June 29, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: Tennis & The King

Yep, plenty of schadenfreude this week. Sit back and enjoy the stupidity of others.

Knickers + Wimbledon = Twist

Wimbledon is getting its knickers in a twist. Tatiana Golovin had the Wimbledon referee reaching for his rule book when she sought to appear on court wearing red underwear. Was she violating the "predominantly white" dress code laid down by the tournament that is such a stickler for sartorial etiquette?

The fashion guardians of good taste at the world's most genteel tennis tournament gave the French player the go-ahead after much discussion about hemlines and where they stopped and started. Explaining the decision, a Wimbledon spokesman said on Thursday: "They were cleared with the referee in advance by the player. On the basis that they are underwear, they do not have to conform to the predominantly white rule.


Look, I think I have the solution. Just ban underwear altogether. I bet the play stays just as strong and attendance skyrockets.

Larry Never Knows
I'm no huge Beatles fan but I wouldn't argue with anyone who said that they were the single most important influence on modern popular music. As we all know, John Lennon was shot outside his home - the famed Dakota - in New York City in 1980. George Harrison passed away in 1991. Ringo and Paul are still very much alive. In fact, they were interviewed along with Yoko Ono and Harrison's widow by Larry King earlier this week

I'm not a huge Beatles fan but I wouldn't argue with anyone who said they were the single most important influence on modern popular music. Sadly, only half of the Fab Four are still with us. This is common knowledge. Or so we thought. Here's what happened when Larry King interviewed Paul, Ringo, George Harrison's widow and Yoko Ono:

McCartney: Yes, my manager at the time called me. And it was just the shock of all shocks, you know?
King: George, where were you?
McCartney: George!
King: Ringo.
McCartney: No, this is Ringo here.
King: Ringo, where were you?
Starr: I was in the Bahamas.
King: I was getting to (INAUDIBLE) George.
Starr: I was...
McCartney: No, you weren't, Larry. You said his name wrong.
Starr: Shut up, it's my turn.
McCartney: I know, but he got your name wrong, Ringo, on national television.
Starr: I know. Give him a break.
McCartney: We can't cut it. It's live.

Uh, awkward! He followed this question up by asking Paul what Smoke On The Water was written about and prodded Starr about his penchant for biting the heads off of bats. I guess I should go easy on King. After all, he was in his mid seventies when the Beatles rose to fame.

I wish you all a merry weekend. Happy Friday, folks.

Posted by Chris at 7:20 AM | Comments (22)

June 28, 2007

Bullet Point Thursday (Now With Extra Bea Arthur)

I don't know about you, but I'm beat. I'm resorting to bullet points today. Hope you don't mind mini-nuggets of goodness instead of my normal long-windedness.

  • Our home inspection was last night. It was long. But, I guess where inspecting is being done, long is okay. It gave me three hours to spend in what will be our new place. I like it. I can definitely see us living there.
  • I've had no unusual elevator incidents for the last 24 hours. That's something of a record.
  • I bought the new Kelly Clarkson album. I haven't listened to it yet and, while I am interested in it, that's not the reason I bought it. Here's this American Idol roped in by corporate giants and expected to give up her own artistic freedom and record songs written by hired guns. And she refused. Sticking it to the man? That, to me, is American Idolworthy. That said, if Clay Aiken did something similarly rebellious, he's on his own.
  • I walked out of the parking garage I normally park in when I'm in DC yesterday morning. It's next to a subway stop. Right outside the subway, was a dude playing one of the most startlingly beautiful saxophone solos ever. It was 7:00 in the morning. Instead of seeming odd, it seemed perfect. I'm not sure why, but it did.
  • Can I please ask why anyone gives a shit about Larry King? People seem to think of him as some exalted broadcaster when all he is is an obnoxious feebed-out guy who wears suspenders and asks really dumb questions.
  • I know stress is getting to me when my dreams start getting out of control. And last night was sure a humdinger. In my dream I was a moderately successful record producer. I was in the studio, running the boards and grooving to the tunes playing back over the studio monitors. the stuff was good. Heavy metal but melodic and slightly bluesy. The vocals were something else. I'd never heard anything quite like it. It was then that I realized I was recording Bea Arthur's heavy metal comeback album.

Posted by Chris at 7:14 AM | Comments (30)

June 27, 2007

Reminders of Scarsdale

Sweet buttery Jesus, it's happened again. I'm nothing if not a freak magnet. And apparently, I've developed a specialty, a niche market if you will - elevator freaks. Last week it was Crazy Deadwood Elevator Freak. This week? Deathly Afraid of Elevators Rainman-like Freak.

So, I'm at my client's site, right? And I decide to head out for a little walk and lunch. Because it was nice, or at least I thought it was but it turned out to be about 900 degrees with 184% humidity. Slight misjudgment. That's not the point though. Anyway, one floor down and this kinda freaky looking dude gets on the elevator. He's the type of guy who owns, like, 300 pocket protectors and very well might have pocket protectors for his pocket protectors. Like, the kind of guy who, despite being 42, still lives in his parents' basement and holds Dungeons & Dragons tournaments on weekends. That's really not the point either but I'm painting a picture here people.

Dude gets in the elevator and, as soon as it starts moving, grabs the bars - waist-high, lining the walls - and holds on for dear life. And then he starts talking. In a voice you'd expect coming from a 42 year old pocket protector-wearing D&D-playing oddball who still lives in his parents' basement.

Him: We don't like elevators.
Me: You don't say. I hadn't noticed.
Him: They remind us of Scarsdale. They remind all of us of Scarsdale.
Me: Scarsdale? As in Scarsdale, New York?
Him: Yes. We don't talk about Scarsdale.
Me: Kinda like The Fight Club?

With a blank stare, the doors parted and he was gone. And it was then that I noticed, all the time he'd been clutching the railing, wary of whatever had happened one fateful day in Scarsdale and referring to himself in the first person plural, he was carrying a clear plastic bag containing a sausage. One lone sausage.

Some days, the mysteries of the universe deepen and the blog posts write themselves.

Posted by Chris at 7:36 AM | Comments (43)

June 26, 2007

Standing O

You can't see me but I assure you that, even as I hit POST for this, uh, post, I'm standing and applauding. Yep, it's early and I'm just standing here in my office giving the universe - specifically you - a great big standing ovation. I even climbed up on my swivel chair so I can rotate and clap in all of your general directions. You rock. Hard. Like Gibraltar, baby. You crossed all kinds of things yesterday - fingers, toes, arms, legs and even some things that probably proved a little painful although frankly I'd rather not know about those but I'm impressed nonetheless because that's talent. I'm applauding - standing in my office, spinning slowly, like an idiot at 7:00 in the morning - because we got the house.

Let me say that again, with feeling - WE GOT THE HOUSE!!!

In early August, Beth, Mia and I will grab the keys and move into our new place. In the mean time, I guess we should start packing or something.

I'm very much an immediate gratification person. And I dislike long, drawn-out decision making processes. Home-buying (and selling) is something that, therefore, drives me up the wall. But Beth and I are serious and fast. We make a decision, we follow-through. We don't fuck around. Which is why if we haven't sold our current house by August, we'll be the proud owners of two nice houses. Hrm. I guess we better work on that selling thing. You sure you guys don't want to buy it?

(I promise that tomorrow there will be no boring talk of houses. But for today, well, house house house house house house house!)

Posted by Chris at 7:07 AM | Comments (86)

June 25, 2007

Gardens and Contracts

My parents live on two acres of land. It's the house the three of us moved into when we made the voyage from Texas to Virginia. One acre is devoted to the house, a contemporary, surrounded by forest. The second acre sits to the side. When we moved in, it was covered in brush and scrappy trees. Ten years ago, my dad finally took my advice and cleared it. Under the scrub, we found a stream. The ground, revealed to the sun at last, provided grass. It was beautiful.

Several months ago, my parents announced that they planned to build Mia a garden on this land. They hired a landscape architect and went to work. All was revealed this weekend. And it, too, is beautiful. Stone walls yield to stone walkways which weave through grass, trees, butterfly gardens and bird houses to a pebble beach by the stream. Mia was thrilled.


I mention this now because a yard is something I really want. It's one of the reasons we got this idea to sell our place. I mention this now because we found a house with a yard - a place we can build our very own garden - and damn near everything else we want. We put in a contract on it. We went back and forth with the seller until 10-something last night. We're fucking nervous.

Do me a favor on this fine Monday morning - cross your fingers or whatever it is you do to encourage good luck for others. Really. We need some glorious Monday morning ju-ju, okay?

Posted by Chris at 6:37 AM | Comments (40)

Haiku For Monday #173

Juan Valdez better
get his ass in gear and grow
more coffee, tootsweet!

Posted by Chris at 6:34 AM | Comments (4)

June 22, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: A Nifong In Your Back

We all know by now that the Duke rape case was bogus. We know that instead of a march towards justice, District Attorney Mike Nifong overplayed his prosecutorial hand - and lied - when he pursued the case against three Duke lacrosse players. Last weekend, upon the conclusion of ethics hearings which ended in his disbarment, Nifong resigned.

from ABC News...

The stunning announcement — following a year in which Nifong vigorously refused calls to drop an ever weakening case, and later, widespread calls to resign — capped an emotionally charged day of testimony in Nifong's trial before the North Carolina State Bar.

Nifong's announcement pre-empts his possibly forced removal from office. Punishment for the disciplinary violations he is accused of include disbarment, could have forced the longtime prosecutor to step down.


And while this development is, as the article suggests, somewhat stunning, what's even more shocking is the fact that, for once in my life, I actually agree with something Ann Coulter said.
Nifong has tried to portray himself as simply making "mistakes." This is absurd. Not even a half-wit like Nifong could have believed "something happened in that bathroom," as he said during his disbarment hearing last weekend. He was willing to send three innocent men to prison to improve his electoral viability in a heavily black district and to become a liberal hero in Manhattan salons.

Now, I don't know what about this issue could be construed as liberal or conservative. This isn't immigration, healthcare reform or abortion. It's really about right and wrong. So, aside from that last sentence, I happen to agree. Look! Up in the sky! Pigs. Flying! Although not so fast. Coulter later states:
Second-rate liberals who went to mediocre schools and married mediocre women are burning with jealousy from their nondescript, mediocre jobs. So they use their government jobs to attack their betters and sneer about the players' "daddies." Like so much injustice in America, this whole sick spectacle was the revenge of the mediocre against the successful. Stupid and envious is a bad combo platter.

To be completely honest, like so much of the crap that spews from that great big hole in her face, I don't really know what Coulter is trying to say here. But surely I can't agree with her twice in one day.

Posted by Chris at 7:04 AM | Comments (16)

June 21, 2007

A Medical Complaint (And An Ill-Formed Analogy)

I have a bone to pick with my medical insurance company. Allow me to illustrate.

Let's say you're single. One evening, while out to dinner with friends, you gaze across the room and catch the eye of another. The gaze lingers, motivates you to get up and introduce yourself. After searching long and hard, dating and breaking up, you have, at last, found someone who seems right. You date, you move in together. You and this person just fit. You share many of your loves and preferences - romantic comedies, death metal, walks in the park, sushi, white-water rafting, malt liquor, whatever - but not too many to make that other person an annoying mirror image. Eventually, the question is popped and wedding plans are made. Standing in front of friends and family, expecting nothing but happiness and fulfillment along with the inevitable rough patches, you exchange vows. And towards the end, just as the priest is finishing the you may now kiss sentence, a group of black-outfitted commandos make off with your true love and replaces this person with a fairly close look-alike, someone not quite as hot, who prefers smooth-jazz to death metal and cheap wine coolers over malt liquor.

I've suffered from depression for somewhere north of 12 or 13 years. At its worst - during and immediately after college - it was fairly crippling. Now it's most certainly not. It's not, in fact, something anyone would ever guess unless I volunteered that information. I credit a little bit of therapy and a little bit of medication with the improvement. The other day, I went to pick up my monthly prescription. Instead of the usual $10, the meds rang up to a healthy $25. Not quite what I was expecting. I was about to call my insurance company when I received a letter. It said something to the effect of:

Dear Worthless Customer:

We've noticed that you take the prescription medication Scrotozylobaneva. We would like to let you know that there are other treatment options such as Yourmomsawhoresia. And even though we're just sitting here crunching numbers with our thumbs up our asses and the closest thing to a medical degree we have is that one drunken med student we banged out in college, we're making a unilateral decision to charge you more if you don't switch to the medication we want you to take.

Bend over 'cos you have no choice,
Monolithic Insurance Company


Are these fuckers for real? I've worked long and hard to find a solution that works for me. And while I like to think that even without medication I'd be just dandy, I've identified and harnessed something that provides some part of the equation, something that helps me feel as though the world is not going to swallow me whole. And some idiotic number-crunchers, without the benefit of a medical degree, want me to pay more for the privilege of feeling better, feeling healthy, feeling sane?

Surely you see the parallel between this and my little dating scenario, right? If not, I'll admit it was poorly executed. The bottom line - it's bait and switch by someone with no personal stake in your life. And it ain't right. I realize there are people in the world - hell, this country - who don't even have access to potable water much less medication and access to medical care. But if you've going to bend me over, I expect the courtesy of a reach-around. Even the most disadvantaged should be able to count on a reach-around. If not, what is society coming to?

Posted by Chris at 7:12 AM | Comments (65)

June 20, 2007

If Reality Was Like Deadwood

Two notable things happened yesterday morning - I got stuck in an elevator and I met a kindly old dude who turned out to be old yet not all that kindly. Here's how the two stories came together.

I had to head to D.C. yesterday. You know the drill by now - I was stuck in client meetings all day. Although, I honestly didn't have that many meetings. It was all about the face-time (and other consultant-speak - value-add, robust delivery, synchronicity...shit like that). So, I parked in my usual space in the usual garage and got into the usual elevator to whisk me from the underground parking spaces to actual daylight where humans roam the earth. It was just before stepping into the elevator that my path crossed that of an older gentleman. He was dressed like your favorite old English professor, as long as your favorite old English professor wore a tweed jacket with the leather elbow patches, had little glasses and looked as if he was someone's favorite grandfather. Seeing this guy, you just knew a group of toddlers ran to him yelling Gramps! on a fairly regular basis.

Gramps got into the elevator. We settled into our two-floor ride. Then the elevator stopped.

Gramps: Oh Jesus H. Fucking Christ! Don't tell me I'm going to get goddamn stuck in this motherfucking elevator.
Me: *speechless*
Gramps: I can't fucking believe this shit!
Me: Uh, I can't believe it either?
Gramps: Fucking elevator! FUCKING ELEVATOR! What the fuck did I ever do to piss you off, you goddamn elevator?
Me: *speechless...again*
Gramps: Wouldn't you fucking know it. Trapped in a goddamn, fucking hot elevator in the middle of the summer!
Me: Um, yeah, this sure sucks...
Gramps: Fucking right it fucking sucks. Someone better come fucking right here right fucking now and fix this motherfucker before I start getting fucking pissed off.
Me: Yeah, we'll want to head that off. I wouldn't want you to get angry or anything.
Gramps: Damn straight, whitey.
Me: Just for the record - and not to piss you off - but you're white too.
Gramps: Don't fuck with me boy.
Me: Really not my intent. Just trying to be clear on--
Gramps: Oh. Fucking doors are open! A-fucking-men. Have a nice day!
Me: Uh, sure. You too (you fucking freak).

I'm almost afraid to see what I'm in store for today.

Posted by Chris at 6:30 AM | Comments (45)

June 19, 2007

This Old(ish) House

So, as I mentioned yesterday (in, like, the world's most depressing Monday post, although I'll have it known I seriously pondered not mentioning death at all because it was already Monday and who needs a big downer like that?), we survived our first weekend with a house for sale. We're no longer open house virgins either. Is it wrong to be disappointed that we didn't get an offer yesterday? Okay, I know it's not uber-realistic but a boy can dream, right?

At your request (you know who you all are), I ventured around the house snapping pictures. If you've ever been curious how the Cactus-Fish family live, well, here you go.




You'd totally buy it, right?

Posted by Chris at 6:23 AM | Comments (47)

June 18, 2007

Weekend Recap: George

I feel like a standard weekend recap is in order here but I just don't know where to start. See, it was kind of a crazy weekend.


The House:
We've made it through our first full weekend with a house on the market and we even popped our open house cherry on Sunday. All told, about a dozen people have been through. It's early but we're crossing our fingers. You mind crossing some of yours? Please?

Father's Day:
Sunday was, of course, Father's Day. The entire family descended on the in-laws' place, including Mia's brand-spanking-new cousin, Payton. Oh, and Biscuit the dog. The only thing in the world that might give Payton a run for her money in the coolness department, according to Mia at least, is Biscuit. A good time was had by all. Well, I can't vouch for Payton. Her two week old body language is a little tough to read.

George:
About this time last month, I mentioned that my almost-grandfather George had suffered a major stroke. He survived although use of the term survival is open for debate, as it left him speechless and immobile. On Friday afternoon, George suffered something - a stroke, a heart-attack, it doesn't really matter at some point. Early Saturday morning, George died.

For most of his adult life, George sold shoes. Red Wing shoes. Whenever I was out in California, I'd visit him. I'd usually end up with a free pair. I'd always get a lesson on how that foot measuring thing worked. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when I leaned George didn't actually own the Red Wing empire. I'd never heard of them before. I thought he was the Red Wing Man, had the sole concession, no pun intended. I was young. I wanted him to be important.

Of course, I later learned that George had fought in World War II, in the Pacific theater, and done some pretty heroic stuff. He met then married my widowed grandmother. They were nothing alike. Yet, it worked. He made her happy. He stayed by her through everything. When she lost her mind recently, he stayed by her. When she got it back, he was gone.

I never actually thought of him as a grandfather, although he was in my grandmother's for nearly all of my 34 years. He was just George. Was just George. An important George. And I'll miss him.

Posted by Chris at 7:29 AM | Comments (33)

Haiku For Monday #172

What kind of insane
hell is this? Oh crap, that's right,
just Monday again.

Posted by Chris at 7:27 AM | Comments (3)

June 15, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: Squirrels and Sopranos

Weird shit going on this week, all over the world. Take a look.

Attack of the Killer Squirrel

from Reuters...
An aggressive squirrel attacked and injured three people in a German town before a 72-year-old pensioner dispatched the rampaging animal with his crutch.

The squirrel first ran into a house in the southern town of Passau, leapt from behind on a 70-year-old woman, and sank its teeth into her hand, a local police spokesman said Thursday. With the squirrel still hanging from her hand, the woman ran onto the street in panic, where she managed to shake it off.

The animal then entered a building site and jumped on a construction worker, injuring him on the hand and arm, before he managed to fight it off with a measuring pole. "After that, the squirrel went into the 72-year-old man's garden and massively attacked him on the arms, hand and thigh," the spokesman said. "Then he killed it with his crutch."


Several questions. Do you think the "measuring pole" referred to in the story is some sort of weird German euphamism for a penis? If so, that's one innovative construction worker. Do you think it's possible that the squirrel was, perhaps, a communist squirrel longing for the days of cracking nuts and climbing trees behind the Iron Curtain? Regardless, yay for elderly crutch-using old German dudes for taking down a true threat to freedom!

F-ing Shame

A 73-year-old Indian farmer who vowed not to marry before passing his high school exams has failed to get through for the 38th time. Shiv Charan Yadav has been taking the exams -- normally given to schoolchildren at the age of 15 -- every year since 1969, without success.

He was in his 30s when he first decided to better himself through education.

This year, he failed everything except Sanskrit, scoring only 103 out of a possible 600 points.


It's clear this is a person who is either not all that bright or doesn't test well. At some point, you have to learn to accept failure. And spell failure in sanskrit.

Fuhgeddaboudit
If you watched the series finale of The Sopranos, chances are you come down decidedly in one camp - the camp who loved it, or those who hated it. Me, well, aside from the brilliant use of a classic Journey tune and the palpable tension which built to a crescendo, I thought the finale pretty much blew, primarily because of the ending.

Me, well, aside from the brilliant use of a classic Journey tune and the palpable tension, I thought the finale - how do I say this - sucked donkey balls, largely because of the ending that wasn't so much an ending but more of a total fucking let down. Actually, I thought the entire final season licked a ball or two. You know, it reminds me of the time I was driving through the Cayman Islands. I spotted a broken-down Jeep on the side of the road, it's driver hunched over the raised hood. He caught my eye because of his two false legs and the parrot resting on his shoulder. I pulled over and offered my help. He grinned and made his way to the driver's side of his broken down car. It was then that he pulled out his giant

sopranos.jpg

Posted by Chris at 6:53 AM | Comments (32)

June 14, 2007

Walls

I know all about buyer's remorse...but have you ever heard of seller's remorse? The reason I ask? Last night, Beth and I signed our names in several dozen times and officially put our house up for sale. As much as I want a new house, someplace we can continue to grow, the whole thing makes me a little sad.

This is our first house. It's our magnolia house; the giant magnolia tree out front was planted way too close to the house but it fills Mia's window with blossoms every summer. We moved here, planted our stuff and our family and watched them grow. We painted and labored and made it our house. Our home. We argued here, we made up here and, most importantly, we loved here. We got pregnant here and brought Mia home to this house when she was born. Mia crawled here for the first time. She stood, fell down, and tried again here. She took her first steps and said her first words within these walls.

Yes, these are just walls - lumber, drywall and nails - but they surround more than just things. I'll miss them.

For the past week, Mia's been restless. She's resisted sleep and seems slightly on-edge. After doing a little thinking, my gut told me she was reacting to the activity, picking up on the fact that a change was coming. So she and I had a talk.

Me: Mia, do you want a new house?
Mia: Yes.
Me: Do you want a nice new room?
Mia: Yes.
Me: We're all going to be together through everything.
Mia: Mommy and daddy.
Me: And Mia. Mommy and daddy and Mia always make home.

We're bound for bigger and better things but, regardless of that, home will always be wherever my girls and I are.

That said, that doesn't negate the hope that this place sells faster than Lindsay Lohan on a line of coke.

Posted by Chris at 7:28 AM | Comments (46)

June 13, 2007

Paranoia! (Or, What Do You Know That I Don't?)

Early Sunday morning, I woke up gasping for air. It didn't take long before I realized I'd had a bad dream. It involved Dunkin Donuts, a Cinnabon store, a coworker and the message that I'd no longer be needed on a project I'm currently working on. Yes. Work sent me gasping for breath in the middle of the night. That hasn't happened in a while.

You know how dreams, especially bad ones, leave you with a lingering feeling of unease? Well, consider me uneasy. And I can add that unease to my heaping helping of existing unease (a virtual cornucopia, if you will) since I am, by nature, paranoid. Regardless of the kind words, positive reinforcement, accolades and favorable performance reviews I receive on a regular basis - not gloating but I've got a wall full of awards - a part of me honestly believes that I will, at any instant, lose my job.

Am I alone on this one? Please tell me I'm not.

(As an aside, I should mention that, following the work dream, I had a dream in which I was trapped in a massive country estate in Austria. I was leading a family out of the booby-trapped house. Once we'd escaped, we were chased across the Sound of Musicl-like countryside by a machine gun-wielding plane shaped, oddly, like a house. I have no lingering fears of mansions, house-shaped planes, plastic explosives or Austrians. I wonder why that rule seems to apply to my job and not small European nations and their citizenry.)

Posted by Chris at 6:58 AM | Comments (36)

June 12, 2007

Tuesday Morning Hypothetical

Here's a Tuesday Morning Hypothetical because it's early and I sat in a pretty decent amount of traffic this morning and, frankly, this is all I could come up with.

Let's say you're single with an insanely irrational fear of Stevie Nicks. Yes, you're afraid of the former Fleetwood Mac frontwoman because, honestly, who isn't? One day you meet someone absolutely perfect. They're nice, kind and hot. But, following a few dates, you get them home and, after a bit of Journey-like lovin' touchin' and squeezin', you realize they've got a giant tattoo of Stevie Nicks on their chest. What do you do? What do you do if the one you love reminds you of the thing that scares you the most?

(The reason I ask, is because I saw a decidedly unattractive woman sporting a tattoo of a tarantula on her elbow. I hate spiders. I hoped her soul-mate didn't share my fear.)

Posted by Chris at 7:44 AM | Comments (31)

June 11, 2007

The Call of Insanity

We're putting our house up for sale this week. This weekend was packed to the gills full of obligatory house prep. We painted, we spackled, we cleaned. As exciting as that was - and would no doubt be highly entertaining were I to provide every detail here - that's not actually what I wanted to talk about this morning. No. Instead, I'd rather discuss my very strange day yesterday. Specifically, the point at which I really and truly lost my mind in spectacular fashion. Luckily, though, I was the only witness. Although this arrangement kinda ruins that, doesn't it?

Yesterday, Beth and I packed our two cars full of stuff - primarily things we need to get out of the house in advance of having the carpet replaced and showing the house to prospective buyers - and headed over to my parents' house. They've kindly offered up their basement storage area whilst we move. As we were returning, I noticed that Beth and Mia were taking a different route home. I didn't have my cell with me but as soon as I got home, I checked my phone. Sure enough, Beth had called but hadn't left a message. I redialed the last call and, at almost the exact same time, I got an incoming call from her cell on the home phone. I closed my cell and answered the home phone. Nothing.

This happened over and over again. She'd call, I'd pick up...nothing. I'd call her back and she'd call me at the same time. Our timing was uncanny. Yet, after ten minutes, I was suitably frustrated. This is fucking ridiculous, I yelled to no one in particular. Quite frankly, I was pissed. Until I looked at both phones.

To understand this completely, you have to understand that our cell phone accounts are under my name. You should also know that, on my cellphone, I have Beth/H stored as our home phone and Beth/M for her cell phone. You should also understand that I think Ms and Hs look a hell of a lot alike.

As it turns out, Beth had never called me from her cell phone. Beth had called from home, a day earlier. When I returned that call, I called myself at home. Because my name showed up on caller ID, it never crossed my mind that it wasn't Beth calling. That's when I knew I'd gone insane. Quite simply put, I spent 10 solid minutes calling and hanging up on myself. I should put myself on that do not call list or something.

Later in the evening, Mia discovered my nipples. She wanted nothing more than to sit on them. I let her. Clearly, the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree.

Posted by Chris at 7:38 AM | Comments (41)

Haiku For Monday #171

It's early. I'm tired.
Same old song for a Monday.
Sing it too often.

Posted by Chris at 7:37 AM | Comments (4)

June 10, 2007

The Rude Cactus Father's Day Gift Guide

So, Father's Day is a week away and you're wondering what should I get my dad or husband or boyfriend or brother who happens to have a kid for Father's Day. See, I can read your mind. Because we're tight like that. Anyway, some really kind folks sent me some free stuff to take a peek at and see if they stuck to the high Rude Cactus Standards of Quality. Some might make pretty decent Father's Day gifts.

First up is, of course, TrueBlueberry blueberry juice. Because nothing says I love you dad quite like the juice of a tiny berry. Okay, okay, I'll admit this isn't the greatest Father's Day gift but if your dad happens to be a blueberry enthusiast, he'll love it. This stuff - a mixture of blueberry and grape juice - ain't at all bad. It's a little on the sweet side and it's only half juice. But the other half is augmented by real cane sugar, not corn syrup. It passed the Mia Test too. She loved the stuff and kept asking for more.

Next, the Rolling Stones. You can't actually buy them but who'd want to? The care and feeding alone would be a real pain in the ass. And the drunken groupies camping out on your lawn would piss off the neighbors. But you can bring home a little piece of their latest world tour. The Biggest Bang is a 7-hour, 4 DVD set documenting their most recent world tour. It captures shows at a few incredible locations and features 55 songs. Including Gimme Shelter, I know because I looked for that first. Hands down, their best song. Anyway, if dad's a Stones fan, check it out.

Finally, for the dad who hits the road armed with a laptop, check out the Rocketfish Twister Wireless Mouse. I'm frequently on client sites and I miss having my docking station, keyboard, monitor and mouse. And there's almost nothing more inconvenient than my laptop's trackpad. This little mouse is simple to connect and functions as a full-featured mouse. It's compact yet fits nicely in your hand (well, mine, at least) but is, at the same time, easy to throw in a pocket of your laptop bag. I plugged the USB wireless transmitter (about half the size of a normal thumb drive) in and I was good to go. I didn't have to install any software or go through the hassle of adding hardware. If you've got a dad on the go, this makes a great gift.

Now you've got no excuses for not finding a good Father's Day gift this year. Oh, and special thanks to the folks who sent me free stuff!

Posted by Chris at 12:53 PM | Comments (13)

June 8, 2007

Breaking Schadenfreude!

One of my long-standing beliefs has, apparently, proved false. God does exist after all.

Screaming and crying, Paris Hilton was escorted out of a courtroom and back to jail Friday after a judge ruled that she must serve out her entire 45-day sentence behind bars rather than in her Hollywood Hills home.

"It's not right!" shouted the weeping Hilton, who violated her probation in a reckless driving case. "Mom!" she called out to her mother in the audience.

Hilton, who was brought to court in handcuffs in a sheriff's car, came into the courtroom disheveled and weeping, hair askew, sans makeup, wearing a gray fuzzy sweatshirt over slacks.

She cried throughout the hearing, her body shook constantly and she dabbed at her eyes. Several times she turned to her parents, seated behind her in the courtroom, and mouthed, "I love you."


Justice may or may not be blind but apparently she doesn't like snotty bitches.

Posted by Chris at 4:26 PM | Comments (25)

Schadenfreude Friday: Wanted Drunk or Alive

There is, as always, more Schadenfreude than you can shake a stick at. Look...here's a sample.

Only The Names Will Change

Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora entered an undisclosed treatment facility on Wednesday, a rep for the band tells PEOPLE exclusively. "Richie Sambora has entered an undisclosed treatment facility in Los Angeles," the rep said in a statement. "He asks that you respect he and his family's privacy at this time." The specific nature of Sambora's problem was not disclosed. (courtesy of People)

According to other reports, Bon Jovi performed for a new MTV Unplugged show on Tuesday night and Sambora was hammered. Other musicians were forced to cover for Richie and Jon had the band perform Wanted Dead or Alive at least three times before he was satisfied with the results. So, who isn't in rehab right now?

The Final Showcase Showdown

Bob Barker maintained a smile on his face throughout the final show as he bid goodbye after 35 years as host of "The Price Is Right" and 50 years of daytime TV. But he got misty-eyed afterward while speaking to reporters. "The thing that surprises me most is that I got through the whole (show) without crying," the 83-year-old icon said, still holding his trademark microphone with the old-fashioned cord. (courtesy of AP)

I remember watching The Price Is Right during summers or when I stayed home from school sick. It was, and is, an institution. Without Bob, Plinko just won't be the same.

We'll Always Have Paris

Paris Hilton was let out of jail Thursday morning, days after she began serving what was to have been a 45-day sentence for violating probation, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. Hilton must wear a monitoring bracelet and remain at her home for another 40 days, said sheriff's department spokesman Steve Whitmore. Medical considerations "played a part" in the decision to offer Hilton home confinement for the remainder of her sentence, Whitmore said. (courtesy of CNN)

Original speculation regarding the "medical considerations" centered around the fact that Paris refused to eat. In reality, it appears as if officials feared a mental breakdown. So, they sent her home. Because that sends the right message. Yeah. You know, there's a word for people like Paris but I've vowed not to use it. But it rhymes with punt.


Posted by Chris at 6:43 AM | Comments (23)

June 7, 2007

Eyeball Eyeball!

It wasn't long ago that the Mia Bean was toddling around the house trying desperately to keep her legs under the rest of her. She learned early on that gravity is somewhat of a mixed blessing. Of course, she later perfected walking, moved onto running and tried her hand at jumping. Now, at almost two years old, words, like those legs are desperately working to support her.

The forward momentum of language is, at times, more than she can handle. During the past two weeks, she's had an explosion of words and we're picking the verbal shrapnel out of every nook and cranny. She's not learning words at a rate of one or two a week or even a day. Instead its one every five or ten minutes if she's truly interested. And when the words don't come, when her brain moves faster than her mouth allows, she just makes something up. In the process, she comes up with the craziest sentences I've ever heard.

Mia: Mia noodles and cheese!
Me: You want noodles and cheese for dinner?
Mia: Eyeball! Eyeball!
Me: And eyeballs?
Mia: Noodles and cheese! Paprika eyeball meow!
Me: Huh?
Mia: Dada name Chris. Eyeball! Eyeball!
Me: And what is mommy's name?
Mia: Mommy Beth! Knees meow! Shhhh, night night. HAMMER!
Me: Whatever, kid.
Mia: TEAPOT!

And then comes the Song Of All The Words We Know which grows exponentially each day. Mia claps and sings eyeball, eyeball and we're obligated to join in with eyeball eyeball ourselves. This can go on for hours. Really. I'm not exaggerating or extrapolating here. I know. It's a cold hard fact.

You learn as a parent that there's always something. If it's not teething then it's a cold and if it's not a cold then there's no pooping and if there's no pooping there's too much pooping or just a brand new set of teeth coming in. What you also learn is that that there are cool always somethings too. Like walking, running, talking, or wanting to kiss you every minute of every day for a week. And those always somethings vastly outweigh the other always somethings. All of them, taken together, are remarkable.

Eyeball eyeball! That cracks my ass up.

Posted by Chris at 7:20 AM | Comments (38)

June 6, 2007

Crossing A Line

Yesterday, I crossed some sort of line. I'm not sure how or why or what it means, but I crossed it. I sent this email to Beth yesterday afternoon.

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Yeah, I know. I'm a little woozy just rereading it. I feel kinda violated (can you violate yourself?). But there was a method to my madness if you'll just hear me out. Cormac McCarthy - the author, a notorious recluse, who wrote, most recently, The Road and No Country For Old Men both of which I desperately loved - was on. I was curious. I wanted to see him interviewed.

Does that do anything to compensate for the disturbing fact that I asked my poor sweet wife to TiVo Oprah? Please tell me it does. Please. I mean, it's not like I asked her to have a threesome with a goat, right?

Posted by Chris at 7:13 AM | Comments (51)

June 5, 2007

ElmoWood: The Red Menace And The American West

Over the weekend, amidst all the home repair, we thought we made Mia an offer she couldn't and wouldn't refuse - the opportunity to watch a little Elmo. Turns out she's a little more resourceful than we suspected. She not only found an Elmo DVD but turned on the DVD player, ejected the tray, loaded the disk and turned the television on. This from a kid who never watches television. Unfortunately, she didn't actually load an Elmo DVD. She chose Deadwood instead.

For those of you uninitiated in the wonder that is Deadwood, it's a fantastic show that takes place in, duh, Deadwood during the rush for gold before the Dakotas were states. The show is fantastic. The language, on the other hand, is foul. Which makes the show perfect in my mind, although not ideal kid viewing. Yet, I could see a hybrid of the two working...

The scene: Elmo's crayon-drawn saloon. Elmo, with his sidekick, Dorothy, are knocking back a few whiskeys smoking hand-rolled cigarettes while Big Bird and Cookie Monster beat the crap out of a local cattle-rustler.

Elmo: Oh hello there, cocksuckers! Today Dorothy and Elmo want to learn about the heathen dirt-worshiping mother-fuckers called Indians*. Let's see if old Doc Noodle can show us how to blow those cocksuckers back to Montana Territory. Oh no! Doc Noodle isn't around. He must be with a whore down at Hooper's Saloon. So let's count hookers with The Count instead.

The Count: Ah ah ah. Thank you Elmo. One...two...three...three filthy prostitutes. And look! One...two...three...three dirty drunk gold prospectors paying them each a dollar!

Elmo: Thank you, you cocksucker! And look! Cookie Monster is just back from tar-and-feathering a Chinese railroad worker who stole one of his cookies!

Cookie Monster: Hello Elmo. C is for cookie. And cocksuckers who steal cookies!

Elmo: Thanks for stopping by ElmoWood. Remember, Elmo loves you cocksuckers.

I'll admit, I don't have it totally worked out. And this might not be the correct medium to fully appreciate the genius that is this idea. I'll keep working on it. And my other idea - a group of mobbed-up Teletubbies taking over The Sopranos' time slot after Tony and company leave the airwaves this weekend.


* I seem to have triggered my own internal Political Correctness Alarm. I hope it goes without saying that I have immense respect for the Native Americans who were so wrongly treated by the early settlers of this country and referred to as "dirt worshipers" and "heathens". Elmo is clearly unsympathetic to the plight of the American Indian. You'd think being a minority himself, he'd be slightly more tolerant of other minorities. Furry cocksucker.

Posted by Chris at 6:55 AM | Comments (34)

June 4, 2007

Weekend Recap: Babies and Hard Labor (No Pun Intended)

This weekend was all about two things - Mia's new cousin and hard labor.

As I mentioned in my non-schadenfreude Schadenfreude Friday post (that hurt my brain to type), Beth's brother and his wife had a little girl on Thursday evening. We visited the hospital on Friday and took Mia over yesterday once the new improved family got themselves settled at home. We worked with Mia for days, getting her ready to interact with a baby. We went through the parts of the baby she could touch, the parts she couldn't, and strongly reinforced the concept of gentle. We seem to have been successful.


The rest of the weekend was devoted to getting our humble abode ready to be adored by others (hopefully). Yep, it's hitting the market soon. We completely redid one entire bathroom, floor and all. As an extra added bonus for the new owners, we touched up walls, baseboards and trim in nearly every room, did some light landscaping (although it was actually heavy since it involved hoisting a tree), spackled and replaced light fixtures. I'm fucking exhausted. And in a little bit of pain. I wrenched my shoulder, twisted my neck and for some strange reason my ass hurts although I really don't want to dwell on that one too much.

To top it off, I'm back at work after a week and a half of being off. My inbox is like a ship full of Tribbles - new email multiplying like it's going out of style, and I'm pretty sure I have shit on my calendar for today I haven't even heard of.

I'll be whipping up a cocktail of Advil and coffee. And laughing because spackle and trim sound dirty. Because I'm 12. And it's Monday. Oh is it Monday.

Posted by Chris at 7:01 AM | Comments (32)

Haiku For Monday #170

Crap. Crapity crap.
Suppose it's about time to
earn that paycheck, huh?

Posted by Chris at 6:59 AM | Comments (5)

June 1, 2007

Missing: Schadenfreude

Excuse me if I let the schadenfreude madness slip again this week but I became an uncle last night*. How cool is that? Uncle Cactus. Is it me or does that sound like some funky alt-country band? Or a new brand of tequila?

* It's also damn early and I haven't had coffee yet...but mostly that uncle thing.

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


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