Friday, November 30, 2012


Did you ever see the movie Waterworld?

There is an old man trapped in the sunken hull of the Exxon Valdez, the oil tanker that wrecked up in Alaska. He has been there many years, all bearded, floating around in a rowboat on all the oil the Valdez was carrying that didn't leak out and destroy the eco-system when it ran aground on the Prince William Sound in 1989. His job (in the movie) is to occasionally pump oil up to the deck, but he is trapped down there for life.
It’s a pitiful existence.
Then one day, someone drops a lit match down a pipe into the hold where he floats around in his rowboat, and you see a close up of the lit match dropping in slow motion past his face, and just as it passes his face he whispers to the camera “Oh Thank God” and the match hits the surface of the oil, and the ship explodes.
The movie kinda sucks, but I love that scene.

Shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez, a mile off-course in an attempt to avoid icebergs, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, gashing its hull and releasing oil into the Pacific Ocean.

By the time the oil stopped flowing, nearly 11 million gallons had leaked out, contaminating 1,300 miles of shoreline and stretching over 470 miles from the crash site.

Do we really want to keep punching holes in the earth, extracting and transporting one of the messiest most dangerous substances on the planet and refining it into one of the most flammable substances on the planet, and that even when things go well, the by-products are poisoning the atmosphere, and according to many scientists, contributing to global warming?
Do we really want to de-regulate and open more lands for an industry that deals with such a toxic substance?
It was the end of the world for these guys, and another 500,000 animals just chillin' on the Prince William Sound that day.

Here we see a tanker being escorted through the Prince William Sound, which is standard operating procedure today.  Its a very good measure, I applaud it,  but it is an old fashioned solution for a very modern problem, is it not? And I'm no sailor, but doesnt it seem like the Tugs should be IN FRONT of the tanker? Haha.  

Like my pal over at The View From Outside My Tiny Window has expressed:
Innovation and technology, leading to building and creating 'things,' determines EVERYTHING in a civilized society. (If you don't personally know a scientist or inventor in your neighborhood advancing society's interests, or some kid who WANTS TO DO SO, you have a long term problem.)

Thursday, November 29, 2012



A few days ago I was driving down the road daydreaming like I do, and I got to wondering whatever happened to the results of the Basic Skills tests I took back in the second grade. I don’t think they ever gave me the results. Probably those results are Top Secret, sealed up in a vault somewhere with men who stare at goats, the Ark of the Covenant and Carl Sagan’s spaceship.
Sagan, as you must know, was from Outer Space. Ever notice how he parted his hair? It was to hide his third eye.
Thats classified information.

I was reminded of The Iowa Test of Basic Skills again tonight, down at the Quick-Pic store, where five times in a row I turned in cards that were filled out wrong and rejected by the lottery machine.
There was a girl there, a pretty girl, and like me, she had never ever bought a lotto ticket her whole life.
So Hafiz, the cashier at the counter, gave us a quick tutorial and we went to work.

She was filling out eight cards. That’s 40 chances to match 6 numbers and win the $475,000,000 jackpot. I only had my one to fill out, with 5 sets of numbers, but like I said it kept getting rejected.
A little bit of hope is a dangerous thing.
I felt just like I did in the second grade, filling out all those little bubbles with my number two pencil, the number two pencil was totally CRUCIAL they had said, and I filled in all my cards wrong, one after another, and the lotto machine just spat them back until finally Hafiz, who barely even speaks English, kindly filled mine out for me while I wondered if he had taken the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, knowing if he had he would most definitely  done better than I, while I kept one eye on the pretty girl.

I watched over her shoulder while she filled in the little bubbles.
“If you win, I’ll just DIE” I said.
She looked up and smiled “So will my husband!”.
So I held my hand to my ear, as if I had a phone, and said “Call me, OK?” and we both laughed at the thought that her husband might die, and we become lovers, billionaire lovers at that, and we might live on the beach at Monaco, drinking champagne and eating Oysters, Duck Galantines, and Shrimp Paella .
A little bit of hope is a dangerous thing.

Then Hafiz says “OK, we got your numbers right here buddy”, and I paid my 10 bucks.
You know, somebody has to win, it happens all the time, but the odds are that the ten minutes of my life I spent at the Quick-pic are ten minutes of my life I will never get back.


I found out this morning I didn't win the Four-Hundred Seventy-Five Million Dollar Jackpot, but there is always this:


Wednesday, November 28, 2012


"In the end, I decided to pack the Easy Rider soundtrack with all the hits songs of the day. It was a pretty far out idea – no one had done it before. I thought it would be so cool if the movie ended with Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”. The problem was Dylan didn’t like Easy Rider or the song so much. He thought the track was pretentious and he had a real problem with the end of my movie – “You can’t end it like that! Peter should go back and blow those guys away.” Eventually, he said I could use it as long as I didn’t play it over the end credits – “Man, it’s depressing enough as it is.” Then he did something amazing. He got out a pen and paper and started to write – “The river flows, it flows to the sea, wherever that river flows, that’s where I want to be. Flow river, flow.” He then handed it over to me and said, “Give this to McGuinn, he’ll know what to do with it.”

I can hardly believe this is the only picture I can find of Hopper and Dylan together.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


It was back when I lived at the end of the road, in a burned out trailer, and had a sometime job of helping a blind man fix his supper, which he shared with me.

At Thanksgiving that poor year, he had been out of town, and when he was out of town, I had no food.
I hadn't eaten in a week.
There were some railroad tracks behind me, and in my hunger I would wonder if I could catch one of the pigeons that came and fed on the spilled grain that lay between the tracks.
Then one day, as I caught myself wondering what the neighbors cat might taste like, I knew I had to make a move.

There was a guy down the road kept chickens, and I took my beat up van, and went up and down the road until I ran over one accidentally on purpose.
It didn't kill it entirely, just cracked its back.
And then I felt bad, real bad, about what I done, so I took it, cackling and squawking, up to the man’s doorstep. He said it was no problem, that he hated those “stupid chickens”, and while explained to me that they had no sense, no sense at all, he snapped its head off.
Then he had his wife cook it up for me, complete with mashed potato, green beans, biscuits, and gravy.
Well, she was a big fat woman and she couldn’t cook for shit, and I was sick for three days.
True story.
It was a really bad year.

Whenever I think of Thanksgiving, and things to be thankful for, I always think of Arnold, the blind man who took care of me when I could not care for myself.
Hope ya'll have a nice Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012


'My roommate Angel Eyes comes in with all these bags of groceries.

“Are you going to make the dressing for us Thanksgiving?” she asks.
“Sure, I’d be glad to!”
“How about the gravy? Will you make the giblet gravy too?”She asks.
“OK. I’ll go get a turkey to cook, and make the giblet gravy.”
“You don’t have to get a turkey. T-Bird is cooking the turkey at her house” she says.
“Well, then Teresa should be making the giblet gravy” says I.
Angel Eyes looks at me all baffled.
She blinks twice--*blinkblink*-- and says:
“Well” I say “Because you need the drippings to make turkey giblet gravy. And also the giblets, which come with the turkey.”
I said it with all the kindness in the world, but it still comes out with an edge.
Angel Eyes reaches into one of her grocery bags and pulls out a couple pouches of Chicken Gravy mix.
“Can you maybe” --*blinkblink*-- use this to make the turkey giblet gravy?” she asks.
I can’t help it. I reach into one of her bags and pull out a can of sweet potatoes.
“I don’t know Angel Eyes. Do you think you can use these to make green bean casserole?”
God, I feel like such a prick.
I’m so glad I’m not a chef any more.

Anyway, Thanksgiving morning comes and T-Bird brings the cooked turkey over so I can make giblet gravy. She had called two days before to find out how long to cook it.
"You got a whole turkey, yes?" I ask.
"Yes, a whole turkey" she says "Should I have gotten just a breast?"
"No, you did good. The whole turkey will have the giblets and the neckbone. They are either in the carcass, or sometimes they put them in the neck flap, in a little paper bag. Just take them out of the bag before you cook the bird."

So T-Bird brings in the turkey on thanksgiving morning. Its a beautiful golden brown.
I drain the stock and grease off the pan.
I look in the pan. No Giblets
I look in the carcass. No Giblets.
I open up the neck flap. No giblets.
"Hey T-Bird, where are the giblets for this turkey?"
"Oh, I got them right here."
She reaches into her purse and pulls out a baggie with the giblets in it.
They are just as raw as a live cow, giblet juice in the bottom of the bag.
I can hardly believe it.
So in my best Pepe Le Pew voice I say
"Hoh-hoh-ho! and what ees thees my sweets? A courtship gesture? The raw giblets are so nice. so HOT. We can make the love now, yes?"

Friday, November 16, 2012


It’s a very pleasant memory for me, thinking back to the kitchen table when I was in grade school and studying the cereal box positioned just the other side of my bowl. It could be dark outside, mom could be chatting away, but my attention was always focused on the box. I studied the nutrition facts the way I study Labor department statistics these days, and I would imagine what a wonderful place Battle Creek, where all the cereal seemed to come from, must be.

And oh my the games, and the fun facts, and the fabulous prizes you could win by saving box tops!
I think that’s how I got my first ant farm, was sending in box tops.

I remember saving up for a bowling alley too, but it was a major disappointment when it came in. It wasn’t really a bowling alley at all, it was just a cheap plastic thing with a guy with a spring loaded arm that shot the ball and hit these pins and they all were connected together and every shot was a strike.
There wasn't even a ball return, like there was in the picture.
Completely bogus, man.

But yeah, breakfast was always cool, even with the sleepy eyes and pillow-face, and being tired (everyone is tired when they first wake up) and mom chirping out “Oh what a beautiful morning!” like she was Doris Day.
Breakfast was always cool, because I had all those cool breakfast pals; the Waffle Whiffer, Aunt Jemima, and my very own Malto Meal mobile.

I’m thinking back, and I suddenly realize that the first girl ever kissed was on the back of a cereal box. She had red hair in pigtails, and a straw cowgirl hat, wearing a blue checked mini-skirt and cowgirl boots, and her eyes were also blue. She was on the Wheat Chex box, one of the Checkerboard Squarecrows friends, and I thought she was hot.
I kept that box underneath my bed for a while, at least until I discovered the brassiere section of the Montgomery Wards catalog. I outgrew cereal boxes, and started lusting for the Tang Bang girl on TV and the little dance she did with two other girls and a guy, and I just wanted to get between 'em with a great big ol' hard-on like a BoisD'arc fence post you could hang a steel rail gate from.

My friend Nancy says she grew up on Captain Crunch and Dr. Peppers. Nancy made straight A's. Who knew?

These days, on weekdays before work, I sit in line at Whataburger like schmuck and get a Taquito with bacon and sausage, and contemplate that if I got it without the extra bacon I could save 120 calories.
I keep a box of Special K at home, but I couldn’t begin to tell you what is on the box.
I seriously doubt there are any games, or offers for ant farms on the back of that box.
The Tang Bang girl might be on a box of Special K, but she would be all grown up, and serious about fitness, and no longer an inspiration for juvenile lust.

God how I hate being old. I don’t really have an imaginary rabbit telling me “Tricks are for Kids”, or a Sugar Bear singing “Can’t get enough SuperSugarCrisp, keeps me going strong", or loud-mouthed Tony shouting “ITS GREAT!” anymore.

It’s a bad business, growing up.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


High speed drift on a prairie road
Hot tires sing like a string being bowed
Sudden town rears up then explodes
Fragments resolve into white line code
Whirl on silver wheels

Black earth energy receptor fields
Undulate under a grey cloud shield
We outrun a river colour brick red mud
That cleaves apart hills soil rich as blood
Whirl on silver wheels

Highway squeeze in construction steam
Stop caution hard hat yellow insect machines
Silver steel towers stalk rolling land
Toward distant stacks that shout "Feed on demand"
Whirl on silver wheels

100 miles later the sky has changed
Urban anticipation -- we get 4 lanes
Red orange furnace sphere notches down
Throws up silhouette skyline in brown
Whirl on silver wheels

Sundogs flare on windshield glass
Sudden swoop skyward iron horse overpass
Pass a man walking like the man in the moon
Walking like his head's full of irish fiddle tunes
Whirl on silver wheels

The skin around every city looks the same
Miles of flat neon spelling well-known names
Fat wheeled cars squeal into the sun
Whirl on silver wheels

Radio speakers gargle top 40 trash
Muzak soundtrack to slow collapse
Planet engines pulsate in sidereal time
If you listen close you can hear the whine
Whirl on silver wheels

Bruce Cockburn “Silver Wheels”

Friday, November 09, 2012


Outside my office we have one of these big antenna structures. It’s a couple hundred feet high. Its right off 183, and sometimes when I pass by with a group of friends in a car, I’ll point it out and tell them that is where I work, in the building under the big antenna.

Then I say “That antenna? I built it!”
They look at me and one will say ‘Really?” and almost before they have finished saying “Really?”, I will reply “No” and we all laugh and its pretty good fun.

Anyway, a couple times a year they send some dudes out to work up at the top of the antenna.
They were out there this morning, suiting up.
One of the guys, probably 25 years old, good looking kid with a soul patch and “Rusted Root” T-shirt on, he looked up as I was passing by, and so I stopped.

I said ‘Man, whats it like up there on a pretty morning like this”
He grinned and said “Dude its beautiful up there.”
“So you love your job?”
“Oh yeah, I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. It’s a good workout too”
“Yeah, I bet it is. Have a good day” I said and moved along into my office.
I stopped there, but there was so much more I wanted to ask him.

I wanted to ask if he ever got that sinking feeling in his belly like I do when I’m looking out a third floor window.
I wanted to ask him if he ever felt like gravity was sucking him over the edge of something, and had to approach the edge of a roof, or a cliff, on his hands and knees to keep from throwing himself off.
I wanted to tell him that it gave me the heebie-jeebies just to go across an overpass in my car, and ask if he ever felt that way.
I wanted to ask what his dreams might be like, if he imagined himself like that Red Bull guy, and had dreams where he fellandfellandfelldowndowndown for longlonglong time; or dreams like mine where I can float and land softly from a fall that would otherwise kill me; or leap over houses drifting through the old neighborhood, past the High School parking lot, eventually landing smack dab in the middle of a Keg Party at Grapevine Lake, surrounded by spawning redheaded beachcombers in Artic Patrol hats.

But I didn’t ask him any of that stuff.
I didn’t want to jinx him, and that is what it surely would have done.

Saturday, November 03, 2012


Shila was that way. 
She didn't mind what movie I took the kids to, just don't take them to see Scream.
"Why not?" I ask
"I cant stand that mask" she says.
So I took them to see Roadhouse.