Story Time

Jan. 17th, 2008 08:22 pm
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Today's weather reminds me of my childhood, when school would be canceled and we'd all rush outside to listen for the wretched howls of the abdominal snowman. Suburban lore told us kids of the white beast that only woke from its slumber on snowy days whereupon it roamed the square mile of forest between housing developments, looking for lost children to eat.

"Now, don't you kids go wandering in that forest," our parents would say. "The abdominal snowman will get you and swallow you whole."

I believed them for twenty years. One day, during winter break from college, it snowed. Snowed like a blizzard. I wanted nothing more than to see the abdominal snowman. I could hear the terrible cries of the beast, sounding like a tuneless yodel between mountain tops. I followed it deep into the forest, at least a hundred yards. There, peeking out from behind an abandoned refrigerator, was a white, fur covered beast, ape-like and eight feet tall. At least, I figured It would be eight feet tall if It hadn't been doubled over, clutching Its stomach with Its great hairy hands. It moaned and cried, with look of anguish on Its face.

"Are you the abdominal snowman?" I asked.

"Yes-s-s-s-s, ohhhhhh, oowowowowoow," It said.

"Are you going to eat me?"

"Are you kidding?" It said, ceasing Its howling for a moment. It looked at me as if I were crazy before saying, "About 10 years ago I ate a kid. Just one kid. I've been horribly ill ever since then."

It doubled over, clutched Its stomach, and groaned long and low.

"Well, sir," I said. "There's a reason I always carry a bottle of ipecac syrup around with me. Here, drink this down."

The monster drank the ipecac. It dropped the bottle and before the glass hit the ground, the beast was heaving behind the refrigerator. What a ghastly sound. I can't bear to describe It. When It was done, It stood up straight to a height of eight feet.

"Thank you! Thank you!" It said. It smiled and ran to me, grabbing me in a loving bear hug. "I haven't felt this good in over 10 years! I promise you, from now one I'm eating only berries, twigs, and squirrels."

The beast walked off into the forest.

After It had gone and I couldn't help myself. I was too curious to go home without looking behind that refrigerator to see what had been making the creature ill for 10 years. Imagine my surprise when I saw a human, a young woman, lying there in the snow. She was still breathing and looked to be at least 18 years old. She had survived 10 years in the belly of the Abdominal Snowman only to be sicked up at my feet. That, my friends, is how I met my wife.
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Today, while rummaging around in piles of rubbish looking for something to eat, [livejournal.com profile] krasota found an issue of an old trade magazine for which I worked as an editorial intern back in my young, dashing, and altogether sexy past. I traveled a minimum of an hour and fifteen minutes--car, train, and walking--from the suburbs in which I grew up to this job in Center City Philadelphia. Not long into the first real commute of my life, I decided this lifestyle was invented by masochistic idiots. Still, I did end up doing quite a lot of commuting both in and out of Philly and all over the Washington DC area. However, now, as you may know, through a carefully calibrated accidental combination of both fortunate and unfortunate circumstances, I actually no longer have a commute. I telecommute. Over 11 years ago, published in that very periodical [livejournal.com profile] krasota pulled from a rubbish pile that may or may not have been edible, was an article I wrote declaring telecommuting to be the way of the future. If you aren't bored yet, you may wish to read the article.

P.S. Here's a shout out to my homey [livejournal.com profile] flynnk with whom I shared that first commute. "Memo to myself: do the dumb things I gotta do. Touch the puppet head."
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A danish asthmatic and man with no legs both climb a mountain. One says to the other, "We're gonna die up here." "Great! Let's take a picture!"

I watched the first season of Discovery Channel's Everest: Beyond the Limit. If you are remotely curious about mountaineering, it's worth watching. This first season follows a team of climbers making a summit attempt on Everest in 2006, a notorious year in the mountain's climbing history, when a large number of deaths occurred, one of which was a highly publicized story that brought a fair amount of negative attention to this extreme sport.

While climbing Everest remains at the outer limits of human ability, it is getting increasingly accessible through technology and experienced expedition leaders. I won't be surprised if sherpas open a gift shop in the death zone someday to take advantage of the traffic.
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Sam & Ella's Chicken Shack.

Come for the hot wings, stay for the enterobacteria.
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Courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] ashbet, via someone else.

Two of my favorite people making beautiful music together. Shakira vs. Danzig.
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After discovering my quiet solo eye doctor who works out of a closet in Wal-Mart does not accept my new vision insurance, I was forced to go to a new place to which I'd rather not return. It's like the Mega-Church of eye care. The employees all have a cult-like happy demeanor and carry around spiked kool-aid just in case the boss says "Drink!" They bamboozle you with bright lights and expensive decorations before shuttling you off to see young, very attractive doctors that make you feel like you did when you climbed the rope in gym class before dilating your pupils, spinning you around in circles, wafting incense up your nose, and putting you on a conveyor belt that carries you straight to the department where you must buy new frames with your lenses and where they try to convince me I need to buy anti-reflective coating. "Never!" I cried. "Never again! I can't keep it clean! Nor will I buy your magical space-age eye photo x-ray picture treatment!" I ran, screaming. But I have new glasses now.
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Ecotourism Facilitator. That is my younger brother's new title as a member of the Peace Corps. He is leaving tomorrow morning for the remote mountains of Guatemala where he will stay for two years. My parents just don't understand him. They can't figure out why he doesn't get a nice 9 to 5 desk job. I can't wait to make their heads spin when I leave my stable job to join Cirque du Soleil. That is my inevitable future. Why do you think I'm doing all the yoga and singing lessons?
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The Old Testament! Long time readers may remember my attempt to write goofy Bible satires. I got as far as Leviticus. Beyond the Book of Numbers (for which I had a good idea, but never the time to write), it was getting harder to find the inspiration. So, that didn't last. However, I did not stop reading. I read it all, including the Apocryphal and Deuterocanonical books. I took about three years to do it. I couldn't read it straight through, so I took many breaks to read other things. I have not yet read the New Testament, but I will be getting to that in the next year or so.

In honor of a new report by the National Academy of Sciences emphasizing the importance of teaching evolution in public schools (and my listening to an NPR discussion about it), I'm posting my reaction to reading The Old Testament. It's not as deep and eloquent as I'd like, but the baby doesn't give me much time for scholarly writing. I wish I had more time and energy to cite more specific examples for each topic and elaborate more, but I don't have it in me at this time. So...here's my draft that will stay forever rough.

The Good Ol' Testament )
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My yoga instructor looks absolutely beautiful when executing this pose (demonstrated by someone who is not my instructor). Seriously. She's a living work of art. During a practice recently, I did this same asana. I was rocking it like a hurricane. I'm thinking, "Damn, I feel pretty." But it didn't take me long to remember that I'm a man. I'm not even an androgynous 20-something anymore. I can't look "pretty" in that pose. I look more like a rusty old ship anchor. I even have barnacles in places the sun don't shine.

Edit: All right then. Pictures without barnacles. This is me without make-up and special effects. What did I tell you? This is me gussied up and with a helping hand.
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So I'm helping my son stand by propping him up on the couch, where he holds the back of the couch for support. If he falls on the couch, it won't hurt. Indeed, it does not hurt. In fact, it's fun. He likes to pull his hands away and fling himself backward. Falling and laughing, over and over. This may not end well when he stands on the hardwood floor.

My kid, the daredevil. When he grows up, he'll be in the circus doing high dives into an ordinary glass of water.
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This journal shall return to its regularly scheduled silence until I return from Florida. Until then, a stupid joke: What did George W. Bush get on his SATs? Barbecue sauce.
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Nearly every night since Halloween, [livejournal.com profile] krasota has eaten a small box of Nerds candy while lying in bed with the baby. Prone positions and pouring tiny candy do not mix, so she is constantly dropping Nerds between the sheets. Normally, I get yelled at for leaving crumbs in the bed, but she views her slovenly behavior as an asset. Every morning, she wakes up to find Nerds under her pillow. It's as if some tooth fairy is leaving sugar in the night, encouraging her to lose teeth. Krasota never fails to be pleasantly surprised and gleefully eats the candy. I think I'll start eating some eggs and oatmeal at night, making sure to drop some near my pillow.
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I have been diagnosed with a "not bad" case of patello femoral syndrome. Short explanation: my knee sometimes hurts. Longer explanation: of the two major muscles running the length of my thigh which are responsible for stabilizing the kneecap, one is stronger than the other, resulting in unbalanced tension on my knee that can cause it to slip out of place. Simple physical therapy will correct it. However, in a worst case scenario, if the strength of the outside muscle approaches infinity and the strength of the inside muscle approaches negative infinity (what you might call infinite atrophy), then flexing my leg will result in my kneecap firing into the sky like a clay pigeon, whereupon an intrepid sportsman will rise up from a previously unseen duck blind and blast it with a shotgun.
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On a cold winter night what better book is there to read than one that describes the myriad ways you can die above the Arctic Circle. I highly encourage anyone who loves hypothermia to get their frost-bitten hands on The Terror by Dan Simmons and thank your lucky stars the book is not made of metal, otherwise your flesh would freeze to it. With the help of his extraordinary research skills, Simmons offers a fictional account of what may have happened during Sir John Franklin's effort to force the Northwest Passage in 1845, weaving every known fact about the expedition into a frightening and fascinating tale. This is easily one of the author's best novels; beautiful, harrowing, and so cold your teeth will explode.
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Acquire one pound of fresh red chiles through subterfuge or exchange of currency (your choice). When the chiles least expect it, for the element of surprise improves the flavor of any dish, scream and chop them viciously, being careful to remove the stems and bottoms. Keep the seeds. Prior to washing your hands, rub your eyes vigorously to have the complete experience of cooking with red chiles. From the tears of pain that gush down your face, extract 1/4 cup of salt. Mix 3.5 tablespoons of that salt thoroughly with the chiles. Place the mixture in a glass jar and cover with the remaining salt. Seal the jar. Dig a hole in your yard. Now bury that jar for two to three weeks (or keep it in any cool dry place if you prefer). Thereafter, refrigerate the jar. Voila! Zombie like chiles that will last for months in your fridge.

Heat 3 tablespoons of peanut or canola or safflower oil. Cook 1.5 tablespoons of the chiles until fragrant. Then, stir fry anything. Cabbage, chicken, an old leather shoe. Top it off with a tablespoon of sesame oil. There, now you have a simple but authentic Hunanese dish. The secret is, of course, Chopped Salted Chiles. Duo la jiao.
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My grandmother, an accomplished accordion player from the mid to late triassic period, is now old enough that she can no longer heft the weight of the instrument well enough to play it. She is giving the accordion to me. If I can learn to play it half as well as I can play the piano, I should go busking on the downtown mall, singing and playing on the accordion just one song: Black Sabbath's "War Pigs".
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It's a good thing babies have armpits. Otherwise, they'd slip right out of your hands every time you try to pick them up.
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The smashed glass of the driver's side rear window of a 1995 Buick looks like a pile of shaved blue ice when it hits the city street. I suppose that would be the same of any car, but in my case it was the Buick. You could say the car had it coming. A date with destiny. Looking back, the car had no chance to deviate from a path that seemed predetermined, just like a projectile moving in its predictable parabola will always land where you expect when you know all the variables involved.

Thursday, the serpentine belt fell off right in front of [livejournal.com profile] nannar's house. I muscled the car, which had lost its power steering, to the side of the road in a cloud of engine smoke. If the car had died anywhere else, I would have had it towed immediately. Friday, [livejournal.com profile] krasota was very ill. If she hadn't been sick, forcing her to stay inside, she would have had a look at the car and had it towed that afternoon. Saturday, we had an annual Apple Festival to attend and I had to rock out with Terminal Ready. Also, our usual repair shop doesn't work on the weekends, so we weren't in a hurry to get the car towed. This scenario forced the car to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I didn't see it coming because I was more concerned with Saturday night's show.

And the show was great. Tacit Act looks like a promising new band. The Last Dance was splendid, as always. And we, Terminal Ready, brought the rock. We brought the rock and dropped it like a bomb on the Outback Lodge. We dropped it so hard the rock burst apart, sending chunks flying. One chunk of rock landed two miles away, punching a hole in the Buick's window. The next day, I met the woman who called the Police to report the "vandalism." She called just after 11pm Saturday, which was around the same time Terminal Ready threw down the rock. I got the call from the Charlottesville police around 1:30am Sunday morning alerting me to the smashed window. I headed over to meet the young man (the cops around here look like high school kids) and provided him with the information to fill out the report. I just gave him the basics, my identifying information. I didn't tell him that Terminal Ready had just unleashed a meteor shower upon the city. I did a little forensics work and discovered scraps of pumpkin littering the street. Some of its guts were still hanging from the bits of glass left in the door.

Needless to say, I was a little disappointed. Here I thought it was carnage from the rock bomb that exploded on stage. But it appeared to be a mere pumpkin. And on November 3. What kind of wahoo yahoo commits vandalism with a pumpkin in November? You're supposed to fire those things at private property no later than Halloween. Was it some street urchin, I wondered? Some roving band of slack jawed teenagers? Or was it Nannar's neighbor? The old lady. You know, the one with the stooped walk and the hump on her back. You know what that fucking hump is? It's a pumpkin cannon. She chambered a round in that hump, hobbled over to my crippled car, ducked her head just a little bit so as to not blast her head off, and torpedoed my car. Satisfied with that conclusion I went home and to bed.

But the next morning! The next morning I found the rock! There was damage to the passenger side door on the inside. No pumpkin inside the car! I found the rock wedged between the back seat and the door where it had come to rest at the end of its inevitable trajectory. The pumpkin had me fooled. The old lady might have blasted the side of our car, but that was harmless tomfoolery. Behold, dear readers, it was a shard from the rock that Terminal Ready brought. Blackened. Scorched. A single rhine-stone embedded in its craggy surface and wrapped in a pair of panties that it caught on its way off the stage. My Buick never had a chance.
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...and you know they will never be whack.

If my son continues to gain weight at the same rate at which he has been putting on pounds in the first 5 months of his life, by the time he is ten years old he should weigh approximately 7,516,192,768 pounds.

Awesome.

In other curiosities...I thought you could find anything on the internet. But I can't find the lyrics to The Fat Boys song "My Nuts." I remember one Thanksgiving dinner when my little brother insisted that everyone at the table listen to the song "My Nuts" over and over. I'd like to continue this tradition with my boy.
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OK, I am long overdue for a "my wife is crazy" post. Now, I know--the term should not be used lightly, but if she were wrapped in cellophane, she'd be mistaken for a Payday candy bar. Anyhow, I often try to forget just how crazy my wife is. You'd think this would be hard given her night terrors (oh! the screaming) and odd choice in houseguests (Ganesh! He ate all my peanuts), but those are but charming diversions. And her habit of playing Head and Shoulders, Knees and Tentacles with my firstborn son is really just a peculiar quirk.

The real problem is monsters and their chosen abode. My wife believes that monsters reside under our bed--any bed, really.

Oh, ho, ho! you think. She just has a vivid imagination.

No. My wife thinks Labyrinth is a documentary.

She's rather fond of monsters, in theory, but she fears the practical application of their talents--such as eating her feet. To this end, she stuffs as much as she can under the bed, assuring me that monsters live in transdimensional spaces, so she's not infringing upon their natural habitat, but merely using some handy storage. I swear, she fit a couple of kayaks under the bed, so maybe she's right about the transdimensional space. Plus, she points out, the more she puts under the bed, the more obstacles the monsters will stub their claws on, so she'll hear them coming when they try to nibble her toes.

So, I watch the floor, just in case. I have to admit, if I saw a lone glove scuttling out from the footboard, chased by a spool of packing tape and a Russian pool safety poster ca. 1993, I'd be a bit worried. I might even put away the straitjacket.

Anyhow, this is all academic. Most of the time I forget about her queer ideas. My life was happily (albeit sleepily) meandering along in blissful ignorance until tonight.

As usual, she waited until 10pm to start a project. Tonight's project: sidecarring the crib to our bed, so that she could move the baby over (he's been sleeping between us) and enjoy her half of our queen size mattress once again. Her side of the bed had been pressed up against the side-rail of the crib. Our room is too small to do otherwise. Also, we never put the baby in the crib because we didn't have the heart to drop him in the cage at night. Anyhow, she left me with a sleepy babe and ran to the bedroom, claiming she was going to shower in "just a minute". I eventually go in there to find that she's pretty much done with the sidecarring and she is covered with dust instead of being showered. The crib is cozied up next to our bed without the side-rail and the gap between the beds is filled in. So, while we don't have a "master bedroom" we now have a Master Bed, complete with an addition that could double as a den (it's got nice wood paneling on 3 sides) and a Master Bath (if you consider how often the baby will poop there).

She decides to take her shower and comments offhand "Well, I won't need the body pillow anymore."

For the last seven weeks, she's been pressed against a body pillow, which was in turn pressed against the side of the crib. I have no idea why she was willing to lose a foot of her space, but I didn't say anything, figuring she was probably doing some sort of somnabulent reclining to ease her sciatica. I shouldn't have asked, but I did.

"Um, why won't you need the body pillow?"

"Because the gap is closed over. Monsters can't come up that way."

Yes. For SEVEN weeks, she has slept in a tiny amount of space, turned on her side, because of the possibility that SOMETHING might squeeze through the bars of the crib after crawling from under our bed to under the crib. I point out that the bars were only 2" apart.

"Tentacles."

So there you have it. My wife has disrupted her precious sleep over the chance that something with tentacles will slither up from dimensions beyond any sane comprehension.

Tonight's a Glenlivet night.
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