October 31, 2006

You Wanna Run

When I was around 12, I did what every 12 year old did - had friends over and snuck out of the house. I'd show them my fool-proof way to escape from my second story bedroom - a maneuver which required dropping seven or eight feet from a window onto a lattice patio cover, crossing a section of roof and dropping down to a six foot fence. Not an easy trick but one I pulled over and over again. Until one particular evening.

One night, a friend of mine, Brian, stayed over. We'd managed to collect enough toilet paper from various sources to wrap three or four good sized houses but we'd planned to use it all in one shot. And we did. We successfully escaped from my parents' house, picked up the toilet paper we'd stashed in a neighbor's garden and wrapped the house up tight. The house was in a neighborhood easily a couple of miles away - and we'd walked. We found ourselves making the return trip in the early hours of the morning. The time in which no one stirs. Those hanging on to the night have given up while those clinging to the early hours of morning have yet to face the day. It was creepy.

At one point, halfway home, we heard music. Odd considering the hour and the dearth of traffic on the road. Brian and I both subconsciously moved off the sidewalk, favoring a path closer to the houses of the neighborhood. The music grew louder with each step finally taking shape and forming something familiar to both of us.

"Oh my god, we're in trouble," Brian said. He was always a little on the dramatic side so I didn't quite see how we were in any trouble or the danger a song written by J.J. Cale about coke would pose. Yet, the familiar strains of Eric Clapton's guitar playing evoked something that felt menacing. I was instantly afraid.

If you wanna hang out you've got to take her out; cocaine
If you wanna get down, down on the ground; cocaine

"Let's just move a little closer to the houses. If it comes any closer, we can just hide behind someone's bushes," I responded. And it did get closer. The music was so loud and so close it became almost impossible to differentiate between the pounding of my heart and the throbbing of Carl Radle's bass. Behind us, in time with the music, we heard an engine rev behind us. We dove into the closest group of bushes, shaking, breathing hard. I figured, at worst, we were dealing with a group of drunk high school kids looking to freak someone out. It was working.

She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie; cocaine

Hiding, nearly impaled by a branch doing its best to thread itself between my ribs, I heard brakes squeal and found myself directly in the path of two bright headlights belonging to what looked like a jacked up conversion van. The music continued to issue from the van. The song was the same but it had long since exceeded the 3:41 minute run time. The fact that the song was on an endless loop scared me more than anything, for some reason.

A door opened and shut, shadows fell upon the lawn and bushes in which we were hiding, as the driver stood in front of the van.

"You don't think I can see you," the voice said with a creaky, southern drawl. "But I can. I can see everything. Like that house you were just at."

When your day is done and you wanna run; cocaine

I felt instantly relieved. I knew then that this van and this person didn't belong to the house we'd TPed. But what if we'd accidentally gotten the wrong house? Or a neighbor had seen us and wanted to scare us. It was working. This surely had to be something like that. Rarely did anyone ever hear of some suburban dad hunting down and killing some kids who pulled a prank like we had.

"He must be from the neighborhood, or we got his house by mistake," I whispered to Brian. This is the extent to which I explained my theory but he seemed to buy it. He nodded but neither of us moved. "We should just get out of here. He's not going to do anything," I suggested.

But before we could move a muscle, the stranger spoke again, his shadow still cast over the lawn. "Yeah, you think you can run and you think you can hide but you can't. I'm watching. And I'll always be watching." And with that, he turned on his heel and got back in the van. The headlights unfocused as the van moved backwards, suddenly. Then they turned. The van veered left and headed down the street, out of sight, leaving only the faint traces of Cocaine behind.

If your thing is gone and you wanna ride on; cocaine.

We must have waited fifteen minutes in those bushes, afraid that this psycho would return. Eventually, we gave up our positions and headed home. We ran. We ran faster over greater distances than we ever had before, even though both of us were on the junior high cross country team. When we were within a few blocks of my house, we figured we were home free. Yet we weren't.

If you got bad news, you wanna kick them blues; cocaine

Instinct kicked in and we again found ourselves in a dense group of bushes that surrounded a green electrical maintenance box. Unfortunately, while the last hiding spot was far removed from the road, this one was right beside it. Again we heard the van before we saw it but we only had to wait a short amount of time before it drifted into our limited field of vision. It was hurtling out of the dark like a comet but seemed to brake instantly, right in front of us, within arm's length of where we hid. Brian had an up-close view of the gas cap while I could see the rusted chrome bumper, a piece of red cloth hanging from one of the back door hinges. Clapton got louder for a minute while the driver's side door was opened, then closed again. Heavy footsteps walked around behind the van and stood by the back doors. The driver's face was never clear; he was only a black shape, menacing, terrifying.

"You guys are pitiful hiders. I told you I'd be watching. And I will be. Too bad. I'd give you a ride myself but the van's full." And with that, the driver returned to the driver's side. The music's volume rose then fell as he opened the door and got inside the truck, then very faintly there were noises from within the back of the van. Thud thud...thud like someone meekly seeking attention...or help.

The driver put the van in gear and the van lurched forward. And for some reason I reached out as far as I could and snagged the cloth trapped in the back doors' hinges. I ran home, clutching the cloth the rest of the way. Brian and I went though the reentry routine as quietly as our exhausted bodies and brains could. Collapsed, panting on the floor of my room, I finally examined the cloth. And it wasn't a cloth. Instead it was a piece of a football jersey. The number 21 to be exact. With the name J.A. Adams in white block letters across the top. It meant nothing and I soon threw it away. We never saw or heard the man in the van again.

She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie; cocaine

Last week, I was browsing through the metro section of the newspaper. I ran across the following:

After nearly 20 years, the long-standing mystery surrounding the disappearance of a local Robert E. Lee high school student appears to have been solved. The missing man identified as Jacob Aaron Adams was arrested Tuesday night after being pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. He later revealed to police that he had been held captive by unknown individuals and had only escaped in the chaos of a fire which burned the house to the ground. Police spokesmen have refused to comment further however they have assured the community that the matter is under investigation.

Note: Some parts of this story are true. Some aren't. You decide which. Happy Halloween!

Posted by Chris at 7:32 AM | Comments (46)

October 30, 2006

The Surreal Life

I'm not going to lie - it was an odd morning around here.




It's not what it looks like. I mean, Mia wasn't really plying Eeyore with booze. Nobody really partied with wild enough abandon for there to be spontaneous bra removal. Sure, the gigantic duck got a little carried away but we didn't let him drive the truck far. Eeyore and Kitty, though, did end the day a little worse for wear.

Posted by Chris at 4:04 PM | Comments (33)

Monday Morning: Live From My Kitchen

Remember how I said I was covering for someone else at work for the last three weeks? Well, not anymore. And I decided to take a couple days off to celebrate. In honor of that, well, I got nuthin'.

Beth and I had a fantastic weekend. On Friday night we headed to my parents for dinner with my grandmother and in-laws. Mia was, of course, the center of attention and despite the fact that the evening stretched well past her bedtime, she entertained everyone and was perfectly wonderful. The three of us headed into D.C. for lunch at a great tapas place with Corinne, Forrest and Shepherd. Seeing them was, as always, wonderful. The kids were fantastic and the food was great. It was a gorgeous day - we ended up taking a nice long walk though the city. Pictures coming soon - I'm lazy. Sunday was quiet, unless you count Beth's ongoing site migration which turned out to be somewhat short of effortless.

Last night I took overnight baby duty. Sometime in the wee hours I moved a fussy child into our bed. I think I got kicked in the neck more than the average professional wrestler and at one point I woke up with a tiny little finger up my nose. So, I'm a little beat. Although, despite trying to insulate Beth and give her a break, Mia seemed determined to keep her awake as much as possible. Regardless, Mia's sitting here chowing down on cereal and I'm going to go make another cup of coffee. Maybe then I'll have something more interesting to say. Until then, stay cool. And happy Monday.

Posted by Chris at 7:23 AM | Comments (33)

Haiku For Monday #144

Monday, cruel mistress.
Know what? Fuck off. I'm going
back to bed. Ha!

Posted by Chris at 7:06 AM | Comments (10)

October 27, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Three Schadenfreude Shanties

Model Citizen


COPS were quizzing supermodel Naomi Campbell over an alleged assault yesterday — her NINTH rap in eight years. She returned to a central London police station this morning but has been rebailed until December.

The volatile model has a long list of previous form for flying into a rage and attacking her aides. The latest claim from her drugs counsellor triggered Naomi’s arrest at her home in central London yesterday. The unnamed counsellor walked into a police station with scratches all over her face which she insisted were caused by Naomi, 36. A source said: “The marks were so red you could tell the attack had only recently happened.”

Cops immediately swooped on Naomi’s home and took her in for questioning on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.


So, what do you think it is? Is it the lack of food making her cranky? Or the massive doses of cocaine? Talk amongst yourselves.

Lady Madonna


The father of the African baby Madonna wants to mother has appealed for an end to legal challenge to her adoption bid, fearing the singer could react by sending the boy back to his impoverished homeland.

Speaking on the eve of a hearing in Malawi's administrative capital Lilongwe, when rights groups will challenge an interim adoption order, Yohane Banda said Thursday the case should be dropped "for the sake of my child's future and health".

"I appeal to them to stop it because I don't want Madonna to get annoyed to the point of wanting to send back my David," 32-year-old Banda told AFP.

Banda said local rights groups were "on my neck every day to support the court action ... I am afraid if this is successful Madonna may send David back and I will have nowhere to go to fend for him."

The high court in Lilongwe will begin hearing the case, brought by a coalition of 67 rights groups, on Friday.

The groups say the government fast-tracked the process and broke its own laws by allowing 13-month-old David to be flown to the singer's London home before the adoption -- which usually takes 18 months -- gets final approval.


I don't fault anyone for adoption. I certainly can't fault Madonna. More people should be encouraged to use their resources to help out kids, whether it's sending food and aid or welcoming them into their own homes. But if you or I did this, we'd be accused of kidnapping, the kid would be taken away and we'd never have a shot in hell of adopting again.

Over the last thirty years, over 260,000 kids from other countries have been adopted by U.S. citizens. Only a few thousand of them were from Africa (most - nearly three times the next-highest percentage - are from Asia). Over 60% of these kids are girls and almost half of them are under a year old. So, really, Madonna did something remarkable here and bucked the trend. But there are people waiting patiently who want nothing more than to bring a child into their home, to welcome it into their family and love it. Very few of those people get laws passed to make it easier on them.

Raul And The King Of Spain


A Russian region has ordered an inquiry into a report that hunt organizers, keen to make the king of Spain's chances of killing a bear easier, provided a tame one drunk on vodka, a regional spokesman said Thursday.

National paper Kommersant carried a letter from Vologda's deputy chief of regional hunting resources management, Sergei Starostin, which accuses hunt organizers of plying a captive bear named “Mitrofan” with vodka-drenched honey and then forcing him from a cage to be shot by Spain's King Juan Carlos.

“His majesty Juan Carlos killed Mitrofan with a single shot,” Starostin wrote in his letter.


What a sportsman. Wonder if he slips the queen roofies every time he wants to get a little royal lovin'.


Thanks to the wonderful Elaine for the bear story. If you have something you'd like me to feature on Schadenfreude Fridays, just drop me a line at schadenwhatever@rudecactus.com and tell me about it.

Posted by Chris at 6:27 AM | Comments (36)

October 26, 2006

Limbaugh: Gaelic For "Loud-Mouth Ass-Munch"

Did you guys see the latest quote from Rush Limbaugh? Regarding the television spots actor (and Parkinson's disease sufferer) Michael J. Fox recorded in support of Democratic candidates supporting stem cell research, Rush stated:

"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. . . . This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."

In making his bold, insightful observation, Rush has confirmed some of my very secret controversial beliefs. I think I'm finally read to share. See, I've always suspected that Christopher Reeve was exaggerating the whole quadriplegic thing to spread awareness of the dangers of equestrian events (not to mention the Curse of Superman). I'm pretty sure that Ray Charles could really see. He was obviously just trying to bump his career. Stevie Wonder was, in fact, Ray's table-tennis partner. Those mentally handicapped kids? Secret attempt to promote the "short bus" as an alternative means of transportation. And I would so be tearing all of Stephen Hawking's theories of the universe to shreds if he wasn't in that funky wheelchair. That's clearly the only reason people are buying it.

Rush is one crazy motherfucker. I have a really helpful suggestion for him. The next time he sees something that begs for his comment, invites one of his little quips, I suggest that he keep his big, fat oxycontin-popping mouth shut. Better yet, he should jam something in his pie-hole that would keep him from making an ass of himself. Maybe shove Ann Coulter in there.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (78)

October 25, 2006

On Music: Rolling Stone and Reviews

Dear Rolling Stone,

The bottom line is that I love you. I always have and always will. In high school, I used your covers to wallpaper my room. You were my source, before the Internet, of all things musical. In your oversized pages, I discovered grunge. You're where I first heard of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Where I first caught glimpses of the bloody-handed Pete Townshend and bellbottomed Jimmy Page. Where I first read about dream-inspiring shows, like U2 at Red Rocks and the Zeppelin reunion for Atlantic Records' 40th. But oh how you've let me down.

See, when I think of Rolling Stone, I think of music. Not movies or books or politics. Music. Plain and simple. Instead of music content, however, your pages seem dominated by left-wing politics worthy of mid-term senatorial campaign literature. The most recent issue, for example, highlighted the ten worst congressmen nine of whom were Republicans (the only Democrat is a guy who's actually been convicted of a crime - way to go out on a limb). You can't tell that the lone Democrat was the only bad Democrat you could find.

I'm an uber-liberal but I'm afraid for liberal-leaning journalism when, first, it takes place in a music magazine (which is hardly a music magazine anymore, as evidenced by the insightful analysis over the lack of success of NBC's Friday Night Lights and yet another promise of GnR's delivery of Chinese Democracy) and, second, there seems to be no objective viewpoint or balance whatsoever. You can't ask people to respect your opinions if you can't prove they're fair or balanced, taking even the most abhorrent views into consideration.

I'll still read you but I'll ignore the political shit. And I'll always dream of a return to the good old days when you reported about music.

Chris


And now for a little of the music content Rolling Stone withheld from you this month.

holdsteady.boys.jpgThe Hold Steady: Boys and Girls In America
Damn, I love this band. I'd go so far as to say they're one of the best, most important bands operating in the United States today. Why? It's simple - they stick to the tenants that define old-school, ball-busting rock and combine them with brilliantly smart, clever lyrics worthy of a collection of Raymond Carver stories. I'm not saying liking them is always easy. They actually take some getting used to. You pair music that would best accompany a bar brawl with a meditation on pop culture and Catholicism as they did with last year's Separation Sunday and mix in a healthy dose of Craig Finn's spoken (almost yelling) vocals and you've got an interesting sonic stew. And honestly it was the vocals that put me off initially. Finn talks (somewhat loudly) through most of his songs, not really attempting to sing. I usually prefer people who can carry a tune.

Boys and Girls In America is a mixed bag. A pretty damn fine mixed bag for sure, but a mixed bag nonetheless. Musically, the guys have never sounded finer. In fact, they add a few things to the mix here - piano, Hammond organ, backing vocalists - which are truly fantastic additions. Try to imagine what it would be like if AC/DC and Springsteen's E Street Band got together for a jam session. The vocals, though, were a bit of a let down. See, Finn tries to sing a little. Less prevalent are the spoken word vocals. And I can't believe I'm saying this but I miss them.

The Hold Steady are a fantastic band. And I'd argue, they're an important band. This might not be their most perfect album (see aforementioned Separation Sunday), but it's damn good. Worth running out and buying? Oh yes, most definitely.

mayer.continuum.jpgJohn Mayer: Continuum
Yeah, yeah...laugh if you want. I bought the new John Mayer album because, I'll admit, I kinda like the guy. As the eternal question rages on - is he a poser or is he for real - Mayer managed to put out a third album which deviated from pop and seemed to attempt an answer to that question. While he was relatively convincing as a pop icon and minor guitar god, he's much less convincing as a soulster. See, what Mayer tries to do here is lay down an album of R&B tinged white-boy soul while allowing for a few more guitar pyrotechnics than his previous two albums. There's quite a bit more guitar noodling and much of it is quite good, but that's about the only positive thing I can say about the album. Well, not quite. I can say, "it's nice." It is. It sounds good, it's got a gentle groove to it and it certainly is inoffensive. But it's not overly good. There's nothing on it that makes you say, "holy shit, this is a great album." It's just, well, an album. It exists, it sits on my shelf, taking up precious space. That's it. The bottom line - Mayer hasn't quite figured out who he is. Through his music, he reacts to the labels placed upon him. His most recent live album under the name The John Mayer Trio was one such reaction. This is another. It's not bad but it's not incredibly good. Or rather, it's not anything. It's just there.

killers.sam.jpgThe Killers: Sam's Town
The Killers had a lot to live up to. Any way you look at it Hot Fuss was an unexpected and huge hit. I mean, this kind of situation is the reason the term sophomore slump was coined. Instead of directly confronting their past, they looked in a new direction. They changed their sound. Maybe changed isn't quite the right word. Tweaked is better. Consider what Coldplay did with their last album - it was still recognizably them but something shifted, sonically, just a little bit.

I read a scathing review in Rolling Stone so I was prepared for the worst. I shouldn't have been. Sam's Town finds the band pushing unapologetic rock. And it's very good. The sonic territory is more immediate, more straightforward. Gone are some (but not all) of the new wave influences which highlighted their debut but never before has the band sounded this strong, this focused. The lyrics are insanely well-written and instantly quotable. In short, this album might not be as adventurous as their first but it resonates much louder for much longer.

Posted by Chris at 7:29 AM | Comments (35)

October 24, 2006

Tell Me A Secret

Sitting here staring at my monitor, I've realized several things.

  1. My monitor is filthy. I mean, disgusting.
  2. I am hopelessly, shamefully addicted to Sweetarts. I'm pretty sure it's not my fault. They've got to be full of crack. Like, I could grab a lighter and smoke those little bad boys and I'd be all high like a freaky crackhead. Why do I know this? My officemate brought in Halloween candy and I've been eating those little fuckers since I rolled into the office. And I can't stop. This is, I imagine, only the beginning of a raging Sweetart habit which will gradually consume my life. I'll hide vast quantities of them around the house and in my car. I'll retreat from family and friends, preferring the slightly sour embrace of my sugar-filled friends. There will be a huge intervention. I'll cry, promise to give up the habit and enter into a 12 step anti-tart program whilst accepting Jesus Christ as my personal savior and apologizing to everyone wronged due to my uncontrollable addition to sugary, chalky goodness. Then the relapse. Damnit, I must stop eating these things. Oh no...there's another roll....come to daddy.
  3. I can think of nothing to say.

I would imagine this somewhat speechless condition is due to several factors.


  1. It's early. I mean, it's still dark outside. And cold.
  2. I'm on week three of filling in for my coworker who ran off and got married. And there's a lot of pressure!
  3. I spent the night dreaming terrible stuff. Of course now I can't remember a bit of it, except that I worked alongside the cast of the Love Boat plotting an assault on a banana plantation in, of all places, Arkansas (where, yes, I realize bananas do not grow).
  4. My brain was removed by aliens for experimentation.

So, obviously I'm not going to come up with anything groundbreaking (although I did just accidentally spell "anything" like "anythong" which made me giggle) so it's up to you. Tell me a secret, something about you I wouldn't guess or don't know. Go ahead. It's liberating. Watch:

When I was a kid, I used to play private detective with my friend Brent. He was John Dickson and I was John Copley. We were Copley & Dickson, Private Investigators. We had a vast empire and were a rock band on the side. Our compound consisted of square miles of buildings underneath which we had our own subway system. We actively developed and solved cases and also prank called the Home Shopping Network. This was all fuelled by too many hours watching Charlie's Angels, Magnum P.I. and Simon & Simon…and, apparently, the Home Shopping Network.

Ahhh, my, that's liberating. Now, you try.

Posted by Chris at 7:20 AM | Comments (66)

October 23, 2006

Legacies

...more on flickr...
After a nice, long week of being sick (again), we were all feeling well enough to get out of the house on Sunday. We headed over to my parents to visit them and my grandmother who's in town for a week. My grandmother is doing wonderfully. I'll admit, I was worried about what might happen to her after my grandfather died but those turned out to be unfounded fears. We spent a few hours inside and out and, as I described my life with Mia to my grandmother, as I showed off just how cool she is, I found myself immensely proud of her, Beth and even myself.

A while back I read a book, part of which dealt with legacies. As in, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? This used to be a question I worried about. Seriously. For the longest time, I figured that I'd be unsatisfied if I hadn't written the great American novel or recorded the definitive rock album. It wasn't that I wanted to be recognized, that I wanted my name to become a household one. Instead, it was that I wanted to contribute, leave something behind which had some impact on people. I use the past tense, though I'm not sure my desire to see this happen has changed. Instead, I've accomplished it. Without doubt, my daughter is my single greatest accomplishment. Better than any sonnet I'd write, novel I'd develop or album I'd ever record.

It's not that I don't want to write that novel or record that album. It's not that I don't want to take the perfect picture or somehow write the greatest blog entry in the history of the known universe. I do. But my greatest accomplishment is and will always be Mia.

Last night Mia turned to Beth and said mama. Then she turned to me and said dada. And I grew even more proud than I had been before. While I didn't think possible.

Posted by Chris at 7:27 AM | Comments (48)

Haiku For Monday #144

If I were mobbed up,
I'd put a hit on Monday.
Swim with fishes, bitch.

Posted by Chris at 7:17 AM | Comments (7)

October 22, 2006

Gratuitous Product Review: Philips Baby Monitor

My friend Charlie struck again. This time, he sent a baby monitor my way. Specifically, the Philips DECT model. Now, I have to say there's almost nothing sexy about baby monitors. In the spectrum of electronics and small appliance purchases, a baby monitor rates pretty low, somewhere between a hair dryer and a vacuum. The bottom line is that, while it was cool getting free stuff, I was skeptical. I'm actually pretty well qualified, however, to evaluate a baby monitor. Beth and I are on our second set. I guess we're picky.

The monitor advertises itself as a digital monitor and the payoff for this digitization is quite convincing. The sound quality is fantastic - I can hear Mia breathing (admittedly not as tough lately since she's had a sinus infection) and I'm pretty sure I can hear all the goings on in the neighborhood if I crank it enough. Better are the features. From the remote unit, parents can not only hear their child but turn on a nightlight on the base unit, flip on one of several lullabies or even talk to their child (I have the feeling this is a feature best used with older kids; it would just freak Mia out). It even displays the temperature in the baby's room and it'll let you know if its getting too hot or cold. Almost every aspect of the monitor can be controlled from the remote unit. Of course, with more features comes a greater degree of adjustment getting used to it. I have to admit, I actually cracked the user manual to see how to scroll through the menu. But I only had to look at it that once.

There are a few drawbacks. The battery life is okay but not stellar. Unlike many of the monitor models out there, it only comes with one remote unit. So when the batteries die, you don't have too many options. And while it helpfully tells you the temperature, it doesn't tell you the time. I don't know why that bothers me but it seems like it would be an easy feature to include.

The retail price on the monitor is steep - Amazon has them listed for $200. Is it worth it? Maybe. If you've tried other monitors and never been satisfied, yes. If you're concerned about sound quality and want a few great extra features, yes. It is better than the monitors I've had experience with. Parents have a lot to spend their cash on. I'm not sure it's realistic to pay $200 for a monitor. But if you've purchased all the diapers, books, blankets and clothes you want and you have a little extra cash burning a hole in your pockets, well, this is a good way to spend it.

Posted by Chris at 11:13 AM | Comments (11)

October 21, 2006

The Moment...

...in which my life passed before my eyes, most recently at least, was the one in which my daughter finally discovered how much fun it may be to dismantle my obscenely huge CD collection. Then I realized it would be kinda fun to check out what I actually had and I felt better.
Posted by Chris at 3:59 PM | Comments (35)

October 20, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Mean Mr. Mustard, uh, McCartney

Divorce is rough (I'm guessing here). Celebrity divorce is just flat harsh. I offer you a little proof, courtesy of Sir Paul.

Paul McCartney, estranged wife Heather and daughter Beatrice all stand to lose from public mudslinging in an increasingly ugly divorce, lawyers warn.

Allegations against the former Beatle appearing in leaked court documents this week could damage his wholesome reputation, and were unlikely to boost Heather Mills McCartney's financial position in any settlement, they said.

The couple's daughter Beatrice, who is nearly three, is also likely to find out about the claims in the future.

The documents claim McCartney used illegal drugs and drank excessively, hurled abuse at Mills and made her cancel an operation on the leg she lost in a traffic accident before they married because it interfered with his holiday plans.

They also said McCartney did not want her to breastfeed their baby daughter, saying "they are my breasts."

McCartney's lawyers responded by saying he would defend the allegations "vigorously and appropriately."

Mills' representatives in the divorce, which has become so bitter one newspaper described it on Thursday as "toxic," deny she had anything to do with leaking the documents to the press.


Here are some specifics straight from the divorce papers...

  • The Petitioner has been physically violent towards the Respondent.
    In breach of his promises to the Respondent made when she agreed to marry him, the Petitioner continued to use illegal drugs and to consume alcohol to excess, throughout the marriage, thereby causing the Respondent distress…
  • On 12 May 2003, when the Petitioner and the Respondent were in a hotel in Rome and the Respondent was four weeks' pregnant, the Petitioner behaved coldly and with indifference towards the Respondent, who was distressed by a derogatory newspaper article about her. An argument ensued between them in the bathroom during which the Petitioner became angry and pushed the Respondent into the bath. The Respondent suffered shock and distress. Notwithstanding this, the Petitioner procured the Respondent's attendance at his concert that evening by instructing his staff to pester her until she relented.
  • In Long Island in August 2003 the Respondent asked the Petitioner if he had been smoking marijuana. He became very angry, yelled at her, grabbed her neck and started choking her.
  • Shortly after the Respondent's revision amputation surgery, she was forced to crawl on her hands and knees up aeroplane steps because they were not wide enough to take her wheelchair. The Petitioner had assured the Respondent that he had taken care of her disability needs in connection with the trip (which he compelled her to take with him), but in fact he had not troubled to do so.
  • The Petitioner often told the Respondent when she was pregnant that he did not want her to breast-feed their child, making on occasion the comment "they are my breasts" and on another occasion, "I don't want a mouthful of breast milk." Notwithstanding this, the Respondent did breast-feed Beatrice until, after six weeks, the Petitioner's constant interrupting of her when breast-feeding (often in the presence of a midwife) had become so intolerable to her that she gave up. This made her feel very miserable and demoralised.
  • On Tuesday, 25 April, 2006, following an operation on the Respondent's amputated leg, an argument occurred during which the Petitioner poured the balance of a bottle of red wine over the Respondent's head and then threw what remained in his wine glass at the Respondent. The Petitioner then reached to grab the Respondent's wine glass, and broke the bowl of the glass from the stem. He then lunged at the Respondent with the broken, sharp stem of the wine glass, which cut and pierced the Respondent's arm just below the elbow, and it began to bleed profusely. He proceeded to manhandle the Respondent, flung her into her wheelchair and wheeled it outside, screaming at her to apologise for "winding him up". The Respondent still bears the scar of the assault.

Folks, it appears this Real Love is over. Hello, Goodbye and that's The End. No more Golden Slumbers for these two. In fact, it looks like Paul needs some Help! Most of us just could have Let It Be but Paul swings his temper like Maxwell's Silver Hammer spinning a web of intrigue worthy of a Paperback Writer. Well, I've Got A Feeling She's Leaving Home leaving Paul as The Fool On The Hill. What's next? Tomorrow Never Knows. Just goes to prove that Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey.

Posted by Chris at 7:16 AM | Comments (38)

October 19, 2006

Couches, Shots and Bad Music

I spent the night last night on the pull-out sofa in the basement. Before you jump to any conclusions, no, I didn't do anything particularly offensive to Beth. The truth is much more horrible than that - I snore. Every member of the Cactus-Fish household has been inflicted with a rampant case of The Sniffles for the last week (or two, if you're looking in my direction). Tuesday night, well, wasn't pretty. Between Mia snorting and me snoring no one got any sleep. I recall waking up at one point to Beth saying, "oh would you please shut up." That was directed at me. So, last night, I spent the night on the couch. I distinctly recall couches being much more comfortable when I was ten years younger. "Think of it as a bachelor pad," Beth said. So I did what any bachelor would. I did a couple shot (of NyQuil), passed out and woke up this morning beside a strange woman (Mia's doll Lucy).

. . .

Tuesday, I mentioned a couple of bands I can't stand, don't understand or like in spite of my better judgment. Apparently some of you wanted to hear more.

Bands I Can't Stand
In a previous life, Beth was a Deadhead. I fell in love with her in spite of this. See, The Dead annoy the ever-loving shit out of me. Now, I know some of you out there really like them but I? Think they blow mutant donkey penis. To be fair, I listen to and love some stuff lots of other people would hate, like prog-rock epics that wind down after a half hour or hair-metal tracks with more guitar solos than verses or choruses. But alt-country-jam-folk? I don't have time for that shit. That's just an idea that sounds terrible on paper. Who needs to hear how it's executed. What's really disturbing is that I've managed to get Ripple stuck in my head and I know it's going to be stuck there for 24 hours, minimum.

Bands I Don't Get
The three most popular, influential artists I just don't get will surprise you. I mean, I love music. So how could I not get The Rolling Stones or Kiss or Jimi Hendrix? But there it is.

I want to like The Stones. I really do. But I can't get no satisfaction. Their finest moment was 1969's Let It Bleed, containing their two best songs - Gimme Shelter and You Can't Always Get What You Want. Their other output leaves me cold (and by cold I mean I'll go out of my way to avoid hearing their stuff). Mick sounds like a white dude trying to find soul (and never quite succeeding) and Keith's a pioneer whose talent doesn't live up to the legend. After 40+ years of doing what they do, they seem less like dinosaurs and more like parodies of themselves. They're rock legends, for sure, but that doesn't mean I have to listen to them.

Next up? Kiss. Do you need me to defend this? The Detroit Rock City legends are brilliant showmen but when it comes to making music they're only average. I have never heard a Kiss song that made me think anything other than meh. Also, Gene Simmons' tongue kinda scares me. Ditch the make up and smear on some talent, guys. Then I'll listen.

Finally, Jimi Hendrix. Yes, he's a pioneer and he may truly be one of the first legitimate guitar gods, but his voice makes me want to jam a Fender Strat in each ear to knock out the sensory receptors that allow me to understand and interpret sound. Dude, shut up and play yer guitar. Well, I guess being dead accomplished half of that.

Bands I Like Despite My Better Judgment
In the history of music, there have been some terrible ideas. Need I remind anyone of Milli Vanilli? Paul Simon's tragically bad Songs From The Capeman? You get my drift. I'll add another group of artists to the list. Together, they're known as Van Halen, the most successful and greatest terrible band in the history of the universe. And yet I like them.

Why do they suck? They have perhaps the worst rhythm section in the history of popular music. Have a Van Halen album handy? Go crank it up. I'll wait. Hear that bassline? The one that's basically the same note over and over and over again? Mindblowing, huh? Alex Van Halen's drumming isn't much better. Alex is one of those guys who brings a 400+ piece drum kit to the stage and utilizes about one-tenth of it. Sure, Eddie's good but anyone can learn to play fast. Whenever I hear one of his solos, it sounds nice, fast and slick but there isn't any soul. And you're not a good musician if you don't have any soul. Early in their career, Van Halen performed with David Lee Roth at the helm, a man who missed his calling as a third-rate game show host. Yet I did love them. In 1984 I dragged my mom to Target and picked up 1984 and blasted Jump all afternoon, attempting to do that cheesy high-kick thing DRL did in the video. I'm sure I'm not the only kid who injured his groin that way. But truth be told, I liked Sammy Hagar more. The band didn't find any more soul and their rhythm section didn't spring to life with his arrival but at least they were more fun to watch and we weren't subjected to that DLR yelp ever seven seconds.

What about you? There has to be some music out there you hate, don't get or are just plain ashamed to love. Spill.

Posted by Chris at 7:39 AM | Comments (62)

October 18, 2006

Tattoo You, And Sticker Shock

I mentioned a few half-assed post ideas that, apparently, you're somewhat interested in. And who am I to argue?

Without further ado, I give you a very hypothetical conversation between Ricardo Montalban and Tattoo regarding Asian hookers.

Ricardo: Ahh, Tattoo, my faithful, diminutive friend, have I told you about my recent experiences with Asian hookers?
Tattoo: No boss. I didn't know you were into that sort of thing.
Ricardo: Well, wee one, they don't call this Fantasy Island for nothing.
Tattoo: I see, boss. So, tell me about them.
Ricardo: The other night, I was driving around the island and stumbled upon an absolute beauty on the road behind the Fantasy Multiplex.
Tattoo: The lane! The lane!
Ricardo: Her hair was black, and astonishing.
Tattoo: The mane! The mane!
Ricardo: Once I got her back home, though, she was almost more than I could handle. She produced a length of wood and began flogging me.
Tattoo: The cane! The cane!
Ricardo: I thought I was going to pass out after such physical exertion.
Tattoo: The strain! The strain!
Ricardo: My left arm was tingling and I had to find my pills before any other symptoms developed.
Tattoo: Chest pain! Chest pain!
Ricardo: Yes, Tattoo, but everything was okay. Until my wife walked in while we were in a, well, compromising position involving a bowling ball, a tub of lard and a dozen clothespins.
Tattoo: The shame! The shame!
Ricardo: That woman, I swear Tattoo, makes my existence unbearable.
Tattoo: The bane! The bane!
Ricardo: Anyway, she left in a huff and the hooker and I did a little blow....
Tattoo: Cocaine! Cocaine!
Ricardo: And I pretended to be a cowboy...
Tattoo: John Wayne! John Wayne!
Ricardo: While...wait...Tattoo! What's that noise?
Tattoo: The plane! The plane!

Then there's the sticker incident. I wish there was a stunningly hilarious narrative I could spin for you...but there isn't. Beth, in a semi-sleep deprived state found a sheet of Halloween-themed stickers in the kitchen. Then she assaulted me, forced me to the ground and used them to decorate my nether-regions! Okay, so, that didn't happen. Instead I just stood there, curious to see how this was going to unfold. A little while later it was time for bed and I noticed that the Little Cactus was still sporting his costume. As I attempted to peel one of the stickers off, I was struck by a lightning bolt of pain. But that was no lightning bolt; that was merely the side-effect of a rather powerful, industrial-strength adhesive used on said stickers. I finally worked up the courage to peel the three candy corn stickers and one large pumpkin sticker off, clutched my groin in agony and went to bed, silently weeping. Ahh, 2006. The year my penis dressed up for Halloween. Good times.

So there you have it - two of the mysterious post ideas explained. And, I might add, one of the more nonsensical and surreal posts I've ever written.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (55)

October 17, 2006

The Post Of Non-Ideas

Ahhh, well ladies and gentlemen, kiss Monday goodbye. And what a day it was. I worked for a damn long time, holed up with the client, toiling away...and got everything resolved. So much so that I received a call from him thanking me for everything while I was on my way home. Granted, he wanted something else too but that's my job.

And now I have a terrible case of writer's block driven, no doubt, by the fact that I expended five work-days worth of braincells in one day. Once again, I'v got nothing. Except a few lame ideas, that is.

Here are some topics I've summarily rejected in the last 45 minutes:

  • A post all about bands I hate (the Grateful Dead, The Carpenters), don't understand (The Rolling Stones, Captain and Tannille) or like but have no idea why because they really suck (Van Halen).
  • An imaginary conversation between Ricardo Montalban and his ever-present sidekick Tattoo about the relative merits of Asian hookers.
  • The restaurant we used to visit with a Thai version of Seinfeld's Babu Bhatt.
  • My secret habit - playing with my belly button.
  • All the books I've read yet haven't told you about yet because I'm a lazy, lazy mofo. And for the record, those books are Love And Other Near Death Experiences (Mil Millington), Eleanor Rigby (Douglas Coupland), Velocity (Dean Koontz), Assassination Vacation (Sarah Vowell), Midnight Cab (James Nichol), The Stolen Child (Keith Donohue), Eats Shoots & Leaves (Lynne Truss), Pirate (Ted Bell), Caves of Steel (Isaac Asimov), Adverbs (Daniel Handler), No Country for Old Men (Cormac McCarthy), Lost Lake (Phillip Margolin), Dear Zoe (Phillip Beard), Naked Prey (John Sandford), The Ruins (Scott Smith), 18 Seconds (George Shuman), A Clean Kill (Mike Stewart), Dead Watch (John Sandford), Dispatches from the Edge (Anderson Cooper), Grab On To Me Tightly As If I Knew The Way (Bryan Charles), The Trudeau Vector (Juris Jurjevics), The Burning (Bentley Little), The Book of Fate (Brad Meltzer), A Dangerous Man (Charlie Huston)
  • A meditation on why Deal of No Deal is compelling despite the fact that it's a total no-skill game requiring approximately three brain cells to play and, judging by the hyper attitudes of the contestants, a dependency on meth.
  • How I learned that you should never allow your sleep-deprived wife to affix Halloween-themed stickers to, um, body parts that usually don't sport too much decoration. Or, how sticker manufacturers put way too much sticky stuff on stickers causing somewhat painful removal. They're really pretty much the same story.

So, uh, if you want me to expand on any of those or chime in yourself, just let me know. I'll be here trying to find my brain at the bottom of a cup of coffee.

Posted by Chris at 7:25 AM | Comments (67)

October 16, 2006

Failing, Fixing and Frodo

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best to make you like everybody else, means to fight the hardest human battle ever and to never stop fighting."
- E.E. Cummings


As I mentioned a while back, I'm doing someone else's job for a couple of weeks. This does not mean I get to forget about my own job. No, I have to do that too. And some days, that's more than enough. Anyway, last week was rough but by Friday, I thought I was on top of the whole thing. I'd spent an entire day sifting through tons of data trying to come up with an analysis for my client. It wasn't easy but eventually I felt like I had it. After 10 hours of work, I sent it off and congratulated myself. As cheesy as it may sound, I told myself remember this feeling, of being on top of everything, and keep it for a time when it all goes to hell.

When I checked my email yesterday morning, it all went to hell.

That damn report. I did exactly what we discussed - I thought around every problem, I plotted, I crunched and I devised brilliant explanations. I went against my every instinct to provide too much information. I was succinct. I was a master of the information. I was, frankly, proud. Yet I was told I'd missed the mark.

If it isn't clear to you by now, I put a lot of pressure on myself. I call myself a slacker but nothing could be further from the truth. I work hard and I do things right the first time. So, I was pretty unhappy when I saw that email. It ruined my morning, honestly. But then I realized that it isn't the end of the world, that whatever I did right or wrong doesn't define me, and that there's time (although little) to fix it. And that's where I'll be this morning...fixing...humbly.

I take things too hard, I overreact, I strive to be perfect, I sometimes incorrectly prioritize the important and the unimportant. But, like the report I worked so hard on, those are fixable. And they're some of the things that make me, well, me.

So as to avoid this post being a complete and utter downer on a Monday morning, I will tell you about our pumpkins. We have two sitting on our kitchen table. Mia is fascinated with both, especially the tiny one that's the size of an apple. She picks it up, looks at it, and tries to put it in her mouth. Last night, I named it.

Me: Mia, that's your pumpkin. Its name is Frodo.
Beth: Frodo?
Me: Yeah, you know, Gourd of the Rings.
Beth: *crickets and a disapproving smirk*

Posted by Chris at 6:26 AM | Comments (51)

Haiku For Monday #143

Hi-ho-hi-ho. Oh
fuck this happy act. I'm off
to work, damnit. Gah!

Posted by Chris at 6:21 AM | Comments (15)

October 14, 2006

Early Saturday Snapshots

She kept handing me her clothes and I kept putting them on my head. It was exactly what she was going for. It made her laugh. It was exactly what I was going for.
Posted by Chris at 8:32 AM | Comments (35)

October 13, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Tara Firma

My initial choice for this week was the Yankee pitcher crash in Manhattan. I had lots of good, completely insensitive one-liners ("That one was high and inside, sports fans!"). But then the damn media had to go and humanize the guy. Then I felt bad for him and the wife and kid he left behind. And I figured you guys would just throw stuff at me and call me mean. So I opted for a much more appropriate choice on which I think everyone can agree.

Actress Tara Reid, whose botched breast surgery made her a Hollywood laughingstock two years ago, underwent additional surgery to repair the damage, according to a report in Us Weekly.

In an interview released on Wednesday, the "American Pie" actress told the magazine she had surgery last month to reduce the scarring on her breasts and to even out her stomach after cosmetic surgery in 2004.

Reid unwittingly exposed the disastrous results when she posed for pictures at a November 2004 party and her dress strap fell down.

"I was on Web sites as having the ugliest boob job in the world. I was devastated," Reid, 30, told the magazine.

Reid said the surgery hurt her professionally and personally.

"Guys I was dating would be like, 'What's wrong with them? They look really bad. You know, you should really get them fixed.' So embarrassing, I mean, you definitely had to turn off the lights. And then there was my stomach."

Oh no! She couldn't work because of her boobs? Who knew. I mean, I always thought it was just because she was an underdressed party girl who was more interested in binge drinking and projectile vomiting than she was getting a real job. But I guess, why work if you can just get loaded and flash your ass for all the world internetwebosphere to see? Because I'm sure being an total skank has nothing to do with her lack of steady employment.

Kudos to Tara for going all out though. Britney's a skank but refuses to acknowledge it. Paris is too but, while outrageous, most of her stunts seem as though they're just softcore attempts at partying arranged by her publicist. Tara though, well, Tara's committed.

Posted by Chris at 6:46 AM | Comments (40)

October 12, 2006

Pictures, And A Question

I'm very well aware that a quickly assembled series of pictures of my daughter does not make for the most brilliant or insightful post. But whatcha gonna do? She's damn cute and everyone needs cute in the morning, right?



Oh, and for those of you already asking the question, yes, that is a garter on her head. We think she looks like a 20's flapper.

I'm feeling a little better this morning, less like someone took a can of spray cheese and filled every cranial orifice with its contents. But still, not great. I've got a trash can full of spent tissues and I've been drinking so much water my coworkers probably think I have some bizarre early-onset bladder control issue. And I'm overworked. I know...bitch moan bitch moan. Bottom line? I'm wiped. So in lieu of any brilliant, cutting-edge content that makes you nose your morning coffee and ruin you monitor, I pose this question gleaned (and slightly altered) from the pages of Chuck Klosterman's latest book:

Today you have the power to increase your brainpower, your IQ to astronomical proportions. You could finally understand Proust, gain an understanding of the meaning of the universe and finally figure out the appeal of David Hasselhoff in Germany. But, should you choose to do this, everyone else will think you've actually gotten dumber. You will be perceived to be less intelligent than you already were. Not mentally challenged but not at all smart. So, do you get the IQ boost or do you leave well enough alone?

Posted by Chris at 7:35 AM | Comments (51)

October 11, 2006

The Vast Old Obnoxious Conspiracy

On the way home from work last night, it became inordinately clear that I live in the wrong color state. The distinction between red and blue has never been that difficult to discern so I don't know why I was surprised. How did I make this astonishing discovery? Bumper stickers.

Seen:

Real Men Love Jesus (So, instead of falling for all that Viagra spam I've been getting, all I have to do is embrace Jesus Christ as my personal savior and my schlong will get bigger. Cool.)
Vote For Marriage: One Man, One Woman (One of my favorites. I'd like to duct tape the driver's mouth shut for a couple of years and see how he likes being deprived of his civil rights or equal treatment under the law.)
G.W. II (G.W. I wasn't enough?)
Protect The Unborn
Welcome To America, Speak English (You try working the swing shift cleaning bathrooms at a 24-hour McDonald's and see if you gain a little sympathy.)
Freedom Isn't Free (It's actually $3.99 with two proofs of purchase from Charmin Ultra or a 2 oz bottle of Astroglide.)
Fear The Government That Fears My Gun
Anti-War = Pro-Terrorism (Ahh, yeah. That argument. Good one, fucker.)
Terrorist Hunting License (It looked just like a little hunting license. Cute.)
Neo Con Onboard

Yeah. All in one afternoon commute. Now, I don't care what you believe in, as long as it's not molesting mountain goats or sacrificing midgets for the glory of your exalted demon clown god. Do and think what you want. What bugs me, rather, is the idea that these people think their own views are so important they must share and convince others. I refuse to use my car to trumpet my beliefs (Okay, yes, I realize that I'm the guy with a George Bush-American Psycho shirt but, come on, that's just funny.) nor do I think they're important enough to you that you need to know about them. If the issue you support or fight against is made or broken by the application of a sticker to your car, well, there are some problems with that cause.

You might find this hard to believe so brace yourselves: some of my best friends are right-wing Jesus-loving Christians. Politically, I think they're misguided. Religiously, I make no judgments. That's not the way I roll but it's a personal thing. I really do respect people who don't agree with me. It's not the world's job to agree with me. It would be great, but it wouldn't be as much fun. Who would I bitch about? But it just seems, recently, as though all the people with whom I fundamentally disagree are, well, right here!

At the end of my drive home, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a couple prescriptions. The place was absolutely packed with slow old people. It was as if I'd entered the third turn of the space-time continuum in which everything slowed down to half-pace. I swear I was five minutes shy from being involved in the largest retail mass expiration in history. Lucky I got out of there in time. But it made me wonder - are these two things somehow linked?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I seem to be sick...again. I got virtually no sleep because I couldn't seem to remember how to breathe. I'll be propped up in my office in a NyQuil-induced coma should you need anything.

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (63)

October 10, 2006

Even Freaks Poop

If the past is any indication, I could write a regularly-updated blog about the bathroom habits of others. I am a freak magnet and that doesn't seem to be something which stops once I've crossed the threshold of the men's room. Yesterday, I was presented with more fuel for this hypothetical blog.

Warning: This post is predicated on two important assumptions, the first of which is the knowledge and understanding that I poop. I realize it's most likely (hopefully) something you haven't devoted an astonishing amount of brain power to. I'll admit it's not a pretty picture but I am mortal and, therefore, I poop. Just as all of you do. The second assumption is that there really isn't such a thing as TMI when you stumble through my site. I've already mentioned pooping in this very paragraph so this should be painfully obvious.

I was sitting in the stall farthest away from the door. This is due to the fact that I am self-conscious and don't enjoy like the camaraderie that accompanies use of the facilities at one's place of business. There's a line that's crossed when coworkers hear you fart. Or something else. And it's impossible to redraw that line once it's been erased. So, I'm sitting in the far stall when another individual enters the stall next to me. This is bad on two different levels. As I mentioned mere sentences ago, I'd rather go to the bathroom in peace. I'd prefer it if no one were there. Worse than pooping with someone in the room, however, is tandem pooping. I value my personal space; I don't like close-talkers or conversational-touchers. I firmly believe that, when one's pants are removed, one's personal space gets a whole lot bigger. Having someone sitting on a toilet two feet away from you separated only by a flimsy metal partition seems a direct violation of this pants-down personal space rule. I wasn't pleased by this invasion but it did give me a chance to observe something truly unique.

When the Mysterious Pooper walked in, he grabbed one of those disposable toilet seat covers from the wall. They make a distinct sound. He then balled it up and threw it away. Then grabbed another, made his way into the stall, balled up the cover and flushed it. Then exited the stall, headed to the dispenser, grabbed another cover, placed it on the seat...then balled it up and flushed it. Then he washed his hands. Twice. After which he grabbed another cover, placed it on the seat...then balled it up and flushed it. He made his way to the paper towel dispenser, ran the water at the sink for a minute then returned to the stall and, quite literally, scrubbed the toilet seat. It wasn't just a cursory rinse. This was a scrub that Mr. Clean in all his shiny bald-headed glory would have been proud of. After several minutes, he threw the paper towels out, got some fresh ones and dried the seat. Then he grabbed yet another toilet seat cover, placed it on the seat and did his business.

Granted, I witnessed glimpses of this reflected in the mirror through the gap between the stall door and its metal frame but I'm 99.9% sure it played out this way. And I know there was nothing wrong with the toilet because I walked by before entering the one I ended up inhabiting and it was fine.

I guess what gets me is how thorough this dude thought he needed to be yet, when all was said an done, his pants were around his ankles bunched up on what I'm sure wasn't the cleanest floor ever. And scrubbing that way is a whole lot more interaction that I would feel comfortable having with a public toilet. Sure, he might be a little phobic about germs but at that point, he might as well have just licked it clean.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (57)

October 9, 2006

Seven

This weekend, Beth and I left Mia with the grandparents and headed to a friend's wedding. It was nice on a number of levels - Beth got to meet some of the folks I hang out with everyday at work, we had a nice night out and, it brought back some nice memories. See, Beth and I have been married exactly seven years today.


...pardon the blurry picture of a picture but I really like this one...

Seven years ago, Beth and I walked down the aisle, exchanged vows and danced all night. A lot of things have changed in the intervening years. I've got a better job, we own a home, and - most importantly - we have a precious little girl. There have been plenty of bumps along the way too. But some things haven't changed much at all. I still love my wife with all my heart and am forever grateful that she agreed to spend her life with me.

I love you, Beth. Thanks for putting up with me.

Posted by Chris at 7:14 AM | Comments (82)

Haiku For Monday #142

Holiday? Whatchoo
talkin' bout Willis? Working!
Explorers be damned.

Posted by Chris at 7:10 AM | Comments (9)

October 6, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Foley Moly!

Today's slice of schadenfreude is both obvious and sad. You've probably heard the story, ad nauseum. I'm not sure who I loathe more in this situation - the congressman who hit on underage boys or the people who covered it up. Actually, there are several layers of bad. You decide for yourselves but don't limit yourself to this little snippet.

The House ethics committee approved nearly four dozen subpoenas Thursday, opening an investigation of a page sex scandal that has ensnared the GOP-led Congress. Speaker Dennis Hastert took responsibility but refused to step down.

"Ultimately ... the buck stops here," the Republican speaker said, using the phrase of a Democratic president, Harry Truman.

Hastert held to his assertion that he did not know about ex-Rep. Mark Foley's e-mails and sexually explicit computer messages to former pages until the scandal broke last week.

The ethics committee promised to finish its investigation in weeks, not months, but it was unclear whether that would occur before the Nov. 7 election. Hastert's handling of the issue has brought harsh criticism from some fellow Republicans and conservative activists.


So, those layers of bad...

One. Foley himself, who somehow thought it appropriate to email and IM underage House pages. And from the transcripts it appears that he missed a few votes on the floor because he was too busy rubbing one out. Rarely does serving our country involve one's penis. Dumbass.

Two. Hastert and the political animals that covered it up for, it seems, a few years. These are the people we elect to make big decisions. We elect them to protect our country but they can't seem to insulate a handful of House pages from some sick bastard who somehow got elected. Even though they apparently knew all about it. Republican or democrat, if it's proved that any of these people knew in advance about this guy and he predilection for underage boys, they should resign.

Three. Hastert and his diversionary tactics. See, in a recent interview he gave, he blamed the Democrats for this. Yes. Democrats. As if we somehow got together, had a big meeting, and orchestrated this massive conspiracy against the Republicans. At least Hastert had the balls to later admit he was full of shit. Oh, and steering the conversations back to Monica and Clinton isn't going to alter the fabric of reality and magically erase Foley's come ons.

Four. Us. Why are we not storming the House? Why are we not demanding resignations or, at the very least, answers? Why do we allow Foley to get off the hook by admitting to a seemingly unrelated alcohol problem (alcoholics aren't suddenly sexual deviants, right?) and checking himself into rehab? Often, as a society, we're a little too vocal about the things that don't matter - Paris Hilton, Brangelina, etc - while we keep our mouths shut about the stuff that really is problematic.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (45)

October 5, 2006

The Four-Door World

When I was a kid, my parents and I would take road trips every summer. And when I say road trips, I'm not talking about dinky one-day drives. Never ones to do something half-assed, we'd drive from Texas to North Dakota or California or Colorado or Wyoming. And from Houston, where I grew up, it took at least a day to escape the vortex that is Texas.

A lot of kids would have hated it, I imagine. I never did. It was just the three of us and instead of leaving the world behind for two weeks each summer, my world traveled with me, packed into a four-door car along with luggage and snacks.

It wasn't always smooth, like the one time we got a motel room in Fort Worth, Texas and it hit 120 degrees outside. We couldn't leave the room because the heat made the door expand and the knob too hot to turn. It was my mom's birthday that night and we all ended up fully clothed in a bathtub filled with cool water drinking orange soda. I'm not sure it's what my mom had in mind but she still talks about it and smiles while doing so. Or the couple of times our car was broken into, once in Oklahoma, I think, and the other time in San Diego, Balboa Park to be exact. And then there was the year we tried to cross the country in a little Mazda which, we learned too late, had terrible air conditioning.

We always stayed in nice places once we'd reached our destinations, but we rented rooms in cheap motels on the way there and back. You know, the ones with outdoor entrances to each room, decorated with interior designs appropriate for 20 years earlier, parking areas for trucks, and cheap coffee shops next to the office. We'd hit fast food joints - something that we never did at home - and the long-gone Stuckey's restaurants for dinner accompanied by their old peg-board games.

Since we took the same route many years, we drove through Raton, New Mexico quite a bit. We tried to time it so that we blew through around breakfast time. There was an old diner that sat precisely in the middle of nowhere, just off the highway. They cooked the best breakfasts. We must have hit that place a dozen times in as many years and while the rest of the staff changed, a kind quiet waitress with a gold tooth was there each year. I first noticed her and continued to remember her because, at the time, I'd never seen anything quite like it.

At the end of the trips, we'd be eager to get home. We'd invariably pull a sprint to the finish, driving for 18 or 20 hours just to arrive at home a little sooner than we'd planned so we could crawl into our own beds that much earlier. For a little while - just a bit - that traveling world we'd created within the boundaries of those four sealed car doors would survive intact. Then, slowly, it would evaporate and we'd all get caught up once again in the vestiges of our pre-vacation lives.

I mention this now, I guess, because of a recent conversation I had with a friend. During the course of this conversation, I realized that the focus of my world has narrowed. When I was a kid, crossing the country in the back of an uncomfortable sedan with bad air conditioning, the only things I needed were right there, surrounding me. As an adult, I've realized the same thing. I'm okay as long as I have Beth and Mia to travel with me, to get stuck in the cheap motel rooms and discover waitresses with golden teeth.

Posted by Chris at 7:23 AM | Comments (47)

October 4, 2006

The Incredible Hump Day Delurking and Commenting Extravaganza

Today, I have a singular lack of brilliant content. But I do have an insanely cute daughter with an affinity for condiments.


Since I'm suffering from this massive mental block, caused I'm sure by working way too much over the past couple of days, I'd like your help with a little housekeeping. See, I use a newsreader to catch up on everything that's happening with you all. The only way I know to update it is from comments. So whether you comment here everyday or once in a while, pop open the comment window and drop me a line. Don't have a blog or just lurk? Come on out and say hey too!

I'm off to down my sorrows in coffee and kick off the work day.

Posted by Chris at 7:17 AM | Comments (158)

October 3, 2006

Two Questions and a Joke That Nearly Ended My Marriage (But Not Really)

Last night, when I got home, I was standing in the kitchen answering email. It had been a long day, essentially 12 hours of work. Then I noticed the date. Oh shit.

Me: Honey, have we decided what we're doing about our anniversary...and gifts and stuff?
Her: What? You don't remember? Promising to do something romantic and nice and lovely?
Me: *head shaking*
Her: You said you wanted to be in charge, make all the arrangements.
Me: *head shaking vigorously*
Her: Well, now I'm pissed.
Me: Oh god please tell me you're making this shit up. Please.
Her: Yeah, I am. I've got no clue.
Me: Oh thank god.
Her: You either, huh?

Then we were sitting at the dinner table, having gotten Mia to bed, discussing the events of the day - the long, long day - and talking about potential posting material. I was rattling off topics in an effort to assist.

Me: Nicknames! That's always a good one.
Her: But then someone will ask my nickname and I don't want to talk about it.
Me: Huh? What were your nicknames?
Her: You mean you don't remember?
Me: Uh, no. You told me?
Her: I think so. But I'm not telling you again if you don't remember. They weren't nice. Why don't you remember?
Me: We've been together for 13 years. I was listening during most of them but I might have missed something along the way. So, what was it?
Her: I'm not telling.
Me: Okay, I'll guess. Farty McFarterson?
Her: No!
Me: I took a shot. Kids are cruel.

And it was then that I began to laugh hysterically. Now, if you've never hung out with me (and let's face it, 99.9% of you haven't), you wouldn't know that once something strikes me as funny I'll laugh hysterically until my stomach feels like I've done 39,491 situps and vomiting is impending. And though I may, at some point, stop laughing, I reserve the right to revisit the hilarity at any time throughout the following day and often do. This brewing laughter is what Beth recognized, and feared, immediately.

Her: What?
Me: It's been a long day. For some reason my brain just connected that nickname and a list of explorers. I ended up with Flagellan, the farty explorer.
Her: *crickets*
Me: Oh come on. Flagellan? That's good stuff!
Her: But it's really not unless you're, like, nine.
Me: Once again, I have to remind you that I really am a 12 year old boy.
Her: No, I said nine. A 12 year old boy would have told you your joke was gay.
Me: I know...but...Flagellan!

It was shortly after this that Beth left the room. Sitting at the table, I tried to pull my shit together. I took a sip of my drink, thought of Flagellan and nosed my drink by myself.

Come on. Flagellan? That's good stuff.

Posted by Chris at 7:06 AM | Comments (39)

October 2, 2006

Health, Sleep and Caffeinated Beer

As you might recall, when we last spoke of non-schadenfreude things, Mia was sick and Beth and I were bleary-eyed and grumpy as a result of an evil absence of anything resembling sleep. I'm happy to report that things have improved.



...more on flickr, as always...

Wednesday night, we managed two hours of sleep. Thursday night yielded three, Friday four and Saturday was generous, delivering around five. And on Sunday morning, the clouds (both literal and metaphorical) parted and health rained down on all the land. And the people (us) rejoiced. And it was good. Yes, on Sunday morning, Mia woke up smiling, rarely screamed and played most of the day. I can't begin to share the sense of the relief. Of course, last night we were subjected to more screaming which tempered said sense but it's still a heck of a lot better than it has been.

Mia made it 15 months without getting sick. I have no right to complain. It wasn't pleasant but we made it through and it was, if nothing else, educational. I'd forgotten what those first few months were like with a screaming child up throughout the night. It's frustrating and makes you feel genuinely helpless. And it's draining. So very draining. Now, I'm sure there will be more - I'm not delusional - but we've made it though the first, so we can make it through anything. Let's just not test that theory for a little while, okay?

In other news, while a coworker runs off and gets married, I'm temporarily taking over her job. She's busy. I'm afraid. If you don't hear from me, send help. And beer. Definitely beer. Or coffee. Hey, they should totally make caffeinated beer.

So, how was your weekend? Anything good happen? Come on, share with the class.

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (51)

Haiku For Monday #141

Another haiku?
Could have sworn I just did this!
Make this week your bitch.

Posted by Chris at 7:17 AM | Comments (7)


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