SLIDESHOW EXPLANATION

THE PHOTOS SCROLLING BY IN THE SLIDESHOW ON THE LEFT ARE ORIGINAL AND CAN BE VIEWED OR PURCHASED AT WWW.WIZARDPIXPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

MY DAUGHTER BLAMES ME FOR PASSING ALONG A SENSE OF HUMOR SHE CAN'T CONTROL... (hey, it's not my fault you've got a smart mouth!)


          My adult daughter and I share a few personality traits, and anyone who knows either of us would instantly recognize those shared connections.  For one thing, we both have problems with folks who consider themselves "authority figures", especially those who haven't earned that title by anyone's estimation.  I like to tell people she was born middle finger first, although I'm pretty sure that's not exactly how she made her arrival. 

          Several years ago she made a habit of obtaining, and then losing, a series of menial jobs in the fast food service industry, usually because of her refusal to take unnecessary shit from managers or customers.  In that regard, we differ slightly.  I kept a job I hated at a factory for thirty-five years, despite multiple temptations to flip off a boss or bitch-slap someone who desperately needed it... proof (somewhat) of some degree of self restraint on my part. 

           But my daughter lacks that "you better shut the hell up" gene.  A customer at one restaurant pushed her buttons one evening when she wasn't feeling particularly chipper, and my daughter's smartass reply cost her that job.  Asked if the "patty melt on the menu is going to be warm", she replied, "The word warm ought to be a clue, ma'am."

           Sounded reasonable, to me.  But then, most of her termination stories went that way.  Everything would be fine, until... someone tried to act like her boss, or one too many customers simply demanded a verbal rebuke.  It was always something minor.

           But she's gone back to school, acquired a Masters degree, and she's probably the best writer you've never read.  If anyone is bold enough to publish one of her novels, you can tell people you heard about her here, first.  I have no doubt you'll know her name well one of these days.  She's that talented.

           At this very moment, she's waiting for the contractions to start.  Her due date is still a week away, but she insists her little bundle of joy isn't going to hang around in the oven much longer.  It's her first child, and will be my first grandchild upon arrival.  We're excited.  Sort of.  I mean, I'm cool with the grandchild thing, but don't really think I'm in any way old enough (maturity-wise) to be someone's grandfather.  Grandfathers are supposed to be wise, solid individuals a kid looks up to for advice.  I'm still looking around for advice, myself.  As Paula Poundstone once said, "The reason adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up, is because we're looking for ideas!"

            Anyway, I called my daughter in Virginia yesterday and asked how she was doing.  She gave me an update on the last ultrasound, let me know what my soon-to-arrive grandson's name would be, and then told me the story that is the basis for this post. 

            Seems she and the baby's dad were taking a tour of the birthing center where this is all scheduled to take place, and the elderly nurse who was showing them around gave them an inspirational little speech about how much she loved her job, saying, "Every day I watch the world change.  Every birth changes the world.  Just think!  The next child born might turn out to be the next Mother Teresa!"

             And that's when my daughter blurted out something she instantly regretted saying:

             "Yeah... or Hitler."

             She said this woman's face just dropped, and she stood them in stunned silence processing the comment.

             "Dad, this sense of humor you've passed along isn't always a good thing!  I don't know why I said Hitler!  Of all the names I could have said, why Hitler?  She just looked so sad..."

               That grandson of mine is going to have his hands full trying to get over on his mom.  And I'm looking forward to watching that process as it works itself out.  God knows, she gave me and her mom fits.  I figure the Hooey Gods owe her at least five or ten years worth of grief for all the gray hair she put on MY head...

               (Here's a link to a previous story about this child from when she was but a baby herself.  It was the first time she scared the hell out of me, for what it's worth...)

               http://squatlo-rant.blogspot.com/2011/01/squatlo-story-number-twenty-six.html

     
         

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

HANNITY HYPOCRISY ON DISPLAY (but I repeat myself...)

            This pretty much sums up the hypocrisy of Faux News Channel's Sean Hannity. He's a law-and-order kinda guy when it comes to welfare cheats or illegal immigrants, but when a guy violates federal law, loses his case in court, then has armed thugs (who think of themselves as Patriots) show up to sacrifice the women and children first, well.... at that point, Hannity's all about pickin' and choosin' which laws we oughta follow. Why this sanctimonious asshat even has a microphone and an audience baffles me...

            I believe he takes this position because the Tea Party idiots support this welfare moochin' rancher's position, and the Tea Party is basically a Faux News-Koch Brothers creation. If this rancher was a black man or an immigrant freeloading on government land, and if an army of heavily armed black men or immigrants showed up to confront law enforcement officers, Hannity and Faux News would be calling for the National Guard to call in an Apache attack helicopter strike. He's a total hypocrite.


Monday, April 21, 2014

BEN WATT AND DAVID GILMOUR (because some things need to be shared...)

        David Gilmour could make anyone's music better, but what he does on this cut by Ben Watt (from the band Everything But the Girl) is so subtle and minimalistic, it's a thing of beauty.  Crank it up, sit back, enjoy. 

        You're welcome.

 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

CELEBRATING THE BLESSING OF EASTER VIA PLANE AND BANNER, LOCAL MEGA-CHURCH SPREADS THE WORD (another non-profit organization in action)

(This was originally posted on April 7th, of 2012, two Easters ago, by my calendar... I saw this plane pulling the "He is Risen" banner over Murfreesboro yesterday as we sat in the local hospital Emergency Room with my mother-in-law, and today I pondered a search through my external hard drives for these photos I took at the time, two years ago.  Lo and Behold, if you'll pardon the Biblical language, I Googled "He is Risen" plane banner and two of my photos and a link to this original blog post were among the top three images offered.  Cool...   I'm reposting this because it struck me as an incredibly expensive promotional stunt by a local mega-church at the time, and it still seems a tad extravagant today.  Hope you'll forgive me for any religious blasphemies included in this post.  I was a bit more outspoken at the time...)
 
 
 

    
           (first of all, hope you'll forgive the shitty pictures... they were taken from the open window of a car I was driving... and I apologize to anyone I ran off the road as these were taken... ahem)

           There's something to be said for pagan traditions.  Of all of the Christian hollerdaze we celebrated at our house when I was a kid, Easter was probably my favorite.  Christmas was too long in coming and seemed to always be an overwhelming experience.  But Easter just popped up in the middle of the transition from winter to spring every year, and involved dyeing eggs and eating lots of candy.  Of course, we had to go to church for a special Mass at Easter, but hey, every silver lining has a cloud or two...  The candy part of the deal always reminded me of Halloween, except you didn't have to go door to door dressed like an idiot begging for crap.  An Easter Bunny delivered the shit to your living room during the night.  We never knew why, exactly, but who's going to argue with a huge load of candy?
            But Easters as an adult aren't fun at all, unless you have little kids in the house and can help them get rid of boiled eggs and chocolate rabbits.  Without the candy, it's just some religious holiday that kinks up the usual TV schedule.
            The reason I'm thinking of Easter isn't because I just saw King of Kings in its annual rerun broadcast (even though the theme song from that movie is AWESOME!!!)  I'm thinking of Easter because I almost ran off the road on my way home from shooting two high school baseball games due to a banner plane that was flying low near the highway, and that plane's banner read, "HE IS RISEN" and had the name of a mega-church here in town.
             Seeing a plane pulling a banner to draw attention to a religious holiday and a local church made me wonder about Christians and their mission on Earth.  Obviously, atheists don't have money lying around in collective pools for things like sponsoring planes with banners.  If we did gather up all our resources, we probably wouldn't vote to sponsor a plane... and we'd never agree on the banner's message.  Probably something like, "SUPPORT SUNDAY LIQUOR SALES", because we can't buy liquor on Sundays in Tennessee.  And I'm pretty sure that's God fault, or at least, I'm blaming it on his fan club.
             Anyway, no telling how many people that church could have fed or clothed or ministered to in Honduras if they'd been a little more judicious with their funds.  But I also realize that more than a desire to spread the gospel was in play with that flying advertisement today.  They're also spreading the word about their church with that sign.  I assume they want people to see the sign, remember the Biblical meaning of the day, and then say, "Hey, you know what?  I think I'll go check out that big ass church 'cross town, the one that has an air force!  Hey Edna, grab yer coat and let's go see if they've got a blimp!"
             And more members means a bigger pot of money for spreading the gospel next Easter.
             There might even be a little left over for feeding the homeless or helping out with free medical care for the needy.
             Or airplane fuel.  Whatever works.

             And by the way... that's the same local mega-church that has helped sponsor some of the anti-Islamic Center protests here in Murfreesboro, and is the same church that hosted a recent seminar for our county sheriff's deputies to help them learn how to identify and deal with the threat of Islam in our community.  Just so you know their motives are pure...

            Here's Eddie Izzard trying to explain the relationship between the crucifixion of Christ and the chocolate eggs we get at Easter:


SHARING THE ELEVATORS WITH TATTOOED HORROR FESTIVAL PATRONS (the stairs are temporarily out of order...)


              There are things you miss when you book hotel rooms on-line instead of over the phone.  Things like the sound of jackhammers, belt sanders, and metal scaffolds being banged around.  If you hear those sounds over the phone, perhaps you might connect the dots and deduce that the hotel is being remodeled.  Perhaps.  But you damn sure don't hear helpful clues when you use Expedia.

               And you don't find out until you're printing your receipt that the hotel has a few hidden charges they don't tell you about... such as the $30 kick for the privilege of self-parking in their garage. 

               But, hey, its only money, and we were getting a great room within easy walking distance of the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville for the Nickel Creek concert!  And it was an incredible show, by the way.  Everything we'd hoped for, and a lot more.

              But that's not why I called you here today, and I'll try to avoid further digressions.

              This is about the elevators in what passes for a skyscraper in Nashville.  There are four of them guests are allowed to use (and to our surprise, they weren't coin operated... the Sheraton is missing out on a real money maker, I'm afraid) and each elevator can hold about eight or nine typical Americans, if those at the back are mashed up against the glass window.  The glass window that looks down at the construction workers using jackhammers, belt sanders, and metal scaffolding...



               Another thing we didn't know when we booked our room was that a Tattoo and Horror Festival was being held across the street from the hotel.  It's a little disconcerting to wait ten minutes for an elevator to arrive, and have the doors open to reveal a tiny capsule filled with inked up people, many of whom looked as if they might have fallen face first into tackle boxes.  Piercings aplenty. 

               On the morning of our departure, we were offered complimentary breakfasts at the hotel bistro as compensation for the noise and clutter.  Being of the opinion that we should get our money's worth, we cleaned ourselves up bright and early and went out to wait for an elevator to take us from our fifteenth floor to the restaurant level.  Five minutes at least.  Apparently, the elevators were busy, stopping at every floor even though no one was waiting to get on or off at most of them.  We finally caught a ride to the second floor, ate a buffet breakfast to the soothing sounds of jackhammers and belt sanders, and went back out to wait for an elevator to take us up to collect our belongings. 

               Ten minutes.  We stood for ten minutes, alongside the dregs from hell who were also looking for a lift.  We squeezed in, and everyone smelled of bacon and syrup.  Fourteen floors, fourteen stops, few getting on or off... just the awkward silence of people trying to digest while lurching upward, twelve feet at a time, listening to the chime that announced every stop on the "local".

              Here's where it gets interesting (for those of you still hanging around to see where this was headed...).

              We grabbed our suitcase (a heavy sumbitch, complete with clothes, shoes, toiletries, and a Deluxe Edition wooden Scrabble game... standard equipment for any trip we take) and our cooler (another heavy sumbitch, containing the remnants of a gallon of rum cosmos, a few cans of beer, and melting ice), and went out to wait for yet another elevator to grace us with an opening door.

              Ten minutes.  Swear to god, we stood there for ten minutes.  We could hear the hopeful "ding!" of the chimes echoing up through the open atrium beside the elevator shafts, twenty-five floors of open air above the dust and clutter of jackhammers and belt sanders.  Ten minutes of trying to decide if that complimentary breakfast was such a great idea after all, because as far as my percolating gut was concerned, things were touch and go.

              My lovely (and dangerous) wife walked around the corner of the hallway to get a view of the elevators, and came back to say it didn't look like any of them were leaving the ground floor.  They seemed to have stopped at the lobby and weren't moving.  We waited several more minutes, suitcase and cooler at our sides.  No more hopeful "dings!"... just jackhammering and belt sanding noises.

              "It's only fifteen floors... Shit, we could have walked down by now."  was what I said.  I'm an idiot sometimes. 

              Fifteen floors with a heavy suitcase and cooler (I insisted on carrying both, because it's the manly thing to do, and like I said, I'm an idiot sometimes) might not sound like much of a hike.  And going down is definitely easier than climbing up under that weight.  But it was still a bit of an ordeal. 

             My wife kept offering to help carry the shit, but... you know... the idiot thing?  So we soldiered on, flight after flight, turn after turn, and just like the hopeful helpful "ding!" noise, she counted off the floors we were passing on our descent.

             "Just six more!  Almost there!"

             I imagine that's the sort of shit she tells her cardio/kickboxing students when she's working them into the mats at the karate studio.  "Five more!  C'mon, you can do it!"

             We passed the sign on the door of the third floor, and noticed a small piece of paper taped to the wall that read, "Stairs are temporarily out of order".

             WTF?  Stairs break?

             We kept slogging forward, despite the sign.  But there was no second floor door.  The stairs narrowed and seemed to be going off in a straight line instead of making the standard 90 degree right turns.  It got darker and darker, and there in the faint distance the stairway seemed to end at an unmarked door next to a fire extinguisher.  It looked, for all the world, exactly like those dungeon doors on most episodes of "Criminal Minds".  The axe murderer's lair was beyond that last door, I could just feel it.

 

              "No damn way in hell we're going down there..." said the idiot with the suitcase and the cooler.  We couldn't even hear the sounds of jackhammers and belt sanders anymore.  We were standing at the gates of hell, where the tattooed, pierced people would be waiting to exact their revenge.

              We trudged back up to Door Number Three, opened it and found ourselves standing in front of four closed elevator doors...

              We stood there for ten minutes before our "carriage" arrived, complete with the folks we'd avoided in the cellar.

              And now, on the morning after our little excursion, I've come to the conclusion that I'm in a lot worse shape than I thought.  I should be able to squat down and tie my own shoes in a couple of days, if everything heals up properly.  My little cardio kickboxer seems fine.

              sigh...