Thursday, June 29, 2006

Random Question Friday Rescheduled to Random Question Thursday

Due to my crazy-ass drive-a-thon weekend, we're moving Random Question Friday up a day.

When I was a wee little tyke I slipped somewhere (the fireplace, maybe?) and busted my chin open. I don't remember going ass over teakettle, but I do remember lying on my back in a clean room with shadowy figures standing over me. I remember being especially comforted by one of them, not because of any specific behavior on his part but because he was my dad and he was there and that meant everything was going to be cool.

That's my first memory, folks. What's yours?

8 More Hours . . .

Oh yes, readers, it's going to be a great weekend.

Tomorrow morning I head to Steamboat Springs to hang out and fish with Dave on the White and Yampa rivers. Yours truly has some new gear to try out, not to mention some self-tied flies.

I'll be back Saturday afternoon, working Sunday and Monday in order to prepare for another giant camp that arrives Wednesday morning.

And Tuesday? I'm glad you asked. On Monday night I head down to Denver to see Kathryn. On Tuesday there's one hell of a soccer match between Germany and Argentina; Tuesday night we're heading to a Colorado Rapids game, followed by fireworks at the stadium. I drive back Wednesday morning in time to help with the giant camp's check in.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Super Evil Genius

As longtime readers of my previous blogs might remember, I dig pranks and my little OCD-tinted brain constantly seeks prank opportunities. Dirk's nametag left unattended in the breakroom? Why, let's change the stickers around and see how long it takes him to notice people are calling him "Drik." Stepbrother not keeping a careful eye on his wineglass? Why, let's empty a pepperoncini into it and see if he comments about the tasty chardonnay. Girlfriend's sister and brother-in-law are Avalanche fans and on vacation, leaving keys to the house with girlfriend?

Why, let's deck out the place with Detroit Red Wings paraphernalia!

One of the coolest things about Kathryn is that she not only has a sense of humor, she has a sick and twisted sense of humor, meaning that when I first came up with this idea she was all over it and asked how she could help. That's love, readers. True love.

J and P, good luck finding all the Red Wings cards! Let me know when you find the ones hidden in the ***** ***, the *****, the ******* ******, and especially the ***** *******! Heh. That one could take years.


Soccer at 7200

You know how sometimes an old dog, once unleashed in the park or campground, will take off with speed and joy not seen since its Puppychow years?

That was me last night on the soccer field. For an hour or two, my shin splints didn't bother me, my knee injury from the other night was gone, and I was back in youthful midfielder form. My centering passes from the wings weren't crisp, necessarily, but they were on-target. I could still defend a little. I could still set myself up for a beautiful give-and-go. I didn't get many strikes on goal, but I've never had a striker's killer mentality anyway so that was fine by me.

Sketchy day around here today. Ghana and Brazil this morning; France and Spain this afternoon, and we conference types don't have a whole lot to do except watch World Cup.

Monday, June 26, 2006

We Were That Table

Part of my summer job entails living in a college dormitory. As you may or may not know, colleges often host conferences of various kinds in the summer - great publicity, better revenue. The conferences can be athletic, scholastic, or just common-interest in nature, but they're almost always comprised of high school kids.

Yesterday over 1,000 high school and junior high girls checked into our halls for a basketball camp, and my wing (which I usually have to myself) was overrun with squealing terrors. Now, having them on my wing isn't a huge problem since I have my own bathroom, but the squealing?

Kathryn and I were chatting last night and for over an hour I heard nothing but slamming doors, herds of teenagers charging down the halls, and squealing. Loud squealing. Squealing so loud I had to leave my room and go somewhere else.

Now, I left my phone charger in Denver on the last trip and Kathryn very kindly dropped it in the mail - but in the meantime I have no phone. So last night I headed over to the bar without calling anyone; just got the hell out of my room and walked to the neighborhood watering hole.

Lo and behold, four of my best friends and coworkers were already there, two pitchers deep and still going strong. They'd tried to call but my phone, being out of juice and turned off, went straight to voicemail.

Long story short, the five of us spent an hour drinking tasty microbeer, telling horror stories about conferences, and generally blowing off steam. By the end of it we were being truly obnoxious to each other and getting annoyed looks from other patrons. Good times, and I was feeling great by the time I returned to my room at 10 or so.

Then I was kept up until 12:30 by squealing.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Random Question Friday: Comfort (Food or Whatever)

Alrighty, readers, looks like we're on to something with this Random Question Friday business. Thanks to all who replied last week. Mom, I had no idea.

This week's question occurred to me while visiting Kathryn, whose head/chest cold reminded me that I recently bought a humidifier and was disappointed in it. Oh, sure, it pumps out the steam, but it doesn't hum.

You see, readers, as a kid we had this humidifier that churned out steam in such quantities that Mom would have to put down plastic sheets underneath the nozzle. I'm sure she appreciated the medicinal aspects of the thing, but what comforted me was its consistent "hmmmmmm." To this day I sleep better with some sort of mechanical humming in the background.

So the question for you, readers, is this: what never fails to comfort you?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

SADIEDOG! (No reason. I just like this pick of Willie and Jenn's dog).Posted by Picasa

The British Bulldog after England went up 1-0 on Sweden. Posted by Picasa

Trip Report: Denver 6/19 - 6/21

Look for photos soon.

Monday, 6/19

3:15pm – Depart the 7200. For the first time in recorded history, encounter a headwind from the east, thereby ruining my plan to save at least a little gas. Mutter expletives. Curse decision to buy 2wd truck when living in Seattle. Listen to the Grateful Dead's Live at the Fillmore East, Disc 3.

4:00pm – Despite having nearly ¾ tank of gas just 45 miles back, my fuel gauge indicates less than ½ a tank. Decide not to risk it and acquire gas, iced tea, and sesame sticks at a truckstop near a city that rhymes with "Diane."

4:25pm – The front range traffic thickens as I approach Fort Collins. I-25 is four lanes from the Wyoming border until about 20 miles north of Denver. Those first 30 miles from Wyoming to Fort Collins aren't all that bad – but then the congestion hits and it's time for, like, the 7th installment of Death Race 2006.

5:00pm – In the middle of Death Race 2006, truck makes weird noises when downshifting (my truck downshifts a lot when it's asked to go faster than 65mph). Because of the nature of Death Race 2006, slowing down is impossible – moving into the right lane ensures a fiery collision with southbound traffic from the on-ramps. Keep my foot jammed on the gas. Hope for the best.

5:25pm – Finally – sweet fancy Moses, finally! – make it to the expanded section of I-25. On some days, that third lane relieves the pressure, turning Death Race 2006 into something more like a commute. Not today. Today, semis with "dangerous cargo" stickers hang out in the middle lane, while late model SUVs surf from the far right lane to the far left without signaling. Decide that given the choice, I'd eschew a bigger engine for machine guns a la the Spy Hunter video game.

5:40pm – Take exit 213 into downtown Denver. Am reminded of my purgatory in Phoenix, a year and a half spent in oppressive heat and unrelenting traffic. Silently thank, well, whomever, for free will.

5:45pm – Arrive at Kathryn's apartment. Suddenly understand precisely what she meant when she said her apartment was "really effing hot." Sit on my lazy ass while she cooks chicken for sandwiches. Apply generous amounts of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, which I haven't had since I lived in St. Louis. Discuss religion over dinner. Wash the dishes.

7:00pm – Take a walk with Kathryn in the Curtis Park neighborhood, up to and around, well, Curtis Park. See some Latino guys playing soccer. Wish my Spanish skills and soccer skills were not both currently on par with my brain surgery skills.

9:00pm – Watch the first ten minutes of American Splendor before noticing that Kathryn is nodding off. Mock her for nodding off, knowing full well that I'm usually the one yawning by 8:30pm.

Tuesday, 6/20

8:20am – Tell Kathryn to enjoy her job, while I go watch soccer at a bar at 9 in the morning. Remind her this wouldn't be an issue if she had cable TV. She seems unimpressed with this line of reasoning.

8:25am – On her way to work, Kathryn drops me off at the corner and I walk to the British Bulldog. Along the way I say "'Morning" to a large black woman. She says "good morning" in return and also, "I'm trying to be a better person today." Shit, lady, aren't we all? Also pass a large group of what are very likely migrant workers. Notice them checking out my shirt (Glasgow Rangers jersey) and, oddly, hope that a soccer jersey earns me some street cred. Decide not to test my Spanish skills at this juncture.

8:30am – Watch Germany beat the tar out of Ecuador with three other patrons. Drink iced tea. Am encouraged by the bartender to come back early for the England game because "the Brits are going to pack this place."

10:00am – Walk from the bar back to Kathryn's place. Read National Geographic article on the World Cup.

10:15am - Google-chat with Rothfuss about his impending move and his next next career applying nanotechnology to sports.

11:20am – Walk back to the British Bulldog. Acquire decent seat at the bar. Notice the guy to my left is ordering and drinking Tullamore Dew in impressive quantities. Order a BLT and a Newcastle. Find myself explaining World Cup elimination rules to the guy on my right, who wants to talk basketball. Hey man, the only way I'm going to talk basketball is if it's Illinois basketball. Who the hell is this "Nuggets" team you keep talking about?

11:45am – Notice a contingent of pale men in red jerseys starting to fill up the bar. Also notice that the basketball fan has left and has been replaced by a pale man in a red jersey.

12:00pm – Notice the goofy-ass Colorado Rapids mascot has entered the bar. Offer the pale man in the red jersey next to me five bucks if he saunters up and clocks the mascot in his goofy-ass foam face. He declines.

12:10pm – A Colorado Rapids cheerleader, replete with blonde hair and skimpy outfit, offers me a Rapids t-shirt and a poster of the Rapids cheerleaders. Take the t-shirt and use the poster as a placemat.

1:00pm – Bar is packed with, as it turns out, Brits. Start chatting with two chaps about footie.

1:10pm – Kathryn arrives to have lunch at the bar. Give her my seat, which is very cramped at this point. She orders fried pickles. Mock her for ordering fried pickles. Try a fried pickle. Stop mocking her for ordering fried pickles.

1:30pm – England score. Bar erupts. Chants are chanted. Songs are sung. Beer is consumed.

2:00pm – Kathryn heads back to work. A small part of me wishes I could be heading back to an air-conditioned office. Bar is at least 95 degrees, and full of Brits.

2:10ish pm – Sweden score. Bar goes silent, with the exception of a hoarse "Fuck off, Sweden!" screamed by a young woman.

3:00ish pm – England score. Bar erupts. Chants are chanted. Songs are sung. Beer is consumed.

3:05ish pm – Sweden score. Bar goes silent. Hoarse young woman chants "Fuck you Sweden, X X XXX." Everyone in bar joins in.

3:10pm – Walk back to Kathryn's place. Take sweaty nap on couch, using newly acquired Rapids t-shirt as pillowcase. Shower. Drink water. Take ibuprofen for screaming headache.

5:00pm – Kathryn calls from work. I meet her out back to let her in.

5:20pm – Kathryn and I wait on front steps for her sister and brother-in-law to arrive separately so we can all go to the Rockies game. Kathryn checks mail and sees new National Geographic, which excites her. Kathryn enjoys picture of ape holding a shoe. I enjoy first few paragraphs of article about Blackbeard's shipwreck.

5:25pm – J arrives.

5:27pm – P arrives.

5:45pm – Am regaled by P's story about honeymoon adventures on cruise ship. Drink lime-aid.

6:10pm - Insist that Coors Field won't allow cameras now that everyone's scared of terrists. Someone gets bright idea to call and ask. Kathryn calls and asks. Coors Field allows cameras.

6:15pm – Walk to Coors Field. Wish out loud I'd worn my Red Wings jersey.

7:00pm – Game begins. Tell P not to buy me a beer. P buys me a beer.

8:15ish pm – Take Kathryn up on her offer to feed me at the game. Ask for a pretzel. "With salt," I yell as she walks up the aisle. "And chee! Don't forget the chee!"

8:25ish pm – Kathryn and J return with pretzels and containers of cheese. Am told I'm eating all of the damn cheese if it kills me. Dip pretzel into cheese and notice it retains its shape, not unlike cheese pudding might if they made cheese pudding. Am told she doesn't care and that I'm eating all of the damn cheese if it kills me.

9:30ish pm – Game ends. Rockies defeat Oakland Athletics 6-0. Walk back to Kathryn's place.

10:00pm – J and P take off. Kathryn and I head for bed.

Wednesday, 6/21

6:00am – Alarm goes off. Am dreaming about armless robots and alarm is incorporated into dream.

6:30am – Leave for the 7200. Drive into headwind for entire trip. Mutter expletives.

Ghana 340,453,681 - USA 1

The U.S. National Team is out of the World Cup, having been eliminated by Ghana. Did Ghana really score 340,453,681 goals? No, but it felt like it. Did the U.S. really only score one effing goal? Sure did!

One goal.

IN THE ENTIRE EFFING TOURNAMENT. The Italian own-goal in the 1-1 draw doesn't count.

Those A-holes deserved a first round exit. What makes this especially painful is that Italy did their part by defeating the Czechs, thereby opening the door for the U.S. to advance. (For those who don't follow World Cup, the first round is composed of 8 groups of 4 teams. You only play the teams in your group in the first round and are awarded 0 points for a loss, 1 point for a draw, and 3 points for a win. The two teams with the most points in each group advance to the next round, while the teams with the fewest points in each group go back to warfare, strife, and poverty - and I'm not just talking about the U.S. players from Detroit).

Depending on which U.S. team showed up, we had a fantastic opportunity to play Brazil in the Round of 16. But did we get that far? Why, no. In fact, we played like that Billings JV squad after the Dorritos and Ritalin bender.

And now the U.S. is on a flight home, where they will receive not ovations, tickertape parades, and free drinks but rather the mockery and asskicking they so richly deserve by the U.S. soccer fans.

All five of us.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Quick Note from Denver

I'm in Denver for the day, and a longer post about the trip is coming. Meanwhile, I just couldn't resist this little gem from

We had a cat like this. Socks' favorite trick early in life was to run full-tilt-boogie from under furniture and climb up your pants leg. It was hilarious or terrifying, depending on whether or not you were the one getting climbed. Same cat used to ride around in the basket on the front of my sister's bike. Same cat used to run away to the local college dorms.

Socks lived to a ripe old age, became diabetic, and eventually went off to the big sunny couch in the sky.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Church of Trout, Part 2: Saving Yourself from Christianism

I need to preface all of the following with an explanation about why I'm writing about religion in the first place. For one thing, I haven't always been completely honest with people about my beliefs – a local friend of mine is an assistant pastor and a hell-and-brimstone religious wacko. He used to be a good guy (a great guy, actually), but after seeing his parenting skills, fueled by scripture and bullying patriarchy, I get angrier and angrier at him. And I've never been totally straight with my family, either (several of whom read this blog), but that was probably because until recently I've never been too clear on the subject. Mostly, though, I've never been honest with anyone about religion because, well, I really hate offending people. But the more I see religion effing up the world, the less I care about offending.

Another reason I'm writing about religion is that I see a scary trend developing in the U.S. in which religious extremism holds sway over politics (nothing new there) and, now, public institutions like universities and even worse, our private lives. I'll put up with a lot of shit from believers like my friend, but I won't put up with someone else's belief system interfering with my rights to privacy, free speech, or pursuit of happiness.

And so when I unload on organized religion I may irritate or even lose some of my 200 million readers. That's not my intent, but if you're offended by what I'm about to write, maybe that's proof that you need to hear it.

To the religious right, believing in Christ is not enough. One must believe in a very specific brand of Christianity, and anything else is hell-bound heathenism. This kind of belief obviously isn't limited to Christianity in the U.S., but it is the only belief system you or I can do anything about in the course of our daily lives (I mean, if you really, really, really wanted to confront radical Islam, you could join the Marines and try to kill a few of 'em). I'd even argue that if you find yourself condemning other belief systems, maybe you're closer to the religious right than you'd care to admit, and had damn well better do some self-evaluation.

Now, before anyone starts screaming "hypocrite!" at their screen, let me assure you that my problems are not with the existence of religion, only in the divisive nature of organized religion. As I wrote earlier in a comment thread, there's something profound about the human condition and it's only natural that we sentient types search for ways to express it. And I am not condemning people for condemning someone else. I simply believe that any group which lays claim to heaven is totally full of shit, and I want you, readers, to fully understand the implications of narrow-minded faith.

Which brings me back to the religious right. Someone on the Internet referred to them as "Christianists," and I like that term a lot. The connotation is a focus not on Christ but on a cultish following. It denotes anyone whose Christian beliefs focus more on judgment, Leviticus-style, than on Christ's teachings. It denotes exclusion, blithe rejection of the human condition, and hate.

The easiest way to identify Christianists is to gauge the degree to which they interpret the Bible literally. I don't know about you, but when a geologist PhD tells me the earth is about 4 billion years old, well, I believe it. I mean hell, who'd know how old the earth is better than a geologist, right? Who could possibly argue with the fossil record? Why, the Christianists, that's who!

Of course, we all know the full-blown Christianist wackos when we see 'em. The troubling part for me is that they've been more aggressive politically, and unless you believe the earth is 6,000 years old, this surge of extremism poses a direct and immediate threat to American ideals of freedom and individualism. These folks don't just want you to believe, act, and pray a certain way – they want control of all aspects of your life. They can't handle a multicultural America; they can't handle difference. And ultimately that's what kills me about Christianists: they're lazy. They'd rather wallow in self-righteousness than go out and do Christ's work.

So what, exactly, do we do? For starters, we vote. Vote against people who belong to fundamentalist churches – these types of politicians are usually not shy about their beliefs, but it will also pay to research candidates' beliefs at all levels of government. For another, call up your congressional representatives when any legislation is in the works dictating what consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes. More on that in another post.

Finally – and this is the hardest one for me – stop putting up with crap from Christianists in person. If they're comfortable telling you about how, when Jesus returns, "believers will be walking the earth as nine foot giants on fire" (direct quote from aforementioned friend), then perhaps we should be comfortable telling them that's not how we understand Christ, or pyrotechnics for that matter. And then maybe offer them a complimentary copy of the Bhagavad-Gita, freshly acquired from the hari krishna on the corner.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Rock Music Lyrics Friday Officially Canceled: Replaced by Random Question Fridays

Okay. Over 12 hours have gone by and not one of you people have responded to this week's Rock Music Lyrics Friday. Don't despair, though. The blame is mine; I've been instructing you what to write about instead of asking for your experiences. I've come to this conclusion after a serious and thorough evaluation of my blogging technique. Also, after drinking.

So from now on expect random questions on Fridays. And to make up for today's debacle, we'll start with a softball:

Name a song you associate with a specific time and place.

Rock Music Lyrics Friday: "China Cat Sunflower"

Welcome to our third installment of Rock Music Lyrics Friday! We're getting better at responding to these things – Rothfuss even chimed in last week from the Falklands or Mars or wherever the hell he is these days to take a crack at decoding those Poison wordsmiths. Rothfuss, will you be in the 7200 anytime soon? We have some World Cup to watch.

Anyhoo, since I'm pressed for time today I thought I'd just throw out a Robert Hunter / Grateful Dead tune and see what the 200 million come up with.

Grateful Dead (lyrics by Robert Hunter), China Cat Sunflower

Look for awhile at the
China Cat Sunflower
proud-walking jingle in the midnight sun
Copper-dome Bodhi drip a silver kimono
like a
crazy-quilt stargown
through a dream night wind

Krazy Kat peeking through a lace bandana
like a one-eyed
like a
diamond-eye Jack
A leaf of all colors plays
a golden string fiddle
to a
double-e waterfall over my back

Comic book colors on a violin river
Leonardo words
from out a silk
I rang a silent bell
beneath a shower of
in the
eagle wing palace
of the Queen Chinee

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Alright, I'd imagine some of you just can't wait for my next post about religion, but the more I write about it, the more obtuse and tangential some of my points get. I think there will be individual installments regarding Christianism, the word of God, and the sanctity of marriage, but at this point I'm really not sure how I'm going to frame it all so that it A) makes sense and B) doesn't come off like whiny half-baked sentimentality.

In the meantime, how about a little World Cup commentary to lighten the mood?

First, the Germans have played two of the most exciting soccer games I've ever seen. The 93rd minute goal versus Poland yesterday had my kraut DNA going full-blown kraut crazy. If you know me at all you know I tend to play up my Scottish "heritage" (based entirely on assumptions and a surname which came, in theory, from somewhere near Dunfermline). But hey, my German heritage deserves props too, and the Scots are sitting on their sorry asses after not even qualifying for Cup play.

Second, the U.S. national team pretty much sucks. DaMarcus Beasley need not even suit up for Saturday's match versus Italy or yours truly will go apolectic. But watching the U.S. play, and anticipating a trip to Denver to see an MLS game, has spurred pipe dreams about coaching soccer. I really do see that in my future.

Third, I'd like to see an African nation advance but I'm not sure it'll happen. Ghana is in the U.S.'s group, but so are Italy and the Czechs, and those two are the favorites to survive. The Ivory Coast played well but still lost; Tunisia stands no chance. We'll see what shakes.

Okay, folks, I'm off to write a check for like $4,000 so that some group of people can officially say I'm qualified to do something. Wheeeee!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Church of Trout, Part 1: History

I've thought a bit about religion over the course of my life: raised Methodist and Presbyterian, my journey since has been a paint-by-numbers exploration of spirituality as experienced by so many other middle-class liberals in 20th and 21st century America.

I was a doubting Thomas by my late teens and thanks to my bestest manfriend, a full-on atheist by my early twenties. The hippy in me, however, kept pointing at spiritual and sacred experiences and asking politely for an explanation. "Hey, man," my inner hippy would ask, "how come we find peace in the mountains?" Or, "Hey, man, why do you like gospel music so much?" Sometimes my inner hippy would get really, really heavy: "Hey, man, is it really so ridiculous to think that we have souls and a larger purpose?"

And so from the plains of atheism I ventured, tentatively, into the tangles of agnosticism for a few years. Somewhere in there I found the Buddha; I lost the Buddha; I found him again a few months ago. We're not the closest pals anymore but he's still around.

Now, for all this searching, I've come to realize a few things about religion. First, no one person or sect has the answer. They can't. The only way we'll know for sure is by dying, and, well, why don't you go first and get back to me. Second, any interpretation of a sacred book is just that, no more. All people understand God and scripture differently, even people in the same church – we are individuals with separate minds and thus separate relationships to the sacred. Third, all organized religions have mandated make-believe notions and the sooner the human species abandons the make-believe the better off we'll all be. Faith itself is fine; helpful even in some circumstances (orphanages, for example, or church-based community services). But faith taken to extremes is precisely why this world is so effed up.

Keep piling on the make-believe for generations and eventually you wind up with snake handlers. Eventually you wind up with the Crusades; with suicide bombers; you wind up with slavery and abortion doctors sniped through their kitchen windows and protests at soldiers' funerals. You wind up with ritual suicides and the Holocaust. Eventually you wind up with bugshit insane ideas about how old the earth is. Eventually you wind up with the religious right.

Stay tuned for The Church of Trout, Part 2: Saving Yourself from Christianism

Monday, June 12, 2006


The USA lost to the Czechs 3-0 just a bit ago, and although I'm all mopey and not really in the mood to write, I figure my 200 million strong readership would like an update of some sort. And yes, those longer posts promised a while ago are still in the works.

First, soccer will never catch on in the U.S. if our national team continues to play like the Billings JV squad after a Dorritos and ritalin binge. Watching the game today reminded me of watching Illinois basketball: remarkable talent sabotaged by a serious lack of motivation. If I ever coach - and I'm not saying I will, but if I ever do - you can bet my players will be motivated and ready to play, or they will be substituted out. Quickly.

Second, Kathryn came up this weekend and that was pretty awesome. We bought a soccer ball yesterday and kicked it around. While this stocky, 34 year old frame of mine still retains a bit of speed, she surprised me with some quick bursts and sustained speed on breakways, undoubtedly because of her lanky frame... and she was in a damn skirt. If we ever have kids - and I'm not saying we will, but if we ever do - you can bet they're going to be little musical geniuses who outrun cheetahs in their spare time.

Third, if any of Dirk's readers are here, welcome. I should confess right now that the phrase "manwang" isn't mine; I heard it from a friend a few years back when she recommended that I go see Sideways with the warning that "there is some flopping manwang in it, so be ready."

That is all.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Rock Music Lyrics Friday

Random stranger Corndog stopped by last week with some thoughts (well, a thought, but that was enough) about Phish lyrics. And after reading his posts on Foreigner lyrics, I thought Rock Music Lyrics Friday would do well to back away slowly from the genius of Phish or any other abstruse artrocker types. So my 200 million strong readership is lucky I didn't bust out any Michael Stipe – this time.

Instead, I thought we'd take a header into buttrock.
Poison, Every Rose Has Its Thorn

We both lie silently still

In the dead of the night
Although we both lie close together
We feel miles apart inside
Was it something I said or something I did
Did my words not come out right
Though I tried not to hurt you
Though I tried
But I guess thats why they say

Every rose has its thorn
Just like every night has its dawn
Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song
Every rose has its thorn
Yeah it does

I listen to our favorite song
Playing on the radio
Hear the dj say loves a game of easy come and
Easy go
But I wonder does he know
Has he ever felt like this
And I know that youd be here right now
If I could have let you know somehow
I guess
Though its been a while now
I can still feel so much pain
Like a knife that cuts you the wound heals
But the scar, that scar remains


I know I could have saved a love that night
If I'd known what to say
Instead of makin love
We both made our separate ways
But now I hear you found somebody new
And that I never meant that much to you
To hear that tears me up inside
And to see you cuts me like a knife
I guess

Yesterday's Post Today, Rock Music Lyrics Friday in a Separate Post

Blogger went bye-bye yesterday, so here are a few random thoughts in preparation for a series of longer posts -

1. The World Cup brings out the latent soccer player in me. The only time I've ever felt dominant as an athlete was as a hardnosed 9 year old fullback who rarely let the ball get by. Even in my pre-pubescent years I understood the psychological damage a strong defense inflicted upon an opponent. More World Cup stuff soon.

2. If fly tying is an art form, I'm Thomas Kinkade compared to Picasso over here.

3. Al-Zarqawi was a horrible human being and I'm glad he's dead.

4. I've just about had it with this "sanctity of marriage" crap. It's sickening that the GOP wants to prevent two people who love each other from formalizing their relationship. Because, you know, the divorce rate among straight people, multiple marriages, and sexual taboos aren't really issues in the U.S. More on the religious right, the midterm elections, and the homosexuals in another post.

5. It is absolutely no surprise that my girlfriend got a promotion. I never said so out loud, but I saw that one coming from a mile away. Well done, baby!

Monday, June 05, 2006


Hey, readers, here's something I forgot to write about last week: the National Spelling Bee was televised live on Thursday night, and although I could go on and on about how wonderful and simultaneously sad the whole thing is, Dirk provides all the social commentary I would but in fewer words.

We (the summer staffers) watched a little bit of it and got outspelled every single time. And how funny were those kids angling for hints? With every question we sensed a growing desperation in the speller's demeanor and yelled things at the TV.

Speller: Can I have the language of origin please?

Judge: Probably urdu.

Trout: Uh oh.

Speller: Are there any alternate pronunciations?

Judge: No.

Trout: You're done!

Speller: Can you define the word please?

Judge: A small rodent-like animal found in South Asia.

Trout: You don't stand a chance! Sit down! SOMEONE RING THE EFFING BELL!

Ah, yes. Nothing quite like armchair quarterbacking a spelling bee.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Rock Music Lyrics Friday

A few weeks ago we had "Guitar Tab Friday," and although that post may have been fun, mildly entertaining, and perhaps even educational for the guitar players in my 200 million (and growing!) readership, I thought we'd switch to Rock Music Lyrics Friday. Lyrics are more accessible and relevant to more people, and this blog is all about you, readers. Not me. You.

Plus, tabbing out guitar riffs is a total pain in the ass.

So today we'll explore some Rock Music lyrics. I'm hoping this becomes a tradition not unlike Arbitrary but Fun Friday over at Michael Berube's place, but I'll settle for a random stranger or two just stopping by to say "hi."

I thought we'd start off with Phish's "Possum."

I come from atop the mountain baby
Where the people come to pray
I come from atop the mountain baby
Where the people come to pray
There ain't no truth in action
'Less you believe it anyway

I was riding down the road one day and
Someone hit a possum
I was riding down the road one day and
Someone hit a possum
The road was his end
His end was the road
So they say

Whoa possum...possum, possum...POSSUM
Whoa possum...possum, possum... POSSUM
Whoa possum, possum
Your end is the road

I was riding down the road one day and
Someone hit a possum
I was riding down the road one day and
Someone hit a possum
The road was his end
His end was the road
So they say

Thoughts? Clearly the narrator is trying to keep a cool distance from a wrenching roadkill incident, but I leave the deeper interpretations open to you.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

On Wal*Mart

In the summer of 1993 I was 21 years old with a golden 1979 Ford Grenada and bad hair. That was the summer my dad and stepmom moved from Wyoming back to his hometown in southern Illinois and the summer I moved from Wyoming into my mom's basement in Champaign. It was a weird time – I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, much less how to go about accomplishing that goal. After two years of community college, I was ready for something other than more classes, so I'd basically dropped out.

In the meantime I worked at Wal*Mart in the Lawn and Garden Center, heaving bags of manure, moving trees at the whim and fancy of our illiterate department manager, and trying in vain to keep petunias watered in central Wyoming's notoriously hot, windy, and dry summer.

Needless to say, I hated the job. I knew I was fairly intelligent, relative to the Casper shrub-buying public anyway, and I knew it wasn't my true calling. What I couldn't predict then was the extent to which I would come to loathe that effing store.

The only advantage about working for Wal*Mart was (and remains) oddly paradoxical: its ubiquity means easy transfers from town to town, provided the new store has a slot for you. Yeah, Wal*Mart is everywhere, but that makes it easy for its employees to move, even its subversives. So in mid-August of 1993 I found myself working the nightshift at the Champaign store. I distinctly remember driving up Prospect Avenue, dialing the ancient radio knob on the Golden Grenade, and hearing The Breeders' "Cannonball" for the first time. Champaign isn't a big city by anyone's standards except maybe for kids from Wyoming. And that night on my way to the Wal*Mart nightshift, with that wacky key change two bars into the "Cannonball" intro, I thought maybe things would turn out okay.

They did, of course, but not before I came to despise Wal*Mart with every fiber of my being. Oh, sure, I met some interesting people at the Champaign Wal*Mart – people who will go unnamed in this blog – but mostly, in retrospect, I'm really glad I got the hell out of there. One of my fondest memories of my dad is of the two of us and my stepmom puttering along on his pontoon boat in late summer of 1995, after I'd returned to college at the University of Illinois and had just started my senior year. We were chatting idly about how school was going, and I said something about wishing I had more time to enjoy my senior year.

"Is work taking up your free time?" my dad asked.

"Yeah, pretty much. When I'm not studying I'm working at Wally World," I replied. While technically true, I conveniently left out the part about squeezing in an hour or two every night for Murphy's Pub.

"So quit," my stepmom said.


"Quit," my dad said. "You've worked hard since you turned 16. Take your senior year off."

For a second I thought he had finally, well and truly, gone totally insane. My dad was telling me to not work so hard? Ho-lee Jayzus. But he hadn't gone insane, and sometime in mid-August 1995 I worked my last shift and turned in my blue vest.

13 years later, I avoid the local store on principle. Place makes me itch.

It's no longer an issue of price and/or convenience with me, and I'm seriously thinking about following my friend's lead, who hasn't shopped at Wal*Mart in over two years and plans on never shopping there again.

It's not really the shoppers or employees, although a single stroll through the clothing section on a Sunday afternoon would give the ladies over at gofugyourself enough material to last all summer. It's not even Wal*Mart's deceptive price strategies, designed to lure shoppers deeper into the aisles where, if they look hard enough, they'll realize that Wal*Mart doesn't beat its competition nearly as frequently as you might think. It's not even the look of quiet despair found on any cashier or CSM (shit, it's been 13 years and I still know the lingo). No, all of these things are simply part of Wal*Mart's charm.

For me, the worst part of any trip to Wal*Mart is the parking lot.

Little more than paved free-for-alls, Wal*Mart parking lots are the end result of a car culture gone berserk; what all of America will look like if the oil companies get their way. Geriatrics in huge wrap-around shades point their Cadillacs towards the nearest curb and floor it, hoping for an exit. Carloads of teenagers on cell phones crisscross the parking lanes. Family vans, referred to in the 7200 as Mormon Assault Vehicles, unload their legions of impeccably dressed Christian draftees, ready to snatch up the latest installment in the Left Behind series. RVs and semis converge on Wal*Mart parking lots like alarmingly obese customers converge on a Little Debby's cupcakes display. And there is always, always, a Confederate flag sticker on someone's shitbox of a pickup.

The sole good thing about the parking lot at the 7200's Wal*Mart, the one thing I enjoy, the thing inherently good and pure and redeeming, is the view from its parking lot. Our Wal*Mart is about a mile out of town and about 75 feet or so higher in elevation, out by the interstate. Looking back, you can see the university buildings, which are no big deal, and the mountains in the distance, which are. If you can catch the Wal*Mart parking lot at the right time, it almost makes it worth the trip.

But not quite.