31 January 2009

being it

bambi tagged me, so i will do the right thing rather than write about last night's minnow happenings (later?).

The rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

ok. here's 6 random things about my life

  1. i hate hair. i like it on heads, but nowhere else. i spend a great deal of time each day removing it from where it has fallen and curse its resolve to remain in place.
  2. i've always wanted to be a barber. despite my hair hatred and my inability to cut anything straight, i would enjoy standing and chatting with surprise guests all day. if only i could get paid for barbering without the cutting part--head touching? i'm not sure what the pole would look like.
  3. i am best at being alone when someone else is around.
  4. public pizza eating makes me a greedy pig. i avoid almost all public eating experiences because i like to eat with friends only, and because i worry about getting my fair share. i blame a no-food childhood for this. "mom, can gary stay for supper?" "no. we only have one can of ravioli."
  5. some afternoons i find songs on youtube that make me cry. i sit, i cry, i go back to vacuuming. maybe this has something to do with #3.
  6. when i talk to people, i wonder about what they're not saying, and sometimes i can figure it out. i wonder if they sense that regardless of what i'm doing or saying, i am haunted by loss.
and those i tag because they seem cool and i would like to learn more about them:
early spring mud puddle at an off angle
my friend uglyangie

and a refused tag yelled across the room to:

30 January 2009

7th generation

rmj, the 7th generation of my family in dowagiac, and i spend a little time together a couple times a week so her mother can go to the gym. yesterday, my attempts to amuse her didn't go so well. she seemed to enjoy laying on her back or arching her back or looking at the cat, but these things held her attention for about as long as things hold my attention.

i decided to have her sit in front of the webcam with me so we could blog. she liked it for a second.

then all the pressure that comes from being the sole representative of the 7th generation seemed to get to her, and she cried. it is very difficult to express one's self with a vocabulary limited to gurgles and screams. it keeps the receiver of the message at a distinct disadvantage.

at one point, i walked her into the dining room to stare at the ceiling, which she seems to enjoy. this worked until i made the grave mistake of singing. i thought babies liked that. apparently, she isn't sending me to hollywood.

28 January 2009

zero effort accomplishment

today i rushed home to meet the furnace guy. i thought i had better shovel a path for him and check the kitty litter just in case the cat decided to stink up the basement rather than my office. i imagine the furnace business is filled with catshit afternoons, and i don't want to add to that.

neither snow nor poop had fallen since i had left in the morning, so my job was pretty easy (just clean up after the plow). i sat and waited and greeted and paid. there was only one difficulty associated with the entire task: convincing the furnace guy that december 2007 was only a year ago and not two. "you should have it cleaned after a year, not two years." the discussion ended in a draw--both of us convinced the other couldn't subtract.

at the end of it all, i could check "furnace" off my list with nearly no effort on my part. i love accomplishing things without doing anything. i get excited every friday when a truck comes and helps me check "garbage" off my list. i need more of this. what ever happened to the milk man?

an old boss of mine told me that when young i would get paid for what i did, and when i got older, i could get paid for what i knew. i guess that when i was young i could sense accomplishment for what i did; now i feel it when i pay someone else to do it. god bless america.

27 January 2009

view from a dying city

a recent import to dowagiac, the irish writer, told me today that he heard dowagiac was a dying city. i googled it immediately and found that "dying city michigan" pulls up flint and places near flint, but not dowagiac. he must be wrong.

google would know if it were true.

but then again it is possible that ours is an insignificant death--a death too small for even the internet to notice.

as an aside, saying flint is dying is as insightful as saying puppies are cute. vultures ate the butt out of that pig a decade ago. the circle of life, hakunamatata, amen.

fifteen years ago, i suspected dowagiac was dead, not dying. they made major renovations to the "historic" downtown. signs point to this attraction (as they do in most smal towns) from the highway through town that everyone uses to avoid such things. they restored the brick buildings and put up imitation street lights so the vacant storefronts would be more attractive to the various stroller girls and other unemployed folk who spend their days on benches.

i was suspicious because one always puts a suit on a corpse before burying it. the fix up was proof of our death.

as always, though, we in small town middle america are slow to catch on. we have to be reminded by outsiders of things as obvious as our own demise. tear down the city limits sign and replace it with a tombstone. we're dead.

26 January 2009

dear god

i've been away for a while visiting the great mountainless mount pleasant, michigan, losing money to the indian casino, and wandering around central michigan's campus. i am back in blogable dowagiac. and so it begins. though i really should write a blog about how much i enjoyed being able to buy sushi at the college library (i didn't, but liked that i could).

instead i will continue my life's work of giving unsolicited advice. i've sent suggestions to everyone. no one answers. this one's for god.

please re-design humans for life in the cold. too many times in the last week, my extremities have come close to falling off. my fingers, nose, and ears in particular have been icicles hanging from the eaves of my face and hands. the only reason they don't fall off is because man in his limited yet useful wisdom has invented the indoors (something you seem to have forgotten, unless i count caves, which really aren't so nice).

i'm pretty sure that if i found the door to work locked, i wouldn't make it back to the car before i lost at least one ear. one very red ear. why it turns red without any warm blood in it is another mystery, but not one i will bother you with, god. i want you to focus on the big picture.

sure, you say, we lose the limbs first so that all the body's resources can be dedicated to the trunk--holder of the vital organs. i say that's old thinking. my fingers are much more vital to me than my protected appendix. how else could i write you this complaint letter.

sure, you say, buy a hat and gloves. i refuse to make up for your shortcomings. i don't own an umbrella either.

design the next human with a streamlined round head--nothing sticking out. cover it with hair or fat to protect it. give us retractable fingers (and toes, while you're at it), so we can suck them in when we're cold and shoot them out when needed. a cat's penis might be a good model.

respectfully cold,


22 January 2009


here are some rumors i've been trying to start for years (or days). feel free to spread them.

Entertainment: Quentin Tarantino has purchased the rights to many classic movies from the 1930s and 40s in order to introduce them to a new generation of viewers. To make them relevant he is re-dubbing them to add currently popular swear words. 380 swears were added to Gone with the Wind. "Frankly, Scarlet, you f***in bitch, I don't m*****f***in give a f***in s**t."

Politics: Magic Johnson once dated Barak Obama's sister.

Health: A recent study from the University of Maryland Medical School found that the health risks of second hand smoke are greatly exaggerated, but third and fourth hand smoke can be potentially life threatening.

Personal (say this happened to you): I was at a party for parents with babies and young children. There was a lot of breast feeding going on--nothing unusual, just kids tucked under little blankets drinking breast milk. All of a sudden, one of the women took off all of her clothes and began breast feeding while completely naked. "This is the natural way," she said.

20 January 2009

guilty basement treasure

i recently re-discovered the original art for a 5-part comic, starllorn (the philosopher), written by john diprete and drawn by gene day. day was just starting to take off as an artist for marvel's star wars when he died in 1982.

i find it a couple times a decade and wonder what i should do with it. i'm always haunted by tinges of old guilt.

i remember getting it around 1977 when i was a crazed teenage comics fan and fanzine publisher. i was putting together hero sandwich #4, which would be my best issue ever. i interviewed george perez over the phone, interviewed my artist hero joe staton in a hotel room in chicago, and got gene day to allow me to serialize starllorn. to get people interested, i had day do a 11 x 17 starllorn poster and hawked them at the chicago comicon and in little unsuccessful ads in the buyers guide.

i was convinced i would be the next great thing in comics. i may have been, but i retired at the age of 15, before publishing the best issue ever.

the reason why i ended up with these unpublished comics is strange. i found myself in the middle of a feud (which may have been completely made up) between chris meth (snotty reviewer--look him up) and bill dale marcinko, publisher of afta, and the only guy i know to actually die in a house fire because the firemen couldn't get to him past the boxes and boxes of crap he collected. bill was pretending to have a brother dale whom he killed. meth was writing everyone and telling them to stay away from this maniac. i defended bill in print. meth sent me a threatening letter on jewish defence league stationary. i paniced. my fan friends stopped writing to me. i gave it all up.

i wrote no one. i gave nothing back. i was 15.

i found out gene day died when i looked him up about ten years ago to return the comics. what to do. i will ask myself that again in 5 or 6 years.

19 January 2009

thoughts on the inauguration

1. mr. computerman, take off this CapsLock key! i really don't understand why this key is so big and so prominently placed. i have used it once in 20 years and mistakenly hit it 40,000 times. i also don't like that every computer i use has the "delete" button placed differently, but the CapsLock is definitely the greatest challenge to freedom i face on a day to day basis.

2. i learned the other day that the chutes cattle walk through on the way to the slaughterhouse are curved so they can't see too far ahead. apparently it cuts down on panic and spares their feelings. it also helps that no cattle ever escape and tell the others what to expect. i hope for a similar end. make my life a curved chute. i don't really want to see my transition to meat before it happens.

3. holidays make me sad because there is no mail. before realizing it was a holiday, i looked outside for footprints in the snow several times and even checked the box on the off possibility that the mailman lept from the sidewalk onto our porch. our mailman is unable to jump over a pencil. but such is my love of getting the mail. i never get anything good, but it's something that comes and can be opened like little presents every day.

4. personal secret (since there seem to be so many on blogs): i tear up when the national anthem is done right.

18 January 2009

losing faith in america from an aisle seat

the binge of movie going is over. sure, i'll go to watchmen in march, but that is obligation, not choice.

the movie, mall cop, was almost as funny as a bad sitcom. i thought about all the money being wasted "in these tough times" to produce the movie and then watch it. making such a movie is like spending a few million dollars on broken phones. we went because we like kevin james. next time he comes out with a movie, we'll just send him ten bucks and skip the torture. we will all benefit.

the real problem is that bad movies bring out bad crowds. it was packed with frenetic packs of preteen bff's and sad american families. the former flitted about, while the latter kicked our seats, ate loudly, came in late, and generally treated the place like the inside of a minivan.

rows of seats in movie theaters are spaced at four-year-old kicking distance. they can never resist. parents are too brain dead and desensitized to the irritation of their children to stop it. instead of saying "stop it" to the kids and "sorry about that" to us, they drown out the world around them with non-stop munching of notoriously loud food packed in equally loud containers. i think the people next to us were pulling firecrackers out of a garbage disposal and lighting them in their mouths.

ironically, the people that made it difficult for me to hear were able to hear well enough to laugh at things so unfunny, no sensible person could be filled with anything but pity for their poor taste.

adult theaters are probably the better option. no kids, no eating, ample spacing between rows, and the sounds made are part of the show.

in the meantime, i am reminded of the bukowski line, which i am too lazy to look up: it's not that i hate people; i'm just happier when they're not around.

16 January 2009

the education pill

on the tv news this morning between long segments explaining that "it's cold," they showed a clip of a recently unemployed trailer factory worker (27 years) who was having difficulty getting his paperwork in order to attend college as part of a state program.

he filed the paperwork (probably late), signed up for classes (probably later), and was told that there may be problems keeping him in classes because the state money hadn't been credited to his account yet. "that's fair," he said sarcastically. the news people were on the scene to investigate this crisis.

the same sense of news that drives young reporters to throw cups of boiling water into the air to show how cold it is (saw it on two different channels this morning), drives their senior colleagues to be shocked that government money is slow and that colleges expect payment for their services. journalism school also teaches them that organizations are always at fault and individuals, especially the "disadvantaged" are never to blame for their own problems.

they missed the story. the real story. the guy was dressed for the trailer factory, had a giant fuzzy camo hat squashed over his mullet, spoke poorly, and mentioned he was going back to school to get a job in "business."

people think that education is doled out like a certificate of brains from the wizard of oz. if one pays and attends, anything is possible. this is simply not true. not everyone is suited for everything. we understand this in sports better than we understand this in education.

there are no brain steroids. education is not a brain transplant. false hope is unethical.

to prove my point, i am determined to go to basketball school tommorrow, and then promptly not get a job with the pistons. worse yet, i will go to barber college (one of my past dreams) and see what damage these shaky hands are horrible eyes can inflict upon america.

p.s. it's cold.

14 January 2009

brotherhood of shovelers and the lazy guy

it's so cold i have to state the obvious. pen-exploding cold. hand-whitening cold.

as an act of kindness, those of us indoors should warm the hands of those coming inside with our arm pits or our butts. "would you like me to sit on your hands?" should be a common greeting in a kind-hearted and caring society. sadly, people may take it the wrong way.

i just came in from my afternoon shoveling. i enjoy making a neat looking driveway. my current neighbor (one of many) in the transient house next door wandered out onto his stoop and looked at me as if he'd never seen a person work. if the world were all mirrors, he wouldn't. "i would have thought you would have a snow blower," he said. i tried to explain how a shovel is all a person needs. he looked confused. in seven years, i have never seen a person in that house shovel. they prefer getting stuck or sliding into my fence.

meanwhile, i watch others around the neighborhood, shovels in hand. one woman shovels slowly, for hours, whittling away at the sidewalk as if she's carefully sculpting a statue of a fallen hero on a horse. she rakes in much the same way--like she doesn't want to wake the grass.

the retired school janitor across the street shovels so much, uglywife says he shovels his lawn. he doesn't shovel a path to anything; he rearranges snow. he does so because every so often a neighbor will arrive home, or someone will walk by, or someone like me will be shoveling within earshot. it is his social life. work has always provided him with conversation and a sense of belonging.

shovel and you belong. blow snow and you keep a noisy distance. stay inside and you become unaware a society even exists.

it's cold and i have no one to sit on my hands.

12 January 2009

fear the 80 year old man

we're not movie people. lately, though, we've been on a streak of movie watching. movie theater watching, i mean. yesterday, i finally saw a movie that was worth the exposure to winter germs. it captured my attention so much, i forgot i had to go to the bathroom. gran torino.

dirty old harry. it is very funny, truly sad, and thought provoking. i've never seen uglywife cry without an animal being involved. she cried. don't tell her i mentioned that.

it is difficult for me to resist talking about favorite lines and scenes. i don't want to be a spoiler. let's just say that it speaks to the timeless verities and exemplifies the best of the human spirit--with funny lines, big guns, and a cool car.

i haven't recommended a movie since 1978. i'll wait a week, expect you've seen it, and talk about particulars.

09 January 2009


it used to be storms. the dog would shiver and whine and refuse to go outside, meaning, refuse to go to the bathroom. that is fairly common.

the condition hasn't changed, but the definition of storm has. drizzle is a storm. a mild breeze is a storm. if we ever had two days in a row of pleasant weather--75 degrees, 5 mph winds--the dog's bladder would explode. we are fortunate to live in michigan.

inside "storms" used to be the vacuum. again, typical. now the storms include anything which might beep. cooking used to set off the smoke alarms on occasion. the beep from the smoke alarm would make the dog act as if the sound had grown burrs and entered her urethra. i disconnected the alarms, choosing possible death over the dog's panic attacks.

since the fan was turned on when cooking got a little smokey, the fan puts the dog in panic mode. association. damn that pavlov. if the fan is turned on, the dog demands to be let out to bury herself in imaginary dens.

our new oven gives a pleasant "ding" when the cooking is done. needless to say, if anyone turns on the oven, the dog begins shivering like she is being sent to the firing line, anticipating a possible ding.

i imagine the dog police coming and asking why i beat my dog. "i don't beat it. i simply turned on the oven to make some biscuits." they arrest me anyway. in the dog world, the definition of abuse is expanding at a rate even faster than in the human world.

the nervous disorders are endless. the sight of bugs makes her drool. blood will make her vomit. oddly, she's fine with vomit.

the doctor offers helpful advice. "it'll get worse." then with a chuckle, he hands me the bill.

latest unemployment numbers

i often say (though never on this blog until now) that i still do not see signs of an unemployment problem in my part of america. sure, everything around me is shut down, and i encounter many "displaced workers" (students), and statistically the rate for this little part of michigan is amongst the nation's highest.

still, i'm convinced we have an overemployment problem.

  • i call a company to find out where my cat food is. the person says his records show it wasn't sent because i need a prescription for it. he looks again. "but that's not correct. you don't need a prescription. i'll change that." then he informs me the shipping is wrong and that he'll have to add eight dollars to my order which hasn't been shipped in three weeks. i speak to a supervisor. "you need a prescription," he says. overemployment.
  • i go to lowe's to find a shelf. i wander. i look for someone to help. they scatter from me. they group together to chat about something and block me out. they linger by the bathroom. overemployment.
that's this week. the examples are abundant. a good percentage of people who have jobs shouldn't. i'm guessing that many of those who don't have jobs should. fire 20 percent of the current work force; hire the 7 percent currently looking for work; everyone wins.

05 January 2009

birds v. gunslingers

in little more than a week's time, uglywife and i have watched ten hours of documentaries on birds and ten hours of documentaries on famous gun fighters of the old west. don't ask.

after this fairly thorough indoctrination into the lives of both, i can say without hesitation that i would feel much more comfortable living closely with desperadoes. the man killers of the west generally lived by a code of some sort. their body counts are usually exaggerated. most were readers.

birds, however, are vicious. we watched birds kill birds. we watched birds knock other birds eggs off branches to get a sip, leaving the rest for the ants. we watched birds wait for birds to leave their nest so they could kill babies. we watched ducks torture and starve their own babies so that they could have the two they want rather than the five that were born.

don't let the birds take over. they will not govern well. when you're not looking they will steal your children. wyatt earp will shoot you if you draw on him; a bird will crap on you just to laugh.

i'm emptying the feeders outside, throwing out the seed, and filling them with whiskey. better cowboys hanging out in the backyard than the current crop of sky killers.

01 January 2009

confused by public urinals

there are so many things i don't understand about other humans, that i doubt sometimes i am human at all. the other day i used a urinal at white castle. it was a normal public urinal, which means dirty. dried and drying urine on the rim i can understand, though it really is a large target. the amount of public hairs stuck all over the rim, though, is perplexing.

what do people do to unleash so many pubes while peeing? do they rustle it about? do they pluck and preen to pass time while peeing? are the access slits in their underwear too tight? is the average person that hairy? is this a territory marking i'm unfamiliar with?

as i say, i'm confused. there must have been forty or so pubic artifacts on the urinal at white castle. there was sufficient variety in shape and color to suggest a recurring problem rather than a single shooter. am i the only non-shedder? what am i doing wrong?

stranger in paradise

i'm not a very good relaxer. i find pleasure in doing things. still, we decided to spend a few days over the holiday in a romantic, relaxation, paradise. it was better than advertised.

the place: sybaris.

the room (really a stand-alone condo): giant bed upstairs, with a food preparing area, his and hers sinks, giant shower, hot tub, stereo system, fireplace, and massage chair. a slide (or stairs for me, perpetually scared of slides) shoots one down to the 92 degree pool, attached hot tub, and giant steam room. we also got our own heated garage.

the experience: it became strange living without outside light, and really strange living without the internet, and i still found enjoyment in keeping things tidy or reading, but--for the most part, it was truly relaxing. we had an amazing amount of time to play in the water without anything important to do. though the place is in the middle of suburbia and close to busy highways, it seemed a million miles away from civilization. it's nice to leave civilization every so often.

the recommendation: go.

and now: i can get back to blogging about dowagiac, drunks, and stupid ideas.