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.

Monday, September 30, 2002

Fun With Concerned Scientists--A new one from Larry Anderson over in Kudzu Acres.
[...] A "leading scientist" from an organization I will call Concerned Scientists was quoted regularly in the press as saying that we could turn things into slag whenever we wanted to and that further research and development was: (pick the one you like)

A. A waste of taxpayers money since we already had the technology

B. A serious violation of some international agreement

C.Bound to start WWIII [...]
I think it came from Area 51, too, Larry. Or maybe even Area 50, which is next door, and even MORE secreter!

Ohhh, that'sa one aspicy meatabol!

Fritz Schranck with an inspirational journey of pasta, tomatoes, cow parts, dog hair, and friends.

It's a Yogi Berra-esque thing, but so many assume that everyone reads Lileks that they stop linking to him--but not ME, baby! Of course, it would be easy to link to the Bleat--everyone does do not do that all the time not; or to the weekly Newhouse, which I already did last week. But no. No, I'm going to link to yet another of the Sage of Minnesota's hefty tote bag of col-yumes, his thrice weekly Backfence column for the Strib (which is the codeword we lilekognoscenti use to refer to his home newspaper, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune). The one from Sunday is excerpted below:
[...] In high school, my hair began thinning, and I was desperate to avoid the total Kojak by 30. My mother's hairdresser had a sure-fire cure: raw eggs, rubbed into the scalp and left in place for an hour. For several weeks every morning I sat in the kitchen, watching game shows, mashing the ingredients for chicken fetuses into my scalp, wiping away the rivulets of egg that coursed down my nose. I also used an egg shampoo. I would have tried hard-boiled enemas if there was medical evidence that it battled baldness; I was desperate.

Did it work? Yes. I was about to say no, but I realized that my hair stopped fleeing like Italian soldiers, and the eggs were quite possibly the key. But don't try this at home, as they say. Try it in public, where we can all point and laugh. [...]
Wow! Not only did he write a book about regrettable food, he WORE it!

War Eagle!

One thing I didn't mention in my much too long braindribble earlier is that Auburn University's eagle mascot Tiger did not get to make her customary flight around the field before the kickoff. She is a 24 year old golden eagle, and has not been feeling well lately, suffering from arthritis and poor appetite. A couple of weeks ago she missed her mark in the center of the field and landed behind the bench, so she is being allowed some time to rest. At Saturday's game a young bald eagle named Spirit did the fly-around and by all accounts did just fine.

Get well soon, Tiger.

You know, last week I was pretty pumped up about getting hits from people looking for Kuwaiti cat perfume, but today, I believe Possumblog has done outdid itself ONCE AGAIN! That's right, we have managed to ensnare another viewer searching Google for birmingham alabama rugby lesbian!

Well, my good friend, we are grateful you came knocking, but sadly we must report that the Possumblog Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name Rugby League has been forced to close without a single game being played. Never could find a way to get the girls out of a scrum.

A belated screamout to Emily Jones of Give War a Chance for her nicely updated new bloglook INCLUDING the bonus animated Bama flag gif for the Axis of Weevil! Cool!

Great Roaring Tales of Life On the Banks of the Pinchgut! Thrilling Yarns of Tepanyaki, Boobs, A Fancy Department Store, More Boobs, Blue Skies, Buzzards, Parade-of-Homes-Induced Backaches, MICE (Eek!), Happy Birthday to You, Oh No, Auburn's Gonna Lose Again, Inexorable Armadillo Invasion, Three Overtimes!?, Photographs with Carrot-Top, Spiritual Growth, and Boy Am I Tired.

Good morning, class! (Grumble-grumble)

Well, she was a good one this weekend, although I feel like I've been beat with a chain. Luckily, I am gainfully employed as a minor bureaucrat, allowing me time to sleep.

Alas, Friday night was not pizza night. Because we had a special surprise for Middle Girl's 10th birthday (surprising because I didn't find out about it until I got home) of a nice meal at Shogun Japanese Steakhouse over on the Old Florida Short Route (now know simply as "280" or "the Gateway to Childersburg.")

Got home, sit down, stand right back up and head out the door with squealing kids. Nothing like sitting inches away from a giant sheet of hot stainless steel as crazed foreigners with knives spray flaming cooking oil and throw bits of raw meat.

CLANGGGG!!Herrowevbody--wecookinwihgaznow--CLANGityCLangityCLANNGGCLANNG--tictictictic--OohhhhhhFIRE!!! There was us, and three buxom twenty-something chicks out for a night on the town. Baby Girl was right in the center, and of course had to see if the giant sheet of metal was really hot. Yes, it's hot. Jonathan and I were on the chef's left, the chicks were on his right, and Mom, Oldest and Middle Girls filled in the rest of the spots in between.


He was good chef, and actually spoke good English, but you know, the customers expect a high level of Oriental wackiness, so... I had the scallops and chicken, which was really good and then it was time for the catching of the shrimp. As during the rest of the meal, the chef concentrated first on the night-out girls, who were pretty game about playing, and it is a credit to our cook that he did not make any off-color remarks when the blonde on the end kept saying "I've got my mouth open as wide as it'll go! Just get it in my mouth!" Rather, he concentrated on making sure the shrimp bits hit just a liiiiitle lower than chin level, trying for the three-pointer into the cleavage. I know this, because my shrimp came in nice and high and I caught it, no problem. I know if I had worn my bustier, things would have been different.

After I left half a day's pay in the nice little sleeve, we decided to go do a little shopping for birthday clothes back up the hill at the painfully twee Summit shopping center, home of the only Saks Fifth Avenue in Alabama, along with large dollops of over-the-Mountain attitude. (Fer cryin' out loud, folks, the place used to be called New Merkle!) --Anyway, we stopped by Parisian, which is also owned by the Saks folks, and I proceeded to try to find a place to sit down, knowing that Girl Shopping was beyond my ability to maintain my sanity. I took the three other kids over to the kid's shoe department while Mom took Rebecca. Sit down, almost get to a restful state and feel a little tap--"Daddy, I gots to go pee-pee." "Really?" I knew the answer--there IS no other answer. The only real question is if we will get there in time. Some smart person put the restrooms right by the kid department, so luckily we made it with time to spare. Then Boy had to go. Then Oldest decided SHE needed to go.

Freshly unladen, we trudged back around to the shoes and sat down once more, then Mom came by and said we were decamping to the juniors clothing over across the store. "Up kids!" We had to go past the restrooms, and this time it was Middle Girl who had to go. She goes in, Mom goes in. Baby Girl goes in..."Hey! You just went five minutes ago!" Wicked grin, "Yes, I knows that, but I has to go once more!" "Well, go on, then!" Then in goes Oldest.

I give up. I just flat GIVE! UP!

It is the stuff of cliche and wry witticisms, but dadgummit there really is some sort of primal woman thing that causes all of you to wanna go to the pot together! Were I an evolutionist, I would say that this trait has come down to us from some sort of defense mechanism from when we were hunting and gathering termites and berries, so that the women would not have to go off alone to pee and possibly be eaten by a saber-toothed tiger. 'Strength in numbers' and all; and if a tiger DID manage to come by, it could be efficiently killed and skinned and a nice wrap and handbag be made from its hide, along with a really cute tiger claw necklace (accessories really make the ensemble).

Meanwhile, the proto-men would stand around in the clearing, holding the bags of dead termites and past-ripe berries and talk sports and break wind. That's what Jonathan and I did.

"You excited about your game tomorrow?"

"Yes, sir."


"What time is it?"


Wait. Wait.

"That's a neat picture."

"Yep. It's a daisy."

"Can I get a drink of water?"



As we continue this incredible train of scintillating conversation, a statuesque brunette exits the restroom in full post-Oscar party get-up--tight black slacks, cruel shoes, embroidered silk halter top, and two monuments to the art of augmentation mammoplasty. Good grief, that's a lot of effort just to go shopping. She turned and flowed down the hallway to the service desk.


"Yeah, buddy?"

::Sotto voce:: "She didn't have a bra on!"

"Yep; how 'bout that. D'ya think she mighta forgot and left it at home?"

"I don't know."

"Me neither, little friend."

Just then Reba and the rest of the gathering party came out of the restroom, and we started down the hallway, too. Reba was snickering and said, "I just saw the funniest thing--there was this girl in there with a halter top on, and as I walked up to wash my hands she reached her hand in the left side and 'Uhgh!" pushed that one up, and then, she reached over on the other side and 'Umph'ed that one up, too!"

"Yep, we saw her, too. Tell Mama what you said about her, bud." She laughed and laughed.

She and Rebecca went on to Juniors, and the rest of us found the chairs in the service department and flopped down like we were waiting for the next Greyhound. We waited and waited. Jonathan went to sleep. We waited some more, and Ashley closed her eyes and her mouth dropped open.

Catherine didn't have the decency to go to sleep, preferring instead to read each of the seven identical catalogs stacked on the shaky glass table beside our chairs. In addition to the catalogs, there was a five foot high dried stick arrangement in a tall glass jar full of colorful layers of seeds that shook and threatened to make a HUGE mess everytime the table was nudged. Did I mention who was sitting beside it? Up, down, touch table edge, get catalog, up, down, get catalog, touch tall glass vase, bounce chair, hit table. By the time the store FINALLY closed, I was exhausted from trying to keep this ugly mess of decorator crap off the floor. A couple of times there I seriously thought about just grabbing it and flinging it out toward the handbags just to get the torture over with. But, it managed to stay in one piece, and I still had at least one nerve left that wasn't frayed.

Finally the store called time and we paid the bill. What a huge, HUGE bill. That'll teach me. I'm not sure what, though. But it's hard to say anything when Mom was the one doing the picking, and it was for a sweet little daughter's birthday present. Cold old skinflint that I am, even I know better that to step over into that particular trap. We go all around the store like rats trying to get out of a maze and eventually make it to the van and load up for the trip home. Into the long line of cars heading down the hill, ready to turn to go to lovely sweet home. Wait, line moves a bit. Stops. Wait. Home, home homehomehome home. "Daddy I gots to go to th' potty agin! Really bad!"

That slight pinging sound you heard was the last nerve going away. What a funny sound they make!

We are in the far left lane. There is a service station up the hill to the right and...if...I...can...managgggge...to...wait...no one's comin...crap, they just pulled around...ahhhhhh...there's an open...dang...ahhh..."DADDY! I NEED TO GO!"..."Wait just A...Dut...Flom...Shoe...DOGGONE MINUTE! Daddy's trying his DEAD LEVEL best to GET OVER and this...BAD PERSON...in this...this...MUSTANG won't pull on down so I can get over in the lane to turn RIGHT and go up the...HILL...and take you to the FRESH...CLEAN...CHEVRONSTATIONDernit the light's green and I CAN'T GET OVER!"

We turn left and go on down the hill. ::sniff:: "Daddy, I really need to go potty." "I know, sugar, but those EVIL people didn't know that and we'll have to go right down here and try to find another place." We get to the interstate ramp and I look back and the little stump has GONE TO SLEEP! Less than five minutes after the last call, and no more than a half mile and she's off in dreamland--probably looking for the Magic Potty Forest--meaning we had a little bit of time before she found it and decided it was too good to pass up. Oh, yeah, we needed gasoline in the van, too, having used up everything in the tank except for the dribbles around the fuel pump. What a long night this has turned into.

But, we actually made it all the way to Trussville without running out of gas, or unintended whizzery. Gas, in the house, tinkle, off to bed for the kids, and time for Dad to get everything ready for soccer games the next day. Mom would have helped, except for the queasiness brought on by something she ate. It's just all some sort of Gift of the Magi type of a deal. Well, not really.

Anyway, she went on to bed, too, and I finally crawled in and set the alarm for sometime when it's still dark. I laid my big old head down and the stupid alarm clock went off. I looked at it quizzically. 6:00 am.

I rolled around tried to strangle myself with the sheets, then tried to hit my head on the headboard to knock myself back out, but neither worked so I got up and got dressed. Got Boy and Middle Girl up, go them dressed. Left, went by the store to get them some muffins and Gatorade and set out for the wilds of Pinson. Found the park with no trouble, other than the fact that we were about an hour early. Golly, that sure looked longer on the map. It was okay, though. I had forgotten what it was like to be early for something.

Finally folks started showing up and we got out onto the field. What a gorgeous day Saturday was. Clear, bright, just a bit of a chill, sky blue as...as...well, as the sky. Tiny puffs of clouds. Loudmouthed Yankee coach screaming at the kids. The Pinson team arrived in full force with about 16 kids, and we just barely had 11. Yep, we got our tails handed to us. Those kids were good, and had a couple of Hispanic kids who obviously had been playing soccer since birth.

Final score was 7-0, although we should have known something bad was going to happen when we saw the first buzzard circling off in the distance. Right at the last whistle about eight more squadroned past and joined up with the first bird. Odd. But appropriate. Jonathan didn't get to play a whole lot, and when he was out there he had to watch out for being swarmed by his own teammates going for the ball. He had fun, though.

We loaded up and went back down toward civilization, and to Rebecca's game down in Riverchase. At the very last possible moment, I decided I would run by our home park and see how Reba and Cat were doing at her game, and a lucky thing it turned out to be. We walked up (in the midst of Little Girl's team getting squashed once again) and found that Becca's game had been cancelled due to all the water from Isadore. Saved us hours of delay and many wasted miles, and made me have nice thoughts. Which meant that I needed to do penance.

Got home and noticed how incredibly productive the weeds had been. There was no use in putting it off any more. I told Reba that I guessed I better get the mower out. "Yeah, and you know the Parade of Homes is this weekend, and it really does look pretty weedy." The Parade of Homes is where the real estate sorts try to move THEIR merchandise, NOT ME! I really couldn't care less if my house looks nice for THEIR shindig!

Except, I do. I hate being the one house that looks like it's being used as a front for a meth lab.

So, out to the Large Plastic Playhouse that Is Not the Least Bit of a Storage Shed and open the door. Bird seed everywhere. Aw, CRAP! Now I know why the traps in the garage hadn't caught anything--all the mice decided to move out to the annex and have themselves a high old time and live in the bird seed bag! Little jerks. I rolled the mower out and underneath it was a big pile of grass. LITTLE JERKS built a nest in MY LAWNMOWER! I pulled the bag of seed out and sat it on the ground outside and all of a sudden--whish--one of the little varmints comes running out from under the mower. ALL RIGHT NOW! This is WAR! I turn over the mower and give it a good once over to find any more of his little varmint friends and set it back down, not finding any. Turds! I turn around to gas the mower up and--whish--ANOTHER one runs out of hiding and I'm trying to chase it and stomp on it and trip on the bag and the mower and yell at it to STOP and it doesn't and the STUPID thing runs right back into the shed DANGIT! Well, if there are any MORE in the mower, they're DEAD MEAT NOW! I primed it and pulled the cord, half expecting to hear the tell-tale high pitched sizzle and thump of victory. Nothing but the sweet sound of the Briggs and Stratton. Well, I guess that's all of the little meeses. I turn it around and start toward the front yard.


I just hung my head.

Go started making my circuit and noticed that not only had the grass gotten high, it had also gotten very wide, growing way out onto the driveway and sidewalk. I looked up and down the street, and saw that once again, I was the last person on the block to edge the yard. ::heavy sigh::

I traipse back around and get out the edger. Edge yard. What a stinking mess. Go get shovel and rake and broom and garbage can to pick up the trimmings. Not very successfully. Go get blower. After no small amount of effort, the yard is neatly trimmed and the concrete free of dead weed piles. Back to cutting the grass. Took forever. Cut empty cut empty cut empty. Get through and see the little pots of mums. Do I? I really don't want to. "Are you going to finish putting out the poor little flowers?" Oh SURE! Anthropomorphize them! "Ahhhhuhhhhhhh. Yeah. I reckon, so." "They'll appreciate it, and I'll give you a big hug!"

The things I do for semiregular female companionship.

Put up edger, mower, shovel, rake, blower, power cord. Get out post hole diggers. Get about a quarter done, "Come on kids, supper! Do you want to eat?" I look around at the pots and the lengthening shadows. "No, go ahead and feed them and I'll be in after while." And I was! And our house looks good enough to sell! Except I don't have the energy to move.

Got in, ate supper, then up to help the kids get hair dried and ear wax cleaned out and toenails clipped. Popped in Cat's favorite CD, the soundtrack from "O Brother, Where Art Thou!" and did a duet with her of "I'll Be Somewhere (Working For My Lord)" and "Man of Constant Sorrow." We're going on the road as soon as she learns to play the mandolin. All of them finally got in the bed, got my shower and remembered that Auburn was supposed to be playing. I turned on the early news and it was 10-0 in favor of Syracuse! ARRGGHHH! I almost turned on the radio to listen to it, but as I predicted I wouldn't get to see or hear it, and since I was so stinking tired I couldn't see straight, I set the clock and went to bed.

And that stupid alarm clock went off again. Up, breakfast, find out Auburn won 37-34 in THREE OVERTIMES!, church clothes, stack of Bibles, teach class, sit down on the pew and can't even make it through the Lord's Supper before Catherine is wanting to leave. Go. Out. Now. Not to potty, just to go and plunder. Finally convince her to wait decent amount of time into the last song, and she can be restrained no longer. We go back to the back and she colors in her coloring book. Church over, nice lunch at Big Dragon, home of small buffet and Yet More Breasts, see our next door neighbors and the girls' cheerleading coach from last year, and run home to change into soccer clothes ONE MORE TIME for pictures. All afternoon. One of the photographers was a nice young lady who was very sweet and looked exactly like Carrot Top. All I can say is if you're gonna look like Carrot-Top, it's better to be a girl than a guy.

Then back home and change into church clothes ONE MORE TIME and head to the building ONE MORE TIME and find a startling thing on the road to Leeds. No, no sudden blinding light and voice from heaven, but an honest to goodness dead armadillo! It used to be that the armadillo line started south of Montgomery and now it seems like it's running northward like a runaway freight train. This nasty little critter was right at the little sliver of Trussville that juts into St. Clair County. Yuck. Makes it hard for the possums, that's for sure.

Anyway, to church, tried not to sleep during the sermon, back home for soup and sammiches, into bed, and that STUPID ALARM CLOCK WENT OFF AGAIN, so I came here and typed this.

So there, now. Pardon me while I snore loudly.

[Note to self--be sure to check the way the page looks when you string together a bunch of tepanyaki-chef banter, especially if you have the text justified. Sorry for the inconvenience--]

Friday, September 27, 2002

So, how to top THAT? Great gravy, I hope I don't have to for a while. (Ref. the post I did earlier about Pyrrhic victories.) Janis Gore did relate that it could be worse, though, noting that her sister went through menopause at the same time as her sister's daughter hit puberty.

Gee, something to look forward to.

There are, I'm sure, a few of you out there who might be tut-tutting my simplistic, old-fogey, black-and-white world view. Let me just tell you that I don't live in a world of shades of gray--it's a Technicolor paint factory explosion of moral ambiguity out there--I WISH it could be nice, calm shades of gray. As it is, there's darned dangerous crap out there that's just as pretty as can be, in a bewildering multichromic array of bright shininess which just screams "Touch Me!" to my kids. And me, for that matter.

Anyway, tonight's pizza night, so life is pretty good. Tomorrow is going to be one of those long, Napoleanic overland marches starting in the wee early hours as I take Boy to his game up beyond Dixiana to the tip-top part of the county, then turn back around and take Middle Girl to her game way down south in Riverchase in Shelby County, while Reba gets to take Sledgehammer Baby to her game at the home park. Sometime in there we will all get together again, I suppose, and probably collapse in a heap and take a nap.

Isadore has done wonders for all of the near-death weedy matter around the house, and those mums that Reba got last week are still sitting in their little pots out in the flower bed, begging to be put in some decent ground instead of having all their flowery friends snicker and make fun of them. These items might get addressed sometime within the next...oh, year or so. Sometime in amongst all this we have to wash clothes and take a swipe at some of the housegrime. Auburn will be playing Syracuse, and I will more than likely not get to hear any of it until way late at night on the sports wrap-up. (Do good, Tigers!)

Sunday likewise will be full of stuff--church, lunch, then soccer photos. For all three kids. But not at the same time. Oh no, too convenient by half. All afternoon, spaced about an hour and a half apart. Then it's back on with the go-to-meeting clothes and head back for evening services, then supper with the lovely Jennifer at Ruby Tuesday. (She's getting much too popular--the last time we were in there she had three huge tables of folks who had requested she be their waitress. Yeah, I know, life's tough.)

There will be some sleep in there, I suppose, and then Monday morning will dawn brightly and I will once again return to my lovely office burrow, ready for yet another week.

Until then, have a good weekend, and see you Monday!

You betcha I’m a jerk.

I have been keeping up with Dr. Weevil’s travails with trying to wrestle the pig (i.e. his battle of wits with an operative of the Republican Party out to discredit the antiwar movement), and it has been quite entertaining in its own odd little way. I occasionally get so fed up that I will comment on the membership of the Idiot Movement in America, but after a while the barrel gets full of shot-up fish and starts leaking all over the floor and makes a big mess.

And why bother with people I don’t know, when I have my own built-in monument to the psychopathy of victimhood in the form of a twelve year old daughter. I simply don’t have the energy to expend on others when I must spend it at home, or in the car on the way to school. The only thing is, when you’re twelve, there is some hope that you will grow out of this. If you still act like this when you’re out of college and supposedly an adult, well, you’re pretty pitiful.

Anyway, as always, I made my pass through the house this morning trying to get everyone up and dressed and out of the house. Oldest Kid is always the hardest to wake up—“But I’m tiiiiiiiiired.” (Example One of the Attitude Which Must Change.) “Hey, we’re all tired, but your sisters and brother are all awake getting ready. Get up.” Some mornings are okay, some are set-piece battles. This morning was battle.

Go back—covers are over head. “Get up.” Go back—sprawled across bed. “Get up.” Go back—half dressed, reading book. “Get finished.” On and on. “Oh yeah, be sure to get your clothes out of the bathroom floor and put them in the hamper.” Stony glare. (Example Two of the Attitude Which Must Change.) “Hey, it wasn’t me that put ‘em there.”

Finally she’s dressed and I’m trying to get everyone downstairs—little ones run go kiss Mama, I give her a smooch, still no Oldest. Go back—standing in room staring at floor. “Come on, we gotta git. Go kiss Mom.” Other kids pile down stairs, start getting backpacks, picking up portable breakfast to eat in car because we’re running late. Still no Oldest.

Go back up the stairs, hear tape still playing in her room, reach top of steps and hear rustling in Baby and Middle Girls’ bedroom. “HEY, get outta there, radio off, clothes in hamper and let’s GO!” She appears from room holding arm stiffly by side. “What are you doing in there?”

“I needed to get something.”


“I was going to ask Catherine for something.”

What?!—and what you got in your hand over there?”

Ah. A folded up five. “Ineededmoneyforthebookfair-andI’mnotstealingitfromher-Iwasgoingtoaskherforit…” Whoa. Whoa. “WHOA!”

“You don’t steal money from your little…” “I’M NOT STEALING IT! I WAS GONNA ASK HER LATER!!” (Example Three of the Attitude Which Must Change.)

“Give.” I go put it back in the tall crayon bank it came out of. In the meantime, all I hear is “WHAAAAAAAAA! Ooo-HOO-hoo-hoo! AAAAAAAHHHhhhhhhhhhh! after she stormed back into her room.

“Look, it doesn’t matter if you were GOING to ask later—you ask first…and anyway, what about your money?!”

Each of the kids has a similar tall crayon bank into which go the numerous dollars and pennies from grandparents and Santa and the Tooth Fairy. Ashley has had hers for twelve years. A few years back we counted it and there was over $500 in it then. Probably close to a thousand by now.


I was just dumbfounded.

“Well, it’s too late now, we’ve got to go. Get your stuff and get those clothes put in the hamper and let’s go!”


Monday morning she had asked for money for the book fair at school. I had a ten and two ones. I gave her the ten. “That enough?” She nodded yes. First time I had heard it wasn’t enough.

“Whatever. You don’t need to take it from your sister. Clothes. Hamper.”

She continued her loud moaning ululating crying and stomped into the bathroom. I stood there at the landing, she stood in the middle of the bathroom floor. BWWWAHHHHHhoo-hoohoo-hoo…snort…AHHhhhoo-hick-hoo-hoo.


She twirled around and stomped off through out bedroom to our bathroom where the big hamper is. Reba just looked at her. Ashley threw the clothes in the hamper and turned around to come back out. “Kiss your mama.” Tiny peck and she flew past me.

Reba whispered, “What’s going on?" I filled her in and she just rolled her eyes. I gave her another smooch and headed downstairs, where the other kids were eliciting even louder screams of protest and anguished yowls by asking Ashley what was going on.

“She’s mad!” “Uh-huh. Let’s saddle up, we gotta go.” Ashley had thrown herself into the floor of the dining room to cry.

“Get UP and let’s GO!”

The other kids tumbled out of the garage to the van and Ashley followed bawling like a branded calf. I got the garbage can and rolled it to the curb. BWAAAAAAAAHaa-hoo. Went back in and got the recycle box and took it to the curb. Uhhhhhhuhhhhhuhh…snort…humhoo.

Unlocked the doors, the little kids jump in and settle into their places …sSNORT…snnsss…hoo and Oldest climbed into the front seat. We roll out of the driveway and she starts back up…

“YOU NEVER LET ME DO ANYTHING! I NEVER have any money for the things I want! And there were a three books there that I wanted and didn’t have enough MONEY! And there were three, and they were about OTHER COUNTRIES!

“Why didn’t you just ask us!?”


Oh good grief. This? This is what it’s about?

“Well, first, you don’t know what I would say without asking me; second…”

“YES. I. DO!”

“Huh-hmm. Second, we’ve been through this before about a billion times that I don’t automatically say ‘No,’ no matter what you may believe. Third, I really could not care less what other kids’ parents give them—if they were my kids, they’d get the same thing you got. Fourth, you have more things than you could ever need, and more than just about every other child in the whole world.”

That whooshing sound is the words exiting on the other side of her head as they pass through unimpeded by reality. You get the idea someone might be a little bit spoiled? Uh-huh.

“We have bills to pay, and there are three other kids in this van we have to take care of too. You know that.”


Good night a’living. It’s like reading some rant on MetaFilter. Non-sequitur? Why, that don’t matter none. Logic? Truth? Useless.



“Well, gee, no, you’re just twelve, no one expects you to have to earn money. But listen here, one more time, if you need money, you ask Mom or Dad, and you don’t go get it from your sister. And why exactly if these three books cost ten dollars apiece did you only get five out of her bank?”


Wow. That one sort of surprised me. The kids in the back let out a collective gasp, fearing that surely Big Sister was going to have the imprint of a big lumpy gold class ring across her speaker grille.

But, hey, truth is a defense to slander.

Yeah, I’m a jerk.

Because, when you’re twelve (or if you have some sort of ongoing adolescent psychosis beyond the age of about 15), anyone is a jerk who doesn’t do exactly what you want, when you want it done, because you demand it, because it’s not fair, because all the other kids do it.

Anyone is a jerk who expects you to be respectful, and patient, and follow the rules. You’re a jerk if you sit there and try to confuse the issue with facts. You’re a jerk if you can’t see how pitifully oppressed and mean you are to me, and everyone else gets to run and play and have fun. You’re a jerk when you lecture me about my responsibilities. I don’t wanna hear it! I don’t care who makes what money—I just know I don’t have any and I want it NOW. Jerk. Jerk!

“Ashley, I’m your parent, whether you like that or not. Do you really think that calling me a jerk is going to make a difference one way or the other about what YOU did? Do you think that the amount of money we spend on you is an indication of how much we love you? Do you really think calling me a jerk is going to help your case?”

Stony silence. Then…

“You gave me TWENTY DOLLARS last year, and only TEN this year—what’s it going to be next year—NOTHING?!”

“Hey, maybe so. I can’t predict the future—it might be nothing, it might be thirty. But acting this way is going to make it a lot harder on you. And if I did give you fifty, could you not just come back and say some other kid’s dad gave her a hundred?”

“WHY do you HAVE to be such A JERK!”

Ooh. Getting a little cockier now that the first one didn’t work. The kids were whispering furiously in the back about the meltdown. All of this conversation has now occurred within the length of about a half mile, from our house to the water tower.

“I just want ONE book and it cost $4.99 and I know you won’t give it to me.” Criminy. Back to that again.

“Hmm. I thought it was three at ten bucks a pop…Did you ask your mama?” Head nod yes. “And what did she say?”

“Nothing.” “When did you ask her?” Shrug.

“And when was the first time I knew anything about you not having enough money to get what you want?” More of the Smooth Sounds of Stony Silence.

“Isn’t this the first I’ve heard about it?” Jerk, always bringing up those darned jerky facts. “Have you said one word about it since Monday about it?” No.


“Alllllllllllrighty then. Now let’s go back over a few things—when should you have said something?” Jerk. “Earlier.” “Who should you have asked first?” Jerk. “You or mom.” “Do you take things without asking FIRST?” JERK. Jerk, jerk, jerk. Clenched teeth, “No.” “Do you ask to take money from your sisters or brother?” Jerk. “No.”

The rest of the short ride to school was relatively quiet, aside from a few liquid sniffles and various comments from the Peanut Gallery. We finally get to the band room and the boiler starts getting stoked again. “Can I have some money?” Well, I say this for her, she certainly is the persistent sort.

We stop at the curb. “CAN I?” Bwa-… Bwa-… Waah... “Hop out. Have a good day.” Uuuuuuuughwwwhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaa!!!!!

Oh good heavens above and earth below.

“Ashley, we are at school, and I really don’t think you want your friends to see you acting like THIS.” “Please let me have some money!” Jerk. “Well, as I recall, you said some awfully hurtful and mean-spirited things on the way over here, and you don’t seem too concerned about that.”

“I’m SORRY that I didn’t ask first…” Whoa, yet again lil’ horsey. “No, now, that’s not what I’m talking about. I seem to recall that you felt you should call me a jerk, not once, but TWICE, and not only that but say it right here in front of a backseat full of little children who look up to you as an example. I think someone is due an apology.” Jerk.

“I’m sorry I called you a jerk.”

“Okay. Now tell them that you’re sorry for setting a bad example.”

“I’m sorry I set a bad example.”

Laying it on a bit thick there, aren’t we Jerk Boy? Yep. Sure am.

“Okay. Now apologize to Catherine for taking her money…” “I DIDN’T STEAL IT! I WAS GOING TO ASK…” “…for getting into her bank and not asking her first.”

“I’m sorry I got into your bank. Will you forgive me?” Little moptop nods yes.

“Now. That’s settled. But I want you to remember some things. You don’t get things by pitching fits and acting the fool. You show some respect for other people and their things. You understand that no matter how little you may think you have, you’ve been blessed with so much more than so many people in this world that you have absolutely no reason to complain or backtalk. I don’t care one bit about how much money other people have or the things they have—don’t expect me and your mom to try to keep up with the rich folks in this world. We can’t do it. We just can’t. But, we will always make sure you have what you need. You get treated just the same as the other kids in this family, we don’t play favorites, and no matter how many or how few things your mama and I give you, we still love you just as much as we love them. Here are five dollar bills. I worked hard to get them, and one day you’ll learn how dear that came. But for now, I want you to wipe your face off, get out of this van, do your school work and do your best. Okay?”

She wiped her face on a MacDonald’s napkin we had in the floorboard. She gathered her backpack and clarinet case and purse. “okay.” She stepped off onto the sidewalk and turned to close the door.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too, sweetie, have a good day. See you tonight.”

Thursday, September 26, 2002

You know, I try hard. I put a lot of effort into this meager pile of pixels, and FINALLY it pays off. Because at least for today, Possumblog is the NUMBER ONE GOOGLE SEARCH RESULT for kuwait Perfume Scent collection cat.

I know many of you will never reach this pinnacle, this zenith, this mountaintop. All I can say is keep the faith, keep working, and may your cat have the perfume of one thousand fragrant odors.

(The Possumblog Pet Store and Refinery carries a wide variety of cat, dog, and marsupial care products, including a wonderful line of signature scents for your special friend. Come on by today, and if you mention this post, you will receive a $1 discount on my famous Eau Possum cologne.)

German TV Network Says Saddam Has Three Doubles

--Reported to be Wild Turkey 101 and Coke

--Guy seen on old episode of Seinfeld not counted in total

--No comment from Wrigley's, makers of Doublemint gum

--Stocky, swarthy, beady-eyed beret wearers look for increase in profiling incidents. Lewinsky says she's not worried.


(Some Pig!)

Adventures in Headline Writing: Two killed by West Alabama student charged with DUI

Dead Under the Influence?

(I shouldn't make light of the story--the two people in question were killed in a car wreck by an intoxicated student--it was the student who was charged, though, not the victims)

Ouch. Just put my $150 architect's registration fee in the mailbox. BUT, it was made all better by using one of these Duke Kahanamoku stamps! Biggest darned stamps I've ever seen--I guess they were trying to match the size of some of Duke's old longboards.

Third order of business is this grim, sad story from the vicious antipossumite antipodeans in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand: Possum kill budget may double
Hawke's Bay Regional Council may have to pour another $2.5 million, almost doubling the budget, in to its possum eradication programme next year because of a rapid increase in infected beef herds.

Agriquality veterinarian Garth Pannett of Masterton, said the outbreak was building up to being the worst in 10 years and of the 30 new infected herds since May 2001, 24 were to have been infected by a Tb vector, possum.

There are clusters of affected properties in the Puketitiri-Waitara Valley area, Kereru, a small cluster on the Napier-Taihape Road and several properties in both Matahorua and Esk Valley.

The properties generally tended to be along the ranges or in the foothills.

Mr Pannett said the cause of the outbreak was unexplained. In some cases infected infected stock had been born and bred on the properties and the only explanation was that the outbreaks were linked to feral vectors like possums. [...]
Isn't this always the way it is...poor pretty cows get sick, so who do we blame? POSSUMS! Look, just because possums carry tuberculosis doesn't mean that these oppressed marsupials are to blame--maybe it was the COWS who did it themselves, just so they could blame it on the picked-on "invasive species"! Ever think of that?! Or maybe there's not really any link at all, and it's just another in a long line of specieist attempts to wipe out an entire culture! And if they really are sick, maybe the cows should look at some of the root causes, like standing out in the rain, and pooping on the grass they eat. And what are they complaining about in the first place--they're goners ANYWAY!

(2.5 mill?! That sure would buy an awful lot of shotgun shells. Or just run over them, it's free.)

UPDATE: I am such a dimwit. I forgot to mention that this story was kindly sent to me by way of Mac "All Snakeheads, All the Time" Thomason over at WarLiberal. Sorry Mac!

Now, the next order of business is to give a shout out to Niagara Falls Barrel Rider, Euell Gibbons groupie, and potential Bulwer-Lytton nominee Peg Britton yonder in Kansas, who not only has a beautiful site called Kansas Prairie but also has a Kansas Prairie blog upon which she graciously said very, very nice things about stupid old Possumblog and added it to her very short blogroll along with Cut On The Bias, Daily Pundit, Instapundit, Little Green Footballs, and Rantburg.

Quite frankly, I believe she has added Possumblog to act as an algebraic counterweight to the intellectual power of the other folks in the list. Notice that Possumblog has the inverse power, insight, skill, talent, and computer savvy of the other five blogs COMBINED!

Thanks, Peg!

Isadore? Heck no, it ain't no door, it's a dadgummed FLOOD!

Golly, that sure is a lot of water. This morning was spend trying to tame three girlheads kinked up from the humidity--it was like trying to groom an SOS pad. Then there is getting to work in this mess. Driving is an adventure in Birmingham anyway (the land where turn signals are used only during the safety check at Express Oil Change), but then when you add in liquid fun it just goes to hell.

The afternoons are worse than the mornings--anyone out in the wee hours is doing his'r'her best to get to work, but the afternoons are full of everyone trying to get home, plus every else blundering through on the way somewhere else or making a run to the grocery store. But no matter how bad the local drivers are, there are always the insaniacs from metro Atlanta. For some reason, they all seem to tailgate, and they burn their foglights all the time. Yesterday I was at the tail of a slow moving clot of sheep and a Fulton Countian (I think) comes flying up on my bumper and has the nerve to flash her lights. Let's see, I'm basically parked, there's a mile of traffic in front of me, and there's a semi full of chickens beside me--yeah, I really need to get outta YOUR way! I guess the Olympics must have convinced them that they are skilled, European drivers. HEY! Back off and douse those flamethrowers! Amazing what a little tap on the brakes can accomplish. She finally found a way to get a couple of cars ahead and the entire rest of the way into town it was like watching Christmas lights twinkle as she tailgated THAT car and stepped on the brake pedal every fifty feet. Moron.

Anyway, I promised you something yesterday, and never let it be said that I don't follow through. First, our gastronomic journey began with jellied eel, and now we go on to the wonders of souse meat! (Courtesy of the good folks at All Recipes). Here's just a sample of the recipe:
1. Place tongues, pig's ears, pig's feet, and onions in a large stock pot; add water to cover. Season with salt, pepper, whole peppercorns, sage, cloves, bay leaves, pickling spice, garlic powder and vinegar. Bring to a boil, and cook until meat is cooked, about 2 1/2 hours.

2. Remove meat; set aside to cool. Strain broth, and measure 8 cups into another pot. Return broth to stove, and let simmer.

3. Peel skin from ears, leaving the ear as intact as possible. Place the ears aside. Remove gristle and fat from pig's feet, and combine with ear trimmings. Cut off large portion of tongue and set aside. Trim loose meat from remainder of tongue, and combine with other trimmings. Put trimmings through a coarse meat grinder, then stir into broth; continue to simmer.
Now, I'm not gonna give EVERYTHING away! For the crucial Steps 4,5,and 6, you simply MUST click on the link! Mmmm-MM! Nothing like souse meat, except maybe for...

Whatever it is that resides in the cranium of Tom Daschle. The old saw about not watching laws or souse meat being made certainly has some truth to it, eh? His "impassioned" codswollop had that certain "doth protest too much" ring to it which tells me that Tom is all out of sorts--mad that Dub has been more successful at playing politics than he, and doggone it that's just not right! If anyone's gonna pander and play politics, it danged well better be the Democrats a'doing it! (I will say that the vocal intonation of Burgess Meredith as Mickey Goldwill in Rocky was very touching and had me singing Eye of the Tiger. Beautiful performance, very lifelike.)

You know, there was another Democratic Senator who once said something about getting out of the kitchen if it gets too hot, Tom, and there's the other old bromide about what goes around, comes around, so before you start pumping out big, hot, moist tears of pity and anguish about playing politics (in WASHINGTON of all places, for pity's sake) remember it was you and your buds who were so adamant that you not be cut out of the souse-making process. SO, please don't slobber all over the mike when someone insults you because you haven't started skinning the ears and cleaning the gristle off the pig's feet. Get to work and do something. Or get out of the way.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002


I am at the end of my rope up Feces Creek without a paddle betwixt a rock and a hard place, and as I sit here up to my butt in alligators, big globs of the creek keep splashing up hitting this handy three-speed fan I just happened to have in my leaky rowboat, and then there is the sword of Damocles somehow managing to hang over my head [insert mental image of Moe Howard looking skyward as Symona Boniface clutches her ample bosom], meanwhile, the shores are filled with a thousand brushfires which have now lit my candle at both ends.

And my Internet connection is acting like it's trying to pass a kidney stone. And boy-howdy is it raining.

SO, all my previous wild-eyed optimism about being able to pump out some really high quality words and letters and sentences will yet again be dashed by the reality of actually having a job. Maybe tomorrow, for tomorrow is another day. (Hey, that sounds pretty good! I oughta write me a book!)

Before I go, though, I did want to assist a poor wayfarer who fell into the mess that is Possumblog by Googling jellied eel picture. You might want to try this link, courtesy of The Giant British Cookbook, which not only has an absolutely ravishing photograph, but also has a simply scrumptious recipe! Just the first couple of lines set my taste buds a'tingling!
Cut off a generous one third of the messiest parts of the eels. Set aside while you make the fish mousse. Put the trimmings you cut away into a liquidiser with the egg whites and reduce to a purée.

Transfer the purée to a bowl set over ice. In another bowl, whip the cream until thick but not stiff, then work it slowly into the eel purée. Add the nutmeg (and seasoning to taste). [...]
Mmmm-MM! Ain't nothin' like Mom's home cooked jellied eel!

Anyway, glad to be of help for today. Check back in Thursday and we'll make us some souse meat!

No posts for the morning due to having to don my regulatory excess hat. I know all two of you are disappointed, but there will be enough hammered poo to go around later on in the day.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Gore Iraq Speech Could Galvanize Anti-War Forces

...Level of statesmanship said to rival that of famous British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

Lunch with My Friend Jeff was nice. (And I mean that in a very masculine way, so shut up.)

It's been a couple of months, so there was a lot of magazines to swap--he takes Car and Driver, I take Automobile and AutoWeek and we get together over lunch every so often and exchange papers and general chit-chat. We're getting to be like Statler and Waldorf on the Muppet Show, and our conversation has begun to take on a much more old fartish tone--kidney stones (his); GERD (his); mitral valve prolapse (his wife's); ugliness (mine); urinary incontinence (our kids'--to be our own one day); stupidity (everyone else's); Jeri Ryan (a girl walked into Wall Street Deli where we were eating and I told him it was Jeri Ryan who was still in town after going to theSidewalk Moving Picture Festival--he didn't believe me though); what's wrong with these kids today (everything, just like when we were kids); weed killer; lobsters; co-workers; my lack of a belt today; Franklinton, Louisiana; liberals; daycare; what the world needs is a Dodge Viper with a 528 CID Street Hemi; our sitcom.

You know, important stuff of the world.

That was a good lunch.


It's a FISH!

It's a LIBERAL (sorta)!


Mac Thomason's contribution to the Buffyblogburst with "Captain Euro Goes to Sunnydale to Meet Buffy, The Unilateralist Cowperson and other Persons who Thrash Captain Euro and Damage the Self Esteem of Oppressed Undead Sorts!"

Axis of Weevil Minister of Toasty Warm Underthings Sue Lizano is STILL recovering from her stint impersonating a rawhide chew, and has solicited assistance for contributions to her blog whilst her bad arm mends and the other is used to take handsful of pretty medicine (and do other unmentionable things).

If you have ever wanted to get on the blogwagon, but don't quite know where to start, hop over to her office and send her some words of wisdom. She promises she will give you the bloomers off her own bottom if you do--or, something like that. As for my own contribution, I have tried to figure out a worthy something to send, but I have a hard enough time coming up with crap for my own stupid blog without further polluting the crik by piping my effluent elsewhere.

HOWEVER, being that Miss Sue is all out of kilter, and that she is a member in good standing of the Alabama Blog Writers Consortium of Pure Evil, and that today is cloudy with a chance of evening thunderstorms, and I have about a five minute window here in which to come up with something, and since...aw, heck...here:

Water, sugar, salt, vegetables, (onions, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers), spices, acetic acid, pepper, starch, hydrolyzed corn protein, tumeric, sodium benoate, sodium bisulfite and sulfur dioxide.

Yes, that's right! The world famous recipe for Lizano Salsa, made in Belen, Costa Rica!

We here at Possumblog are grateful for this opportunity to assist one in need.

Gore Denounces Bush's Iraq Efforts

Upon awakening the audience, each gave Gore high marks for artistic merit, with an extra 10th added for the dismount.
[...] "After Sept. 11, we had enormous sympathy, goodwill and support around the world," Gore said. "We've squandered that, and in one year we've replaced that with fear, anxiety and uncertainty, not at what the terrorists are going to do but at what we are going to do." [...]
'In my odd little stilted, lisping, world we would have merely continued to writhe pitifully upon the bloody ground and beg for more sympathy and tried to make people like us. Not that it would have mattered, because the people who hate us will hate us even if we were ground up into paste, but did I mention that I really won the election? Lockbox! Risky scheme! See, I still got it.'
[...] Gore said war with Iraq could lead to the creation of legions of enemies angry and fearful about U.S. domination and also prompt a short-term power vacuum that could increase the danger of chemical and biological attacks. [...]
Yep, much better to just go with the legion of angry enemies we already have who are fearful of U.S. domination, and let them know that we love them and understand why they hate us and all convert to the Religion of Idiocy and sing nice pretty songs together and hold hands and hug. All the mean people in the world would blink and wake up wondering what all the fuss was about, and we would all chuckle together. And children would be able to sit under Al's spreading branches and listen to the birds flitting about in his leaves, as squirrels chase each other in and out of the hollows of his trunk. Awww, what a pretty, pretty world!

I have occasionally used the phrase 'one more such victory and I shall be undone,' or other paraphrased versions, and today the Straight Dope has a nice, succinct recap on the origin of the term "Pyrrhic victory."

(By the way, Cato's entire quote about Carthage is "Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse Delendam," not "Carthago delenda est," or "delenda est Carthago." Not that I know anything about Latin--I've never even been to Latin America.)

I posted something about this last week, but it looks like Toyota is no longer interested in a site in Alabama, depite Donny Baby's insistence that we're still in the running:
[...] "Part of the reason we've done so well in recruiting the automotive industry is we've been assertive in being sure we were in the right place at the right time," he said. "We are going to pursue this project with every capability and the full amount of energy we can. We will be in the hunt as long as possible."

But economic development officials said site consultants and Toyota officials are focusing on three sites around Memphis and have made covert visits there in recent weeks. Company officials are not believed to have paid a similar visit to a site in Jackson County.

Believed to be topping Toyota's list are sites near Marion, Ark.; Como, Miss.; and Jackson, Tenn.

Siegelman said Alabama isn't out of the race.

"You haven't heard the last from Dr. Toyoda in Alabama, I don't believe," Siegelman said, referring to Shoichiro Toyoda, Toyota's honorary chairman and member of the its founding family. (The family chose a different spelling for the company name.)

"We're OK," he added. "All of these projects are tough and highly competitive."

However, the governor also expressed a hint of doubt. "You only have to go as far back as Nissan to remember we don't win them all," Siegelman said.

Nissan chose Canton, Miss., over a site in Opelika in 2000 for its $930 million truck plant. [...]
As I said last week, one of the even better reasons we have done well in this crazy business is the ability of the Development Office folks and our governor to KEEP THEIR BIG YAPS SHUT.

It is worth noting that Dapper Don has backed away a bit now, and is at least hinting that we might not get this one. Maybe we could have a carmaker lottery, eh Pappy?

Cool story by Anne Ruisi of The Birmingham News, part of which is about the kids at the high school in my home town of Trussville learning about World War I:
[...] in Rodney Basenburg's classroom at Hewitt-Trussville High School, history comes alive when the teacher bunkers students on the floor between rows of desks and paints a gripping narrative of trench warfare. The students, like some American doughboys in 1917-1918, can't get out of the trench, even when they are misted with water, simulating a mustard gas attack.

The experience is part of an optional enrichment program called "History Alive," [Martha] Bouyer and Basenbrug said, which sparks students' interest and their intellect.

"It gets gory sometimes, but they don't forget trench warfare," Basenburg said.

"For history to make sense, you've got to make a connection for the students to today," Bouyer said. [...]
Much longer article--good read. I've gone to my kid's school a couple of times dressed up in my 18th century duds and equipment and food, and it has never failed to stir their interest; not only in the blood and guts aspect of the Revolution, but in the whole colonial time period.

Britain: Iraq Tried to Buy Uranium

Saddam says "Hey, we were just trying to make our own version of cinnabar-colored Fiesta Ware!"

On the other hand, the manager of Iraq Baby Milks Factory #19 stated that this was merely an attempt to make glow-in-the-dark baby formula.

Dadgummit, I walked out of the house this morning without my belt. Last night I was hanging up my freshly laundered shirts in the armoire and the belt got shoved back on the rack, and then this morning I was apparently interrupted in the middle of my dressing routine to either brush someone's hair or to referee a fight over a Barbie doll. I kept thinking something was wrong, and now I know what it was.

For those of us boys who wear Husky sizes, this can be very annoying--I'm not really worried about my trousers dropping off as they are sufficiently snug all over, but there is the shameful tell-tale white waistband that keeps rolling over. With the trusty belt in place, this is often disguised, but without makes it necessary to blouse out the bottom of my shirt to conceal it. Which just makes me look sorta slobby. I even thought about running by Wal-Mart this morning, but didn't want to be late for work. ::sigh:: And today of all days, when I was scheduled to have lunch with My Friend Jeff, who will be downtown today for some sort of something or other.

Maybe I can find some rope or twine or maybe some strapping tape...

Almost forgot, but last night was Baby Girl's kindergarten open house. She was so proud--being the youngest has meant she has gotten to see everyone else bring home papers and homework and crafts, and she has been busting a seam to be in Big School. She has done very well, and we got to see her house-of-cutout-paper-shapes, and her paper elephant, and her paper word tree, and her purple paper puppy, and her class book, and her styrofoam cup dalmation. And her journal. Now THAT was interesting! Lots of pictures of her and her sisters and her brother and her mommy and her daddy, and gratefully nothing to indicate the frenetic oddity of our home life. (I guess it's normal to her.)

With four kids, after the first couple, all of the first words and first teeth and first steps and first days of school get all mushed together, and it's a bit sad to me. It's always fun for me to read Lileks when he notices the things his little girl picks up on--being an older parent gives you a much greater sense of wonder when you see a kid learning something new, and having only one means you get to see it all. I always wonder what I've missed in the rush to get their hair washed, or get their papers signed, or get them into bed. When did she learn that up and down meant 6 o'clock? When did she figure out that birds eat worms? I taught her to tie her shoes, but when did she learn to operate the VCR? When exactly was it that she learned the difference between telling the truth, and telling a lie? When did she understand that when the power goes off that we need to put in a new battery in the house? That water comes from a pipe in the ground into the house, and that water comes from the big water tower, and that the water in the tower comes from up out of the ground? That the moon is far away?

I don't know.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Well, now, this is just pitiful: Kmart Starts Web Site--For Well-Wishers Only
[...] Fed up with the anti-Kmart commentary filling Web sites and newspapers, the discount chain store operator struggling to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy has set up a new Web site -- for good news only.

Kmartforever.com, billed as a "gathering place for all those interested in supporting Kmart," launched with little fanfare in late August and so far boasts 300 subscribers and 7,000 visitors.

Subscribers can post uplifting or just plain unusual messages -- although they are filtered for profanity or mean-spiritedness, Kmart spokesman Dave Karraker said.

So far, 24 messages have been posted. That's a far cry from the 7,171 comments posted, as of Monday, on an independent site dedicated to disparaging the retailer.

"There are a lot of bashers out there," Karraker said, referring to the proliferation of anti-Kmart Web postings. "We're quite frank with the idea that this is a positive site. This is for people who truly want to see the company succeed." [...]
All 24 of them.

UPDATE--As of the morning of the 24th, there are now a whopping 64 messages! Way to go, K-Mart shoppers!

I noted with interest that the woman who's been all over the news for assaulting her child is reputed to be part of the loose group of folks known as the Irish Travellers. The Travellers tend to be itinerant laborers who manage to maintain a relatively close-knit community despite being semi-nomadic and widely dispersed.

Believe it or not, there is a lot of information about the Travellers on the Internet, a big part of it devoted to attempting to dispel the bad reputation the Travellers have gained by (depending on your viewpoint) a) being unfairly accused of larceny and confidence schemes due to racism and bigotry, b) being unfairly accused of a variety of criminal activities due to people claiming to be Travellers and trading upon their good name, c) being unfairly accused as a whole of grifting due to the actions of a tiny minority of Travellers who have besmirched the good name of honest, hard-working Travellers, d) being quite fairly accused of tolerating or participating in illegal activity based upon the evidence, despite the yowls of protest that such accusations are stereotyping of the worst sort.


In general, around Alabama the Travellers tend to be in the home repair 'business,' a field which tends to be ripe for con men of all stripes and colors, not just Travellers. If you are anticipating doing home repair, it might be worth your time to check out this Better Business Bureau article or this article from the Federal Trade Commission dealing with the best way to avoid a costly mistake, or this little online test from the FTC about home repair scams.

Not that everyone who comes by offering you a good deal on repairs is a crook. Heaven forbid! But don't let anyone glader or byaig from ye, either.

Booklet Helps Frustrated Parents Get Kids to Sleep

Former Vice-President Al Gore says he is appreciative that his book Earth in the Balance is so useful to American families.

For any of you daddies out there with kids and shooting irons, a wonderful story from Quana Jones about her first time. Er, shooting.
[...] Next morning, I arose and realized that moving my arm was kinda difficult. No problem, it was probably from shooting the gun. It was a little stiff. I walked into the kitchen in my pajamas, my mother said 'Good morning, dear' and stopped short. Eyeballs popped out. "WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?" she hollered.

I replied with an alert, "Huh?"

"WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?" she bellowed, her voice rising in hysteria.

"Heck, ah dunno." I headed to the bathroom for a look, in the meantime, my mother started yelling my Dad's name and rushing through the house looking for him.

I got to the bathroom mirror, slid my pajama top over a little and my eyes popped out, too. My whole shoulder was a deep, bloody purple. I looked like a battered child. But you know, it still didn't really hurt...it just looked awful. I wiggled my fingers around a little, raised my arm...yah, that's a little sore, but its nothing to cry over. I mashed on the bruises a little...ouch, yup, don't wanna do that again.

My mother, by this time, had located my father and was chasing him through the house beating on him with a dishtowel (probably the only thing handy she could find).

"WHAT (whap!) DID (whap!) YOU (whap!) DO (whap! whap!) TO (whap!) MY (whap!) CHILD (whap! whap!)" she yelled.

My father, completely taken off guard, was dodging her and dancing around the kitchen, "What? what? We fired the gun, what IS the matter with you?!"

"SHE'S PURPLE!" my mother wailed. She was winding up for another dishtowel whap when I reappeared in the kitchen. Mom stopped to catch her breath.

My dad's eyes popped out. "Oh my gawd," he screeched, "Mah baby! NOW I understand why you were whapping me. Here! Whap me again!"[...]

One year ago today, on the heels of the attack on New York City, Brookwood, Alabama and surrounding communities suffered their own loss in two explosions of the Jim Walter - Brookwood #5 mine.

Thirteen men died--twelve were men who rushed into the mine shaft to free trapped workers--and three men were injured.

May those who gave their lives always be remembered, and may God protect the men who go back down into the earth each day.

Ol' Fred Reed reminisces about working the pumps along the 301, way back when:
[...] Strange things happened. Others were said to have happened. A tall skinny senior we called Gopher worked shift at Gus’s. Gopher was a bright but odd country kid with a perpetually puzzled expression. You had a feeling he wasn’t always sure where he was. Being immensely tall and wearing a Norfolk and Western cap, he looked like a lighthouse disguised as a railroad engineer.

One day (I was told, and hope it is true) a woman pulled up to the island in a Corvair—a car, now extinct, that was shaped like a bar of soap and low to the ground. The car was as short as Gopher was tall. From altitude Gopher asked, “Can I help you, Ma’am?

“Do you have a rest room?”

The distance was too great. Gopher thought she had said, “Whisk broom,” and responded, “No, Ma’am, but we could blow it out for you with the air hose.” In the resulting turmoil, Gopher had no idea why she was yelling at him.

The roads were a course in humanity. We picked up a jack-leg sociology that, later, years of thumbing the continent would verify. The better the car, the worse the people in it. Owners of Cadillacs were awful snots, but people in old pickups would go out of their way for you. That sounds too cute, but it’s true. Cadillacs didn’t impress us anyway. There was just something wrong with those people. Now if they’d had a huge Chrysler hemi with pistons like buckets and cross-bolted bearing journals…. [...]

Good Morning!

What's that strange whirring sound? Why, it's none other than Harley Earl, spinning in his vault at about 8,000 RPM, that's what! Only got to see the last part of the Emmy Awards last night, but enough to be assaulted with some greasy, fedora-clad shmoo trying to convince me that he was Harley Earl and that he would actually be caught (even dead) within 50 feet of a Buick Rendezvous, much less that he would claim that it would represent his vision of the future! I have not seen these particular ads before, and hope I don't have to see them again. I have posted before about how the Cadillac "Break Through" ad campaign with the spot using the '59 Caddy is dumb, and about how GM seems incapable of appealing to the people who actually remember when they made desireable cars, and how they seem so incredibly inept when mining their own design past (i.e. the new "Impala" has four big ugly round tailights, which to those-who-know means "cheap-ass Biscayne," and all the Buick show cars have rediscovered Ventiports, yet the designers seem not to know that three per side says "cheap-ass Special"), and now these piles of crap advertisements.

The one with all the reporters was especially horrid, in that despite the fact that men used to wear hats, they also had the common sense to take them off INDOORS. Ah, but hats have that certain post-ironic iconography about them, I suppose. Anyway, if Buick really wanted to mine the past, why not skip Earl completely and go for Billy Mitchell, whose sublime '63 Riviera is a certified milestone and really set the tone for the whole Buick line during the '60s and '70s.

I looked around a bit this morning for something to link to, and found this nice rant on the subject here at Autoextremist.com, where this whole campaign is dissected into tiny chunks, and in fact echoes exactly my own 'spinning-in-his-grave comment' about Earl:
Buick, GM, McCann-Erickson Detroit. The new "Spirit Of American Style" advertising campaign for Buick is such a disappointment that we don't know where to begin. First of all, being ex-advertising creatives, it pains us to have to have to be critical of an ad agency that is obviously trying so desperately to "move the needle" and create something - anything - that will: 1. Establish a distinctive presence and image for the Buick brand that will allow it to stand out from the rest of the pack, and 2. Capture some of the magic that once was such a glorious chapter in GM's history and put it to work on behalf of new and future Buick products. We heartily applaud the cojones it took for McCann to get this campaign through the GM system, and we applaud the creative vision to use Harley Earl in the ads, but that's where our praise has to stop. Harley Earl was a giant in this town and a larger-than-life character who literally forged GM's design leadership with his bare hands. Earl not only created the whole art of Design in Detroit and made it an integral part of the automobile business, he was one of the main reasons GM broke away from the pack in the '50s and established itself as the leader of the industry. And, as if to add an exclamation point to his remarkable career, Earl's star pupil Bill Mitchell continued his legacy and kept GM at the front for another 20 years after him (Rant #102). But the key thing to remember about Harley Earl is that although he did some magnificent Buick show cars like the Y-Job and the LeSabre, he was not linked to the Buick brand more so than to any other GM nameplates. Far from it, as a matter of fact. Most historians would argue that he is more famous for the development of the original Corvette than any other GM car. We could get into some executional quibbles of this new campaign too - like the fact that the authentic GM historical footage is far more compelling than any actor playing the Harley Earl role could be (we find the use of the actor to be insulting to the legacy of Earl more than anything else). And why, oh, why do Buick executives insist on stuffing Tiger Woods into a spot where he has no connection to what's going on whatsoever and no business being in the spot at all? Ladies and gentlemen, please get over the fact that you've committed a ton of money to this superstar golfer and feel the need to "use him" for no good reason. Either craft a separate mini-campaign for him or just give it a rest altogether, because what you're doing now just makes you look foolish. And one more thing - the fact that the the sensational LaCrosse Concept is in the glossy print insert that goes with the television - a car that GM couldn't see fit to build - is just one more indication of the total confusion generated by this new campaign. If anything, this new divisional ad campaign for Buick is woefully misguided and a waste of a golden opportunity. It could have been a spectacular corporate image campaign for General Motors and GM design - a "statement" campaign that would feature some of GM's best concept cars of the most recent major auto shows, coupled with hints of some of its visionary production and concept cars to come. It could have been an elegant image campaign that would have provided a wonderful juxtaposition to the frenetic (but highly effective) corporate retail "overdrive" spots that have been dominating the airwaves for almost a year now. But it was not to be. In the end, we're left with one particularly offensive image of this campaign that made our skin crawl: Harley Earl's signature gray fedora is a running ingredient in all of these new Buick ads, and one print ad goes so far as to have it draped on the left front fender of a Rendezvous - as if Harley Earl's legacy had a hand in its design. The Rendezvous? Harley Earl would take one look at that cobbled-up SUV and puke. We have to believe Harley is surely spinning in his grave right about now...
Amen. (Read on down for their take on stupid Saturn, and about GM spending big on ads--as opposed to spending a few hundred extra on content for their vehicles, which would in turn actually go some toward closing the quality gap with every other stinking car on the planet)

Oh, yeah, the Emmy Awards...Conan did very well. Hated Larry King. Glad Band of Brothers won (even though we don't have cable and I've never seen it, it was still great to see that bunch of old fellows in the remote banquet room get some much deserved recognition). So very glad that Brad Pitt shaved and took those stupid beads outta his beard. I HATE RAYMOND! (Not really--I was just saying that to be shocking. I don't necessarily love him, but I like him a lot. Patricia Heaton on the other hand...)

Anyway, the rest of the weekend was spent building our ark. It rained and rained, then came a big ol' cloud and rained some more. 5-7 inches around the Birmingham metro area over the course of about three days.

Big surprise of the weekend was Little Boy's soccer team WON 11-1, and Middle Girl's team LOST 4-0! Both played in the rain, but Son's game was mostly a steady downpour, which they really enjoyed but made it hard on us old farts (of course, some of the spectators where various moms and teenaged sisters who just happened to be wearing tee-shirts, which managed to get wet, so that was kinda okay). They played Moody (a town next door to Trussville, the name of which does not describe the attitude of its fair citizens, who were incredibly upbeat the entire game) who had a large percentage of girls on the team (including a little girl in Jonathan's Sunday school class--"Yes Daddy, I saw her and she pushed be down!"--Ah, young love) but at this age there's not much physical benefit for the guys or handicap for the girls. Son managed to block a ball from the goal and verrrrrry nearly scored a goal. Good show for Boy and team mates.

ON the other hand, Rebecca's team played with so little vim that I thought they were asleep. No attack, no kicking, just sort of a slow stand-about in the rain. They played Mountain Brook, and I so wanted to be able to win, just out of sheer class envy, but it was not to be. I guess they're lucky the Brookies only got 4 points--they took a bunch of shots that we managed to block. Next week maybe they will do a bit better. And maybe it won't come a flood!

Teachers meeting at church that afternoon was very nice. Out of about 20 teachers, I had exactly THREE show up! Of course, I had two back out of teaching for the upcoming quarter who left messages FRIDAY AFTERNOON, so I couldn't very well expect them to be there, now could I? I go back and forth trying to figure if I should keep having these--in the end, I figure I'll keep having them just so people won't have an excuse when they don't know where their material is, or where the glue is, or the code for the copier, or who to call when they are sick. So there! Nyaaah! ::sticks out tongue in mature fashion:: Luckily, our material is pretty well set so really as long as they show up for class on time, there's not much effort involved. Of course, getting them to show up on time...

The rest of Saturday was spent house cleaning, which was no fun. Sunday was the normal stuff, church, lunch, church, supper, kids to bed, Emmys. Which brings us back full circle to where this started. So there!

Friday, September 20, 2002

Aaaaaaggggggghhhhh! Make it stop!

Just got out of a meeting in which I find I now have to do ANOTHER stinkin' PowerPoint presentation similar to the digicrap I had to do a couple of weeks ago. ::heavy sigh:: Well, at least it is blessedly close to the weekend, which will consist of Baby Girl soccer, Boy soccer, and Middle Girl soccer. Thank heavens they are all playing at home, and at different times. We got their schedules the other day and went through making a matrix of times, dates, and young'uns and luckily there is only one week which will require that Mom or Dad be rapidly cloned to allow one or the other to be in two different places simultaneously. I think we're going to handle this by letting one of the kids ride with a friend who lives in the neighborhood, rather than the painful and costly cloning procedure. (Although I have tried to convince my wife that she should allow herself to be the one duplicated. I think she almost bought it until she realized I was suggesting it for the most purely selfish and carnal of reasons. Dang it.)

After all that soccer stuff, sometime in there I've got to go have a teacher's meeting at church, and another time in there is supposedly some time for housecleaning and laundry. And in there somewhere is an intense desire to sleep for about 24 hours. And sometime in there will probably be a child trying to roller skate down the stairs. (Although Tiny Girl tearfully promised never to do it again after the first time, I believe that she still thinks that she could do this. Refer back a few days to my post about her running down the hill at the soccer park.)

One of the regular readers of this gomswaddle asked how we managed to do all this stuff. I really don't know, but were I to hazard a guess I would say it's mostly through an intense disregard for our mental sanity. The fence between comedy and the asylum is very weak. Not to mention those big areas where there IS no fence and there is frequent wandering to and fro across the property line. Luckily, the children take it all in stride, and have come to expect things from Poor Father such as "Not ANOTHER word! You hear me!? Well say 'Yes, sir!' then!" They really ARE good kids, and they are diligently saving their pennies in order to one day be able to put me in a very nice place with a floor drain and soft, squishy walls.

Until then, or until Monday, whichever comes first, I bid you all have a happy weekend!

From Axis of Weevil Tarheel Ambassador and Minister of Humor Marc Velazquez, a singularly horrid cartoon pun from the Artchives of Reverend Fun.

Thank you, Marc!

The Oddness that is Possumblog (and Google, too)

A recent visitor found the nasty, furry mess that is Possumblog via this interesting search request:


Few things here...

First--Welcome! Please feel free to have a seat on the couch. I have some cheese curls in the pantry if you want something to snack on. Of course, there are probably some on the couch there, too, so you know, whatever.

Second--Please don't shout!

Third--Anyone who is so desirous of nubile Cypriot companionship as to search all the way to result #40, and then to actually click on it even though it is something called "Possumblog," is obviously in serious need of assistance.

Allow me to help--I would NOT suggest that you contact the Nicosia Police Department.

Well, that's about the extent of my ability to help. Thanks for dropping by! Be sure and let me know how things go!

Fred First Suffers a Bout of Group Think
[...] I see their mouths moving and all I hear is "blahblahblahblah motion on that proposal blahblahblahblah so moves that blahblahblah". And I suddenly realize that my eyes are crossing, there is a fine thread of drool out the corner of my mouth, and I haven't any idea where I am anymore.
Whew! At least now I know what I have.

I wonder if it's supposed be continual...

Microsoft Warns Of Serious Flaw Affecting All Windows Users

Company says flaw is program called "Windows".

Building a classless society, one classless idiot at a time...

Yep, episode number Ell Aye Aye in the ongoing exposure of Dick Cohen's hollow-patedness by none other than Charles Austin. And a wonderful link to the Eephus Pitch! All good, as usual for any member of the Axis of Weevil:
[...] And so, Richard’s true envy is at last revealed. It isn’t about class after all, but about the fact that someone has something he doesn’t, and he’d rather drag them down than raise himself up to satisfy his utopian ideal of equality of outcome. Then again, maybe it is all about class since Richard doesn’t have any.
And here I always thought he was part of the vaunted "chattering class"!

A very rare Lileks 'Oops!'--or I could just be missing something.

In today's Bleat, which you should read every day, and reread over the weekends, Mr. Lileks waxes rhapsodic about the graphic design of Fanstasia and The Wizard of Oz, comparing their striking Moderne-ism to that of Rolie Polie Olie, which he likens to a "Raymond Lowry blueprint."

Now I could be wrong about this, but I think he was searching for the "E" key on the Mac and stumbled across the "R"--there IS a Raymond Lowry, who is an English cartoonist, but I believe Gnat's Dad was thinking more along the lines of Raymond Loewy, one of the world's most influential designers and one who shaped much of the familar objects of the American commercial landscape. He designed the trademarked Coke Bottle, the Studebaker Avanti, the Postal Service Eagle logo (and the round top streetcorner mail box) and a host of other everyday products. If you think the Michael Graves stuff at Target is the ultimate in snazzy hip design, click over to the link above and follow all of the links you find there.

Hieroglyphics Disclose Unknown War
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - A bitter war between rival Maya city-states may have set the stage for the collapse of that once-great civilization, say scientists who translated recently found hieroglyphics on stone stairs in an ancient pyramid in Guatemala.

A hurricane last summer began exposing the carvings at a site known as Dos Pilas, and the story they tell is forcing scholars to rewrite history.

What was once thought to be a series of separate local conflicts in the seventh and eighth centuries turns out to have been the equivalent of a "world war" for the Maya, with battle lines formed by vassal states controlled by two superpowers, Arthur Demarest, of Vanderbilt University's Institute of Mesoamerican Archaeology, said Wednesday.[...]
EU representatives condemned the United States for using unknown time-travel technologies to go back in time and act like reckless cowboys. They say that the EU should be given access to the time travel machine in order to conduct a fact-finding tour of the area and speak to those most hurt by it in order to examine the root causes for the violence. In other matters, Belgium declared itself to be the sole judicial authority within the time-transport realm, and vowed to bring any Mayan war criminals to justice, while the EU passed a series of taxes upon the use of the time-travel portal along with a comprehensive package of workplace and wage regulations for anyone using it.

In the U.S., Congressional Democrats demanded to know when this technology was developed and why President Bush had committed the military without first consulting and receiving approval from Congress. Former President Bill Clinton stated that he knew nothing about the time-travel technology, but did allow that "those Mayan chicks were pretty hot."

For those who think Uncle Ho's Paradise is a model of a forward-thinking developing country: Vietnam May Punish Movie Actor
By DAVID THURBER, Associated Press Writer

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Vietnamese officials debated Friday whether the Vietnamese actor who starred with Mel Gibson in "We Were Soldiers" is a national traitor and should be punished.

Don Duong is accused of distorting the history and image of Vietnamese soldiers. Authorities in his hometown of Ho Chi Minh City have recommended he be fined and barred from acting and from leaving the country for five years.

Officials from the Ministry of Culture and Information were meeting Friday to consider the proposal, and will submit a recommendation to the ministry for a final decision, ministry Cinematic Department Director Nguyen Phuc Thanh said.

Vietnam's communist government has led a strident campaign against "We Were Soldiers" in the country's state-controlled media. [...]
Hey, maybe Alec Baldwin can more there!

I sure am glad I didn't post my prediction of last night's Auburn/Mississippi State game! Earlier this week I figured it would be decided by less than a field goal, and probably not in Auburn's favor. Then I really got worried after listening to the absolutely craptactular first quarter.

But, I got up this morning and found out the final was 42-14! Unfortunately, there has always been a bit of bad blood betwixt Tuberville and Sherrill, and there is a sizable contigent of folks this morning who are upset that Auburn ran a fake field goal so late in the game (which was stopped short, but due to a MSU penalty, resulted in a first down and another touchdown for AU). Running up the score like that seems just so, so...Spurrier. But, the old days of diddling around with fourth-stringers to allow the other team to save face are gone. If you can score, you score. Part of this might be the old part of the BCS formula that factored in margin-of-victory; even though that's out this year. Part of this, I think, comes from the folks who do the polls, who even though the BCS doesn't count the margin anymore, they sure let it influence their rankings. And with all of the huge amounts being spent on sports wagering, there is probably another part in there that says if you slack off, you could be in someone's pocket.

In any event, it was an impressive show, especially considering the fact that Auburn has had to play four games in the last 18 days. Next will be the Orangemen of Syracuse, who should lose mainly because their cheerleading squad doesn't have photo gallery I can link to.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Okay, now, back from lunch and ready to roll yet again with more tales of rip-roaring suburban intrigue.

For some reason, I have a feeling this one is gonna be a long, involved mess, simply because that's the way I have planned it.

For those of you stumbling in here for the first time searching for photographs of Norah O'Donnell in her dressing gown, or various uses for egg beaters and Vaseline, or where to find the best pair of size 66 bib overalls, you are temporarily out of luck. For those who came looking for really stupid stuff, please grab a comfortable chair and lean back for a lengthy discourse which will result in your bursting out laughing exactly none. Smiling, smirking, or grinning likewise will be in short supply. We will be able to offer much in the way of perplexed glances and occasional tinnitus. LEAVE WHILE YOU STILL CAN!

SO, Reba and I rode together over to the infamous place of my last employ, and the site of our mortgage broker person. I was much more nervous about going back to the old place and possibly running into someone unpleasant I used to work with than anything doing with borrowing vast sums of money from mean, sucky usaryists. Honest to goodness, I had sweaty palms and heart palpitations walking across the crosswalk, simply from being near the spot that birthed Bitter Boy.

The company I used to work for moved into this place about a year after I went to work there. We had been in a small dark office near downtown, and this was a new suburban spec office building and we all thought we had gone to the promised land. Huge glass windows all around the drafting room, nice little cubicles, real restrooms that had not once been a converted meat locker, and the presence of other human beings. At the time it housed the headquarters for HealthSouth, along with a variety of other insurance and credit boiler-room type businesses, all of which had amazing quantities of real, live, women. Which for a bunch of goofball redneck architects used to a dim, windowless office devoid of any other life was like dying and going to Vegas.

Every day we took over the snack bar and ogled every double-X chromosome that came through the door. At least we were subtle. Never once did we scream, or stare for more than three minutes at a time (per person). It was interesting times, and the whole building was like some sort of odd little neighborhood with people moving in and moving out, along with a cast of regular guest stars. My Friend Jeff and I even developed an entire sitcom based upon our stupid office and all of the people in the building, from the opening montage and theme music to fully wrought episodes for an entire season. (Should there be any production people reading this, we are still shopping it, so let us know if you would like a pitch.) Long before there was "Ugly Naked Guy" on Friends, we had given nicknames to an entire ensemble cast of characters, both men and women, who happened to pass our observation stations.

There were three main groups of characters--Highly Paid Middle Management Professional Women, Low Wage Party Girls, and Dumb Guys--all entertaining in their own way, and each with highly evolved dossiers of imagined proclivities and interests. (And no, we never took the time to actually meet or talk to any of these people--that would have taken all the fun out of it!)

Now, if you want, you can skip this part--it is matched in detail only by its sheer idiocy...'kay, you were warned:

First, the HPMMPW were invariably good looking and paid three times what any three of us made combined. Most famous were...

The Goddess
-- The most beautiful woman ever made. A tall, well-constructed brunette woman combining the various features of Jane Russell, Linda Carter, and Frank Cho's Cavewoman. It was said that if she ever looked at you, you would turn to stone. It was possible to feel this odd effect, even when not in her direct line of sight. Always wore very chaste power suit (this was the late-80s after all) but was once seen away from office wearing jeans. Observer required overnight hospitalization.

The Blonde Goddess -- The second most beautiful woman ever made. Some thought her a rival to THE Goddess, but her smaller stature and less impressive ability to cloud the mind destined her for second place status. Drove various high dollar vehicles, had gigantic diamond upon finger. Coworker once stated that he had never seen a ring big enough to, well..., act as his physical rival. "Yeah, Bud, but that Mercedes out there in the parking deck has sure got you beat."

There was also the Girl With the Ever Too Closely Set Eyes -- Very pretty brunette, but way down on the list due to interpupilary distance being at least three millimeters closer than optimal. Such a shame.

Then there were the LWPGs, whose population ebbed and flowed as the various teetering-on-the-brink-of-indictment telephone solicitation places moved out. There were a bunch, and unlike the HPM--whatever, they were not all easy upon the eye:

Poodle Haired Girl -- Again, a late-80s thing. Also known as the Crotch Watcher, which was so demeaning. I just HATE being treated like on object...

Girl With the Bow in Her Hair -- Yet again, a late-'80s deal. Due to length of name, was shortened down to Bow Head, then was relengthened to Girl With the Bone in Her Head and finally Bone Head. She was real cute.

Linebacker Woman -- 5'-8", 260 beefy pounds, broad shoulders, beer gut, no butt, fried peroxide hair styled as per the Rosanne Rosannadanna Book of Hairdos, perpetual pig-eyed scowl.

Swarthy Square Dance Woman -- Short, with heavy black unibrow, large nose, exaggerated hourglass figure made less attractive by the constant wardrobe of frilly country/western wear, complete with flouncy petticoats.

Porno Girl -- Often wore thin small tank tops, ragged jeans. Farrah Fawcett inspired winged hair (a fashion no-no in the late-80s, unless you made porno films). Enjoyed the attention she received from goombah architect boys, but suffered terribly while performing her patented slinky walk-by when one of her ratty tennis shoes stuck to the floor and caused her to trip slightly.

Eraserhead -- Frightening, tall, pencil-thin woman with Grace Jonesian brush cut hair.

Uggh! -- Large woman who each day would go out to eat lunch in her little blue Ford Ranger pickup at precisely 11:30. Named thus due to habit of opening the door and "Uggh!" heaving herself into the driver's seat, causing the overburdened springs of said truck to oscillate wildly.

JiggleTwitch -- Very cute young lady whose manner of locomotion caused an alluring harmonic imbalance of forces which made the below-waist pieces jiggle and the upper torso parts twitch.

JuggleSlush -- The Antijiggletwitch, made of large quantities of some viscous substance which, when confronted with movement, slowly shifted side-to-side and up-and-down causing intense need for Dramamine.

Of course, not to be outdone were the Dumb Guys...

Gomez -- Mustachioed building maintenance guy so-named due to uncanny resemblance to John Astin as the leering Gomez Addams. Had a red S-10 festooned with various homemade aerodynamic aids, including rear wing made of wood crown molding and bed rails crafted of stainless steel handicapped toilet grab bars.

Hairy Nun Guy -- Greasy, hirsute fireplug of a kid, with lots of gold chains and hair gel. Worked as a runner for some company, prone to intense bouts of strutting, preening, and braggadocio. Got his name one Halloween when he came as a Catholic priest ready to perform an exorcism.

Blind Guy -- Handicapped man who worked in some company's mailroom so that someone could say they were helping out and pretend that they were on L.A. Law, looked a bit like Vince Lombardi, except with two-inch-thick glasses. Had much difficulty walking. Scary because he DROVE HIMSELF TO WORK EVERY DAY! Saw him several times, heading up the speedway that is I-459, going about 30, weaving across two lanes. Had a bumper sticker that said "Pray the Rosary." Amen to that.

Equilibrium Guy -- Oh man, where to start...Somewhat dim fellow trying to break into lower management, affected leather suspenders (okay, one more time, it was the late-'80s) which tended to hold his rumpled, pleated pants about two inches higher than comfort would dictate. Also wore very large, flat shoes which if painted red could have belonged to Bozo. Both things were killers when it comes to projecting a serious demeanor, but when combined with his peculiar way of walking--up slightly on his toes, with each footfall appearing to slip slightly as he made his way forward--made it look as if his suspenders were pulling him ever so slightly off the ground. Only a slight upward nudge and we were sure he would float right on off. He was perfectly balanced between earth and sky, and were he a perfomer in Cirque du Soliel, he would have played to rousing applause. As it was, he provided enjoyment for only a few.

Life was pretty good there for several years, until at some point we had a short-lived downturn in business and the honchos decided we had not bought them enough new cars or trips to Europe. Things changed and we got all sorts of new rules and overseers, and I got enough material to write a whole shelf of books on management and marketing mistakes. Business, of course, still drifted away and we continued to bear the brunt of the capricious ineptitude of those in charge, who became increasingly spiteful and power-hungry little martinets. The last two years there built up a lot of resentment, and the brief flashes you see of my angry side became pretty commonplace, which as I mentioned gave me the heroic tag of Bitter Boy.

I finally found another job and was able to give the place the ol' AMF. Thankfully all my friends were able to get out not long after, including My Friend Jeff, and for about a year there I wrote a monthly newletter called "What They Done Was, They Quit!" (taken from the way our runner talked, which was to say stuff, and sort run on his worrrrrds, and keep talkinnnn', and not really say anythinnnnnng, and say the same thinnnnng, over and over aginnnnnn.) I guess after a year, I had managed to pump out enough bile and venom to get rid of most of the bitterness, so the newletter sort of died away.

Going back to the building yesterday conjured up all those old memories.

One in particular was when my boss took me in his office after he found out I was quitting, ostensibly to go over the projects I was working on at the time. One of our straw boss, prison trusty "vice-presidents" was in the room, and after a moment or two of general talk, my boss narrowed his eyes and leaned way back, clasped his hands behind his head and said, "Yeah, I remember when you first interviewed here. You talked about how your mama and daddy were just hard-working folks, and that you were just sort of a common, honest, everyday guy, too. Just give you a chance and you'd work hard, too." I suppose the old bastard thought I might be getting uppity thinking I could leave, or that I should enjoy getting his shit wiped on me. The resentment in his voice was palpable. The little veep squirmed uncomfortably in his chair.

I leaned forward and looked across the table and stared at the man who gave me my first job as an architect. "Have I ever done anything to disprove that?"

The color left his face and he brought his arms back down. "Uh. Well. No. No, you haven't."

"Alright then, let's go over the rest of this stuff."

Pitiful old man. How I hated going back into that building.

It looks older now, of course--it's been seven years since I last was there. The snack bar is closed. HealthSouth moved out. The carpet has been changed (several times, I'm sure), there are a few more cracks in the walls, the parking lot was half full. I didn't see anyone I knew; in fact, didn't see anyone at all except a couple of guys riding the elevator up with us. We signed papers for a while, and got all that money stuff taken care of and left.

I finally managed to exhale after we got back in the van.

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