Monday, July 30, 2007

Bergman Dead at 89

Apparently, it's true. Before Sham Rock Shakes became Total Passover, they had a song about one of Ingmar Bergman's movies. What was the name of that movie? Oh, right: "Persona."

Yeah, that's the one.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Michael Vick is an Asshole - Another View on This

You know, there's a fine line that you walk with opinions at times, and just to warn you, I'm about to walk it. But before I do, I want you to know 2 things:

1) Michael Vick is a piece of shit for doing what he did to those dogs. I know he didn't act alone, he had friends help him out, but who do you think bought the land, had the 2-story house with basketball court and fenced in dog training area built? Guilty, your honor. That asshole is guilty.

2) This piece will probably piss you off if you like dogs or if you eat meat, so this is your warning.

First off, I eat meat. And I like it. I could, however, possibly live without it. It does provide variety. I've tried eliminating it from my diet, but with all the temptations of going to events where meat is available, including dinners with co-workers, friends who aren't vegetarians pointing things out ("You know, Taco Bell uses LARD in their refried beans, which is an animal product") that may not even be true, and just the fact that I like to have a burger every now and then have kept me from being vegetarian.

So why bring that up? It's not like Vick and friends were killing these animals to EAT them. And you're right, but what I'm getting at is how many of these people out there pointing their finger at Vick, including myself, support the meat industry and the cruelty of the animals they harvest?

If I wasn't lazy and technically inefficient, at this point I would have a link to Dennis Leary talking about animals on his "No Cure for Cancer" CD. He basically says that we like the cute animals, but are willing to look the other way in the cases of animals that serve as food.

"What are you?"
"I'm an otter. I swim on my back and do cute things with my paws."
"You're free to go."

"What are you?"
"I'm a cow."
"You're a HANDBAG!"

Or somethin' like that.

So my point? I think what I'm trying to say is that yes, it's true that Vick & Company were cruel to those dogs. The media is blowing this thing up, with the main focus being cruelty to animals. So let's bring up the whole issue of cruelty to animals and your personal definition of cruelty.

You might say, "The meat industry tries to kill animals quickly." They probably do try, but I guess that's your opinion on what is cruel versus not-as-cruel. I'm sure the folks at PETA would tell you as much. And I'm not supporting PETA, if that's what you're thinking. PETA is full of vegans and vegetarians, who can all go eat a dick, as far as I'm concerned.

In no way am I trying to sway anyone's opinion here, I've just been thinking about the root of all this hullaballoo and kind of wanted to make people think about WHY Mike Vick is an asshole as they eat their Royal's with Cheese.

Also, this gives me a reason to tell you a story.

There was this homeless guy in Pensacola who would stand on a median just off the exit of I-110. He had the usual "Veteran - Hungry - Will Work For Food" sign. People would just go by him. The next week, same dude is out in the median, only this time, he has a DOG with him. I'm thinking, "You know, in some countries, people eat dogs. How is he feeding that dog? Does that dog have shots?" People were now stopping and giving the guy money, and petting the dog.

There's no good answer, and no good ending to this situation. It would pretty much turn the restaurant industry on its head if people stopped eating meat. I mean, where would you stop for lunch on a long trip, at Jeff and Akbar's Tofu Hut?

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rude Awakenings

Have you ever been in a really deep sleep and then something wakes you up and it takes you at least 30 seconds to figure out what is going on? Surprisingly, I've received phone calls at night being a safety manager, but for the most part, I've geared myself to be prepared for this, so when it happens, most of the time I'm alert even before I pick up the phone.

However, in 1992, I was living in Green Lake, Wisconsin, working for Speed Queen in Ripon on a Safety "co-op" or summer job. Only I was there from January through August. One Saturday afternoon in May, I was taking a nap, most likely because I had been up until 2 a.m. or so the night before.

The phone is ringing, and by the time I jump up and run into the hall, the answering machine is beginning to go off. At the same time, this is a collect call, and so I pick up the handset during the part where the recording goes, " you want to accept the charges?"

I wasn't expecting any of my friends, and history now tells me that it is a rare occasion when my friends will come and visit me. I'm not complaining about this. My friends normally live in better places that I would prefer to go to, that's all. Now most of my friends will call me on their own dime, but it could be that one of them was just passing through, or got lost, and is calling from someone else's phone - I don't know. This is what goes through my head about a split second before I say "Yes!"

So I am connected with someone on the other end. I'm still half asleep.

"Hello?" I say.
"Hi," says a high-pitched voice that sounds either like a 3 year old (with the "w" for "r", so "green" would sound like "gween").
Short pause as my sleep-addled mind tries to place the voice. Sort of sounds like my room mate back at Iowa State, Keith Schroeder, being a goofball.
"Who's this?" I ask.
"This is Gwampa."
I begin to guffaw, somewhat confused This doesn't sound like my Grandpa.
"Suck my dick!"
I laugh.

Now you may be asking yourself, how does someone remember this exact conversation? Well, remember, my answering machine was running. I usually erase messages once I get done gathering the information, but this recording was somewhat disturbing. I played it for my room mate, and other friends who came over during the month. So I got to hear it probably 50 times.

I marked the date, thinking that once I got the phone bill, revenge was going to be oh so sweet when I returned the call to the fucker who got me, probably at 3 a.m. on some drunken Saturday morning.

When I got the bill, I found the collect call. It was like 3 bucks and change. I thought that was pretty expensive for a collect call that turned out to be LOCAL as well. I called the phone company and asked if they could tell me who the phone belonged to. It turned out that it was a pay phone outside the local high school.

Little shits!

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Open Letter to My 20th High School Reunion

Dear Davenport North High School Class of 1987:

I'm sorry to inform you that I won't be showing up for the 20th reunion weekend, starting on July 27. See, I got White Sox tickets for the 28th, and I don't even know who is going with me yet.

I was about to reply to the email I got today to say that I would be coming, but then I remembered I had the tickets. I thought about giving the tickets away. Two seconds later I was wondering who I was going to go with. Most likely, if I find a sitter, I will take my wife.

Sure, I might miss out on catching up on how some of you people are doing. I looked at the guest list, though, and not one of my close friends is showing up. Or maybe they are like me and haven't gotten on the stick and made the reservation yet. Not sure.

It sure does seem like most of us got the hell out of Iowa, though. In regards to all you people moving to Colorado - was it the mountains, or the conservative nature of the state that got you to go there?

I'm also kind of a little miffed about the date of the reunion. Wouldn't it have made more since to do this around Thanksgiving, when most people return to Davenport to be with thier families? We could have gotten together the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That would have been great! Instead, it's been scheduled on a weekend which also happens to be the weekend of the Bix 7 Run, which is a big event in Davenport, where a lot of tourists come into town and eat up hotels. So some of us whose parents also got the hell out of Iowa are depending on decent hotel prices.

It was also decided to pair it up with Central's 20-year reunion. Can't we ever let go of the fact that some of us went one of our high school years to Central, or West, and then the last two were at North? Can't we just let that go? Hell, I only went my Senior year to North, but I'm willing to claim it, even if it was just a glorified junior high. If you should feel sorry for anyone, it should be the Class of '88. Those motherfuckers had to go to both junior AND high school in a middle school building. What a crackerbox that gym was for basketball games. But it WAS loud!

If anything, I would have preferred to have paired our reunion with the Assumption High School reunion. No, I never went there, but 3 of my friends who I met during my college years did, and I still keep in touch with them.

No offense, but it wasn't like I didn't hang out with all my friends at the 5 and 10 year reunions. We did a real bang-up job keeping in touch after those. I know I got some email addresses in 1997, I had a computer then. And I was single then, as well, so I know I wrote people. Did anyone write back? Nope.

So please forgive me, I'm going to enjoy next Saturday evening with a couple of cold beers, the nice Chicago evening weather, and if I'm lucky, the Sox will beat the Blue Jays.

But count me in on the 25th one.



Labels: , ,

Monday, July 16, 2007

Seven Inches You Wish You Had - Revisiting 1988

Right before the VEISHEA riots started on the campus of Iowa State University in 1988, the radio stations in Iowa couldn't stop playing J.J. Fad's "Supersonic." I just converted this gem to digital yesterday. Nothing fancy about the cover, just a plain white sleeve with the Ruthless Records label.

The flip side is the same song without the "intro." Produced by Dr. Dre. Enjoy.

Labels: ,

Friday, July 13, 2007

Heaven, Hell or Houston

Hello darling.
Yes, it's me again.
I have just returned from the island of Chandelier.

What am I doing in town?
Well, I'm glad you asked.
I'm just passing through in search of the ever elusive Thunderbird.

I got a job as a public relations man passing out handbills on Austin Street.
Merely an effort to improve my financial situation,
and ward off a case of the D.T.s

So farewell, my darling.
Perhaps we'll meet again on some sin-infested street corner in Houston, Texas.

-ZZ Top, "Heaven, Hell or Houston"

Man, was Houston hot. The trip was full of heat, humidity, early-morning awakenings, and a few decent meals. Not much I can tell you about the training there. It was nice, and made me feel good about working for my current employer.

Downtown Houston has a system of tunnels underneath it, that are air-conditioned, for good reason. I got to Houston and took a walk to find the buildings where my meetings were held. It was maybe a 15-minute walk. But by the time I got back to the hotel, I needed a shower, because I was soaking.

But I didn't check in to bitch about the obvious heat of Texas. I wanted to let you know about a couple of the places I went to while in Houston.

On the flight down, all I could think about was having some good Mexican food. I went to Don Patron Bar & Grill, behind the Hyatt Regency, and got some flautas, since it was almost 2:00 p.m. and I was scheduled to have dinner at 5:30. With the normal chips and salsa you normally get at Mexican restaurants, they also brought a dish of this greenish-white stuff that I thought looked like a cross between queso and guacamole. It turns out it was a dip made with avocadoes, jalapeno, tomatillos, cilantro and sour cream. It was real smooth, not hot at all; just something a little different. I think I'm going to try making this at home.

I had a good-sized filet at dinner (what did you expect? We were in Texas, afterall) and a spectacular view from the 50th floor of one of the buildings downtown Houston.

The next morning we had a bunch of little Danishes and what I recognized as kolaches. I had not heard of kolaches outside of Texas, but did note that my local donut store in Arkadelphia, Arkansas carried them. The photo makes them look like hot dogs, or pigs in a blanket. They are basically a spiced sausage with a baked bread around them. Given several breakfast choices, this probably would not be in my top five, but I do enjoy unique "local" cuisine, and when I think of kolaches, I think of Texas, even though it's Czech cuisine. You don't put mustard or any other sauce on them; you just eat them plain, meat and bread.

On my final evening, one of the locals in the class told me about a place called the Flying Saucer, and that it had an amazing number of beers on tap. I totally recommend this place. If you look at their website, you will see that they have a few locations, mostly in Texas, Tennessee, and South Carolina. So if you’ve got business in any of these states, make a note.

I got to the airport at 4:10 a.m. the next morning. I waited 30 minutes for the self-check in monitors to start up, and then I went to my terminal. The McDonald’s appeared to be the only place open. I walked up to someone in line and asked, “Are these guys even open?” The person said, “I don’t know, I’m just in line.” Ah yes, more proof that people are conditioned in this country to wander to the local nourishment stand and wait until someone lets them get food. How long, I wonder, before you don’t even ask for something, they just read a bar code on your head and give you the most popular item you buy?

I walked down a couple of stands to Panchito’s Mexican Grill. I noticed they had a sign that said they opened at 5:30 a.m. I set my bags down at a table across from the counter to this establishment and plugged into my iPod. 15 minutes later, two Latino ladies in hairnets came out front and turned the lights on. I got a breakfast burrito with Chorizo and a Coke. Better than anything I could have gotten at the Golden Arches.

Labels: , ,

Simpson's Jez

My buddy, Adam, over at Ennui Central, built himself an avatar off the Simpson's movie website. So I didn't really do much this morning except make my own Simpson's avatar. I'll have some more stuff to post about Houston later.
Anyone have a link to where you can make your own wii character? Or do you actually have to do this on the wii and take a picture of the TV?

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 09, 2007

Back From Missouri, On to Houston

We went to Missouri to spend time with my folks over the fourth. My sister moved to the same town about a year ago, and just had another baby girl back in January. As an added bonus, my grandma and dad's sister were also there, so we got to see them as well.

I didn't do anything all that interesting, but I guess I missed the first night where my aunt was stirring shit up with my mom, which in turn, lead to my aunt and grandma staying at my sister’s place. My grandma realizes at around 10:30 p.m. on July 4th, that she has left her pajamas in the van, goes out to get them, and promptly shatters her right wrist when she falls on the steps. The woman is nearly 80 years old and doesn’t need this.

I did enjoy some Schlafly Summer Kolsch Ale, and rediscovered Red Stripe Lager (surprisingly, it sort of reminded me of Leinenkugel’s, only with a bit more banana overtone). My wife made 2 blueberry pies, which I will match up against anyone’s dessert as the Best Dessert Ever.

I’ve discussed I-44 and going to Missouri before. I have never in my life seen a people so adverse to pornography. I really want to get a photo of this location on the side of the road, I’m not even sure of the town’s name. In your view is a HUGE bowling pin, an ADULT SUPER STORE sign, and then above that, a billboard that reads, “Pornography Destroys Lives” or something. At first, I thought the bowling alley was turned into the Adult Super Store, but apparently, it is still there, across from the parking lot from the Adult Super Store. I would love to post a billboard above the one there saying, “If you don’t like porn, MOVE TO AFGHANISTAN!”

So today, I go do a regular day’s work, and then I have to go to Houston for a conference for “Experienced New Hire Onboarding.” It’s going to last a total of 24 hours, or so the itinerary states. I’m sure they allow for some sleep in there, but the whole purpose is to develop networking and explain all the different divisions of the company.

I get to try my train ride to the airport again. I gotta do what I can to decrease the amount of energy wasted in going to such an event. Did anyone watch that Live Earth concert over the weekend? Good idea, but I thought the delivery was kind of shitty. One song from each band? I liked the Live Aid concept a lot better, where they had all day concerts, not so much interruptions (and Phil Collins in both England and New York! Wait…). But apparently, they’re going for the lowest common denominator crowd that needs to be told to switch out light bulbs and stuff. And Linkin Park…ugh. Are these guys from Missouri? They spell like they’re from Missouri. I found this entry from Kissing Suzy Kolber before I saw LP on the Live Earth and thought it was hilarious:

5. "The Trooper" - Iron Maiden - Piece of Mind
Written exclusively about Kellen Winslow (or British soldiers during World War I, I'm not sure which), this is a crowning achievement in 1980's British Metal asskicking. During concerts, Bruce Dickinson of Maiden would unfurl a big fucking Union Jack while singing this song and wave it around on the stage. I'm not even British and that makes me want to machine gun down any piece of shit Flemish person that I encounter. Hey, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park: This is Bruce Dickinson. This is how you sing like a fucking Rock God. Take notes, and then slash your wrists. Pussy.

Labels: , , ,