Saturday, September 30, 2006

Rockabilly hipsters in a bathtub

This is from Viva Las Vegas VIII in 2005. I thought hurtling down a parking ramp in one of these looked like a swell time, but Miz Bubs assured me that was the beer talking.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sad day

As it turned out, today was a really sad day.

So you think your coworkers are bad?

At least they're not trying to poison you with mercury:

The Miami Herald reports that Robert Friedlander, a University of Miami employee, tried killing his boss by sprinkling liquid mercury in his work area. Friedlander was reportedly angry over a written reprimand he got for cursing.

Mr. Friedlander worked in the collections department.

Rawhide

My daughter corrects me every time I use the word "midget". She says I'm supposed to say "little person".

Leonard Cohen

I've always liked Leonard Cohen, from a distance. I don't own a single Leonard Cohen record and I don't think I can name more than two or three of his songs. But I like him, that droning deadpan voice and all. Just not enough to, you know, do anything about it like buy a record of his.

Imagine my surprise tonight, when, drinking a beer in a sports bar with my fellow detective sergeant, I heard a Leonard Cohen song on the jukebox. Someone in the place other than yours truly clearly had a sense of humor.

I can't even remember what the song was.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Time for a drink

Tonight's drink:

The Effen Sexy

2 Parts Effen Black Cherry Vanilla
A splash of Simple Syrup
A splash of Creme de Cocoa (clear)

Shake and pour into cocoa rimmed martini glass
Garnish with a cherry

It's a nice nightcap and dessert rolled into one.

I just got done reading Shadow of the Bear: Travels in Vanishing Wilderness by Brian Payton. It's fascinating book about bears and our relationship with them, their place in our mythology and their status in the wild. I've just started reading Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. I'm kind of a military history geek, and I'm reading this as a follow-up to Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam.

The author of Dereliction of Duty is one H.R. McMaster. At the time he wrote it he was a Major in the US Army. It's a scathing portrait of what happens when high ranking military officers cave in to political pressure, and I found plenty of parallels between the 1964 Chiefs of Staff and the Rumsfeld Pentagon.

H.R. McMaster is now a Colonel, and commands a unit in Iraq. He's been mentioned in a few accounts as being one of the US commanders who's doing the job right. He also figures prominently in Fiasco.

Once I'm done with Fiasco I've got to find some fiction to read. I've been on a non-fiction tear since May, and I need to quit. I'm open to suggestions.

Someone must be living right


I don't think it's me, so it must be the girls. Or somebody out there lit some candles for me.

We just had one of the best weekends I can remember; made even better because, just a day or so before we left, it looked like half our family was sick and the weather was going to be horrible--rainy and cold.

Last week was a blur. We're still getting used to all of us being on a schedule; I feel like a whiner every time I mention it, but I'm still stunned by how much of an adjustment it is: going from a family with two home-schooled kids and a stay-home mom to a family with a mom who works full-time and two kids in school, one with a part time job. I know this is how most of the world lives, but jeez. I miss my slack family down time. I miss four of us sitting around the dining room table over coffee, just talking about...stuff.

If you see me writing about outdoor recreation it's not likely you'll see anything about my brothers. We've got some entertaining stories about my efforts to bring them camping and fishing back in the mid-80's, but they've decided that anything involving sleeping on the ground, excessive walking, bug repellent and/or shitting in a hole is not for them. One of them summed it up nicely:

"As soon as you find camping that involves a lounge and a casino, I'll think about it."

Here at the Compound, our big achievement over the past few weeks has been not arguing with each other over undone chores and forgotten, missed appointments. The fact that we eked out a few hours on the 16th to hang out together in the city, while restorative, only served to heighten the desire to get away as a family and hang out for a while. We planned this camping trip a while ago, thinking that late September is a pretty good time to go camping. Not too hot, not too cold.

Well, it all worked out for us. We got out of Chicago just before the fierce storms hit Friday afternoon. We found out that the Sherpak roof bag really was waterproof and held plenty of gear. When we pulled up at the farm it wasn't raining, and the ground wasn't even that wet. If anyone's ever set up camp at night you know it's a challenge; we got three tents and a screen house set up within a half hour, with no twisted ankles, broken tent poles or eye injuries. I also proved a theory that I've had for a while: the more prepared you are for bad weather, the less likely it is that the weather will, in fact, be bad. We had a screen house, rainsuits and thermal underwear. This resulted in sunny 65 degree days and mild nights. Perfect.

I am blessed with good inlaws. MizBubs had a crazy, evil mom who died on my birthday a few years ago; everyone in the family had stopped speaking to her years before, and she'd ceased to be a meaningful part of anyone's life more than a decade ago. She was one of those chaotic, miserable and manipulative people who ruined anything she became involved in, and I dealt with a lot of her crap for the first few years I knew Miz, before and after we were married. So, here's my reward: I now have a bunch of brothers-in-law who are all great guys (and their wives are great as well) a sister-in-law who's like the little sister I never had, a father-in-law who's an amazing musician and storyteller, and a mother-in-law (technically MizBubs' stepmom, but really may as well be her birth mother) who's just better than I could ever describe here. Plus a huge network of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

This weekend we had my family, eldest daughter's boyfriend Cody, MizBubs' sister Kate and her husband Steve (Steve's parents own the farm we camped on) and Saturday afternoon/night we had MizBubs' mom and dad. Plus our two dogs, and Kate n' Steve's two dogs.

So what did we do for two days? F*ck if I know, really...I mean, I can list some of the specific things we did: cut down a dead tree with a chainsaw, chopped wood like a maniac, hiked, shot sporting clays, sang, looked at bugs, smoked cigars, drank beer, played with the dogs, and that's all accurate as far as it goes, but not a complete picture.

The amazing thing was, the time went so quickly just doing, really, not much of anything at all. Talking. Reading. Walking around. Sitting and staring. Grab-assing. Just enjoying the fact that we were outdoors in a beautiful place, surrounded by people we love and who love us back.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sorry, it's the best I can do right now

I got home from work tonight full of good intentions, planning to write about our wonderful family fun weekend of hiking, beer drinking, chainsaws, hillbilly music and shotgun shooting. But I'm still all wore out from all that family fun, and I just can't be bothered to come up with original material. So instead of anything meaningful, you'll get more penis news.

Just as I was finishing my email and getting ready for bed, I got this article from my friend Bawb the Revelator:

Man With Faulty Implant May Not Get Cash

The Associated Press
Monday, September 25, 2006; 5:23 PM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A former handyman from North Providence who won more than $400,000 in a lawsuit over a malfunctioning penile implant may not get the money after a judge dismissed his claim.


Superior Court Judge Edward C. Clifton on Monday granted a request by the implant manufacturer's insurer to dismiss Charles "Chick" Lennon's claim, which his lawyers say will amount to $1 million with interest included.




The implant has caused Lennon to have an erection for 10 years.


You can read more about this decade-long bout of mechanical priapism here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What's that bug?


We saw a couple of these on one of the logs we cut for firewood. Our first guess was some type of parasitic wasp, but our hostess consulted an Audubon field guide and believes it's possibly a boreal mayfly. It was a couple inches long and freaky as anything.

Oh, camping was great. More on that tomorrow. Hope everyone had a good weekend.

Monday morning Update: After looking around a little something called"the Internets I think this bug is indeed a mayfly, possibly an "isonychia bicolor." I'm not sure though; while I found a bunch of pictures and descriptions, I didn't see any examples that were as vividly coloroed as this guy. About half the mayfly sites I found are geared more for fly fishermen than entomologists, which I found interesting. I also found this cool website:

What's That Bug? Lots of cool bug pictures there. My favorite is the Carnage Section: Squished, Smashed & Swatted, where people send in pictures of bugs they've killed in their homes and ask WTB to identify the carcasses.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Little Miss Sunshine Online Pageant

Over the past few weeks I've become acquainted with a really wonderful group of bloggers, thanks to the lovely and talented Melinda June saying nice things about S.R.C.

They are now sponsoring the first annual Little Miss Sunshine Online Pageant. Participants are asked to post a grammar school photo of themselves on their respective blogs. Beth from A Cup of Coffey has graciously offered to host it, and you can find contest details on her blog.

When you visit Melinda June or Cup of Coffey, take a look at the folks they're linked to and visit those blogs. You'll find some world-class time wasting opportunities there, believe me. Some excellent writers and witty people. One of these days I'm going to take the time and add a bunch of links to this site, but until I do, here are some recommendations:

Land-O-Lulu

Passion of the Dale

Coaster Punchman's World

The Official Site of Grant Miller


Tenacious S

In Her Shell

OK, Fine, Whatever?

I know there's more, but I'm too scatterbrained right now to be thorough. The weather is clearing a bit, our sick girls are feeling better, and in 5 hours we're on our way to the great outdoors. Trust me on these links, do yourself a favor and go poke around these folks' blogs. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This isn't looking good...


This is the what the radar looks like as of 8:09 pm, CST. Independence is between Waterloo and Dubuque. The Mad Seamstress just got sick, and she's rapidly catching up to where MizBubs was yesterday. Uh oh.

Lemme see: two sick people, one on the way up and the other still worsening, two days of rain and 40-50 degree weather in the forecast...is camping the best idea? How hardy are we? How stupid are we?

We'll find out tomorrow I guess.

Good morning!

Ah, the mini-vacation starts today dear readers! To top that off, it's Thursday, which has now become my new favorite day: youngest daughter has late arrival, eldest has no classes, and MizBubs isn't due at the library until 1pm. I just got done making a hearty breakfast for my youngest, and I'm composing my shopping list for our camping trip to the farm:

Permethrin
Pig ears for the dogs
New dog toys
Tick repellent/flea collars
Sweet potatoes
Bourbon
Cigars
Wine for our hosts
Bakers chocolate (for the chocolate brownie pie)
Shotgun shells

Then it's time to tick-proof the clothing, waterproof the boots, and lay out the tents, pads and sleeping bags.

The downside is that as of this morning, it looks like this weekend will be prime hypothermia weather: highs in the low 60's, rainy, lows in the low 40's. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This never happened back in my day...

A third-grade teacher in the Monroe-Woodbury school district (about 45 miles northwest of NYC) is in trouble after using an adult-themed font on the front of a spelling packet.

Doh.

The font consists of letters formed by stick figures. Stick figures having sex.

You can see the offending cover here.

Please give me a caption



Seriously. Someone, please give me a caption for this. I felt compelled to put it up, but I wasn't sure how to label it.

New security measures in Saddam trial



In an effort to protect judges from sectarian retaliation, the Iraqi government has put a new program in place to obscure the identities of serving judges. The program's first subject is recently sacked judge Abdullah al-Amiri, pictured above wearing his new government-issued noseglasses.

Hold On

This song always reminded me of MizBubs when I first met her. We actually spent a night together at the Riverside Motel, just a couple days before we went away for Army basic training. The Riverside Motel is long gone--it's a park now, and the .99 store across the street is gone too. This song always makes me want to throw my arms around around her and make the world stop.

In the pines

I couldn't find Leadbelly or Bill Monroe, or even Doc Watson. This will have to do:

Rank Stranger

Time for that high lonesome sound:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Where's the outrage?

I try not to post a lot of political stuff, especially Iraq news, for two reasons:

1) There are hundreds of bloggers out there doing so already, and doing it much better than I ever could, and

2) It's just depressing as hell.

But today I make an exception. I just read this piece in the Washington Post, which is adapted from the author's new book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone, an account of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. We find out that, surprise, the CPA was riddled with Bush cronies and political hacks.

Check out this excerpt describing how CPA officials were hired, and feel your bile rise:

To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .

Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting...

To recruit the people he wanted, O'Beirne sought résumés from the offices of Republican congressmen, conservative think tanks and GOP activists. He discarded applications from those his staff deemed ideologically suspect, even if the applicants possessed Arabic language skills or postwar rebuilding experience.

Smith said O'Beirne once pointed to a young man's résumé and pronounced him "an ideal candidate." His chief qualification was that he had worked for the Republican Party in Florida during the presidential election recount in 2000.

O'Beirne, a former Army officer who is married to prominent conservative commentator Kate O'Beirne, did not respond to requests for comment.

NPR goes rockabilly

What a coincidence. Just days after I mentioned my new rockabilly collection Rockin Bones, along come those upper-middle class swells at NPR doing a story on it.

You can check out the NPR story here. By the way, if you want to hear a remarkably fun, rockin and obscene song, check out the track "Little Girl" by John and Jackie, recorded in 1958. They mention it in the NPR story as "orgasmic, over-the-top." That just about hits it. You can find it on Rockin Bones and also in the collection Las Vegas Grind, Pt. 1. You can listen to a little clip on the Amazon site.

If you like garage band-sounding trash rock from the late 50's and early 60's, and you like sleaze and old-time strippers, check out the Las Vegas Grind series. Whoooooooo. Yeah. Too bad so many of them are out of print.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Penis news

According to this story in the Sydney Morning Herald, the recipient of the world's first penis transplant asked doctors to remove the transplanted johnson, "because he and his wife had a "severe psychological problem" with his new penis."

Owww.

In other penis news:

A Pennsylvania woman pleads guilty in "fake penis case." The incident "resulted in a fake penis being microwaved at a convenience store" according to the article. I need to find out more about this one.

Fondue, anyone? An angry Canadian woman sets fire to boyfriend's penis with boiling fondue oil.

Skokie resident Mardin Amin beats the rap in the now-famous O'Hare penis-pump scare.

Oh, one more item: if your voodoo witchdoctor tells you that screwing a hedgehog will cure your premature ejaculation problem, don't listen.




Ten minutes into Monday and I can't wait for next weekend


Is there something wrong with me that I'm sitting here at ten minutes after midnight, technically Monday morning but really still Sunday night, and I'm already counting the hours until next weekend?

All this bourbon talk from Melinda June left me with a wicked thirst tonight. SO...I'm now on my second Sazerac (I know, it's not bourbon, it's rye, but still...) In this condition I'll probably end up posting crap from YouTube. I apologize in advance.

Considering that I had to work, this was a great weekend.

We started off by heading down to the Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park. We first read about it in the pages of Bust magazine a couple years ago, and this was the first time we could go. Wow. You couldn't swing a cat without whackin a hipster. It was a good time, and we all came away with some cool stuff. My youngest got a ring with a little cameo of hipster god Tom Waits in it from these people, and my eldest, the mad seamstress, got a book titled Sew Subversive from the gals who run the Stitch Lounge in San Francisco. Both of my younguns got stuff from Alli's Oddities: a set of bone dice (like the ones Oogie Boogie uses in Nightmare Before Christmas) and some whacked-out key chains with bulging eyeballs. I got Miz Bubs a little cherry pendant necklace and these fine Don Ho tiki mugs. (Note to Kate and Steve--the Don Ho Motherf*cker is about to become a reality.) Miz Bubs got me the t shirt at the top of this post, which I'd been admiring. OH, one more thing! I also got another new tiki mug, to replace one that I broke--a monkey wearing a fez. And there's nothing cooler than a monkey wearing a fez, folks, unless it's a fez-wearing monkey having a smoke. All the tiki stuff came from DvA Gallery right here in Chicago.

I was relieved at the relative lack of B.O. at the fair. Aside from a couple of panhandling white kids I wanted badly to smack around, the crowd smelled remarkably fresh. I appreciated that.

I was also struck by the fact that a lot of the stuff on display was, on close examination, not really that well made. I saw some really half-ass jewelry--it felt, I dunno know, clinky and cheap, and a close examination of much of the clothing revealed poorly-executed stitching and seams. And I'm really tired of people thinking that all you have to do is silkscreen some vintage advertising image onto a surface and then print some random non-sequitor or ironic slogan across the image to make cool art.

Miz Bubs makes some excellent jewelry (wire work, glass, stones and polymer clay) and my youngest has created some fantastic little dolls, and of course my eldest is a talented seamstress. I told them they need to set up a booth next year and sell their stuff. But, alas, they all have lives and schedules and tell me that will not happen. It's a shame, because I know quality, and the compound girls' stuff is way better than lots of what I saw on Saturday. I was trying to be encouraging and supportive, letting them know how good their work was in comparison to what we were seeing on sale, and of course in my clumsy oafish way I ended up making them feel pressured. I meant well, anyway. I just wanted Miz Bubs and the girls to know how talented and cool they are. They don't believe me, because they figure I have to say that stuff to them anyway.

This morning me and my bride went to the farmers market and got an armful of fresh produce. Something I noticed this morning, that we also saw on Saturday, was the number of adorable dogs in attendance. Owners of adorable dogs, thank you for bringing them out with you. It makes me smile.

This week is going to be a total waste of time for me, unless something disastrous happens at work. You see, next weekend we're going to be out at the farm in Independence, Iowa. I'm cooking dinner on Saturday night (pork loin and roasted sweet potatoes, peppers and onions) and there will be music and singing and good beer and a huge fire, and horses. And maybe some gunplay. And the best conversation with good people anyone could ever hope for. So my big challenge now, is getting from here, to there.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

WEEKEND! YAY!

Even though I'm working tonight, it still feels great: everyone's home this morning, and no one else is working. I get to see my whole family, in the daylight, before everyone is exhausted from their days at work or school. It's a beautiful day today, full of sunshiney promise.

I got some good rockabilly blasting right now, from the collection Rockin Bones. Right now it's on Summertime Blues.

In about 20 minutes we'll head down to the the Renegade Craft Fair in Wicker Park. This is the first year we've been able to go, and we're all excited. All the gals at the compound are foxy and crafty, and they're looking forward to seeing what's out there and comparing their own jewelry work to what's being sold. Maybe I'll bring the camera.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Molasses: the sweet but deadly embrace


The Chicago Tribune reports that an Illinois man died in a Kentucky molasses pit.

56-year old Vernon Schmidt was delivering molasses to a seed company when he "collapsed on a platform in the tank." This Lexington news story makes it sound like Schmidt died of oxygen deprivation, not from being drowned in molasses:

The fermenting molasses is mixed with horse feed to give the grain a sweeter taste. The fermentation in the enclosed pit also creates ethyl alcohol vapors that deprive the space of oxygen.

Oxygen levels inside the two-thousand-gallon tank were measured at less than a fifth of what humans need to breathe.

If that's true, then Schmidt died a more peaceful death than did the victims of the Molasses Disaster of January 15, 1919. In that case, the fermentation of the molasses contributed to the rupture of a massive storage tank, killing 21 people. Here's a description from Eric Postpischil's Molasses Disaster Pages:

Envision a disaster scene with smashed buildings, overturned vehicles, drowned and crushed victims, and terrified survivors running away covered in molasses. Like the modern-day disasters with which we are unfortunately familiar, there was chaos, terror, buildings in ruins, victims to be dug out, trapped survivors to be rescued, rescue workers among the victims, and anguished families rushing to relief centers to find their relatives. It was like any horrible disaster scene, with the addition that everything was covered in smelly sticky brown molasses.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I am not a farker

Now that I know what a farker is, I can say that I am not one.

A recent comment from Melinda June threw me into a state of bemusement. I wasn't sure if she was calling me a f*cker in some charming British way, or what. My eldest, still high on the triumph of having passed her driving exam and gotten her first driver's license, suggested I try looking it up at urbandictionary.com. And that's how I found out about fark.com.

I must say, I view the idea of pulling stories off fark as, well, cheating. I prefer a more old-fashioned and labor intensive method of bullshit retrieval, usually starting by googling terms like "freak," "creepy," "animal attack," "naked," etc. Then there's always Rotten and The Smoking Gun, as well as the offbeat CNN page and Yahoo weird news. Law enforcement websites Officer.com and PoliceOne.com are also pretty good sources for loser stories. If I see it on one of the cop sites, I search for the original source stories.

Some of my favorite stories, like the woman who attacked someone with a dead chihuahua, or the divorced parents engaged in an ugly, ugly fight over their son's circumcision, I found after seeing or hearing about them in local media. I also have an extensive network of informants, with important branch offices in Iowa and Florida (Florida or Germany, anyone?)

It's just that I have a natural attraction to, and ability to find, offbeat stuff from the eccentric to the horrifying. That's probably part of what drew me into law enforcement: front row tickets to a non-stop freakshow, in which I'd occasionally get to play a lead part.

Grouper 1, Spear Fisher 0

Fish kills spear-fishing diver off Florida

Erratic corrupt politician of the week



Meet D'Angelo Lee, former City Plan Commissioner from Dallas, TX. Mr. Lee resigned from the commission because he's the target of a corruption investigation by the FBI. But that's not what this story is about.

According to this story, and this story, and this story, Mr. Lee claimed he was robbed by a naked man, and a naked man wearing a towel, outside a male strip club. He made these claims either shortly before, or just after, being arrested for public intoxication after he was thrown out of Club Knubian Fantaciez for "causing a disturbance."

Lee later referred to the incident as "just stupid, just really frivolous" and said he was at the club to pick up women.

Bush Tells Group He Sees a 'Third Awakening'

Bush Tells Group He Sees a 'Third Awakening'

Fetch me my tinfoil, I need to make a hat.

This story from the Washington Post makes a good follow-up to the stuff I posted yesterday about Mars Hill Church. I don't know what's worse--the POTUS' manichaean worldview, or the fact that he compares himself to Abraham Lincoln.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mars Hill Church and the Acts29 Network

I just got done reading this article on Salon.com.

This was the first I'd ever heard of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, or the Acts29 Network.

At key times during my life I've been blessed to come into contact with Christians and other people of faith who have challenged and inspired me. Interestingly, none of them have been conservative evangelicals or fundamentalists.

I used to have arguments with a Marxist roomate of mine years ago about religion. He was, obviously, a devout atheist and saw no good role for religion, particularly Christianity as it's practiced here in the US. My position was that for a person struggling with despair or addiction, strong religious belief was a good life preserver. Putting it in his terms, if a worker is saved from alcoholism, drug abuse or suicide by faith in Jesus, and is still there when the revolution comes, that's a good thing, right? I thought so anyway.

But...

Seeing people who look like me, have the same kind of tattooes I have, listen to the same music and watch the same movies as I do, embrace the most hardcore fundamentalist Christian theology, complete with subservient women--well that saddens me. I find it sad that people find so little meaning and purpose in their lives that they feel compelled to turn to the most absolutist forms of fundamentalist theology.

Take a look at those links and see what you think.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

No woman would ever do that

I participated in a practical joke today, a little thing really, that didn’t result in property damage, legal action or a visit to the doctor. The reason I’m writing about it is that I got the same reaction, nearly word-for-word, from both my mom and from MizBubs:


“No woman would ever do that.”


Here’s what happened. My mom is doing some financial stuff, and my brother John found a guy he knows from work to help her. I went over to her place to be there while the guy (Jim) made his presentation. When we finished, Jim mentioned that my brother is always kidding around with other people in his office. Jim said he was going to have a little fun by calling John and pretending to be lost, almost an hour after the scheduled appointment time. I thought this was a swell idea, and said that I’d go one better—I’d wait until Jim walked out the door, and then call John and tell him Jim hadn’t showed up yet.


My brother John is one of the most generous and conscientious people I’ve ever known. He also worries. He called me, and then my mom, and then me again about 3 or 4 times setting up this appointment. And then last night he called back and double-checked. Twice. Now what’s really cool is, when he gets worked up he swears even better than I do. I mean, epic and colorful swearing. Mom had a concerned look on her face as Jim and I discussed our plan. We shook hands, Jim walked out the door, and I made the first call at 11:55am:


John: Hi mom, how’d it go?

Me: No, John, it’s me, I’m on mom’s phone. Hey, what time was that appointment, 11 or 12?

John: What?

Me: Was that guy supposed to be here at 11 or 12? Mom was wondering.

John: What? Jim’s not there?

Me: No, I thought you said 11 but I wasn’t sure. I’ve been here since 10:30.

John: Hold on. (papers shuffling, then hold music) I made that appointment for 11. Sonofabitch. He hasn’t called? Shit.

Me: So you’re sure it was for 11?

John: YES I’M SURE. I’ll call you right back. (CLICK. Hangs up)

Mom: Why are you doing this?

Me: Because it’s funny as hell. John’s going nuts right now.

Mom: No woman would ever do something like this. Why do men find this funny?

The phone rang.

John: Joe, you there?

Me: Yeah, what’s up?

John: Listen, Jim says he’s just pulling up by the house, look for him.

Me: So you got hold of him? What’s the deal?

John: I DON’T KNOW. He’s a good guy, ok? Just give him the benefit of a doubt. He knows what he’s doing.

Me: Is there a problem or something?

John: NO. He’s really a good guy, he should be there. Just, uh, give him the benefit of a doubt, ok?

Me: I’m looking out the window, he’s still not here.

John: Fuck. I’ll call you back. (CLICK)

About 5 seconds later:

Jim: (laughing) Hi, Joe, please, call your brother back and tell him I’m there. Please. He’s calling me.

Me: Sure thing. Bye.

Jim: Bye.

Me: Hello, John?

John: Yeah Joe, listen, I don’t know what the f*cking problem is,

Me: (cutting John off) It’s ok, everything’s fine.

John: Yeah?

Me: Yeah, Jim just left.

John: (Silence) What?

Me: Jim just left. He dropped off a packet of information and a business card and he left, just a minute ago.

John: WHAT?

Me: Yeah, he introduced himself to mom, dropped off some stuff and then he left. He brought mom a flower, that was nice. Seemed like a nice

John: (cutting me off) WHAT? He’s gone already?

Me: Yeah. Was there supposed to be more than that?

John: HOLD ON (hold music) Yeah listen, Joe, I don’t know what’s going on.

Me: John, everything is fine, Jim got here early, before 11.

John: What?

Me: Everything’s fine, Jim did a real nice presentation. He got here before 11, and left a few minutes ago. Everything’s fine. I’m just joking with you.

John: FUCK YOU. (CLICK)

I almost fell out laughing. See, what I can’t convey on paper is the rising sense of confusion, followed by panic, followed by anger, which I found totally hilarious. My mom said, in that gentle way that moms have, “I don’t know why you and your brother do that to each other.”

“Because it’s funny.”

You think so.”

I got home and told this story to MizBubs. I started laughing, and she started laughing, and then she pulled herself up and said “you know, no woman would do something like that.”

So what’s the deal? It’s not like there’s some big gap between my sensibility and MizBubs’. One of the first things I came to appreciate about her was that she’d watch Russ Meyer and women’s prison movies with me. And the Three Stooges. And I love Project Runway and craft shows.

I’ve just always enjoyed recreational lying. I get a great thrill out of seeing that stunned look of disbelief on people’s faces when I’ve pulled a whopper. Is that a male thing? Or is it just me and my family? I notice that I seemed to have passed the trait on to my youngest daughter (though MizBubs says she’d only do that kind of stuff to me, not to innocent people.)

I need to get some grant money and study this.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Porch bat

Looks like my theory about the shoe bat was probably correct. That was, one of our dogs probably carried it into the house and lost it some time before MizBubs noticed it.

I got home from work tonight, ending a long week. Within minutes of arriving home I was greeted by the sound of my youngest daughter shrieking at the dogs. A badly injured little brown bat was out on the back porch, apparently just having been chewed on by Duffy. My daughter was upset. I found out that the town we live in does not have an animal control officer. I also realized that the course of action I would have taken if alone--quickly severing the bat's head with a shovel and putting it in the garbage--was definitely not the thing to do under my daughter's bat-mourning gaze.

So that's how I came to be standing on my driveway at 9:30 at night, duct-taping a garbage bag to the exhaust pipe of my car, euthanizing a bat. I hope the neighbors saw this. And to really top off the whole effect, I wore a headlamp.

I have to go to sleep now. In the morning I have to take bat remains, on ice, to an animal hospital to be tested.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I am a hillbilly

And I turned my wife into one too. She turned willingly, enthusiastically even, seduced by my reckless ways and mint juleps, and weeping sentimentality...

Right now we got a big pot a beans soaking for tomorrow. And MizBubs has gone one better than bacon for seasoning--she's got us some real SALT PORK in there!

Cornbread will not be far behind. And greens. The grocery store by us now sells lots of products from Glory Foods, including pre-washed mixed greens. Time for a bourbon.

Oh, one more thing. SLEEP. I got a lot of it last night, finally. And I'll get more tomorrow night. I spent the past few days frantically organizing two honor guard functions for my department--posting the colors at 7:40am, followed by a moment of silence. Then a rifle salute for the official village observation at 10am. That means I get home at 3pm, and get to hang out with my beautiful family and feel lucky.

Everybody be nice tomorrow.

Shoe Bat


"Oh God, I'm so goth, I've got bats in my boots."
--My eldest daughter, the mad seamstress

As MizBubs watched TV the other night, one of the compound mutts (Duffy) went goofy and started sniffing, barking and running around a pair of our daughter's shoes on the living room floor. This went on for a few moments, and then Duffy assumed the alert watchdog position and stared at the shoes.

A few minutes later, MizBubs noticed some movement near the shoes. A mouse? A dog toy that Duffy dragged from under the sofa? Nope.

A bat. A live bat, subsequently identified as Myotis lucifugus, a Little Brown Bat. Injured, which is a good thing because it kept him from flying around the house, bumping into things, tangling in everyone's hair while biting them and giving everyone rabies. Instead, he crawled along on the floor while Duffy went apeshit.

MizBubs, girl dynamo, called in our youngest daughter to witness the unbelievable cuteness of the little bat. They agreed he was adorable, but not to be touched since he was, after all, injured wildlife. No Steve Irwins here. Miz Bubs then put on some cement-mixing gloves, got a shovel, scooped up the little rabies carrier, and flung him into the neighbor's yard, out of the reach of our dogs. She then returned to her regularly scheduled broadcast.

How did a bat get into my house? We couldn't see any obvious way in, so right now I'm going with the theory that one of the dogs brought him in, and unsure of what to do with him and inexperienced in bat-killing, lost control of the bat. It's a weak theory, though, and I'm open to other suggestions.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Tiny Kiss


I just got an email from the fabulous Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. I don't remember much about the email now, except it featured, prominently, the entertainment at a hotel lounge called Beacher's.

And Beacher's features a band. A tribute band, a KISS tribute band. Called Tiny Kiss, composed of 3 male dwarves and a "plus size" (347 pound) woman.

I want to rock and roll all night. And party every day.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ah, baby, I'm so tired

It's something when you're supposed to be working nights, and you're still getting up at 5:45 or 6 in the morning. In a few minutes I'll be leaving to drive downtown, looking snappy in my dark suit, to put in 4 hours of private security work as the shopping center trade show closes. Then it's back to work from 1-9:30pm. It's a blessing that I can adjust my hours so I can start and come home early.

My two fellow supervisors are both away working on a murder task force, so I have a good amount of administrative busywork to do this afternoon. I had a job dumped in my lap, organizing an honor guard presentation for 9/11; nice job since we don't yet have our own flags/poles or blank-firing M-1 rifles. I have the next 2 days to scrounge up some rifles from the local VFW or American Legion. The number of rifles I can get (if any) will determine the number of people I need and the manner of the presentation, and I scheduled two short training sessions Saturday and Sunday afternoon. So, I'm supposed to be working nights, my body is telling me I'm working nights, my head is throbbing and my stomache hurts. But I'm working days.

I can't wait till Tuesday. Sleep.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

On, Wisconsin!

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Grand old Badger state!
We, thy loyal sons and daughters
Hail thee good and great.
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Champion of the right.
"Forward," our motto - God
Will give thee might!

On, Wisconsin, indeed.

Speaking of necrophilia, Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz (R. Richland Center) believes that it happens "more frequently than people realize." He's sponsoring new anti-necrophilia legislation, because freaks who feel compelled to dig up graves and bang corpses would probably be deterred from that behavior by stronger laws.

I don't care if any of this is true, really, as long as I find it at least mildly entertaining.

Wisconsin Death Trip

Many of us F.I.B.'s only know Wisconsin as that magical vacation dairyland to the north: the Dells, muskie fishing, cheese curds, the Brat Stop. Ho-Chunk. Oh, yer darn tootin.

But anyone who
really knows the region, or has read the classic 1973 book Wisconsin Death Trip, knows better. Sure there's northwoods and pine forests and clear running water. There's also desperation, madness and necrophilia. Ed Gein.

And now this.

A headline in the September 4th Wisconsin State Journal titled Three men accused of attempted grave robbing. Three men are arrested attempting to dig up the Cassville grave of a 20 year old woman:

Grant County Sheriff Keith Govier said he believes Alex and Nicholas Grunke, twin brothers from Ridgeway, and their friend Dustin Radke of Dodgeville drove from Ridgeway Saturday to take Laura Tennessen's corpse from the grave.

Calling it, "the most bizarre case that I've been personally involved in, in 21 years of law enforcement," Govier said deputies are still looking for the motive.

On September 6, this Wisconsin State Journal headline lets us know that they found the motive:

Complaint: sex with body motive for grave digging

?!?!?!?!

20 year old Nicholas Grunke, freak,
saw an obituary photo of a 20 year old motorcycle crash victim, and decided it would be a good idea to dig up her body and have sex with her. Making the story even better, he talked his twin brother and a friend into helping out!

And of course, in any good freak story, there should be a Wal-Mart. The trio stopped at Wal-Mart to buy condoms before going to the cemetery. These kids may have missed a lot of lessons in high school, but at least they remembered safe sex!

You can find copies of the criminal complaint and mug photos here.

Just when I start complaining to Miz Bubs that the midwest is stolid and unexciting when compared to the lurid, overwrought and violence-prone south, along comes a story like this.

Thank you, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hey, this should be good!

Rantings of a Mad Seamstress

Well, whaddya know, this is the newly launched blog of my eldest daughter.

She's way cooler than I ever was at 17. Or 20, or now, for that matter.

Oops.

Vigilante mob allegedly beats, kills wrong man - Sep 2, 2006

5:20 am

5:20 a.m.

That's when I woke up. Not 6:45 a.m., which is the time I had set on my alarm.

Why did I wake up an hour and a half early?

Because my 14 year old daughter couldn't find the new bottle of body wash. And she had to stand next to a closet full of mini-bottles of soaps and shampoos, brought home from various hotels over the years, to be able to knock on our bedroom door.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A tale of two compounds: mid-century swankyville


It occurs to me that maybe I should've titled this series "A tale of three compounds." What I'm talking about is the grappling we've done with what level of cool sophistication we want in our rural retreat, vs what amount of back-to-the-land rusticality.

This last picture reflects some over the top vision of the compound, a la early 60's Playboy magazine. The original caption reads:

"Well, I've always looked at it as sort of
stockpiling the American Dream!"


I got this courtesy of the ASIFA Hollywood Animation Archive Project blog. What an excellent website if you're a fan of old cartoons and classic pinup art.

Me and Miz Bubs are big fans of mid-century design. Our living room is decorated with atomic-style print curtains sewn by Miz Bubs. She got the fabric from Repro Depot. Our lamps sport retro shades from Deadly Nightshades. We have a vintage 1950's tiki bar in the corner, yellow pleather with bamboo trim and a black formica top. (If you're wondering about those people in the last link, they're attempting to do the sign language for "bullshit." Long story.)

When we started looking at rural land we first thought of just moving into and fixing whatever old house was there. We've also thought about really going earth-friendly and building a cob home. What my daughter refers to as a hobbit house. Another thing that's really intrigued us is the idea of building a new, prefab modern house, like the ones offered by Wee House or Rocio Romero. Rocio Romero's model home is a few hours away in Missouri, and it's on our list of places to visit in the next year or so.

We can imagine inviting our swell urban sophisticate friends out to the compound to relax over a long weekend with martinis and Cole Porter music. Ring a ding ding.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Snakes in a car

Residents live real-life drama of snake in a car

Only down South (this story is from Shreveport, LA) would you find a story featuring all of these elements:

- Walmart,

- a pregnant woman scared out of a 1988 Monte Carlo by a snake,

- a witness interviewed for the story who has his own snake-in-a-car tale (a rattlesnake), and

- the phrase "I'll just put my faith in the Lord" as the closer.

Just wait until next year...

No, I'm not talking about the Chicago Cubs. I'm talking 4th of July, baby! The best holiday around (Halloween comes close--but if Halloween had barbecue and fireworks and our nation's independence it couldn't be beat.)

Sadly, this piece of video reached the compound too late for this year's Independence Day celebration:

Friday, September 01, 2006

Inthewrongplaceness

Who is Kira O'Reilly?

Kira O'Reilly--Inthewrongplaceness

My friend Bill once said, in response to the old Karen Finley/Robert Maplethorpe NEA controversy, something to the effect that, without public funding for the arts, we'd have a lot less bad performance art.

Ms. O'Reilly's latest piece , "Inthewrongplaceness" features her sitting, naked, cradling a dead pig for several hours. It looks like there's a swan in there too. This may surprise you, hep and worldly readers, but some people are offended by this, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

I shouldn't be surprised by PETA; I suppose if you disapprove of pigs dying for bacon and barbecue, you probably wouldn't want them dying for art, either.

I wonder if there's going to be a DVD of the performance, and if there is, will it come with a scratch & sniff card to recreate the experience?

McDonald's moves to stop hedgehog slaughter

CNN.com - Food giant bows to hedgehog - Aug 31, 2006

Who doesn't like hedgehogs?

A tale of two compounds: the swamp variations



You've seen the idyllic rural compound in the previous post. The rolling fields and old barns; that's where Gentleman Farmer Bubs might live. I might rise early and stroll the back 40, surrounded by my hounds, sipping coffee and marvelling at God's creation. Wellington boots and maybe even a tweed shooting jacket. Enough of that.

Here now, in all its feverish bourbon-soaked glory, is the swamp version of the rural compound. This is where Ol' Cranky Bubs would live. Sitting on the porch in a shabby seersucker suit, delirious from swamp fever and mint juleps. Clearing away the snake skins hanging from the railing to make room to stand up empty longneck beer bottles. Shooting those bottles off the porch, bullets flying out into the muskeg. Catfish. Cigars. Tabasco. Occasional forays into town for supplies, or to lay down a wager at the local cockfight. Maybe a couple side bets on some chicken bingo.

This is a real picture, taken by yours truly on the Pearl River in Louisiana, in an area known as the Honey Island Swamp. Our guide told us that the resident was prone to emerging from his fish camp and firing a shotgun at random to discourage tourists.

A tale of two compounds...continued



This is the farm owned by some of MizBubs' extended family (her sister's in-laws) about an hour west of Dubuque, Iowa. I keep these images on my desktop at work as a reminder of what I'm working for.

Blue skies, old barn, gently rolling landscape. Ahhh...there's a nice creek rolling through also. They have about 200 acres, with a nice variety of pasture, alfalfa fields, bottomland and woods. We'll be camping there in a few weeks, drinking, playing music, dogs running around, cooking over a big-ass fire. We usually camp alongside the creek, down in the bottom.

This is the first vision of the compound I wanted to show you. It could look something like this, and it could be anywhere in the upper south or midwest.