Thursday, February 28, 2013

My First Term

Today is a big day within the realm of Darwinfishdom.  It was four years ago today that I first threw open the doors to this site and said, “Come on in!

My first post was much earlier in February, but nobody knew it.  I wanted to have a good base of material for my early visitors to wade through, so they could decide whether they wanted to come back or not.  I probably   shouldn’t have bothered, because up until the fall, there were no other visitors except for family.  And I knew Mom and Dad were a lock to come back.

Anyway, it gave me some time to figure out how I wanted to format things, from what fonts and colors I’d use and when, to how I wanted to align pictures.  It definitely took me over a month.  I probably didn’t lock down my “Style Guide” until well into 2010.

So technically, February 14th could be considered my true bloggiversary.  But I figure, a blog anniversary is like a store’s Grand Opening.  And when is the Grand Opening?  It’s the day you open the doors, not the day you started stocking the shelves.  February 28th, 2009 was the day I sent that first email to family and friends, announcing, in effect, that they’d better be careful what they tell me because anything they say could be used against them as blog fodder.

So, wow… four years.  My blog is older than 3 of Cassie’s children.  You’ll notice I name-drop Cassie a lot, and there’s a good reason for that.  She was my first recurring visitor and commenter, who wasn’t related to or friends with me.  I always tell her, “You never forget your first.”  And I don’t.

2009 was a great year for me to start blogging… I had a lot to talk about.  Barack Obama had just been elected President, ending an 8-year period of darkness and ignorance in the White House.  The Steelers had just won their 6th Super Bowl.  The Penguins would win their 3rd Stanley Cup that summer.  Shit was happening! 

I wrote a great deal about the Steelers during that first year.  Obviously, I’ve backed off over the last couple.  I never wanted to be a “sports blog,” I just wanted it to be a subject I touched on now and again.  Besides, by 2010, I had people visiting from all over the country; not just Pittsburgh.  So if I wrote about sports, I’d try to focus on how I relate to the games, as opposed to hardcore X’s and O’s.  Think Game Jersey Mojo rather than QB Rating or mock drafts.

I also sought to provide a liberal voice to support our new president.  It was therapeutic too… Lord knows I needed someplace to voice my frustration with the Republicans’ efforts to roadblock everything Obama tried to do, even things they previously supported.  The entire political process turned into a Looney Toons cartoon…

“Duck season!”

“Rabbit season!”

“Duck season!”

“Rabbit season!”

“Rabbit season!”

“Duck season!”


"You're dethhhhhh-picable."

By far, my favorite topic has been to tell some old stories.  In fact, that’s all I’d do, if I could, but unfortunately, there are only so many left to tell.  In fact, I have to put myself on strict story-telling rationing, just so that I don’t run out.  Otherwise I’ll have to start living a far more interesting life.

But best of all, over the last four years I’ve been able to make friends with people strewn all across the country, from California, to Texas, to Colorado, to Louisiana, to Florida, and up to New Jersey, and even a few right here in my own back yard.  And of course, there’s that special nest of Pittsburgh bloggers who I’ve gotten to hang out with every year.  Yinz really know how to make a guy feel like he belongs.

Sometimes it’s really hard to get myself motivated to knock something out for you on my self-assigned day.  But then I think of your loyalty and participation, and I forego the urge to hit the couch and watch 30 Rock reruns.  So I thank you for your time and attention, and forgiveness for when I’m full of shit. 

I suppose I shouldn’t take your opinion for granted… Do you think I should keep going, or retire with some sense of grace and dignity, before I make a fool of myself?

OK, OK.  I bow to the will of The People.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your time and attention, and for coming here when you could have been doing something constructive. 

As Bobcat Goldthwait used to say, “Thank you for encouraging my behavior.” 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Breaking Things

If there’s anything I learned when growing up is to take care of my stuff.  All kids lose things and break things; I know that can’t be helped.  But I always felt really bad when I broke something… a toy, a glass, whatever. 

Most of the time, it was understood that if I broke something (of mine), that was it; I wasn't getting a new one.  I knew times were tight and my parents didn't have a pile of dough to keep buying me new toys or what-have-you, so I understood.  I especially appreciated this training as I got older and had to buy my own stuff.  I learned to take care of my shit, therefore eliminating the need to replace it.

I started young on learning how to stretch out what I have, to get the most out of it.  It started with drug store candy.  If I only had fifty cents, I wasn't going to blow it on a couple of candy bars that would be gone in no time.  (Yes, “a couple.”  It was the early 70s.  Stuff was cheap.  If I had a whole dollar to spend on candy, it was fortune to me.)  I’d buy things where you got a lot in the package, like Lemonheads or Sweet Tarts.  Candy with a lot of pieces lasted much longer than a candy bar.

When I had a bag of Halloween candy, I’d work on it until December.  My goal was to make my bounty last as long as possible, as opposed to diving in for a week or two of sugared gluttony.

This tendency also took hold as I got out on my own and had to buy and ration my own groceries.  You can’t pig down all the good stuff in the first few days after shopping, or else the cupboards would be bare for those last couple days before payday and I could shop again.  I rarely had to eat meals consisting of stale bread heels and a can of peas, or barbecue sauce sandwiches.

Granted, I could have replaced some of my clothing more often than I did.  Why else do you think I just threw out my ugly 80s-era parachute-pants sweatsuit two weeks ago?  To me, it was a perfectly serviceable piece of apparel, and not to be disposed of lightly.

But because of the way I am, I have been able to keep things for a very long time, most of which have not gone hopelessly out of style.  I still have the full china set I bought before moving into my first apartment, in 1984.  Other than the pieces the Ex sold off at a garage sale, I still have all of it, unbroken and until recently, unchipped.

My regular drinking glass for my daily Diet Coke was one I got in the late 80s.  My alternate glass, showing Roberto Clemente’s rookie baseball card, I got from a McDonalds in the early 90s.  They've been with me through many moves, and even 4 years with a kid in the house.
I especially like the Coke glass because I use that line as the fill-to indicator.

I believe the last thing I broke was my favorite wine glass, about 7 or 8 years ago.  I think I bumped it against the counter as I was taking it out of the dishwasher.  I can’t remember anything else I've broken, since I was a kid.

I take care of my things, and I get the most use out of what I have.

Pinky, however, does not see things the same way.  She thinks it’s perfectly normal for a grownup to break a few glasses every year.  Or the spinner-rods off of a couple sets of mini-blinds.  Or leave our plastic food containers at work, to get thrown out.  Or grab several napkins out of a stack to wipe her mouth.  Or leave a few chips in your 1984 China from banging them down together when she puts them away.

We've been going round and round about this for years now.  And every time I say “Now be careful with that,” I get a tirade about how I can’t expect her not to break something every now and then.  I tell her to concentrate, then, on breaking her own shit instead of mine.  (That doesn't go over very well, either.)

So this morning, we ended up doing this dance yet again when she suggested I throw the issue out to you.  As you know, I very rarely bring our interpersonal dirty laundry to this site, but since it’s her idea, I thought, “Why not seek outside input?

I’m not asking you to referee or take sides, but I do want to know… how often do you accidentally break things around the house?  I don’t mean the kids; I mean you or your spouse.  How do you feel when your mate (or significant other) breaks or mars something of yours?  And vice versa?  Is it a big deal?  Or is it OK because “everybody does it?”

What about your relationships to groceries or supplies?  Are you a stretcher-outer, or a user-upper?  Does your spouse view household commodities differently?  If so, how do you reconcile the competing tendencies?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Train Train

I've told the story before about how my dad got tossed in the town jail as a young boy, for hopping on freight trains.  His dad was going to leave him there until Grandma intervened. 

I also have a train story, but mine isn’t nearly as warm and uplifting.  I almost derailed a train once.  I was in grade school, so I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has expired.  Here’s how it happened.

When I was in 3rd and 4th grade, we lived in Glen Ellyn, IL, a suburb west of Chicago.  On my daily walk to school, I had to cross a set of train tracks in town, near a commuter train stop.  (I bet Carpetbagger knows exactly where I’m talking about.)

Getting to see trains go by up close was a big thrill for me, so I used to do whatever was necessary to ensure I’d be at the tracks at the time the train was due.  For example, I knew that a train was due in at a particular time, so I’d time it so that I’d just be getting to the crossing when the train arrived.  If I was early, and I could tell because there was a big clock tower in the middle of town, I’d start to dawdle and shuffle slowly along. 

There was no sense hurrying… getting to school early just meant I’d have to sit through more of Daily Mass.  I’d much rather see, feel and hear the train come whooshing by, as I stood by the no-crossing arm that lowered to block the road and sidewalk.

Sometimes, if there weren't any grownups around, I’d grab onto the arm and ride it as it rose back up.  (Not all the way; I’d jump off once I was two or three feet off the ground.)  Other times I’d put a coin on the tracks so the train would smash it.  I usually used pennies or nickels… quarters and dimes could be used for candy at the drug store, so I didn’t waste those.  The train seemed so powerful to smash the pennies the way it did.  I figured the train would be able to smash just about anything.

The trains I saw looked like this.

Coming home was another story, because there seemed to be fewer trains going by in the middle of the afternoon.  So I began taking a shortcut home, bypassing the main business street with the train crossing, clock tower and local stores.  Instead I’d cut through some back lots and open fields, and cross the tracks out in the open where there were no cross streets.  There was no little fence between the tracks, like you see in the picture above.

I know it seems dangerous now, but frankly, I don’t see how a pedestrian EVER gets hit by a train.  It’s not like they sneak up on you quietly.  You can see and hear them coming from a mile away, as well as feel the tracks vibrating.  Just take a step or two off the tracks and you’re good.  Even as a kid, I knew not to linger on the tracks.  However playing around them was still great fun.

Coming home one afternoon, when I was probably in 4th grade, I found this big hunk of iron.  It was a long bar with flat sides, probably a half-inch thick, with a big “notch” on one end.  It looked like this:
Please excuse my poorly drawn rendering.  And forgive me for forgetting to draw in the underside of the bar for depth, at the far left.  (I didn’t want to take another picture.)  But you get the idea.

Recalling what the trains did to coins, I thought it would be cool to let the train smash the iron bar.  The notch at the end fit perfectly over the rail; all I had to do was put it in place and wait for a train.

Before too long, here one came.  I backed away by about 20 feet, to make sure I didn't get hit with any smashed iron.  Then the train hit the iron bar.  Really never considered that the iron might not smash.  Instead it was the train that got jolted and rocked waaaaay up on one side.  I don’t remember if the wheels actually came up off the track, but it sure seemed that way, from the severe tilt of the cars.  If the wheels weren't up, that train must have had a hell of a lot of give in the suspension.

Fortunately, the train came back down squarely and continued churning into town.  Immediately, a grownup appeared out of nowhere, yelling and running toward me.  I did what any kid would do… I got the fuck out of there and ran home as fast as my little legs could go.  No grownup catches a scared kid running through back lots and alleys.

Days later, I went back to look for my notched piece of iron, but never found it.  I suspect the grownup took it so no other dumbass kid would derail the train.  Lucky for me, the only damage was to the passengers’ clothing from all the spilled coffee on the train.  I’m pretty sure there was no damage to that iron bar.

Suffice to say, I never put anything on the tracks again.  One barely averted public disaster was enough for this little bluzdude. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Got Milk?

Sometimes I get to do interesting things at work.  Like today, I got to write up the procedures for our new Lactation Room.

No, I didn't write about what to do in the room… that would have been REALLY interesting.  I had to write up how to secure use of the room and schedule a recurring time.

I’m actually kind of pleased that my company has something like this.  We didn't used to.  I know when my sister-in-law worked there and then had my nephew, she had to use a pump in one of the women’s rest rooms.  Women would go in there to pee and be like, “Damn, what’s that buzzing?  What the hell’s she doing in there?  Oh, HELL no…

Shortly after that, our first room was set up, but it really wasn't more than a closet with a table and chair.  That was it.  Harry Potter’s first bedroom was bigger.

Anyway, our company was moving off the floor that held the old Lactation Room, so they had to set up another one.  This time, they’re using a converted kitchen, so there’s also a sink and a refrigerator.  Heaven knows you don’t want to store the output in the common area refrigerators.  That’s just begging for a tragic-comic misunderstanding.

I had the woman who is in charge of the room show it to me.  I’m a “Method Writer,” so I needed to experience the space before I could properly render the needed directions.  Even after the upgrade, it was still kind of “Spartan.”  It had all the charm of a hospital cafeteria.

I suggested they get some gauzy drapes and pillows and rocking chairs and stuff… something to soften the vibe.  [Snork!]  Have something to hold up a book or magazine, so they only have to use one hand to turn the page.

I don’t see it happening though… I don’t think the Powers That Be really want anymore workday down time than absolutely necessary.  I know for a fact that they keep the restrooms several degrees colder than the rest of the floor, specifically to deter people from nesting in the stalls.  (It doesn't work… they just bring blankets.)

I also suggested a snappy nameplate for the outside of the door, but they wanted to go “subtle” instead.  I say, why be shy?  Promote the place as our effort to make the office friendly to working new mothers.  I had the greatest name for the room, too…

Mommy’s Juice Bar

They never let me have any fun.

I also suggested that in the name of fair play, they also create a similar room for men.  Maybe we can’t use it for the identical purpose, but what if we had a place for men that were attempting in-vitro fertilization?  What if they needed a room where they could produce a “sample” at the opportune moment?

I see a room with some overstuffed easy chairs, a humidor with fresh cigars, some cold beverages and of course, a DVD player with a Hi-Def monitor.  We could call it:

The Spankateria

I know, you think I’m suggesting we set up a porno room.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I could guarantee effectiveness completely without the use of any sexist or misogynistic material.  All we’d need is a repeating loop of Ravens Super Bowl highlights.  The guys around here would be done in 3 minutes.  They wouldn't make it past Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return touchdown.

Director’s DVD Commentary: If you guessed that I only included the whole bit about the special room for men was so I could use the Super Bowl highlights joke, you’d be right.  And if you didn't guess that, it’s like you don’t know me at all.

This post is dedicated to all my blog sisters who have been there and done that, and especially Cassie, who should be popping #4 any time now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Questionable Meat

No, that is not the alternate title for the preceding post.  Ahem…

Two weekends ago, I used a coupon offer from Omaha Steaks to get a decent price on an assortment of burgers, steaks and other goodies.  Nothing says happiness like a freezer full of meat.

If you've ever had Omaha Steaks, or Kansas City Steaks, they’re pretty darn good.  The only down side?
At 5 oz, they’re kinda small.

One is probably a nice, reasonable serving, but when I go ‘meat,’ I tend to go big.  (Ahem.)  Two of these are about right for me, but I’m going to try to make these last and only have them one at a time.

In addition to a cookbook and a knife set, this package also came with several “Conversation Cards.”  They’re apparently designed to get things going at that fabulous dinner party you've been planning for ages. 

But if you ask me, if you need Conversation Cards to get the good times rolling at your own party, you need to invite a higher caliber of guest.

So as a party gimmick, the cards are a fail.  But as blog fodder, it’s all ‘win.’  Tonight, I thought I’d run through a couple of these and see where I end up.  What, the title made you think I was questioning my carnivorous ways?  [snicker…]  As if…

Where is the most beautiful place you've ever been?
For pure, sheer beauty, hands down it’s Carmel California.  Between the gnarled Cyprus trees and the individually named, one-of-a-kind houses, it’s the most peaceful, tranquil and stone cold beautiful place I’ve ever been.
A Cypress tree, facing the Pacific Ocean.

One of the zillion-dollar homes in Carmel, that faces the ocean.

This is the famous Lone Cypress, as seen from Seventeen Mile Drive between Carmel and Monterrey.  This was probably the first really good, artful picture I ever took.

But other than Carmel?  I have to say good old dahntahn Pittsburgh PA.  With the gleaming new buildings, the ornate old buildings, the rivers, bridges and mountains, it’s the most picturesque city east of San Francisco. 
It just reeks of "Champion."

Have you ever had an experience that made you believe there are extraterrestrial beings?
No.  But I have experienced something that made me believe there are forces at work that can’t be explained by science.

I wrote all about it here, but in a nutshell, I had a precognitive dream one spring when I was in junior high.  We were about to move 200 miles away and I had a dream about being in my new school, in a strange new classroom.  Then the next fall, in the middle of Physiology class, (a subject I’d never heard of before), I had a dream flash that played out for about 5-7 seconds, exactly as I’d seen it in my dream.  Everything was the same, from my perspective in the room, to the classroom design, to the girl that was handing out M&Ms.

There’s no possible way I could have known any of that, but yet, there it was, spat out of my subconscious six months earlier.  So as much as I consider myself to be a man of science, I always have that nagging thought that not everything can be explained.  Was it the aliens?  Was it God?  Was it just another quirk of Mother Nature?  I have no idea.  But it makes me wonder what other impossible things can happen.

If you had a chance to become famous, would you want to?
It would depend on what I’d be famous for.  I’d like to be famous the way The Bloggess is famous.  She has thousands of followers that read everything she does, she gets to do cool things like book tours, but yet she can still go to the store without causing a riot, or being harassed by the paparazzi.

(You know what would be good paparazzi deterrent?  Getting a tattoo of a middle finger on your face.  They’d never be able to run the shot.  OK, perhaps it should be a “temporary tattoo,” in case you ever want to be presentable or something.)

If you were in total solitude for one year, how would you spend your time?
Writing!  I’d take that opportunity to compile my memoirs, or write some fabulous story.  How else am I going to achieve that level of semi-fame like The Bloggess?

If you could live at any period of time, except the present, when would it be?
I’d go back to the 70’s stating around 1972, because music would still rock, the Pirates would be relevant and the Steelers would be about to win 4 Super Bowls in 6 years.  The draft would be over, gas would be cheap, politicians would still cooperate (to some degree), and AIDs wouldn't be invented yet.  Shorts were actually short, girls wore bell bottoms and teardrop glasses, Monty Python were in their prime, and kids could still go outside and play without pre-arrangements or supervision.

Sure, there would be down-sides, like rotary-dial telephones, 4 TV channels to choose from and no Internet, but any era has its ups and downs.

What would be different about the world if there were no birds?
Cars would be cleaner and PittGirl would have one less nemesis to write about.  Cats would kill more rodents.  Also, no Ratbirds!  Baltimore’s football team would be called something else, to reflect the local ethos.  Like maybe, the Baltimore STDs…

If you could become a super-hero, what would you want your super-power to be?
I would be ArguMan!  I would be able win any verbal disagreement or talk my way out of any predicament.  I’d be able to talk my way out of a ticket, my date out of her underwear, or the local pub into providing a round on the house.

What historical figure do you feel is the most like you?
I don’t know… is there someone of historic significance who is utterly unknown and ordinary?  OK, I do know.  How about the first guy to add the word “this” to a prior statement?  As in, “Hey, chop this…” or “bite this…” or “put this in your pipe and smoke it…”

Side Note: This was too good not to share.  I was graced with another brilliant example of Spam Comment Blather and I thought you’d appreciate. 

“What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable experience about unpredicted emotions.”

Gotta love it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Touch Too Much

Director’s DVD Commentary: If you've been with me a while, you probably remember the series of stories I told back in 2011, about my first apartment and the exploits therein.  I was living with my girlfriend and a mutual female friend.  This was the place where I came breathtakingly close to participating in a naughty 3-way, enjoyed some hot monkey love with the roommate after the girlfriend and I broke up, and ended up having public danger-sex all over town.  (It was a highly eventful summer.)

Because some of my family and assorted work friends have been known to read this blog, I kept things a bit tamer than I might have otherwise, given the subject matter.  But through the comments after these posts, I was asked if I might produce something a bit steamier.  I was intrigued by the idea so I wrote another take that combined the hot monkey love story with elements of the danger-sex story.  It’s essentially the same story I posted before, but written in a more stylized manner, as a kind of cross between a romance novel and a Penthouse Forum letter.

I sent it to a blogger friend who was to run it as a guest post but unfortunately, that never happened.  The blogger pretty much dropped out of the blogosphere without running my piece, so it’s been sitting in my archives ever since.

Cut to yesterday when I was scanning through some old posts.  When I came across these stories, I remembered my “lost manuscript,” and thought that it might just be the thing to liven things up during this winter of discontent.  So here we are.

Once again, I should warn any family members or co-workers that things read here can never be unread.  You've been warned.  And now, may I present:

“It was one of those nights
When you turned out the lights
And everything comes into view.
She was taking her time
I was losing my mind
There was nothing that she wouldn't do.”

It all started with the sunburn.  He wondered if it proper to thank the heavens for a sunburn… on someone else.

For the second night in a row, she called to him to please come rub some lotion on her back… her soft, previously milky white back, which was now tinted a bright pink.

The previous night, his Ex was in the adjoining room when the call for lotion came. 

It was weird that the Ex was still there at all.  If he had it to do over again, he’d have let her leave after they broke up.  But she was paid up for the next couple months so he figured she should stay until the lease was up.  It was the right thing to do.


So that first night, when his roommate asked for the lotion, he knew he couldn't let anything happen while the Ex was in the next room.  No need for the drama.  But the blond girl enjoyed teasing him, so she undid her top before lying down on the bed.  He perched atop her ass and rubbed in the lotion, trying not to think about what else he’d like to squirt on her back.

They’d been friends since sophomore year but had never dated.  Now, a year after graduation, they were roommates.  He and his girlfriend couldn't swing the rent for the off-campus apartment by themselves so they asked her to move in too.  The girlfriend had no idea that he used to be sweet on the blond, or she’d have put the kibosh on that idea.

Before long, he’d gotten the blond girl a job at the store where he worked and they often commuted together.  The girl had dated a number of guys that year, but no one that stuck.  Meanwhile his relationship with his girlfriend slowly disintegrated into two parallel but separate lives.  They ended things amicably in June.  They’d all move out at the end of August when the lease was up. 

Can you put some more lotion on my back?  Pleeeeease?

They’d just come home from work.

Be right there,” he replied.

The girlfriend wasn't home this time.  He put on some shorts and went into her room shirtless.  She was lying on her stomach with the straps to her top undone, like she was the night before.  She looked back over her shoulder at him from her spot on the big waterbed.  Looking at her, he recalled something he once heard Bon Scott sing:

She had the face of an angel,
Smiling with sin,
The body of Venus with arms.
Dealing with danger,
Stroking my skin
Like a thunder and ligh-ten-ing storm.”

Again, he sat atop her shapely round behind and warmed the lotion in his hands.  He knew he could give a pretty good rubdown and it usually caused one of two results.  Either person he was massaging would get so relaxed she’d fall asleep or she’d get so turned on she’d jump him.  He was hoping she’d jump him like she was a Checkers Champion.

She purred softly as he rubbed the lotion onto her back.  It was part aloe application, part sensual massage.  He leaned forward as he used long strokes to slowly work the lotion up the long muscles of her back.  As he’d settle back, he’d encircle her trim waist with his hands.  Occasionally as he worked up high, he’d let his fingers fall along her rib cage under her arms, brushing the sides of her bare breasts.  He figured that was a good barometer of which way to go.  If she didn't get up and crack him one, it was a good sign.

But on the contrary, he found that as he fell into rhythm of the long strokes, she started to roll her ass against him in concert with his motion.

Warning lights fired off in his brain, as he desperately tried to process this new information.  Was this a sign that she wanted him, or was she just going with the flow, like a jockey rolls with the stride of his mount?

He pondered that question as he continued the long strokes and side-boob action.  Her rocking was unmistakable.  It was like they were doing a pulsating tango, completely in tune with each other’s moves. 

He decided it had to be a sign.  The next move was up to him.

With his next long stroke, he let his hands linger of the sides of her breasts and then brace him as he leaned slowly forward.  It was now or never.

He lowered himself down and gently kissed her on the back of the neck.

Bleah… lotion…”

But he didn't have time to ponder the medicinal taste of the lotion because she abruptly spun onto her back beneath him and pulled him down to her, kissing him deeply.

He decided that was a pretty good sign too.

It wasn't the first,
It wasn't the last,
She knew we was making love.
I was so satisfied
Deep down inside
Like a hand in a velvet glove."

The night was a blur that he strained to etch into his memory, in a series of indelible images.

They had never so much as kissed before and now she was kissing the very life back into him, as he ran his hands all over her soft, perfectly rounded body.  Her desire was palpable and her breath in his ear was hot and eager.

Wanting to savor every second, he kissed his way from her lips to her toes, stopping only to tease along the way.  A nip here… a flick there… rising back up to kiss her every so often and smile into her bright blue eyes.  Eventually he settled into that spot that he was sure he’d never get to see, let alone taste.  To his delight but not surprise, it was sweeter than he’d ever imagined.

Before long, she practically dragged him back up to eye level and pulled him inside her.  They made love like best friends and seemed to have an instinctive sense of what would please the other.  Her body seemed to have been built with different specifications than anyone he’d ever been with.  It was indeed the “velvet glove” Bon had been singing about. 

They didn't change positions much… he leaned on his elbows above her and she clasped onto him tightly as they rocked with the waterbed.  More experimentation would come later, but they were coming right now.  She cried out, “Fill me, fill me,” and he obliged, with enthusiasm.

Later, as they lay along side each other, both glistening from their efforts, he asked her, “Why in the hell have we never done that before?

They spent the rest of the summer making up for lost time, having sex in the most unusual places.  They were creative by necessity, as they were not often alone back at the house.  So they used the hood of her car, in the middle of a farmer’s field, about 200 yards from the interstate.  They used the front lawn of a house in the neighborhood, behind a row of hedges about three feet from the sidewalk.  Whenever they carpooled together, whoever wasn’t driving would have their hand in the driver’s pants.  And sometimes, when he was very good, she would lean over him, after they parked the car in a darkened alley, and work him like he had the world’s greatest Tootsie Pop.

The things she could do with her mouth could a stone statue weep for joy.

Once everyone moved out of the house, they didn't see too much more of each other.  But that was OK.  Those two wild months were pressed deeply into his memory, like an autumn leaf in a 1985 yearbook.  He often thought back to his time with her. 

He’d chuckle and think, “That chick was too much…”

Too much for my body,
Too much for my brain.
This damn woman’s gonna drive me insane,
She’s got a touch, a touch too much.”

(Song lyrics borrowed from “Touch Too Much” by AC/DC.  RIP Bon Scott.)

Director’s DVD Commentary: When I started writing the story, I really had no idea how I was going to do it.  But then I latched onto using AC/DC’s Touch Too Much as a recurring theme.  See, I’d always identified that song with this girl.  A line from the 2nd verse, “She had the face of an angel, smiling with sin / the body of Venus with arms,” was a perfect description of her.  I used that as the anchor and went from there.  I never intended to write it in third person either; it just kind of happened that way.  The rest just jumped out and wrote itself down.  Much like most of my posts…

Lastly, if you've never heard the song, by all means, click the link and check it out.  It’s kind of uncharacteristic for AC/DC, kind of slinky and sexy, like a hot Bayou night.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

You Know You Wish We Worked Together

I was going through an old folio notebook I used to use back in my former department and came across an old gem that I thought I’d share.

I've mentioned before that prior to Pinky coming along, I used to run all my dating decisions past a couple of married co-workers who I referred to as “The Sisterhood.”  My work-wife, Sunshine, was one of them.  The other was a redhead (geez, another redhead in my life) I used to call “Newman.”

I don’t remember how that started, but we often addressed each other the way Newman and Jerry did on Seinfeld.

“Hello, Jer-ry.”
“Hello… New-man.”

Anyway, when it came time for Newman to leave the company, we put together our customary scrapbook for her.  It was a copy of my page that I found in the folio.

There were two parts to my page.  First, I wrote a limerick, because everything is better in limerick form.  The problem was that I didn't really have anything specific I wanted to say in it.  I just wanted to use “Newman,” and her oft-repeated phrase to me when I was giving her grief, “Shut it.”  From there, I backward-engineered the rest.

If you give her a fish, she will gut it.
If you give her a wall, she’ll head-butt it.
So watch out for Newman,
She’s one rotten human.
But say so, she’ll tell you to “shut it.”

That was kind of a throw-away.  Aside from some pictures, the main portion of the page had to do with the reason she was leaving the company.  See, she was pregnant with her first child, but she didn't want anyone to know about it just yet.  Sunshine and I knew, but we kept it on the down-low.

But as her last day drew near, more and more people got in on the “secret,” so it became one of those things that everyone knew, but no one was supposed to mention.  Except me, of course, because there is nothing I like more than flouting the verboten.

Obviously, I didn't want to be overt about it.  I figured I’d just drop a few subtle hints in my farewell message.  I’m all about the subtext.  It was probably the best thing I wrote all year.

“We will have a hard time conceiving of office live without Newman.  While her absence may be hard to bear, we will take a pregnant pause as we remember what a unique breed she was.  Although our numbers may be contracting, and the friendship that Newman delivered us will be missing from the office, we will push hard to breathe… breathe life into a newborn manner of friendship.  Like water breaking over a dam, our resolve to stay in touch will be unstoppable.  Like eggs boiling in a pot, or little swimmers riding a wave, we will seek to keep our memories afloat.  Good luck to Newman; may our warm feelings never be expelled from our swollen hearts, and may she always be laden with good fortune.”

Like I said, I’m all about the subtlety.  With out the subtext, that paragraph looks like one of my spam comments.

I’m proud of that little bit of whimsy, as I look back on it, but I also see room for improvement.  In the part that said “Like eggs boiling in a pot…” I totally should have made it “Like eggs over-easy…” That way, I can work in an “ovaries” joke.  Now, if I could only come up with some kind of context to use the phrase “computer us.”  And I could have called her the “High man” on the department totem pole too. 

Excuse me while I lament my missed opportunities.

Director’s DVD Commentary: I went back and forth on whether I should italicize all the pregnancy references, but decided against it.  I respect your intelligence too much to underline the jokes.  That would be like adding a laugh track.

Another side note: If you like this kind of silliness, I did a post two years ago based on this same kind of idea, when I wrote the statement the Ratbirds should have made after they signed known pothead, Ricky Williams.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Salvation from Ugly Clothes

Have I ever mentioned that I tend to keep everything?  It’s amazing how much crap I have stored in my small 2-bedroom apartment.  I mean, you wouldn't necessarily know it just by coming in, because we keep things presentable, but if you were to poke around?  Hoo-boy.

Sometimes I just re-purpose things.  Like my old 1997-era word processor, that’s been boxed up since the late 90s?  It’s a table now.  Once upon a time, I needed something to put stuff on, so I threw a tapestry over top of it and voila!  A place for my crap.
The Christmas tree is on top of the box-table.

See, back when I escaped from the Ex in 1997, I felt the need to start writing again.  The problem was that I didn't know the first thing about computers and had never even seen a Windows screen or the Internet.  So I bought this word processor, which was basically a typewriter with a CRT-screen.  

The unit had zero memory; you had to save all your work to floppy disks.  But you could write and edit on-screen, which was just a huge benefit for me.  You could also do rudimentary spreadsheets.  Then you’d press and your document would automatically type itself.  And I don’t mean with an inkjet printer… I mean a real typewriter would type out your document like one of those old Player Pianos.

I used it for a couple of years, until after I started working at my present job, and learned how to use a Windows-based PC with a mouse.  When I bought my first PC in 1999, the old word processor became expendable.  And a table.

Pinky finally got tired of the thing being in the way and decided we needed to get rid of it.  Not wanting to clutter up a landfill with it, I wanted it donated or recycled.  I was really leaning toward “recycled,” because I couldn't imagine a situation where a charitable organization would be able to use this thing.  I mean, I've read that they won’t even take Windows 98 PCs any more.  Just to be a hell of a guy, I included a handful of unused floppy disks.

Somehow, though, Pinky managed to get the Salvation Army to come out and pick it up, along with an old spare VCR I have.  (She was sick of looking at that too.)  I think what she told them on the phone was that I had a computer and a DVR.  She scheduled them to come out last Saturday, sometime between 10 and 3.  Or maybe she told them about the floppy disks.

Since they were making the trip, I figured I might as well go through my clothes as well.  Heaven knows I could use some room in my closets.  So I put on my miner’s helmet and ventured into the depths of my closets, in search of donation-worthy clothing.

The stuff I pulled out generally fell into two categories:

1)  Stuff that was so ugly I will never, ever wear it again.  Example: this sweatsuit combo.

Back around 1987 or so, my luggage was stolen from the carousel when I was coming back to Cleveland from my parents’ place, and one of the items I lost was my favorite sweatsuit.  I think someone got me this monstrosity as a replacement, and I might have only worn it once or twice, ever.  And even so, I still had the fucking thing in my closet.  I tried it on, just for shits and giggles, and it still fit.  (It had a LOT of elastic.)  For a moment, I thought to myself, “How can I throw this out?  I can still wear it around the house.” 

Then I moved, like, a millimeter, and I remembered why I never wore it.  It was made out of “parachute pants” material, so every time I moved, it would sound like I’m wearing wax paper.  The people upstairs would be able to hear me moving around the room, like someone was sanding the floor.

2) Stuff that I can no longer cram myself into and am unlikely to ever again.  Example: my Steelers Zubaz pants.

I didn't care that they were ugly… that was kind of the point.  I used to wear these back in the mid-90s, but I remember that they were a mojo death wish.  I think the last time I had them on, the Steelers lost Super Bowl XXX, and I never wore them again.

Then last year, while the Steelers were in a losing streak, I though maybe I’d give them a try, and work on some “Reverse Mojo.”  Problem was that I could barely get them up one leg, let alone over my big ass.  So, out with the Zubaz.

While I was at it, I considered donating my Steelers boxer shorts for the same reason: bad mojo and inability to squeeze into them without cramping “the boys.”  But I ended up keeping them, just so I can continue to say that I own Steelers boxer shorts.

All told, I assembled four garbage bags worth of clothing to donate.  (They were folded, too, for space-saving reasons, not just wadded up.) 

It would have been even more, but I still have a wardrobe moving box full of stuff buried in Pinky’s room.  I haven’t opened that box for years now.  Another couple of years, and I can use it as a fashion time capsule… “What NOT to Wear: The 1998 Edition!”

So after all that fuss, and looking out the window for the Salvation Army truck, they ended up calling me around a quarter to three, to say they couldn't come that day.  I rescheduled for Thursday, but I’m still pretty irritated about it.  Just for that, I should include my “Heathen” tee shirt, just to show that I am beyond Salvation. 

And I’ll have to make sure they know I have a strict No Returns policy.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Blogging Bluz

Have you noticed a dramatic change in your blog stats?  I know I have, so I’m wondering if it’s a widespread thing, or if this site has finally passed its freshness date.

Last week, I noticed a roughly 50% drop-off in site traffic, which has since remained constant.  Because my number of “returning visits” has remained constant, I’m guessing that Google has made an adjustment in its search algorithm.  I read somewhere that Google was devaluing blogs in search results, so maybe that’s it.

I know I’ve complained about getting a bunch of hits from “image stealers,” before, but now that they’re gone, I have to say I kind of miss them.  Their numbers pumped me up with a sense of accomplishment, even though it was mainly a mirage.  You know the equation… Hits = People love me = I’m fabulous.  Cut the hits in half and now I feel like wearing all black and writing bad poetry.

And speaking of bad poetry, am I the only one that’s getting hammered with spam comments?  You know what I’m talking about… you get an comment email from “Anonymous,” that’s filled with poorly written praise, with the link to some obscure website attached.  But when you check your post to delete the comment, it’s not there, nor does the poster show up on my StatCounter meter.  Back before this strain of garbage began flooding in, they used to show up on my StatCounter as originating from the Pacific Islands or Southeast Asia.

It shows up in the internal Blogger Stats though.  You see those 5 “Most Popular Posts from Last 30 Days” on the right side?  Those posts appear there because they are the ones that have been spammed the most.  When my “Hives” post was there, it was legitimate, but spam targets have since overtaken it.  And that’s why we can’t have nice things.

I know that I could cut the level of spam comments if I install one of those comment Captcha thingies, where you have to manually enter some jibberish words and numbers before you can post a comment.  But I hate those fucking things.  Since I started this blog, almost 4 years ago, I wanted to keep commenting easy for you, and figured I’d just handle any subsequent spam myself.  You’re welcome.  But OK, I’m not totally altruistic here… I also didn’t want to deal with the Captcha entry myself, when I answer each of your comments.

On the bright side, I am occasionally entertained by the farcical nature of these ridiculous comments.  They really are like bad poetry.

“What a ѕtuff of un-ambiguіty and pгeservеness οf
prеcіous know-how concerning unexpectеd emotions.
My webpage (bogus same day loan link)”

That’s practically a haiku, right there.  And I had no idea that my post about flipping the bird at Super Bowl halftime last year generated such “unexpected emotions.”  The same post generated this doozy as well.

“Definitely imagine thаt which you said.
Yοuг fаvoгite justification seеmеd to be at the net the simplest fаctor to
bе аwaгe οf.  I ѕаy to you,
definitely get irked while
other folks сοnѕidеr issues thаt they plainly do not reаlіze about.
You mаnaged to hit the nаil uρon the
tоp and οutlined out thе entiге thing wіth
no nеed sіde-effeсts , folks can takе a signal.
Thank yοu
Also visit my site – (another bogus loan site)”

I think that one may have been written by that South Carolina beauty pageant contestant.  This next one has an even higher nonsense factor:

"Attractive component of content. I simply stumbled upon your blog and in
accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your
blog posts. Any way I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access constantly rapidly.
my webpage – (shady tobacco site)”

I’m so glad that he “achievements me access constantly rapidly.”  I hate it when my achievements are inaccessibly slow.

“Hi there! Your post rocks at the same time as becoming a respectable superb understand!

I can’t truly aid but admire your blog website, your site is adorable and good
My partner and I stumbled over here diverse internet site and believed I ought to check points out.

I like what I see so i'm just following you. Appear ahead to exploring your internet page but again.
Look into my weblog:: (sham iPhone giveaway site)”

I always wanted my blog to become a “respectable superb understand!”  He made my day. 

“I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.

The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish.
nonetheless, you command get got an shakiness over that you wish be delivering the following.
unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same
nearly a lot often inside case you shield this increase.
Here is my page (I don’t know what the hell kind of bullshit site this was)”

That one seemed to be a product of an experiment using a dictionary and a dartboard.

I can’t imagine that anyone has ever gotten a positive result out of sending this garbage, but I suppose someone must bite every once in a while, or else they wouldn't do it.

So, do you get this kind of garbage too?  Do the Captcha doohickies really prevent this stuff?  And more importantly, have you notice a change in the number of search hits you’re getting?

Or have I become the most respectedly of dishonor weblogs, fish?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Eat Well, Stay Fit, and Die Anyway

I think I have a button that says that… (up in the title).  I’ll have to check.  It used to be my mantra, back when I was young and bulletproof.  OK… now too.

I saw this thing online yesterday, that totally messed with my head.  It was an article about the various things you can to do add to or subtract time from your life.  I pretty much knew I was in trouble before I even investigated.  You’ll never see me as a poster boy for healthy living, unless there are major breakthroughs in the fields of watching TV and eating bacon.

So these are the kind of things that affect our longevity:

OK, let’s see what I’m looking at here… First, on the “Plus” side…

+ 30 min - Drinking 1 alcoholic beverage.  I think I can find a loophole here.
Jules’s “Big Carl,” from “Cougartown.”

+ 30 min – Drinking 2-3 cups of coffee.  Seriously?  I thought it was good for you to kick coffee, like I did a few years back.  I used to drink 2 cups each weekend day, from grade school through several years ago.  So that’s… let’s see… 1 hour a week times 52 weeks, times 29 years equals 1508 hours or 62 days.  Hah!  Two months in the bank, just for having coffee breath.

+ 1 hour – The first 20 minutes of cardio.  Uh oh.  Can you break it up?  I probably walk 10 minutes from the subway to work and then 8 hours later, 10 minutes back every day.  Probably doesn't count.

+ 30 min – The next 40 minutes of cardio.  Yeah, right.  Who do they think I am, Cassie?

+ 2 hours – Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables.  Sure, I probably get 5 servings a year.  What?  Five servings a day?  What am I, some kind of hippie?  Crap.

OK, I’m not racking up much in the way of bonus time.  Now let’s check the “Minus” side…

-15 min – For every alcoholic drink after the first.  If they don’t count the Big Carl loophole, I’m in trouble.  What’s the point of drinking anything, if you can’t have more than one?

-30 min – Watching 2 hours of TV.  Seriously?  I work all day and I can’t even take a load off for some prime time TV?  Or one hockey game?  I don’t know about this one.  How can sitting still for 2 hours cost you one quarter of that time off your life?  And what about sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day?  Man, I am so screwed.

-30 min – Eating one portion of red meat.  Per what?  Every time?  I never saw that disclaimer on my Wendy’s bacon double cheeseburger.  I guess I’m going to have to hold onto the notion of “quality of life,” because if I can’t eat a bacon cheeseburger, why go on?

-2 hours – Just for being male.  Now they’re just being spiteful.  Since they already dock me for watching TV, drinking and eating meat, isn’t that double-dipping?

-5 hours – Smoking one pack of cigarettes.  Finally!  I vice I don’t have to worry about!

OK, some more quick calculations, and voila, it looks like my number will be up… some time next week.  It’ll be a shame to miss the Pittsburgh trip in April.  At least now if you see an absence of blog updates, you’ll know what happened.

You know, I do worry about what would happen to my blog if I were to snuff it.  I mean, how would you know?  How many of us have blogs listed in our blogrolls that stop getting updated?  I know after a couple of months of inactivity, I usually delete them.  What if the blogger died?   Deleting their blog from the blogroll would be like adding insult to injury.

What I ought to do is leave detailed instructions for Pinky on how to update my blog, should I unexpectedly shuffle off this mortal coil.  In fact, I could probably prepare a draft… a Last Blog and Testament, if you will.

I would feel terrible if I kicked it and you didn’t know what happened.  I mean, I can’t count on any nationwide news coverage of my passing, unless something snaps and I take a Bushmaster rifle down to the Ratbird stadium.  Or repeatedly run over some schmo who doesn’t use his turn signal.  So the only way to blog my death would be to set it up in advance.

Maybe I can do some sort of check-box system, or fill-in-the-blanks.  Leave it to me to turn my expiration into a series of Mad-Libs.

Anyway, if this blog ever goes inactive, I think you can just assume I died.  Because otherwise, you know I’d update you on whatever was going on.

“Hi guys.  Just wanted to let you know I got hit by the Ravens’ team bus yesterday.  I’m pretty sure it was because I was wearing a Steelers jacket and hat.  In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have stood in the road, flipping them off. 

In my absence, I’d appreciate it if you would vote democratic, give to Planned Parenthood, and every so often, make fun of Cassie for being both Super Mom and a snot-nosed kid.  I’ll miss you all.  Gotta go now… I see this light and I feel like I should go check it out.

No wait, never mind… it’s just the operating room light.  Why can’t they just let me rest in peace?”

Found it.

Director’s DVD Commentary: My last post was about my angst over watching the Ratbirds win the Super Bowl last weekend.  Even if you've seen it, you should check back to see the comment from Misty, one of the few Baltimoreans that reads this site.  It’s worth the trip.