Monday, December 19, 2011

Electrical Greetings



Charlie: "According to my schematic here, blue bulb #29,682 is burned out on the tree angel."

Martha: "You know what you can do with blue bulb #29,682, don't you?"


Season's Greetings to All

. . . And Especially to Your Loving Families


Martha: [*sigh*] "You're going to sit there and pout until I change blue bulb #29,682, aren't you."

Charlie: [*pouting*] "I just want the place to look nice for all my Blogger friends, that's all."


* * *

This is NOT our house--the photo is from the Huffington Post.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Heaven

It’s finally official. I have decided that, once my lungs cease laboring and I leave this place, I’m going to Heaven.

Oh, not the Heaven of the theologians, the allegorists and apologists, the philosophers, the clergy and charlatans and con men because none of them seem to know much more about it than choirs of chubby cherubs.

Nevertheless, I call the place I’m going "Heaven" because I don’t want to confuse. Saying, “I’m going to Turnip after I die,” doesn't make a whole lot of sense, does it. Plus, I truly believe that Heaven exists somewhere in the Universe, much different from the centuries of speculation by the sages.

Since no one has ever been there and back again, I believe I can speculate with the best of them. I mean, who can say that I’m wrong—and prove it?

The best thing is I’ve had a lot of time to construct my vision of Heaven and it has taken my fear of death completely away.

So. What will Heaven be like?

The first stop on my journey will be the Rainbow Bridge to pick up my best friends. (PLEASE read this if you have not.)  Jennifer, Fred, Punkers, and Molly are waiting for me there and, when we spot each other, I can't imagine the happiness there will be knowing we will never ever be separated again.

This may sound corny to non-pet people and that’s okay. But to all the theological experts who say animals don’t have souls and cannot go to Heaven, please PROVE it to me. I choose to believe that I will spend eternity with my pets and that gives me something to look forward to as I lay here, waiting.

Eternity: the best weapon preachers have to scare the Hell into us with the assurance we will burn in agony forever and ever and ever and ever . . .

The notion of eternal torture has worked well on me, ever since I was a tiny boy. It has caused me a lifetime of guilt, shame, and fear when in fact the notion is wrong. Wrong, because eternity denotes time, and time is a man-made concept. Heaven won’t have time; there will be no days, years, millenium or schedules to clean the top of the refrigerator. Life will always be in the present.

Living in the present rules out living in the past, which we all do no matter how hard we try not to. In Heaven, there will be no more bad memories, regrets, fear, or sorrow. I will live, for the first time in sixty-some years, totally at peace—totally tranquil and serene, instead of depressed and randomly attacked by panic. I will feel the calm and stillness inside me, indescribable happiness, and that gives me something to look forward to as I lay here, waiting.

And while the dogs and I are hiking through our Heavenly forest and communing with all the animals and birds that live here, Martha will be standing on the path, smiling, her arms spread wide, coming home to join us. . . .



Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Politics: My First and Last Say

On Tuesday, November 6, 2012 the citizens of the United States will elect a president. Yes, it's almost exactly one year from now, but the mudslinging, lies, and false promises are well under way. I've noted a couple blogger friends testing the political waters—Murr and Jerry—that are normally anathema to a blog. Both Murr and Jerry have excellent perspectives of what needs to be done in this country, and I agree with them, but I have a much different view. It's called reality.

In my very first and very last political opinion, I found this piece of video on Robert's blog and I agree with it 100%.

Caution: This is George Carlin, a brilliant man with a potty mouth. In many of his comedy skits I've found the profanity overdone and unnecessary, but here it fits perfectly. I urge you to listen to the man because this is the REALITY of the U.S.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Muse Less

My Muse has packed up her inspirations and left me. Blanche returned to ancient mythological Greece where she rightly belongs, but not before helping this amateur writer write openly, honestly—and sometimes powerfully—about his life.

My life story isn't finished yet, and there is a lot of back-story left to tell. But Blanche and I realized that those stories will not be written. Oh, the ideas are there, and the passion is there— along with the brain fog.

Brain fog, caused by all the drugs I take. The doctors' took an oath to keep me alive and they're doing that. It oftentimes requires strong medicines to keep the machine functioning, but at a high cost: strong side effects. I accept the effects, even though they contend for available brain cell receptors in order to work.

And so I have a faulty memory that plays tricks on me, that makes me dizzy enough to pass out, that makes all things familiar appear to be from Never-Never Land, that causes confusion and forgetfulness—how the hell am I to write anything of substance amongst chaos?

So thank you, Blanche, for being here for me, and along with Rhonda T., making this book almost a reality. I hope you find a nice marble statue to reside in or, better yet, you're somewhere in place and time inspiring someone else to write the best they can.



* * *

Disambiguation, Oct. 31, 2011: Judging from the first few comments, I need to make it clear that Soul Songs will NOT be published in book form because my collaborator, a graphic designer who did wonderful layouts, photos, fonts, and pull-quotes, abandoned the project when we were 90% complete. The book has long since been dismantled (as well as the idea of publishing it), and the essays posted on this blog—most of them rewritten for the better.

I apologize if my brain fog is contagious.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Great Lines

The opening sentence from The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls:

"I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster."






*  *  *

Sophia (left) and Rose (right)
From the Golden Girls, a wonderful TV sitcom about four women of "a certain age"—mismatched roommates to be sure, but it was all about friendship.

Rose, the quartet's worrier and resident dingbat, says to Sophia after the house had been broken into by thieves, "I can't sleep, knowing that strangers can break in here anytime. Do you ever worry about being raped?"

Sophia, with one of her trademark outrageous answers, "Are you kidding? When I was a girl growing up in Sicily, you couldn't cross the street without getting knocked up."

*  *  *

Eddie the dog, Niles, and brother Frasier
From the TV sitcom Frasier, Martin, a retired cop and the father of two uppity psychiatrists, is worried about his Jack Russell terrier Eddie. "He seems depressed," Martin says, and decides to call in a dog psychiatrist, much to the amusement of Frasier and Niles.

The doggy doctor explains that, since Eddie can't talk, Martin will have to answer the questions to the best of his ability. He asks a couple of benign qestions, while the "real" shrinks snort and guffaw like the little boys they are.

The doctor asks a third question: "If you were Eddie, what would be your favorite fragrance?"

Frasier pipes up, "That's easy—toilet water."

And Miles adds, "Yes, and put that down as his favorite beverage, too."

*   *   *

Out of 8 billion movies, only one comes quickly to mind. In an otherwise boring movie (my opinion), Steve Martin, sitting wistfully on a bench, says, "If I had a body like hers, I'd stay home and play with me all day."

Amen, brother.






*  *  *

This is an audience participation post where anyone with an ounce of humor can, uh, participate. I have no doubt that some (if not all) of you can come up with some real screamers. Lettuce have some fun!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Map Stewart, Troubadour

Michael Anthony Patrick Stewart


This is my friend Map, who lives in Limerick, Ireland.

He's a lucky bastard: He has a beautiful wife, Annette, and three equally beautiful daughters. He sings for a living, mostly at weddings (there's no shortage of those in Ireland), but I think of him more as a modern-day troubadour.

You'll understand why when you listen to this song—to him a work-in-progress, a fooling around at home with a computer, software and a mixing board, but to me an accomplished ballad of yore.


01 Fields Of Athenry by mapstew


Here are the lyrics


To my friend from Charles Michael Patrick Callahan

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Coming Soon

Coming real darn soon to a computer screen near you:




A post.




Saturday, September 24, 2011

Four Paws Up for Toronto



If I could, I'd bring every one of these cats and dogs here to Casa la Dumpa and give them a safe home full of love and laughter. Once, they thought they had that—until they suddenly found themselves abandoned, physically abused, turned out in a strange world they could not survive in by themselves. Some, the "lucky" ones, found themselves in a kill shelter, and even luckier ones were rescued from the shelters by wonderful people dedicated to rehabilitating these little creatures and finding them safe homes full of love and laughter.

Nevertheless, in 2009 forty-thousand dogs and cats were put down—killed—in New York City alone.

Are the puppy mills (and the pet stores who sell the mills' "products" for outrageous prices) solely responsible for pet overpopulation? No. There are the home breeders who hope to make a bundle on a litter of puppies or kittens, and the dumb shits who allow their unfixed pets to roam at night and come home knocked up. Oops, four to eight more unwanted kittens to deal with, what do we do?

Toronto can't solve all the problems of overpopulation, but they're sure as hell on the right track. The city has planted a seed, and hopefully it will germinate in other cities. And towns. And villages. All over the world. Yes, there are terrible things happening all over the globe, humans doing horrible things to humans, but never let us do horrible things to mans' best friends, maybe the only friends we have left.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Eating Lobsters at the Symphony

I have retired from blogging twice. The first time was December 6, 2010 and I was back posting six days after that. My second retirement was September 5, 2011 and here I is, back again on the 18th.

I must have blogging in my blood along with the red food coloring.

Or maybe I'm determined to stay connected with all of you whom I miss and love.

Yeah, that's it. I miss you. I'm going to blog until I absolutely cannot. When I'm not feeling well (commonly known as "I feel like shit"), I'll just put up my serene photo that says "Resting." That way you won't have to write so many nice things that make me cry. And you're always welcome to take those nice things back or add something like, "You're a big doody-head."

* * *

My friend (and yours)  Wandering Coyote has been wandering all over Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island with her mother and aunt. She's been eating lobster like this was their last mating season, and she sent me this postcard between mouthfuls:


(Click for enlargement)

She and I were talking on the telephone (remember those?) last evening and I told her how much the third panel made me laugh; Her reply: "When I saw that panel I instantly thought, 'THIS is a Charlie card!' "

I'm somewhat disturbed by the number of female bloggers who, over the years, have made reference to my antenna or used some other euphemism for my, uh, equipment. In the case of Attila the Mom, "Prong" has sent her into fits of laughter (and some blue comments) for years. What I want to know is, where were you pundity babes when I was young and frisky? I was looking at my high school yearbook not long ago and I know where all those girls were: they were grazing on the football field both for the roughage and to save the school the cost of a ground crew. I must have grown up in an ugly neighborhood.

I'm sidetracked here, so visit the Coyote and her Flickr photos—all 467 of them—of her trip eastward. They're spectacular, from flowers to architecture to scenery to . . . lobsters.

* * *

Please take a moment to visit Savannah and sign the guestbook for Miss Daisy, her mother-in-law who just passed away. Or, as Savannah titles it, Miss Daisy has gone home.


Also from Savannah is this wonderful flash mob video. Ravel's "Bolero" was an excellent choice, beginning with a simple snare drum and growing until the entire Copenhagen Philharmonic was assembled. Notice the parents. teaching their wide-eyed children about classical instruments and music. Thanks Sav—some sage once said, "Imitation is the severest form of flattery."





* * *

Until next time, dear readers, I'll be resting . . .


Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Clarification

My last post may have led some of you to believe that I'm on death's bed having my measurements taken for my urn. Not so, at least for the time being.

Rather, I'm having technical problems with my lungs: they aren't lunging properly. And they're getting worse. It has been a helluva couple of weeks trying to breathe, with no discernible improvement. My inhaler, mist medications, oxygen, and a corticosteroid increase are all less effective—which has me both worried and anxious. Even though I knew this time would come.

The best way to conserve energy and breath is on my back, so that's where I spend up to eighteen hours a day. I read and I nap, so I'm not up here enjoying the big time. I won't be blogging any longer, but I'll leave this post open for comments and you can tweet me @prof_worm. I'll answer comments a few at a time.

In the meantime, I'm resting and waiting . . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An Anniversary and Dr. Poo

37 years ago today, Martha got married in Denver, Colorado.

37 years ago today, so did I. Also In Denver.

I don't believe in coincidences, but that one is darn tough to ignore.

When I wished her Happy Anniversary! at the breakfast table this morning she stared at me for a moment and then rested her forehead in her hand like she suddenly had a horrible headache. She had a caged animal look about her and, after regaining the power of speech, said, "Christ, has it been THAT long?"

I was ecstatic to know that, after all this time, I still have an affect on her.

And we're going out, too. In about two hours she's taking me to see Dr. Poo for the results of my colonoscopy.

Now go away, dear readers, because I have to wrap her anniversary present and that'll take about two hours. I'm giving her (actually loaning her) one of my elderly paperback books with a date of 1968. The poor thing has been sitting on the shelf for 40 years just wishing to be read again, so I think it's a really nice gesture on my part to give (loan) it to my bride.

Did I hear someone in the back row mutter cheap bastard?


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Odds and Ends, Mostly Odds

You know, I could begin this issue of oddities with the following couple a thoughts:

1. With Rome in flames and the stock market in meltdown, CNN reported our Great Speechifier speechifying yesterday: "Calling the situation a 'legitimate source of concern,' Obama said the 'good news' was that 'our problems are imminently solvable, and we know what we have to do to solve them.' "

I wish I knew his definition for the word "imminent" because we could all use some imminent good news. I wouldn't hold your breath, though. In 2½ years, he and the Congress have fininshed bailing out the poor banks and made the health insurance companies more rich. Period.

2. The cost of our "wars" in Iraqistan are not included in the budget deficit, never have been, and are not part of the debt ceiling. So where have those billions and billions of dollars come from???

I was so happy when Prince William, on his tour of Canada, congratulated the Canadians for pulling out of Afganistan.

As the U.S. nears its tenth anniversary in that hellhole, however, we lost 30 troops on Saturday fucking around doing fucking WHAT? The Pentagon won't release their names as their garbage-bagged bodies arrived at Dover airbase today. Peace to their souls and condolences to their families and loved ones.

I could begin this issue of oddities with the previous couple a thoughts, but I've decided not to.

* * *

I'm not much of watcher of biopics (although I liked The Last King of Scotland), but I'm looking forward to The Iron Lady due at Christmas (oops, the Holidays). It will be great to see Meryl Streep again and, as a nominee for sixteen academy awards, I think she'll make a helluva Margaret Thatcher.

And if a few Americans watch this film for Streep's performance, maybe they'll learn a little about British politics to boot.

Nah.

Since the movie is a British production, I'm reminded of a question I've been meaning to ask. Is Pinewood Studios still in use?

*  *  *

Overheard from Sarah Palin:

"If the British had won the Revolutionary War we would all be speaking English now."

Grazie, Sarah.

*  *  *

Last Saturday, Martha had her oil changed. The oil in her Toyota, that is. Since auto batteries last only two or so years here in the desert, she had it tested. The battery, that is. Sho' 'nuff, it was down to its last few zaps. She grumbled her way over to AutoZone to buy a new one, presented the auto guy with the receipt for the dying battery, and was told a new one would be FREE—she had a seven-year warranty on a battery that lasted two. She was so happy when she got home she could almost have kissed me—she'd saved 80 bucks plus tax.

"See, honey, it pays to save those warranty things," I said.

"Bite me," she replied, too proud of herself to let my tiresome logic get under her skin.

There is a cult of Toyotans similar to owners of Volvos and Saabs: TALL tales abound about the reliability and durability of their vehicles. Why, here comes one now:

"I drove this here Toyota around the desert for 600,000 miles afore I hadta put in a gallon a gas and empty the ashtray. I drove it for another 600,000 miles, but I sold it 'cause the maintenance was too high: gas was up two bucks and the ashtray was full a'gin."

Deer pellets.

While the fixit guys were checking out Martha's car, they found two other problems: the water pump was leaking and something was wrong with the timing belt. That stuff is too complicated for me, but I understood the estimate to make repairs to the complications— $ 1,000. The leaking water pump dumped cold water on Martha's giddiness caused by her battery coup.

UNTIL Monday morning, when Martha Sherlock Callahan remembered we had an extended warranty. She rooted around in the glovebox until she found it and looked at the expiration date. On August 8, 2011, she was holding a warranty that expired on August 10, 2011. After a quick run to the women's restroom she called the dealer and today, August 9, 2011, all repairs are being made under warranty.

And who knows, when Martha gets home tonight she might almost want to kiss me again—especially if I keep my BIG mouth shut.

*  *  *

Lastly but not leastly, the news you've all been waiting for: the prep for my colonoscopy last week.

I can't BEGIN to tell you how bad the stuff I had to drink tasted, but I'll try. It was like everything I've ever stepped in or had stuck to the bottom of my shoes, liquified and blended with old motor oil. It was pure evil in a plastic bottle. And I truly think Martha was having fun watching me suffer—you know, just one of those harmless ways a girl gets revenge without doing anything overt with knives or ropes.

After drinking 64 oz. of The Stuff That Wouldn't Die, I would rather die than drink that shit ever again. What I might do is substitute hemlock when Martha isn't looking . . .

*  *  *

[You can now sign into DISCUS with your Google (Blogger) account.]



Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gather 'Round la Toilette

"Oh, that's just an old wives' tale."

I've never thought about it before now, but that's a pretty hefty statement in the sexist department. I mean I've never heard, "Oh, that's just an old husbands' tale." I have to believe that many super- stitions, most disinformation, and the bulk of nonsense originated with men, simply because men are idiots.

Why would a woman, for example, pass this nugget of numbskullery down through her female line:

"Warts on the palm are caused by masturbation." Baloney. Everyone knows they're caused by handling frogs in the swamp out back.

Here's another example of dipshittery:

"If you sit on the toilet too long you'll get hemorrhoids." Baloney squared. I knew a fellow who had a terrible case of hemorrhoids, but I'm pretty sure he got them from sitting on a hard barstool all day long.

Personally, the toilet has always been my friend. Not only have I done my best thinking there, I've always used the quiet time to read and study, uh . . . stock and mutual fund prospectuses. I'm proud to say that our entire financial future has been planned on the can, and Martha will be retiring at the golden age of 97 with a treasure trove of two thousand pork belly futures.

This week, however, la toilette won't be so friendly. Utilitarian as hell to be sure, but hardly a place I want to sit for too long—who knows, I might get hemorrhoids.

On Thursday, dear readers, I will undergo my 326th medical test since 2003—not one of which I've asked for. It's a colonoscopy, and it requires all 45 feet of my intestines to be sparkling clean and springtime fresh. So I must spend Wednesday night and Thursday morning "cleansing" by drinking two litres of terrible tasting liquid and another litre of water.

Cleansing, my ass. Using the scientific theory of massive water pressure, we're talking about an explosion. Boy, is the dog gonna love this one, but I've got me all worked up about it.

Maybe I should take a nerve pill, settle down, and just hope that everything comes out alright.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Mother and Son

Okay, accuse me of anthropomorphization. Accuse me of anything, as long as it's a long word. But around our childless home our critter is our kid. Go ahead and laugh at me, call me eccentric like the English—I. Don't. Care.

Lousy photographer that I am, I was attempting something artsy-fartsy with this picture. Something along the lines of Michelangelo's Pietà, except Martha is no longer a virgin.

For those who haven't visited this blog before, Martha is on the left and Irish is on the right (he has red hair and freckles around his whiskers).

My two beloveds:



It breaks my heart to think of leaving them behind.
And if there is time for goodbyes, what do we say?



Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Haboob

Some of you occasionally blog about the weather in your part of the world (except for my Canadian friends) (*snort*), and I don't say much about the desert, either. I mean, there's really nothing to say when the daily forecast is "sunny and hot," except during the two weeks of winter when the forecast changes to "sunny and a bit cooler."

Last evening, however, was an exception. We had a haboob, a super intense "dust" storm. Watch it roll into town in this silent time-lapse video.




That isn't dust, folks. It's plain old dirt, which has had a whole inch of rain to hold it down since the first of the year. The only good thing about the dirt haze today is that you can't see the pollution.

Haboobs occur during the monsoon, which is July and August. Normally, we have a dust blow followed by lightning, thunder, and a torrential rainstorm. When we first moved to the desert in 1997, the monsoons were spectacular. But no more. For the past five or six years, the rainclouds quickly dissipate because we Phoenicians have constructed a heat island made of cement and glass. It was 118º (F) the other day; the rain evaporates, the clouds break up, and we're shit out of luck for water.

Here is a still shot of the Haboob, which is an Arabic word:




Okay, that's enough about the weather—I've learned to keep it on the back burner from my friends in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

Monday, July 04, 2011

10 Things I Hate in My Mouth

1. Brussels sprouts.

2. Dental equipment.

3. The ham-sized fist attached to the dental equipment.

4. Hair in my food (makes me want to puke).

5. Puke.

6. Dirt (as in "a mouthful of", most often from taking a header in the. . . dirt).

7. Soap, for washing it out.

8. The dog's tongue.

9. Someone else's filthy key ring to suck on.

10. Reader's choice. Tell us the number 1 thing you hate in your mouth.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Pain-o-Meter

I've been thinking about pain. Physical pain, like Attila the Mom is experiencing (she broke her ass a week or so ago, the poor clumsy thing). Personally, I don't have any physical pain, but I think about it for lack of anything better to do.

Like I was thinking about the pain scale the nurse fills out in the hospital after all the blood is mopped up and the screaming has died down to a low moaning.




The purpose of the scale is to give the nurse and the staff an idea of your pain tolerance before they lay on the heavy-duty pain meds. Nice idea, but it's one of the most subjective exercises I've ever done. And to make it worse, here in Arizona (where we have an excessive amount of pain due to the political climate), the scale is 1 to 10—giving us, and me, an additional four painful choices of pain.

I say subjective because how does one measure one's pain and assign a number to it? I've never had an arm suddenly fall off, so I don't know what 10-pain feels like. Likewise, what's 1-pain? Martha kicking my shin under the table for a socially unacceptable remark?

Have some manipulation, anyone? Drug addicts will always go for a 1. Ex-Marines and other macho men will choose 15. Some sufferers of fibromyalgia will pick all 10, just to be on the safe side.

So what am I?

"I'm between a 4 and a 6."

"You're a 5 then?" the nurse asks.

"Not always. Sometimes I'm between a 3 and a 7—you know, the pain comes and goes."

"That makes you a 5 again," the nurse says, punching numbers into her calculator.

"Okay, but what happens if I hit 7? Do I get a second ibuprofen? Morphine in a drip?"

Honestly, I should be flogged for my full of shitness and messing with the overworked nurses. As a courtesy, I usually just say 5 and get it over with, even though I have no idea what 5-pain is like. Or 3-pain. Or 8-pain . . .

So where do you think you are on the pain scale, dear readers?

_____________________

First, I'm thankful that I don't have pain, other than the usual that accompany old fartdom. Second, are you still my friend, Pam the nurse, or would you like to slap me silly?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Odds and Ends, Mostly Odds

SYLVANIA

Due to the sparkling US economy, the company Martha works for has gone elsewhere in the world to find business. They finished a large contract in Panama City and have new ones in Brazil, Down Under, and

"Sylvania."

I looked up from my spaghetti and meatballs flambé (that's a nice way of saying dinner was burned) and asked, "Sylvania? Where, exactly, is Sylvania?"

"It's one of those countries near Yugoslavia. I have the address at work," Martha said.

"Do you mean Slovenia?" I suggested.

"Yeah, that's it! Geeze, Sylvania is where Dracula's from," she said, slapping her forehead while crunching on a forkful of spaghetti.

Martha is so darn cute when she's geographically- (and historically)-challenged. I didn't have the heart to tell her that Sylvania is a town in Finland where they make lightbulbs.

*   *   *
PLANNING

Some dark humor is always good for me, so I'll tell you about my funeral plans—that is, if  by chance I die one of these years.

Actually, I won't be having a funeral because I don't do church. Rather, Martha wants to hold a tasteful memorial service, so I've scribbled out a tentative plan for her.

2:25 p.m.: Attendees enter (estimated 3-4) and plop their rear-ends on a folding chair (consider a chair fee if anyone needs two or more).

2:30 p.m.: Opening song.

2:35 p.m.: Glowing testimonials about me from the attendees.

2:37 p.m.: Since everyone is too shy to glow or testify in front of people, then Closing song.

2:40 p.m.: Leavature.

Short, sweet, and out in fifteen minutes. That's the kind of memorial service I like.

You know, maybe I should leave the planning to Martha. She'll know what she wants to do.

*  *  *

DUMB

Without an iota of doubt in my mind, I live in the dumbest state of all 52 of 'em (Iraq and Afganistan are the two newest). I live in Arizona, where

1. A gigantic wildfire is now burning down New Mexico. After two weeks, the fire is 10% contained.

2. The rainfall for the Phoenix metroplex has been one-half inch since January 1.

3. When it's this dry, most of the cities cancel their commercial 4th of July fireworks displays for fire safety.

4. The Arizona legislature doesn't give a shit about fire safety. This year, it passed a bill allowing the private sale of fireworks to individuals. No firecrackers, but plenty of stuff that flies into the sky. And burns the hands and faces off idiot kids. And start fires, especially if they tangle with all these tall palm trees.

5. Yesterday, the fireworks sales tents were setting up in the same locations where Christmas trees are sold—three weeks before the 4th of July. I wonder if the owners of these tents are members of the Arizona legislature; because of the sparkling AZ economy, graft has been down the past couple years.

6. Dumb.

*  *   *

Click flick for actual size.
MOLLY

The mood was subdued around here last week with the passing of Molly. Thank y'all from Martha and me for your kind comments. I think we all gave the little critter a nice send-off.

In the middle of the week we received a sympathy card from the vet with this inside: a double impression of Molly's paw print. And then the tears started again . . .

Martha will be on the trail very soon for another rescue dog. There are so many who had "good" homes and then got dumped when the housing house of cards collapsed. The poor creatures are so lost, lonely, and confused, just like Irish was when we adopted him. We'll letcha know when we have a new family member.

Friday, June 03, 2011

R.I.P.—Again

MOLLY


April 1, 1997 — June 2, 2011

I'll catch up to you, little one, hopefully soon, at the Rainbow Bridge.

 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

She's 5!

That's right, this little slip of a thing is 5, as in five-years-old. 60 months, the time it takes most people to pay off their cars. The digit following 4 and preceding 6 (someone check me on that).

So what's so special about this tyke? She can sing. I mean, she can SING. She struggles with parts of The World's Hardest Song Ever Written, but give her a break—she's only 5. The kid has the pipes, no question.

Boy, I'll bet her kindergarten teacher dropped a load when he or she heard the wee one belt out "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Take a listen.


video


What's that you ask? Can I sing? I couldn't carry a tune in an iPod, so watch the video again.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Can See Clearly Now

I am ecstatic to announce that I read a REAL book the other night for the first time in fifteen months. I read Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, a book for nine- to twelve-year-old boys, so it was right up my reading alley. Even without any bathroom jokes or foul words. Plus, I understood almost every single word.

The answer to this phenomenal phenomenon?


That's right. New eyeglasses. The trifocal kind with three lenses: Distance, for seeing from here to the end of the world. Intermediate, for looking at the computer and my lower bodily parts. And reading, for reading, the best lens of all.

I still have glaucoma, caused by a drug I continue to take, but with the eye drops I take four times a day the ocular pressure has returned almost to normal. Since I'm a pest and a pain in the ass, Dr. Eyeball thought new glasses might help and thus shut me the hell up.

I'm not making a peep, even if the glasses aren't perfect because of ever-changing blurriness. The reading lenses are spectacular spectacles, however. I'm reading another REAL book, albeit it slowly because of a small font, but I'm as giddy as forty-seven seven-year-old girls all squealing at a swimming pool party.

No I'm not. But I'm real darn happy, and I'm going to continue to read until my eyes just up and bust.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Coming Attractions: Books

I know this isn't a subject that draws raves from the readers of this blog, but I don't give a crap. Worm University is founded on words—mine, yours, books—and, as Head Cheese (ick), I intend to carry on the tradition whether or not anyone likes it.

Unfortunately, two of my favorite authors will not be publishing again this year: Charles Dickens and William Faulkner. (Linda K., tell me you love me.) Likewise, Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Mahbod Seraji (just for kicks, say these names three times, really fast, with a half-chewed sour pickle in your mouth.)

Okay, now that you've cleaned the sour pickle off the wall, here are six of my favorites that have been announced.


Tabloid City by Pete Hamill
Little, Brown & Company
Hardcover, 288pp
ISBN-13: 9780316020756
Release date: May 5, 2011

Synopsis from Barnes & Noble:

In a stately West Village townhouse, a wealthy socialite and her secretary are murdered. In the 24 hours that follow, a flurry of activity circles around their shocking deaths: The head of one of the city's last tabloids stops the presses. A cop investigates the killing. A reporter chases the story. A disgraced hedge fund manager flees the country. An Iraq War vet seeks revenge. And an angry young extremist plots a major catastrophe.

The City is many things: a proving ground, a decadent playground, or a palimpsest of memories—a historic metropolis eclipsed by modern times.

To me, Pete is New York. But like his book Forever, this one may require some suspension of belief. For 288 pages, I'll take a chance. And isn't "palimpsest" a great word?


A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
Random House Publishing Group
Hardcover, 1056pp
ISBN-13: 9780553801477
Release date: July 12, 2011

Here it is. Finally. Book 5 of the fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Idiots like me have been waiting for this since Book 4, A Feast for Crows, was published in November, 2005. Martin has been messing with We the Idiots for nearly five-and-a-half years, announcing release dates and then reneging on them for another year or two.

Wandering Coyote and I have had some serious discussions about Martin's assholeness regarding his disregard for his loyal fans. But all will be forgiven when, on July 12 at 12:01 a.m., Dragons will be downloaded to my Nook and I will reacquaint myself with the cast of a thousand characters, storylines galore, and the best fantasy series since Tolkien. Unless, that is, Martin reneges again.

Needless to say (but I'm saying it anyways), before you can enjoy this book you must read the 4,000 or more words that came before it. To check out A Dance with Dragons, go to Barnes & Noble poop sheet.


The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina
Little, Brown & Company
Hardcover, 352pp
ISBN-13: 9780316069335
Release date: September 26, 2011


Synopsis from Barnes & Noble:

When a notorious millionaire banker hangs himself, his death attracts no sympathy. But the legacy of a lifetime of selfishness is widespread, and the carnage most acute among those he ought to be protecting: his family.

Meanwhile, in a wealthy suburb of Glasgow, a young woman is found savagely murdered. The community is stunned by what appears to be a vicious, random attack. When Detective Inspector Alex Morrow, heavily pregnant with twins, is called in to investigate, she soon discovers that a tangled web of lies lurks behind the murder. It's a web that will spiral through Alex's own home, the local community, and ultimately right back to a swinging rope, hundreds of miles away.

Denise Mina is, by far, my favorite Scottish mystery writer. A native Glaswegian who still lives there, Mina writes no-holds-barred stories that are gritty, profane, and (so far) feature female protagonists. This is her second DI Alex Morrow novel, which I believe can be read as a stand-alone; only her wonderful Garnethill trilogy needs to be read in order.


Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster
Hardcover, 448pp
ISBN-13: 9781451643114
Release date: September 27, 2011

Synopsis from Library Journal on Barnes & Noble:

Burke visits southwest Texas with Sheriff Hackberry Holland, last seen in 2009's Rain Gods. When alcoholic ex-boxer Danny Boy begs to be locked up in the drunk tank, though he's clearly sober, Hack and his young deputy wring a confession from him: Danny Boy has witnessed a gruesome torture killing in the desert. Hack tracks the bad guys to the home of a (predictably) mysterious Chinese woman named Anton Ling, who's either in danger—or dangerous. Burke always delivers; consider multiples.

I must like JLB a lot because I have 27 books of his in my library—28 when Feast Day is released. Rain Gods was an excellent book featuring Hackberry Holland, progenitor of Billy Bob Holland's 4 novels, but where oh where is Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell? Were we right, Linda K.?

Whatever date Burke chooses as the Feast Day of Fools, I'm going to adopt it; I've needed my own Feast Day for a looong time. But never mind my foolishness; I think the title of the book is beautiful.


UK Cover
The Burning Soul by John Connolly
Atria Books
Hardcover, 352pp
ISBN-13: 9781439165270
Release date: September 6, 2011 (Oops, got my dates out of order.)

Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk:

Randall Haight has a secret: when he was a teenager, he and his friend killed a 14-year-old girl.

Randall did his time and built a new life in the small Maine town of Pastor's Bay, but somebody has discovered the truth about Randall. He is being tormented by anonymous messages, haunting reminders of his past crime, and he wants private detective Charlie Parker to make it stop.

But another 14-year-old girl has gone missing, this time from Pastor's Bay, and the missing girl's family has its own secrets to protect. Now Parker must unravel a web of deceit involving the police, the FBI, a doomed mobster named Tommy Morris, and Randall Haight himself.

Because Randall Haight is telling lies . . .

John is a very funny Irishman (I've met him twice) who lives in Dublin and writes very dark mysteries: This is number 10 in the Charlie Parker series. To look at John, he appears quite normal; his Parker series, however, is connected by a supernatural club of very sick and perverted dead perverts— similar to "The Gentlemen" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. John delivers the thrills and chills, but I found his last book, The Whisperers, lacking a bit in both.

I don't worry about John, though. He's Irish, so he's bound to hit paydirt in the darkness department.


11/22/63 by Stephen King
Scribner
Hardcover, 960pp
ISBN-13: 9781451627282
Release date: November 8, 2011

Partial synopsis from Amazon.com:

On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? Stephen King’s heart-stoppingly dramatic new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination—a thousand page tour de force.

This is the iff-iest book of the bunch. Anyone worth his or her salt knows that you cannot go back in time and change history. I mean, it's just not allowed. Will this be a tour de force or a tour of force? I believe I'll wait for 10,000 maniac reviews before I invest my time in what my friend Tui calls a "thumper": the sound a 1,000 page book makes when you slam it closed.

A message to Wandering Coyote: I know you hate King so I just saved you a comment telling me you hate King. Depending on how this book turns out, it might be time for Steve to take a rest in a nice rest home.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Educasion

My friend Stasia at LibraryThing (Interview with a Bookie), sent this along over the weekend and it peaked my curiosity. I did some further research at OpenCdA and The Salina Journal to make sure it wasn't a joke. It wasn't, and it isn't. When Martha read the questions, her mouth dropped open and I saw a fly fly right in her gaping maw. I never saw it come back out.

If you don't have time to read all of the questions then scan a few. But don't allow your maw to gape, unless you need the protein.



8th Grade Final Exam: Salina , KS – 1895


Lookit: Girls got to go to school too!


Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of ‘lie,'play,’ and ‘run’.
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 – 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft.. Long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1 Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals.
4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u.’
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e.’ Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas? (It depends on how many politicians and preachers have their mouths open at the same time.)
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
7. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
8. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
9. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete. (Actually, it took an additional 45 minutes because there were 5 questions on Physiology.)

I think I did pretty well on the test: I answered one (in red) in geography, which usually isn't my strongest subject.

And now I know why Dorothy packed up Toto and split for Oz.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Son of Elbow Debacle

Take my elbow. Please.

I know, I know. It's an old joke that was never funny in the first place. Don't worry, though, because I have a whopper coming up.

For those of you who have a longer memory span than I do, you will remember that I wrote about my Great Elbow Debacle waaaay back on February 28. As a visual aid, a refresher, or for those who know little or nothing about human anatomy, this is an elbow:



One of mine got infected, and this is what it cost to fix it:



According to my calculations, the true cost of draining the ick out of my elbow was $ .64; the remaining $11,233.00 is attributable to "the high cost of healthcare in America."

Hey Professor, how about Mr. Obama's "historic healthcare reform" that was signed into law? Hmm? How about that?

All smoke, mirrors, and total bullshit, my dears. As a matter of fact, "healthcare for all" is headed in the opposite direction. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to do away with Medicare (the health insurance program for those 65 years and older), for all those folks under 55. That will change 36 times or more, of course, because neither the Pres nor the Congress can get their shit together.

But I ask, and here's the whopper of a non-funny joke I mentioned way up on top: What the FUCK is this country doing for its own people?

Friday, April 08, 2011

A Nightmare on Ironwood Drive



I read this Herman cartoon, laughed all over the place, but then my hands began to tremble. And my feet. And my arms and legs. Pretty soon all of me was trembling; I was having a nightmare, during the day, while I was fully awake

Unless he has a serious death wish, no man ever, ever, ever jokes about his beloved's beauty. Even if she looks, sounds, and smells like a fishwife. Martha is nothing of the sort, but the result would be exactly the same: suicide by beloved with our good cast iron frying pan.

During all our years together, I've only slipped up once.

"You know, I don't understand it," she said one evening while taking inventory in the mirror. "My boobs keep getting smaller while my ass keeps getting bigger."

I didn't have the stupidity to tell her that spring was over for the chickens a loooong time ago, so I tried logic. "You can blame it on gravitational pull," I told her in my best scientific voice. "It rearranges your body, and even makes you shorter as your bones scrunch up." Geeze, I'm full of shit sometimes.

"You're full of shit," she told me, putting on her flannel PJs with the footies in them but no back door, which meant only one thing:

Flannel jammies in the desert in the middle of August → No nookie until winter comes, which it never does → A nightmare on Ironwood Drive.

__________________________
Herman © by Jim Unger

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Anal Retent

(Click photo for hugh size)

I am proud to announce the latest academic addition to Worm University:

The Institute for Anal Retents

While I'm ecstatic over our acquisition of the art movie house down the street as the venue for the Institute, the Bored of Directors is not. Cheap bastards. Their suggestion, to add a few useless retentivity courses to our already Useless College of Psychology, enraged me.

"The Useless College of PSYCHOLOGY!" I screamed, enraged. "Sure, we retentives have our problems, but we sure as hell aren't NUTS!"

The photograph is of our main lecture hall, which I admit needs a bit of a fix up. That will have to wait, however, until the Institute has an enrollment over three. I suspect that, after the publication of this announcement, enrollment will skyrocket. There's a billion anals out there, or as we refer to them in the U.S., assholes.

So, prospective student, who is an anal retent? According to Wikipedia,

"Freud theorized that children who experience conflicts during [toilet training] may develop 'anal' personality traits, namely those associated with a child's efforts at excretory control: orderliness, stubbornness, and a compulsion for control."

I don't know about you, but I've NEVER been fascinated with poo. Since I don't remember anything about my own toilet training, I assume that the four or five years it took to fully train me up went fairly smoothly.

Nevertheless, somewhere along the line I picked up Freud's personality trait of orderliness. Was it from Mom the Neat Freak? Or the sisters at Catholic school? Or the Army? Or did I fall out of my crib one too many times, telling me that I had to get my shit together one of these days?

Yes.

I have failed the test for Perfectionist about a million times and, after more than half a century, I've given up trying to perfectionate. Fifty years, a million tries: I finally realized I'm never going to make it. But still, there are some things that make my rectal area itch.

1. Pictures. Hanging on the wall. CROOKED. How in the world can people live that way? At the Worm residence, I use a pocket-size level to keep our gorgeous but cheap wall hangings on the horizontal, uh, level.

2. Lists. There MUST be lists: grocery, family names with their relationship to us, drugs, Chinese-made crap at Walmart, doctor appointments, beauty supplies (Mrs. Worm), books to read, Chinese-made junk at Home Depot, 28-day cycles for those using the rhythm method—the list is endless.

3. Spelling. On the Innertubes. Does ANYONE know how to spell "definitely"?

These three examples are an introduction to our dynamic course number AR103, "What sticks in your anus?" If you have something sticking in yours, you are welcome to share it with us.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Baby Announcement


I bet a couple of you nearly went poo in your pants when you read the headline. Well you can relax—-I'm not pregnant.

And no, we didn't adopt another critter. But my sister Cathy (of the New York Cathys), also known as Pootsie (of the New York Pootsies), did.

According to Pootsie's communique,
Pansy was born on January 4, 2011, on the Jersey Shore. She is a purebred Mi-Ki and will be 5 to 8 lbs. at adulthood. The breed is known to be calm, sweet, intelligent, low energy and sociable. They are non-shedders and love to travel. Pansy is the first dog in this branch of the Callahan family. Wish me luck!
26 million dog breeds and Cathy chooses one that I've never heard of: Mi-Ki.

I'm also dumbfounded: Ever since we were kids my sister has been a cat person. Didn't know a dog from a barn door. Either she's lost her mind or had one of those "awwww-isn't-she-precious" attacks all of us animal lovers are prone to.

Since I do know a little bit about canines, here are a couple tips:

1. Do not go about the house in your bare feet.

2. Be careful not to lose track of her when you're shoveling coal in the basement at midnight.


Everybody welcome Pansy with a "awwww-isn't-she-precious" comment.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Life

Life


Life is precious. It is fragile. It is beautiful.



Life is to be protected from harm. 
All life.



But tyrants don't care about life.



That is our job.
To care about life.
To protect it.
And to remember those who have lost it.

Otherwise, we are no better than the tyrant.



Remembering the innocent dead of Iraq, Afganistan, Libya, and the Allied troops who die trying to protect life.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Great Elbow Debacle

“Martha, my elbow hurts. I mean it’s all swollen up and it feels hot and it really hurts.”

“Geezus, you’ve turned into a whino: can’t you go one day without whining about something? It’s bursitis**, just like you’ve had before. I’ll get you into the family clinic to have it drained—will that shut you up?”

Sometimes, my beloved gets a little testy with me.

MARTHA TAKES CHARLIE TO THE FAMILY CLINIC, 2/3/11, 2:10 P.M.

What Martha and I expected to be a ten-minute procedure turned into something a bit more.

When the nurse practitioner and later, a real doctor, got a gander at my goose egg, they concurred that it was extremely infected and were unwilling to treat it. They referred us to an emergency hospital they said would see me quickly and that had more expertise with infections.

Strike 1.

MARTHA TAKES CHARLIE TO THE EMERGENCY HOSPITAL, 2/3/11. 3:30 P.M.

The emergency hospital saw me quickly, but they did nothing for the next 10½ hours. I saw the ER doctor twice: “Hmm,” he said, “this elbow looks extremely infected, but I’ll drain it.” At 1 a.m. and still undrained, they decided to admit me for the night and Martha went home, exhausted. At 2 a.m., when the ambulance attendants arrived, the same doc said, “I’m sending you to a full-service hospital because they have a guy who specializes in infections.”

Strike 2.

THE AMBULANCE TAKES CHARLIE TO THE HOSPITAL, 2/4/11, 2:15 A.M.

I saw the female infections doctor late in the afternoon on the 4th, and she told me my elbow was extremely infected. She seemed pissed off at me about it, when it fact it was a drug I take that caused the bursitis and the infection. She began heavy-duty IV antibiotics and ran them around the clock. For six days.

The inflammation never was drained by a hypo, even though that was my presenting problem everywhere I went. Instead, it broke all by itself, bathing me in blood and an oily pus very similar to 10-30 motor oil. Three days of draining and packing the hole it left ended on 2/10/11 about 2 p.m., or eight days after the whole thing started.

Finally, success.

SUCCESS?

1. Both dogs were pissed at me. I told them I'd be back in an hour or so and it turned out to be over a week. Molly, my fourteen-year-old guard dog, suspects me of playing around with younger bitches.

2. Home health has been coming in all month to repack and rewrap my wound, but Martha is doing it most of the time (and is very good at it). I quit whining when she's digging around inside my arm, though, and that's a tough thing for me to do.

3. $$$$. $1,225.25 out-of-pocket so far.



**Bursitis an is inflammation of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) that lies between a tendon and skin, or between a tendon and bone. Bursae are fluid-filled cavities near joints where tendons or muscles pass over bony projections. They assist movement and reduce friction between moving parts. Bursitis commonly occurs in the shoulder, knee, elbow, and hip.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

When Charlie Met Martha

This post has been under construction for most of February. The first paragraph was accidentally published because I'm a boob. For the last eight days I've been bloggerly nonproductive because I've been in the hospital. Yes, again. But here it is, as complete as it's ever going to get.

* * *


In 1989 I went to a movie theater to see a movie called When Harry Met Sally. I thought it was Woody Allen-witty thanks to Nora Ephron's writing, Rob Reiner's directing, and the acting by the two stars, Billy Crystal as Harry and Meg Ryan as Sally, so I decided to name this post When Harry Met Sally, but then I realized no one would know who the hell I was talking about or would think it was just another one of my usually crappy movie reviews, and since my name isn’t Harry and Martha’s isn’t Sally it would have been dumb to call us Harry and Sally anyway, so I changed the title of this post to When Charlie Met Martha, inserting my name for Harry and Martha for Sally so everyone will know The Way We Were in 1974, starring Babs Streisand and Robert Redford . . .

Please know that our story will not include any of the following wittiness, either real or pretend. There is no way I would ever attempt to duplicate or sully Meg Ryan’s classic performance.




* * *

When Charlie Met Martha

In January 1974, I met Martha in a bar.

You’re sitting there at your computer screen, you’ve just read the first line, and you’re disgusted as all get out. Instead of all the romantic places to meet—halfway up (or down) Mt. Fuji, floating in the Dead Sea while still alive, Ed’s Hot Dog Cart outside the New York Public Library with onions, sauerkraut, and a gallon of mustard to slop around in—we met in a filthy bar that reeked of ten-year-old beer, smoke that was thicker than the Great Chinese Whorehouse fire of 1847, and floors that stuck to the bottom of shoes like super glue. I didn't care that the place was a pigsty; I was lurking around, trying to impress one of the female bar stool beasts into faking one of Meg Ryan's organism things for me.

You know, of course, that sometimes I'm full of shitness; that last paragraph is an excellent example of how I exaggerate, embellish, and embroider. I’ll start over with the real story.

When Charlie Met Martha, Take 2

In January 1974, I met Martha in a bar in Pueblo West, Colorado, a dusty, planned community scattered with mobile homes and tumbleweeds just a few miles west of Pueblo, Colorado (and hence the name, I suppose). We were both as sober as Mormons. I wasn't dressed like a lounge lizard, and Martha looked just as cute as a butterfly's lips.

I’d driven 110 miles south from Denver to Pueblo West (just west of Pueblo) to visit my old boss’s new restaurant. His vision was to bring fine dining, banquet facilities, and Budweiser on tap to Little Restaurant on the Dirt. I was behind the bar, assessing its layout and the fact that the speed rack was one slot short, while two girls waited patiently near the kitchen. One girl was Martha, who was applying for a banquet server position, and the other was her sister, who’d already secured a spot in the world of slinging rubber chicken.

I’m hazy on this part, but somewhere through the grapevine, someone told me that Martha thought I was handsome. I’d been called many things in my life, but handsome wasn’t one of them. And I thought Martha was just as cute as butterfly lips.

Once Martha got the job, I invited her to have a cocktail with me. To this day, I don't know what a cocktail is, so we agreed to have a beer together. We talked and laughed for a couple hours, and the rest is history.

THE ROMANTIC PART

There must be a romantic part, Callahan, and yes, folks, there is.

It was a Saturday, it was snowing in Denver, and the southbound interstate was open, then closed, then open, and then closed because of blizzard conditions. I kept changing my mind with the weather reports: I’m going, I’m not going, I’m going, I’m not going . . .

I went because something was urging me to go. I white-knuckled my way southward behind a big tractor trailer truck, his lights my only guide in the sideways-blowing blizzard. Once we got to north Colorado Springs there was no snow, and it was clear sailing the rest of the way to meet . . . Martha.

For the next several months, I conducted a commuter courtship. Off at work at 5, drive 2 hours south, visit with Martha for an hour or two, neck for another hour or two, drive 2 hours north, and arrive home anywhere between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. I was pooped, but I didn’t care because I was in love.

And I still am, thirty-six-and-a-half years later.


_________
Dedicated to Pat, a modern-day Jane Austen Romantic.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What They Said

CLASS: Literature and Life

WORM'S COMMENT: Here are some quotes I liked from recently-read books.

* * *

Ken Bruen, a life-long resident of Galway, writes very dark crime stories featuring ex-Garda Jack Taylor, who often talks about the Irish people he loves:

There are many crimes in the Irish lexicon, odd actions that in the UK wouldn't even rate a mention, but here are nigh on unforgivable.

Topping the list are:

Silence or reticence. You've got to be able to chat, preferably incessantly. Making sense isn't even part of the equation.

Not buying a round. You might think no one notices, but they do.

Having notions, ideas above your imagined station.

Neglecting the grave of your family.

There are others, such as having a posh accent, disliking hurling, watching BBC, but they are the second division. There's a way back from them, but the first division, you are fucked.

* * *

Tropper is the opposite of Bruen; he writes very good and very funny novels about dis-functional people and families, but he throws in zingers like this one from his protagonist, Joe Goffman:

To err, as they say, is human. To forgive is divine. To err by withholding your forgiveness until it’s too late is to become divinely fucked up. Only after burying my father do I realize that I always intended to forgive him. But somewhere I blinked, and seventeen years flew by, and now my forgiveness, ungiven, has become septic, an infection festering inside me.


CHARLIE"S COMMENT: I "intended to forgive" my father for the shit life he gave our family, especially when I saw him sitting so alone in a warehouse for unwanted old people. But I never said a word and, when he died, he died alone, unforgiven, and very sad. And when I think of him like that, it saddens me too.

* * *

Conroy is the author of the novels The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, and The Prince of Tides, among others. My Reading Life, however, is a non-fiction book about books—those that influenced Conroy's reading life, writing life, and life in general. I could say that the book is more about Conroy and his own books, but I won't because that would make this a book review. Rather, I'll leave you with a quip he made while living in Paris:

France is the only country in the world where friendliness is one of the seven deadly sins.