Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Packin’ it in a bit early for the week (and for next week, too, for that matter…)

I realize posting has been very light this week, and probably a few of you new visitors are quite sure, given the dearth of hard-nosed and pithy commentary about important stuff, that Possumblog’s “unknown” status is richly deserved. Which is quite observant of you.

But I have had other barrels of fish to burn at both ends, and other beeswax to run up the flagpole, namely the pursuit of gainful employment.

Martina, baby, you’re right—everything’s for money here in the good ol’ US o’A, and since I don’t have the wondrous ability to insure the safety of the world’s health, ethics or the environment by playing tennis and being a lesbian, I am chained to the only thing I know to do, which is to work and try to make enough money to be able to go with my wife and kiddies on vacation next week. So, I have tried extra special hard the last couple of days to get everything cleared up enough and far enough ahead that I will not be swamped upon my return. Hence the lack of time to use my walnut-sized marsupial brain for other tasks, such as high-quality blogging or buying Q-Tips. Tomorrow will be meetings all morning, then meetings all afternoon, so this is it for a few days.

I will be completely disconnected from a computer next week, so for the thousa…hundr…three of you who try to get in touch with me or send me a story about Mee-maw killing that guy, you will have to wait for my return for acknowledgement. But when I get back, whooboy are y’all gonna hear some stories.

We will be going (thankfully in separate vehicles) with my in-laws, thus insuring our survival given Grandmom’s propensity for buying out the grocery store before leaving. She has been packing for three weeks now (honest—I am not making this part up) and has bought huge quantities of provender and cups and plates and napkins and water and juice and everything else which would normally be required to supply a Marine Recon unit for three months in the jungle. Apparently there are no such things as grocery stores along the Redneck Riviera.

We also are bringing the children with us, insuring that Daddy will not get to do what he would really like to do on vacation--stay in the room, watch the History Channel, and molest his wife. Instead, I will act as chauffeur, dodging sunburnt maroons riding electric scooters on the little strip of asphalt between the white stripe and the edge of the pavement, and going into every single place that has sunglasses and shells to explore the fruitful bounties of the Chinese plastics industry in the form of dolphin penlights and keychains with “Gufl Shures” written on the side. And there will be go-karts, and miniature golf, and the swallowing of much pool water.

It will be the weekend every day, which can only mean that I will return even more exhausted than when the weekend is only two days long. And you know what that means—a single, 30,000 word blog entry.

And since I won’t have access to a computer, it also means that I won’t be able to post anything in celebration of our country’s birth. So, I lifted the introduction from the Inaugural Address of John Kennedy (via the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library and Museum). Sounds pretty good to me, especially considering a lot of the commentary floating around the past few days.

We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom--symbolizing an end as well as a beginning--signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge--and more.
Hope you all have a great holiday—see you when I get back.

You know, I’m just that way.

I used to have a real fun coworker to whom I would talk about all my seemingly endless supply of publicly self-inflicted pain and misery. (Much as I do with you poor people now) She was also prone to such rank clumsiness or poor karma, and in comparing notes, we figured out that not only were we pretty pathetic, we also managed to do stupid stuff to ourselves in twos. Like the time I hit myself in the head with a hammer. Twice.

I was trying to relocate a pipe column in the basement of my mom’s house. I wanted to do this because my mother thought that she might want to build a room in the basement, and the column was just barely out of line with where it needed to be. It only needed to move over about two inches, and would then be in line with a future wall and be hidden under the future layer of drywall.

The column was not nailed into the joist girder above, or anchored into the concrete, so I got a floor jack and another length of pipe and very gingerly jacked up the girder just enough to take the pressure off the column. Not quite enough to move it by hand, though, so I had to resort to some extra help in the form of a hammer.

First I just grabbed one of the ball peen hammers off the work bench, but after the first incredible ear-ringingly loud tap, I thought better of using that. Hmmm. Dum-dee-dum-dee-doooooo—HEY! I know what! My dad had an ancient, heavy, rubber-faced tire hammer somewhere in all the mess of tools of ours—THAT’S what I needed—nice cushiony rubber. The hammer was from the job he had a long time ago at the gas station in Praco, and was used for breaking down truck tires. Not only did it have a rubber face (backed by a steel head), it had a wedge-shaped peen on the back for whacking down the tire bead at the rim.

I found it in the bottom of the toolbox and started waling on the top of the column for all I was worth. WHANG-BOUNCE WHANG-BOUNCE WHANG-BOUNCE Each time, the hammer would rebound at a slightly different angle, just as one would expect a hard rubber thing to react after contacting a cylindrical surface. WHANG-BOUNCE WHANG-BOUNCE WHANG-THUD It bounced just right that last blow, and the wedge-shaped peen caught me right square above my eyebrows.

You know the stars that twirl around Wile E. Coyote after he catches an anvil with his head? Those are real. I saw them. You ever wonder why Wile E. Coyote never decided to stay away from anvils? Because he was a genius. Said so on his business card. Just like on mine.

Figuring that the since the lightning had now struck that it surely couldn’t happen again, I blithely ignored Murphy’s Law Number 317 and once more picked up the tire hammer. WHANG-BOUNCE WHANG-BOUNCE WHANG-BOUNCE Yep, still all the SuperBall bounces. WHANG-BOUNCE WHANG-UHHHHGHGHHH Hmm, that hurt again. This time it was more off to the left and slightly higher upon my forehead. More stars. And little birdies. And the blinding pain that usually only bovines feel as they are poleaxed.

But I did get that stupid column moved over just right.

I relate this story only because my mother-in-law had to go back to the doctor at 2 o’clock today. Which means that once more, I have brought the Booger Brigade BACK to work with me.

They are at this very moment happily sprawled across the floor of my office, using up the colory stuff inside of $4-each Prismacolor markers at a prodigious rate and falling out of the drafting stool and wondering why Daddy is rubbing his forehead.

By the way, my mother decided not to finish the basement. She built another house and moved.

Well, today is apparently just the day for stories about the black arts (see what happens when they make the Pledge of Allegience unconstitutional!): Freemasons say they are not sinister freaks

UPDATE: Illuminati of Avignon say they are sinister, but not particularly freakish; John Birch Society says "Well, yeah, we're pretty sinister freaks"; Skull and Bones Society says Bush ties meaningless; Democratic National Committee says it welcomes all, regardless of beliefs--Proposes Sinister Freak Caucus, Rep. McKinney (D. Ga) first member; Carnival Freaks, Inc. threatens class-action against Freemasons for alleged slurs--Spokesman says "Tired of being associated with Freemasons"; No comment from Axis of Weevil World Headquarters.

Let's hope she doesn't find herself in Wetumpka: Miss Cleo Won't Discuss Birthplace
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Television psychic Miss Cleo repeatedly invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination Wednesday, refusing to discuss a birth certificate that shows she was born in Los Angeles to American parents.

Miss Cleo, whose real name is Youree Dell Harris and has claimed to be a Jamaican shaman, gave a deposition in a civil suit filed by Florida. It accuses her with deceptive trade practices for her television ads pitching a psychic hot line that charged up to $4.95 a minute.

She had been resisting for months the state Attorney General's Office's requests to interview her, but Wednesday she fielded questions for more than two hours behind closed doors.

Assistant Attorney General Dave Aronberg said he went line by line through Harris' birth certificate, asking her if it was accurate. Each time she took the Fifth Amendment, he said.

"Any time I asked her where she was born or where she was from, that's what happened," Aronberg said, according the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "We maintain the birth certificate speaks for itself — that's she's from Los Angeles." [...]

One more for the "Fill In Your Own Story" file: Wetumpka man charged with making terroristic threat over voodoo curse
I love this place.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

There is apparently some sort of Bravenet hit counter glitch operating out there, so Possumblog is loading slowly. Sorry for the inconvenience.

And for the lack of anything to reward your patience.

The thing that makes Wednesdays extra special? Why it's the extra dose of Lileks from Newhouse, that's what! Today, we have a big spoonful of yummy goodness with "A Peek at Saddam's Private Papers"
[...] Oct. 23. Today I asked my driver what he though of Uday so far. The poor man couldn't decide whether to condemn him and earn my wrath, or praise him and earn my wrath. I saw sweat trickle from his scalp.

"The back of your neck betrays you," I said, just for old times' sake. He believed me! He was so terrified he threw himself under the car while he was driving it -- an astonishing trick. This is the disappointing part about retirement: People still fear me. I cannot even tell a knock-knock joke. People respond, "Come in, I have nothing to hide, but I humbly beg that you spare my family." Then they soil themselves and fall at my feet.

Spoils the mood entirely. [...]

Making the world a better place: Pledge Declared Unconstitutional
By DAVID KRAVETS, Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and cannot be recited in schools.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 1954 act of Congress inserting the phrase "under God" after the words "one nation" in the pledge. The court said the phrase violates the so-called Establishment Clause in the Constitution that requires a separation of church and state.

"A profession that we are a nation `under God' is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation `under Jesus,' a nation `under Vishnu,' a nation `under Zeus,' or a nation `under no god,' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion," Judge Alfred T. Goodwin wrote for the three-judge panel.
Thanks be...well, to somebody. Now we can start up on the National Anthem, the last stanza of which reads thus:
O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
All that "Praising the Pow'r" crap's just gonna have to go.

Very nice Newhouse News story from Roy Hoffman of the Mobile Register about Artelia Bendolph:
PRICHARD, Ala. -- Her crisp hair plaited, her large hands folded in her lap, Artelia Bendolph sits in a wheelchair in front of her red-brick house here telling a long-ago story. Gone blind in recent years from diabetes -- "I got a little grandbaby going on 2 years old, and I can feel her, but I can't see her" -- she peers into the past.

In her broad, high-cheekboned face is a trace of that past -- the 10-year-old girl who once sat in the window of a clay-and-log cabin in Gee's Bend, a village on the Alabama River in Wilcox County.

"She ain't a girl no more," Bendolph says, "she's a 74-year-old woman now."

It was in 1937 that Bendolph, as that 10-year-old, entered the annals of American history as the girl in the window. A New York photographer, Arthur Rothstein, 22 at the time, had been commissioned by the federal government's Farm Security Administration to chronicle the hard times and effects of displacement of American workers. Rothstein had already photographed the plight of farm workers in Virginia and cattle hands in Montana. [...]

In searching for artful images of despair -- and in fulfilling Stryker's mission to "show the city people what it's like to live on the farm" -- Rothstein found Bendolph, a young black girl looking out from a crude dwelling, next to a wooden shutter covered with a couple of sheets of newspaper. On the newspaper was an advertisement of a cheerful white woman holding a bountiful plate of food.

That photograph, to the nation, became an icon of the South's Depression-era poverty and the legacy of inequality.

Bendolph says she does not remember the day that photograph was taken, nor was she ever told about it by Rothstein; indeed, she says she did not know of it until the 1980s, when a friend from Connecticut contacted her. Since then, she says, she has been approached to offer commentaries for books and articles.

The photograph is owned by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Countless people, surely, have paused before the melancholy gaze of the girl in the window, wondering what might have become of her.

Bendolph figures that while others have "made money off of me," she has made not a penny.

"Don't have none and didn't got nothing," she says. "Well, ain't no need of worrying over it." [...]

And then there's this from Mr. H.D. Miller, whose shoes travelled over to quite possibly the only medieval European-themed Korean restaurant in existence
[...] Last night, I'd completely forgotten that the World Cup [of Soccer] was still going on and that LA's Koreatown was in a state of near frenzy in preparation for the big game with Germany, so when I walked into the lobby of the Wilshire BBQ House I was taken aback to find that everyone in the place was wearing a red bandanna; waitresses, hostesses, patrons, the Mexican busboys, everyone. Of course, I was left with no choice but to join in, as a hostess quickly wrapped a red bandanna embossed with the cryptic phrase "be the Red!" around my non-soccer-loving neck. Whether or not I wanted to be, I was now officially one of the Red Devils, one of the fanatical Korean soccer fans. I was being assimilated by the soccer-borg collective, and there was nothing I could do about it, or at least nothing I could do that wouldn't involve giving up dinner and/or loosing the goodwill of the friendly staff at the Wilshire BBQ House. This must be how communism works, I thought, complete with red bandannas for all good young pioneers. [...]
Well, I know what the newest item in the Axis of Weevil Gift Pack is gonna be! All together, now-- "Be the Redneck!"

Well, it's summertime, and those hot temperatures mean that the danger of raw flaming idiocy is at its peak. Luckily for us all, we have Axis of Weevil Fire Warden Charles Austin on the job, standing ready to beat out those fires as only he can--by making an example of a particularly hardheaded miscreant firebug by giving him a sound scourging. (Of course, after thirty five times, it seems like one or the other would get tired.)
[...] Like the Indian sitting astride his horse on top of the mesa, gazing out over the vast expanse of the desert and seeing Clark Griswold wandering about madly in the heat, having abandoned his senses and family in a futile and stupid attempt to make up for his last mistake; I read Richard Cohen’s columns and all I can think of writing is, “what an asshole.” Yet again, Richard values the peace process over peace and freedom in Deadly Progress in the Middle East:

I gather Richard prefers deadly failures in the Middle East, at least as long as they can be blamed on President Bush.

To an observer in Chappaqua, N.Y.,…

Please God, no! He’s not going to do what I think he is, is he?

… it seems that the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is approaching a "tipping point." The phrase comes from Malcolm Gladwell's book of that name and refers to the moment, the point, when an accumulation of little things suddenly turns into something momentous. To Bill Clinton, speaking to me by phone from his home, that tipping point is in the numbers.

Aaaarrrrrggggghhhhh! He is! Richard is stooping to kiss Bill Clinton’s ass for the third time in three months. Maybe Richard got confused and thought he was kissing Hank’s ass. This is Richard’s second attempt this quarter to try and get us to accept that Bill Clinton now has all the answers to the intractable problems of Middle East, now that he is no longer burdened with all the responsibilities of the job of coming up with the answer to the intractable problems of the Middle East. Of course, he’s got plenty of time on his hands, what with him not doing his TV show or getting down to the business of writing his memoirs. But this is starting to look like an obsessive compulsive problem for Richard. I would have thought that I had disabused Richard of this painfully puerile problem here and here, but apparently more serious therapy is more required. I will try harder. [...]
Remember, only YOU can prevent idiots.

Nothing this morning due to the demands of our twice monthly exercise in bureaucratic obstructionism--check back in later on, and in the mean time, check the folks above for stuff which is not crappy. And congratulations to Artur Davis for beating Daddy Earl like a drum.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

By divine right, the King of Denial: Arafat says Bush's call for new Palestinian leadership didn't refer to him Yes, surely he must have been referring to Jimmy Arafat, who runs a small dry-cleaning establishment in Jerusalem and is the other head of the Palestinian Authority.

Rat Study Finds No Cell Phone - Cancer Link However, they did have trouble paying attention while driving, resulting in several crashes in the neighborhood around the study site.

Extending Alabama's Cultural Hegemony, One Blog At A Time.
It seems another Alablogger has been shook out of the cybertree, a nice young lady from Huntsville who calls herself Sue Lizano who has a brand new blog called Get Your Drawers On, for all of your commentary and step-in needs. Sue wrote in to say hey and congratulations on my newfound status as 1,000th Best Marsupial Blogger in Alabama, and I found that she has already been blogrolled by VodkaPundit. Yet, she seems to be a bit reticent about the rigors necessary to be included in the hallowed and feared Axis of Weevil.

On the 16th, she detailed her qualifications as follows:
I get questions. You get answers.

I'd like to instigate the Wednesday W's.

Who: Sulizano. It's an Italian word for a trash dumpster or something. Not my real name, of course, who the hell would name a kid that? Except I do know of a girl named Spatula.

What: A 40-something hippie chick of Irish-Cherokee descent. A redhead sometimes. A gainfully employed writer who gets it all done way ahead of deadline and spends the rest of the time goofing off. Also a gainfully employed piano barrista. A diehard member of the Big Comfy Underpants delegation. In my next life, I'll be a New Orleans pastry chef.

Where: Alabama. It's not that bad, really it's not.

When: Beer-thirty.

Why: Because I can't let Dawn have all the fun.
Now, how could anybody dispute those credentials!? Although she protests that her blog is (to quote her confidential e-mail to me on the subject)
all about silliness. I can't imagine that I'll ever have serious traffic and I doubt I'll ever have any real contribution to make other than escapist fun.
Pshaw! And falderal! With a dash of pifflesnit!

The Axis of Weevil, despite its terrifying level of seriousity and the awe with which its writers are held by the world at large, is truly all about escapist fun. Every Friday, there are the well-received public mockings, complete with rotten fruit throwing, and there are the numerous high-power rifle matches we sponsor, there's the Cooking Light With Lard class taught by our very own Dr. Weevil, and the just-added sponsorship of Jimmy's (from Human Resources) Sportsman-class racecar (we even got to pick the spot on the car for the logo--it's right beside the one for Hoosier tires!). So surely you can see that there's more to us than hard hitting punditry.

And we need more girl members.

So then, despite all of Sue's protestations, the large clanging engine of Weevilosity cannot be stopped--by the almighty power vested in me by the Alabama State Docks Authority and by the voices in my head, it is with great pleasure and pride that Miz Sue Lizano is hereby and herewith granted entrance into the Benevolent Order of the Yellowhammer and the Cotton State Blogging and Coastal Artillery Society, otherwise known to the universe as the Axis of Weevil, with all of the duties and woes pertaining thereto.

As with all new members, Miss Sue will forthwith be receiving the justly famed Axis of Weevil Gift Pack containing Dreamland ribs, a gallon jug of Milo's sweet tea; a G-Lox Wedgee gun rack from Mark's Outdoor Sports for her veehikle; a package of Bubba's Beef Jerky (according to Dr. Weevil, this is homemade and is available only at the gas station at the end of Highway 82 in Bibb County); a three piece, 24 ounce box of Priester's Pecan Logs; a box of Jim Dandy grits; and a one quart bottle of Pilateri's Steak Sauce. We regret to announce that we are no longer able to offer the coupon for free Kool Seal for the trailer roof. Jimmy, who lives next door and has a condition (and is not the same as Jimmy from Human Resources), has been doing Kool-Sealing for people as a method of expressing his artistic side. Sadly, last week he took a terrible tumble that has only made his condition worse. We are negotiating with the local LPG company to see if we can work a deal for 25 free pounds of propane.

ANYway, go visit our newest Weevil and tell her hey.

Must be a slow news day: Beetle Bailey enters information age with computer geek character
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Comic creator Mort Walker knew he was on to something when he brought a computer technician into Beetle Bailey's world and asked fans for their input.

He got 84,324 replies -- mostly e-mails, of course.

Walker, who started drawing Beetle, Gen. Halftrack and Sarge in 1950, soon understood just how much computers have permeated our lives. Many fans had ideas for gags, including the old joke of struggling for hours to repair a computer that -- surprise! -- is unplugged.

Walker thought he could come up with a new cache of jokes, all centered on the frustrations of figuring out upgrades, gadgets, CD-ROMs and Internet surfing.

And he was looking for a new character who would epitomize the expanding technology. So he asked readers to submit names, and he came up with a winner: "Chip Gizmo" will appear July 4 at Camp Swampy. [...]

He found the techs to be earnestly nerdy, proud of their jobs and their work, he said. However, the king of Army pranks discovered that these military employees did not necessarily want to be made into a joke.

So Walker shifted his concept of Army Specialist Chip Gizmo, making him more of a likable character than an annoying know-it-all. And he gave him lots of gadgets. Spiky-haired, cross-eyed, rumpled Gizmo appears with phone antennae, curling wires and earpieces poking out of his Army fatigues.

He's around 30 and will live in his own world -- with a mind swirling in cyberspace. At the same time, the other characters will live more like Walker, reflecting the generations of World War II and Korea.

"I have so many friends like this -- no matter how many times you explain to them -- they have this blank expression on their face," Walker, 78, said in an interview from his home in Stamford, Conn.

So goes the humor that will follow Chip Gizmo into Camp Swampy, as the computer specialist faces off with old-fashioned Gen. Halftrack. For example, when Gizmo warns Halftrack not to use his pop-out CD-ROM holder for a coffee cup holder, the general relents. Next, Gizmo finds him using it to hold his martini glass. [...]
Gee, I hope with all this hi-tech stuff, Mort doesn't decide to start drawing soldiers carrying M-16s instead of Garands, or wearing PASGT helmets instead of steel pots, or driving Humvees instead of jeeps. Luckily for us all, it appears the humor level will not change.

Thank you!
A great big hug and kiss to John Hawkins over at Right Wing News for naming Possumblog as one of his 10 Best 'Unknown' Political Bloggers!

Of course, in the interest of accuracy, for Possumblog he really needs to put quotes around "Best," and "Political," and "Blogger." I have a feeling I was included to make the other guys look good by comparison, but hey, ain't no such thing as bad publicity. John also put me in his Quick Links in his companion e-zine Brassknuckles.net, so more 'thank-yous' for that, too.

And thanks to the Possumfans (all three of you) who visit on a regular basis for the finest of trippy suburban patter and searing, insightful commentary on life, love, trucks, marsupials, weed killer, ankle biters, football (real football), idiots, and eating. And other stuff.

Hey, we got a finalist! From this morning's Birmingham News, a nice story about a Trussville soccer mom, Vickie Mathie.

Missed this yesterday, and I know everyone has already found it already because everybody reads everything Lileks writes every day (right?) but the newest Flotsam Cove is up and it's a wimdoozie of an effort from our good friends in the Ozarks. There is even the magical land of Camelot in there:
This is part of a big glossy spread for the Camelot, a resort that attempted to exploit the natural relationship between King Arthur and summer vacations. Surely King Arthur spent a weekend or two smoking Winstons, yelling at the kids not to swim too far from shore, getting a painful sunburn on his shoulders, and listening to the people in the next cabin go at it like newlyweds without bothering to close the damn window. So, Welcome!

Yes, Welcome! You’ll feel like you’re in Merrie Olde Englande, if that Englande includes Vitalis-drenched guys with rayon shirts tightly highlighting their man-boobs.
WOW! It's just like I'm THERE!

Good morning! It's runoff day in Alabama, and of all the races, the one that is most interesting is that between Artur Davis and the incumbent, Ezra Pound. (Some would put him closer to Lord Haw Haw--I won't quibble one way or t'other.)

I don't have a dog in this fight--I am not a Democrat (or a Republican, for that matter--I vote the straight Possum Party ticket) and I don't live in the Seventh District, but I still think it will be interesting to see if voters are fed up enough with their own version of the Palestinian Authority to oust the Friend of Moammar in favor of someone who is operating with two fully functioning brain hemispheres. I doubt very much that I agree with Davis on many issues--he is a left of center Democrat, after all, and his solutions to the terrible problems of the Black Belt generally follow the idea that more pork money will solve everything, BUT, he is not a blithering idiot. And at least his idea of a federal job program doesn't include creating jobs for all of his relatives and friends. Despite his political proclivities, he can put forth a reasoned argument, which again is the benefit of not having a head filled with Play Doh. He has had a tough row to hoe, as do all challengers to an incumbent, but at least voters in the Seventh have an opportunity to explore the possibility of change.

Monday, June 24, 2002

H.D. Miller, Axis of Weevil Minister of Travel, takes us on a wondrous voyage to Cloud-Cuckoo Land in Interview With a Terrorist.

By Allah's shoelaces, it is one of the most brave tales you will ever lay your filth-encrusted infidel eyes upon, after which you will gouge them out and die, and then you will cry in the corners of various rooms like small crying women children, after which you will be released to run away like so many of the foolish whoreson minions of Satan.
And thus the fantasy-life of Abdul Adheem al-Muhajir reaches its pinnacle; sixteen heavily-armed Americans are captured and executed by brave, brave jihadis armed with nothing more than Soviet-issued can-openers and long-arm staplers. Oh, and by the way, we've also shot down 213, no, no, 313 American planes with slingshots and bottlerockets.

It seems clear to me that the sort of fantasy accounts of heroic military victory that Abdul Adheem al-Muhajir has to construct to validate his continued struggle, to prop up the true believers, is an indication of just how bad things are for the remaining al-Qaida operatives. Later in the interview he's happy to announce that the capture of top al-Qaida poobah Abu Zubaydah weren't nothing but a thang. Read the whole interview and judge for yourself. I think it's looking grim at the al-Qaida home office.

This is not to say that desperate, demoralized men can't carry out horrific act of terrorism against us and our allies. Indeed, it's the cornered rat that's always most dangerous, and thus we should continue our efforts to exterminate these vermin. However, reading the interview, filled with such obviously deluded accounts of events, had the effect of making me feel better about the way things have been going.

Fred Reed's newest--Remedial Condescension: Are We Sure This Is What We Want?
[...] Decades ago, I decided that blacks should be judged on their individual merits, just as everyone else should be, without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin. For this I was called a liberal and sometimes a commy.*

Since then, my views have evolved. Today I think that blacks should be judged on their individual merits, as everyone else should be, without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin. I am fascinated to find that in the intervening years I have become a racist and a Nazi.

It's wonderful. A racist is one who believes that people should be judged without regard to race.

This is not a lunge at rhetorical cleverness, but literally true. Suppose I suggested (as I do suggest) that admission to college should depend entirely on scholastic qualifications. Suppose that, to ensure racial impartiality, I further suggested that an applicant's race be concealed from the admissions committees until after it had made its decision. I would assuredly be denounced as a racist.

Why? [...]
Go read the story to find out why.

Scottish city honors William McGonagall, master of awful verse

LONDON (AP) -- Master of mangled meter, writer of ridiculous rhyme, Scotland's bard of the banal, William Topaz McGonagall is being feted by his adopted city of Dundee, 100 years after his death. [...]

City of Discovery also has organized lectures and poetry competitions. And on Sept. 29, the anniversary of McGonagall's death, there will be a dinner, eaten backward from dessert to starter course, in homage to the eccentric versifier who liked to recite his work in pubs, dressed in full Highland dress and wielding a broadsword (and who was sometimes pelted with rotten fruit). [...]

"His appalling use of meter and rhyme and his unshakable self-belief have endeared him to the hearts of thousands of fans all over the world," Rolfe said.
You know, I kind of like to think of myself as the McGonagall of the blogworld. Except with less readers.

Al-Qaida: Bin Laden Still Alive
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Osama bin Laden and his No. 2 man are both alive and well and their al-Qaida network is ready to attack new U.S. targets, bin Laden's spokesman said in audiotaped remarks aired Sunday.
Although details remain sketchy, the spokesman quoted two sources, a Mr. E. Presley and a Mr. J. Hoffa, claiming that both have signed affadavits attesting that bin Laden and his lieutenant are both planning strikes against the Great Satan, and are currently working at an undisclosed 7-11 in Davenport, Iowa.

Well, it's time for More Fun With Disturbing Search Requests!

First out of the box, from today we have DOES GEORGIA HAVE MINKS. Why are you shouting? Keep that up and you'll run 'em all away! Yes they do, and like possums, they make mighty good eatin'.

Next, from yesterday--silly possum. Says you, bub!

U.S.supreme court five clown heads picture Bush Gore. Talk about scary imagery. As for the deeper meaning behind this, I have not a clue.

Next, there's crimes trussville alabama. Sorry pardner, we made crime illegal 'round these parts. Worst we got is folks who think they can get away with putting up a great big plastic shed in their backyards by calling it a playhouse.

Then we see liberty low back bibb overalls. Sorry to disappoint, but Cafe Press does not carry bib overalls imprinted with the impressive Possumblog logo.

And, finally, quite possibly the loudest cry of desperation in history: chat rooms for intelligent young environmentalists in austin texas. We at Possumblog are terribly sorry to inform you that the only chat rooms we currently have are for Stupid Elderly Vivephobes in Galveston and Hot Young Mensa Things Who Absolutely Abhor Environmentalists. Please check back later.

What A Nice Weekend!

Well, I couldn't very well get out and cut grass with it threatening rain, now could I? Nooo, of course not. It finally rained late Sunday night, so I was very lucky indeed.

So then, hang on for wondrous yarns of life on the edge of urbia, with a cast including Monica the undine; mo' hosses; losing my lacrimal fortitude to Disney; and the Tiny Wrecking Ball says hello to Fritz.

As we left you Friday, I was concerned about returning with wife and children to swimmy class. At least this time I felt more normal, having stopped by the house to change into jeans and deck shoes. Unfortunately, I neglected to bring the blindfold (or knitting needles to jam into my eyeballs), so once more I had to distract myself from Catherine's instructor with mental gymnastics. This time it was going backwards and forwards through the decimal foot-inch equivalents—1"=.08', 2"=.17', 3"=.25', 4"=.33', 5"=.42', 6"=.50', 7"=.58’, 8"=.67', 9"=.75', 10"=.83', 11"=.92'. These numbers used to be handy back before I had a foot-inch calculator to make it easier to add dimensions when I was drawing. Now they come in somewhat handy for trying to ignore a young lady whose body moves like it's filled with hot caramel. And it was even worse than the day before, in that her Speedo cladding had now whittled itself down to a two-piece model.

Luckily for my sanity and soul, there was a large, goateed, shave-pated, wraparound-shades (sunglasses, not swim goggles) -wearing fellow doing laps (and probably imagining himself in BUD/S training with Jesse Ventura) who floated over to the steps and got out. All that trouble to shave head, and yet he would have been much better served by running the Epilady over his lushly forested back. Coming up out of the water like that, he looked uncannily like one of those evolution posters. I am an ugly, horridly misshapen lumpen man, but I feel much better about myself knowing there is at least one person out there who outranks me. And I do have a nice head of hair.

I was grateful for the distraction, however, along with that provided by the exuberant class of highly buoyant older ladies who were doing water aerobics in another part of the pool. The sight of so much avoirdupois was somewhat helpful in overcoming my more natural mind-wandering tendencies.

As for the swim lessons themselves, Oldest Girl did much, much better this time, with none of the theatrics of Thursday. Little Boy is having a wonderful time (of course, like Dad, he tends to like girls, and their instructor dotes on him since he's the only Little Boy in her group. Lucky little devil.) Catherine splashes a LOT, and seems to have little interest in learning to float on her back or hold her breath. She sure has a lot of fun, though. Monday evening will be devoted to convincing her that floating on her back is fun, too.

“Catherine, Miss Monica says you need to learn to float on your back.”

“I don’t want to. Them waters gets all in my face.”

“That’s why she wants you to float on your back—you don’t have to float face down!”

“No, I’s not gonna float, I’ma gonna bounce!” Wicked little grin.

“If you won’t float, Miss Monica will be sad.”

“Okaaaay. I’ll float!”

Saturday morning was cloudy, and as I mentioned, it looked like there was a chance of a possibility of rain. I was trying my best to have an excuse to not have to endure the heady, refreshing fragrance of the rear of a Briggs and Stratton, and Reba reminded me that she was going to collect on her Mother's Day present of a day at the spa. Hooray! I figured a good way to keep the kids from killing each other and keep me from having to do my necessary yard duty was to take them to a movie after horseback riding lessons, while Mom was getting herself pampered.

As for the pony riding, they (the ones with hooves) seemed distracted by the weather, too, and were more recalcitrant than usual. The instructor, who is usually the picture of patience, also seemed a bit on the peevish side, and before class got started made a loud announcement that the people sitting on the bleachers needed to be very quiet and not make comments to the class.

Reba, Catherine and I were the only ones on the bleachers.

Reba and Cat stayed in the van for the rest of the lesson.

Someone was not happy.

The lesson didn’t last very long, either. Which was either a blessing or a curse. Whatever it was, it sure made for a very quiet trip back to the house. Quiet until the kids learned about our plans for the afternoon. As has become our very bad habit, it was MOVIE DAY again. We swung by and bought advance tickets then dropped Mom back by the house to go get all massaged and preened, and the Demolition Squad and I set out for to see Lilo and Stitch.

Movie Review Time

I am such a great big sucker for cute critters with big sad eyes. And for manipulative Disney stories. Dumbo? Buckets. Bambi? Buckets. Ol’ Yeller Buckets. Lilo and Stitch? Well, there are not one, but multitudes of sad-eyed critters in this one—little girl Lilo, big sis Nani, alien Stitch, alien Pleakley (who had one very large sad eye--close enough). So you figure it out. But what a sweet movie. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, and no one had to go to the restroom during the show. Lots of fun action, lots of clever dialog. AND very nicely drawn. I read somewhere that the studio eschewed the digital work with this one—I don’t know, but if it was used it was so seamless as to be invisible, which is just the way it should be. There are several scenes with hula dancers, a couple with Nani’s boyfriend doing a fire dance, and an extended surfing sequence that are great in their detail and fluidity of movement. There are some elements that don’t really work very well, seemingly thrown in as an uncomfortable “some of my best friends are […]” paean to ‘diversity’ which I absolutely despised in Atlantis. One in particular being (at least for me) the CIA spook-turned-social worker. I realize the whole premise of the movie is unbelievable, but for some reason this guy seemed much more of a non sequitur and unbelievable than any of the aliens. Even the expository bits at the end of the story do not fix him right. I don’t have the vocabulary to adequately express all the reasons why he’s wrong, but he’s just wrong. But he’s just one part, and the rest of the movie gave me a raging case of wetface. Give it 8.75 Possum Curly Tails. And even better, Boy now pretends he’s Stitch, and Baby Girl pretends she’s Lilo—this means that we don’t have to buy any of the merchandise!

We got back home, and then Mom came back all honed and kneaded and prettied up, although disappointed that the spa had neglected to schedule her pedicure and manicure (which was all part of the Mom’s Day package, after all). So, she gets to go back next Saturday for that, and the owner told her she was going to fix her up with some “product” to make up for the gaffe. What kind of product(s)? I’m not real clear on this point, but one assumes it would be some sort of smell-good stuff and not Amway floor cleaner. At least she was in a better mood than when we left the barnyard earlier.

She was in such a good mood that she decided to go to the store and do some vacation shopping; in particular, swimsuits. She has lost about 30 pounds since her well-documented-herein gall bladder surgery, and is all excited about not having to get one of those suits with a skirt on it. And when she’s excited, I’m excited. She came back with two, and I liked them both very, very, very much. ‘Nuff said about that.

Sunday was all the normal churchly things, and I got to further burnish my reputation as the “big mean man.” I was wandering around making sure everyone was in class and that all the teachers were in place. I turned the corner of the elementary hall and was met by the kindergarten teacher with a very perturbed look upon her face and a door opened to a classroom with a very upset young man throwing a fit. Squalling and yalping and pounding the table. Such a sweetie. She had told him that she was about to go get his father—little did he realize that I had was nearby. I first tried to get him to come with me, and when that only made the noise louder, we had a very intense little heart-to-heart which included my maddening insistence that the little bra…angel say “Yes, sir” and apologize to his teacher for acting like an absolute but… shi… tur… bad boy. Of course, such was much worse than he would have ever gotten from his dad, which is his whole problem. Hard to make one mind in class when they aren’t made to mind anywhere else. But we got it handled and class got started back—I checked back in a couple of times and he didn’t get out of hand anymore, but it’s only a matter of time.

He has quite a reputation, which is sad, because he IS just a kid, and seemingly doesn’t know any better. Which is just a shame. Folks, don’t rely on the village to raise your kid—the villagers are for backup purposes only, especially since the number of people willing to make other people’s kids mind is dwindling by the hour. For all the mindless mischief my crew gets into, they know there is a hard, bright line out there they dare not cross. And everyone else knows it, too. Which is why people like our kids and WANT to have them in class. And why you will never see me on TV thanking God they blew up a busload of infidels.

My, this has turned a bit hard-edged—back to happier subject matter, in this case the introduction of Baby Girl to the joys of the equestrian arts. Catherine had been very patiently waiting, and Sunday it was finally time for her classes. We changed into our jeans and got ready to go. Reba had to be up at the church building for a meeting before evening worship, so she and the other kids stayed behind and it became an official Daddy-Tiny Daughter afternoon.

These lessons are much different than the classes for the older kids, in that the little ones more or less just learn to hold on and balance while being led around by parents dragging on the lead rope. Cat got to sit on Fritz, a chubby little Haflinger who is about as sweet and gentle as a bunny, and about as smart. Once Fritz gets going, there is no dragging him—he drags you. I had to stop a couple of times to wipe the sweat out of my eyes, which caused poor Fritz much grief and made my arm sore trying to hold him still for a minute. Baby Girl had a wonderful time, though, and even got to turn around and ride backwards for a bit. (Yes, this was intentional—teaches them balance). She wanted to hold the reins so bad she couldn’t stand it, and grabbed them up as soon as I had hoisted her heavy little preschool butt into the saddle. She even held them exactly right (since she had already seen her brother and sisters do it) but she had to content herself with just holding on. After it was over, I was nasty and sweaty, had a strained right deltoid, and two shoes full of sand. And it was time to go back for evening services. I had just enough time to swing by the house and change shirts and take a Rite Guard shower, which was hampered by the fact that Cowgirl had gone to sleep in the back of the car. Knowing how ill-tempered she gets when awakened prematurely, I ran through the house grabbing clothes and changed on the run and got back out in under a minute. We made it to church, and I wound up having to carry her in. Which may not sound hard, but she is about as cumbersome a load as a sack of bowling balls. I laid her down on the pew and after a few squinkles, she was back out. And she stayed asleep for the whole service—one tired little cowpoke.

Right before it was time to go home, the rain that had threatened all weekend finally fell. We stayed and had a meal with everyone at the building, then it was home and everyone to bed. And up again this morning ready to start it all over again.

Friday, June 21, 2002

Hey Possumblogger Boy! What we gonna do this weekend?
Since it now seems as though all five of us will make it through the day today (and yes, we did stay here all day, and I did get some work done in spite of a near continual rebukes to Catherine to stop acting like…well, like a five year old), so it looks like we will have a fun-filled weekend.

The kids started swimming lessons this week, which has been fun for all of them except Oldest Girl, who has decided that she really didn't know how to swim after all, even though beforehand, she knew alllllll about it. Their first lesson was Wednesday, which I missed, but Reba said they all did pretty well. Yesterday, I did get to go with them, and Big Girl managed to allow herself to become scared witless by the whole experience and broke down into big, Broadway-style melodramatic sobbing wailing hysterics. Did I mention fun?

The other kids are doing just fine. Lots of splash, lots of swallowed water, but their ears are remarkably clean of ear wax. Me? Well, if you ever want to really feel like a perv, try showing up for your kid's swimming lessons dressed like a G-man. I came straight from work, and while everyone else was wandering around in swim suits, I was trying to look suavely comfortable in a deck chair while wearing wingtips and a tie. I felt like such a peeping Tom.

Of course, a lot of that comes from being a peeping Tom.

Never before have I had to think of so many horrible, sad, dead-kitten-type-things and so many mindless statistical data as when I was sitting there right behind Baby Girl's moltenly voluptuous, tanned, electric blue Speedo-clad teacher, who had gotten out of the pool and was bending over the edge to better instruct her young charges in the finer points of foot-kicking.

Did you know that the firing order of the American Motors V-8 engine is 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2? Did you know that the exhaust valve lift on the 390 is .425"? Did I ever tell you about the time I backed over a puppy in a friend's driveway, and then ran over it again going forward? Did you know that older versions of Mosin-Nagant M-91 rifles have sights calibrated in arshins, rather than meters or yards? Did you know that an arshin is about .711 meters or .778 yards? Did you know that under the Accessibility Guidelines of the Americans With Disabilities Act, a handicapped space must have a sign so designating the space which is mounted high enough so that it is visible if the space is occupied?

Oh, thank goodness she got back in the pool. I had started running out of stuff to occupy my mind and it had started edging back to appreciating the finer form-following qualities of Spandex. And I've got to think up more stuff for this afternoon when we go back. At least today I am a bit more casual, seeing as how it's Friday--I left my tie at home. What a goob.

Tomorrow, it's horseback riding lessons in the morning, and as reported Monday, they are supposed to lasso their own beast this time. So far, they've managed to do very well with these horsebrained, multi-hundred pound masses--I guess they've had good practice having lived with me. Then afterwards there will be the normal grass cutting and cogitating on all the world's woes. I'm telling you, if everyone had a lawn mower, there would be a whole lot less hatred in the world. Except of dandelions. And I will get to try out my new straw hat my lovely wife got me for Father's Day. I am getting tired of burning up my neck and ears, and have been looking for something just short of a sombrero to wear, and she got me a nice one that doesn't look too old-farty. (Although don't look for me to wear it to the kid's swimming lessons)

Sunday, as always, will be church day and it will be spent trying to recover the spiritual and physical energy required to return for another scintillating week of working for the good citizens of our fair city.

Hope y'all have a fun weekend, too. See you Monday.

Well, despite what my kids may think, it has gone relatively well this morning. No loud screaming, no fires, no wet pants, no blunt head trauma—what more can a body ask? Of course, they are bored absolutely to tears—it’s not necessarily the lack of stuff to do, it’s being corralled in my office. After the fifteenth time of looking at my wall o’ pictures and pacing the 16ft length by 12ft width of the room and rearranging my Design markers and playing with the electric eraser and riding the drafting stool up and down, it gets to be somewhat tedious. Hey kids, just wait until this becomes the way you decide would be a good way to make a living!

We just got back in from going to lunch, which was very nice. It is an absolutely gorgeous day today—the humidity’s low, mid-80s, light clouds, wind about five knots—so we went and got ourselves some of those good ol’ Sneaky Pete’s hotdogs and sat out in Linn Park. Sneaky Pete’s is a locally-owned chain, and are perennially voted as Birmingham’s best hot dogs (although there are some Pete’s Famous diners who would kill you as soon as hear you say that) and normally come with a big Zeigler weiner, kraut, onions, mustard, relish and Pete’s special sauce. Runny, spicy, and hard to beat. Unless you’ve got kids eating them in the park, in which case each bite is a nail-biting adventure in Preventative Sauce Discharge. Again, luck held and there were no untoward incidents.

It sure was a nice break. The kids don’t get a lot of exposure to city life, so a genteel meal on the grounds hopefully gave them a bit of a culturing up. We sat there and watched the squirrels hop and the pigeons bob along, listened to water splashing at the fountain and the carillon at the Cathedral Church of the Advent play “Ode to Joy,” watched a fire truck and rescue unit answer a call. We ate, and I looked around at all the huge old oaks, which are pushing 130 years old or so, and at the bright sky and the neatly trimmed grass and the tall buildings. I have traveled around enough to know the combined effect of all this is the hard-to-capture concept of urbanity. It is the distilled goodness of life in a city and it is heady and intoxicating when it finds you. I hated having to go back inside. But here I am.

I wanted to say thanks to Eve Tushnet—she always has nice things to say about my pointless meanderings herein. She mentioned Possumblog in a post yesterday in which she reviewed her participation in a panel discussion of blogging on Wednesday.
The final nifty characteristic of blogs that I discussed was the personal nature of the writing. Now, this can be either a bug or a feature. It is just creepy to detail every moment of your life, or worse yet, to air your dirty laundry in public--who is reading your site? Why are you writing it? I think last night I sounded more critical of personal-life blogs than I really am--when they're funny, their appeal is pretty much the same as Dave Barry's. Tepper runs a very cool blog that oscillates between personal and political/legal; the Possumblog is a durned good time. But there are some blogs that really do suffer from exhibitionism, and that's lame.

But when it's presented with a little more care for one's own privacy, the personal aspects of blogging can help other people really understand your philosophy--the underlying worldview that unites your stances on, say, gun control, Bruce Springsteen, and race relations in Milwaukee. Blogs help show that politics isn't--or shouldn't be--some disconnected policy preferences; political beliefs should flow from underlying ethical and ultimately metaphysical beliefs that you live with all day long. (Or try to, anyway.)

That also makes it easier for others to be persuaded--we can imagine what it would be like to live all day as a leftist, a conservative, a pro-lifer, an Objectivist, and we can see that it needn't make us lousy people. So much of contemporary politics is about personal preferences and affiliations--were the leftists you knew condescending? Were the conservatives rich bigots? Who do you want to hang out with--a Gore voter, a Bush voter, or a Nader voter? Blogs show that there are leftists/conservatives/whatever who don't fit your stereotypes--there are people who are kind of like what you might be like if you were a leftist/conservative/whatever. And seeing people who you might want to be like can help you evaluate their beliefs without worrying that if you start agreeing with them you'll turn into a jerk.

Just as Plato wrote dramatic and biographical accounts of Socrates, rather than simply presenting Socrates' arguments, blogs persuade by showing a whole life. At their best, blogs are an act of life as rhetoric.
For my part, I do this because I like to write. I tend to write about personal happenings because I have been either been blessed with a life full of funny stuff or I see what happens and it strikes me as humorous. I don’t tell all; I tell you the things I tell My Friend Jeff, or the people I work with or go to church with. Even though you do get to hear a lot about icky biological stuff, I do have my standards. You will never mistake Possumblog for Penthouse Forum. Or Oprah. (But maybe Guns and Ammo.)

When I started out doing this, I was inspired by some links I found on Lileks’ site. I was overwhelmed with the quality of writers out there; good, insightful, witty, intelligent, grammatically sound, refusing to use “i” and more or less committed to spelling as found in the dictionary—the antithesis of the Usenet and bulletin board communities. I wanted to play, too, so I started this blog.

I have never fancied myself as a journalist or a reporter except in the generic sense of a person who reports on what is going on around him and keeps it written down. I comment on things I find interesting or infuriating or thought-provoking or idiotic. Why? Why not.

One thing I have tried to do is present my views in such a way that even though you may not agree with me, you at least will have a little respect for me or some insight about why I believe as I do. And one thing I’ve tried to do is simultaneously have fun with all the silliness that comes from being a person from Alabama and also silence a few of the lovers of “diversity” and “harmony” and “cultural sensitivity” who have no problem excluding, marginalizing, or demeaning me simply because I was born here and just happen to love it more than any other place I’ve ever been.

I have also tried to make people understand that just because I do not live in Jerusalem or Mexico City or Prague, does not mean that I am unaware of the world around me or that what happens in those places is of no consequence to me. I know of at least one “educated” person who has visited from time to time who thinks it’s silly to be so concerned about Palestinian anarchists or other such twaddle, because ::sniff:: that’s just so remote from my everyday life, even if I were the most educated person in the state. Nice words from someone whom I’m sure fancies himself as worldly and well-educated and is, in fact, responsible for instructing tender young college students. If you get right down to it, anything outside of about a 30 mile radius of my butt in this chair is pretty remote. But relevance and linear distance are two different things. Lots of things are far away, but some of them have a very uncomfortable way of quickly closing the gap. I would be much more comfortable if they did not exist at all. Such as the aforementioned Islamorons. So, like it or not, I express my thoughts about them.

I also realize that my opinions aren’t necessarily anything that anyone other than me cares about. So, there is a strong dose of self-deprecation in what I put down here. Sort of a take off on the beam/mote thing.

That’s why I do whatever it is I’m doing right now.

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Today, my mother-in-law, who has been watching the kids this summer, is going to the doctor. My wife is at work. I am at work. And my kids are…AT WORK WITH ME! Which is all well and good on those stupid “Take Your Child to Work” days, but four of them, all day long, when I actually have real work to do is going to be an adventure.

I couldn’t stay home with them (again, the intrusion of work into the Fun Zone) and there are few folks willing to take them on short notice (or long notice for that matter, unless equipped with a HazMat unit and tranquilizer darts). So here we are.

Luckily, they brought some reading matter, and I have reams of paper in my office and markers and pencils and loads of stuff to keep them quietly busy for about 10 minutes. There has already been a minor flare-up due to Jonathan deciding that the paper Catherine was using was just the type HE wanted to use. WHAAAA---Stopitrightnow!!YoubetternotgetgoingonthatmessorsohelpmeI’lltearyouupsoquickyou’llforgetwhoyouare!! You can’t negotiate with terrorists.

So, today will be an interesting experience. And as has been the case for the past couple of days, little posting, because of the necessity of doing my actual job and riding herd on the Most Wonderful Children in the World. Wish me luck, and I’ll check back in with you later.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Well, I am back now, and let me tell you--my class was everything one could expect from a convocation of people interested in the finer points of building codes.

Forty serious guys (including My Friend Jeff and me), three serious women, one very serious contender for "Woman Most Likely To Be Able To Take Butterbean Esche in a Fair Fight," one roly-poly instructor with the snappy comic timing and delivery of a young Junior Samples, and of course, POWERPOINT! Not just Powerpoint, but Powerpoint with pointlessly pulsating graphics and incongruous sounds.

And lunch! A fat "Greek-style" rolled-up sandwich (it had olives on it) on nuclear yellow flatbread, with a tiny cup of "Greek-style" pasta salad (it had a tiny morsel of crumbly feta cheese about the size of a pea and a slice of olive), a 1" by 1" by 1/2" square of stale Rice Krispy treat (apparently the closest food-service equivalent of baklava), and a package of Lay's potato chips (as seen in all the finer Greek delicatessens). Oh, and a plastic utensil set. I took two, just to make sure I got my money's worth.

But now that I'm back, I find myself even further behind in my work, so this must suffice for relavent social commentary for the day. Before I sign off, I did want to thank everyone who dropped by to see my world-shaking comments about Matt Lauer's new lack of a hairdo. The majority of hits I've had the past two days are people Googling various iterations of matt lauer buzz cut.

To those who came by, thank you for your interest in Lauer's Locks, and let's just hope Matt doesn't destroy our trust by getting caught in some Sarasota, Florida adult movie theater. To my two other loyal readers, I will try to be back in form tomorrow, but today requires my full attention devoted to earning a living.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Say Mr. Possumblogger, why will you not be posting tomorrow morning?

Well, I will be attending a very special continuing education seminar on the new International Building Code, that's why. I get four continuing education credits AND lunch.

Oh. Why again do we care about this?

Well, again, I get a lunch. And second, since it's "International," I will no longer be picked on because of my tell-tale simplesme. I fully intend to soak up all the rich diverse richness inherent in all multinational doo-dads and thingamabobs, and return fully prepared to do complicated things. (Not to mention all fun with the black helicopters.)

Oh. Will you bring back something for us?

Remember, it's international, so I assume I will return with some sort of communicable disease. I will probably also have papers, with all sorts of complicated tables of stuff printed on them, and maybe some business cards.

Hm. Any girls gonna be there?

For the love of all that is holy in this world, I sure hope so. AND, they'll be international girls, too; maybe even as far away as Montgomery or Huntsville. But, if not, I still do get lunch.


Baggin' the Bagdaddy, or Committing Bastardocide--the newest Newhouse News commentary from a proud son of Fargo.
[...] An invasion of Iraq would be a massive undertaking, costly and messy. It would be nice if someone in the current Iraqi administration gave Mr. H a lead headache, opened everything for international inspection and promised he would rule benignly. This option would not turn Iraq into paradise on Earth, but that's not America's objective. Our objective is deposing a really bad guy, which also serves as an object lesson to subsequent bad guys. [...]

You know, were I the sort to get jealous and angry, I would wonder why it is that the ol' War Liberal keeps finding all the good possum stories before I do. This one is from All Things Considered, and notes that in addition to the ability to feign death and nurture our young in a pouch, we also have the stunning ability to sniff out global warming. Kinfolk now seem to be showing up in Vermont, and nothing puts a damper on ski season like running over a possum who's waddling across Easy Street at Spruce Peak.

Linked first by Mac Thomason over at War Liberal, this bit of very exciting news for the Magic City; Hot Birmingham mops up: Named 12th sweatiest in U.S. From Carol Robinson of The Birmingham News,
Tuscaloosa and Northport are Alabama's only officially designated All-American Cities this year, but la-di-dah. Birmingham is the 12th sweatiest.

Old Spice, the deodorant people, saluted the Magic City on Tuesday for the volume of its residents' perspiration the salty, stinky product of our hard-working pores.

"I believe it. I've been all over and it's just as hot here as any place I've ever been," said drywall laborer Donnie Tucker. "You can't hide from it, you just have to get sweaty."

Old Spice marked the advent of summer by releasing its list of Top 50 Sweatiest Summer Cities. San Antonio is the nation's No. 1 perspiration producer, with the average resident oozing more than one liter per hour during a typical summer day. Dallas/Fort Worth followed with New Orleans coming in a close third.

For once, Birmingham beat out some of its rival neighbors, including Atlanta (No. 13) and Charlotte (No. 16). So there.
Of course, if we build our domed stadium, we are sure to go down in the rankings. All I know is that I certainly do my part to help out.

Churchill's Wartime Worries: Beer, Grammar, Trash New papers released further Churchill's place among the greats of the Twentieth Century, while the article itself points to the fact that the beknighted journalists of the world could do with a bit more grounding in the rudiments of history:
By Georgina Prodhan

LONDON (Reuters) - Even in the middle of World War Two, Winston Churchill still had time to worry about rubbish in the streets, the finer points of English grammar and whether his troops had enough beer, secret files released Tuesday showed.

As he planned the June 1944 invasion of France's Normandy beaches, Britain's wartime Prime Minister did not neglect the environment, while German bombs rained down on London during the Blitz. [...]
Golly Georgina, I don't know what they teach nowadays at Fourth Estate U., but the Blitz is generally given the timeframe of September 7, 1940 to May 11, 1941. Is it too much to ask that we keep such things in the proper chronological order?

From Miss Moira-- Thing a Thong of the Thouth

The latest Bleat
[...] Then I saw “The Diary of Anne Frank” and I got a better picture. The Nazis terrified me. They weren’t just the thing in the dark at the bottom of the stairs, but the thing that bolts up the stairs and bursts into the light shouting orders. But I didn’t get the why. Why were the Nazis after Anne Frank? Because she was a Jew. But this was an answer that answered nothing.

And then you learned that to a Nazi, it answered everything.

If you don’t see that in the shining faces of the mothers and fathers and little children celebrating the glorious martyrs, where will you see it? [...]

Mr. Chuck Myguts of Redneckin' wants to know the official status of the use of natural charcoal for grilling, versus gas:
[...] Earlier, I was outside getting the grill ready. Since I don't care for the after-taste you get on your food if you use lighter fluid, I use a cone that you burn paper in the bottom of . Anyway, while I was putting the newspaper in the cone to start the charcoal, a neighbor came out of his house, removed the cover on his grill, turned on the gas, clicked the starter and went back into the house to get the food while the artificial rocks heated up.

Come on, people. That's not barbequing. You may as well stay in the kitchen and use your stove. Or that George Foreman that you got a couple of Christmas's ago and is still in its box in the back of the closet. Don't you have any of the primal instincts around fire? Don't you understand rituals? And you know it doesn't taste as good, no matter that little pan of genuine, hickory or mesquite (get real, mesquite smells like your burning shrubbery) chips and the Real Grilled Taste seasoning mix you use to try to convince yourself it taste just like....

I didn't think to check the by-laws of the Axis of Weevil, but I'm certain that such a fine organization of more or less good ol boy's (and Ladies) wouldn't have anything to do with something that disrespects fine Southern traditions like a gas grill does. [...]
Actually, this question has never come up before, and it bears discussion. First of all, Chuck is quite correct to state the obvious benefits of the ritualized, primal beauty of making and tending a fire begun from the detritus of the forest. There is nothing like coaxing the living god of Pyro out of hunks of little black rocks, then throwing the flesh of a dead animal up on top of a nasty hunk of rusty wires, annointing said flesh with the finest of herbs and spices, and consuming the fruits of your labor in the loving embrace of your family and kin.

HOWEVER, it must also be realized that one of the joys of living in the South includes doing stupid things with flammable gases. We must understand that for some, the food is secondary to the thrill of closing the cover, opening the burner valves wide open, going around to the side of the house and turning on the auxiliary gascock, running back with a box of kitchen matches and trying to reach under and light the burners though the vent hole in the bottom before the level of gas inside reaches a high enough concentration to blow the cover off. There is the hesitation, then the satisfying wwwWHUmmmmph when the gas catches. Ahhh, just right. Of course, sometimes you hesitate a bit too long and there's an equally satisfying but much more potentially dangerous WWWHOOOOOMPHT that does manage to lift the lid a bit. No matter, because after it's going good, there's the fun of spraying Pam on the grille and the resulting mini-flamethrower effect.

What to say then? I think we can say that for really cooking food and spiritual uplift, there is NO substitute for grilling over charcoal. For those interested more in stupid hydrocarbon tricks, a gas grille fills the bill. (As a further disclaimer, we all understand that we're talking fancy grilling here, and that neither method is even close to that small, hot fire on a clear, late fall day out in the woods, with a pot full of coffee and a skillet full of quail.)

To the Mystery Machine! It's time for the Mystery of Dickie and His Ghostly Communist Grandfather!! Otherwise known as the Scooby Dooing of Richard Cohen, Episode Drei und Dreisig.
In an apparent homage to the new Scooby Doo movie (I have been lucky thus far that daughter #1 hasn't even asked to see it -- must be the hormonal induced confusion of her dodecitude), it's time to get out the virtual Ouija board again as Richard Cohen conjures up the spirit of his grandfather to lay down some conventional wisdom on us homeys. Word. You down wit dat dog?

I’m back now. Woo, I was channeling Biggie there for a minute. Either that or I had a momentary delusion induced by the vast number of Captain of Industry™ children's fingers covered with Laissez Faire™ sauce I've been munching on, washed down by mass quantities of Sweat of Their Brow™ suds, the favorite of all of us capitalist, bourgeoisie, pig-dog exploiters of the proletariat, or so the bastards here would have you think.

You see, I am a dedicated, dyed in the wool, free market, libertarian-minded capitalist – and I make no apologies for believing in the power of the invisible hand. Big Dick Cohen, on the other hand, is back to parroting Little Dick Gephardt and his class warfare nonsense, wanting the great unwashed masses to swallow that being successful is all about luck. Being rich just means that you won life’s lottery, so there’s nothing wrong with the government taking it all back when you die, or preventing you from getting it in the first place.

I guess I missed the Good Citizen of the World™ memo that changed part of the Declaration of Independence from “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to “life, liberty and happiness.” In Richard Cohen’s illiberal utopian state, there are no risks that the government cannot, nay, must not, mitigate! And without risk, there is no need for reward, hence any recompense above the “average” wage is sinful and counter to the needs and society! Under these circumstances, it will be much easier to justify passing laws taking away the freedom of men and women to charge what the market will bear for their services. By fiat, Richard and his merry band of illiberal utopian statists can raise everyone to an average wage, thus eliminating the wage disparity between men and women, majorities and minorities, the short and the tall, the abled and the differently abled, the inexperienced and the experienced, the good and the bad, the great and the awful, the hard-working and the slothful, and they will love Richard for it!

Or not.

I only wish I had the knowledge and skills of Elizabeth Spiers or Megan McArdle to properly roast Richard’s hoary chestnuts. But since I stopped as an Economics major as a sophomore so many, many years ago (looks like it's the University of Illinois!), play along as I do a few riffs on Risky Business, a concept Richard Cohen struggles mightily with in Casino Capitalists [...]
That's just the intro folks--not to be missed are the conversations between Mr. Cohen and his ancestor, a cloud of fart gas. Of course, flatulence has more substance than the majority of Richie's usual fare.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

I have refrained from commenting on all the blathernational windiness about the World Cup, in general because it used to be that soccer players who played American football wound up being kickers or punters. The best things about kickers is the look on their face when they realize that you are going to arrive before the ball leaves their foot, and their simultaneous realization that you could care less about the ball and that really you are intent on contacting them with extreme prejudice. I only managed to see that look a couple of times way back when, but it was always priceless. And it tended to color my judgement of anyone who makes a specialty of kicking.

In any event, I have learned to like the game of soccer, mainly because my son and middle daughter took it up this spring and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. And last evening, upon the hallowed fields of the Trussville Soccer Club, the world's newest little player stepped up, the one and only Thunderchild. The club is having sessions on Monday nights for the little kids to get them acquainted with each other and with the concepts, and Catherine has been begging to play since she saw brother and sister doing it.

So last night she strapped on her little shin guards and cleats and ran herself ragged. The first part of the session is about thirty minutes of skills, then the kids break into smaller groups for a pickup game. Since she had not played before, Cat was placed with a group of four year olds, whom she dwarfed with her bulk, and blasted into meekness through the use of her incredibly loud pie hole. If these kids really had played before, they didn't show it, so she probably would have done just as well in an older group. As it was though, she probably needed the experience and she did pick up on the basic concept pretty rapidly. Except for that part about the field dimensions being finite in size, as denoted by those WIDE WHITE LINES. Once they started going after a ball, they would keep on going, one time managing to make it over three separate fields before finally giving up. Thankfully, she didn't rip her shirt off after the game was over.

She had the best time, and wore herself slap out, which is good because last night there were none of the ninety million bedtime forays from her room to ours to inquire on world events, puppies, bugs, baby dolls, tee-tee, or anything else. She hit that pillow and was out like she had been poleaxed.

So soccer is a very, very good thing.

Adventures in Headline Writing: Bush condemns suicide attack in Jerusalem; may send Powell You fill in your own punchline.

The very odd tale of Home Depot refusing to do business with the federal government, via the always informative and entertaining Snopes.com.

On the one hand, I can understand a business wishing to minimize federal intrusion into its business. On the other, I cannot understand how such a large outfit could have come about formulating a more hamfisted way of going about it.

While I'm thinking about it, I was watching the early local news before leaving for work this morning and caught Matt Lauer doing a promo for Today.

Matt Lauer has gotten a buzz cut. Matt Lauer now looks like Pee Wee Herman.

Granted, a Flowbee is a wonderful thing, but this is just a bit much.

I have been very neglectful, having missed TWO of the mighty entertaining Scourgings of Tricky Dick. Both were administered by Axis of Weevil Grand Inquisitor and Keeper of the A-Bolt Charles Austin on Sunday, and Mr. Cohen reports no improvement in his ability to put words to paper in anything resembling a cogent fashion, free of falacious arguments.

Oh well. Job security for Charles, I suppose.

The Bitter Blog From Elizabeth Spiers at Capital Influx, who engages in a profound bit of navel gazing and linky love, and comes up with one of the most succinct and interesting discussions of whatever this is that I'm doing right now.

(By the way, thanks to Miss Elizabeth and Doc Weevil for carrying the Flag of Weevil into the Blogapalooza III event and leading the assemble hordes of Yankees in the pledge.)

I guess it pays to know who your friends are.
From Mary Orndorff of The Birmingham News:
[...] The Palestine Media Watch calls Hilliard one of a handful of congressmen with "the moral and political courage to stand up" to pro-Israel sentiment in Congress."

Hilliard and 20 others last month voted against a resolution supporting Israel and condemning the Palestinian suicide bombings. [...]
The article also quotes Earl's fraternity friends:
[...] "We want to make sure we have his voice representing our interests and the interests of the disadvantaged people in the 7th Congressional District and throughout the country," said Elvin Dowling, chief of staff for the general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Hilliard joined the 95-year-old fraternity while an undergraduate at Morehouse College. The e-mailed message to several thousand members is a "nationwide call to arms" and includes endorsements from the fraternity's general president, Harry E. Johnson Sr. of Houston, and former New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial. Their message calls Hilliard "a full-time civil rights activist" and a "foot-soldier" of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights movement.
You know, at one time, Birmingham was called "Bombingham" because of the numerous Ku Klux Klan dynamite bomb attacks on the black residents of this city. I guess if the Kluxers got on a busload of black people and blew it up, they would have been much more noble, eh, Earl?

The wondrous promise of light rail
From this morning's Birmingham News a cheery story, about how we waste money studying solutions to non-existent problems, all while promoting the panacea of light rail. (Collective "oooooooooooh" from the audience, please)
Ginny McDonald
News staff writer

An $88 million tunnel through Red Mountain from Southside to Homewood is part of a mass transit proposal for the Birmingham metro area.

Rails would be laid through the tunnel running from downtown Birmingham to 19th Street in Homewood for electric commuter trains or buses capable of using rails or roads.

The mass transit vehicles would then connect with rail lines along U.S. 280 and U.S. 31, said Steve Ortmann, senior project manager with New York-based STV Inc.

Ortmann's company is doing a $2.5 million study that is recommending 14 proposed types of mass transportation for five major corridors in Jefferson and Shelby counties.

A location for the Southside end of the tunnel has not been determined.

"We don't have an exact alignment yet. We need to know what buildings we need to miss. But the idea is to come out as close as possible to 20th Street South and University (Boulevard)," Ortmann said. [...]

Ortmann said the tunnel is not a far-fetched idea for light rail.

"We can do the tunnel for the same amount of money it would take to go to the top of the mountain," he said. "Our estimates show it would cost $88 million for about a mile of tunnel. It's two miles if we go over the top of the mountain and would cost about $40 million a mile."

One drawback to going over the mountain, Ortmann said, is that it's difficult for light rail to go up a slope that is more than 10 degrees. "It doesn't have the power required to get up there," Ortmann said.

The tunnel would be used by buses and electric trains going to U.S. 280 and U.S. 31, but not light rail vehicles proposed for Green Springs Highway.

The study is not the first to be done on tunneling through Red Mountain. In 1959 a group proposed a toll tunnel through the mountain if the Birmingham City Commission would grant an operation franchise. But a feasibility study done in 1960 found the tunnel would be too costly.

Instead, the state built the Red Mountain Expressway, which was later renamed the Elton B. Stephens Expressway. The 210-foot cut through Red Mountain for the expressway was the deepest in the history of road construction in the state. The expressway opened in 1970. [...]
Yep, $88 million is a bargain alright. Such are the ways of government consultants in which $88 million per mile is the same as $40 million per mile and is somehow better than $0 per mile for using the infrastructure already in place, simply because the infrastructure in place cannot accomodate light rail, which will require investing $88 million dollars because it is better than no light rail, and we know it's better because we are paying $2.5 million to a company that says it's better.

The Red Mountain Expressway (although the article makes it seem as though the project only took ten years) actually was not finished until the mid-1980s, and for most of its construction time in the 1960s was not open to traffic. By the time the Red Mountain Glory Hole is finished in twice the amount of time (I'm being charitable here--no one seems to factor in politics, funding, and federal regulations), the next big thing in transportation will have long arrived, and everyone will be looking for scapegoats to blame for spending up all of our dough. Yes, it's doable. Just like in 1960, when transit ridership in Birmingham was at its high point, when city coffers were full, when suburban governments were small and weak, when citizen activism meant being on hand for the ribbon cutting, and when the EPA was still just a gleam in some Washington wonk's eye. It was doable then, but even then, with all of the cards stacked for it, it STILL made no economic sense to go ahead with it.

What a stupid waste of money.

Look for it to be supported wholeheartedly by the folks in charge.

[Further Comment] Mac Thomason wrote me a quick note:
An $88 million tunnel (how much is that in American dollars?) to connect Southside and Homewood? I figured you'd have something to say about this, and you said most of it, but I have to post something.

You remember that "Simpsons" episode with the monorail? I'm keeping an eye out for Leonard Nimoy.
Yes, for $88 mil, me love you long, G.I. For Mac's take on this silliness, click here. (Also just updated with a link to a photograph of Lyle Lanley, an ACTUAL MONORAIL SALESMAN and the lyrics to "Monorail!")

The Birth of the Rocky Top Brigade!

My, what interesting and exciting times we live in! We stand witness to yet another grandiose birth of an ally in the fight for all that is good and right in the world, The Union of Tennessee Volunteer Bloggers and Big Orange Expeditionary Forces. Headquartered in the rolling hills and hollows of the state which rests directly north of Alabama, the Rocky Top Brigade has thrown down the gauntlet to the world of pinheads, idiots, tyrants, moneygrubbers, people with papier mache puppets, and those dimwits who drive small "sporty" secretary's cars with the foglights on all the time because they think it makes them look like sophisticated European drivers; said Volunteers having vowed to stand shoulder to shoulder with their brethren and sistren of the Axis of Weevil and the Delta Entente to make the world better through superior reason, logic, and barbecue.

The Cotton State Quilting and Blogging Society wishes to salute you all and set forth our hopes for a long and prosperous association in our fight against just about nearly everything that small, nervous, squirrely people think is good.

Now, as a word of caution to those who may witness some rather loud family fights regarding religion (i.e. SEC football) please know that gloating over the kicking of Tennessee's lardy Big Orange bee-hinds by the glorious Auburn Tigers does not signal a break in our loyalty to each other or our cause--it is merely a manifestation of our culture of good-spirited competition. Any who would doubt this (such as any of your Big 10 or Ivy League types of schools) will quickly learn that our friendly neighborhood scuffles are nothing compared to the fury we will unleash upon any who would pick a fight agin family. Don't make us take out our Instapundit on you.

Monday, June 17, 2002

A series of excellent posts today from Larry Anderson over in Kudzu Acres. Go read them all.

Great whirling Dervishes--yet another possumish article via Mac Thomason over at War Liberal. To quote:
Possum's [sic] are not native to New Zealand, having been imported from Australia in the mid nineteenth century, and they are widely regarded as a pest.

They have no natural predators and are blamed for decimating large swathes of the country's native flora and bird life.

As a result several firms have been set up to trap possums and market their pelts as an environmentally-friendly alternative to more traditional furs.

Fans say the pelts are as luxurious and warm as mink, but much cheaper and help protect the native New Zealand environment.

Among the producers is Gray Fur Trading, which is making use of New Zealand's annual national agricultural show this week to launch his and hers possum-fur G-strings.

Hoping to tickle the fancy of New Zealand farming folk, the furry undies are the latest in a series of possum products, including hot water bottle covers, rugs, hats and, of course, the nipple warmers -- marketed to farmers as just the thing to take the chill off a cold winter morning in the milkshed.

You know, I really wouldn't mind this story except for the fact that these people are making a his-and-hers set out of these. I mean it's one thing to sacrifice so some strapping young Kiwi lass can have toasty warm taongas, but the idea of some bloke having a possum on his tree is just too much to bear.

Oh yeah, the weekend. I almost forgot about it while forgetting everything else I’m supposed to be doing.

As noted last week, Friday was spent at home. Despite repeated attempts on my sanity, the little ones managed to cause me to turn purple only a couple of times. It’s amazing how many different ways children can fight over wads of torn paper or a rubber band.

We got up and got dressed and had breakfast and got ready to take Big Sister to band practice. Her grandmother has been taking her, so this was my first time, and I assumed I was just supposed to drop her off in front of the junior high. Which is where I kept getting told I was supposed to drop her off. I pull up at the stop sign right in front of the junior high-- “Here we are, this okay?” Indeterminate shrugging and refusal to speak above a mumble, and I get something like “you have to go back there” or, “the band room is down there” and pointing to the end of the building. I turned around in the middle of the street, (yes, I was somewhat perturbed, but glad I didn’t get hammered with a ticket from Trussville’s Finest) with the intent of trying to get her down to the lower level by driving around the back of the building. By this time, the backseat driving squad are yammering something about what Grandmama does, and I’m trying to determine exactly where behind the building I’m supposed to drop her, and she is telling them to be quiet, and slowly the fog begins to lift and I come to a even more perturbing conclusion.

As we near the end of the block, she says to turn. “Here?!” Right at the stop sign. “Uh huh.” Well, you see, there is an access drive for the junior high that parallels the street in front of the school. Street—grass—sidewalk—grass—access drive. Any guesses as to where this one lane access drive leads? Yes, that’s right—right back to the front of the school where I had stopped to begin with. ::sigh::

Again, the backseat crew loudly starts up, “You didn’t have to do that; Grandmama always goes down this little road, but you don’t have to because you can just pull up in front of the building!” [frankcostanza] SERENITY NOW! [/frankcostanza]

She storms off and we head back to the house, long enough for the kids to tear around the backyard and feed the neighbor’s cat, then it was time to return and pick up our young clarinetist, who it seems had learned a new tune, which she called “Raspberry.” It’s one of those hypnotic-trance inducing series of notes that they play at football games to fire the team up—I never heard it called anything other than “Go Fight Win.” I know you’ve heard it (especially any of you who watch SEC football)—it’s goes something like:


then repeat. Lots of horn, lots of bass drum, rhythmically catchy, and absolutely the single most annoying thing you will ever hear a carload of children become addicted to. “N +1 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”? Phshaw. “Wheels on the Bus”? Literal child’s play. This insidious little ditty, by whatever name it goes, very nearly caused me to keel over deader’n a hammer. But, we had to go to Daddy’s work to pick up his paycheck. Nothing steels one’s nerves like having to get to the bank before all of those promises-to-pay start making cartoon ‘boing-boing’ sounds.

Thankfully they were nice and well behaved (my kids, not the folks at work), all without benefit of mumbled threats. Then we went and put Daddy’s check into the bank, so that the mean people won’t come and take our house away from us. (Although, I do have fantasies of them showing up to evict us, then giving up halfway through as they exhaust themselves trying to haul all of our stuff out to the curb.)

Then, of course, the inevitable chorus of “Have they got any suckers, Daddy?” started up.

“No kids, this is the credit union—we told them we would rather have a 16th of a point higher interest than give away lollipops to kids!” “You sure they don’t have suckers?” “No, they don’t.” “But when Grandmama takes us, they always give us suckers…” “That’s because Grandmama uses a real bank, where they make her pay exorbitant ATM fees!” “Can you ask them if they have suckers?” ::sigh::

“Do you…,” “No sir, I’m sorry we don’t.”

Ahh, a life lived in front of an open microphone.

Back home, then time for lunch and time to catch up on bloglandia and post a couple of things to further perpetuate the moronic aspects of Possumblog. Decided to not waste time going BACK to town to pick up my wife’s paycheck, but instead decided to go get advance tickets for Scooby Doo. Yea! Daddy’s a hero again. When Mom got home, we piled into the van and went and ate supper at Milo’s and settled in for a bit of summer pifflery.

Movie Review Time

I hated just about every Hanna-Barbera cartoon ever made. I hated Squid Diddly, I hated the Super Friends, I hated Peter Potomus, I hated Magilla Gorilla, I hated Muttley, I hated Josie and the Pussycats, I hated Atom Ant. And I hated Scooby Doo. These dreckful masterpieces to this day still remind me of all the crappiness that was the mid-1970s—crappy cars, crappy clothes, crappy food, crappy crap, and crappy cartoons.

So, then, how to explain that the movie was not crappy. Cleavage. Cleavage has the power to save just about any movie short of The Janet Reno Story. And it has that guy from Mr. Bean, except he doesn’t shave his tongue. That’s about it, at least for me. The kids liked it because it has a talking dog and tee-tee jokes and fart jokes. Of course, they have never seen the ne plus ultra of cinematic audiovisual fartography, the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles. Still, it was the one thing that I actually laughed out loud about. And it had cleavage. So, it was not completely crappy.

But apparently, either due to the ham sandwich I had for lunch, or the very nearly raw hamburger I had for supper, my tolerance for such lighthearted summer silliness was at a low ebb, especially after not being able to get more than an hour’s sleep that night due to continued trips to the outhouse. By the morning of Father’s Day Eve (which, of course, started at about 6:00 a.m. with the sounds of Angry Mom and the Argumentative Four having a polite discussion about breakfast and the necessity of allowing Daddy to sleep a bit) I was a very tired and weak person, to the point that I didn’t think I could make it to take the kids for their pony riding lessons. I was so sick, I even volunteered to stay home with the Wrecking Ball and let Reba take the older ones.

I had piled up on the bed and gotten Baby Girl to go get a movie to watch. She went and got Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and put it on. We never saw this one at the theater, but the kids got it recently and have nearly worn it out. I had heard pretty good things about it, and despite my lack of solid internal structure, was actually looking forward to watching it.

Yet another Movie Review

A movie not in need of cleavage to succeed. I really enjoyed it. Good casting, exciting visuals, neat looking stuff, steam engines, silly Englishmen, mortal danger. Ripping good. It would be interesting to see the U.S. equivalent of Hogwarts Academy. And cleavage would be okay. Hmmm. Well, I guess that would be pretty close to Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Interesting how that all ties back to Sarah Michelle Gellar, whom I think would make an excellent Hermione.

As time got closer to take the kids to the corral, Reba decided to take Baby Girl, too, which made me decide to get up and get dressed. I really didn’t want to be saddled with the guilt of not being there when Catherine decided to strangle a horse or eat all the oats or bring Mommy some pretty poopy. So, I got dressed. ::sigh::

The ride turned out very good again, although the horses were already saddled when we got there, so the kids didn’t get to wrestle them down from the pasture. This time they got to go out of the paddock and ride around the camp, which went very well with no sudden scream-inducing runaway horse silliness. They did get to untack after the lesson was over and lead the horses to the pasture, and Rebecca found out where mules get their stubbornness. Her horse was bound and determined to eat some grass, and it was all she could do to drag the big lummox through the gate. But she did it, and was greatly pleased with herself. If there’s one good thing about learning horsemanship, it is that whenever they say “I can’t do it,” I can always say “You mean to tell me anyone who can yank around an 800 pound pile of glue can’t do something!?” So far, I’ve only had to use this once, but it worked like a charm.

Back home, and back to my sickbed. No longer sick, just tired as all get out. Reba went to the store to shop for that special father in the kid’s lives (and for me, too) and I decided to make the best of my time by telling the kids to put on one of their movies downstairs, as I loaded up Fargo and Falling Down.

Oh, sweet Moses Malone, not another stinkin’ movie review…

Fargo—Never saw it at the theater. Odd, disturbing, work of the mind, enigmatic, gratuitously bloody, ain’t no Raising Arizona, but hey, what is? Who knows what to make of it, other than to say it’s typical Coen Brothers.

Falling Down—Never saw it at the theater. Not what I expected, and in a bad way. From dimly remembered reviews and trailers, thought I would like it—sort of an urban Rambo, man done wrong tale. Just a sorry psychopath. Blech.

After Reba got home and all of the gifts were wrapped and cards signed, I was summoned to the kitchen and presented with an assortment of very sweet little cards with lots of Xs and Os, some nice casual shirts, some very special sleepwear (rRRRrrowlll, Baby!) and from my littlest admirer, a genuine plush stuffed blue-eyed husky puppy that sits here upon my desk even now. Little Bit tends to buy for herself; little did she think that I would actually KEEP her present. I think it goes well with the troll in the pink dress that I got from my oldest when she was but a wee sprite of three years, and from Boy, the cardboard tube with yellow paper on top, which represents a torch. And the wall of drawings behind me of horses and cats and flowers and fish and a very large apartment building and a large-headed, microscopic-bodied bespectacled man entitled simply “D Ad.”

Almost as good as those were the well-wishes from the extended Possumblog family—faithful Louisiana reader Janis Gore and Miss Lee Ann Morawski both wrote to wish me a Happy Father’s Day—thanks to you both. It’s very odd for me to hear such things, and it always catches me off guard. Last night after church we stopped for supper at the nearby Ruby Tuesday, and our server Miss Jennifer gave her good wishes. It was such a sweet and unexpected gesture that I got all tongue-tied. We eat there enough so that we know all the staff, and our whole group loves Jennifer above all the rest because she is unfailingly nice to all of us and is a great waitress. So, since I mangled it last night—Jennifer, thank you very much.

Of course, me being me, the tongue-tangletude continued unabated after leaving the restaurant. Catherine started feeling queasy (possibly due to the combination of salad, baked potato, rice, and crab cake she gleaned off of everyone else’s plate, washed down with sweet tea) so we stopped right down the street at the convenience store to allow Dad to go in and beg for a plastic bag to contain any toxic rumblespew. I parked to the side of the store and went in and asked for a plastic bag. The clerk happily supplied me one, and then, just as Jennifer had earlier, she caught me off guard with a “Have a Happy Father’s Day!” Now how she knew I was a dad, I’ll never know—the wild eyed look, the messed up hair, the unzipped pants—who knows, but I’m sure she will always treasure my response…”Huh--…oh! Thank you! You too!” I am such a putz.

But my kids love me.

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