Thursday, April 29, 2010

Smarty Pants

I'm in the midst right now of reading A.J. Jacobs' book "The Know-It-All", an account of his endeavor to read the entire encyclopedia (several dozen pages of it can be viewed here). He mentions the fact that a high IQ is strongly correlated with being able to stand on one foot. I probably wouldn't be bringing this up were it not for the fact that I am able to do this.

The bummer is that there is really only one opportunity I regularly get in which to show this off; not then, you dirty devils. It occurs when one of my shoes is untied. Instead of having to bend down on the ground, like most people, I, while still standing, cross the leg whose shoe is untied across my other leg and string my moccasin up properly.

It'd be cool, if at singles mixers, there was a part at the beginning where everyone was told to stand on one foot. Ladies and gents looking for a highly intelligent lifetime partner could really cut to the chase.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Philosophical Ponderings on Local Vegetation

It's an interesting sight on my block. Some folks have perfectly manicured grass, just grass with no other vegetation. Others have a shitload of dandelions amongst the green stuff. One of my favorite childhood memories is smelling one in my backyard one afternoon.

The sun was bright and the lion was the color of that sun.

I was surprised recently to hear that dandelions are considered a weed. The next door neighbor regularly sprays for such "weeds", killing them without hesitation. It all seems a bit racist to me. Both grass and lions are living things, but only the grass is considered worthy of life? There's no question I have a little Buddhist in me, well, more than a little, hopefully.

You can imagine my distress earlier this week on learning that my wife and a friend had set out to kill the dandelions and other weeds we have in the front yard. I told her not to do this again, but that if she must, to spare the dozens that we have in the back yard (I felt like Oscar Schindler trying to save as many Jews as he possibly could, but knowing that for many others, it was much too late).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bathroom Humor

I went to a concert in town a couple nights ago (I'll give more details on it at a later date) and was amused, when in the civic center's bathroom, to see a small TV above each urinal. It mainly showed advertisements (the kind of thing you see before movies start), but they posted the telly's too high to comfortably view them while eliminating. A man and his son were there at the same time as I and noted this. I can't stand being a captive to advertising, so lowered my head as I let loose.

I thought of how cool it would be if someone took control of the TV's and played porn on it. All those guys that already had their hands on their junk; would they be tempted to stroke it a bit? Or how about if they just played waterfalls as a way to help those who sometimes have problems getting it started?

They certainly let people who had to go number 2 in the lurch; that, by rights, is where a TV would most be appreciated. Course, that would also make it much easier for guys to go to town if someone ever did show porn on the monitors.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Sun King

As the weather continues to warm in Minnesota, a greater percentage of people sporting tans can be found, but are they authentic?

Anyone who does a spray tan is faking it. Those who go to a tanning salon are imposters. Even people who lay out in the sun are poseurs of a kind; they're trying too hard. No, I subscribe to the view that a tan should be obtained by doing things like walking outside, playing with the dog, and mowing the lawn. In this way, I'm not trying to get a tan, it's simply a happy side effect of going out for fresh air (see Deepak Chopra's Law of Least Effort). I'm a tad concerned about getting skin cancer, but can't help but love the way a tan brings out my eyes and de-emphasizes my sizable proboscis.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Here I Go Again has an article online about The 5 Most Socially Awkward Situations Everyone Deals With. I thought it might be fun to go through the list with me chiming in on the times I personally experienced them:

5. Pooping In Public - the closest I've come to this was late at night a few years ago when my wife had to use the bathroom badly at the exact same time I did (we have just one toilet in the house). I tried to wait for her to finish, but it was no good. I had to evacuate. I headed to the kitchen and squatted over the 4-foot wastebasket. Sweet release.

4. Ill-Timed Erections - I remember being in 7th grade Geography class one afternoon and getting a chubby for no reason. I shuddered to think what I'd do if the teacher asked me to pick out a country on the map up front while this was happening...feign a charley horse?

3. Accidental Pissings - I don't have a recollection of this happening to me.

2. Being Propositioned By Another Man - in college, one evening at the computer lab, I met a guy and his girlfriend. A week later, he contacted me and asked if I wanted to get together. I said, “Sure” and we went to a pizza joint. We talked a great deal, got to know each other better. He said sometimes he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be with his girlfriend for the long haul. I said this was normal. He gradually brought up the subject of being attracted to males at times. After our dinner, we headed to my place for a short time. We talked some more and he stated that he’d like to experiment with a man one day to see if that was his actual preference. He strongly implied that he’d like me to be the one, but I said I was hetero and that was that.

(excerpted from a prior post which can be found here)

1. Parental Sexuality - One afternoon, me and a couple of my siblings were lying on the steps that led up to my parents bedroom. They were engaged in something that sounded...interesting. I got the money shot I was looking for when my dad came out of the bedroom, stiff as a board and with a smile on his face, and headed to the bathroom. He had no idea.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Laugh It Up, Fuzzball

There are some days in which I don't laugh at all, so it felt great to get two big ones yesterday afternoon. The first was from a book I'm reading called "The Guinea Pig Diaries". In one of its chapters, a journalist is helping his attractive nanny find a worthy mate online. They get a number of "interesting" replies to her ad, most notably one that opens with this:

"When I was a child, I witnessed a clown jump to his death from a seven-story building. It was the only time a clown has made me laugh."

Shortly thereafter, I read an article about an outburst Tiger Woods had on the golf course last weekend. The piece didn't say exactly what he said, so I headed over to YouTube and this is what I found:

I found it a bit ironic that he said "Goddammit!" as Buddhists (he is a practicing Buddhist) don't necessarily believe in God; they have no creation myth. He might as well have said "Jesse-James-Dammit!" Lord knows he wouldn't be the first.

BTW, the title of this post is a reference to a comment Han Solo made to Chewbacca in "The Empire Strikes Back".

Monday, April 12, 2010

Three Decades Ago

This week, the cover story in Entertainment Weekly is about the 30th anniversary of "The Empire Strikes Back", the second tale in the Star Wars saga.

I was 9 years old that summer and not at all familiar with the Star Wars movies; my parents didn't take us to the original in 1977. Around about that time, however, we went to "The Bad News Bears", but my father, not liking the crude language, walked us out and then talked to the manager about the lack of movies suitable for young children.

It was thanks to a fellow Jehovah's Witness that I would up being witness to one of the most transformative movies of my life. His name was Jim Dembraski and one evening, he was visiting with my dad and the conversation turned to a movie that had quite impressed him. He believed that I, and my father, for that matter, would very much enjoy going to the film. As he described the movie, I looked at my dad and said that it sounded like something worth checking out.

By this time, "Empire" was in about its 7th week of release; back then, movies played much longer than they typically do now. It felt great to be going to a movie with just my mom and dad; keep in mind that I was the oldest of five. My mother sat on my left, my dad on my right.

I don't need to tell you that the movie floored me, millions of others experienced the same that summer. Visions of other worlds (a snow planet, a city in the clouds), Yoda philosophizing on a jungle planet, heroes (Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2, 3PO) that were out of this world, an inspiring operatic music score, the evil Darth Vader who had no qualms about killing his own men, the fight against an oppressive empire, not to mention brilliant (for their time) special effects. It really was totally unlike anything I had ever seen before.

I can remember at one point when Luke was being trained by Yoda, I asked my father what the time was. The light came on on his watch and it showed 8:20. I was a bit surprised that the movie didn't have a clear-cut ending, that it ended in a cliffhanger, but that didn't take away the joy I experienced during those two hours.

I sought to collect everything I could that would remind me of the movie. JCPenney had packs of Empire trading cards for 25 cents. I bought a few packs with my allowance and watched my collection grow. One evening, just before going to bed, knowing that my mom was going to Penneys that night, I gave her 50 cents and asked her to get me two packs. One of the happiest memories of my childhood was waking up the next morning and seeing 4 packs next to my bed;

My mom said that was all that was left in the box at the store and in case they didn't have any more boxes, she wanted me to have the last 4 packs. A number of years ago, I bought 4 unopened packs of the series from eBay and have one displayed on the wall next to our entertainment center. When gazing up at it, I can't help but feel some of the childhood joy I was so fortunately privy to back then.

Some of you might get a chuckle out of this audio recording from 1983: it's me quizzing one of my brothers about the Star Wars saga.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

November 2, 1999 - Journal entry

On Friday, I went to Winona to see Arthur and he did not disappoint. We ate at Taco John's where I saw one of my college professors, Donald Salyards. I had two econ classes with him. His favorite saying was, "And here's the kicker..." He wore a personalized apron that said "Dr Don" on it when he was at the chalkboard so as not to get his clothes dirty. I also saw Alvin Smothers; my brothers used to know him.

In the early 90's, one of my younger siblings was outside and saw Alvin on his bike. He knew that Alvin had, shall we see, sexually explicit videos and was interested in having a peek. He barked down the street, "Do some business!!" a number of times. Good fortune smiled upon him as he was able to obtain a vid from Mr. Smothers and watched it...and then watched it again.

One afternoon, he brought the TV into his bedroom to show the vid to a couple of friends in complete privacy (all were pre-pubescent). I listened behind the door and chuckled as one of the friends, partway into the vid, said "Look at her nipples".

After a few months, he destroyed the tape. I think he felt guilty about having it. Like the One Ring, it was corrupting his very soul.

On a related note, Arthur asked me to take him to the adult book and video store that opened in Winona about two weeks ago. I wasn't surprised to see that the videos far outnumbered the books. I told him about the private booths in the back; I had read about them in the paper. I gave him a dollar so that he had five bucks to watch a half hour of any video he wanted.

He chose an "orgy" tape where 20 women waited in line to have sex with one big man. It made me wonder how many women I'd be able to make it through, probably just one. I stepped outside as he went to town. I returned 20 minutes later to see his face beet red. He didn't want to tell his wife about the indiscretion, but was compelled to do so when, much to his chagrin, she wanted to have sex shortly after I dropped him off.

Friday, April 02, 2010


While in the midst of reading Jon Krakauer's classic "Into Thin Air" (about an ill-fated trip to Mount Everest), I'm reminded of how much I appreciate being at home. It was good going to Florida for my honeymoon more than a decade ago, seeing Las Vegas for the first time in 2005, and meeting my favorite author in Oregon at the end of 2008, but I'm at my most peaceful and relaxed when lying in the bedroom peeling my banana (obligatory acknowledgement of my recent, some would say outrageous, last post).

It must be a grand thing, to be able to truly feel at home out in the world. Me, I'd rather have my favorite foods and the shitter just a few feet away. For entertainment, there's the telly, my home computer, and the latest books I've borrowed from the library. For love, there's the dog and cat. For other things, there's the lady of the house.

Too much time at home can lead to a sort of ennui, however. I felt this a bit in January when I had some time off of work. You would think I'd enjoy being able to sleep in, not having to get up early to rush off to work, but after a time, the days start to run together and an overabundance of navel gazing is bound to occur. Also, there's the feeling that one is not really making a difference in the world, not really reaching out to others in a meaningful enough way.

Talking to people online is a joy, but after a while, one begins to wonder if there really are people at the other end, if one is not just imagining that there are sentient beings behind all those words and emoticons. The human touch is a grand thing in the scheme of life, but it is totally unutilized while online though many work to bridge this gap by cybering or in the common parlance, "Spreading the Mayo".

In sum, we all wish to get close to others and it has become my preference to go back and forth, spending some time in solitude and then a period in which I conversate with others, connecting with them, reassuring them, if necessary, that all problems are transitory before heading back to my cave.