December 28, 2010

What's In Your Stomach? ... At The Autopsy

As if everyday life weren't stressful enough, now I have something else to worry about.  So ... we're all agreed that we are eventually going to die, right?  As if that weren't shitty enough, the fact is that most of us will have an autopsy to see what killed us.  Brains here, lungs there, intestines over yonder ... and once they've figured it out, they just take everything and stuff it back into you and sew you up like a turducken.

While the coroner's assistant is carving you up, he or she will take a peeky-boo at your stomach contents and write down what they find on a piece of paper.  And without fail ... especially if you are famous enough ... some asshole is going to find it and post it on the internet.  Just hope to God that you had the good sense to eat something healthy at your last meal, or people will call you a gluttonous pig, or some shit like that.

The following are a few famous people and an accounting of their last meals, as told by the coroners office.  You make up your own minds what to think:

John Belushi :  Lentil soup.

Princess Diana:  Mushroom & asparagus omelet, dover sole, vegetable tempura.

Liberace:  Cream of Wheat w/half & half.

Adolf Hitler:  Lasagna.

John Lennon:  Corned beef sandwich.

Ernest Hemingway:  Strip steak, baked potato, green salad.

John Kennedy:  Boiled egg.

Marilyn Monroe:  Guacamole & meatballs.

John Wayne Gacy:  Fried chicken and french fries.

Ted Bundy:  Steak, fried eggs & hash browns.

Cleopatra:  Figs

Gandhi:  Vegetables & goats milk.

Elvis Presley:  Ice cream & chocolate chip cookies.

I guess It won't really matter what they find in me, but with my luck, it'll be something really sophisticated, like Totino's Pizza Rolls.

December 26, 2010

Reading Teaches You Stuff

Jan has a couple of weeks off from school for Christmas break, and on one of our errand runs the other day, she wanted to stop by the library.  She has a stable of favorite authors, who happen to be very prolific, so she always seems to have something to pick out.  I went in with her, but held out little hope that I'd find anything that would intrigue me.

I'm a serial reader.  If I happen across an author that I like, I won't even think of switching to anything else until I've completely exhausted everything that he or she has written.

There are exceptions.  Stephen King comes to mind immediately.  This guy needs to give it a rest.  It's not enough that he writes under his own name, but then he starts with a pseudonym and after a while, his books take up a whole wing of a library.  I gave up on him, especially after realizing one day that the book I'd picked up was just like another one he wrote.  He hit rut-ville a long time ago.

My life is littered with authors that I've used up and left in my wake.  Steinbeck, Buck, Hemingway ... and more recently, McCarthy, Turow, Coonts, Gresham (Stephen King Jr.), and last ... and most regrettably Thomas Harris.

With the exception of one novel, Harris has written exclusively about that sophisticated, worldly, man-about-town psychopath ... Hannibal Lecter.

Harris clearly loves the character, and I do too.  I know you're supposed to hate the guy, because he has no compunction killing people and eating parts of them.  But, there's just something about him that you wish that you had a piece of ... his sophistication, his absolute appreciation of the finer things in life, and his general love of just being out there.

One of the devices that Harris uses with Hannibal is his ability to transport himself during times of great boredom or stress.  Stuck in stir for what seems like eternity?  Hannibal tours the great cathedrals and museums of Europe in his mind.  Enduring some rather brutal torture?  He transports himself to the top of an alp, or a quiet meadow on a summer's morning.

Pretty cool huh?  Well, I think so too.  And I've got a situation at work coming up this week that I plan to use the "Hannibal Technique" to get through.

Tuesday morning, I've been tapped (again) to be an observer for something called a "DP Assessment".  This is a big deal at Giant Pharmaceutical House and is somewhat akin to an individual becoming a Mason or a Notary Public.

For six mind-numbing hours, the observer (me) sits in a room and watches the assessor and assessed do Q&A.  The observer does nothing, and his sole purpose appears to be to throw a bucket of water on the participants if the exchanges become too heated ... and to sign and date a piece of paper.  Otherwise, the observer is free to go slowly insane.

Tuesday, I'm going to put the Hannibal Technique into practice.  The only problem is ... I haven't been to one lousy cathedral or museum in Europe, nor have I ever sat on an alp or in a meadow.  Okay, maybe a meadow, but the memory isn't exactly sharp.

So, I'll have to do an adjustment.

I wonder if I can visualize wandering the aisles of Walmart for six hours?

December 23, 2010

Mr. Fixit Strikes Again

Some things are meant to be left alone.  An ex-girlfriend, a rattlesnake ... and a perfectly functioning electrical outlet.

Several  weekends ago, I was wandering around the house and happened to turn on the light over our dining room table.  It's a double outlet.  One side controls the overhead light in the kitchen and the other side, the table light.  The table light has a dimmer function, and it's control is one of those round/turn things,  which I suddenly decided that I hated.  So, I thought I'd put dimmer switches on both sides.

After a quick trip to the hardware store, I dismantled the outlet, but there seemed to be one wire too many for the re-hook.

No problem, as I've replaced every light in the house with no glitches what-so-ever.   Using my best fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants logic, I wired everything up, and turned the breaker back on.

One side worked, the other didn't.

Okay ... I took the whole thing apart again and rewired. There, that ought to do it.  Breaker back on, and the opposite happened.  The one that was lit before ... wasn't. And, like I said, the opposite.

There were only five wires, and for the next 3 hours, I tried every possible mathematical combination of five. And for every combination, only one or the other light worked.  Finally, I gave up when only the kitchen light worked.  We needed that one more.

For the next two weeks, we ate our dinner by forced, romantic candle light, which is fine if you don't care that you can't see your food.

Yesterday, I gave in and called an electrician, who promptly showed up at our door this morning.  After explaining that I had done everything possible and that the circuit must be screwed up, he took it apart, switched a couple of wires around, and both lights came on.

It took a minute and a half.

After cutting him a check for one hundred and twenty dollars, I wished him a happy holiday, and returned to the dining room, where I stared at the glowing fixture ... my shoulders hunched over, pissed and confused.

And then I went to look at that leaky faucet.

December 22, 2010

Reflections On Nothing To Do

Fortunate are those with seniority.  For they get first pick of vacation days and do not have to endure the vacuous hell that is "The Last Day At Work Before The Christmas Holiday".

For the record, it is 8:55 a.m., and my work day ends at 3:30-ish, so I'm staring six-and-a-half hours of boredom right in his ugly face.  My work, what there was of it, is completed.  I have been to the cafeteria for coffee.  I've visited all of my favorite web sites and have updated my facebook and twitter pages.

What to do, what to do?  Let's see, on the other side of my cube, the chatty, young wanna-be hipster woman is talking to the the androgynous young man with the mutant donkey laugh about her evening.  Every breathless revelation from the young lady is answered with a "huh-huuuhhh, huh-huuuhhh" from the hermaphroditically challenged young man.  I wonder if my Swiss army knife blade is long enough and sharp enough to sever both his windpipe and carotid artery in one slash?

Best not to find out.

On the opposite side of my cube, the elderly Asian man chats on the phone with his wife for the 10th time today, and he's only been here for 45 minutes.  The sing-song Mandarin, so charming during the first month or so of my employment, has begun to grate on my nerves like fingernails on a chalk board.  Perhaps a well-aimed blow with my paperweight to the base of his skull will silence him?

Again ... best not to find out.

Just looked at my watch again ... six hours to go.

Saints preserve me ... and Merry Christmas!

December 18, 2010

One Of Those Moments

There's an idea I've been toying around with in my head for some time.  A post about those moments in life that you always seem to remember, no matter how many years go by.  They're the ones that sneak up on you when you least expect it.  Late at night just before you drop off to sleep, or on your morning drive to work when your mind is wandering.  They're not the ones that brought you the most joy ... or the ones that made you the most ashamed.  But they are clarifying, and sometimes signify a passage in your life.

Being that it's almost Christmas, I'll share the moment that I realized that there was no Santa Claus.

Actually, it was more than a moment.  As I remember, it took me about 10 seconds to put two and two together, which might or might not have been a slow reaction time.

My parents had always been Santa oriented.  Nothing under the tree on Christmas morning was from them.  It was all from Santa.  And they were good at the game.  So good, that it wasn't until my seventh year that I stumbled on the truth.

My Dad was in the long, slow process of turning the attached garage in our small ranch house into a family room, a popular do-it-yourself option during the late 50's.

One evening, several weeks before Christmas, he was up in the attic, running some wiring, and while he was down at the far end of the space, I inched my way up the ladder to take a look, because I had never seen this nether region of the house.

As my head cleared the crawl hole, before me was a Chatty Cathy doll in her box, a toy fire engine and several other toys.  As my mind processed this visual information at the speed of mud, the simple equation evolved ... Santa = Parents.

Making sure my Dad hadn't seen me, I slowly made my way down the ladder and walked over to the steps transitioning the utility room from the garage/soon-to-be family room and sat down.

Wow ...  No Santa ...  But I surprised myself.  I didn't feel disappointed.  I didn't feel sad.  Strangely, I felt empowered.  I knew something now that my parents didn't think I knew.  And my sisters didn't know it either.

Yeah, I could have blabbed ... blabbed to everyone in the house.  But I didn't.  It made me feel ... grown up.  And grown up isn't something a seven-year old feels too often.

A first step on a road that never ends.

December 13, 2010

All I Want For Christmas

These are desperate days for Jan.  The holiday draws near, and despite her repeated pleas of "What do you want for Christmas?", I can't give her an answer.

Yes, I'm one of those assholes.  I inhabit a niche that I believe is reserved primarily for guys.  If I want something, I go out and buy it.  I don't want to wait for Christmas.  I don't want to wait for my birthday.  If I want it, I want it now.

And since I'm turned that way, the things I want, I already have.  A watch?  I have two.  Clothes?  I have some.  A winter coat?  I bought it already.

Sure, there are a couple of things I'd like for Christmas. I'd like a camera.  But the one I want costs 2 thousand dollars.  I'd like a new truck, but the one I want runs around 40k.

Rather pricey,  n'est-ce pas?

This reminds me of when I was a kid.  My parents were tone-deaf when it came to taking hints for Christmas presents.  My earnest suggestions were met with indifference, and so, on Christmas morning, I opened half-assed shit like a twirler's baton (did I exhibit sexuality issues at age 8?) or Lincoln Logs (actually, the pieces made great projectiles).

As the formative years passed by, I gave up hinting and just accepted whatever I received with as much graciousness as a youngster could muster.  However, there were two occasions that I fell mesmerized by two toys that I was convinced that I couldn't live without.  I campaigned relentlessly for these items, but in the end, my cheapskate, clueless parents disappointed me ... again.

To this day, I wonder how my life would have been different if only I had gotten my wish these two lousy times.  Why, I might have grown up to become the President of the United States if only I had received ...


Yes, I know the dick/balls resemblance is uncanny, however an eight year old boy has not been schooled yet to the ways of phallic images, although I can imagine everyone at Topper Toys code-naming this device "dickfinger".  The fact remained that this "gun" shot hardened plastic projectiles at high velocity.  It stung like hell when you were hit in the shirt or jeans with these things, and if you struck bare skin, you could even draw blood!

And of course, as much as I wanted it, I remained Sixfinger-less.  But, I would have taken a volley of Sixfinger fire on my bare ass to get my hands on The Holy Grail of all Christmas gifts ...

Hoochee Mama!

Yes!  I could be Agent 007 being pursued by Goldfinger's crazed North Korean henchmen up hills, through tunnels, across oil slicks ... all the while being subjected to withering machine gun fire!

Wait A Minute

A pink Aston Martin?  Being chased by Tilly Soames?  Oh well, details, details.  That's what imagination is for.  It doesn't matter anyway, because I didn't get this either.  I had held out hope right up to the last minute, because even at a young age, I played the "Made in the USA" card which I thought would win at least my Dad over.  After all, the James Bond 007 Road Race set was manufactured by:

Sears?  Seriously?

Well, I guess even Sears was cool back in the olden days.  Check out the creepy looking James Bond peering over Rusty Racecar's shoulder there.  Kind of looks like Robert Vaughn, doesn't he?  Close enough.  And after seeing this ad, I can kind of understand why my parent's didn't get it for me.  $34.95 in 1963 is kind of like $24,375.23 in adjusted 2010 dollars.  Pricey ...

So Jan, if you're reading this (and I know you're not), here are two great gift ideas for your husband.

And if you'll at least get me the first one, I can promise you some hot "Sixfinger" action.

December 12, 2010

Wrong Room

Epic moments in life ...

Friday morning at work, I was making one of my many stops to the men's room.  When I was younger, one of the cruel nick-names my so-called friends pinned on me was "Peanut Bladder".  If they were still around today, they probably would have changed it to "Ginormous Prostate Gland", but they aren't and that's just as well.

Anyway, I strolled into the men's room, sidled up to the urinal and did my business.  As I was walking over to the wash basins, I noted two pairs of legs in adjoining stalls. I was washing my hands when I heard one of the toilets flush.  The stall door opened and out walked ...

A woman.

I peered at her.  She gaped at me.  And ...

Woman Who Can't Read Door Signs (WWCRDS):  Tell me you're in the wrong place.

Me:  No, I'm afraid you are.

WWCRDS:  OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!!  (Bolts toward exit and crashes through door)

Me: (muttering to myself)  Did that just happen?

Man In Stall (MIS):  Was that a woman?

Me:  Yes.

MIS:  Ohhhhhhh ... Shit!  Did you hear me in here?

Me:  Yeah, you were making quite a racket.

MIS:  Ohhhhh, shit.  I wonder if she saw my shoes?

Me:  I wouldn't worry about it.  She looked pretty shocked.  She'll probably have short term memory loss.

MIS:  You think so?

Me:  Yeah.

As I left the wash room, I thought "Hey, that guy had a point.  She got a good look at me and I got a good look at her.  That would be awkward if I saw her again".

So, for a few hours, I scoped out the halls before I committed myself to travel through them and looked around corners before turning them.  But after a while it became apparent that she had taken leave.

I think I would have too.

December 09, 2010

Creepy Internet Stuff

I don't do this very often, but I was up late the other night and ran across this blog post.  Maybe it was the combination of the dark, the absolute quiet in the house and the post subject matter ... but this really creeped me out.

And I thought I'd share ... "Abandoned On Everest".


December 08, 2010

Limbo Land

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  I can't count the number of times I've heard Andy Williams sing that one line on some credit card commercial on television.  Maybe it's a credit card company, I'm not even sure of that.  I vaguely think of only one thing when I hear it ... "is Andy Williams still alive?"  I'm too disinterested to even Google it.

Actually this is the most boringest time of the year, in my humble estimation.  Deep cold has developed in my adopted home; the upper-middle-almost center-Midwest, and it's not even officially winter yet.  This makes it highly unsavory to venture outdoors.  My Christmas shopping is, for all practical purposes, done ... and all I'm doing is waiting out these last few weeks of the year in order to see what the new year brings.

Work is a somewhat welcome distraction, but with everyone seemingly on vacation, there is no urgency to complete anything or start anything new.  Everyone has all but officially shut down until the start of January.  So I mentally slumber through the day, checking the clock's progress every once in a while until it's time to leave.

Home offers little mental stimulation.  The big event last evening was that the cat had decided to take a crap on the carpet instead of in her box.  However, as cat alzheimer's sets in, this becomes more of a common occurrence and will gradually lose it's sense of newness.  Routine sets in.  Dinner is eaten, television is watched, small conversations are had, and bed and sleep are welcome much sooner than the pair should be

Distressingly, I don't have much to write about.  But I don't seem to be the only one. A trip around to my favorite blog sites reveals that I'm not alone.  A trip to some tropical clime here ... a holiday recipe there ... and a dead dog for good measure.

In a recently hard-to-find burst of inspiration, I spent two hours last night writing a blog post.  It was interesting, it was hilarious, it was outrageous!  After re-reading it this morning prior to posting (a habit I've developed), I realized that I was just trying to out-gross the telling of "The Aristocrats" and moved it into the "one of these days" file.

I keep telling myself that this is my hobby, and that even the most avid hobbyist tires from time to time of tying a trout lure just right, or gluing another machine gun onto a 1/32 replica of a 1917 Spad.  Inspiration is never a constant.  Like the tide, it ebbs and flows.  And although I'm in a dry period right now ...

All I need is one crazy-assed motherfucker to cross my path to kick my ass into gear again.

December 01, 2010

Secret Lives

Tonight, on the way home from work, I stopped at Walgreens for cough syrup and Christmas cards (don't ask).  As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw Jan walking towards the store.  She saw me and kind of half-waved and then picked up her pace and walked into the store.

It was cold and spitting snow, so I didn't blame her for not stopping and waiting for me to park.  I thought she'd just wait inside the entrance for me.  But when I walked in, she was no where to be seen.  I went up and down a few aisles, but no Jan.  So, I went ahead and hunted down the cough syrup and cards and headed for the front to check out, thinking I would see her there.

When I got to the front, I  caught a glimpse of her carrying her purchase and skittering out the door into the parking lot.  When I had paid for my stuff, I went outside, but she had vanished.  As I arrived home, she was taking her school stuff out of the car, so I parked the truck ... and ...

Me:  What the fuck was that?!

Jan:  What?

Me:  Why didn't you wait for me at Walgreens?

Jan:  Oh, were you at Walgreens?

Me:  Well, you waved at me in the parking lot, what the fuck do you mean "Was I at Walgreens?"

Jan:  Oh, yeah.  I was in a hurry.

Me:  What were you doing?  Hooking up with your boyfriend or something?

Jan:  Oh ... yeah!  That's it!  He and I always have our secret trysts in the middle of Walgreens!  Idiot!

Me:  Okay, then what were you there for?

Jan:  To get ... stuff.

Me:  What stuff?

Jan:  You know ... stuff.  You got stuff ... I was getting stuff.

Me:  I got cough syrup and Christmas cards.  What did you get?

Me:  Glare

Jan:  Ohhhh ... okay!  I bought a bag of candy bars for my secret stash!

Me:  Secret stash?

Jan:  Yes asshole ... my secret stash!  Don't you have one of those?

Me:  No.  Pause ... but that's not a bad idea ...

Me:  Where is it?

Jan:  It's secret.  That's why I call it a secret stash, jerk!

Me:  Oh.  What kind of candy bars?

Jan:  Kit Kat.

Me:  Pause ...  Gimme one ...