Saturday, September 27, 2014


As I sit here writing this on a bright sunny Saturday morning somewhere west of Pasadena, listening to the occasional car pass by, a thought occurs to me. How did this cat hair get all over my keyboard? Apparently the Meow Meow was trying to order catnip online again while I was gone at work yesterday. I was fairly certain I'd closed my MacBook before I left the house Friday morning. I'll have to confer with the Mrs. later about the veracity of my claim.

Seemingly the only person awake in this domicile at the moment, I'm enjoying the opportunity to quietly enjoy...the quiet. It's not something I rarely do. Waking up in my home, I normally do the morning exercises to some sort of accompaniment on the television, albeit with the volume pretty low so as not to disturb the wife. Here, since I'm in someone else's residence, and one I am completely unfamiliar with, I choose not to attempt to turn on electronic entertainment devices so as not to disturb our hosts. So aside from some random birds chirping outside, the smoke detector or some such device softly chirping inside, and the aforementioned nearby motor vehicles, I'm hearing something I pretty much never hear.


I normally have some sort of audible amusement going at nearly all times. Once I leave the house for work, music is going for most of the day. Apart from the first couple hours in the office itself, I'm out on the street making deliveries. My work truck has a stereo with a jack into which I plug my iPod, and my iPhone never leaves my breast pocket, leaving me with constant access to something like over 1,500 hours of things to listen to. I'll play music until I decide I want to hear a story, or some comedy, or whatever strikes my fancy at that particular moment on that particular day. I'll get into routines where, at a certain point in my route, it's time to switch over to, for instance, an episode of Laugh-In. As much as I enjoy the show as a whole, listening to the clever banter between hosts Dan Rowan and Dick Martin is usually the best part for me. I was able to locate one of their comedy albums in the electronic music store, and grabbed another on vinyl off the online auction site. Occasionally I wonder if I was born in the wrong era, considering my affinity for comedians of the 1960's.

Alas, the upcoming busy day awaits. Think I'll get going on that shortly. Just want to sit here for a few more minutes and enjoy nothing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Spare Time

There's just not enough time to do everything. There are so many things I want to write about, and not enough time to properly devote to them. I've got drafts starting to build up here, because I just don't have enough time to sit and write everything I want to about the given subject. I've already cut a few pieces short just to publish something.

It's a great problem to have.

I'm really enjoying doing this again, and will continue to for as long as I do...which hopefully, will be for a very long time to come.

Have to cut this one short as well. I've got to finish getting ready for work, and there's a very demanding cat vying for attention from this keyboard.

Bums ask is you could give them some change. I'd ask if you could give me some time.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Songs I Don't Actually Like

I used to have a massive collection of CD's, but then I bought my first iPod. I spent weeks uploading all of my music from my CD's to the computer, then got rid of most of the CD's (gave a ton to friends, sold a few, held on to a small number for various reasons). It's been pretty much 10 years to the month since I got the first iPod, and I've obviously picked up some more music since then as well. Currently, there's in excess of 20,000 tracks in my iTunes. I've got a 160GB iPod now, as well as an iPhone, so I've got access to everything pretty much at all times.

That's not necessarily a good thing.

When I uploaded all that music to my computer, with very few exceptions, I just put everything on. I didn't bother to get rid of tracks I was less than fond of...just too time consuming. Since I tend to keep everything in shuffle mode most of the time, I'm at the mercy of what my iWhatever is going to throw at me. I'll skip things if I just don't feel like listening to them at the moment, but occasionally something comes on that I don't even recognize, or I feel like trying just out of a sense of adventure, and I let it play mostly out of curiosity.

Curiosity killed the cat...and sometimes, my eardrums.

I really like a lot of music by the band Blondie. They had 5 albums in the late 1970's and early 1980's that have a lot of songs I really enjoy. But today, I actually sat thru a track I normally skip over, and now I know why I normally skip over it. Their first album was a mostly punk effort with a lot of rapid fire, 3 minute pseudo-pop tunes well worth listening to. "X Offender" (which is really called "Sex Offender" except they toned down the title for a major label release...this was in a very different era, kids...), "Rip Her To Shreds", "Rifle Range" and "Kung Fu Girls" are all excellent tracks.

Today, I actually listened to "In The Flesh". I just checked my iTunes, and, prior to today, I have never actually played that song. It starts out slow and drippy...and never deviates from this. Was it punk simply because it WASN'T a fast track, like most punk songs of the era? Because technically, punk is about the attitude, and not merely how fast and crude the songs could be. The definition of punk has been a bone of contention over the ensuing decades...and I'm not going to get into that now. What I will say is...

...I guarantee you I will never listen to that song again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go delete it from my iTunes right now. I don't make idle threats.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'd Like To Exchange This Day Off

Rather annoying way to spend a day off...woke up late, feeling a little uneasy with a headache. My wife was already well into her work day by the time I staggered out to her office in the house. I had been up earlier for about an hour or so, but wasn't feeling so great...and knowing it was a day off with not too much activity planned for the day, went back to bed. But by the time I finally got back up, the wife had already been working for nearly two hours, and, more tragically...had to make her own coffee.

The horror...the horror...

Her coffee is usually on her nightstand waiting for her to wake with her alarm every morning, even on her days off, Sundays, everything. It's a rare morning when she wakes up to a coffee-less nightstand. She let me sleep in, but I believe there were some growing concerns on her part as to whether or not I was still her husband, and not her late husband. My shuffling appearance assuaged those fears, but then gave her some new ones. I must have not looked much better than I felt.

After a light breakfast, I got some things together, got into the car, and went off to run a few errands, hoping that the fresh air and activity would help me feel better.

In a word...nope.

Upon returning home, I went to a sheet-less bed (current ones were being washed, and me putting new ones on required more effort than I was able to muster at this point), and became one with it.

And until about a couple hours ago, aside from multiple trips to the bathroom, that was pretty much my day.

Can I get a refund?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Starry Connections

With all of the comic book conventions I've attended, I'd never been to a Star Trek convention until late July of this year. I've never been a Trekkie by any stretch of the imagination. I've seen most of the original show, a bunch of the Next Generation episodes, a few of the movies, and read a couple of the books, but I can't quote lines chapter and verse. I don't have any of the schematics of the ships on the walls of the house. Actually, I hardly own any Star Trek material at all. None of the shows or movies on DVD or Blu-Ray, and I believe there is only one Star Trek graphic novel in my fairly extensive library...and I only have that because Chris Claremont wrote it and Adam Hughes drew it.

The biggest Star Trek convention of the year is held every summer at the Rio here in Las Vegas. In addition to tons of rabid fans, many of whom dress as their favorite characters from some incarnation of the show, there are lots of celebrity guests. Many of the actors appear, ranging from folks who had a walk-on role one time as an alien who died almost as fast as he materialized onscreen, to the biggest of them all in the Star Trek Universe, William Shatner. But you also get many of the behind the scenes folks connected with the actual making of the shows, including make-up artists, production designers, and writers. And one writer in particular who had a connection to the show is one of the greatest writers in the history of fantasy, someone whose work I enjoy, and whom as a person I admire tremendously, named Harlan Ellison. And once I realized that he would be attending a gathering that would be a 20 minute drive from the house, it appeared the void of having never attended a Star Trek convention (a void I was never really concerned about previously) was about to be filled.

However, this entry is not about Harlan Ellison...nor is it about Star Trek. Among the many guests who had a tenuous connection to the crew that boldly went where no man had gone before was an actor with a career that spanned half-a-century, but was most well known for one role that he played in two movies in the 1970's. In wandering the show floor on Thursday, the first day of the convention, I spotted a familiar looking giant of a man. I soon recognized him as the man who portrayed the iconic James Bond villain with the metal teeth, known as Jaws. All 7 foot 2 inches of Richard Kiel was seated behind a table, chatting with a couple of fans. This day, I only went to the show after I got out of work, making it there just in time for Ellison's panel. I roamed the floor a little bit after I got squeezed out of the Ellison signing line by just one person...oh well, I'd be back on Sunday with my wife. 

In all the years I've attended GeekFests (my little pet name for large gatherings of nerds, more commonly known as comic cons), I've never had as much fun at them as when I go with my wife. She has an enthusiasm for things like this that is infectious. And while I'm usually there to see specific people, and don't really stray beyond the ones on my list, she just wanders around looking at everything, since she's not there to see anyone or anything specifically. And she has fun with all of it. So when I pointed out that Kiel was seated right nearby, she made a beeline for him, with me, as always, in tow. 

As we approached his table, his overly large fingers were fumbling with a small packet of candy. After failing to open it after a couple of tries, he looked up at my wife and said "I'm sorry, can you get this open for me?"...and our conversation was begun. We chatted for a few minutes about some of the movies he'd made, jobs he'd worked on, locations he'd been to, and stars he'd worked with. In looking thru the 8 by 10 inch glossy photos he had for sale, he pointed out one that was a little hidden on his table, but that he was fond of. It was a photograph from his time on Cannonball Run II, and it's him standing behind (and towering over) legendary entertainers Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. He was nice enough to autograph that for us, but that wasn't the end of our interaction.

As part of the nominal fee for the autographed photo, he also took a couple pictures with us. First my wife sat down with him, and I took a nice shot of the two of them. Then it was my turn to sit in the chair next to him, but as soon as I did, before I even realized what was happening, two massive hands gripped my skull from the top and bottom...and I laughed internally and went with what he was doing for the photograph.

When we were finished, we thanked him, as we really did appreciate our time with him, and how genuinely nice and pleasant he was. The pictures came out great, and are part of a fantastic day my wife and I had at the Star Trek convention.

A few weeks later, I get a call from a friend of mine back in New York, asking what I had done to Richard Kiel. I didn't know what he was talking about, and told him as much. That was when he informed me that Kiel, age 74, had just died. As shocking and sad as this was, it just made us both a little happier that we'd stopped and spent some time with the gentle giant.

Blog Post Soundtrack: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees (Derek Jeter in the final week of his career), Iron Chef America, Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim at Oakland Athletics

Monday, September 22, 2014


It's 5:30 on a Monday morning as I begin to write this. Sam Ryan is keeping me company as she hosts Quick Pitch (a wrap-up/highlight show of the previous day in professional baseball) on the MLB Network. Also keeping a close eye on my morning activities is the Meow Meow...frankly, she's been trying to add a few sentences to this entry herself, as she's made multiple attempts to jump or walk onto the keyboard as I've been sitting here. I've just done most of my morning warm-ups, and am now having breakfast, typing in between spoonfuls of cereal. I've been doing everything I can to make sure I write a little something each and every day. Seems to be the only way I can ensure that I'll actually stick with this. I'm a bit of a creature of habit. Even on my days off, I tend to get up early and still exercise. That comes from 19 years of delivering mail, and being in my mid-forties now, that means things tend to hurt if I don't. Actually, they tend to hurt even I do, but the exercise ensures it hurts a little less, and makes sure I can get thru the upcoming work day. I also get up early on days off so that I can make the coffee for my wife, who apparently needs the "elixir of life" in order to function. The phrase uttered at me frequently at the start of her day, in varying degrees of volume depending on the severity of the emotion that day, is "Don't LIKE mornings!" Never would've guessed, sweetie.

Off to the showers soon. Have a good day, people. I'll see you in the morning.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Small Humans On Ice

The wife and I took a nice leisurely Sunday afternoon drive over to the other side of town today. Our objective was to watch some miniature humans wielding wooden spears glide around on frozen water while chasing after a piece of hard rubber. Oh, and we also went to see some of our friends here in Las Vegas whose young children play hockey.

It was nice to hang out in the stands with one of the dads, just talking about life, while watching his son on the rink nearest to us. These kids are all around 6 to 8 years old, so they take a regulation size rink and split it in thirds. Each mini-rink then has action going north to south, instead of a full-sized rink where the game would be going east to west. From my vantage point, I could also clearly see the rink at the far end, where the son of our other set of friends was playing his little heart out.

In addition to the on-ice action, I also had a great view of my wife getting in her exercise for the day. The players were split so that each rink was playing 3 on 3, and each line of 3 would get 2 minutes on the ice before their teammates took a 2 minute shift. As it worked out, each of the friends' kids were on opposite shifts, so there was always one on the ice and one off at the same time. So every time the buzzer went off announcing the 2 minutes was over, she would then march from one end of the rink to the other, in order to get some photographs of each child in action. The entertainment derived from the Pavlovian response that developed became an added bonus for me. All her running around paid off though, as she got some excellent photographs. There's tons more to sift through, but posted with this piece are a few of the best ones she's found so far.

As one would imagine with kids of this age, there are varying degrees of skill and enthusiasm on display. While some could handle themselves with little to no trouble, others seemed to trip over the face-off circle. This is the kind of league where being a goaltender could be incredibly disheartening. One little guy just wasn't ready to be a netminder yet. He wasn't able to react quick enough, and also was pretty clueless as to positioning. He knew to be in front of the net, but not much more than that. It's very possible that, because of his size (he seemed a little small when compared to the other kids his age), the goalie equipment may have been a tad heavy for him, which would definitely slow his speed. It was a little sad to see him getting beat time and time again, and you could read the mounting frustration in his body language. He stayed in there, though. I just hope he sticks with it and doesn't get discouraged, because his effort alone will get him somewhere in life.

Blog Post Soundtrack: Down, The White Stripes, Nirvana, Deep Purple, Daft Punk, Pearl Jam, Beethoven, Chuck Berry

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Masochism Tango

Several years ago I was introduced to the musical genius that is Tom Lehrer, and I've been a fan ever since. The insanely clever wordplay contained in his lyrics is on a level unmatched by anyone. His ability to layer these words over ridiculously catchy tunes is also first rate. His songs demand a certain level of intelligence. For me, the modern equivalent would be Tim Minchin. As terrific as Lehrer's songs are, they were better when he performed them in front of a live audience...which was fairly rare. While this isn't my favorite live version of this song (there's a better one on his "An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer" album), it's still pretty damn entertaining in its own right.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Buddy Hackett

We got our first VCR in our home back in December of 1988. That changed my entire world. Suddenly, all sorts of options for watching shows that I'd never been able to see before were opened up to me. Specifically, I was now able to watch The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson and Late Night With David Letterman on a daily basis. Previously, I'd seen the occasional episode here and there, but between always having school, or work, or both, I'd never really been able to regularly be up late enough to watch. I've always been one of those morning people that most of the world seems to hate.

Being able to now watch these shows on a nightly basis exposed me either to many new-to-me comedians, or gave me opportunities to see comics I was already fond of, but didn't get to see very often. One of these was Buddy Hackett, who I unfortunately never got to see live in person. Thankfully, seeing him appear on Carson's show many times somewhat made up for that. And since the advent of YouTube, so many things I've wanted to see (or to see again), are right at my fingertips.

Here's a quick clip from near the end of Carson's run (this may actually have been from Hackett's last appearance on Johnny's Tonight Show):

The Face Of Despair

Today I saw, firsthand, the face of despair. I stared into its eyes, looking long and hard into the very depths of oblivion. I could read the expression of "please kill me" on its face as easy as you can read this sentence. Never have I seen such a low. It was a palpable presence in the room. It enveloped me as I entered, and stayed with me even after I left. The fog of hopelessness within the area nearly blocked out the light from the midday desert sun.

Entering the fast-food restaurant, one was overwhelmed by the young children in line screaming and running amok, playing with the retractable belt barriers, and using the elderly folks with walkers as obstacles to skirt around. The face of despair was worn by the man behind the counter. As I entered to deliver their mail, our eyes met...and I could feel his soul being sucked out of his very being. I looked into the abyss...

...and then went back outside to my truck to continue my route, laughing manically.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dust Mop

There's a constant source of entertainment in our house, in addition to the banter that goes on between my wife and myself. Since April of this year, we've had a feline residing here, and things are never dull with her around. She's got certain toys that she'll chase after on a regular basis, she's a committed bird-watcher, she's very vocal, and even as I attempt to write this, she is making her presence known. Apparently she thinks she's a transparent kitty, but despite her opinion, I can't actually see my keyboard thru her thick fur and increasingly large body.

As per usual with a cat, she enjoys climbing and being in high places. The library of our home affords her lots of chances to both achieve this, and to catch up on her reading. Never know what book she'll be focusing on when I stumble across her in interesting locations. Never have the tops of the bookcases been as well-dusted since she's discovered how to get up there. Nice to have a built-in cleaning service...our little mobile Swiffer Duster.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Love/Hate Relationship

I can't stand grocery shopping. Has to be towards the very top of my "Least Favorite Things To Do" list. (Oh yes. There is an actual list. What's on it varies, and it usually depends on what I'm doing at the moment. But trust me, such a list exists.) Yes, in this modern world we live in, since the hunter/gatherer type has basically disappeared, it is obviously necessary. Rather vital, even. But that doesn't mean I have to enjoy it.

So it must be some kind of testament to how much I love my wife that I actually don't mind, nay, even nearly ENJOY going grocery shopping, when I go with her. This may be helped by the fact that she is insanely creative with what she can do in the kitchen, and will walk around telling me about all the amazing creations she can conjure up in her never-ending quest to fatten me. More than once has there been an out-of-control shopping cart due to the wheels slipping on the puddle of drool that has formed under it after falling from my mouth.

I write this as I face the daunting task of having to go to the grocery store...ALONE...

Keep me in your thoughts.

Blog Post Soundtrack: Foo Fighters (live)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Smokey And The Wife

Yesterday the wife and I watched "Smokey And The Bandit", the fluff chase movie starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, and Jackie Gleason. Released in 1977, it was the second highest grossing movie of the year, trailing only a small little picture called Star Wars. I hadn't seen this in years, and it's still entertaining, in a "just shut your brain off and enjoy the car chases and crashes" kinda way.

In clearing out the DVR a bit, we followed this with "Nine Innings From Ground Zero", about as omega away from Smokey's alpha as you could get. This documentary focused on the role that baseball played in the recovery by New York, and the rest of the United States, from the events of 9/11. This one lead to some fairly in-depth conversations, as we wound up pausing several times to discuss current affairs (like the state of the Middle East), and parenting.

We don't often get days where we can just sit around watching movies and having quiet conversations, so I always appreciate it when one of those rolls around. I'm looking forward to spending as much time as possible with my wife over the rest of our lives. We've always got things we can watch together, and we definitely have events to talk about.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Death And Resurrection In Las Vegas

As I sit here quietly reading 'Michael Palin's Diaries 1969-1979 The Python Years' on a late sunny Sunday morning, cat at my side, wife asleep in the other room, a thought occurs to me. I'd like to start this up again. I miss writing, and my wife and I lead such a busy and event-filled life together that it would be a bit of a shame to let much of it go by undocumented. For example, just yesterday we went, mostly on a whim, to a liquidation sale at The Clarion Hotel here in Las Vegas. A place formerly owned by Debbie Reynolds, its small size and odd location (just off The Strip, and not in an exciting-by-Las-Vegas-standards way) meant it couldn't keep up with the mega-casinos that are everything now. This sale had been going on for at least a week, and EVERYTHING was up for sale...right down to the kitchen sink ($425, if I recall correctly...a slop-sink that could be placed anywhere was only $75).
As a consequence, the interior of the hotel looked as if the zombie apocalypse had occurred roughly a couple years ago. Rooms were ravaged to varying degrees, with some still maintaining some furniture, but all of it displaced. Other rooms had suffered from more pillaging, as chairs, tables, sheets, even entire beds were gone. Kat figured that they could leave the place as is and market it as The Zombie Apocalypse Hotel, and it would be booked solid. Dumber ideas have made millions of dollars.

For the record, we walked out of there with 6 dishes, 6 small bowls, a dozen green cloth napkins, a 5 foot mirror that is maybe a foot wide, a small plastic carafe, 4 hand towels, and some silverware. Only cost us 50 bucks. But the pictures of me "passed out" in random semi-destroyed hotel room bathrooms and strewn across misplaced pieces of furniture probably are worth that themselves.

Blog Post Soundtrack: Probot, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The Clash, The Misfits (doing 'Horror Hotel'...rather appropriate), Grandmaster Flash, John Lennon