like I was crying.

The rest of the night was a series of fade-ins and fade-outs, centering around me alternating between freezing and broiling on a minute by minute basis. If my night had been a scene in a film, it would have been a montage of sitting up, lying back down, flipping the pillow, and most peculiarly, turning on the shower at about 4am.

I remember thinking a shower would be a great idea, stumbling into the bathroom, and turning on the water. Then I must have gone back to bed, because I woke up sometime later - it might have been a few seconds, it might have been an hour - with steam playing in the bathroom light. So I took the shower and felt marginally better.

At some point, whether before or after the shower I don't remember, I dreamt that my blankets were blocks of raw material. Wood, iron ore, sheet metal - you name it. This came as a relief, because I was able to process the materials into useful things like . . . candle holders. Strange, strange shit.

This morning I felt much better and drove down to Denver to hang out with Kathryn. Tomorrow night I'm heading over to Steamboat to do some fishing with Willie for the weekend. Meanwhile, Kathryn and I are watching Lost because Dirk reminded me that the show is actually pretty cool.

Speaking of Lost, if only two people make it off that island, I hope it's John and Ecko. And maybe the Jerry Garcia looking dude. And the dog. I like the dog.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Summer Arrives at the 7200

Summer happens twice at the 7200. In early May, roughly a quarter of the town vanishes over the course of graduation weekend. One Friday night you'll be fighting for space in the line at the bar, throwing elbows and hip checks with equal force to cowboys and granolas, and by the following Monday they'll all simply melt away like the Viet Cong. Traffic here is never ever bad by anyone's standards, and it gets even better when the college kids leave. You know it's summer when you can go to Village Inn for breakfast and in lieu of youngsters reeking of stale beer, one sees only the elderly.

The second arrival is trickier. It usually occurs somewhere in early June - although last year we woke up to 8 inches of heavy snow on June 4th - and it usually takes everyone by surprise. You'll be out walking around the 7200, sipping a coffee or maybe just running errands, and suddenly a weird trickle will make its way down your face. Sweat? Shit, man, summer must be here!

So the first arrival happened over the weekend. Because I have a temporary residential job on campus this summer, I'm one of three people left in one of the dorms, and two of 'em are gone. I'm the only one here. Too bad I don't have a Big Wheel to pedal around.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

And We're Back!

Alright, so my good friend Dirk Mancuso has inspired me to start writing again, after three - count 'em, three - previous blogs went the way of pre-marital abstinence. Or something.

Things are pretty in my world today. My mom's throwing a monster graduation party for me (booze total: $389), and my sister and aunt have flown out to the 7200 for the weekend. Meanwhile, my girlfriend is up from Denver, her folks are driving down from Sheridan, some old high school friends are all coming to the party, and yours truly has a job lined up in the same state as the 7200, but nowhere near the 7200. It's the dreamjob in one of the coolest towns in the state... near mountains and amazing hiking and fishing. Sweeeeet.

That is all for now. Thanks, Dirk, for the funniest shit I've read in a long, long time.