April 30, 2009

Messing With Sasquatch

One of my "secret" pleasures is following the highly dubious field of cryptozoology.  I say "secret" because any time I mention it in any serious context, people hoot at me in derision and toss buckets of chicken blood in my face, making me feel like that poor girl in "Carrie".  Cryptozoology is basically the science of hearing a twig snap in the woods after dark or having hallucinations while driving drunk, and then making up monsters to explain it.

According to top minds in the field, there are many types of crypto-thingies running around amongst us:  Mothman, Lizard Man, The Bray Road Beast, Chupucabra, Thunderbird (not to be confused with the wine my wife always got wasted on in college) and my favorite, Bigfoot, a.k.a. sasquatch, yeti, skunk ape, and Russell Crowe.  When I think of Bigfoot, two images come to mind.  The first is the traditional, which closely resembles my late Uncle Enoch before he had his coffee and brandy in the morning; and the second, more fanciful, Abominable Snowman, who was immortalized in the beloved Rankin-Bass cartoon Christmas classic "Rudolf Saves Kwanzaa".

My favorite site to follow the comings and goings of Bigfoot is the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO).  People write in from all over the United States and yes, even Canada to tell about their encounters with Bigfeet (I guess that's the plural of Bigfoot, I don't know).  It's a common belief that Bigfoot holes up only in the Northwest, but not true!  According to these people, they are everywhere!  Phoenix, Minneapolis, the Bronx and even near my friend Sue's house at the Parker River Wildlife Preserve, where prissy conservationist's wait breathlessly every Spring for some stupid bird named the "Plover" to return and build nests on the ground so that the whole preserve is off limits to visitors even though they pay taxes to keep the damned place from turning into a landfill, and the birds walk around like they own the fucking joint until they get bored and decide to fly off somewhere else and inconvenience the local populace there.

Anyway, the people who write in are of two, very different types. One type is a rugged he-man or he-woman who has hunted, trapped, fished, camped all of his/her life and knows more than anyone else in the universe about the outdoors and would never ever mistake a squirrel or a hoot-owl for anything other than what it really was .... BIGFOOT!  The other type is some poor schlub who is driving to work or some other shit place after dark and sees something run in front of his car and figures it must be Bigfoot, even though it was the size of a raccoon.  These two types are easily differentiated by merely glancing at their posts.  The he-man/woman types post in ALL CAPS, indicating anger, indignation and deep psychological problems.  Plus, they must not have done very well in spelling while in elementary school.  One thing both groups have in common is their need to explain that they were NOT drinking when they had their Bigfoot encounter.  There on the site to keep everything honest and above-board, is the BFRO investigator, who personally talks to everyone who writes in and adds his comments to the end of each post, which normally consists of re-telling the same story in a slightly more coherent fashion.  They also verify that, in their opinion, the poster was telling the absolute God's honest truth, and wasn't drunk at all.

As is the case with all legitimate sciences, there are skeptics.  They bleat "If these things hang around in the woods, why doesn't someone shoot one once in a while, being that hundreds of hunters are accidentally killed each year in tragic mistaken identity shooting incidents." And "These things must get old and die, how come no one ever finds a Bigfoot body?"  There's an obvious answer to these critic's misguided questions.  Bigfeet are smart. They know enough not to wear bright orange vests and never disguise themselves as cows. They are also incredibly efficient at funeral services and burials.

Whether or not you choose to believe in the Bigfoot phenomena is of course, up to you.  Just please don't hoot at me when I bring it up.

P.S.  I ripped off the name of this post from that beef jerky commercial on TV. You know, the one with the aging frat-boys who punk out this Sasquatch, who then gets really pissed and chases after them?  That commercial cracks me up every time. 

I Let My Best Girl Go

Jan decided it was time to drive herself to school this morning.  She broke her pedal foot about a month ago when she did a half-gainer into a row of folding chairs at school.  But, it is mending nicely and when we visited Dr. Vora last week, he said she could go without her clunko boot if she chose.  So, we went to Rogan's to get her a pair of "sturdy" shoes to wear in the interim period until her foot is completely healed.  They look like something a lumberjack would wear on a night on the town and she appears completely hippie-esque when she wears a skirt, but they'll do for the time being.

I'll miss our conversations on the way to and from school, which went generally like this:

Me:  "Some statement or observation that is highly intelligent."
Jan:  "What?"
Me:  "God damn it Jan, you need to go to an audiologist."
Jan:  "Well you need to see a speech therapist.  You sound like you have a mouthful of marbles."
Me:  "Wooden ear."
Jan:  "Eat shit."

So, I watched her drive off in the rain this morning, back to normal. It felt like the first day I dropped Sean off at pre-school.  "Sigh."

But we'll always have April.

April 29, 2009

Spring Sing

Last night, I attended the Spring Sing concert at Jan's school.  Actually, Jan was required to stay for the concert, and since I have to pick her up anyway because her broken pedal foot is still mending, I attended by default.  One of the kindergarten teachers was out sick with the swine flu or some shit like that, so Jan supervised her class.  This consists of greeting the kids and their parents in the classroom, telling the parents to scram, leading the kids down the hall to the gym while telling them to shut up and not make so much noise, herding them into the gym and up on the stage while telling them to shut up and not make so much noise, getting them to stand in the right order while telling them to shut up and not make so much noise, and telling them to shut up and not make so much noise while the parents mill around the gym and the Principal shouts at them on the feedback prone microphone to sit down so she can get the damned thing started so she can get home before midnight already.

Jan does this with ease.  She can do any job in that school, including mowing the grounds and unclogging poop choked toilets if it comes down to it.  So, the singing part of the concert is only 20 minutes long because kindergarten kids have the combined attention span of one gnat.  And the songs were the usual fare; Bingo, 5 Little Kittens, etc. Jan told me that last year, the music teacher had them sing Beatles songs.  I am not making this up.  Now, it may just be me, but I would pay serious cash to hear a bunch of five year olds sing "Back in the USSR" in concert.

Anyway, they run out of songs and the music teacher thanks the Principal and all of the teachers involved, mispronouncing only half of their names, which is pretty good.  The kids are on this bleacher thing with bars all around it so they don't fall off and kill themselves, so there is only one entry/exit point.  The teachers are trying to get the kids to go out through this opening, but they all start milling around and end up crawling through the bars or jumping off the back of the bleachers instead.  No one will go through the exit.  It looks like a bunch of penned-up baby cows trying to avoid the slaughter house. Jan told me later that one of the kids had peed his/her pants and there was a big puddle of piss there.

Guess I can't blame them for picking an alternate route.

April 28, 2009

Swine Flu Survival Guide

If you're like me, you're probably thinking to yourself "Hey, what is this Swine Flu shit and what does it mean to me?"  And let's face it, you're getting so many minute-to-minute updates from every conceivable media source telling you that we're all doomed, that you'd rather just go hide in that bomb shelter that your Dad built 10 feet below ground in the back yard in 1958, when the Soviets were banging their shoes on tables and threatening to blow up bombs that would turn us into evil zombies like the ones who gave Charlton Heston so much unrighteous shit in "The Omega Man".

So, you need some straight talk answers on how to navigate the coming flu apocalypse, which can be found in the totally non-fiction novel "The Stand".  Now, let me give you a little heads-up. This weighty tome is about 5 thousand pages long, but if you utilize the techniques outlined in the very popular Evelyn Woods speed reading course, you can breeze through the thing in no time.  In "The Stand" survival guide, you will learn how the pandemic started (secret government agency creating genetically engineered sneezing pigs), what to do about it (become "good" and move to Boulder, CO or become "evil" and move to Las Vegas, NV) and how to resolve it (destroy Las Vegas by nuclear detonation).

Yes, I know.  You're thinking "Gosh, that's kind of drastic for a stupid case of the flu, isn't it?"  Perhaps, but extreme times call for mega-extreme actions.

Either that our you can do what everyone did 20 years ago and just ignore it until it goes away on its own.

Your choice.

I Never Bothered To Figure This Out

I was looking through one of the on-line magazines that I follow and found an article on turn-of-the-20th century medical students being photographed doing weird shit with cadavers. This picture really cracked me up for some reason.

Then I started thinking about how you manage to get all the bones in a skeleton to stay together once all of the muscles and tendons and all of that other gooey junk is gone.  I mean, do you nail the bones together?  Crazy glue?  Screws?  Maybe screws because that's what they use to hold bones together on undead people.  Like Theresa, the woman who cuts my hair.  She screwed up her knee and the doctor put it back together again with screws, but he must not have torqued them down very well, because they came unscrewed and started popping through her skin.  Gross.

So next time I'm in a high school biology classroom, or in a doctor's office, or even a TV studio where they're setting up to do a comedy sketch about a doctor's office, I'll have to check that out.

Because I like to learn at least one new thing a day.

April 27, 2009

Monday Doesn't Always Suck

Being in-between jobs (okay, out of work), I've taken over running the house while Jan teaches school.  One of my duties is to clean house.  I generally do this on Monday morning, and although it only takes a couple of hours,  it's my least favorite activity.  Me being me, I start dreading it the night before.

This morning, I took Jan to work.  I've been dropping her off and picking her up for a little over a month now because she broke her gas pedal foot and she's been wearing this humongous boot contraption. On the way home, I dropped off one of her skirts at the dry cleaners for an event she has coming up.

We stopped using the dry cleaners a couple of years back to save some money, so I hadn't seen the lady/owner for at least that long.  So I walked in and rang the desk bell and she came skipping up front.  She looked at me and the first thing she said was "Oh, you lost so much weight!  You look very handsome now!"  And me being me, I thought "gee, I must have looked like shit the last time she saw me."  But I have lost about 70 pounds (spending most of 2007 recovering from hepatitis will do that to you), and she made me feel really good.

When I got home I flew through the Monday clean with a grin on my face.

Oh, Dry Cleaning Lady, if I weren't married........

April 25, 2009

Late Night Thoughts (A Series)

Why does a classical music station schedule a 4 hour folk music program on a Saturday night, and then devote a half-hour of that show to songs by the Beatles?

I like Netflix.  I makes me realize how royally pissed off I'd be if I spent 20 dollars for two tickets at a multiplex to see some of the awful movies I've rented.

You can have a really good time at a 7-11 at 7 o'clock on a Saturday morning.

Why does the guy next door only talk to me when he wants to borrow something?  Doesn't he know what a swell person I am?

I continually ignore the fact that I can't cook worth a shit.

If I had it all to do over again, I wouldn't have done the mic check at the Scruggs & Flatt concert in 1973.

I was truly surprised at the depth of my disappointment at not winning the Saturn sports car in the "put your name in the box" drawing at the mall.

Why does Jeff Bridges always have white gooey crud in the corners of his mouth when you see him in the movies? 

The Enemy Below

The sump system in my house and I are at war.   The sump system started it.

During the summer of 1987,  a hole was dug in the middle of a corn field by a fat guy on a bulldozer, and in that hole our house was built. He must have done something wrong.  Maybe he was having a bad day, or he was hung over, or something....  While all of the newly constructed basements around us stayed dry, ours filled with water. It submerged the new furnace and deposited a thick layer of muck on the floor.

But the water was removed, the furnace fixed and the muck cleaned up.  And our first sump pump was installed. We moved in, unsuspecting, naive.  Not sensing the enemy under our feet.

It ran constantly.  Even in weeks of drought, it ran.  When it ran, it annoyed me.  Vibrating the floor. When it didn't run, I became suspicious.  Was it planning something?  To quit for good, just when I needed it the most, flooding my basement and ruining all of my basement stuff?

The years went by, and it plotted, waiting for the right moment. Finally, on a Sunday morning, when all of the plumbers charge double time, it fried its own circuits, committing electrical seppuku. I bailed water.  The plumber came and installed a new pump.

The new pump made just as much racket as its predecessor, and though wary of it, I sensed a benevolence in it that its brother never possessed.

Years passed, and the pump cycled on and off thousands of times. One night it cycled on, but not off. The floor vibrated and a loud sucking sound came from the pump hole.  I removed the lid, cautiously, and tapped the pump with a hammer.  It started working again.... but it had given me a warning.

Several days later, I hauled the moldy, dying pump from the hole and replaced it with with a more reliable, powerful model.  This one seems to be happy.  It hums quietly, does its job efficiently and doesn't seem to have a malevolent gear, relay or circuit in its housing.

But, time passes and the water never stops.  Attitudes can change.