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11/01 Direct Link


On tonight’s episode of SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS (good TV is good TV) there was a snowball fight. Reminded me of the time I was massacred by a contingent of the campus football team.

Along with a couple other Engineering geeks I’d been skirmishing across campus all evening. We had pinned down my roommate (who I was mad at anyway) in the parking lot below us.

A roving band of gridiron Neanderthals set upon us. My “friends” deserted while my back was turned.

I heard “let’s bury him” or words to that effect.

Fortunately feeling eventually returned to my extremities.
11/02 Direct Link


So Ma was coming off of I-44 onto Kingshighway. She noticed an old sedan, that had stalled at the end of the ramp, being pushed by two men and a woman.

She slowed her speed and tooted her horn to let them know that she was behind them. The woman turned and shouted, "Goddammit you go to hell!"

Ma stuck her head out her window and shouted back, "I would but you won't get out of way!"

My mother, the comeback queen. I did not get the gene. I'm never that quick. I'd have fumed for the next three miles.
11/03 Direct Link


What fellowship found in church is often drowned in the rancor of the membership. My grandfather said that the only thing between those outside the church and those inside was the door. I took this as an indictment against religion in total and made secret plans for the day that I would make my break "when I got big."

I've come to understand that there is no cause for me to claim superiority because I'm a churchgoer.

I agree with the preacher when he says "that if you want to meet God in church, you'd better bring him with you."
11/04 Direct Link

There were hawks in my backyard this summer. A group of four comprised of two parents and two juveniles. Apparently the adults were teaching the young ones to hunt. It didn’t take long for the fauna to get wise. The smaller birds changed their feeder schedule. Squirrels and chipmunks all but disappeared. One day I saw one of the young ones pleading with its sibling for a part of his catch. Crybaby hadn’t had much luck it seems. He got ignored. Then one day they were gone. Damn pests returned. I keep looking up in hopes the hawks will return.
11/05 Direct Link


So it occurs to me about halfway through my second doughnut, “What in the hell am I doing working as an election official?” and “What in the hell am I doing with a second doughnut?”

After all, since the 2000 Presidential Follies, election officials are – at best – little more than punchline cannon fodder. As for the doughnut, I won’t again go into doctor’s warnings regarding my weight and cholesterol.

Regardless, I can no more resist the (admittedly) oily spectacle of an election than I can the greasy down home goodness of sugar fried bread.

Good to me, not for me.
11/06 Direct Link


Bernie used to marvel at the dirty old men in his office. They were pathetic. Ogling women that they would never have had the nerve to speak to even when they were single.

By no means was he a prude. It was just the sorry spectacle of middle aged cubicle drones carrying on their private commentary like demented runway paparazzi.

They had inane little nicknames for the women to go along with elaborate vulgar little fantasies. It was just so pointless.

They had been just as pitiful as Bernie was now that he'd become another denizen of the cubicle farm
11/07 Direct Link


Ernie and I were the best of friends. By his own admission he was the biggest redneck in the building. We got along - he said - because he'd heard I respected my mother. I do know he had a lot of respect for my uncle, one of a few black shop committeemen in the plant.

By the etymology I grew up with, Ernie wouldn't have been characterized as a redneck but rather a hillbilly, which is more acceptable, I guess. We referred to each other as "Uncle" and "Nephew" which sewed the desired confusion.

I hear Ernie died alone and unmourned.
11/08 Direct Link

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” And so apparently, the road of fatherhood. I realize that for all my good will and sweat equity, my little reason for living could chuck it all on a whim or the fashion of the day.

I’ve seen it happen. Friend of mine, raised in much the same conditions as I – I know ‘cause, I spent as much time in his house as mine – decided, in spite of all the After School Specials, government campaigns, and very stark and real examples in the old neighborhood to try cocaine to disastrous results.
11/09 Direct Link


Bernie once believed that he wasn’t the marrying kind. Not that he was some type of “Corinthian” or anything. Nor that he didn’t like women. He liked women just fine. He just had no desire for marriage.

His parents were happy, more or less. So it wasn’t that he’d had bad examples to go by.

Most of his friends were married or intended to be. Even the “certified bachelors” knew that one day they’d succumb. Bernie had always been sure that he wouldn’t.

So it surprised him all the more to be standing at the alter awaiting his bride’s march.
11/10 Direct Link


The say that sitting in front of a computer for extended periods of time makes you tired and cranky. I’ll refrain from the overused and ubiquitous “duh” here but now I understand why I hate people.

It’s all the time I spend in staring at spreadsheets, blogs, emails and spam. Mustn’t forget the spam; got one the other day promising to increase my penis width and girth.

No, it’s not that people don’t live up to my completely unrealistic expectations and do amazingly thoughtless things to one another.

All I need do is turn off my PC to feel better.
11/11 Direct Link


Staking a political position is precarious work for somebody like me. I'm data driven (true engineering geek that I am) and reserve the right to change my mind based on new information.

In modern parlance this is considered "waffling." Moderation and ambivalence is for wimps. One must stake a claim at either end of the diametrically opposite ends of the two party spectrum and plan to stay on forever (unless of course, you're Arianna Huffington). Doesn't matter if you have reservations you're stuck in a binary system of choice.

When asked my party affiliation I've lately taken to responding "Capricorn."
11/12 Direct Link


Roger Beckerman was the prototypical geek. A shock of unruly brown hair in a perpetual state of bed head. Clothes that always appeared like they needed tucking or ironing or straightening. Roger was awkward and lousy at sports due to an overall clumsiness and the most clubfooted running gate I've ever seen. I was not above teasing him - like everyone else. His whiny high-pitched Beaver Cleaver voice invited ridicule.

The day Roger brought his remote controlled helicopter to school everybody was his friend. Except me. Even in the 4th grade I understood hypocrisy. Roger assured me that it was "okay."
11/13 Direct Link


In pretending that Michael survived, I played the older brother to overcome my shortcomings. God I must have been a neurotic child. I couldn't even remember him.

Supposedly, I barged in for a glimpse the day they brought him by, before the burial. Ma was on bed rest but insisted on seeing the remains. She'd also insisted that they delay Michael's burial a couple of days earlier - hoping she could attend - to Grandma's dismay. Upon hearing of Grandma's disapproval Uncle Joe remarked, "Betty if those kids never bury that little bastard that's they're business."

I miss Uncle Joe.
11/14 Direct Link


My daughter informs me that “when I get big, I’m going to take care of you daddy.” I smile and wonder about the little bastard that will take her away from me. He’ll never be good enough (as if that could ever happen).

But I am reasonable. I expect that in time she’ll put me in debt for a big wedding that she and my wife will argue about incessantly until the little bastard (out there waiting even as I type) takes her away.

I accept that.

My only stipulation is that she can’t have sex until after I die.
11/15 Direct Link

It must be this time of year. Or is it me? Snipers and rumors of war aside, it seems that I (and most everybody I know) gets a little testy and anxious and "oh my god the holidays are coming" and "oh shit, I've got to make my end of year goals" and "damn it's time to get ready for winter" and "oh hell........fill in the blank" this time of year.
Every year.
Without fail.
Autumn, the middle age of seasons.

Winter is coming. And I have no way of stopping it and, apparently, little hope of coping with it.
11/16 Direct Link

My great-grandfather, Shack Glenn, was a notorious bootlegger. By his own admission, he never worked an honest day in his life, making his living exclusively from moonshine and shooting "craps".

He was the only "great-grand" that lived long for me to know and I never learned of his storied "career" until long after his death. Not that the family had anything to hide. I guess it just never came up.

It doesn't matter.

To me he's still the sweet old man who always seemed more at peace with himself than anyone I've ever known. I wish he'd left the recipe.
11/17 Direct Link

The Craigs raised three children in that house and lived most of their 50 years together in it and now they can't find an interested buyer. It's "of little value."
Curtis Jr. had many a close call sneaking in before his dad got in from the plant. Carol burned her share of midnight oil studying for med school.
Curtis Sr. and Naomi paid their taxes and kept watch over it all (even Junior's creeping in). They had their share of successes and even lost a child. And now because of an incompetent city government and neglectful neighbors they can't move.
11/18 Direct Link


Until the day he died Carl believed himself a handsome man. He realized his error in the afterlife.

As the dead are allowed, he became privy to the secrets of the universe. But it mattered little, as he could not overcome his embarrassment.

How could he have been so blind to the obvious fact that he'd been quite homely in life? His obsession drove him to his earthly companions for answers. Why hadn't they told him?

The living, in most cases, are only marginally aware of the dead so his inquiry was taken for the house settling and air currents.
11/19 Direct Link


Just weeks before his death, Nkrumah visited her dad. Among other things she reported on her nephews’ latest triumphs.

“How’s the little girl?” he asked.

“What girl daddy?”

“The girl in the middle.”

Nkrumah replied gently, “Daddy, Denise has boys.”

“I know that!” he shot back. “I’m asking about the little girl.”

Opting for the better part of valor, Nkrumah replied, “She’s fine daddy.”

Nine months later, after our daughter arrived, my wife asked naively (as the truly brilliant often do), “What did he mean by ‘the girl in the middle’?”

“The girl in the middle of you,” says I.
11/20 Direct Link


"They called her Yick but her name was Annie Myrtle," says Ma. The picture s looks to be quite old. The lady has a pleasant smile. She was my grandmother's sister. Why they would call her "Yick" is beyond me. Perhaps, back then, the word did not carry the negative connotation that I know. Perhaps she was not as pleasant as her smile would indicate. The man in the chair she stands behind is my grandfather's (her brother-in-law's) cousin. Presenting a farly common family dynamic that reminds me again how glad I am my parents left the south.
11/21 Direct Link


One of my favorite Christmas gifts ever was a Daisy BB gun. It was a replica of the old lever action 30-30. Getting that gun comprised one of the few times where desire and reality actually met. I longed for that gun forever. Kept copies of every ad for it that I could find in my dresser drawer. Finally after years of begging my parents relented and got me one. It was all I had imagined. Truly better than sex. Hunting birds, I eventually brought down a cardinal. It so upset me that I put the gun up for weeks.
11/22 Direct Link


Whenever the weather turns cold I remember the Bride. When I was 15 I spent Christmas with relatives in Detroit. I was to return the 29th. Freakish weather -heavy fog over Detroit, a blizzard in St. Louis - kept me over. We finally get clearance on New Year's. Naturally they overbooked and I wound up in a standoff with "Mr. Belligerent" who lays into a stewardess. She seats me in first class next to the Bride who is totally freaked about meeting the in-laws and flying in general. She held my hand at takeoff. I didn’t mind.

We had cocktails.
11/23 Direct Link


Last night Dick The Bruiser invaded my dream and chided me fiercely. I’d become “squishy” he said; I’d gone soft. What happened to me? How did I lose all flair and zest and desire?

He then jumped off the top turnbuckle and body slammed me. Lifted me and delivered a devastating atomic piledriver. I took a hideous pounding.

Dick sat astride my chest, screaming for me to “get back in the game!” Grinning through broken teeth & bloody nose I said, “It’s all choreographed Dick.”

I awoke, walked to my daughter’s bed and kissed her cheek. My lip was bleeding.
11/24 Direct Link


My buddy’s mom once ran into “Handsome Harley Race ” in the lobby of The Chase Park Plaza hotel. They shared an elevator. She was impressed by how well spoken and polite he was – in direct contrast to his on air persona.

As she made to get off at her floor she turned to Harley (still on the elevator) and said, “Forgive me sir, but I can’t resist, is what you do real or faked?”

“Madame, you’ll get more realism watching Saturday Morning Cartoons.”

The doors closed as if on cue. Fortunately I heard this story after I’d dropped wrestling.
11/25 Direct Link


Willie gave me fits. I talked too “proper.” I didn’t smoke weed. I was rather bookish. Willie made me the floorshow on the bus ride home from high school.

We rode a public bus so my shortcomings were played out to strangers. I was a sport about it and eventually Willie relented. Guess he ran out of jokes.

Nut was Willie’s right hand. Nut (it was rumored) carried a razor inside his fake leather jacket.

Nut saved my ass one night at a party when 3 big “leg breakers” were about to bust my head. I could use nut now.
11/26 Direct Link


On the road to St. Louis for Thanksgiving. Only about 120 miles out and somehow the gloss has worn off. It's true that wanting a thing is better than actually having. Not that I'm not overjoyed to be going home but already I've begun the mental countdown to the day we have to return. It's sick really. A neurotic's safeguard against disappointment. This way I avoid the abrupt separation anxiety associated with the trip home. I also manage to diminish some of the fun of the visit. I'm sure all Mamas' Boys go through a similar experience. I am pathetic.
11/27 Direct Link


I could sleep all day if allowed. But there are errands to run and last minute groceries to buy and a four year old with way too much energy bouncing off the walls. At least the company is good. That is what I have to keep remembering. It is the company that makes the aggravation and running around and preparation and the amped up pre-schooler and the smell of chitterlings - God how I hate the smell of chitterlings - worth it. Because that's why we're here; to remind each other that all the aggravation of life is worth it.
11/28 Direct Link

The melodic tones of a loved one snoring on a nearby couch. The mind numbing pronouncements of late night television. The siren call of the pound cake coming from the next room beckoning indulgence (I have already succumbed). These are the sounds of the holidays. The Cosby episode has the unmistakable whiff of an Afterschool Special. Denise (played by the exceedingly excellent and pale Lisa Bonet) is in a quandary over her friend's decision to have a child. Naturally Claire offers sage advice. I am jaded and unmoved. Hilarity ensues at Bill's expense. I'll get to bed right after Cheers.
11/29 Direct Link


So it's two fires, a head on collision, a hit and run, and a wounded police officer and we're only halfway through the local news. God how I loathe the local news. "How does it make you feel seeing your only son stretched out before you almost lifeless?" "Let’s roll out another heartwarming tale of an infant fighting for his life against cancer/burn wounds/scoliosis? Isn't he brave (sniff), and so precious too?" "And don't forget folks, the malls are open a whole day early this year, even before the normal feeding frenzy. Now get out there and save the economy!"
11/30 Direct Link


Many of the plots surrounding classic situation comedy are driven by misunderstanding. Ted Baxter overhears Murray dressing down Lou (because Lou won't apologize to Mary) and believes Murray is standing up for Ted's raise request. Lucy filches one of Fred's suits so that she can get a new one made for his birthday and Ethel believes her to be the infamous "Madame X" burglar. Comic hijinks abound and all is made well after last commercial break. Would that it were so. In my experience, misunderstandings usually result in hurt feelings and unspoken grudges. They are rarely – if ever - resolved.