Saturday, January 31, 2009

1897 -- Eighteen Something

Anytime I hear the word "Eighteen" with other numbers following I immediately think of Grandpa Slump, who, of course, was born in 1897.

I went over that a little bit on Jan. 24, which was his birthday. I heard the number today -- how much something cost -- and it was $18.31 -- leading me to say, "At least it wasn't $18.97."

How can one man's birth year stick so close to my ribs? There must have been other things that happened in the entire year of 1897. I'm sure of it. Leading me to do a little study...

It turns out -- and this is a great coincidence -- that Moe Howard was born in 1897 too! The fact that Grandpa was such a great fan of The Three Stooges suddenly makes more sense. Moe and Grandpa were babies together! Getting their diapers changed at the same time. I saw a Three Stooges movie the other day, "Idiots Deluxe," the one where Moe is mad at the other Stooges because of all the grief they caused him when he was sick and not wanting any noise, and they're in court to try the case. The judge asks Moe, "Were you ever indicted?" And Moe gets all baby faced and says, "Not since I was a baby, your honor." Moe thinks he meant "in diapers!" Well, that's exactly what he was in when he and Grandpa Slump were babies!

There's dear Moe, one of my (and Grandpa's) biggest heroes, also born in 1897. What do you know about that! It was a very good year.

Then there was also death in 1897. Including my most favorite saint of all times, St. Teresa of Lisieux, the Little Flower. She died mid-year in 1897. I've been batting it around mentally, so if this is some kind of heresy, please forgive me. But what if? -- and I know the dates don't jibe at all -- but there might be some kind of delay for saints and their souls -- what if Grandpa, born in January 1897 were actually the reincarnation of St. Teresa, who died at the end of September? Since saints might have enough soul for two bodies, and since she was already deathly sick in 1896, part of her soul might have taken up residence in the fetus that was to become my Grandpa Slump, then mid-year, coincidentally about the time that Moe Howard was being born (not really part of this theory), when the rest of her soul left her body in Lisieux, it might have migrated to the United States and filled out the remaining soul presence for Grandpa.

Going by this theory, Grandpa's soul would have come to him in a two-part bestowal, giving him the soul of a saint. That might also explain why he was such an unsaintly character through his life, because St. Teresa lived out all her goodness in that one existence and needed for that reason to live out her shadow side in her next incarnation. But it's just a theory, and, alas, I don't know any other way to prove it. My actual opinion on the subject is that it's not likely and, really, no doubt false. But it's a lark to think about. The idea that I grew up with St. Teresa and didn't know it. That'd be cool. I don't really believe in reincarnation, but if there were such a thing it'd be far more likely, statistically, that everyone would be reincarnated as average people, there not being enough famous people to go around.

If we were going to get technical, it'd be more likely that Moe was her reincarnation. Since he was born June 19 and Teresa died at the end of September, he's closer to her date than Grandpa. You still have a few soul gymnastics -- and I think the saintly soul theory is as good as any -- to give Moe part of her soul in June, then to receive the rest upon her demise in September. You tell me it's impossible! But I say it is, and Moe acts out the shadow side part of my theory probably even better than Grandpa.

1897, what a year!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Local Man Not Too Depressed

Two days ago, you will definitely recall, I was writing notes to myself in the future. That was a thrilling post. I was on top of the world. I really could have (could have) written notes to myself in the future all night. But discipline is actually something important with me. And if I have to get to sleep because I have things to do tomorrow, I will give up and go to bed. I heard about Beethoven going without food and staying up all night to do his work. But I'm a poor guy with no musical ability and, anyway, I figure I'll have the same inspiration the next day.

But of course I should know better. Because it's always the same thing. This day is different from yesterday. Or the day before. What inspiration you had then will be shot, evaporated by tomorrow.

As it was for this "local man," yesterday was a comedown day from that awesome high of the night before. I was facing that craggy old thing called depression, for which I do not take medicine. Because, and I know this sounds weird, but I believe you should enjoy depression as much as you can. Of course the enjoying of it isn't enjoyment in the strictest sense or you wouldn't be depressed. So it's an enjoyment that instead carries with it the hint of a halfway understanding. Appreciation in the same way that you'd appreciate a spider crawling on your arm. You appreciate his existence as a spider but you don't appreciate where he's at right now.

Appreciate, yes. But enjoy ... like I might enjoy a strawberry sundae, no. I do enjoy it more when it's gone. Then I can look back and say that was a downer, what a downer.

I'm OK today. Just let me say that. But there's no reason to kick it around or it will put me in another cycle for tomorrow. I've probably already said too much.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Local Man Grooms Himself

I'm up with the ants today. Felt a stiff draft coming through the cracks around the window. I stuffed toilet paper in there but it must have rotted. Tried to pull the covers up but they were frozen at the foot of the bed. Always something, but winter is never forgiving.

Felt a strange tickle in my ear. I'm getting that more and more. Picked in there with my fingernail to loosen up some crumbs and pull them out. I could use a Handiwipe about now but no one's looking, flick it past my sheets toward the wall.

Now I'm up, bracing, need to stoke up the fire in the stove. Put on some tea and settle in for the morning. Get comfy, if I can. Heat up some water for bathing. Wash my face, arrange my comb over after getting it wet.

Grooming chores. There's never an end to it. You want to look nice, smell nice. A little Aqua Velva, two rubs of stick deodorant, some hair gel, generic Oil of Olay for the pores on my nose, check out the wrinkles, still there.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Local Man Studies Local Man

I forgot to mention it, but a few months ago I was at a relative's house, and she had one of those three way mirrors, standing up. And if you stand in it and get the mirrors just right you can see several of yourself, from the back, from the side, then multiples that seem to go on through all of space and time. I didn't study it that much, but enough to be able to tell certain things about myself. One of which was that I have a curious love/hate relationship with myself. Looking on directly, I think OK, because that's always the normal image I've had of myself. But looking from weird angles, angles I'm not used to, I don't care for what I see.

It's worth studying, though, because that is who you are, and no amount of wishing you looked different is going to make it happen. So the key philosophy is just to be happy -- extremely happy, or happy as you can be -- with who you are. I remember a teacher somewhere, one of my many graduate seminars, perhaps, or it might have been in kindergarten -- it's all melted together at this point -- who had some philosophical things to say about being who you are, about it being absurd to wish your life away, yourself as self away, because who was doing the wishing? Meaning, you have the ideal in your mind, in you already, so to denigrate yourself is contradictory to the obviously present ideal. It's absurd.

So, let me repeat, it's worth studying. I was looking at myself on a video, exercising, but I was self conscious about how old I'm starting to look. Some real wrinkles and weird skin psychedelic stuff going on. Like finger prints except on the face. That's the thing about wrinkles. But you may as well keep looking because there's no other you.

Any look, any smell (except obviously the most disgusting ones), any sound out of your mouth, any ephemeral thing you write or say, staring into your eyes ... at least in private, it's all good. Don't judge yourself.

I was laughing last night at something, the whole "local man" schtick that this blog is justifiably famous for and proud of. It struck me as suddenly funny again, that my biggest hope in life would be the Daily News doing a feature story about me writing this blog. I love the headline, the whole fantasy of complete fame for a single afternoon, for being one of the few people in the world to write his own blog. With the brilliant headline -- let's fantasize big and say it's between 54-60 point type (italics) -- "Local Man Writes Own Blog."

They would have to explain for all the Grandma Slump types out there what a blog is. It is short, you know, for "web log," web being another word for what we used to call the "information superhighway" and log being a word for logging things, like lists of facts, or, in this case, opinions on things that are extant on said information superhighway. That tidbit out of the way, they would need to write about how you get a blog -- many are free. Then they might say who has one of these blogs, people of all ages, you'd be surprised. There are all different kinds. From political to entertainment to religious to general interest to newsy.

My own is family oriented, tied in with the experiences I have as a man and his grandmother. So that's it. That's what I see when I look in the mirror. That's what I see when my fantasies are unleashed.

I seriously love today's post. I love it. I clacked it out. I'm going to look back on this in a year and laugh, laugh, laugh. This is one of the funniest things I've ever written. This is one of the funniest articles on the world wide web.

Note to Self in 2010: I felt tired when I was writing this. As you read this again in 2010, remember the feeling you had while writing this. It seemed very special, almost like a buzz was happening. Is it funny? It is!

Note to Self in 2011: You're getting older all the time. Re-read the part above about the mirrors and video, then maybe take a video and compare it. Check out the mirror. Look into your eyes. Are they bloodshot? You need more sleep. You're two years older than the night you wrote this. That's putting me "up there" in years. But you have more to go, unless you have died in the meantime... This is a funny article!

Note to Self in 2012: This might be the last time you will read this article. It's always a great idea, I believe, to write myself notes for the future. Then I can read them and know that in the past I was thinking about my future self. I hope you're still there, and that you still "got it." I've got it tonight. Isn't the "local man" a funny concept? Do you still think it is in 2012? I hope so.

Note to Self in 2013: It's been like four years since this night. By now you surely will have quit writing this blog. Right? What if you're still doing it? Won't that be wild? Local man writes own blog for four or five years, I'm losing track. This is getting long, but I'm so interested in my future feelings. I need a blog dedicated to my future self. That's a great idea. Then I can have something to read non-stop in my old age, the old posts to myself for the days when I can no longer write.

Note to Self in 2014: I hope I'm still alive to read this. You never know what might happen. I was driving, back in 2008, next to a busy railroad track and thinking that if the train veered off the track right that second that I'd be killed. It could happen at any time. And no one will know about this blog, except perhaps my relatives who will find my passwords when they're looking for hidden cash. Just know this, 2014 self, that things were going pretty well back in 2009. The economy wasn't good, but personally you were fairly happy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Aquarium? -- Part 2

I really should get me one of those 10 gallon jobbies at Walmart. I saw it, I had my eye on it, it seems like a good idea.

There are very few downsides to the idea and plenty of positives, just thinking about it for a minute.

The positives include:

1. Nature -- I've always been a lover of nature. Fish belong to nature. There's nothing so pastoral and romantic than natural things. An aquarium is like watching heaven go by.

2. Easy Care -- All you have to do is feed them, clean them once in a while, and squirt in some anti-disease dope every couple months. Other than that, it's nothing but pure enjoyment, sit back and relax.

3. Responsibility -- I'm home all the time anyway, so I could take responsibility for the fishes' welfare with a minimum of failure. Some "responsibility" is actually fun. Plus, it's not like I need a merit badge to do the right thing. I'm disciplined.

4. Size -- A 10 gallon tank is small but not too small. Water is still relatively cheap. And if a 10 gallon tank breaks it doesn't do major damage. But it's enough water that you can tell it's there, not like one of those fish cups at the carnival.

5. Peace of Mind -- I feel that I would be more content watching the peaceful activities of fish swimming lazily through the day. Whatever stress I normally have would melt away by them swimming around without a care in the world.

But that brings me to the negatives, which I will list even though I don't expect them to sway my positive opinions to their negative side:

1. Disturbing My Mind -- I've watched fish and they can be very violent toward each other. They eat their dead, they eat their babies, they eat one another. I saw fish ganging up on a fish one time and eating his fins clean off. That left him spiralling around under the water shoot like a spent torpedo. In short, fish are barbarians and wouldn't contribute entirely to my peace of mind.

2. Size -- 10 gallons may be better for me personally, but the fish might feel very constrained. This could contribute to their violence, as most fish rival even the dog for nasty territorial instincts. Better a carnival cup and the contentment of one fish than a whole ocean of misery. And 10 gallons of water could do a lot of damage were it somehow to be shot full of holes.

3. Responsibility -- Face it, the novelty would wear off pretty fast. When the tank gets darkened from algae and fish crap, the filter's clogged up, the light's burnt out, the motor is rattling, and three or four fish are floating on top and the others are eating those, I'd be tempted to give up.

4. Easy Care -- Who am I kidding? You never know how much food is enough. And fish diseases are like a dozen different plagues. Half the time they're sick, the other half they're dead. Or you look in and they have a poop rope three times their body length hanging under them. It's disgusting. You get a side sucking catfish in there, it blocks the view. The only thing you see front and center is his big sucking mouth. You're revolted. You want to scrub it out with Lysol but without scum he dies.

5. Nature -- If you love nature so much, why are you eating bacon? Pigs are natural too. In fact, now that I think of it, all animals are natural. You don't own a tiger. Fish don't belong in tanks, they belong in the ocean. It's more like a perverse hatred of nature to have fish and animals in captivity.

Just going by the two lists, the negatives actually seem more compelling. Seeing the 10 gallon jobbie at Walmart was one of those serendipity moments. I get those and I get flighty: "I need a 10 gallon aquarium!", even though the thought doesn't usually occur to me. It's like an obsession that doesn't go away till I get one, then I have buyer's remorse (1), and (2) I'm suddenly stuck with the expense and responsibility of keeping it up and acting happy about it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Friends On Facebook

Having friends on Facebook is about the same as having friends (or relatives) in real life. Meaning you don't want to contact various people and have relationships with them -- at least I don't -- if you don't know them. That seems pointless.

Of course how do you ever get to know new people if you don't occasionally reach out? Except the way that works in real life is that you see each other, you have mutual interests, and it happens more or less organically. On the internet you might have mutual interests and see someone's picture, but there's very little of an organic nature that's going to happen ... unless you're in an IRC group, chat room or something. And even then I'm more likely to be wary.

I have a painting by a guy, and I looked him up on Facebook, and sure enough, there he was. Not a fan page, which I might very well join were there one. But his own page. To be "friends" with him, even with my proud possession of his painting, seems pointless. Because what is he going to say? Who is this guy? What do I care what time he got up? Whether he's disabled, has a game toe or whatever? He wouldn't care about that. Really no more than I'd care what he's doing, or how many points he scored on PopAnswers.

So it's not exactly friends territory for making friends.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Aquarium?

For the most part I feel that I'm living a happy life. I mean, I'm happy, right? Don't I seem happy?

Of course there are times when I'm maybe not perky happy or bubbly happy or jumping up and down. But I'm guessing that everyone feels down at times. The thing for me is simply not to prolong in thought whatever it is that's bugging me. Think of something else. Sidestep it. Do something else.

It's like I said at the top, for the most part, what more could I want in life? I have companionship with Grandma. We have food, a freezer, a pantry. We have a toilet. Running water. A phone. A computer to check out the news, whatever.

And I think I have prospects. People know me, sort of. I see people who act like they've seen me before, and of course they have. The grocery store, Walmart, downtown, the post office. Things could be better in this area. But with age and balding I guess I need to set my sights lower...

Speaking of Walmart, I had my eye on an aquarium last night, thinking maybe one would look good in my room. I think it was a 10 gallon jobbie and seemed to come with enough supplies to get a guy started in a very proper way. I don't know what all was in there. Gravel, a heater, a filter pump, some decorations. Then I'd need fish, and you have to do it all in particular ways so the fish don't get a disease. You want them as happy and healthy as can be.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Grandpa's Birthday

Today would have been Grandpa's birthday. He was born in 1897, so that would make him, what? [Pencil scratching on pad....] Something more than 100 for sure. 97 to 97, then ... 112. Wow, you know you're old when you need a calculator to figure it out!

I don't think I was going this blog last year at this time. I'm too lazy to check but it doesn't seem like it. He would have been 111 then, which is a lot of 1's. But now he has a 2 to break up the monotony. Flip the 111 over and you've got half an I Ching, so that might make him a hill, a mountain, or a berm of something solid, snow, ice, or dirt. Put in the 2 and his berm is lessened, with a sideways 2, clearly a digit and not a symbol of land.

Grandpa wanted to make 100. I'm sure he thought he would. But he didn't. Death intervened, and he passed on in the late 1970s. He didn't seem like he was in the worst of health. But life was hard for him. He worked hard. He looked old most of the time.

He had a rugged sense of humor. Not always appropriate. He told us a story one time, many times actually, about a guy who they put a necktie on. He stood in one place for three days! (The joke there is that they used to tie up horses to keep them in one place and this guy associated having a necktie with being tied up like a horse.) Some of Grandpa's language wasn't too appropriate for younger ears, including mine. I don't like to have a lot of cuss words on my blog -- which was really the heart of Grandpa's vocabulary. But he's famous for one line, waving to a guy passing by and saying he's "Harry." Harry who? Harry [A-hole, censored by me.]

Today is his day. Long may he live ... in Heaven.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Every Inch Stepped On

I was out in the snow today and had one of those feelings that I've had periodically over the years. That is to think about all the people who've tracked through here and every inch of land over the course of time.

The snow comes down and is virginal, but it loses its virginity very fast, with everything tracking over it. Squirrels, rabbits, dogs, birds, me, the gas man, the postman, neighbors, kids, etc. You look out and it doesn't take long till there's been a footstep or marking made virtually everywhere. Then multiply that over the many years and you realize there's barely an inch of territory that doesn't get someone's tromping feet on it.

But I suppose I should back up. Because I drive across country sometime, giving Grandma a ride, and we look out at the fields and there aren't always tracks out there. Or the land up on the hill with the trees. Realize though that if you actually got there there'd have to be rabbit tracks, deer tracks, birds, and other things. It can't be as pure as it looks from the car.

The earth is made to be used. Footprints, snow angels, pee stains, rubbish blowing up against fences, other droppings and marks.

It's not just us. It's dinosaurs and lizards. They've all been through here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Dick Cheney was in the news today, saying that he disagreed with George Bush on not pardoning Scooter Libby. I don't have the exact quote but I saw the article, and also heard Keith O. talking about it in his intro.

It's funny the way people do Cheney impressions, like he sounds like the Penguin from Batman. Keith had one of those Monty Python cutouts of his mouth moving up and down, and with the Penguin voice it is very funny.

I'm not going to miss Cheney. I have no good feelings about the guy. But it's too bad he had to go out rolling around in a wheelchair at the inauguration. One of the commentators said it was an apt "metaphor" for the administration, or something, which I immediately turned off. No, Cheney in a wheelchair wasn't a metaphor, it was just a guy in a wheelchair who'd hurt his back.

He did look fairly metaphorical -- secretive, in his own undisclosed hideaway -- in his black clothes and black hat. It was like that Abramoff guy. We don't do black hats that much these days. We do have pictures of folks in top hats at the Inauguration back like 40 some years ago. But it appears those days are gone as things stand.

Well, I must sum up and get busy doing other things with my evening. So let me sum up: Good riddance to Cheney.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Looking At Pictures

Some years ago I made a scan of 500 and some pictures from one of my Mom's old photo albums. The pictures were ones that Grandma took -- some of them. Others that other members of the family must have snapped, particularly the ones that had Grandma in them.

It's always interesting to look back and see these people, many of them dead now. (Except Grandma, of course.) That's what I'm thinking all the time when I look at them now, how many have passed on. Uncles, aunts, like my aunt that died in November or December. Cousins even. I have one cousin anyway who died.

I have another cousin -- who I haven't seen for years -- who had some serious trouble with the law. Some of his pictures are in those 537 scans. I look at him, all prim and proper in his suit and tie and think, something went wrong with him. Maybe it was destined in his upbringing. He was adopted into the family, my uncle seems like he might have been a strict kind of guy, my aunt maybe not the greatest. I really don't know. Maybe the uncle wasn't strict, maybe the aunt was the greatest. I'm just going by feelings, especially about the aunt, that I myself had growing up.

There are cousins I was especially close to, and that doesn't include this particular one. It's amazing to look back at them. Plus, when you make a scan, the picture comes up on the computer at about 3 times the original photo, so you can see a lot more detail.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Parade

That was one long parade, the inauguration.

If you count the time it took for President Obama to get from the Capitol to the reviewing stand, that alone ate up most of his first term. Then the bands and whatnot went on for some time, leaving everyone quite exhausted. The reviewing stand was pretty much empty by the end. I saw signs on the chairs for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for their guests, and I don't know who all else. Obviously there was plenty of room there for me, if I happened to be in Washington, D.C., and was a also a trusted, security-cleared observer.

Unfortunately I was here at the half acre, tending to more local concerns, like getting Grandma her Cream of Wheat and making her comfortable in bed. We've had some cold weather, with the plastic puffed out on the windows, and it's been my big fear that gaps develop around that. But so far everything's holding. My responsibilities never end. It's a constant vigil, that and other home things. So I couldn't go to the White House.

It was nice seeing the whole ceremony today, though, with Mr. Obama and all the festivities. It was too bad Senator Kennedy got sick, and Senator Byrd. I know we have a good margin of Democratic senators over the Republicans, but if we lose two a day I don't think we can hold out that long. Two at the same meal! It might be worth checking to make sure the cooks weren't Republicans. It seems awfully suspicious that the cameras go out, two senators fall close to their death, then the cameras come back on and everything's back to normal.

As for all the activities, this is why President Obama works out all the time. Just making it through a typical day would kill anyone else.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ritz Jenga

I saw a bizarre commercial today for Ritz Crackers. Some folks at a party had a stack of crackers on the table and were playing Jenga with it! But the ones I saw were doing it without any restraint, without trying to coax the cracker out. They were more like trying to whip a tablecloth out from under a bunch of dishes.

The first two succeeded and got their cracker out, with the stack intact, and rewarded themselves for their effort by eating the extracted cracker. The third guy went down low for his and the stack toppled, Ah!

Jenga is an interesting game, played with actual pieces and not crackers. It's nerve wracking and I'd rather watch others play it than play myself. But I've done it.

The other commercial I saw that was interesting was for Pepsi. They're keying in on the "Generation" theme again, running through the various generations with the dress and appearance people had through the last 50 or 60 years, of course drinking Pepsi out of the bottles and cans they had at the time.

Now Pepsi has a new, very modular, almost Obama-logo-like, logo. In fact there was another commercial, more graphics and letters, very mod like, spelling out things like "Yes We Can" and getting the new logo out there. It looks cool and refreshing. But I don't drink pop anymore, so it won't work on me.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hillbilly Talk

I used to fancy myself a hillbilly with hillbilly roots. I still have the roots, of course, but I'm now very sophisticated. I drink out of my own glass and use an inside toilet.

Still, my roots go down into the southern part of Missouri, to folks who lived back in the hills, made their own liquor, and married cousins. Really, I do believe I have (or have had) some distant cousins, each one blind, who had a whole houseful of kids, some of them blind, and it was a small house.

I like hillbilly talk, like jist for just and tarnation, plum tuckered out, and revenuers. I was thinking one day it'd be interesting to collect hillbilly stuff. I found a couple pieces used one day, a MAW and PAW matching coffee cups. The picture shows a bearded PAW in the outhouse (privy) with MAW calling, "Yer Coffee's Ready!" The other cup shows MAW working the field with a horse and plow, and PAW (no beard) sitting by the side of the house shouting, "Come Git Yer Coffee!"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Secret Service

That must be weird, to have Secret Service protection all around you. Bomb sniffing dogs, sharpshooters on buildings, agents to the left and right of you, with your kids at school, etc.

But when you're president -- or even a presidential candidate -- that's your reality. Which I'm glad about, because there are plenty of nuts out there who'd love to hurt the president or the president-elect. Probably him especially, because of all the promise yet to come.

I've been to a couple political events where the Secret Service weren't so secret. It was nice to see them, all fit and trim, looking serious, at another level from the rest of us. I remember seeing the sharpshooters (my guess) up on the buildings at Independence, MO when Clinton was there. And the way they had a hold on John Kerry's belt from behind when he was in Sioux City. They could pull him down in a second if there was trouble.

Actually, I was at an Obama event, too, which I hadn't forgotten but it's not on my mind a lot. The Secret Service was there, and one of the agents told a guy standing behind me to keep his hands out of his pocket, sir.

They do a great job for the most part. Just a couple disasters -- JFK and Reagan -- in recent years. The incidences with Gerald Ford had happier endings. I'm just hoping they keep Barack Obama safe forever.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The American Cancer Society

Is the American Cancer Society a legitimate and worthwhile charity?

We've all heard of it, of course, but still, who knows? It might be like the phony policemen who constantly call trying to sell lightbulbs. You wonder, how did these guys ever get in the lightbulb business? Then you realize, it goes way back, one of the first Associates program. Sell lightbulbs for an unrelated third party company and they'll give the police a dime for every dollar.

They do the same thing in school when your kids are selling stuff. Seeds, candy, maybe lightbulbs. The school gets a cut off each sale, making your kids kind of like taxpayers before their time. At least they're exploiting their labors for a bill the taxpayers ought to be footing.

We get all these calls from the police, I mentioned that. And what's the other big one? Oh, I had one from the Special Olympics the other day. "We're not selling anything. We are not asking for money," I don't know precisely what their pitch was. But it came down, I believe, to subscribing to a newsletter or magazine or something. "No, I don't care about it."

Now I have the Cancer Society on my case. I was watching American Idol and right at one terrible audition the phone rings. It's the Cancer Society guy. So I told him send me the stuff and I'd look at it. It might be a local guy. I gave to that once. He sounded amateurish enough to be local, and you know my feelings on "local guys." So today I get his mailing. Nothing local in the mailing, just a form donation sheet from the American Cancer Society, suggesting $20.

I'm thinking, what do I need with the Cancer Society? If I get cancer and die, well, I got cancer and died. I don't think we're going to cure every disease and live forever anyway ... at least in this world. So at some point, why don't we just accept it? We're going to die.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Snow Fort

At the height of the blizzard the other day I kept seeing flash by the window a kid running. I just figured someone's rushing home, but I kept seeing it. Finally I decided to look out and make sure he was OK, since it was cold, windy, blustery, miserable.

He was over there digging a hole in a drift, which must have been a very hard bit of snow not to cave in on him. Why he was running by I don't know. That part's still a mystery. When I started looking he was crawling deep into it, pushing snow out.

It made me remember fondly some of our own childish antics from long ago, snow forts, snowball fights. I always had this one big thought as a kid that was never tested, although I think of it when I see coverage of avalanches on TV. My aunt's yard when down from the sidewalk, then back up to her house. I used to wonder, what if you were in that depressed part and suddenly snow covered you. Would you freeze to death, suffocate, or would you be able to push away some to allow yourself room to breathe, assuming air would show up from above? My own optimism in this thinking always had myself surviving easily, but I don't know now.

We used to make some snow houses, attempt an igloo type of structure, which is a lot harder to make than you'd guess, mostly though like this kid, digging a hole in a drift and crawling back there. If it caved in, no big disaster, except, I guess, the roof might weight 150 pounds.

At first I was thinking the kid should go in his house. The wind was crazy. But if he was comfortable doing it, it's all the same, good for him.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

American Idol

One of the American Idol contestants tonight lives with her 93 year old grandmother.

And she made it through to the Hollywood round, too, which was amazing. Her occupation was listed as "caregiver," so whether that means for Grandma or caregiving in general, I don't know.

They showed her grandmother, needing a little extra volume from her granddaughter in talking to her. I can't remember much more about it.

I know my own experiences with Grandma Slump, though. It'd be nice if she could be a young 93 again. And there's no way I'd be able to leave her behind to go to Hollywood. Now I'm actually out of American Idol's age range -- being in my mid '50s. Of course were I to go on Idol -- let's say they raised the age limit -- I know I'd win. I'm one of those shower singers ... and friends tell me I'm pretty good. (OK, I don't actually have friends. But one time Cousin Roto told me I sang good. I did "At Calvary" at church with an electric guitar and nobody left.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

107-Year-Old Wants To Marry

Grandma is 104, widowed, and seems to be happy. At least she never says anything directly about wishing suitors would come around. And because I'm hopeful of inheriting the property when she's gone, I'm not giving her any ideas.

But that doesn't mean I'm home free, not if this Chinese chick starts a trend!

According to this story, a certain Wang Guiying, 107 years old, wants to get married, if she can find the right fellow.

"I'm already 107 and I still haven't got married," the Chongqing Commercial Times quoted her saying. "What will happen if I don't hurry up and find a husband?"

Her basic concern is that her relatives are also getting old and won't be able to take care of her. But the guy she's looking for will likely also be over 100. So what help he will be in this regard would be anyone's guess.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our 78 rpm Records

I was going through some of Grandma's old 78 rpm records the other day and noticed that one of my all time favorites was broken. Boo!

It's by the biggest selling singer of a couple of Grandma's generations, Mr. Bing Crosby. And the song is called "I Didn't Slip, I Wasn't Pushed I Fell." This has to be one of my favorite Bing records and it doesn't seem to be such a hit as to appear on current hits compilations. But there it was, in two pieces, one bigger piece, one piece separated from the original whole. A nasty thing to have happen.

Really, it's too bad they made records back in those days the way they did. So breakable. You can't count on them. You go get one and five of them will be broken. Must be the shifting of molecules, or molecules retiring and going to live in a home.

I looked up this song. I know it's out there; there was a Chronological Bing Crosby collection a few years ago, maybe they're still putting it out, everything he did. They definitely don't have the song at Amazon or I Tunes. I think there's a Doris Day version.

I did some work on it, though, trying to salvage what I could, taping the broken piece back as best I could, then recording the results. Naturally there's a couple good sized clicks every time it goes around. But with a little work on the file, it's not as bad as it could be.

Someday I'll find another copy. I suppose I could check eBay, but haven't yet. That's a great song. Other great songs, just off the top of my head, from our collection: Ballerina, Galway Bay, A Hot Time In The Town of Berlin. One of these, maybe Ballerina, I didn't see last time I looked. Possibly broken and thrown out.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Grandma Slump

Bob Dylan said Hurricane Carter was like a Buddha sitting in his 10-foot cell. But look at Grandma Slump in her classic (and only) photograph. There's definitely some Buddha qualities there. The contented eyes, the detachment of looking away from the camera, her hands peacefully around her very un-Buddha-like belly. (Though we have all seen skinny Buddhas, only rarely since they're usually eaten by the bigger ones.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mental Prisoner Eats His Own Eye

I saw a disgusting story today. I'm not even going to link to it. It's hideous. Some prisoner, a mental case, plucked out and ate his own eye.

Good grief. Can we get any stupider? I saw it and wouldn't read it at first. I had just got up and that's really something to wake up to. I glanced through it later. Some of the comments (this was at Huffington Post) were outrageous, and some had that sense of revulsion and disgust that I had.

What else to say about it? Terrible. The guy has some terrible criminal past, according to the article. He's on death row somewhere. A wasted life.

Friday, January 9, 2009

People Are Dying

I had an aunt die recently, might have been November or December. They don't always tell you about aunts and uncles who die. Maybe they think we're out of touch or don't care. But you eventually hear about it.

This was an aunt who lived out in Colorado. She was one of the boys' (Grandma's son's) wife, and she used to be back at least once a year to see us all. The '60s as far as I was concerned were the golden years for the Colorado relation to come back. They were still coming in the '70s ... but it all tapered off then.

So I haven't seen this particular aunt since the '70s sometime or maybe the late '60s. The whole old family is giving up the ghost.

I posted a picture a few days ago, a bunch of people standing around the old house. The passed on aunt is in that picture.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Porn Kings Need Bailout

I heard about this story yesterday and figured it was a complete joke, that the porn industry in some manner wants a government bailout.

I'm just going by memory here, but it seems they're blaming free porn on the internet for reduced sales of magazines, videos, and I suppose that's it.

It's just hard to believe that anything will be done to help them, if indeed there really is a downturn in their industry. I thought that was an industry where they want to lose their shirt, and everything else.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I Broke A Plate Today

I had breakfast at my desk today, this desk where the computer is. My desk is loaded with various things, a pile of CDs, old bills, plastic bags, pens, cans, a camera, the cable modem, etc. Over to the side there's not much room to put anything either.

On the corner of the desk there's an empty peanuts can taking up room. So after eating I set the plate on the peanuts can, then my cereal bowl on top of the plate. The arrangement meant that right above the plate, a little over a foot, was the light switch.

Then sometime later I'm walking by, notice the light on, reach in to hit the light switch, accidentally catch my finger on the plate, and the whole works goes falling down. Except for the peanuts can. Crash and break!

I turned and walked away and said nothing. The dog was sitting on the couch, looking at me to see what the problem might be and I said in a good-natured way, "Boom." Then I turned back, went and got the broom and cleaned up the mess, with my sandals now on so as not to get a piece of plate in my foot.

It wasn't precisely glass, but almost like pottery, but mass produced with more the qualities of glass if not the propensity to shatter into a million pieces. So that happened, just one of those things.

Now I need to look out and not walk through here in my stockings feet for a while.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Salt and Sand

It seems to me like there ought to be higher-tech ways of getting rid of ice.

On the sidewalks out there, especially on the north side, there's ice. You put sand on it and salt and that's pretty good. But it just craters it and it still remains basically slick.

Why can't there be some machine -- there probably is -- that has a fan at the bottom of it? You go along and melt the ice and that's the end of it? I suppose the answer is it would just freeze again. But maybe not, a little wind, or the heat of the heater, and it'd be essentially gone.

Or some way of crunching it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Baldknobbers

Grandma and I (Me and Grandma, I should say) like downhome music. Grandma doesn't have roots in the Ozarks, but Grandpa did. Grandma was from Peoria and came west for some reason, I don't know why.

Grandpa was from right down there though. We went down to see his old place one time. A tiny little town that might still be there. I should look on Google Earth. There was a cave just up the hill, and it was a big hill, and a spring that was still running when we were there. They used to get their water from that.

I was down in the Ozarks, back before the huge entertainment explosion that happened in years since. Back then they basically had two entertainment venues that I heard of, Presley Mountain Music Show and the Baldknobbers. This is a long time ago, 1971.

I went to the Baldknobbers show and it was definitely downhome stuff. It seems like it was a very small room, more or less just a room with a small stage up front. They had a rolled up religious picture that they untied and it fell before they did their "religious number."

Recently I got a VHS tape of a Baldknobbers show, which seems like it's from 2001. They mention something about the Florida recount and Al Gore. In 2001, and no doubt since, they were in quite a lavish theater, compared anyway to what I saw in '71. A big stage, multimedia stuff going on behind, big screens, cameras.

I watched most of it, but dropped off to pick it up later and haven't gotten back to it. The comedians are definitely entertaining, including one who is dressed up all goofy looking and is actually the producer of the whole show. In '71 they had a guy without teeth, just like on the 2001 tape, as part of the show. I have my original brochure from '71, so I pulled it out and it's a different guy for sure.

It's a lot higher tech now, and the cast looked smaller in the '71 brochure.

One of the weird things about the tape is that they panned the audience before the show, like for maybe 10-15 minutes. Up and down the aisles, leading me to think they must sell tapes of the show from that night and people are more likely to buy one if they have themselves on there. Folks were looking up at the screens and making faces, putting fingers behind others' heads, etc., and so the copy I have must be one of those souvenir tapes.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

We Have Ice

It's been an icy day. I looked out at the Skelgas tank and noticed a wavy sheen and knew right away it was ice. Then up at the eaves and saw a few small icicles, like a kid's runny nose but horizontal and sustained.

I don't mind ice, but I know some of my elderly neighbors hate it. They slip and rupture a bone. Much of the town stops because of the ice, even though really it isn't that bad. The city guys have been out spraying sand and salt, the sun's beating down on it (while still below zero), and enough young people, innocents, are out it's getting some wear. Still, you hear of things being canceled, churches, grange meetings.

I was out driving a bit and went by some major parking lots of places that aren't open on Sunday. Of course their parking lots are pristine, no salt, no sand, just shiny. I was thinking how fun it'd be to go in there and brody around, a few donuts, maybe a Ralph or a Louie. Or straight ahead in a wavy line, you know, a Broken Arrow aka a Fish Tail. But then, what? I'm in there, an old man doing all these wild moves, I hit a pole, or maybe the police happen to be driving by, or young people, innocents, see me and see a bad example being set.

There was a guy right out here on the street the other night. And the street is narrow in places. But he was going back and forth, with some so-so donuts. I was wishing the police might be coming by but they didn't.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Gotta Feed The Cats

It's the time of day that my cats let me know they're starving to death, especially the big one.

I think maybe it's a matter of old-cat psychology with him. He's 13, getting nearer to dying all the time, and he wants to make sure he has his final meal for whenever the big stroke comes. At least I don't remember him being so adamant about meals when he was younger.

I get downstairs -- it could've been an hour ago -- and he'd be starving. Rubbing against me. Making a lot of meowing racket to get my attention. It's unpleasant. Is this all I'm good for, to feed you? Which I'm happy to do, just calm down.

We put the cat food up on top of the cat box, to keep the dog out of it. But the big cat is getting so he can barely get up there anymore. I've been boosting him, or leaving it down on the floor. Then I try to keep an eye out for the dog, who still might be getting into it. I've noticed, like yesterday, more of the cat food gone than should have been, or that typically is. And the big cat seemed hungry still, which necessitated an executive decision, to open a second can of food, which is virtually unprecedented.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Facade

I read somewhere that the church in Rocky Horror Picture Show was just a facade, I'm guessing like the old Hollywood buildings we used to see pictures of. It definitely looks real, and I wish I could see a picture of it from every angle.

That's quite a thing to build just for those opening shots, especially when there would have to be a number of actual church buildings around that you could easily go and film in front of. Why build a church front when there are lots of churches already built?

The house I'm imagining in this blog -- its overall theme -- burned down around 1979, sometime between 1978 and 1981, let's say. I have a few pictures of it but I don't believe I saw the actual rubble. Maybe I did and blocked it out. No, I'm sure I didn't. But going way back, i.e., to all those pre-burnt years, there's lots of pictures of it. In pictures, though, it looks like it could be a facade.

I like the arrangement of the people in the top photo. It has a kind of eternal look. And I know the people. The key thing here is that in those days it's not burned. Then later it is.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Local Man Celebrates New Year

The local man, centered in his own local activities, judges all things. On this holiday he has seen it coming. The old year drifts closer and closer -- dangerously close -- to its demise. This is known, predicted.

He remains as economical as ever, going to the store and checking out the bargains, near-bargains, and excessively marked up items in the snack aisle. Some chips are exorbitant, like in the $4.69 range. Others have a more appealing price to the local man, such as two for five bucks. He picks up one, some sort of "Restaurante" kind.

As for the salsa, it's neither marked up nor marked down. It's what it usually is when not on sale. Get a mild for Grandma, a hot for himself.

Then summer sausage of a type he hasn't seen before, Cervelat. It looks good enough to take a chance on.

As for drinks, there's a sparkling cider that the Martinette's (spelling probably off) have been making since 1868. They surely know what they're doing by now, so he picks up a bottle. It's only once a year.

Back home, I'm quite tired and don't make it to midnight. But that gave me today to dig in and work on some of this food.