Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, #3

Hunk of the Week 3: Viggo Mortensen

You/Sweetie Know Him As: Loving family man/psychotic killer in "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises."

I know him as: Aragorn! Thank you, Viggo Mortensen, for finally letting women have something, however tenuous, in common with nerdy guys who read The Lord of the Rings four times in their lifetime!

Reason I Tell Myself Sweetie Likes Him: He saved Middle Earth, resisted the temptation to put on the Ring, and was very kind to hobbits. What's not to like?

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: "He's just so hunky."

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Reason For Liking Him: There is a scene in "Eastern Promises" that lasts what feels like fourteen hours, during which Viggo Mortensen is entirely, as the British say, starkers. And nothing is left to the imagination. Sweetie claims this is irrelevant to her listing him.

Hey, are you seeing a trend here at all? Me, too! Check out the hair! Hunk of the Week 2 here; and Hunk of the Week 1 here.

Something wick-ed this way comes. (It's a pun, and I'm not sorry.)

Where do you get your candles from? I bet you never gave it much thought, did you? I bet you just did what everybody does, and when you needed a candle, you went down across the river -- over that rickety foot bridge that nobody ever feels very safe on, if only because of the troll -- and into the flea market, but what kind of flea market is that, really? It's got all those werewolves roaming around, and everything smells like mint, and in between the tables of antiques there's always those used book sellers with paperback books printed in that weird language, the language that's only spoken by the three-armed blue people, and you only see those people at the flea market anyway, which is weird, too... plus, the last time you went there, they accidentally cloned you and now there's that trouble, too...

I've found a new way to get candles, so we can all breath a little easier -- literally; the mist at the "flea market" never seemed very... healthy did it? Toxic is more the word.

Instead of that, why not go to The Jar Store? Weird how normal and healthy that seems, isn't it? Why didn't we ever think of just having a Jar Store before? Would've saved a lot of trouble, now that I think of it, to have a place where you can just buy jars at wholesale without all the fuss.

We didn't think of it, but the folks at the Jar Store did, and they've got a website selling jars online -- and other kinds of candleware. The jars, the wax, the scents, the wicks, everything you need to just make your candles and get on with your life (without the clones!) and do so quickly and easily. You can sort through the scents and waxes right fast, as they say, and get down to ordering them. If you get stumped, there's a customer service rep waiting to help you by phone or email.

The Jar Store makes it possible for candlemakers and sellers to get their wick on -- that's a candlemaker saying, isn't it? It should be -- without all the trouble of going to the Flea Market or anywhere else for that matter. Which is good, because who wants to drive all over town getting jars and wax? Who wants to try to find that crafts store? Who wants to keep getting hit on by the blue people?

Friday, February 20, 2009

What's that song about? (1)

After putting Noah & The Whale's Jocasta on my upbeat playlist despite it's distinctly downbeat subject matter a while back, I decided maybe I'd give a little more thought to the music I'm listening to, and then I decided that I'd give you a little more thought to the music I'm listening to. Hence, What's That Song About?

Today's entrant: "Oviedo," by Blind Pilot.
Here's what I thought it was about before checking into it: Maybe some Greek philosopher? It kind of sounds like maybe it's about a Greek philosopher. Then again, how many songs are about Greek philosophers? Hey, is that a banjo? I think it is.

Here's the song:

Here's what I think it's about after looking into it: The lyrics say stuff like "The arches here here built 'cause they don't fall... 'Cause I left all my doubts on the airplane..." then they go on to say things like "The lights here are softer than you'd think/The dim lit peacocks in the trees."

Then if you Google "Oviedo," you'll find a lot of hits about towns called "Oviedo" in Florida and northern Spain. Since I've been to Florida and never saw any dim lit peacocks in the trees, and since I did not find my small soul there, I'm going to take a leap of faith and assume it's Oviedo, Spain.

Oviedo, Spain, has apparently been around since 761 and was once ruled by "King Alfonso II The Chaste," a guy who apparently did not understand that being the king can help out with the ladies. (That's him in the picture.)

Modern Oviedo also claims a "remarkable international hold" by virtue of the "Prince Philip Awards" which are "attended by relevant personalities from all over the world."

If only they'd limit attendance at the Oscars to "relevant" personalities.

Breaker 1-9! Breaker 1-9!

One of the great things about the Internet is how it spurs creativity in a way that I don't think any medium of communication has before. Granted, CB radios were a great way for truckers to stay in touch with each other...

... even though the slang was kind of dumb, wasn't it? I don't really get it. Truckers would say stuff like there's a bear in the air to mean a cop in a helicopter. But for that slang to work to alert other truckers, every trucker had to know what it meant - -which meant the cops would know, too, which meant that there's no point speaking in code because the code was already broken, so why not just say "Hey, there's a cop in a helicopter?" ...

... then again, codes used by people almost always are dumb. Right now, in high school, all the students are arbitrarily divided into two or three groups, named "Oak" or "maple" or something. There's no system to dividing them -- they were just assigned a group and based on that group they got assigned a guidance counselor and lunch hour and so on. But the kids have no idea what group they're in, and there's no logical way to figure it out...

Anyway, CB radios and other forms of communication, like steamboat, didn't really spur creativity and connectivity the way the Internet does, a subject I got to thinking about when I came across, a site devoted to redheads and the people who love them. I haven't joined up but it appears to be devoted to all things redhead -- not just people who are redheads and people who like them (although there's a gallery and such for that) but also things written by redheads, and thought by redheads, and even a shop for redheads.

Videos, music, polls, forums -- the site has it all, but it's all Redhead-centric, and that's the first time I've seen something like that, and I like it: the Internet is serving as a way for people to get together and talk and interact in a more creative way -- not just based on geography or biological ties, but people who have something in common -- especially something that's pretty unique and unusual.

So kudos to you,, and kudos to you redheads and redhead-lovers who are flocking there.

Not being a redhead, I'll probably stick with my CB radio a little longer.

Everything's coming up Milhouse.

I think this might be the sign I've been waiting for.

For years now, I've been planning a move to Hawaii. My strategic plan for this move to Hawaii is (a) get rich, then (b) move to Hawaii.

There are those -- Some Guy At Work-- who will say that's not a plan. To them, I say Aloha. Or whatever the Hawaiian word for "quit trying to bring me down, man," is. It's probably "aloha." I've heard that has, like, fourteen different meanings.

Besides which, I don't need a plan when stuff keeps dropping into my lap, like today when I stumble across this site that helps people who are moving to Hawaii get their stuff to Hawaii, too. Which I'll need: I'm not going off to paradise on Earth without my comic books, CD collection and lifetime supply of Cheetos.

The site is run by ABF U-Pack Moving. All I have to do is pack up my stuff, and they drive it there. Or fly, or float it, or transport it through some kind of quantum teleportation device. I'm not sure how they get it to Hawaii. But I don't have to be sure, because all I have to do is pack my stuff and they'll get it there, where I unload it myself.

It's way less expensive than regular movers -- meaning I don't have to be AS rich to complete my move. I'm practically halfway there already. (Take THAT!, Some Guy At Work.)

I looked into it, too, and this place, ABF U-Pack, has a good report with the Better Business Bureau, and sites like give them a great rating.

So that's the first piece of the puzzle: I know how to get my stuff to Hawaii. Next step: scratch-off lottery tickets.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What's the etiquette for this?

This afternoon, I had to meet with a lawyer who wanted to prepare me for testifying in a case coming up in about two weeks. (It's very exciting; I never get called as a witness!).

We were in my office, and he was all dressed in his litigating suit and asking me various questions and taking notes and showing me documents and otherwise doing all the things I usually do to other people (except he wasn't trying to intimidate me and he wasn't trying to act as though he was interested; I usually do those things, too.)

Midway through the interview, I noticed that he was getting a little sweaty and seemed uncomfortable, and kept looking over at my space heater, which I had on, and which I needed on because my ankles are always cold. Always. Just my ankles, too. (They're cold right now, in fact. I wish leg warmers would make a comeback, and I wish they would be for guys, too. Business leg warmers, maybe.)

(Or I wish I could wear thicker socks.)

So anyway, there I am, with my cold ankles, and there he is, sweating, and all I could think was well, I really don't want to turn this off because I'll probably get frostbitten ankles.

But I did. I turned off the space heater and it's freezing in here now. I hope he appreciates it.

Juvie is where Mr F and Mr Bunches are headed if they don't shape up.

When I was a kid, there were two threats my parents would make to us. Given how we behaved, the threats were made on a daily -- if not hourly- basis.

Threat one was "We'll send you to Wales," the home for boys. That was "juvie" for us, back then.

Threat two, and far worse, was "We'll send you to St. John's," which was the military academy near our house where, if we continued to misbehave, we were going to spend the rest of our natural lives, or at least that part of those lives that consisted of the -teen years.

Those threats worked for my parents -- or mostly; eventually, we just moved out and misbehaved as adults. But there's a different, and better way, to end behavior problems: The Total Transformation®

The Total Transformation is a child behavior program developed by a guy who knows the way kids can behave- and knows how to fix that.

The Total Transformation is for people who don't have patience anymore for family therapy or reform school or residential treatment programs, people who want a change for the better now, a lasting change for the better. Instead of artificial programs, The Total Transformation creates lasting behavior changes using at-home tools and techniques that work with your teens to help them learn to cope productively with day-to-day challenges.

The Total Transformation® Program will give you a simple parenting system designed to help your teen handle problems appropriately -- and it gets results, helping parents cope with kids that were overwhelming and bewildering and out of control.

You can find out more by looking at the interactive view of each CD and DVD that comes with the program, or go to here, where there is a quick 15-minute video, called Tools for change, giving a free overview of the program.

Smedley Jenkins Reboot 2: Let's shed some light on this.

Somewhere in space... on a deserted island filled with superheroes fleeing from a robot army... Smedley Jenkins leads his band of people, and the Fax Pig, on a quest...

Smedley: Well, what's going on ...[knocks head into fixture on bridge]...Oww! What the heck was that? Why is it so dim in here? Did the power go out again?

Crewman 1: That's a wall fixture put there by set decorators to create mood. I believe they found it in an old Incan tomb in Peru, braving the mummy's curse to get just the right sconce. Also, similar items are available at that strip mall down the street.

Smedley: Answer my question. I haven't got much time. My ex-wife, with whom I remain surprisingly friendly except when the plot requires me to not be friendly with her, is coming over.

Crewman 2: Coming over? We're somewhere in the middle of space. Didn't you see the opening title sequence?

Smedley: Who can see anything in here? It's practically pitch black. Where's my desk?

Crewman 2: Why do you have a desk on the bridge?

Smedley: Because it keeps the alligators away.

Crewman 2: Ha! I get it. Like that old joke. "How do you know it's working? Well, do you see any alligators here?

Smedley: [STARES BLANKLY AT CREWMAN FOR A MOMENT, THEN TURNS TO CREWMAN 1] I take it nobody told him about the alligators.

Crewman 1: We don't tell him a lot.

Fax Pig: Oink!


Smedley: What the... where's my chair? [FEELS AROUND, LOCATES IT]. Is there some reason we're living in a cave?

Crewman 1: Technically, we are in a cave.

Smedley: I thought we were a small business.

Crewman 1: In a cave. Right.

Smedley: Was Joss Whedon completely unavailable to help out with this show? Why is it so dark? We may be stuck in a cave but does that mean we have to live like vampires?

Previously-unnoticed Crewman 3: Well, I am a vampire. A moody, kind of emo vampire, who also happens to be a pale-skinned, large-fanged deranged vampire that has many batlike qualities, while at the same time maybe being just a serial killer.

Smedley: As long as you're not very threatening to teenager girls. You're not, right?

Crewman 3: Far less threatening than the star quarterback on the football team.

Star Quarterback enters: Did someone call? [BUMPS HEAD INTO INCAN SCONCE]. Ow. What's that? I'm bleeding, I think. I might need some care from a teenage girl who I will then try to seduce, taking shameless advantage of my star power.

Smedley: That's it. We've got to do something. Sorry, Crewman 3/vampire, but it's too dark in here. I can barely tell that Star Quarterback is being played by guest star James Van Der Beek. Since you are a vampire, you're not qualified to help out. Crewman 2!

Crewman 2: Yes, sir!

Smedley: [HANDS GIANT GUN TO CREWMAN 2]: Take this. You'll need it. I need you to go find us some lighting for this cave/retail store.

Crewman 2: What's the gun for?

Smedley: The alligators.

Fax Pig: Oink!


You don't need to brave the alligators or get help from Special Guest Star James Van Der Beek to find quality lighting. All you have to do is head over to "Lighting and Living," an online authorized retailer for many, many, many light makers and suppliers. With their "Best Price Guarantee" you can be assured that you'll get the ... best price... on the light fixtures, and you can quickly and easily comparison shop just by clicking around. Chandeliers, ceiling lights,wall lighting, billiard lights, all kinds of lights and light accessories like mirrors and shades and medallions.

A new lamp or wall light can change the whole look of a room -- and keep you from knocking into those Incan fixtures that decorate your own personal space. Lighting and Living makes it easy and pleasant to do that -- a design team with over 45 years of experience hand picks the most updated design trends to save you valuable time, and valuable money, while still getting you the best quality lights.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Quote of the Day: 13.

I read this yesterday, and then laughed for about five minutes. Last night, I tried to tell the joke to The Boy, but he just stared at me blankly. I can't help it, though; it's one of the funniest lines around.

(It's not so much a quote as it is a comic, but who says I can't quote from a comic? This is America, after all, and we know what that means. This comic is courtesy of "Toothpaste for Dinner," a site that lets you run their comics so long as you link back to them, which presumably means that I won't get sued for trademark infringement since they say I can do it.)

Quote of the Day 12 here.

I am in favor of this on many levels.

If a Croatian hairstylist can do it, then you can, too.

Jana Florisova is the hairstylist in question, and recently she realized what she described as a dream of hers and went in for cosmetic surgery -- breast augmentation, in her case. She didn't do this out of vanity; she did it out of necessity, because she felt her body was asymmetric -- small bust, larger butt -- and whenever she'd gain a little weight, even a little, she'd look all out-of-sorts and hated it, so she (in her words) "got used to constant self-control, diets and exercises, without that the appearance of skinny and tiny figure could hardly retain."

At 27, she went to a clinic and got her breast augmentation. She didn't get anything unnatural, nothing over-the-top or Pamela Anderson-ish; she just got an increase in her bustline-- and happiness:

" Even a week after this my colleagues complimented the way I look, but nobody stared at my chest and I heard no commentary like: “Oh, you have your breasts done?” It was because they simply look like mine. And so they are."

Jana took advantage of the lower Breast Augmentation Prices available in Central Europe. Cosmetic surgery is high-priced in the United States and Britain, but much more affordable in parts of Europe, while the standard of care is the same. So why pay a bundle of money for a simple procedure when you can get top-notch care at clinics across Europe (and maybe combine it with a vacation?) -- or why put off getting some cosmetic surgery because you can't afford the inflated US prices?

Jana didn't; she was able to afford the procedure on a hairdresser's salary, and they've got before and after results for her on the website (that link will take you to it) so you can see the quality of the results. (Guys -- look for business reasons only!)

As a slogan, it beats "In God We Trust" by a mile. (Commutation 7)

The local talk show guy, Sly In The Morning, was discussing some article that must have appeared in the paper complaining about the new "Sonic" restaurant that went up in our city recently. I don't know what the complaint was because I didn't read the story, but I was listening to talk radio for a bit (until I got exasperated by the callers and decided I didn't need that kind of toothache-inducing talk in my ears on the way in. I wish talk radio didn't allow callers, because they always turn everything around to Cuba or make up stories about something that happened to them that's too ridiculous to have ever happened.)

But, before I turned off the talk radio and put on music, one caller made my day with a stirring recapitulation of what the U.S. Constitution is all about. Taking the newspaper article to task for complaining about a drive-in restaurant, this caller said:

"This is America. We can eat where we want!"

Bonus: If you click here, you'll find a bizarre website that is a "Tribute to the Giant Hamburger Eating Dude." (That's the guy shown on this post.)

Read Commutation Number 6 here.

Little boys digging catacombs for corpses? Old women resorting to cannibalism to avoid demons searching for her soul? Ghosts in churches, wives returned from the dead, haunted basements, obituary writers with supernatural powers… All of these people can be found at AfterDark: the website that publishes serialized short horror stories. Remember: the scariest things, you CAN’T imagine.

I will call him "Calendar Man." Or "La Man-O Da Calendario."

Bookmark this page: - -and set your calendar to see the "Watch of the Week."

Can you set a calendar? Why not? If we can electronically download books and my cell phone has an alarm clock, why doesn't my calendar have an attachment that lets me not only set it to remind me about a certain day, but also to play a little musical number when that day arrives? My computer will notify me, but all it does is make this weird "bingkb!" noise. I wish my calendar could be "set."

I'm not sure of the spelling of bingkb, either, so I went all phonetic on it.

The "Watch of the Week" is a special promotion set up by Bacario, a word that I think means "Discount Luxury Watches", or, if it doesn't mean that, it's at least synonymous with that because Bacario has a bingkb! full of luxury watches at way-under-retail price. Take the "Watch of the Week" for this week (shown on this post), the Technomarine Cruise Special 2008 Olympic Edition. It ordinarily sells for $375, but Bacario will give it to you for just $240 (with free shipping) -- and you can't beat that with a wet noodle.

There's a list of watch brands and makers as long as my arm for sale on the site, plus they sell earrings, necklaces, pendants and rings -- so if your ladylove already has a watch, you could pick up some sweet jewelry for her with the same excellent Bacario prices -- all backed by the Bacario low price guarantee.

So figure out a way to set your calendar -- I plan on hiring someone to stand by my calendar and sing out alerts in an Italian accent whenever a certain day comes up -- and keep an eye on Bacario for the Watch of the Week. Or, you know, just go there and take advantage of their everyday low prices and buy a watch today. It's your choice.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood: Mixtape Number 2

A mixtape full of people you know, or want to know, or maybe DON'T want to know:

"Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla," -- Schoolhouse Rock: (If there is one song I want to learn all the lyrics to, it's this one.

"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," The Beatles: (Shouldn't Mr Kite be running the carnival in Something Wicked This Way Comes)

"Sweet Jane," Cowboy Junkies: (Warning: Very Sad!)

"Vera" -- Pink Floyd: (She's probably Sweet Jane's Mom.)

"Baby Fratelli" -- The Fratellis: (Let's hope this isn't your little sister.)

Green Hornet (Al Hirt): (Trumpets + Superheroes = cool)

"Pamela Brown," -- Leo Kottke (This is kind of a love song sort of -- but with a twist.)

"Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner," Warren Zevon: (The guy Mr Kite sends to do his dirty work.)

"Lucky Seven Samson" -- Schoolhouse Rock. (Okay, so I could blame this on having kids. But I got the CD on my own.)

Then again, a 40 year old doing a keg stand is kind of ridiculous. Or cool. Probably more ridiculous, though.

At 40, I don't have to worry so much about planning for spring break vacations, but we've got Middle and The Boy who are planning on going off to college in the next two years, and there's always Oldest, who I'm sure will continue to take part in all the fun aspects of the college-age years without the drudgery of actually attending classes.

If they're going to take spring breaks, though, I can at least insist that they be smart about it. Make sure, for example, that their bail money is in traveler's checks because most jails don't take debit cards. (Don't ask me how I know that.) And plan it the right way -- using Xtreme Trips -- -- to plan the ultimate (or Xtreme-timate?) spring break: get the best time for the lowest cost.

And what spring breaks these are! Acapulco, the Bahamas -- it's a far cry from Fort Lauderdale and 15 people in a hotel room. This site has searchable trips and incredible prices once you find the one you want. There's even a way to be a rep for the company and travel for free by organizing the trip for a group of people.

I can't keep them from going on spring break -- and looking over that site, maybe I don't want to. In fact, maybe I want to go on Spring Break.

Immortal Cheese: The Found Alphabet: A

About two years ago, Sweetie and I were walking around a mall. She was shopping. I was accompanying. I began looking at the signs and tags and clothes and cars and license plates and seeing the variety of styles and fonts that were used. I then began taking pictures of the various letters whenever I found them interesting, for whatever reason.

That's the story behind The Found Alphabet, which I'll begin today with all-new pictures of the letters I come across in my life, and the reason why I like them.

This "a" was on the wall at the grocery store where I stopped to get Sweetie's gift card for Valentine's Day. She likes the salad bar they have in the store and goes there on weekends to get herself a fresh salad.

I like the fact that on the walls at the store, there are quotes about food that make grocery shopping seem a little more philosophical and a little less a chore.

This "a" was in the quote "Food is our common ground, a universal experience." That's not my favorite quote in the store, though. My favorite quote is: Cheese: Milk's leap toward immortality.

From dry cleaners to Paris Hilton? Isn't it usually the other way around? (Commutation 6)

This morning on the way into work, I noticed an example of what I will dub Christmas Lag -- the opposite of "Christmas Creep," where Christmas arrives earlier and earlier in the stores and on TV.

You've seen examples of "Christmas Lag" when you see those people who keep their Christmas tree up well into February and continue to light their Christmas lights up, too, even though the snow is actually starting to melt (an illusory action, given that we're set to get 2 or 3 inches today.)

Anyway, this morning's high point of the drive was a sign up at a dry cleaners reminding people that for the "holiday shopping" they should keep in mind a gift card from a dry cleaner's.

We are, as of today, 54 days past Christmas, 48 days past New Year's Eve, and even 3 days past Valentine's Day (nothing says romance like paying for your Sweetie to get their laundry done, right?)

I suppose it could be a St. Patrick's Day promotion, at this point, but do people really give St. Patrick's Day gifts?

Then again, I wore my "A Christmas Story" t-shirt last night to run errands, so I guess my prediction that eventually Christmas will take over the world is probably true. I imagine that's how the universe will come to an end: A cataclysmic clash between the Spirit of Christmas and Paris Hilton, each vying for control of the portion of the universe that's been taken over by the other, with only one surviving.

Paris Hilton vs. Christmas would be an incredible movie.

Also: The picture is from a news story about a guy who created a Christmas shrine to Paris Hilton.

(Isn't it fascinating when you treat yourself like a tourist in your own life? Commutation 5 here.

Today's Best Commuting Song: "Play Something We Know," By Adam Hood:

Little boys digging catacombs for corpses? Old women resorting to cannibalism to avoid demons searching for her soul? Ghosts in churches, wives returned from the dead, haunted basements, obituary writers with supernatural powers… All of these people can be found at AfterDark: the website that publishes serialized short horror stories. Remember: the scariest things, you CAN’T imagine.

I'd like to blame the peanut butter on the Babies! but they don't eat it.

I'm looking down at my footwear and noticing a couple of things. First, the shoelaces are uneven again and that's going to bug me today. Second, I appear to have peanut butter on one of them and I'm not sure what's up with that.

Third, my shoes are not very manly.

Okay, they're not manly at all.

My job is not very manly. I don't often require rugged footwear around the office -- lawyering doesn't impose a lot of demands on the feet, other than maybe keeping the peanut butter off of them (and on the briefs, where it belongs! ba dum bum.) (On second thought, I don't get that joke, either.)

That doesn't keep me from wanting some cool manly footwear, something that would say to the world Hey, this guy does a cool manly job even though I don't. Something like the Magnum Boots you can buy at CopShoes.

Even that name is manly.

These Magnum boots are leather, waterproof, anti-fray, anti-bacterial --and that's cool, because if you need that, then your job requires your footwear to be able to kill living organisms that are attacking you, so you're like an astronaut or explorer or something -- and they have something called "Ballistic nylon."

I'm pretty sure my shoes are not ballistic anything. They're just black. And peanut butter colored, in spots.

The Magnum boots are on sale on the CopShoes website -- where they not only have real boots for real jobs, but real people to answer your phone calls and emails in their customer service department (which is one of the best around), because if you wear those kind of boots, you don't have time for "autoreply" emails and phone trees -- you want to get in and order your boots online, get your questions answered, and have them shipped, because you've got fires to put out, bad guys to catch, planets to explore, peanut-butter-shoe-wearing lawyers to stomp on.

Wait, what was that last one?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Question of the Day: 46

How would you test how many words you know with any accuracy?

I was thinking about this last night, wondering just how big of a vocabulary I might have. I figured maybe I know 20,000 words. Then I wondered how I could test that. Go look in a dictionary and see if I know the words and keep a running tally? But if I did that, wouldn't I be increasing my vocabulary as I went, because I'd know each word as I read it -- so I'd be chasing after a goal I could never reach.

The pictures are from my drive with Mr F yesterday to help him get to sleep when his stomach hurt. I liked the varieties of wine this liquor store was offering:

I know my wife didn't.

You know, if you ever decide to decorate that office of yours with something beside the Hang in there, it's almost Friday kitten, or if, God forbid, you decide to take down the ol' beer can pyramid and upgrade the decorations in your house, you could do no better than to check out the canvas art available at Art like this:

Nice, huh? A little three-piece canvas deal with a Dali-esque feel about it, something that when important people -- mother-in-law, Paul Simon, whoever, drops by, you can have them look at it and say "This is a guy with class. Yeah, he married my daughter/constantly accuses me of stealing the idea for You Can Call Me Al from him, but he knows his art."

The wall art available from says that about you; it says, in fact, more than just he's a disappointing son-in-law/he's nuts. It says that you have an appreciation for the finer things in life, you understand what real art is all about, and it says, too, that you're smart enough to not pay a million bucks for a painting.

It says that because the items at are reasonably priced. That little number up there will set you back only $249, which is way below the list price. And they're offering free shipping right now, so you save on that, too. They've got pieces ranging from 12" to 72". So you could get some smaller ones for the office and surprise the family with a new focal point for the living room.

You could always put the beer can pyramid in the bedroom. I'm sure your wife won't mind.

I Read The News Today Oh Boy: (For Saturday, February 14, 2009!)

Saturday, February 14, was Valentine's Day! So Sweetie and I were looking forward to a day full of romance and love and, if everything worked out, a dinner at the Irish pub-restaurant where I got some discount gift certificates at Christmas so I threw them in as an extra present for Sweetie and we haven't used them yet!

See, I was in charge of picking up the presents for our bosses. Everyone in the office pitched, so we had $90 per boss. One boss got a gift certificate for the Irish restaurant near his house. When I went there to get it, they had a deal that if you bought $100 worth of gift certificates, you'd get $20 free. So I threw in $10 of my own money and got the extra free-$20, gave the $90 in certificates to the boss, and gave Sweetie the $30 leftover.

Follow all that math?

I'm pretty sure that was ethical, right? On to Valentine's Day!

6:10 a.m. In order, when I wake up, I go start the computer, then I have to feed Stormy Jet Risotto, who will howl until I do that. This used to not be my job but somehow I ended up doing it.

6:12 a.m.: It snowed last night. I make an executive decision to not go get the paper just yet.

7:15 a.m.: The Babies! are up. Kind of. Mr F isn't feeling well -- he was kind of sick the day before, but we're hoping for the best and that he perks up so we can go get some of that... Irish food. What do the Irish eat, anyway? I bet it's a lot of potatoes and cabbage. Meanwhile, Mr Bunches has his favorite orange shirt on and is helping me with my 'puting by throwing Sweetie's in-box.

The contents of Sweetie's in-box before he threw it? A "Target" advertising circular and the most recent Cosmopolitan.

9:00 a.m.: Mr F is still not feeling well. So Mr Bunches and I are sitting with him in his room and trying to watch a video Mr F likes. This is made more difficult because Mr F has a fever, and because Mr Bunches likes to stand on his chair and press his face up against the TV screen. He's either kissing the puppets onscreen, or trying to get the static electricity of the screen to flow into him.

By 9:30, Mr Bunches will have lost the privilege of having his chair in his room, and he will have to resort to taking a laundry basket and turning that upside down to stand on and touch the TV. Later today, Sweetie and I will discuss whether Mr Bunches should have any furniture in his room.

10:15 a.m.: Errand time. First stop, the Walgreen's to get some stuff to help Mr F. This is the graveyard across from that Walgreen's. I thought it was more scenic than Walgreen's itself.

Ever notice that if you go visit a graveyard in some other city, it's okay, but if you visit a graveyard in your own city, people think it's weird and ghoulish? I wonder why that is.

Not pictured: Mr Bunches, as we are checking out, decides to make a break for it and heads for the automatic doors, so I have to bolt after him and drag him back, but he runs in a big circle and heads behind the cash register, where he grabs the cashier's broom and tries to knock stuff off the shelves. While I am trying to pull that out of his hands, the cashier says "Would you like to buy a candy bar for only $1.50?"

"Um... no," I say, and struggle to cling to Mr Bunches while I finish up paying. When I tell Sweetie about this, later, she says "It's a promotion they're having. If they don't ask you that, you get a free candy bar."

Update: On Sunday, when I go to get more medicine for Mr F, the cashier does not ask me if I'd like to buy a candy bar. But I opted against making a big deal out of it.

Back to Saturday:

10:30 a.m.: We stop off at the library after Walgreen's. Mr Bunches spent most of his time playing with this thing, the giant-block-with-bead-roller-coasters on it.

Near us was a guy with two little boys, one of whom was about 4. The dad was telling the 4-year-old that he could only get one book. The kid looked broken-hearted. I kept wondering why? Why only one book at the library? But it wasn't my place to interfere. Also, Mr Bunches was trying to throw pop-up books at other kids.

11:00 a.m. After finishing up at the library, apologizing to the parents of the other little kids, and taking a short walk around the block, it's time to saddle up for the ride back home. But first, we detour past the house, above, that I'm stalking.

11:05 a.m.: Also, I really like this house. I've added it to my route through this subdivision.

1:00 p.m.: The Babies! are in their beds. Mr F is still really sick. Sweetie and I have opted to find out what Irish food is, and whether it's romantic, on some other day and will spend the afternoon just hanging out. These flowers are part of my gifts to her for Valentine's Day -- I got her flowers and some books she wanted to read and a gift card for the store she likes to go and get salads at.

She got me a set of very beautiful portraits of her, because I'm always complaining that I have no good pictures of her (she ducks away from the camera). She also got me candy, and two t-shirts -- one reads "Gaius Balter 2008" and the other says I'm the 5th Cylon.

I would have been a better choice than Ellen The Cylon.

1:36 p.m.: I'm exhausted. Time to heat up some coffee in my "I Went to College and It Was Okay" mug. Then I will use all that newfound energy to go read Entertainment Weekly the way I always read it: From back to front.

4:30 p.m.: Sweetie would like pizza for dinner, and because it's Valentine's Day, I'll do it. Because I was reading an article in Newsweek just before getting up to make dinner, I will first put on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue on Youtube to see what the big deal is and whether jazz is, after all, worth listening to.

4:39 p.m.: It's not. I put on The Housemartins' "People Who Grinned Themselves To Death" instead.

6:15 p.m.: Dinner's over and it's time for baths. Mr F hasn't really eaten or drunk much all day, and barely enjoys his bath. Even shampoo space antennas can't cheer him up.

6:16 p.m.: Quick: Brian Setzer, or Mr Bunches? Only their mothers know for sure!

6:45 p.m.: Toweled off, into pajamas, and I'm sitting in the Babies! room with Mr F on my lap as he tries to fall asleep watching The Incredibles. Pictured: Sweetie in the doorway, reading one of the books I gave her by the light in the hallway. You can kind of see Mr Bunches flopped at her feet.

10:30 p.m.: After the Babies! finally fell asleep, we joined Middle for a romantic, Valentine's Day viewing of Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist, which was an okay movie with one great line at the end -- a line which I'm going to repeat here, so [INDIE/TEEN/HIPSTER MOVIE GREAT LINE SPOILER ALERT!]:

Nick and Nora leave the big concert at the end, the one they've been looking for all along, and as they fall in love/go down an escalator, Nora says: "Are you sorry you missed it?"

To which Nick says: "We didn't miss it. This IS it."

Three things that are really cool: Elton John. Las Vegas. Me.

Last night, The Boy was watching TV while I was trying to keep Mr F happy as he got over his flu. A piece of classical music came on TV and The Boy said "If they didn't tell you, would you know that was by Beethoven?"

I said "Yes," and reminded him that I knew a lot about classical music because I'd taken piano lessons for 12 years.

"Is there anything that you do that isn't lame?" he asked me, and I took issue with that.

"Playing piano isn't cool?" I asked him, before reminding him of the many cool rock stars who play piano and make awesome music and have had excellent careers. Guys like Elton John -- who I find out this morning is playing Las Vegas soon.

Imagine: Elton John Las Vegas. Is there a better combination to be had out there? (Besides chocolate ice cream and maple syrup, I mean?) Elton John's always been over the top and wild and fun, just like Las Vegas. Put the two of them together, and they'll add up to more than the sum of their parts -- like when oil and water combine. Oil and water combine, don't they? Maybe they don't.

Actually, Elton John and Las Vegas would probably combine more like those two little tubes that spies carry that they then mix together and throw and it blows up half of Oregon -- only more musical and less "destruction-of-the-Pacific-Northwest." It seems that Sir Elton is going to do "Elton John and The Red Piano," at Caesars Palace: him, a red piano, a band, giant LED videos of risque scenes, suggestive blow-ups: that's what "Rocket Man" and "Crocodile Rock" have always been missing, isn't it?

You can get tickets through, if you're interested -- and I don't see how you can't be. I mean, it's Elton John and Las Vegas. That practically hollers "cool." Just like me. I holler "cool," too. Then I go back to reading my comic books.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Triumph of Tenacity Over Nature. (Sunday's Poem Number 6)

Spring is like a perhaps hand

by E. E. Cummings

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

Yesterday's morning snowfall melted away in the afternoon and then refroze this morning on the steps, making me have to walk carefully when I went out to get the paper, and then walk carefully again when I left with my coffee to go to the office.

But it didn't matter that there was ice on the stairs. When snow melts away in an afternoon, spring is on the way, no matter how hard winter clings.

And it didn't matter that I was going to the office before I read the Sunday paper, because the comics in the Sunday paper are pretty awful.

Sunday's Poem Number 5, here.

Also, she ate most of our cookies that night.

Back just before Christmas, Oldest and her boyfriend ran into car troubles-- in that they had no cars to get around in. The boyfriend's car had broken down (much like the boyfriend) and they were relying on Oldest's car as their sole source of transportation. Then Oldest's got a flat tire.

Now, I don't know why she doesn't have a spare, just like I don't know why they didn't go get the boyfriend's car fixed up. But I do know that the whole deal found us going to pick up Oldest late at night at her apartment on the bad side of town, with the Babies! in the car, and then driving her out to where her boyfriend was visiting his parents to drop something off before she came to have dinner with us. (No, I don't know why she wasn't having dinner with the boyfriend, either. I've learned not to ask.)

What I do know is that one of Payday Tree's payday loans might have helped them out and saved us the drive. Payday Tree's site is an easy-to-use website that connects borrowers to lenders; fill out the form and for 99% of you, they'll hook you up with a payday lender who could put cash into your bank account in 24 hours.

Payday Loans need to be used carefully; they're for emergencies only and they charge, generally, more interest than banks or credit cards, so if they're not used right they can be expensive. But used correctly -- used for emergencies and borrowing only what you need -- they can get you through a tight spot until you get paid this week.

And they can keep you from having to have your whole family pile into the car and come pick you up just to have some pork chops with them.