October 31, 2009

Halloween Hodgepodge

"And ... Happy Halloween!" This is my favorite line from my most favorite scary movie of all time. And that is:

In my opinion, this is the best of all the films in the "Halloween" franchise, and that's because Michael Myers is no place to be found in it. In fact, it has nothing to do at all with any of the other "Halloween" pictures. The line is uttered by evil novelty mask magnate Conal Cochran (played flawlessly by Dan O'Herlihy) just before he activates the pieces of Stonehenge, which he stole ... yes, the whole thing ... that are embedded in the Halloween masks that he has brainwashed all the children of the world into buying through ingenious mass marketing techniques. Once activated, the teensy little Stonehenge pieces emit bugs and laser beams, which presumably kill all of the little tykes, but we never find out, because his sinister plan is thwarted at the last possible second by the films hero, Dr. Ben Casey.

This film is historic, in that it is one of only two movies that I have ever stayed up until 2 o'clock in the morning on a work night to watch. The other movie is Three O'clock High (check it out).

As an aside, many of you may not be familiar with Dan O'Herlihy, but if you are my age or older, you remember his brother Ed, who was the announcer for Kraft Television Theatre (Wednesday nights on NBC). He had a rich, beautiful voice, and there was no one on television at that time who could make you hanker for a big blob of Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese on your favorite snack cracker like Ed could.

Anyway, tonight is Halloween, and you've got lots of candy to pass out to all of the ghosts and goblins that come to your front door. And maybe when they're done, you have some left to distribute to any children who might show up. Hopefully you've bought enough, and you probably have, and more, because you want to make sure that you have plenty left for you so you can get a head start on the food binge that comprises the next two months. This binge will end on January 2. You will be 20 pounds heavier and hate yourself so much that you will have to double your tranquilizer dosage in order to keep yourself from committing suicide. That is unless you want to try for the prestigious title of "first suicide of the new year", which is second in popularity only to "first newborn of the new year".

Coincidentally, tonight is also the time to "fall back", which for all of you time rookies means that you set your clock back one hour at exactly precisely 2:00 am and not one second sooner. So, it's going to be a long evening and I hope you have enough rented movies, snacks and beer to get you through. So don't forget, or you'll be really pissed off tomorrow when you show up for church one hour early. Unless you're like me, and never go to church ... ever. Then there are no consequences.

One last note. I went to my handy Apple dictionary to make sure I was using the word "hodgepodge" in the right context. In fact, I wanted to make sure there actually was the word "hodgepodge" and it wasn't some word I made up, like "squink". I use that word occasionally ... example: that turkey pepperoni tasted squinky.

So, when you look up a word in my dictionary, they give you a definition, of course, and they also give you a sentence that your word is used in. Here's the sentence in my dictionary for hodgepodge: "Rob's living room was a hodgepodge of modern furniture and antiques".

Why, it's like they knew me.

Have a happy All Saints Day tomorrow.

October 30, 2009

The Digital Aftermath

June has come and gone. And with it, the switch from analog to digital signal television transmission. The meager accolades are over and the great tide of outrage has, for the most part, been silenced. Those without cable have settled for watching what they can get on their TV screens, and for most, it isn't much.

I live in a hybrid household. Downstairs, our television pulls in all of the cable channels we can afford, but in our upstairs bedroom, we make due with those few channels that we can pull in with our antenna. We've had to make some adjustments. At bed time, instead of Letterman and whateverthell ABC broadcasts after the local news, I watch as much of Conan as I can stomach. Poor Conan ... you either love him or you don't. And I'm one of those who don't, so I watch him hop around awkwardly for a few minutes, and then turn him off and go to sleep. He's such a tool.

Before the switch, I studied up on antennas to see which one would suit our needs the best. Unfortunately, the models that had the most optimal performance also cost more than the majority of new televisions and required zoning variances to erect. So I started looking at other alternatives, like "making your own digital antenna". Believe it or not, I drew on my master handyman skills; gathering scrap wood from the garage, screws and washers from the basement and wire hangers, which my poor wife had to beg for from the people she worked with. And after hours of blood, sweat, tears and a fuck load of bad words, my creation was ready for use.

Voila! (French for "how pathetic")

And it worked! Kind of. We ended up pulling in about 12 channels, 3 of which didn't zzzapp out continually. Jan was appalled by it's looks, but I thought it was a modern art masterpiece. Through several effective threats, she convinced me to hide it out of sight behind the TV, where it squatted until last weekend.

We were at a hardware store last Friday night, and Jan spied a digital antenna for under 20 dollars. She gave me one of "those" looks and we bought it. It gets a total of 5 channels, none of which go "zzzapp", so it looks like my coat hanger Frankenstein is out of a job. I wonder if anyone would buy it on e-bay?

One of the side benefits of the digital switch was that I was able to establish an e-mail dialog with the engineering departments of two of the local television stations. The first, our ABC affiliate, had been telling us loyal viewers for months that we had "better be ready" for the digital onslaught. But when the time came, it turned out that they were the ones who weren't ready ... with their tinker toy digital transmitter. Ha, ha! So, I started to e-mail them, basically asking them what their general fucking problem was. At first they were polite in their responses, but as I escalated my withering opinions of their technical prowess, they became increasingly irritable until they finally told me to fuck off.

I had a better rapport with the second station, Channel 6 (The "U"!). After the switch, I e-mailed their engineers about the picture quality of their reruns of "Frasier". The following is a synopsis of our conversations over several weeks.

Me: Hey, your Frasier reruns look like podcasts!

The "U": What R U tking about?

Me: You know, the picture quality is like a podcast. Haven't you ever seen a podcast?

The "U": Hve U chkd ur connections?

Me: Stop spelling like you're posting on Twitter! My connections are fine.

The "U": Sorry. Then maybe you need new glasses. Hee, hee.

Me: Very fucking funny. Seriously, go home and watch it on your own televisions!

The "U": We can't. We're working when Frasier is on.

Me: You guys should put together a stand up routine. So you're not going to do anything?

The "U": There's nothing wrong!

Me: Morons.

The "U": Takes one to know one.

And I never heard from them again. And it's a pity, because I think we could have become best buddies.

I miss them.

Two Week Evaluation

Today marked the end of the first two weeks of my new job. I had promised myself when I started, that I would make no assumptions or judgements about people, places or things related to my employment until I had at least 10 work days under my belt. So, this afternoon before I left, I took 15 minutes to evaluate and consider the basics.

Things: I have a cubicle all to myself, which in itself should rate an "A". In the past, I was forced to share a cubicle with another person, and in a 7 by 5 foot space, I can see why prison inmates get a little testy after a while. I managed to scrounge up a chair that doesn't absolutely kill my back, and have ample desk space to spread out. Supplies aren't easy to find, but I've mounted a few before and after hours raids on a number of abandoned cubicles, and have come up with enough stuff to keep me away from Office Max for the near future. My phone works, as does my computer. Although it gets something akin to agita about mid-day and begins wheezing and hooting until I restart it. Then it's good to go for the rest of the day. I'd have someone come look at it, but it's one of those things that won't recreate itself when someone other than me is around, so instead of looking like an asshole, I'll just put up with it.

Rating: A-

Places: The site I work at is huge, with well over 5,000 employees working in a number of buildings on about a section of land. The building I work in is a large, one story affair. It has been recently gutted and refitted with tasteful carpet and furnishings. I can park very near to the door, the inside is neither to hot nor too cold and the restrooms are so nice that even my dear mother would be proud to take a dump in them. If it had a cafeteria, it would be perfect, but unfortunately, you have to walk outside and across a parking lot to get to the building with the cafeteria. By the way, the food at this place is to die for! And inexpensive!

Rating: A-

People: The places and things where you're working can be without reproach, but if the people who surround you are a bunch of psychotic assholes, it doesn't matter. I worked at this particular site and in this particular group a number of years back, and when I left, I would say that I liked 90 percent of them. And that's actually pretty good. So I didn't anticipate any problems in this regard, and aside from a few people I've encountered so far, I'd say they're a pretty good group. There is one guy who talks like Yakov Smirnov with adenoid problems and seems to annoy the people he chooses to visit, but he works in another area and only visits my neck of the woods a couple of times a day. And there is young woman who sits on the other side of my wall who continues her phone conversations with people after she has hung up and seems to tell them all of the things she wishes she'd said during the actual conversation. Plus, she likes to call her mother and discuss the texture and odor of her infant's poop. But if this is as bad as it gets, I'm in good shape.

A good friend reminded me this week that I need to hold off making judgements on the people I work closest with until I know who I can trust. And this is very good advice for anyone. I like to think I'm good at first impressions, but in reality, I don't think I've got a stellar track record in this regard. And, on the other side of the coin, I want to conduct myself so that other people think favorably of me.

It's probably to early to tell, but I'd give the people I work with ...

Rating: B+

I still miss the things I had when I wasn't working. The freedom to sit up as late as I wanted. And the choice of getting up early in the morning because I wanted to, not that I had to. Most of all, I miss the freedom to do whatever I wanted to during the day.

But when that check hits the bank every Wednesday morning at 9 am, whatever freedom was lost is easy to overcome.

I hope I'm working for a long time to come.

October 25, 2009

Compressing Time

One of my running, self-depreciating gags revolves around me getting old. There are others, such as I'm stupid, inept and hapless. But "old" seems to get the most mouth time. Now, I know I'm not old in the traditional sense. In fact, I still think I'm relatively young until I'm snapped back into middle-age reality, usually by pictures of myself. I had my picture taken for my work badge this last week and when I looked at it, I thought "What the fuck? Is that me?" And I do actually belong to AARP, but that was only so I could get the old people's discount at motels when we traveled last summer. I guess they give those out because they think that old people aren't going to mess up their rooms, but if Jan and I were what they expected in terms of "check-out room tidiness", then they were sadly mistaken.

But, whether or not I consider myself old, there are certain changes that occur to one's thinking about past events. Things that may have seemed to happen a long time ago when I was in my 20's, now seem to have taken place fairly recently.

Last night I was watching a commercial for the movie "Amelia". Okay, most people are familiar with the Amelia Earhart saga from their history books or other sources. A great mystery of the 1930's. Maybe the biggest mystery of the first half of that century.

Earlier in my life, I used to think that it was an ancient occurrence, like the Civil War or the sinking of the Titanic. But when I thought about it, her disappearance around Howland Island in 1937 had happened only 15 years before I was born.

Now think about that. If you're in your 40's or 50's right now, does 15 years seem like such an incredibly long time to you? I'll bet you can remember at least one event, no matter how trivial that happened in 1994. For me, it was moving from my old office into new digs and my son starting the 5th grade. To me, that seems like a short time ago.

I suppose you'd have to consult an expert on the subject, but it seems to me that the more time you get under your belt, the brain starts compressing learned memories and behavior to make room for all of the extra shit that you're going to stuff into it. Kind of like your computer hard drive compressing files so that it doesn't freeze on you. Your brain is wadding up your experience so that you don't overload it and blow a fuse.

Just think how I'll perceive things 20 years from now? Maybe the Civil War will seem like a recent event.

That's "heavy, man".

That was a catch phrase from the 6o's. Which of course was only a short time ago.

October 24, 2009

What's My Line?

Last night, I stopped at Dominicks, one of the premier grocery stores in this area, for one of their Friday night specials. A super humongous refrigerated pizza. Seriously, this mofo is big and surprisingly good, with a crust that goes "sniiicccckkkzzz" when you cut through it. And best of all, it's only $5.99!

Hopefully, someone from Dominicks will read this plug, and I'll be free pizza'd for life, but something tells me that's not going to happen.

Anyway, I snagged my pizza and headed for the checkout line. This particular Dominicks never has but one "full service" line open. The rest are all self-serve, which I refuse to buy into on general principles. If you're going to make me check and bag my own groceries, then let's see a discount, say at least 10% in return for my trouble. And if any of you grocers out there are interested in this idea, then you can enter into a licensing agreement with me under my "Discounts for Viscounts" program (Slogan: Where you feel like a British nobleman ranking above a baron and below an earl). Check it out on the internet if you don't believe me.

So, I wheel into line and in front of me are two women, who I figure are mother and daughter. They closely resembled a re-animated Eunice Shriver and Rose Kennedy, with the long drawn faces, horse teeth and LL Bean barn wear. They only had about 10 items, but 6 or them were bottles of wine. And, unfortunately, Gurnee, Illinois has some weird ordinance where you have to buy liquor in the liquor department only, and not in the general check-out. Yeah, I know, you've got me ...

Right away, I knew check-out was going to take a little longer than normal. So I just stood there and said to myself "wait for it". And sure enough, the checkout lady told them that they'd have to buy the wine in the liquor department. After a few seconds of huffing and puffing Eunice pulled the wine bottles out of the cart and shoved them all at Rose. I thought to myself "wait for it"... and Rose dropped two of the bottles on the floor, shattering them.

I like the bouquet that wafts from a nice glass of wine, but the bouquet turns to a rotten alcoholly stench when it's mixed with floor dirt. As expected, gasps and apologies were voiced and mops, brooms and dustpans appeared to clean up the mess.

Eunice gave Rose her credit card to pay for the groceries and padded off to the liquor department to pay for her booze, what was left of it, and presumably to pick up another couple of bottles to replace the broken ones. Rose, unfamiliar with the ceremonial swiping of the card, took a while to get it right. When the signature line appeared, her hand hovered over it with the stylus and hesitated. I told myself "wait for it". And sure enough, Rose babbled to the cashier that she couldn't sign her daughter's name and went dashing off to the liquor department to find her, leaving me and the 40 other people behind me cooling our collective heels.

Several minutes passed and Eunice reappeared with Rose in tow and signed the electronic receipt. Then she stood there, putting all of her things back into her wallet and then back into her purse.

At this point, I'd had about all of this horseshit I could take and I bumped Eunice with my cart, forcibly. Eunice shot me a dirty look and I said "Move". After one more dirty look, the family Kennedy departed the line and left the building.

I'd like to think that later that evening, Rose and Eunice sat in front of a quiet fire in their wing back chairs in the drawing room of their mansion in Lake Forest, tut-tutting about their simply awful experience at the grocery store that afternoon.

And then they pulled the cork on their fifth bottle of wine.

October 23, 2009

Sophie's Choice

It's probably true what some people say. You have to go to work to rest up from all the forced activities during your "free" time.

For over two years, I've been the chief cook and bottle washer here at the estate. A never ending cycle of cleaning, laundry, cooking, repairs and a myriad of errands. But, it was no big deal. After all, I had 168 hours each and every week to get them done just right. Okay, maybe not the full 168 hours, because I had to sleep sometime, but close to it.

That all changed on Monday. I gave up my vacuum and my dust rag and my hammer ... and most cherished of all, my baggy comfy sweats and went back to work. Now I have to cram 168 hours of all of the above into a mere 48. Saturday and Sunday.

Or do I?

It's apparent that I have two choices. I can either do everything I used to do at home half-assed, or I can choose a hand-full of those activities and do them to my demanding OCD standards. And given that my (as yet unconfirmed by a written medical diagnosis) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder tends to get the better of me, it will probably be the latter. I'll just have to kick some standards to the curb and leave them to wash down the metaphorical gutter. Which will probably drive me batshit.

On the way home tonight, I mapped out a plan of action for the next two days. And as soon as I walked in the door, I gave Jan a precise two minute presentation of our action plan for the weekend. The only thing missing was the Power Point slides.

I'm sure she can't wait for tomorrow morning so we can swing into gear and "Get 'er done".

Or maybe she can.

October 20, 2009

The Circle Closes

After 3 long years of surviving a near fatal illness, recovery and rediscovering the things I liked about myself a long time ago, I started a new job on Monday.

I'm working for a major pharmaceutical company in my area. I have my own phone, my own computer, my own chair and my own cubicle.

In my mind, I'm back to "normal". Only this normal is so much better than my old normal.

I still love my blog, and I won't be able to post as often as I have in the past. But that's okay.

For me, the circle is complete. And I'm happy.

October 17, 2009

My Night With The Association

In general every college has a student activities group. These are the kids that do the grunt work for the concerts that the administration sets up to entertain the student body, thereby keeping said body happy, motivated and more likely than not to keep pumping tuition money into the college's coffers.

During my senior year, I think I became a member of the student activities group. My girlfriend was a real member, and I would help her do stuff, so I think I became a part of the organization by osmosis. Anyway, my picture was in the groups photo for the yearbook, so yeah, I guess I was a member. Our organization was called CUB, which was an acronym for Campus Union Board. The school's sports teams were named the Bears, so CUB fit right into that palette.

The college liked to put on one big "Name" concert in the Fall, and in 1974 they managed to book "The Association" (I'll give you a minute to run and look at Wikipedia). In retrospect, I imagine that The Association came looking for us, as whatever luster their star had possessed had badly tarnished since their near brushes with Top 40 fame in the late 60's. So they were probably actively hunting gigs at hick colleges that they wouldn't have given the time of day to 6 or 7 years previously. Of course, with our area of the country lagging so far behind national trends, their booking was seen as a real coup, and everybody was excited about their upcoming show.

On the evening of the concert at the Fieldhouse, I did my part. I was given the task of mic check and, following that, "security" for the group. My friend John had conned someone into thinking he could run the lights, so as I did the check, he and I kept messing around with the equipment until someone from the administration told us to stop dicking around or they'd throw us out of the building.

Duly chastened, I slunk off to my guard post in front the locker room where the band members were readying themselves for the big show. I was supposed to keep the throngs of teenage girls from bursting in and showing the performers their boobies, but after taking one look at these guys, I didn't think that would be a problem. They were all kind of "weathered" looking.

After about 5 minutes of keeping all of the non-existent crashers at bay, I heard a commotion from inside the locker room. When I stepped inside, I saw all of the band members in various stages of panic. Some were screaming, and others were throwing things, and all of them were pissed off. As it turned out, the band members had made it to the gig, but their roadies were lost somewhere in the surrounding Ozark Mountains. The roadies with all of the sound equipment and musical instruments.

About 15 minutes after the scheduled starting time, it became clear that the roadies were not going make it and I overheard the administrative head of the Union Board tell the band leader that they had better get their asses on stage, or no money. There was a general scramble as everyone of us tried to jury rig the schools sound system and a plea went out to the audience for musical instruments and sound equipment, like everyone carried that stuff around with them in their back pockets and purses.

Miraculously, a couple of tinny speakers were made operational, a few guitars were dredged up and someone threw a wind-up toy ukulele on stage, but I don't think they used it. As one would expect, the show was awful and most of the audience left well before the scattered, merciful ending.

There was a reception for the band held at my girlfriend's apartment after the concert. And by reception, I mean drunken bash. This was quite a spectacle, but I only remember a few things about it, because some things are best forgotten. But I'll mention a few of them.

1) A guy wandering around with a six pack of beer looped through his belt, declaring himself to be "The Pop Top Kid". 2) The roadies showed up and there was a scuffle. One of them came over and asked me if I had any weed. I said no, but if he found some, to be sure and come back over and share. 3) My friend Karen had a fight with her boyfriend and was sitting in the corner crying. One of the band members was trying to put a move on her, so I told him to leave her alone or I'd set him on his ass. And ... 4) My girlfriend disappeared. I think with one of the band members.

After a couple of hours of this, John wandered over and asked me if I wanted to go see if any bars were still open. I did, and we left.

The following Spring, the college hosted a big concert featuring Earl Scruggs (Again, I'll give you a few minutes to consult Wikipedia). My girlfriend and I had long since parted ways, so I felt no obligation to help CUB with the show.

It went off without a hitch ... and a good time was had by all.

October 16, 2009

My Best One Liner ... Ever

I was unsure about whether to put this on facebook or do it as a blog post. It's a little longer than a facebook entry should probably be, and as far as the number of people who will read it ... well let's see, I've got a total of five facebook friends and a total of about 5 people who read this blog on a semi-regular basis, so it's kind of a wash in that respect. So what the hell, I'll just do it here.

This morning I was ironing a couple of shirts, and it reminded me of the best zinger that I ever got off in my life. Well shit, it just may be the best zinger of all times. To me, it's just that awesome.

Years ago at work, a group of us guys used to congregate in the basement of the office in the late afternoon for a kind of an unofficial break time. There were about 10 of us, and we'd just shoot the shit for 20 or 30 minutes and then go back to work. I usually just listened and didn't say much, but there were the usual "personalities" that dominated the conversation.

One in particular was a nice enough guy, but was a pretty guilty braggart. He was always talking about his side businesses and how much money he was making; as well as giving opinions on various subjects. You know the type ... they're okay, but they get on your nerves occasionally.

One day, we were all sitting at the table and he came down a little late and sat down. He had on a brown shirt, and it was obvious from all the deep wrinkles in it, that he had simply brought it home from the clothing store, unwrapped it, pulled the pins out and put it on. I mean it was just really wrinkled.

He joined the conversation, and during a lull, we both looked at each other, and I said "Nice shirt".

Everyone started laughing, because they had seen his shirt as well as I had and were all thinking the same thing. He turned red and kind of smirked/snarled/laughed along. I should have apologized, but I didn't. I just grinned at him.

Later on, that same guy became my boss. And it was obvious from the get-go that he never forgot my remark. So, my career may have been somewhat thwarted because I couldn't control my big mouth. But it sure was worth it.

October 15, 2009

The Frogslayer

All people are familiar with the concept of food. Most people are familiar with where their food originates. But few people are familiar with all of the things in this world that can be considered food. Especially if you are a child.

When I was a kid, I could have benefited from watching a program like "Bizarre Foods", hosted by that fine fellow Andrew Zimmern. Maybe I would have realized that a good portion of the flora and fauna on the earth is edible. Perhaps then, I wouldn't have been such a picky eater. By the way, I haven't watched Mr. Zimmern's new program, but I guess I should. I think it was a wise move for him to step away from the icky foods thing. I believe he had about run the gamut of gross things to stick in his mouth. He probably saved himself from developing gout in the process, judging by all of the organ meat he consumed.

Anyway, my mother grew up on a farm. Her sister and oldest brother broke ranks and moved to the big city when they became adults, but her youngest brother carried on the fine tradition of farming, even though he did somewhat betray that tradition in later life and morphed into a sundowner (check your dictionary).

Going to my uncle's farm was a treat. For one thing, it meant that we didn't have to go to my grandfather's farm and I didn't have to watch him sit in his chair and spit phlegm onto a pile of newspapers that he had carefully layered nearby (I guess he couldn't afford a spittoon). And I had cousins to play with, plus they had a mule named "Mule" that didn't kick but would bite you with his yellowed blocky teeth if you pissed it off too bad.

One Saturday, we were at my uncle's farm and my cousins and I were looking for something to do. They suggested we go out to the pond and shoot frogs. Now this sounded like an outstanding idea on many levels. I had seen people "gig" frogs, which involved beer, harpoons with barbed tridents on the ends and more beer. Gigging the frogs seemed easy, but removing said frogs from those barbed tridents was definitely gross. Shooting the frogs would remove that unpleasant step, plus we could pretend they were Nazis.

My uncle wouldn't let us use the '22, but they did have a couple of pump Crossman air rifles, which were possibly even more dangerous. If you had good arm strength, you could pump those suckers up to a point where the pellet would leave the barrel at approximately 4,237 miles per hour.

So, off we went to the pond, packing heat. We crawled to the ridge overlooking the water, sniper style. And there before us, sunning themselves on the pond bank in the June heat, were a whole bunch of frogs. We spread out, and using hand signals, began picking them off one by one, so as not to alarm the whole group. It was take-your-breath-away exciting, it was stomach turning sickening ... and it was fun!

When it was over, we walked down and surveyed the carnage. It was then that one of my cousins produced a burlap sack. He said "Okay, let's pick these up and take them back to the house". My first thought was "Huh?" And I told him that I thought we were just going to throw them in the water for the fish to eat. To this he said, "No dumb ass, we're going to have them for dinner".

Okay, this was a new one on me. You can eat frogs? Why would you want to do that? As it turns out, you can eat frogs. But just the legs ... where the meat is. We took the frogs back to the house, where my Aunt Mattie liberated their legs from the rest of them with a cleaver, skinned them and threw them into a pan of hot oil.

They jumped. Some of them jumped out of the pan onto the floor. No shit. At the dinner table, the grown-ups and my cousins tore into them like they were manna from heaven. I wouldn't touch them, and made a solemn oath to myself that day that no manner of amphibian would ever pass my lips. Never.

Years later, on a business trip to Puerto Rico, I unwittingly betrayed this oath at dinner one evening. At the buffet, I selected an item that appeared to be a breaded chicken strip. After taking a bite of it, my island compadres started snickering at me, and one said "You know that's a frog leg, don't you?" And of course, I told them that yes I did know it was a frog leg ... and choked the rest of it down. These same clowns got a big laugh out of me later on in the week when I unknowingly ate an octopus tentacle, complete with the suckers.

God damned barbarians.

October 14, 2009

How Did I Get Here?

I suppose most of us think we have a reasonable amount of control over our lives. We choose our level of education, the people we marry, how many children we have, how healthy we are going to be; and to a lesser extent, what clothes we put on in the morning, what we have for lunch and how many martinis we consume before we make complete asses of ourselves and pass out.

Or do we? What if almost all of the decisions we make are based on external forces? And in reality, we are just marionettes waiting for the puppet master to pull the strings.

During the first part of the year, certain events transpired that caused Jan and I to start thinking about retirement. Even though it's more than several years away, I guess it's not too early to start thinking about where and how you're going to spend your Golden Years. The "where" part has been a major topic of discussion between us.

For years, I just assumed that this particular spot on the map was where I would end my days. But then the thought came to me that maybe I have a choice in the matter. After all, even though I've spent more of my life here than any other place I've ever called home, I don't really like it here. I don't hate it, but I tolerate it more than anything else. If I had a choice in the matter, I can think of at least a dozen other places where I'd rather live.

So, how did I get here? In my particular case, it was a random, somewhat lengthy process. I was born in Missouri. I should have been born in California, but due to a series of unfortunate events that will make a great story one of these days when all the members of my side of the family have passed on and can't possible read it, I popped out in the Queen City of the Ozarks. After a 20 year stint there, I took a job in Iowa. Completely random occurrence. Then after a job change, I moved to Pennsylvania. Again, completely random. And from there we moved to Northern Illinois, where we are today. Not a random event, but dictated by my job.

In any of these cases, did I have a conscious choice of where I went? No, not really. I could fine tune the landing spot, but the decision on the area was made by outside forces.

But this time ... this time we have a choice in the matter. Sure, there are still outside forces that will influence our decision, but for the most part, it will be our call. And because it will probably be where we spend the rest of our lives, we'd damn well better get it right.

That's a pretty sobering thought.

At times during this process, I've let myself wander down the path to "what if" territory. What if I hadn't been born where I was? What if I hadn't moved here or there? What if I hadn't gone to that party and met Jan?

Would the world have ended in a bright flash of nuclear fire?

That shit boggles your mind. Sort of like trying to understand the intricacies of time travel. And at this time in the morning, I don't need my mind boggled.

So, I think I'll turn that switch off.

October 12, 2009


Three million one hundred ninety seven thousand two hundred ninety four. That's my ranking on Technorati.

Back in the early Spring of this year, when I first started my blog, I was very excited about the concept. And a while later, when I learned that I might actually be able to make money from my blog through advertising, I became very excited. Just imagine, all I have to do is write a stupid post once in a while, and the money will come rolling in! But, a little while after that, I found out that you actually have to have someone reading your blog to make said money, and I had no clue if anybody was reading it at all.

I went about researching ways to increase my readership. The top suggestion from all of the articles I read on the subject was "write something people are interested in". Well, that was just too much work. If I actually knew what people were interested in, I'd already be writing for The New Yorker, or Hustler, or some other big time rag.

I did notice that some of the more popular blogs that I read had a little green "Technorati" tag on them, so I checked them out to see if that would increase my traffic.

I thought joining might be a little difficult, sort of like the time I was in 4th grade and wanted to join the National Geographic Society, but couldn't get a sponsor. However, as it turned out, all I had to do was fill in my name and my e-mail address and presto! I was a member. Now things would surely start rocking ...

Several days later, I looked at my ranking. 3,197,294 with no fans and no authority (whatever that means). So, was that good, or bad? If Technorati had 133,197,294 members, it was good. But if it only had 3,197, 295 members, it was pretty dismal.

The number has never changed since that first day. I look at it every once in a while and it stares back, mocking me. I still have no authority (whatever that means), but I do have one fan! Unfortunately, that fan is me. When I had another blog, I signed onto this one as a fan. Yes ... I am a charlatan, a cheat, a fraud ... and I am ashamed.

So, here I am. Mr. 3,197,294. That's fine though. I never really wanted to mess up the side bar on my blog with advertising, except maybe for that one that features an artificial vagina. That one fascinates me. Just imagine the kind of person who buys an artificial vagina ... or don't. Yeah, that's probably best.

On a brighter note, I'm pleased to report that Frogs For Lunch is the number one hit on Google Blog Search when you exactly type in "Frogs For Lunch". Except for those days when that guy talking about his Chinese lunch is number one.


Updated 10/14: As of this morning, it looks as though Technorati completely changed their entire site. So exactly nothing that I wrote above makes any sense now. But ... it was fun writing it. Congrats Technorati, on your decision to commit protracted suicide.

Welcome To Nevada

I told myself a while back that I wouldn't write anymore about the vacation we took in July. After all, it wasn't a life affirmation or anything close to it. Just a fun time that Jan and I discuss occasionally between ourselves or inadvertently bore our friends and family with until we realize what we're doing and clam up.

Late Saturday night, I was sitting up here in my office/den/Wolf's Lair/Bat Cave messing around on the internet, as I'm apt to do every week because there's really nothing on television besides Saturday Night Live. I'll generally turn on the radio to WFMT, which is THE classical station here in this area of the country. But on Saturday night, they have "hillbilly music hour" around midnight and I like listening to it for some odd reason. Except last Saturday night, WFMT was in the midst of one of their pledge drives, so they'd brought in a gaggle of opera singers to sit in a round table and drone on about their parts in Tosca or Pagliacci or some other operatic bullshit.

Anyway, one of them started talking about a stint in Las Vegas, which started me thinking about that leg of our trip. Now normally, when one takes a trip, they most often remember the sights that they think they should. Like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls or Akron, Ohio. But I've found that long after the adventure is over, you start thinking about other things that didn't make an impression on you at the time, but inexplicably pop up when you least expect it.

In my case, on Saturday night, it was Primm, Nevada.

Welcome to Primm

Jan and I had left Salinas, California early Monday morning, with the goal of making it to Las Vegas by nightfall. We went down the central valley through Bakersfield and hooked into I-15 (The Gambler's Highway) around Barstow and headed north. I-15 runs along the north side of the Mojave Desert and climbs into the Providence Mountains until you reach the Nevada border, where you run through a pass and dive down into the Ivanpah Dry Lake.

And there sits Primm, just waiting for you.

Driving through the desert is boring. Period. So, when I saw Primm loom into sight through the windshield, I wanted to stop and stretch my legs, buy some gas so we didn't have to do it in Las Vegas (which is right behind the mountains at the top of the picture), and get a soda.

At the moment I committed the car to the off ramp, the thought came to me that I might have made a mistake. This place was some one's idea of Kiddieland meets Sodom & Gomorrah. When we pulled into one of the gas stations in town (?), this greeted us:

Buffalo Bill's Resort & Casino

This hideous structure is surrounded by a roller coaster, which also runs over the street (which can be very distracting). My plan to fill the car up was scrapped, because there wasn't an open pump at any of the stations, so I shoehorned the car in at a quick stop and ran inside to use the restroom and get some snacks.

The quick stop was the size of a casino, and was filled with people in various stages of dress and sobriety. People were walking around with beers in their hands and a few were toting bottles of vodka. I went to use the restroom and was glad I only had to piss, because two of the stalls were occupied by guys puking their guts out (this is 3 in the afternoon). I did my business, bought my stuff (why did they card me to buy Doritos?) and literally ran back to the car. Jan had wisely chose to remain in the vehicle and asked me politely if we could please get the fuck out of here.

So we burned into the on ramp and headed for the relative safety, security and saneness of Las Vegas. For a few minutes after we left, I wondered if the founding fathers of the Great State of Nevada had intended that carnival from hell to be the first impression a visitor had of their proud home. And then I thought it was probably what people expected from Nevada, just like people expect to see a cowboy when they roll across the Texas state line or a guy standing there with a bucket of maple syrup when they enter Vermont.

In any event, I'm promising no more vacation stories ... unless I think of something else.

October 09, 2009

Films For The ADD Impaired

In the last decade, I believe I've developed Attention Deficit Disorder.  However,  I think it's limited to only television programs and movies.  I'd go see my doctor about this, but I'm sure he would do what he normally does when I take the time to go see him about any other ailment, which is to say "What do you think it is?"  And then I'd say something stupid like the time he asked me that exact same question and I told him that I was paying him to tell me what the problem was and not ask my learned opinion and he got pissed at me and things escalated to the point where one night I found myself in the emergency room at the hospital and he tried to have me admitted to the psych ward over the phone only I caught wind of it and walked out wearing only my gown and carrying my clothes and the hospital staff threatened to call security to detain me but they didn't and I had an incredible battle with the insurance company over the bill.

But that's a story for another time.

Anyway, I have a problem sitting through movies, which is why I probably haven't been to the theater in years. That and the fact that I don't like spending 25 dollars for two tickets to sit with a group of people I don't know who smack their lips eating popcorn and talk among themselves and laugh in inappropriate places and generally just annoy the fucking hell out of me.  So, I just rent movies from Netflix.  This is perfect because I can get up and leave anytime I want, plus Jan and I can make all the wise-ass comments we want or just stop the movie if it blows ... and it only costs $9.99 a month.

There are movies that I've seen before and would like to see again, but I'm hesitant to take the time to watch them, because they invariably have parts in them that I don't care for.  I'm not much for fast forwarding because I think it's too much work, so yesterday I thought that it would be a good idea to have movies available to people who just want to see the good parts. I'd select a number of popular films and edit out all the boring shit and string them together again in some coherent fashion for people who thought the same way I did.  I'd have to come up with a catchy name for the concept.  "Movies For People With Psychological Disorders" probably wouldn't get me off the ground floor, so it would have to be something along the line of "Only the Good Shit", or something like that.

Take yesterday for instance.  "Flight of the Phoenix" was on cable.  It was the remake with Dennis Quaid and Giovanni Ribisi taking the Jimmy Stewart and Hardy Kruger roles.   Now, I like the first part, where the plane crashes, and the last part, where the rebuilt plane miraculously takes off.  But I dislike everything in between.  So, I watched the first part, then went to do something else and tried to time it so I'd be back for the last part.  But I didn't do it right and missed the last part, which pissed me off.

Now, with my concept, the movie would contain the first part and the last part.  I'd fill the middle with a few clips with the characters debating whether to die or rebuild the plane.  Plus, I'd leave out everything with Giovanni Ribisi in it.  The film lasts 15 - 20 minutes tops, and I get everything I want.  Perfect!  I'd do the same thing with "The Dark Knight".  Just leave out everything with Harvey Dent in it, including that stupid last part where he walks around looking like the crypt keeper from "Tales From The Crypt".  Totally unnecessary.

All I need is a few investors to get this baby off the ground.  So if you're a wildly successful billionaire reading this, and you want a surefire tax shelter, just look me up.

I guarantee I'll lose money for you.

October 08, 2009

The Short Reign Of The Streaker

Spring, Nineteen Seventy Four.  Just a little over a month left in my senior year in college.  The end is in sight to my 17 year public and private education.  I have a little over a hundred rejection letters thumb tacked to the acoustic ceiling tiles in my room at home.  I wonder if anything is going to come from the days and weeks of research at the career center, not to mention the days spent pecking away on a manual Underwood typewriter, painfully crafting individual letters to each of the 144 establishments that I hope will hire me before I walk across the stage to receive my diploma at the end of May. I think Maria and I are finished.  I probably shouldn't have set her cheek fuzz on fire with that lighter the other night.  If she hadn't been stoned, she wouldn't have lurched into it while I was trying light her smoke.  Well, serves her right.  She must have been burning doobies all afternoon before I picked her up.  No respect.  Well, when this relationship ends, that's it.  I'm taking a break.

Just then, two guys ran by on either side of me, jarring me away from my thoughts.  They jogged up the sidewalk at a brisk pace towards Woods House.  In the glow of the street lamps, I saw that they were wearing stocking caps, but nothing else.  Their asses glowed dully in the soft light.  What the fuck?

And so began two weeks of the craziest shit I had ever witnessed up to that point in my life.  Streaking had come to Southwest Missouri State University.  It didn't have it's roots there.  It couldn't have.  It all started somewhere else and gradually filtered into my little part of the country, on the outer fringes of the Bible Belt.  I don't know what fueled it.  Perhaps a combination of warm weather, the end of school, the pressures of finals and a fear of the great "after".  All it needed was a spark to ignite it.  A bottle of Boone's Farm, a six-pack of Schlitz, a joint, or maybe all three and it was ablaze.

The streaking on campus only occurred at night.  There were no daylight sightings and certainly no one running through classrooms sans clothing.  After all, this was God's country.  A modicum of modesty and anonymity had to be maintained.

From that first night, the number of streakers increased geometrically each evening until it culminated on a Friday night with an impromptu parade on the street dividing the dorms from the main part of campus.  A long line of cars, bicycles, wheelbarrows and wagons ... all occupied by students in various stages of undress.

The police and campus security were either overwhelmed, or wizened to such stunts.  In any case, they backed off, but showed just enough presence to keep things from getting out of hand.  The news crews came, but they really couldn't film anything of value.  After all, those were nekkid people, and you can't show that on the TV.

And after the Friday night blow out, the fad quickly lost momentum and disappeared as quickly as it had begun. The last activity I observed was two young women standing on top of one of the women's dormitories, removing their tops and bouncing their boobs while screaming at the tops of their lungs.  It wasn't even a proper streak.

About a year later, Jan and I were attending a party at a condo clubhouse, when one of the attendees emerged from a bathroom and bolted naked through the room, a trail of toilet paper fluttering from his nether region.  We all laughed in feigned surprise, but we all thought, "what an assclam".

There's nothing more pitiful than someone who tries to participate in a fad months after it has died a natural death.

October 07, 2009

Natural Paradox

I don't consider myself much of a conservationist in the strict sense of the term.  I guess I do a few things to help out.  I put stuff in our recycling bin, but that's only because the trash collectors provided one and Jan gets mad at me if I throw cans or paper into the regular trash bin.  I also vote for funds for the county forest preserve when the issue comes up in a referendum.  I say I do it because we need more open land in this area, but I really do it because I've already got a home and don't want anyone else to build around me.  A sort of "I got mine, now stay out" thing.

I haven't voiced any opinions about the "green" movement since it started decades ago.  Certainly to say anything against it appears, at least to me, to be an act of high social treason.  So, I just keep my opinions to myself, because I know in the end that Nature is going to win out.  The human race will eventually die out, or evolve into something else, and the earth will go on.  The green movement just helps this evolution come that much quicker, because Nature finds a way to overcome all obstacles.

In the last 24 hours, I've read and watched two things that caused me to think about the whole subject of conservation and how ridiculous it can become.

The first was an episode of "Dirty Jobs", which focused on a salvage company collecting abandoned pleasure boats from the swamps around the Miami area.  The State of Florida pays the salvage company to collect the boats because they are eyesores and pose a possible threat of leaking fuel into the water.  Yet the State sends patrols along with the salvage crew and heavily fines them if they spill any of the fuel from the boats or even break a branch from the thousands of Cypress trees that line the waterways where the boats are left to rot.  At one point in the episode, one of the abandoned boats was caught in the mud at low tide 200 feet from the salvage barge, yet the crew couldn't drag it the remaining distance, and had to wait for high tide because the boat might have made a small furrow in the mud of the channel, upsetting its ecological balance until the current could smooth things out again.

The second was a newspaper article from a small coastal town in Massachusetts.  The town's island community is trying to deal with beach erosion and is trying to strike a deal with the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge a nearby river and move the material to the quickly eroding beach.   However, the ACE will not do the work unless all of the homeowners along the beach grant them permanent easement of the beach side of their properties.  Several of the homeowners are refusing to grant the easement because the ACE will quarantine their beach for 3 months in the Spring to allow some endangered bird called a Piping Plover to nest and mate.

It's all very complicated, but the basic fact is that the topography of the entire island itself is constantly in flux. Homes now sit where there was once ocean and ocean now occupies what was once land.  Experts say that in 100 years, the island may be completely gone.  Meaning that moving a couple of thousand cubic yards of sand around isn't going to make a bit of difference, the houses will be reclaimed by the ocean, and the fucking birds will have to go someplace else to nest.

In both cases, Nature wins.  Man squabbles about being green while the Cypress swamps triumph and the ocean goes anywhere it damn pleases.

And I'll just let it do its thing and keep pitching my soda cans in the recycling bin.  Nature doesn't really need my help, but it makes me feel better about myself.

Update 10/10/09: I don't normally go back and read my posts, and after looking at this mess, I can see I have good reason for it.  If I were awarding myself a "Badly Written Drivel Of Month" award, this one would win hands down.  I'll leave it up just to remind myself that I have a long way to go. 

October 06, 2009

In Memoriam

1987 - 2009

Sears "Let's Clean" Canister Vacuum (Sucky) was purchased in Vernon Hills, Illinois on October 27, 1987 and failed to start at its home in Lindenhurst, Illinois on October 5, 2009.

Sucky faithfully served its owners several times per week and was principal in the removal of dust, crumbs, fireplace ashes, pet hair, cat litter and spiders from the home.  It received the "Merit of Valor" decoration during service in the Great Ant Invasion of 1993 and honorable mention during the Bathroom Wall Resurfacing Campaign of 2008.

It was excellent for use on hardwood floor and laminate surfaces, but ineffective on carpeted areas.

Sucky is survived by owners Rob and Jan, adopted brother Bissell Powerforce Upright Vacuum, and numerous other Sears "Let's Clean" devices.

Services will be held at the Lindenhurst home on October 7, 2009 with burial following in the trash can on the west side of the house.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to The Carpet and Rug Institute, Dalton, Georgia.

On-line condolences can be posted on this website.

October 03, 2009

As Long As It's Free

I was at the grocery store this morning, picking up a few items for dinner this evening.  As is usual for a Saturday morning, a woman dressed in a tidy deli-type uniform had a card table set up in the back of the store and was distributing samples of food.

I used to gravitate to these displays, because the allure of free food drew me in.  I give them a pass nowadays for several reasons.  First and foremost is because of the kids that are drawn to these set-ups like flies to shit. Complete with slobbery fingers and snot running from their collective noses, they kill my appetite quicker than an undercooked chicken.  I also hate to endure the sales pitch that accompanies the sampling.  I always felt like the server was going to judge me harshly if I sampled the product, and then did not run straight to the food case to pick up several dozen of the product featured.  It's much easier to completely snub their carnival barker spiel when you don't take any food.  Lastly, I always felt inferior when I took free food from someone I didn't know.  I'm not really sure why, but perhaps I felt like I was being manipulated by the server.  "Here you are little boy! Dance for your bite-size piece of Home Run Inn Pizza!"

But back to the woman distributing samples this morning.  The aisles were crowded and Jan needed a loaf of bread, so I camped out by the sample table while she negotiated her way down the bread aisle.  As I waited there, I looked over to the table to see what was being offered.  I did sort of a double take when I saw it was samples of butter substitute.  Yes, small globs of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" were being offered in a paper cup, complete with plastic spoon.  No bread or crackers to go with it ... just the glob of sortofbutter.  And people were eating it!  What was really gross is that most of them weren't even using the spoon, but were just digging the glob out of the cup with their fingers and popping them in their mouth.

Obviously, these same people raid their refrigerators in the middle of the night for a heaping tablespoon of margarine to tide them over until morning.  I mean, yeccch!

I wonder what would happen if I would walk into the store with a card table and set out samples of vinegar or castor oil in little paper cups?  Would people readily step up and drink them, just because they were free?  Or would I have to entice them with a 50 cent off coupon on their next purchase?

My God, we humans are a strange form of life.

October 02, 2009

Spirit Purveyors

Ghost Adventures
The Travel Channel
Fridays at 8:00 PM CST

I put that right up there because of all the goofy programs I watch on television, this one is the goofiest and most entertaining that I have seen in a long time. This would have been the show to watch if it had been available on those Saturday nights when John, Chuck and I couldn't get dates so we went over to Chuck's apartment and drank a case of beer while eating sack after sack of Doritos and Funyums and just having a hell of a good time until about midnight when we became morose and realized what true losers we were and it was no wonder we didn't have steady girlfriends.

Yes, it's that good.

Here's the show in a nutshell:  Three guys find places that are supposedly haunted, get the locals involved and have themselves padlocked inside the structure overnight, where armed with every electronic gadget they could find at Radio Shack, run around for 8 hours trying to scare each other to death.

Zak, the leader, looks like Ty Pennington's brother and is the guy you always see at a bar using the cheesiest pick-up lines ever conceived by man.  Nick is Zak's number two and resembles a young General Zod of the Superman movie.  Aaron is a friendly looking dude, who claims to be religious and says "fuck" a lot, especially when he is scared, which seems to be all the time.

I've watched two full episodes so far this season.  The first, at a Masonic Lodge in Massachusetts, was okay.  The place was supposedly haunted, but the guys didn't dig up much in the way of scariness and I was more struck by how shoddy the place looked and that the Mason's wives would probably be ashamed to admit that their husbands hung out in this dump on a regular basis.

The second episode was much better.  This was at the Goldfield Hotel, somewhere in Nevada.  This place oozed evilness because of all the gambling and prostitution and murder and general mayhem that had occurred there around the turn of the last century.  The place is owned by some old cowboy who claims he is trying to refurbish the place but that the ghosts won't let him.  I was a little unclear on exactly why, but I figured that the ghosts either had a lien on the place, had formed a picket line opposing non-union labor, or just liked throwing things at people.

Zak enlisted the help of the caretaker, a crazy cat lady type who smugly walked around talking to the ghosts until it came to a point where you just wanted to reach through the TV screen and slap her.  Fortunately, when it came to "lock in" time, they got rid of her and got down to business.  Aaron opted out of this one, claiming religious reasons, but I believe he was afraid he would become so scared that he would shit himself on camera. That left Zak and General Zod.  They spent the night walking around the hotel alternately shushing each other and exclaiming "Did you see that?" and "Did you hear that?"  Zak also talks a lot of smack to the ghosts, trying to piss them off.

This was extremely entertaining, in the same fashion as your slightly tipsy uncle sitting by the campfire telling ghost stories when you were a kid.  And I mean that in all sincerity.  Anyway, the climax of the program occurs when Zak starts to go in a room, but thinks better of it and shoves poor Nick in ahead of him.  Nick's night vision camera catches a brick flying off the floor and zooming across the room. 

At this point, all hell breaks loose.  All you hear is two guys screaming their lungs out and all you see is blurry images from a bouncing camera as Zak and Nick fall all over each other trying to exit the hotel.  Only they are locked in.  So they actually jump out of a window on the second floor to get out.  You can't make this stuff up.

The next morning, after regaining his composure, Zak shows the video to the crazy cat lady, who acts like she's seen it all before.  Well, fuck her.  Next, he shows it to a guy who used to be mayor in the town and knows all about the evilness of the Goldfield Hotel.  When the scene with the flying brick comes up, this guy actually jumps from his chair.  This is no shit and he is actually startled.

In the last five minutes of the show, Zak goes around to various physics experts, who after seeing the flying brick video, claim that there's no way the brick was propelled by a string or compressed air.  Whether I believe them or not, this was sure a hoot to watch.

So, if you think of it tonight, get yourself at least a six pack of beer and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, and tune in.

October 01, 2009

Guest Post

Hi all.  I'm off doing something of great importantness today.  I hope to be back soon, but in my absence, I've asked an old friend to fill in for me.  I didn't give him any instructions or suggestions on what to talk about, but I hope you'll find him entertaining.  Hey, I just hope he doesn't say anything bad about me!  Ha, Ha!  So won't you give your full undivided attention to Mr. Richard Dreyfuss!


Um, hi.  Bob texted me late yesterday and asked if I wouldn't mind writing a post in his web log today.  I tried to call him to say I couldn't do it, but he didn't answer his phone.  I didn't really have anything else going today, so I thought I'd write a few paragraphs.  He did tell me that this was a sort of humorous blog and that he had a ton of readers and I might pick up a few new fans, but after reading a few of his posts, the content seems to be rather vague and juvenile.  Plus he only appears to have a few readers and several of them don't seem to have any pictures of themselves.

I guess you could say I met Rod at a rest area in Colorado last summer.  He was at a urinal next to me and kept staring, so I smiled and said hi, even though it was against my better judgement.  We talked about the weather for a few minutes and he followed me out to my car.  I remember that he did offer me part of a sandwich. Oh, he also asked me if Robert Shaw was as mean to me on the set as he was in the movie.  I truly don't remember ... it was quite a while back.  He also asked me if I went to his and Roy Scheider's funerals.  I thought that was rather rude and told him so.  That's kind of all I remember about him, except that he kept saying he'd call me and a couple of hours later I realized that my cell phone was missing.

So, that's about it.  And Bob, when you read this, I know you took my phone and I ask if you will return it because I really would prefer not to get the police involved in such a small matter.  Also, please stop calling my friends. Some of them are very angry with me and have had to have their numbers changed.

Oh, as long as I'm here.  I have a new film project that I've just finished.  It's named "The Lightkeepers" and I believe it's due to be released soon ... maybe over the holidays, I'm not really sure.  I'd appreciate if the ... eh ... six of you could take the time to go see it.  Maybe take a couple of friends.  Sometimes even a hundred dollars or so in gate receipts can make the difference in a motion picture breaking even.

So, um ... Thanks.