Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another Month Gone

I'm what you might call a great student of time. Meaning, I think a lot about the passage of time. New Year, birthdays, anniversaries, all that.

Whether the subject is wasting time, killing time, spending time wisely, it's never far from my mind. The length of time it takes to do anything is always a concern, including listening to music, collecting music, and so forth.

Working out on my old exercise bike, walking, cooking, watching TV, writing a blog like this, reading Grandma bedtime stories; all of it takes time. I want to be on time, hit the pillow before the clock says 12:00, I consider all the ones in 11:11, and even have a pet name for 9:40, which is "Grain Belt." That looks weird in print, but there must have been a Grain Belt Beer truck that one time (or more often) went by me at 9:40 in the past. I'm sure I saw numerous Grain Belt trucks when I was a kid. So if I glance at the clock and it's 20 till 10 you know what I'm thinking of!

I know it's all arbitrary, the ticking of seconds being really an arbitrary measurement as well as the movement and placement of hands on a clock, but we're brought up on this stuff and so it seems natural. You look at the cats and they don't care about time, of course, but they're still creatures of habit, wanting their food on time.

Now we have July about to end, and August to begin. What do you feel about these months? July feels kind of sharp and August plump.

One last thing: We're coming up on 08-08-08, but, strangely, that doesn't mean much to me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

When Animas Attack

I'm feeling scatterbrained today -- at least my thoughts are diverted. I'm having a hard time concentrating. But that doesn't mean I haven't got my normal duties around here. Checking mousetraps, fixing meals, drinking coffee, watching the news, praying for Grandma's health, holding the bucket and Kleenex.

I'm aware of what's happening. It hasn't always been that way. I've had what I call "anima attacks" before, serious "falling in love" episodes that are all consuming and very painful. Someone says something about how some woman, as an example, moves her mouth in relation to a particular joke. And without warning the ascent and attack has happened! Or hair -- of course hair is a notorious anima trigger. But anything can touch those hidden connection points, so it's not exactly predictable.

Some of my recent thoughts -- such as of the girls driving by in the convertible with their hair blowing in the wind or my "Wild Thing" ordering whiskey at the soda shop -- are the stuff leading to the movement of anima ascent. Then various things are in a sense conspiring with and congealing around these disparate images until something puts one over the edge. Except my current state of being smitten has no actual target or potential partner -- it might just be frustration-based. And in all honesty I'm not over the edge, just near it, and it helps to be conscious of what's going on.

[Hang on a second, Grandma needs to spit.]

OK, I'm back, just let me wipe my arm... That was terrible. I guess the exercise she got when we went to the movie was a mixed blessing. It gave her the reviving but also seems to have worked up some phlegm that was apparently living at peace with its neighbors in a cul-de-sac somewhere in a forgotten part of her lungs. And it must have been all the moving around -- getting in and out of the car -- that got it all worked up and up in arms, so she's been hacking out their disgruntled citizens all day.

Getting back to my problem: The movie probably didn't help the situation with this incipient, though, I hope, avoidable, anima attack, the movie being "Mamma Mia!" [their exclamation point]. I've been thinking about it, which helps my ability to remain conscious of what's going on. Also, and this could be part of the danger, I've been listening to my ABBA "Gold" CD, so it's reinforcing the themes of the movie. I try to stay clinical; I keep thinking of its structure, man vs. himself, the anticlimax, the climactic twist, etc. Nothing wrong there. But the themes -- the love affairs, the wedding, the sailing away -- you can see the sorts of projections and transferences that are not just possible but likely for one as susceptible to it as I.

I'm kind of a fool, I guess. Why foolishly dally around with a chick flick? It's not like I don't know better! A passage in Man and His Symbols, edited, with an introduction by C. G. Jung, stands as a kind of stern sentinel to warn men away from chick flicks:

"The anima is a personification of all feminine psychological tendencies in a man's psyche, such as vague feelings and moods, prophetic hunches, receptiveness to the irractional, capacity for personal love, feeling for nature, and -- last but not least -- his relation to the unconscious" (p. 186, Dell paperback).

So what is within is personified. No problem, you say? But M.-L. von Franz, writing there, begs to differ, giving a cautionary Siberian tale, that you perhaps forgot, illustrating a destructive anima. A hunter sees a beautiful woman on the other side of a river. She waves at him. He throws off his clothes and dives in, but she flies away in the form of an owl. Then as he swims back he drowns (pp. 187 and 190). In this case the anima symbolizes an unreal dream of love, happiness, and maternal warmth, and, I believe, importantly, reminds us to make sure the women we meet aren't secretly birds.

Well, enough of that. Yes, yes, there is a whole positive side as well. But I can't afford to sign up at, I don't like the whole bar scene, and, anyway, I'm fairly happy here on the half acre, you know, tending to Grandma in her golden years ... that never seem to end.

My strict resolution is this: What I need to do is not look at any cool women driving by or any with a "fairy-like" character (Ibid, 191). They're the absolute worst!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gramma Mia!

You'll recall yesterday, I was concerned about Grandma's health, sort of. I was monitoring her breathing, which was very shallow. I looked it up at WebMD and it turns out three or four breaths a minute is not normal. I say I was "concerned," which might not be entirely accurate, for the simple fact that when you're 104 anything other than a death rattle is good news.

I've been doing my best around the place to look after her. It's getting to the point, though, where I'm experiencing cabin fever. I feel like I deserve a life, too, yet here I sit, night after night, while the rest of the world whoops it up. Sometimes I look out and see a car speeding by. There's someone out there living the fast life! And it's not too hard to imagine that maybe it's a mixed party, you know. Maybe a guy in a car with a few girls, a convertible, and their hair is flying loose in the wind. And the guy's laughing and glancing in the rear view mirror at one of them, knowing that he's cutting a fine figure for anyone who happens to see him speed by. It's debauched, of course, but not without a trace of desirability.

OK, enough sitting here stewing in our own juices! I've made a decision! I wake her up, "Grandma, Grandma..." And I suggest we go to the movies!

I've been wanting to see the new chick flick, "Mamma Mia!" And probably it'd be something she'd enjoy as well, being something of a chick. So I went to all the work of getting her up -- a labor of love -- getting her dressed, getting her and her walker and wheelchair to the car, and we went to the theater. We're right on time, and I know it's going to take some doing to get her in, but thankfully it's just the previews showing.

She being in a wheelchair we had no choice but to go all the way down front. I don't mind the front but I know it's going to be bad for her neck. But I shouldn't have worried, because right away she dozed off. Just as well because I'd hate to have her asking me all the time, "What'd they say?" Or worse, eating all the popcorn and spitting out the hulls...

So, how was the movie? Great! ABBA songs, some of the greatest songs of all time. I'm loving every minute of it! I'm tapping my toe. But I have to confess it had such a sense of abandon and of fulfilling your dreams -- an exotic locale, redeeming the past, true love winning out -- that I had the temptation to run away. I started thinking about my life and what else might be possible. (Spoiler alert:) When Sophie sails off with her boyfriend, I'm thinking, I need a boat and a chick like her or Meryl Streep. But, getting back to reality, I'm very very concerned because they didn't do the song "Waterloo," and the movie's obviously winding down. And then, a welcome surprise for me, the cast was out on stage (in the film) doing it as a closing number! Yea!

Pushing Grandma and her chair out to the ordinary world after that was a completely letdown. There's the car, there's the same old street, and then later, the same old house. But she was none the worse for the wear, and in fact it may have helped her. Maybe some of the lively tunes sank into her consciousness, her reverie. Once I got her back in bed her breathing had picked up and she was doing pretty well. Also it could've just been the movement, the exercise.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Day So Far

Grandma's been in bed for a few days. She gets up for bathroom breaks, then goes back to bed. She hasn't had an appetite at all. I've been looking in on her once in a while to make sure she's breathing. And so far she usually is.

Today, though, she got up and came to the table and had some Grape Nuts and apricots. I hope whatever's kept her down is about over with. It's a drag getting my own meals.

Then -- a big surprise -- she wanted to go into the living room and sit on the couch. So we did that. I got out her walker, even rotated its tennis balls, which I try to do every 10 miles for a more even wear, and she made her way to the couch.

I sat in the corner chair and we sat in silence. After a while I started thumbing through some of her old "True Story" type of magazines, just glancing up a few times. She was just staring ahead. We sat there a while and then she indicated she wanted to go back to bed, so that's where she is now.

Her breathing is fine -- maybe three or four breaths a minute. So I think she'll be OK.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

You Don't Need To Rush Off

Things out here at the half acre are very slow paced. The speed of life isn't the speed of light. It varies wherever you go, of course. In the city you have your fast women, fast cars, and rat race. Out here on the acre -- OK, half acre -- we have one slow woman, an old car, and an occasional rat. Mice, mostly, to tell the truth.

We are very plain folk, unassuming, not even slightly self-conscious of how plain and unassuming we are. The fact that I can even make the statement seems to contradict it, but only because your logic is too fast. Our logic out here is like everything else, slow, and willing to stretch with the circumstances.

We really are not in much of a hurry about anything. Whether it's cleaning out the garage, the shed, the basement, our crawl space attic, doing anything, if we can put it off till next year, so much the better. We drawl when we talk, not because it's exactly natural to us, but because we're not in a big hurry to say anything. We have entire visits with friends that consist of dozing off in our chairs.

This slow pace helps keep us in good health, they say. Grandma's 104 of course and she knows it. I've heard her say so many times, "I'm 104. I'm 104." We knew a lady -- used to live over at the community-living, senior place -- and she was 105. She did the same thing. The biggest activity of her life was this, having the ends of spoons cut off, then she'd bend them and make rings out of them. She'd say something on that subject once in a while. But mostly all she ever said to you was, "I'm 105. I'm 105. I'm 105." Now, I could listen to that all day, like the next guy, but in 105 years it seems like something would've happened to you that'd be a little more interesting!

I have to slow down. I got worked up there a bit. Because I'm like John Boy Walton in certain ways, except I talk with the same voice now that I'm old as I did when I was young. Like him I can do that whole bemused, detached thing of recounting what we used to do back on the Slump half acre. But unlike him I'm still there -- or, that is to say, I returned. Some of my worldly ways -- which were few -- are still at the surface, as I said above, leering at fast women, wanting a fast car, the rat race. O, for one of those fast women-- But I digress.

The slow pace affects the visits, dozing off, etc. And the slow pace also affects us when a visit has to end. We have a saying that I'd like to leave you with, which is, "You don't need to rush off." If you've visited 10 minutes, like on a delivery and an errand and have to hurry away, we don't say much about that. But if you've been here six hours, seven hours, that's when it comes out, "You don't need to rush off." I guess that's natural to slow people.

Friday, July 25, 2008

"If You Want Me To Eat..."

Yesterday I posted something here that upon re-reading sounds very brusque. It's a phrase that sounds funny to me, picturing a guy so mean to his wife that he could say, "You know where I am! If you want me to eat you'll bring it to me!" Just typing it again makes me laugh out loud. What a crumb!

I have a recording of it hooked on to the previous post -- and I guess I'll hook it on to this one, too, because it sounds funny.

It's absurd, though, because the natural response to the guy would be, "Eat if you want, don't eat if you don't. What's it to me? Are you so deluded that you think I am fulfilling my desires by fulfilling yours? If you're that mean, starve!"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Prince Charmless

I'm imagining myself in a serious relationship. I can picture myself being quite charming at first, to win over my lady fair, then clamping down after she's securely enamored by me and letting her know who's boss.

At first my strategy would have to be flowers and tours in a carriage around the half acre. We would spark and spoon in the dark of the moon. And for a year or so we would watch the fireworks from the hill, and make a few fireworks of our own, if you know what I mean. I can see myself gazing deeply into her eyes and uttering sweet nothings, said utterances commencing and finding their logical resolution, her being instantly won over. The next thing in this tender scene would have to be me saying the three most beautiful words a man can say to a woman, which are, "I love you."

I love you, my cherie amor. I love you, my darling, forever.

[Picture calendar pages flying off the wall here, indicating the passage of some amount of time.]

"This is the kitchen, these are the pots, these are the pans, time to make some noise. Dig right in, I'll take me a mean mess of polk salad, and maybe go down to the truck patch and get me some kohlrabi and other greens. I've starving!" See the transition?

Time goes on, and now I taking the old battle axe for granted. I keep a bottle of hootch down inside the loose board in the outhouse. I'm out there taking a leak, then looking out the moon hole. I don't see the old ball and chain coming, so this is a good time to wet my whistle and scratch my throat at the same time. The stuff's a powerful elixir! I'm refreshed but getting meaner by the second.

She's calling me to lunch, let's say, but by now I'm one for barking out orders. I figure by now she's here to serve me, no questions asked. So instead of me going to the dinner table, I sit in my easy chair, watching the fights, and hollering to her: "You know where I am! If you want me to eat you'll bring it to me!" And "It seems like any fool would know I need something to wash this slop down with!"

Of course we live happily ever after.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Grandpa Flinging Mice

I'm in kind of a wistful, sentimental mood. As you know, I had an on/off relationship with Grandpa Slump. He died in '78, so really whatever sourness there was is pretty much sweetened up a bit, and sentimentality is pretty common. My memories are much more streamlined, pressed in a mold, shaped and reshaped after all this time. I remember some things with gladness and sorrow both, like all the F bombs he used to drop when he was with us guys. It was good that he thought me mature enough and man enough to listen to him cuss a blue streak. But there's a little sorrow because I remember him as being overly angry.

I was walking around out in the driveway a while ago and looking out at the road there, now paved but it was a gravel road when Grandpa was here. That's the road -- the very road -- where he used to fling dead mice. We would get up in the morning and check the traps, and if we'd caught a mouse, it was fun to see him take it out, take it by the tail, open the door, step out, and fling it out in the road. It's not that far, but still, it would have to put a strain on the internal integrity and construction dynamics of that thin little tail, with all the mouse's body weight at one end and Grandpa's force at the other, combined, as it was flung. Yet I never saw one snap off.

I used to think of the mice out in the road, all day long being run over by cars, trucks, and tractors. Finally they would have to be ground down to nothing, just a oneness with the gravel and dirt. Or maybe a snake or bird would come along and carry them away. Who knows? One thing is for sure, they wouldn't be there forever. In fact it was very rare to go out there and find a dead mouse in the road at all. Right afterwards, sure, but hours later, not so much.

Sometimes I think about things I used to own, tricycles, cameras, other junk, stuff that's been sold or tossed out. And I wonder if it all still exists somewhere, not as the actual thing being used, usually, but maybe as a piece of metal twisted and buried 10 feet in the dirt somewhere. That's possible. Some of this stuff is never really gotten rid of. Could it be possible though, that, say, a tricycle I had 50 years ago, could still be a twisted piece of metal somewhere underground, somewhere still in this world? The red paint flaking or maybe all gone. It's an awesome thought piece, isn't it?

It's a lot different with mice. They're a living body. They rot, or they're eaten by hungry other things. Which has to be why you never see a dead mouse twice. I guess that's universally true: You never see a dead mouse twice.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Circus Is Coming To Town - Part 2

OK, I actually did go to the circus!

I know, I said I wasn't going. But then as the minutes ticked by, virtually to the point of being almost too late, I picked up and dashed out to make it on time. And I did.

All along the way, of course I'm behind slow moving vehicles, people turning off to parks, taking forever to get turned. Then there's something of a minor traffic jam as we get closer and closer. Then the parking hassles, and there I am finally running across a field to get to the line of people at the ticket booth. Through all that, huff huff. Then to the next ticket booth, to get preferred seating for an extra fee. Slowpokes are ditzing along in this line, too, hemhawing over what precisely they need or could possibly want. I'm trying not to sigh or look impatient. Then after they get this otherwise-easy task finished, I zip right through. Then I find my place, a great seat virtually center stage. A fantastic seat for getting there near the last minute ... or as it turned out maybe 10 minutes before it actually started.

I was trying to soak in all the sights and sounds. I didn't have a proper camera, so I didn't have to take my time messing with that. This way I could feast my eyes on the various ones, such as all the fabulous circus women, which goes without saying. And a lot of South American men -- hotblooded and very talented, almost magical in their abilities to swing, climb, fly, and contort. Everything you'd want was there, clowns, elephants, and, as I said, all the fabulous circus women, looking quite fabulous, and probably all already spoken for by the hotblooded men...

I struck up a conversation with a guy next to me, which was a very lucky break, because he himself was an old circus performer, from 50 years ago. Now he is retired (84 years old) from everything, but still goes to circuses and seems to know quite a bit about them, about history and museums and trivia. His circus job was to be shot from a cannon over 200 feet into a net, which he got $160 a week for plus his keep. That was in the south, in the winter, and the circus was called Cole Brothers. The rest of the year he was a farmer. This circus was once a mighty show but slowly went downhill and is long since gone. I told him I'd heard of it, and asked if it was a circus around about 1904, too, but he didn't know. Here's an article from 1909 about the Cole Bros. circus. (Guess whose blog that article is from. That's where I heard of it!)

Sometimes I think about the interesting coincidences in life, almost like there really is some sort of force guiding these things. If I hadn't waited till the last minute, I never would've met this guy, which was a great highlight certainly worth remembering.

It was fun to clap for all the performers and to enjoy all their skills. Then I had to get in the car and drive home instead of running away to join the circus. I don't actually have any skills they would need, unless maybe the Sno Cone guy somehow just happened to mysteriously disappear. (Maniacal laugh, rubbing my hands...)

The Circus Is Coming To Town

The circus has come to town, and I'm not going to it. I wasted the days leading up to it, not buying advance tickets. Plus, I'd rather save a little money -- I've been wasting too much. Plus, I haven't got the energy, exactly, even though I'd love to see the circus.

I love all the South American acrobats, the ladies standing on horses, the various daredevil stuff, death defying tricks performed twice a day.

The Auctioneer - Part 2

"Hey, all right sir, open the $#@^!in' gate and let the *&%#@^ out, and what are you gonna @$!^@%in' give for 'em?"*

"Well -- there was a boy in Arkansas, who wouldn't listen to his Grandma, when she told him that he should go to school...."

Why in the world did I go to school? I should've dropped out at the earliest moment and gone "behind the barn" and "worked up an awful storm" and "practiced calling bids both night and day." But no, I went to school and got what out of it exactly?

Well, I suppose it's not school's fault, really. I mean, there have to be plenty of auctioneers who weren't drop outs. A few anyway. What does being a drop out and being a successful auctioneer have to do with one another? Probably nothing. It's like anything else, would be my guess. You can drop out and become great at anything. Just as you can drop out and be a miserable failure. The other extreme is you keep going to school and become something. Or you go to school and become a miserable failure.

As to being an auctioneer now, at this late stage in my life, my mouth has probably grown together too much to be supple enough to call bids. I've heard that, that jaws unused will harden, the sockets become gummy, sticky, and can barely move. That's why when you hear elderly people talk, they do a lot of this, "Yahhh, well, Ahh, Huh?" And I'm getting there.

*I threw in a few extra syllables there -- words -- to make the point that I can supplement the cadence and still keep it on beat. Plus it's my way of spitting fury at the fact that I went to school and never became an auctioneer.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Terrible Rage

I'm going to tell you something about myself. I have lots of rage. Lots of rage.

It appears that being a middle-aged man, single with no prospects, living with his 104-year-old grandmother is not all it's cracked up to be. I've always had a pretty good rein on my moods, I've felt, but lately I've noticed that I've been losing it a lot more. It starts with just a little heat in my forehead. Then it circles around in my head, meeting itself coming and going. Next thing I know blood vessels are popping out, my blood is boiling, my head is on fire, and I could take off your hand with just a nibble.

Right this minute things are going OK. That is, I'm reflective, able to see things in pretty good perspective. But that's not the way it always is, unfortunately. Just today I had what could almost be described as kaleidoscopic rage. My head is on fire again, and it's like I'm lost in a fever. It's like I'm in the heart of darkness. It's like I'm in an endless swamp, feeling dizzy from the oppressive muck my feet are stuck in, and the low hanging vines are entangling me. And that's just when I'm miffed. It gets much worse as the anger, the fury, the rage builds and builds, replicates itself, then feeds on itself. If a frown is a 1, I'm in full Godzilla mode by the time I get to a 5. I don't know that I've ever seen a 10 yet, but I can imagine what it'd be: full Godzilla mode with a Terminator twist, peppered with a dash of McCain.

What triggers my rage? Well, of course there's road rage. That's a given. Grocery checkout line rage. I'm especially bad at the express lane; if I see someone with just one item over 10, I go ballistic. Gas station rage, not just the prices but how slow the pump goes or if the receipt printer jams. And since you all know that I tend to swing Democratic, I have Republican rage. Any nationally known Republican sets me off. I used to have Rumsfeld rage, but that goes without saying. If a dog poops in my yard, I'm enraged. Our neighbors, the Swishers, set me off, as I've said before. That's a family trait. Grandpa always had Swisher rage, manifesting itself in enough F bombs to take out Pakistan. And beyond that, I have TV rage. Grandma rage. Internet rage. Chatroom rage. If I see couples dating rage. Rage at Billy Mays. Printer cartridge rage. Pipes leaking rage. Freezer burn rage. Lake algae rage. Greasy pepperoni rage. Garage sale dickering rage. Dead batteries rage. Pimple rage. Body odor rage.

So what do I do when I feel this rage welling up and spilling over? It's tough, but I repeat the Golden Rule; you know, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I repeat it over and over, then I start calming down. But because my rage is so multidimensional, even universal, I need more than that, so I have memorized the Golden Rule of other cultures and religions.

These include the one from Nigeria: "One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts." I don't actually have bird rage; that's one I don't have, but obviously they have lots of bird rage in Nigeria. Shintoism has this: "The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form." The trouble with me is when I'm enraged, it's like looking at a badly broken mirror, and every cracked person I see just brings out more rage. And one more: From Hinduism, "This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you." You know, the Hindus all have about 12 arms each, so they're able to cause a lot of pain, especially, let's say, if they had a knife in each hand! So that's great counsel for them!

I must have 18-20 different ones memorized. It takes a lot of effort to memorize things, and you know what that causes: Right! Memorization rage, what every kid in elementary school has! Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bone Dry

The patch on the leak held like a charm. It's bone dry, dry as a bone. The black mold, which seemed to have a life of its own, once removed from its life source, is also dry as a bone, totally aired out, bone dry. Now all I need to do, really, is get some of the ceiling pieces -- larger chunks as well as smaller broken debris, sort of like 50s, 20s, and change -- out of here. Most of it hasn't had a chance to get totally dried out yet, although the smaller pieces are in fact bone dry.

I'm looking up at the copper pipes as we speak. This stuff is usually covered by the ceiling. It makes a real mess, that's for sure. And I'm sure I'll need someone to come fix it, or perhaps I could just pull the rest down and make it look hip, like one of those old warehouses they make into a fancy restaurant. Then when I'm eating my apricots I could lean back and look up and feel happy about how terrible my place looks.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Good News on the Leak

I finally decided that ignoring the problem probably wouldn't make it go away. There was some sagging of the ceiling and plenty of dripping around the duct tape. The tape was giving way, to tell the truth. There was nothing to do but call someone.

I called Cousin Roto, who knows something about inside plumbing. He was the first of the Slumps to have it. We used to go over to his house just to go. I can still picture the line of family members stretching down the hall, some with newspapers under their arm. And I'm thinking, if Roto has a toilet he'll probably supply the paper too.

Well, he was more than happy to come over. He had a saw and cut some holes in the ceiling and pulled it down, fighting through enough black mold to start our own plague. Then it was a matter of putting a patch around the pipe, and it seems to be holding. Thanks, Cousin. For his trouble I put three chickens in his car, which he was happy with.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Our House Takes More Leaks Than I Do

We've been having troubles with leaks at chez Slump. Our old copper plumbing is having a hard time keeping the water inside itself. It must be having an open house, with air invited for a visit. The consequence of this hospitality is little spritzes of water zipping everywhere. There's some green spots on the pipes, could be camouflage.

I've been in the cellar with little pieces of rubber tubing and clamps, stopping up one leak then another. If you've seen that Three Stooges episode where Curly is building a pipe jungle in the bathtub but there's still spray everywhere, well, it's not quite that bad.

Today there was some other leaking, in the ceiling, dripping down, so what to do about that, I don't know. As it is now we're passing out umbrellas and life jackets and playing Rihanna real loud. Also I might listen to my download of All Time Low's version of "Umbrella" from Pop Goes Crunk.

Just so the ceiling doesn't start bowing down! I'll put some duct tape around it and hot glue it to the dry spots. That ought to work.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Tetanus Shot

I had to get a tetanus shot the other day.

There wasn't any great reason for it. All the times I've scraped myself on barbed wire or stepped on a rusty nail or caught myself with a fishing hook never did me any harm. But the doctor just said it, that I should have a tetanus shot.

I forgot that they were painful, as in real painful, and I didn't remember it till the nurse literally asked me which hand I am, as in right-handed. Then it crossed my mind, hmm, this could hurt.

The actual shot doesn't hurt much, it's the aftermath. It's been almost a week and the pain is still there. It was mostly gone, died down completely, then suddenly it flared up again. It actually reminded me of that place in Revelation where the devil is bound a thousand years and then is released for a short time before finally being cast into the Lake of Fire. (Every time I have any trouble that goes away and returns from the same incident it makes me think of this Bible passage. I keep thinking maybe it's a mythological archetype of sorts, that speaks to the coming and going and surprise re-coming of a particular problem...)

I had Grandma with me. She sat in the waiting room. She's lucky, being 104, because they don't give shots to people over 100. The theory as I heard it is that you've already had enough shots to last you, and any shot you get over 100 might kill you, thereby the cure would be worse than the disease. Once you're over 100 you're a graduate to shots, and there's no post-grad work allowed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Clearing My Throat

I still have all of my old scruples about serious cussing around womenfolk. This is something I got in part from Grandpa. He was big with some of the milder cussing but always saved the F bombs -- real vulgar stuff -- for when he was around us guys only. I remember he'd take me to school and he'd be F bombing all over the place, and I definitely knew I was a guy.

But I actually have a lot more scruples than Grandpa ever had when it comes to this stuff. I think he was a wild man wherever he was raised (southern Missouri) and did his best to come around to civilization. But I was civilized from the start, a proper gentleman in many ways. (I had a mother who kept tabs on me.) I could still fit in with Grandpa, if you know what I mean, but boys were definitely softer in my day than in Grandpa's.

So, this brings us up to today. And yesterday. When they were reporting all that business about Jesse Jackson wanting to cut off Obama's [clearing my throat], I heard it once, then cleared my throat all the other times it was mentioned. I don't need Grandma hearing that kind of dirty talk. So she's going, "What'd they say?" I'm kind of patting my chest, like, 'I don't know what brought on that throat clearing fit. Something down the wrong tube.' "I'm sorry, Grandma, I didn't hear it." Fortunately she was able to let it go.

And there I am, hoping for better news, anything else, an earthquake in China, a typhoon in an orphanage, anything to keep me from being embarrassed.

Plus, think about it: Grandma is so old that her mind runs in deep ruts. She might hear what Jesse Jackson actually said and go around repeating it. And sometimes she can talk really loudly. "HE SAID HE WANTS TO CUT OFF HIS [clearing my throat]." Then I'd be clearing my throat like that when Grandma's talking to her friends, or in the grocery store, or sitting in church. Patting my chest, never knowing what came over me.

The only thing to do -- well, there's two things, 1) Go without the news, except Grandma is addicted to getting the news; 2) Keep clearing my throat everytime it's reported or, or right at that moment click it off and say, "Well, sounds like we're into reruns."

If you know as much about old people as I do, you know they hate reruns. I knew a guy whose Dad was a very depressed old man. And this guy wanted to cheer him up, so he suggested getting him a VCR. "Ahh, what do I need one of those for?" So the son said he would get him a lot of John Wayne movies. But the Dad only complained in his lowest depressed voice, "They'd probably just be reruns."

Now that Jesse Jackson has apologized for threatening -- you know -- they'll probably quit mentioning it so often. I hope! But till they do, the throat clearing is a clever enough ruse. And I really don't think she's catching on.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Old Cars and Dogs' Heads

When I was growing up, Grandpa Slump, and my own father, for that matter, owned some old cars, like a '52 Chevy. We had a '52 Chevy for quite a while, and this was the car that somebody had installed seat belts in. They didn't normally have seat belts back then, but someone had taken some big heavy duty green ones from an airplane -- probably a military airplane -- and put them in the car.

But this post is about old cars and dogs' heads. What I see when I look at old cars to this day is the shape of a dog's head. And when I see a dog's head, likewise, I see old cars. I see an old dog walking by, with his old car-shaped head, and think, "Hey, dog, your head is really old fashioned! What have you got a head that's out of style for? Why walk around with a head that looks like a car from the '40s? You need something snazzier!" And of course there are dogs, those ones with the skinny muzzle as an example, real trim, sleek looking dogs that just hint at a retro car look while having modern lines. You can almost see a jet plane in some of them.

The worst dog head ever, though, has to be those flat, mushed in ones, like a boxer or a bulldog. They're walking around with what looks like an old car wrecked, one that needs restoration. A shar pei is about the same, with tons of wrinkles. If you started restoring one of them -- like with a rolling pin -- you'd end up with enough skin and fur for two dogs and only enough living stuffing for one.

But what came first, the old car or the dog's head? This is a question whose answer -- if there ever was one -- is lost in the mists of time. One could state the likelihood that cars only go back to the time they were invented, relatively recently, and that dogs, likely being a species of animal that existed before that, would be older. But I'm not prepared to jump to hasty conclusions.

All I know is that the heads of dogs exist. And old cars exist. And the two have some very striking similarities.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Need To Post, Bad

I need to post an article on my blog here. And I feel like I need to post ... bad.

It's been a while since I've had a real good post, one that I felt really got the job done. But if nothing's happening, what can I do? On the other hand, I hate to not try, then find myself stoved up, especially if there's really something that needs to come out.

I think what I should do is just sit here till it happens. Let my mind wander where it will and try not to think about it so much. Sometimes that's been known to work. Then whatever there is may just come out. It'll feel good if it happens, the job will be done, and I can move on to something else.

But it doesn't seem to be working. And it's frustrating just to sit here and sit here and there's nothing. Wait! I think I have an idea! ... No, it turned out to be nothing.

Well, whatever, I suppose it'll be OK. But if it's been a while -- as it has -- that's when I get concerned. I'm usually so regular.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Alternative Ways of Exercise

This was a complicated game, Mousetrap. We used to not play it but just put it together and watch it go. In fact, I don't think I ever actually played the game and don't even know how you're supposed to. But it was fun just sliding the pieces in their slots and seeing how well it worked. And more often than not, the whole thing could make it from start to finish without screwing up. It seems like the ball overshot the first thing, the stairway, once in a while. But that wasn't even the most complicated part.

I like efficiency, but I also like alternate ways of doing things. My first inclination is to get from Point A to Point B by the shortest, most efficient means. Then there is the "enjoyment" of life that we're reminded of every once in a while, such as taking the obscure highway instead of the interstate. It would be my habit to take the interstate. And it is my habit to try to come up with a form or format for whatever the job is, to get it done, to have more free time to sit around and feel tired.

We used to draw pictures in school -- while we were supposed to be studying, probably -- of crazy machines, like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich making machine. I was fascinated with the idea of assembly lines -- conveyor belts, where you could picture the bread getting spritzed with some peanut butter, etc. Actually, if you watch "Modern Marvels" on History Channel, it's about that way with things. I saw one episode where they were making toothpicks. Fascinating stuff. And making hottubs. Again, they've got it down to a science.

The doctor says I need to exercise more. So that means going to the fitness club and standing there going back and forth. I need an alternative way of doing it. Like they strap you in and it moves you back and forth like toffee on one of those toffee stretching machines. Probably they can't do it because you'd be locked in, your leg would break and there you'd be, spinning away in a million pieces.

In my whole Grandma Slump/Loser Grandson universe, I was thinking of hooking my exercise bike to the motor of my old go-kart, then sitting there and letting the mechanism take me back and forth. Sounds funny at first, but that's just the same as saying you've got an exercise bike with a motor. Which they probably really have. It might be funnier if I hooked it up and sat on my easy chair and watched it. But in what sense would that be exercise? It's absurd.

The only real way to do exercise is to chugga-chugga motion, do it yourself.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Song "Auctioneer"

There is a song I have on my mind almost constantly. I will tweak the word "constantly," because I'm excluding any time I have to be in conversations, emergency situations, etc. This song is on my mind often enough to say it's constantly there.

It's the song "Auctioneer." It was most famous as recorded by Leroy Van Dyke (co-writer). That's the one I've always known. I think he recorded it a couple times, once the original, then a remake that was on a "Greatest Hits" collection on another label. But I have another 45 of it, by a guy named Chuck Miller. Chuck's version is on Mercury Records, 71001X45. I haven't heard Leroy's version lately, but I believe it's the one I'm singing most often.

Chuck's version seems pretty fast, and he does an oddball up and down thing with singing the lyrics, that makes it sound looser, less true to the tune. His auctioneer voice is very good. I think when I'm singing it I'm not quite that fast. I don't have Leroy's on MP3, just Chuck's. But somewhere in my records -- unorganized -- there's either one or both of Leroy's versions.

I love the part that starts off like this, "Hey, all right sir, open the gate and let 'em out, and here we got, and what are you gonna give for 'em?"

The song, in case you're unfamiliar with it, tells the story of a boy from Arkansas, who didn't listen to his Ma, when she told him that he should go to school. Instead he wanted to be an auctioneer, so he sneaked around, listened to the auctioneers and practiced calling bids both night and day. His pap would find him behind the barn, just a working up an awful storm. (I'm paraphrasing lyrics there in case you didn't notice.) Anyway, he gets really good, and people are coming from miles around "just to hear him make that rhythmic sound that fills their hearts with such a happy cheer." He gets more famous and has to buy a plane to get around, finally becoming the greatest hillbilly auctioneer.

Great song, but a real burden when you can't get it out of your head.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bozo the Clown, Larry Harmon, Dies

I haven't heard much about Bozo's passing -- Larry Harmon, who portrayed the clown for over 50 years, died the other day. But I haven't been watching TV for the last few days, so if it's been on the news -- a funeral like the Pope's, Ronald Reagan's, or Tim Russert's, please forgive my ignorance.

Since the character was licensed out to numerous TV stations around the country, I suppose the odds of your Bozo actually always being Larry Harmon were pretty limited. So it's a little different, the sense of sadness we feel, than if there had been only one of him. Like Santa Claus.

Bozo didn't even start with Larry, but was originated by some other fellow, and Larry acquired the rights to the character. Originally Bozo was a character on a series of Capitol records. I have (or have had) a 78 rpm album involving Bozo as a deep sea diver. I said "have had" because my possessions are not well organized. And Grandma's had numerous garage sales over the years, meaning certain things of mine have a way of disappearing.

But back to Bozo, you know, I can't remember much about his show. It seems like I remember having seen it, but this stuff goes way back. It's like Howdy Doody. I was culturally aware and into it, but forgot it five minutes later. So what can you say? I remember seeing Bozo merchandise over the years and seeing the little phrase on it, "Larry Harmon Enterprises." So when I heard Bozo died, I immediately thought of the name Larry Harmon.

I was at a garage sale myself a year ago and they had a pretty nice Bozo doll, with a string that you pull to hear it talk, but the mechanism didn't work.

Larry Harmon was 83 and died of congestive heart failure at the age of 83. He was one heck of a clown and very successful at it.

On behalf of the entire Slump family, our deepest sympathies are extended.

© 2008 Grandma Slump Enterprises

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Lawrence Welk Show (Record Review)

I decided to hook up my record player to the computer to see if it'd work. Then when it did work, it was time to choose a favorite album or two to transfer to my Ipod. And I couldn't think of a better one to get me going than this great one from 1978, put out by the Kellogg's cereal company, "The Lawrence Welk Show." Record buffs will remember it, RCA Special Products DPL 1-0318 Stereo. I can't remember exactly where we got it, but it's too big to have come in a cereal box. We must have sent in for it with boxtops, or, I'm thinking they had them at the grocery store.

I will be listening to it and live blogging it as we go along. There's 10 songs. And I think we shall start with song number 1, if you think that would be all right. Then we will proceed along from there in chronological order. For one reason, it's common sense. And, two, it honors Mr. Welk, in that one of his well-known trademarks was "And a one, and a two..."

Bubbles in the Wine (Theme Song) - Who can forget this happy song, his theme song? It takes me back. Wow, it has a great sound! The stereo separation is really nice, like sitting in with the orchestra, trying not to get a bubble in your eye. It's definitely infectious, intoxicating even, and puts me in mind for great things. The bubbles are floating about, filling the house, so realistic there are literally soap stains all over my wall, or at least there would be if I weren't listening with earbuds. A very crisp and clean song. It even makes me tipsy!

Moon River - A very intimate song, and very close to my heart. The orchestra has a kind of water lapping sound they're working up, with some runs up and down the bank as well. So simple a tune but so precious. So realistic are the water effects you'll have to pee, so make sure you keep a toilet handy. The strings give it a very lazy feeling, and the piano is insistent in its progress. Finally, there's a very subtle choir with ahh's rounding off this atmospheric and very wet song.

Baby Elephant Walk - One of my all time favorites and a big hit for Mr. Welk as well. As playful a tune as there is, yet with a steady, forward march feel. You can see the elephants dancing, very graceful, prancing for one another, dressed perhaps like the Chippendales. There's a powerful brass in there, too, and some delicate tinkling for extra delight. This is a tune everyone would like, with the single possible exception of some goth pothead in prison. Maybe he wouldn't care for it.

Born Free - Powerful, inspirational song, with a little bit of everything. The full sweep of emotion for one, and enough voices and instrumentation to lift your soul to new heights. This is one to return to over and over. I'm up in the air, close to Heaven. The ultimate freedom is in sight! I'm riding a happiness high that's out of this world. If you actually are addicted to stimulants, try this song. It's a natural high, and there's absolutely no letdown, until it ends. Great one.

It's All in the Game - In my opinion, the greatest song ever written ("Hey" to KIOA there, a nod to Dic Youngs, the old Youngster). This is a straightforward instrumental of the Tommy Edwards classic, with a choir making "doo doo" sounds. You know, your heart can fly away on this one, too. If you have a "main squeeze," maybe squeeze her somewhere very discreetly, like on the elbow. This song brings back tender memories of my own very private fantasies of being at the malt shop with my "Wild Thing," who, of course, orders whiskey.

Calcutta - Mr. Welk's greatest hit. Like "Baby Elephant Walk," one to cherish for the time it evokes, when we were young and dancing on a Saturday night so long ago. Even now I'm attempting it, but what I'm managing is a slow shuffle not in time with the beat. I need to get my exercise bike going again, I guess. But this tune is one I have a real love for. I'm thinking back to Grandpa cutting the rug, and Grandma canning beets or doing some other work around the house. Clean sound, thrilling instrumentation.

Yellow Bird - Slower paced song. Sparse instrumentals to get us started, as simple as can be. It becomes very familiar, bringing a smile to my face when we get into it. For those into trivia, this song has nothing to do with Big Bird from Sesame Street. It has a Latin America vibe, like what they play at the Mexican restaurant without the huge guitar, overbearing horn section, and all the insane yipping.

On the Street Where You Live - Here's a swing-uh, Broadway style. This one swaggers, yet keeps the Welk cheerfulness. It hints at moroseness, but that can't last long, and we're happy and gay once again. This is a street I'd love to live on. Everyone's happy to see you. "Hello Mr. Baker, Hello Mr. Butcher, Hello Mr. Fruit Guy," I'm just peeking in to wish you 'Pleasant day, sir,' and get something to eat, now that you mention it! I'm happy-go-lucky, like Georgy Girl, with a strident beat!

To Each His Own - This song always has an autumn feel to me. I think of a lone person wandering, maybe seeking to end it all at an interstate overpass, and the title sounds like that, too. You're looking up at the naked trees for the last time and feeling wistful. A very strong horn carries that sense and the piano keeps it at the fore. Yes, there's some gaiety in the lighter instruments, but nothing can keep it from expressing the seriousness of a suicide attempt. The goth pothead in prison, referred to earlier, would probably dig this one.

Last Date - The Floyd Cramer classic, an instantly likable song. Piano driven, of course. A strings section eases into the mix. There's a real Nashville flair going on here. Midway, the strings take over, and some voices present themselves. But the piano tops it off and carries it to its heights, repeating the song's main theme. It's been a while since my last date. It was high school, if memory serves, a party with about 20 kids, and I went home alone. Kind of like every night since, except now I don't even know 20 other people. Maybe I need to listen to "To Each His Own" again.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sex and the Single Girl

When I was in the cellar the other day, I was poking around and there was a box of books under a table. Old ones, some pretty well read, stashed away for storage. I pulled it out just enough to see what they might be and this one was on top and fell out.

I picked it up and was a little surprised as to what it was: Sex and the Single Girl, by Helen Gurley Brown. It says it's "The unmarried woman's guide to men." I'm thinking maybe it could've been my mom's or my aunt's, but I'm looking and this book was printed in 1963, and they were both married before that.

If I leave out my uncles and grandpa -- none of them would be the owner of course -- the matter remains a mystery. Unless, I don't know, there's always Grandma. But she also was married in 1963. But Grandpa died in '78, so its conceivable she could've gotten this book somewhere after that. She was still in her 70s then, so it's not impossible.

I think I can leave out my mom and aunt for another reason, which is they didn't live here in 1963 or any of the later years. They had their own place. So it about has to be Grandma, who may have even gotten the book earlier, like when it first came out, just as a thing of general interest and not because she was stepping out on Grandpa.

Now that I think of it, back then she did have some interesting reading habits, including "True Story," "True Confessions," "Secrets," those magazines lying around. They were pretty racy. I remember one that had a story called "I Was Raped on My Husband's Grave." So that about settles it. This was exactly her thing. And she liked Peyton Place, etc., so, now that I remember all that, there's no question about it. This book has to be Grandma's.

I wonder if she'd remember it now. Maybe I ought to sit there reading it at the dinner table. I doubt if she'd notice. She can't really be into it anymore. It's really hard to believe, in a way, that she ever cared about such things. But I guess she must have. She snagged Grandpa, and with five kids, they obviously did something right.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wild Thing

I just heard one of the greatest songs of all time on the radio, "Wild Thing."

You know, you hear a song like that and it puts you in a certain mood, a certain frame of mind, like rrrrrowwwl.

All day yesterday I was thinking of me in a Cadillac. But you know, those things come with more than one seat! And I'd like to have my very own "Wild Thing" right across from me, or, better yet, right in the middle as I'm crusin'.

To quote from "Wild Thing," with the guitar bits necessarily a part of it:

"Wild thing, bah duh bah dah dah, you make my heart sing, bah duh bah dah dah, you make everything... groovy."

Then I love it how the guy says in his best, most plaintive, casual, laid back aside to the lady fair, "Wild Thing, I think I love you." That'd be cool to say, just like that. Let's say she's extra wild. In the seat of your car. And obviously it's a convertible. Her hair is blowing free. She's very very sassy. We go to a malt shop and she orders whiskey, slamming it down and looking at you in with that come hither glance, her hair tossed back before looking straight ahead like she's impatient. I'm looking over at her but she's not looking back, pretending not to see, filing her nails. But she can see well enough, and she goes, "Like what you see?"

Then right after that part, "I think I love you...," which would be hard to argue with if you said it in just that way, he goes, "But I wanna know for sure... C'mon and hold me tight..." Ummm. This is the part where I pull her in real tight, real close, up close and personal, right here, and growl it, "I love you..."

Bah duh bahba bah bah dah ... Ending off with "Wild thing, I think you move me... You move me."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Wish I Had A Cadillac

Well, I spent quite a bit of time working on the old exercise bike. I greased it up extra slick and dug out some of the gunk in the chain. There was some rust in some of the other places, which I couldn't do much about, so I spritzed some oil on it. Things seem to be loosened up quite a bit, at least to the point that riding it is not a nightmare.

I'm kind of proud of my diligence. It's not everyday I take on a task like that. The thing has been in Grandpa's garage for 30 years -- although one other time I had it out and was checking what it'd take to get it fixed. It seemed like a real job, so I put it back. Except I hung it upside down, because I heard that's supposed to help if you're not going to use something for quite a while.

Now it's down -- I did it! Now I'm thinking what other worlds there might be to conquer. I guess it's true, if you set your mind on something, and you want it badly enough, you want to accomplish it, things actually are possible. But wishing, wishing, wishing does not always make it so. It takes, like I said, diligence, and you can't be afraid to put some work into it. If you're afraid to do a little work, believe me, you're not going to get much of positive value in life.

You know, there's something I always wish I had, and I'm setting my mind on it right now. A Cadillac. I don't care what year it is, just so it's in nice shape, runs, and hopefully gets good gas mileage. And what else? Looks good, which is the same as nice shape. A '56, '58, '66, '74 -- those are some of the vintage years. Which would likely be fixer-uppers, although if I can oil up an exercise bike, what is there I can't do?

Something newer would be better -- if it could be managed. Now that they use Led Zeppelin music and edgy, shifting graphics on their commercials, a Cadillac isn't just for old timers. Although Grandpa of course preferred Chevys. You think of a Cadillac for the stuffy old banker, the guy with the toupee who doesn't like to talk to you. But that's not just who they're for anymore. They're for the youthful business exec, they're for the grocery store manager, and, if I knew where to get the money, they'd be for me.

There's where my wish is going to come up against the hard reality of an actual quandary. I haven't got the money. But if I had the money and then I had the Cadillac, I would be driving downtown, and people would see me, and guys would call out, "Hey, Easy Money! How's it goin', dude?"