Monday, April 28, 2008

Our Backyard After Last Night's Storm

Friday, April 25, 2008

These are Better Days, baby

Yes, that is real caviar is my header (real dirt, too). And, yes, as Myles so intelligently pointed out, the title of this contribution to literary history comes from a Bruce Springsteen song.


We were having one of those evenings here in Knoxville where the weather is just perfect - 70 degrees, slightly cloudy - something out of a Ferrol Sams novel. Janna and I were cooking dinner for a picnic out on the deck - the back door was wide open, the kids and the puppy were running around having fun, and we turned the music on. I pulled out one of my favorite records - Bruce Springsteen Unplugged (only it's not really unplugged, but whatever). Janna was making fun of me singing along, as usual, and I didn't care, as usual. "Red Headed Woman" came on and Janna was offended (Well I don't care how many girls you've dated/But you ain't lived till you've had your tires rotated/By a red headed woman). Then "Better Days" and "Atlantic City," "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and "Man's Job." But I kept switching it back to "Better Days," long a favorite Boss tune, but not my all-time (that distinction belongs to "Thunder Road," my favorite song, period). But for some reason, "Better Days" was resonating with me that night.

It shouldn't have been. These have been some of the Worse Days around here in quite some time. Our business closed, and I've been job hunting for more than a month now. Being home all day, every day has stressed me and Janna out. The kids have been sick off and on a lot. Money is tight.

There was no reason for it, yet I couldn't help connecting that night. I was reminded of a time back in Arkansas when we were in a similar situation and I couldn't get enough of the Counting Crows song "Amy Hit the Atmosphere" - it particular the line "Things are getting worse/But I feel a lot better."

This one says:

Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening
To the hours and minutes tickin' away
Yeah, just sittin' around waitin' for my life to begin
While it was all just slippin away.
I'm tired of waitin' for tomorrow to come
Or that train to come roarin' round the bend.
I got a new suit of clothes, a pretty red rose
And a woman I can call my friend
These are better days, baby
So although I'm obviously too old to appreciate true art, I still continue to use what art I can find to help me define what's going on around here. And between the mounting pressure of Janna pushing me to start back up blogging, and the visual image of caviar and dirt, I pulled the trigger. Of course, part of it was that it was an excuse to go buy some caviar and crackers and have fun with the Nikon and with Photoshop, but here it is.

And yes, I did eat the leftover caviar...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Terminally Unhip, or How Veronica Stole My Mojo

Janna and I finally caught the Hip Train last week and watched "A Fresh, Unusually Intelligent Comedy," according to Roger Ebert and the DVD case. Now here's a question - why capitalize all the words in the quote? Did he actually actually do that when he wrote it? Can we just capitalize that stuff on a whim for the sake of a DVD case? Doesn't that violate some sort of quotation law? Susan Wink would frown, methinks.

(here's where John takes a breath and lassos himself back to the point)

So, Janna and I finally caught the Hip Train last week and watched "A Fresh, Unusually Intelligent Comedy," according to Roger Ebert and the DVD case. The movie, of course, was Juno and since we were the last Americans other than my parents to see the greatest movie of all time, Ellen Page's evil plan for world domination is well on its way.

Here's the rub: I thought it was just ok. Not earth-moving, not gag-inducing, just ok. It was kind of funny in parts, but then, so was Dodgeball. It was nicely directed, but then, so was Winter Passing. It had some touching moments, but then, so does the Lifetime Movie Network.

But the dialogue, oh, the dialogue, that witty, hipster, smarmy-nonsense, make-up-words-to-be-annoyingly-clever, dialogue. I felt like I was watching Univision with my rudimentary Spanish - I got weary of having to interpret everything. Maybe I'm just lazy, but it seemed like too much work. Maybe it's old age setting in. In fact, I got way more pleasure from the Allison Janney character than I did from Ellen Page or Michael Cera.

I say all of that to get to this story.

I was in Borders last night ordering some coffee concoction that cost way too much and didn't really taste all that great anyway, and the girl behind the counter (Veronica) had purple streaks in her hair and a nose piercing - not a sexy nose ring, just one of those sparkly studs that look like hanging boogers. She also had a Juno sticker on her name tag. So I said (because I talk to everybody - it drives Janna crazy), "Hey, I finally saw that movie a few days ago. It wasn't bad." Well apparently to her, "wasn't bad" was utter blasphemy - you'd have thought I just made a joke about drowning puppies or killing the Pope, or something. "Not bad? Not bad? Juno is the greatest movie of the 21st century! I saw it 8 times in the theater - of course, my cousin works at the Pinnacle, so I get in free, but still. It should have won Best Picture, no doubt."

I was taken aback a bit by the passion of her argument, to say the least. So I did what any self-respecting jerk would do - I pulled the salt out of my pocket and dumped it on the wound I had made. "Really, best movie of the 21st century? It wasn't even the best movie this year. No Country for Old Men? There Will Be Blood? Both better. In fact, I think I liked National Treasure 2 better. "

(While I was having my fun, the other girl behind the counter was watching us like she expected Veronica to fly over the counter and stab me through the heart with a biscotti)

"National Treasure 2. National. Treasure. 2. You think National Treasure 2 was better than Juno. Seriously? How old are you?"

I thought for a second about how best to respond. By this time my latte was ready, so I could have just taken it and run for my life. But I've never been one to flee from a stupid, utterly pointless argument. So I said, "How old do you think I am?"

And she said this. I am not making this up. I promise that she, Veronica, who pours chai tea at the Borders in West Knoxville, actually allowed these words to pass her lips. She looked right at me with an air of extreme supremacy and disgust, and said:

"Obviously too old to appreciate true art."

Game. Set. Match.

As there is no possible retort to this statement, I took my overpriced beverage and fled the scene. It'll be only Barnes & Noble for me now.

Monday, April 21, 2008

An Interesting Dinner Guest

So this is what my parents came home to find in their dining room today. Apparently the roofers working up the hill forgot to properly secure the parking brake on their dump truck. No one was in the house, but it pretty much trashed everything in the dining room. Fun times.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

#50 - Told you so.

See #50 below. I toooold yooouuuu....

Friday, April 18, 2008

50 Things

1) I want a pair of Adidas' for every day of the week.
2) I own over 25 Monkees CDs.
3) I once snuck my girlfriend (now my wife) into my dorm room by walking her behind a very fat man.
4) The first beer I ever had was a Guinness.
5) My first job was slinging burgers at a McDonald's in Orlando.
6) I shaved my head bald in high school (not pretty).
7) I loooove bad horror movies - the worse, the better.
8) Favorite pro teams: Orlando Magic, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Ravens.
9) I have preached at church 3 times.
10) My car broke down in ghetto Orlando while I was on a date with my dream girl, and I had to call my friend's dad to come get us.
11) My all-time favorite novel is A Prayer for Owen Meany
12) Weather greatly effects my moods.
13) I once spent the night in the Shark Encounter at Sea World.
14) My sister and her husband are adopting a child from China.
15) My secret ambition is to be a rock star (now if only I could sing or play an instrument).
16) My wife is an incredible writer.
17) I think, like Myles, that one of the greatest smells in the world is photographic fix.
18) I love to cook.
19) Greatest band of all time? Vigilantes of Love.
20) Second greatest: Counting Crows.
21) I looove spicy food. Gimme heat and lots of it.
22) Eggo waffles are the food of the gods.
23) I have been to 2 NBA Finals games
24) I have visited Israel, and want to go back.
25) I have the My Little Pony theme song in my head right now.
26) I think Casino Royale rates with the best Bond movies.
27) I have taught all three of my children to give head butts.
28) I think that Calvinism v. Arminianism is a pointless argument.
29) My children have been forced to watch my favorite childhood shows - Danger Mouse and Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, for example.
30) My first concert was Billy Joel, Storm Front.
31) I can't hit a baseball to save my life.
32) But I can shoot the three with the best of them.
33) My wife is jealous of my whistling skills.
34) I will have a hard time deciding who to vote for this year.
35) But I'm leaning toward Obama.
36) I'm a little tired of video editing.
37) I'm going on a date tonight!
38) I have tried, really I have, but I can't make myself care about hockey or soccer.
39) My mother kept, and my children have worn, some of my baby clothes.
40) Top Chef is the best reality show on TV.
41) I want to move to the Dominican Republic.
42) I went to the Tennessee/Vanderbuilt football game this year. My first College football game, OBU notwithstanding.
43) Ketel One, Glenlivet, and Negra Modelo.
44) I am glad that my son loves comics because it gives me an excuse to read them again.
45) I got my left ear pierced in college, but the hole has since closed up.
46) I'm turning into an after dinner pipe smoker.
47) I would have a hard time living without my Blockbuster Online membership.
48) My favorite time of the day is sitting on our bed reading Harry Potter to Sam and Laney.
49) I was second chair trumpet in middle school.
50) My wife is ridiculously hot. Seriously.

Politics as Usual

Hey Hillary, I think I've got something on my cheek. Can you see anything? Look closely....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Five AM, or How I Came to Pee-Pee on the Puppy

This is Lucky (“Hi, Lucky”). Lucky is a puppy. Lucky is our puppy. The kiddos named Lucky Lucky. I wanted to name Lucky Andy, after this guy. I was outvoted. So, this is Lucky.

Every morning Lucky wakes up around 5:00 or so, because his little puppy bladder simply cannot hold it in anymore. I don’t hold this against him; it’s the nature of puppy bladders to not be very big. So, every morning when I get up at 5:00 or so to take Lucky out, I have an instant dilemma. Do I pee before taking him out, knowing that all the while Lucky will be whimpering and potentially waking up Benjamin, or do I hold it until afterwards?

Well, thank God for middle ground. After doing this for a week or so, I came to the realization that if it was ok for my dog to pee in the back yard so early in the morning, then dagnabbit, it should be ok for me too. Now, this realization does not extend to later in the day, after the sun has assumed its customary place in the sky – this is strictly a darktime activity.

Here’s the usual routine: Lucky trots out the back door, goes down the steps, and heads right, to the fence to do his watering of the grass. I slouch out the back door, go down the steps, and head left, to do my business under the deck. At this point, it’s a race. Who can finish first: the puppy who has been holding it for six hours or so, or the 30 year old who drank 2 glasses of wine before heading off to bed?

To spare you the suspense, I pretty much always lose. Turns out the 30 year old bladder is bigger than the 10 week old bladder. Go figure.

When he beats me, he trots on over to check on my progress. I have learned, over the last few days, that Lucky thinks that my output is extremely interesting, so much so that he heads after it like he’s trying to drink from the garden hose. Needless to say, I don’t want him drinking from the garden hose – not this one, anyway. The result is some very creative aiming on my part and some very creative chasing on his.

This morning, he won.

And that, dear reader(s), is how I came to pee-pee on the puppy.