Sunday, April 29, 2007




It's been most likely the prettiest weekend I've seen around these parts since the turn of the century. I've managed to spend the great deal of it away from work and out enjoying the sunshine. Except for a sorrowful moment of intense pain, where I found myself sideways of a wasp for stepping on him with my sandals, it's been a good couple of days.

And I tells ya brother: I needed it. The little bit of sunburn on my brow lets me know that there's something more than fluorescent lights shining on this world.

It's my sister's birthday today. She's 112, and she's creeping up on that "World's Oldest Person" title. I've had a belief for many years that somebody was killing off the World's Oldest Person--not long after receiving the declaration most have the awful luck to die. I could think of no other reason for such a series of events than foul play. Seriously--if one 115-year-old person dies, that's one thing. Even if three of them die. But looking back over the course of this blog, something like 27 World's Oldest People have died.

I suspect foul play.

Actually, she's 26, which means she's roughly 21.5 years older than my blog. I'll bet you that particular thought will leave you staggered for the rest of the week.

Anyway. We're going to her favorite restaurant tonight (The gas station close to her house, the one what serves the potato wedges). Which is cool, because I like potato wedges, too.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Today's Funny

Today's Funny

My buddy Jason complains that everything he knows about, I know about first. That's a truly sad state of affairs, if that were true. Because there isn't a day that goes by, here lately, where I'm not having to have somebody explain some pop cultural zeitgeist to me.

You mean there was a Playstation Two?

Why didn't anybody tell me about this show South Park?

I love the Cosby Show.

Anyway, Jason complains, and I just don't know how it's true. He did point me toward this video, with Mr. Will Ferrell, and I dig it muchly:

Edit: Had to put the Youtube version up...Funnyordie's player was getting on my nerves....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

We are the World

We are the World

I've probably posted this exact post before, because this is a problem I have every six months or so. Thank Jeebus for the interweb and Youtube. I've gotten it stuck in my head, and I'm doing what I can to purge it...

Just a couple thoughts:

If there were a Battle Royale amongst all those featured in the video, I think Stevie Wonder would last longer than most. I'm not saying he'd win the thing (and it wouldn't surprise me if somehow he and Ray Charles took each other out), but he'd last a long, long time.

Quincy Jones would win that Battle Royale, though. I have no doubt of that.

I'd known who Nicole Richie was for a long time (at least as long as she was a d-lister) before I knew that Lionel was her father. I was rather dumbfounded when I learned that. Moreso than I should have been. My mind gave it a weight it really didn't deserve, and I really shouldn't have missed all those days of work because of it.

Holy Christ this is a long song. I wonder if those middle of the night deejays think to play this one in the middle of the night when they need to step out to smoke and take a whiz.

I'd never known the parallel Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan run in my personal view of music--love listening to it, hate watching them perform. For different reasons, but I hate actually seeing them perform that music.

Any time there's a group together like this, it makes me wonder if there's somebody there that they universally dislike, without conferring on the matter or saying so out loud. For some reason, I gotta think it's Kenny Rogers.

I also wonder how much political jockeying there was to sing certain lines of the song.

I won't lie to you. There are a few people in the video that I only have half a clue who they are; a couple I have no clue.

I do know Dan Aykroyd, though. In my mind's movie of the afterlife, I've cast Dan Aykroyd as St. Peter.

(There, I've played the song 3 times. Hopefully that's enough to get the song out of my head....)

Where are my keys?

Where are my keys?

Thus far, we have ascertained that my keys are not:

  • in the pocket of the pants I wore yesterday
  • in the front door
  • On the shelf next to the door
  • on my desk
  • on the coffee table
  • on the couch
  • in the couch (the couch eats things. I think my late grandmother's in there.)
  • on the counter where I put groceries
  • on the kitchen table
  • in the refrigerator
  • on the sink in the bathroom
  • on the floor around the toilet
  • on the nightstand
  • on any of the bookshelves
  • in the truck (where I left the passenger door unlocked)

Sitting here thinking. Wondering where the fuck they could be. Starting to get concerned that in some fit of lunacy if I threw them in the garbage, which I took to the dumpster this morning....


  • Not in any of the dresser drawers
  • Not in any of the drawers in the bathroom.
  • Not behind the bookshelves
  • Not behind the computer monitor or printer
  • Not in those little side pockets on the door of the truck
  • Not in the kitchen cabinets
  • Not in the cabinet on the desk
  • Not in the Pen Cup
  • Not on top, underneath or behind the computer
  • Not in the medicine cabinet
  • Not behind the microwave


  • Not behind any of the furniture
  • A second search of the innards of the couch yielded nothing
  • I don't know why I'd put my keys under the teevee, but they weren't there, either.
  • The city won't search the sewers to see if I somehow flushed my keys down the toilet.

Finale (Here there be spoilers):

  • The keys, my friends, were on the window sill behind the sink in the kitchen. I was unloading groceries last night, and I must have set them there, carrying food into said kitchen.

Thanks for playing; winning bets must be redeemed before doors close of business at 2 AM....

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The "Novel:" Part 4

Part 4

This is part 4, which picks up a word or two after part 3...scroll down for the other parts....

A quick telephone call to Mark yielded the information that an intern at the paper took in all the funereal information and wrote all the obituaries. It was Mark’s experience that it was the type of work best suited to those hungry and inexperienced newspapermen–those who were undaunted by work could easily turn ghoulish, who were all too willing to deal with the (often) irrational bereaved on which details should or shouldn’t be included.

Mark told me that at least once a week a family member of the bereaved would call with some manner of problem. Usually, the problem was nitpicky–it was a nephew named Marion, not a niece. Sometimes, there was a problem with reporting how the deceased had passed–it was tricky, Mark said, especially if AIDS or drugs were involved in the death, writing the obituary so that it seemed like 27-year-olds go pass peacefully three and four times a week. More often than not, the trouble came from an ex-wife, especially if the decedent had multiple ex-wives and/or lovers.

Mark himself, as an intern, had been berated not once, not twice but three times by three different women of a particularly amorous Dr. Ernest Abzug from Millerberg. Two were ex-wives, and the third issue-taker was the x-ray tech whom the doctor had been fricking when he suffered his infarction. I noted Mark’s use of frick, the euphimism he’d been using for “fuck” since we’d been in the second grade and guessed that one or both of his daughters was nearby.

The first two were angry with their relative placement in the Abzug obituary, each finding themselves buried in the second from last paragraph, after the listing of Dr. Abzug’s 27 grandchildren. The x-ray tech, Edda, who hailed from some Eastern European country that probably doesn’t exist anymore, and who was several times more beautiful than her name belied was most upset at not being included in the obituary despite the passion of their multiple-week long, fiery, torrid affair.

And while I considered just how charismatic and/or rich a feller named Ernie Abzug had to be to bed two ex-wives, a current wife, a hot European x-ray tech, and enough kids to produce 27 grandkids, Mark told me that it’s fairly common practice to throw the obituaries off on a college kid for one last reason. Were there to be quite enough of an issue from one family member or faction, it was easy enough to pawn any problem of the obituary off on the kid who just didn’t know what he was doing.

“Does that work?”

“America is surprisingly accepting of incompetence.”

“Is there an intern doing your obituaries now?”

“Yeah. And I’d say Willie’s down at the paper now. It’s his job to sort out the football contest, and he’s probably got his feet up on my desk, right now, watching football and sorting out winners when it suits him. If it’s important enough to you, he’ll at least know if there’s been a death notice.

“Headphones are probably on, though,” he said, “I called down there an hour ago and didn’t get an answer. Donna got back from shopping and said his car’s out front. He may hear you knock, he may not.”

I thanked Mark got off the phone with him, agreeing to dinner with his family in the coming week, and turned to find Teddy had adorned himself in a makeshift warrior’s gear. He was wearing my old catcher’s chest protector and a University of Tennessee football helmet. He wielded a warped 3-wood in his right hand–it had been sitting apart from my golf bag since I’d decided that the club I’d used all of 4 times was to blame the slice I’d suffered from all my life..

“Big weekend plans, Teddy?”

“May I borrow these?”

“You’ll have to turn around lefty if you’re going to drive with that. And I don’t think a chest protector will work as a substitute for golf shoes.”

He stared at me as my only response, spectacles gleaming above the helmet’s facemask.

Cletus joined Teddy. He rubbed against his leg once, seemed disappointed. He then sat and joined Teddy in his game of “stare at Michael in silence.”

“Yes, you can borrow them.”

“I’ll have them back to you in due course.”

“Take your time.”

Teddy stood in the doorway to my kitchen, examining the club.

“Hey,” I said, “I’m going to head up to the paper, see if Willie knows what the deal is with the obituary. Want to go?”

“No,” he said, picking at an ear through a hole in the helmet. “I prefer the press to think of the legend, rather than the reality.”

“Liberty Valance rule, huh?”

“Something like that,” he said. “I’ll see you soon?”

“Why don’t you come to Lyndon’s funeral?”

“I wasn’t invited.”

“Go stealth,” I said.

“Perhaps,” he said, thinking a second more, and then nodding.

Then, he clicked his heels and stood at perfect attention, football helmet and chest protector coming straight. He held the driver like a rifle over his shoulder.

“Michael,” he said sharply, “I bid you good day.”

I too stood at attention.

“Mr. President. Good day.”

Buy His Book

Buy His Book

Got a line dropped to me today, from somebody I haven't heard from in a couple years.

My buddy Alex Bledsoe has gotten hisself a novel published.

There's no cover art available's forthcoming from a feller named Justin Sweet.

The book will be available come October. Ordered myself a copy.

Alex led the first writing group I was ever really a part of. Good guy with a wicked sense of humor. He moved to Wisconsin a couple years back, and when my Yahoo Address went tits up, I lost his e-mail address.

Luckily, he had the wherewithal to find my big ass here on the interweb.

Alex is a good dude. Congrats to him.

Buy his book, please.

Brewers 5, Cubs 4

Brewers 5, Cubs 4

I think the 2007 Chicago Cubs will one- and two-run game me to death this year.

How is it that we're just 19 games in the season, and we've lost 47 games by 1 run or less?

Half of those to the Brewers?

Didn't see this one. Found out about it via text message. To those here in Athens, that was me cursing a blue streak coming over Depot Hill around about 12:30 this morning. Sorry 'bout that.

Monday, April 23, 2007



Hello, from the ass end of the night.

A link or two, all of which wandered down from the high mount of awesome.

Awesome bear story. Quite possibly the best bear story I've heard today--and don't miss me, I hear dozens every day. It's in my job description. This does not diminish the pure and unfettered awe I felt at Yabu's story.

Another awesome explosion. You can tell that I'm not there during the making of the video, because I'm not running around screaming "Awesome!"

Awesome post. Awesome, making me laugh until I cry awesome.(Seriously, every now and then, you run across something so well constructed [dare I say motherfucking awesome?] in this little blogoverse we've created that it makes you wonder just what it is you're doing dicking around over here when there's such great stuff just a click away...)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Why We Have Mobile Phones...

Why We Have Mobile Phones...

I held off on having a mobile phone for a long time. Didn't like the people who used them constantly, didn't care for the idea of being tethered at all times by a constant line of communication.

Still, I was driving a truck that more likely than not would leave me stranded somewhere, and as little as I like communication, I like walking in all the way from Bumfuck even less. So, I ended up with a phone.

That truck is no longer my primary vehicle, but still I have the phone. It's handy, I'll grant you. I don't have a land-line to my house, even. Just the pocket phone, which leaves me available for emergencies.

What kind of emergencies you ask?

What if my Mom's car were to break down?

Or my Dad had a medical emergency?

Steven needed bail money?

Luckily, last night, I had my phone on as this little piece of trauma came screaming headlong into my life. My sister calls....

April: Tommy?

Me: Yeah.

April: Didn't Jake Gyllenhaal play the little boy in Jurassic Park?

Me: No.

April: I think he did.

Me: No. I don't know who the kid is, but I know it wasn't Jake Gyllenhaal.

April: So, you're not 100% sure?

Me: I'm 100% sure it wasn't Jake Gyllenhaal.

April: Dammit. I lost ten dollars.

Good thing I had my phone. Otherwise somebody would have wrongly given my sister 10 dollars. She needs to work for her money, and not depend on wagering to feed the family.

(Gods bless the interweb, too, for the Internet Movie Database says that Tim was played by Joseph Mazzello.)

Sounds like I should get 10 dollars for my trouble.

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Fark had this video up this morning. Just wow.

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Lies I have told at work lately....

Lies I have told at work lately...

Some of you know that I help manage a grocery store. It's what you might call "my day job." It's also my night and inbetween job, too. Pays the bills, I reckon, though it's been a particular burden on my time the past four or five months.

Which is not to say that it's all bad. It takes a lot of time, and though I often wish I were out doing other things (today's absolutely BeeYooTeeful day being no exception), I still find ways to entertain myself.

I tell stories. In the vein of Homer Simpson....You might call them lies. I wasn't lying, I was writing fiction with my mouth....

  • Solar Powered Car: I told one of the guys working in the deli that I'd made my own solar powered car out of a 1976 Buick Parisienne. I needed the heavy metal frame, which I'd bathed in a special salt water solution, to help transform the solar power into usable car power. Power came from the sun, and was collected from old cookie sheets that had blackened when I made cookies, aluminum foil, and a box of plastic sunglasses that I bought on closeout at the CVS. Power was transferred from the sunglasses to the battery using wire out of a piano I found at the landfill. I wrecked the car during an especially cloudly day, running it into the Hiwassee River. (This was my personal favorite lie, because I made people go up to the kid in the deli, and mention my solar powered car in passing. We've had other store managers in the store the past couple of weeks, and we even got them in on the action....)
  • Were-Beast: I turn into a Were-Beast around 10:30, on nights of the full moon. It's not a were-wolf. It's more of a were-bunny or were-squirrel. Definitely a were-rodent. It's not terribly frightening, except when I take to humping things, hoarding food or pissing in corners. It's why I'm off nights of the full moon.
  • Bill Cosby: I once got into a headbutting contest with Bill Cosby over the last box of Jell-O Pudding Pops in a freezer display, one night when we were closing. He won, and I bought popsicles instead. This one pretty much explains itself.
  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell: I argued for longer than was really necessary with a cashier that buying a box of "Fruity Cheerios" would be a violation of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
  • Kosher: We had a bagger helping me condition the dairy aisle, and he asked me about some sour cream (or something) that had been labelled "kosher for passover." I explained that if a person of the Jewish faith ate something non-kosher, God would give them a horrible affliction, depending on the year on the calendar. This calendar year's affliction was "rickets."
  • Webbed Toes: Another self explanatory one. I bring it up often the fact that I have webbed toes. I blame it on my mother's hillbilly heritage.
  • Dannon Water: Every bottle filled personally by my Uncle Dannon from a spring he discovered himself during an attempt to dig a tunnel to Dr. Duck's over in Decatur. He's a millionaire...the problem is, he has no understanding of how money works--my uncle Dannon is the inspiration for the movie Rain Man.

This is how I entertain myself, here lately....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tommy's Novel, Part 3

Tommy's Novel, Part 3

Part 3, written in November.

It's not really a chapter, but we'll just call this one, Chapter 3:

I’ll spare you the most of the gory details of buying myself a suit. A visit to Raymond’s Clothing Store for the Amazingly Big and Colossally Tall sounds exciting, but on the whole, a visit to a Big and Tall man’s shop on a Saturday morning makes me feel like I’ve had my application excitedly accepted to a traveling carnival freak show, like I’ve already passed the interview without saying a word.

I left thanking God for small favors: I’d found a black sportcoat on the rack and a pair of slacks that fit well enough without a.) having to wander too far up the expanse of fat guy’s pants, and b.) having to deal with Raymond, who was himself worth his weight in two of me, and who had the daunting inability to observe the boundaries of personal space. Today, Raymond had been busy with a mother and a pair of monstrous boys from the next town over, neither of them below 6'7" on the height scale, and both looking like they’d probably downed half a pig and a couple dozen eggs for breakfast, and had it leave them feeling peckish.

So, I’d made my way in, gotten my suit, paid Raymond’s (remarkably tiny) wife for my clothes, and as I left the establishment, I thought about gathering the villagers, the torches and farm implements to chase the two monstrous boys now trying on blue jeans from the town. I wound my way back into the street, squinting into the sunlight, I turned left out of the door and immediately spooted a barrel-chested figure leaning against the passenger door of my truck.

“Hello, my old friend,” Teddy said to me.

“Teddy.” I hadn’t seen Teddy in months. “Where’ve you been?”

“I decided that my last bit of advice to you had created something of a....”he spun his finger in a circular motion, searching for the word....


“Precisely....Do I owe you an apology?”

You know, I never blamed Teddy. I hadn’t thought that out loud. There were a lot of things I wanted to lay blame to, but I realized that I’d never consciously or unconsciously blamed Teddy.

“I never blamed you, Teddy.”


“I’d have asked her sooner or later. All other things being equal, I suppose knowing is better than not knowing.”

Teddy only nodded.

I motioned for him to move off the passenger door so I could unlock it. As I hung the suit on the hook behind the seat.

“Besides, it’s not like you’re privy to any sort of information on the future unfolding of events, is it?”

“No,” Teddy said. “You’d think so, in my position, but no.”

“I thought so at one time, but I believe you now.”

“How much money did you lose when I told you to bet on the Cubs? You never said.”

“Enough,” I said. “I don’t know what hurt worse, losing a fiancé or having the Cubs lose in the playoffs like that.”

Teddy winced.

“The money never bothered you, did it?”

I put the seat back, and asked if Teddy was riding or walking.

He accepted a ride.

“Eating baloney sandwiches and Ramen noodles so I could afford Christmas presents bothered me,” I said, walking around toward the driver’s side.

“I’ve never eaten Ramen noodles,” Teddy noted.

“You’re a charmed man leading a charmed life.”

“Buying a suit of clothes?” Teddy asked when I got myself situated behind the wheel. He was changing the subject. Teddy was a man’s man, and he wasn’t much on sharing his emotions, but I could tell he hadn’t taken my statement that he wasn’t responsible hadn’t really taken him from that notion. He felt guilty, and he had it written all over him.

I looked at the suit.

“Got a funeral to go to.”

“Really?” he asked, his interest legitimately piqued.

“Yeah,” I said. “Lyndon Waverly’s nephew came by the house this morning and told me that Lyndon had passed on a couple days back.”

“Really?” he said again. He seemed surprised.

“Yep. Now that I think about it, if anybody should have known, you should have.”

Teddy looked away out the passenger window as the storefronts slowly made their way past my truck, quietly annoyed in spite of his previous guilt. “Do you honestly think I don’t have anything better to do than look down on this hillbilly town to see who’s recently deceased?”

“I don’t know how you spend your spare time. Aside from bothering me.”


“Mostly by showing up completely unannounced after....”

“How did Lyndon die?”

“Does that have bearing on whether you know when?”

“I tire of the inquisition.”

“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I was so surprised at being asked to be a pallbearer that I didn’t think to ask how he died.”

Teddy nodded.

“I figure it was old age.”

“How old was he?”

“Don’t know,” I said. “I looked in all this week’s papers for an obituary, but never saw one. He was ancient, though. Had to be. I mean, he was old back when I was a kid.”

Teddy ran a hand across his face, straightened his mustache as he soaked the news in.

“I hadn’t realized you were that close,” he said.

“Neither had I. You could have knocked me over with a feather when his nephew asked me. Said Lyndon had asked for me by name. Specifically.”

Teddy remained silent.

We drove in silence through Trainersville’s three or four blocks of downtown, mostly empty, as the municipal business of the week limits itself politely to the five business days around these parts.

Teddy and I hadn’t seen each other in a while. It was a day for reunions, I reckoned. Still, despite our lack of contact, we were falling into the familiar cadence of an old friendship. And even though we’d only been talking for a couple minutes, I knew that the news of Lyndon’s death seemed to be troubling him a little more than it probably should have.

“You really didn’t know?”

“No,” he said.

“Should you have?”

“In honesty, I feel troubled at not having known. I’m not sure why, though.”

“Teddy, you’re a busy man.”

“Yeah,” he said, not entirely convinced.

It had been a busy couple of hours, and maybe that accounts for it, but that was really the first time I started to get an uneasy feeling about all this.

“How’s Alice?” I asked, hoping to change the subject. He usually fell all over himself to talk about Alice.

“Fight with Edith,” he said, disinterested. In the same breath: “Have you thought about calling the newspaper? Isn’t Mark working down there?”

“Mark doesn’t write the obituaries...”

“But he’d know the person who does, correct? Perhaps a mistake was made, an omission of sorts.”

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tommy's Novel, Part II

Tommy's Novel, Part II

(Originally written in November, to be read after part 1, if you haven't read already...)

Chapter 2

I own one suit.

There are times I say that as a mark of achievement. I don’t have to dress up for anybody, anyhow. I dress in blue jeans and t-shirts for work. I install computer hardware for retailers. Which means sometimes, I gotta crawl through the musty, dusty innards of grocery stores, department stores and Wal-Marts all around the south. Definitely not a job where you want to where a suit. A three-piece suit will ruin fairly quickly crawling in a two-foot crawlspace in a ceiling to install a wireless router.

It’s not a bad job. Keeps me on the road more often than not. But then, I ain’t here to talk about my job.

There are times it hits me, though, that I’m within smelling distance of 30, and being the civilized man that I am, I should probably pony-up and go buy myself another suit that doesn’t look like it’s nearly 10-years-old and bought for me by my folks when I graduated college as “interviewin’ clothes.”

That Saturday afternoon, a couple hours after John Waverly had visited, a smiling, well-dressed Messenger of Death, I wandered to the bedroom to see if my interviewin’ clothes still fit.

Well, right now I say interviewin’ clothes. But since the late 1990's, they’d also served as wedding, funeral and various coat-and-tie function clothes, as well. It hit me that I’d had nary a wedding, funeral or a coat-and-tie function to attend since late 2004.

I pulled the black suit jacked with matching slacks out of the very back position on the bar in the closet (just behind the glaring orange hunting coveralls that had last seen its action in early 2005, when I’d managed to scare myself senseless while out hunting boar with friends...I’d fallen asleep, and woken up nearly shitting myself, thinking the sound of my own snoring was a boar coming to get me).

I brushed the dust off the shoulders, and considered the suit of clothes, holding it at arm’s length.

My cat, Cletus, jumped up onto the bureau to join me in my study.

“Think they’re gonna fit?” I asked.

He regarded the suit doubtfully.

“We’ll see.”

Seven minutes of swearing later, I was throwing the suit in to a ball, cursing beer, Krispy Kreme donuts and every fast food joint in the Southeast. The suit ended up in a wad in the corner of the room, as I headed to the bathroom to get cleaned up. It now seemed that my lazy Saturday of college football had just gone down the pipes, as I had to go clean up and find a decent suit of funeral clothes to fit around my recently fattened ass.
Cletus watched all this with his typical smug satisfaction. I long ago realized that I was put on this Earth to feed that cat and keep him in clean litter, but I like to think that occasionally I provide him with a decent level of entertainment.

I spend a lot of time figuring that Cletus is probably a lot smarter than I am.


I showered, shaved, ran a comb through my hair.

I was leaning against the vanity to pull a pair of socks on, and I saw a stack of the previous week’s newspapers sitting on the back of the toilet–while you’ll forgive me for once again returning to this area of my life, I tend to do most of my day’s reading right here.

I pulled Friday’s paper off the top of the stack. It was folded back to the comics section–I’d apparently had a long enough constitutional to make it all the way through the sports and local news, and had ended up reading Garfield and Peanuts reprints when I’d finished.

I turned the paper back to the front, and folded back the front page to find the obituaries. I scanned the names. Two names had been called home to be with Jesus, and a third had suddenly passed away at the Baytown Nursing Home at the tender age of 99. I didn’t recognize any of the names, but all were from the surrounding towns–mostly I noted that Lyndon Waverly’s obituary was conspicuous by its absence.

Folding Friday’s paper back up and depositing it in the trash bin, I pulled Thursday’s sheet off the stack. No Waverly notice for Thursday, either.

None for the remaining two papers, Tuesday and Monday. I noted that Wednesday’s paper must be floating somewhere around the homestead.

I pulled a pair of blue jeans on (these fit, without much cursing). Found a shirt and a flannel shirt to go over the top. Wandered around the kitchen, and found Cletus sitting on the counter.

“What are you doing, cat?” I shoved him to the ground. I started digging in the fridge for something to eat before I went out. Cletus jumped back up onto the counter.

“Cats aren’t allowed on the counter,” I told him, and he knew it. I tend to think he stayed up on the counter when I wasn’t there, but he usually had the good humor to stay off while I was there. A concession to make me feel like I was still the King of my castle.

I closed the fridge door, shoved him off once more, only to have him immediately turn, and hop back up.

Now, my cat and I have had a number of running arguments, but Cletus, like most cats, was more the type to hold a grudge and play a neverending game of “Gotyaback” than to overtly seek confrontation like this. Usually he understood that if I knocked him off the counter, or the bed, or the sink or the computer or the fridge...that he probably didn’t want to be there.

I turned once more and saw that his attention was down into the trash.

“Did a mouse get in there?” I asked him.

I picked up the trash can and shook it once, to see if I could garner any movement.

Nothing stirred, and I looked at the cat, who was staring down into the trash as if his next seven meals depended on it.

I shuffled the contents a little with my hand, pretty much sure that as I did so, a mouse the size of a Toyota Camry was going to bolt out and run up my arm. Again, nothing happened.

I was about to set the trash can down, when I noticed the Wednesday, October 25 date on the newspaper I’d used to cut potato peels and carrot shavings onto.

I extracted the paper as well as I could, spilling three-day old potato peels onto the floor in the process–asking why this couldn’t have been one of the weeks I could have traveled up to Bumfuck, Kentucky instead of a week where I did local jobs and was home every night by 5:30, so I could cook for myself.

I shook what I could of the detritus of Wednesday’s meal from the paper, and gingerly opened the front page, and looked at the names there.

I counted five names, but not a one of them was named Lyndon Waverly. I got stuck briefly on the obituary of a Lucy Mashburn, who’d had the interesting fortune to die while slopping the hog.

I looked at Cletus, who was still on the counter.

“Why doesn’t Lyndon have an obituary in any of the papers?” I asked him.

Cletus stared back. I’m probably giving him way more credit than he deserves, but he seemed honestly concerned in his wordless response to me.

“Get off the counter,” I told him. To my surprise, he complied.

I grabbed my car keys from the desk, and went out the front door, and locked it. I went to my truck, and I looked back at the house, and saw Cletus staring out the window at me. He’d never done that before.

“Maybe he’s actually starting to act like a real pet,” I said to myself as I backed out of the driveway.

Braves 8, Cubs 6

Braves 8, Cubs 6

Walked up, got a ticket right on the field at Turner Field. Well, not on the field, but close enough. Think of the Turner Field equivalent of the "Bartman Seat" made infamous those years ago at Wrigley, and that's whereabouts I was sitting, just walking up.

Gotta love those ultra-supportive Atlanta fans.

Just a couple thoughts, before I turn in for the evening:

1.) Carlos Zambrano did his warmups like 20 feet from me. We made eye contact as he strolled to the bullpen. I nodded. Without words, we agreed that we were both badasses. (In all seriousness, I had a completely unexpected, weird moment where I realize that part of why I like baseball is because it makes me feel like a kid: Big Z walked by me on the warning track, I could only stand agog, that 7-year-old's voice in my head saying "That's my favorite player!")

2.) Cliff Floyd played in left tonight for the Cubbies. Now, I'll be forthright and tell you that I wouldn't be able to run out of sight in two days time, but I've got an inkling that I'd have slightly more range in the outfield than Mr. Cliff Floyd. It hurts me to watch him run.

3.) I almost caught my first Major League foul ball. Felix Pie lined one foul, it skipped over a couple of people's hands, and practically landed in the lap of the guy sitting two seats down from me. Serendipity for him, I reckon, because within a couple minutes, the ushers came to shoo him and his buddies out of the seats--they were sitting on the wrong side of the aisle, just long enough to get that foul ball....

4.) The video package they run for Bob Wickman is nothing short of hilarious. It's badass power chords, lights and fireworks. All surrounding a guy who probably spends the better part of the day pulling his pants up to cover his asscrack.

Still, he got the job done, and I got to see the Cubs lose. Again.

Beats working, though.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The novel

The Novel

Alrighty. Back in November, I'd tried the NaNoWriMo method to writing a novel. About that time, my CSM at work went on maternity leave, leaving us short a person for a couple of months at work. Ever since then, seems like there's something always happening to make it so that I'm having to cover for something at work.

Looking back at the couple of new year's resolutions I'd made, one of them was "not using work as an excuse not to write," and that's exactly what I've been doing. Sitting there, looking at the calendar yesterday, I realized that I've let the year slide nearly a third past, without really posting anything toward the novel.

So. We're trying again. I've been writing, here and there.

Simply put, it's time to get my ass in gear again.

Over the next few days, I'll be reposting what I'd posted back in November and December. New stuff will follow....

Retry: Tommy's Novel, Part I

Retry: Tommy's Novel, Part I

Here's the first part of what I'd written, written back in November:

I think I’ll start by talking about Lyndon Waverly. Seems as good a place as any to start.

I didn’t know Lyndon Waverly well. I didn’t really consider him a friend, at any rate. That’s not to say I didn’t like him. Just to say that I knew him, and he knew me. To all accounts, we had just slightly more than a nodding acquaintance. Over the past few years, we’d talked over beers at the Mule, but then in a town this size, there aren’t many people you don’t talk with over beers at the Mule. We weren’t friends, or even buddies. Hell, I’d be lying if I thought we were even barfly contemporaries.

Fact is, I’d had a handful of conversations with the fellow over the course of my 30 years, but I’d never thought of him as anything more than a part of Trainersville scenery: he was like Jesse Cochrane’s old yellow Gremlin that you never once saw being driven on the roads. You only saw it parked at various points around town, hood up, with three inches of Jesse Cochrane’s buttcrack smiling sideways out of the engine compartment at you as you drove by. You simply started to accept it as part of the scenery, and you never really noticed it unless the sun shone just right on it.

That’s the way it was with Lyndon Waverly. He was just one of those people who seemed to be there, in the background, all the time.

He was ancient as hell, had been ancient as hell for all my life. Let me say that. I’d always thought of him as an old-timer, and since in my youth, I’d reckoned him to be in his 60's, which should have put him near 90 at the time he died. Even if my reckoning had been faulty, if he’d lived a hard life of tobacco and high, beating sunshine, if he wasn’t licking 55 when I was 10, then I’m a horse-faced son of a bitch.

I first remember him being in church, when I went to church as a kid. He sat in the back pew, in the rear left of the sanctuary, nodding quietly to himself to some point that I never found myself hearing in the sermon...points that nobody else heard, either, judging from their lack of nodding. I remember him because unlike most grownups, ancient or otherwise, he never took offense to the gaggle of kids sitting in the back pew with him, doing anything but listening to the preacher’s sermon.

Actually, you want to know what my first impression of Lyndon Waverly was, other than “old guy who nods to himself in church?”

I was about 10, and I’d gone on a camping trip with friends the previous Saturday night. Well, on this camping trip, we ate like kids do...mostly candy, marshmallows and soda. Truth be told, I don’t think we’d worn the sugar buzz completely off. I think that’s important. Add to that the fact that we’d eaten eggs for two different meals that Saturday (owing to the fact that neither Mark Green’s Dad nor any of us kids could catch a trout).

And then, that night, Mark and I had liberated a handful of beers from Mark’s Dad’s cooler, and given those first beers of our lives good homes in our stomachs.

Well, that Sunday, still on some manner of sugar buzz, heads aching slightly from those virgin Natty Lights, with intestines filled with little more than eggs and yeast, we wandered down out of the hills, got cleaned up and went to church, like you do living in the buckle of the Bible Belt. Mark and I sat in the rear of the church with our good buddy Lance. We sat on one end of the pew, with Floyd and Elmira Reece in the middle of the pew, and Lyndon Waverly sitting on the far end.

Do I need to take time to explain sitting in the back of the church? Probably not. Mark’s, Lance’s and my parents were all three in the choir, except for Lance’s dad, who’d had his throat mangled in some manner of copy machine accident, the embarrassment of which had kept Lance’s Dad from even showing his face in church until I was 17 or so. Anyway, as long as we didn’t disrupt the services, Mark, Lance and I were left to our own devices, in the back of the church, where we felt like we were escaping the prying eyes of our parents, up in the choir pit.

I should note that we, more often than not, were not escaping the prying eyes of our parents, and all three of us had taken enough butt whoopins in the parking lot of Keystone Southern Baptist Church to know this. Still, it often did not dissuade us from our notions.

None of us claimed to be that bright.

Well, anyway, on this day, the trouble started to happen just after the children’s sermon. Mark, Lance and I were coming up on that age where we’d no longer be expected to tromp down to the front of the church so Preacher MacDougal could give us some pared-down version of the story of God’s Wrath and Fury, giving us just enough wrath and fury to get us to behave through the rest of the church service, but not enough to give us nightmares (no small feat, when you consider that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego going into the furnace gave me nightmares for most of the spring of my second grade year).

But today, we were still expected to hear the sermon, so down to the front of the church, to crouch on the padded benches used for those praying at the altar in another part of the service. I don’t know what Preacher MacDougal talked about that day. I spent most of the childrens sermon contemplating the fit of the stockings of Ms. Alloway, our church organist (a wonderfully fit music major from the Baptist college up highway 411). In fact, so deep in study was I that I hadn’t noticed that Preacher MacDougal had finished his story, and was distracted from my anatomy study when the other kids started moving in front of my field of vision.

I stood, coming out of what was essentially a catcher’s crouch, and I felt an odd gurgling in the lower half of my torso. Gurgle, rumble, whatever you want to call it, it felt like some manner of creature (a squirrel, or perhaps an armadillo) had come awake in my gut, and decided to rustle around a bit.

It went away as quickly as it had come. I headed back to my pew, mind alternating between that gurgling and why the hell I was just so fascinated with the way Ms. Alloway’s stockings fit on her legs.

I took my place on the end of the pew, next to Lance, with Mark on his far side.

“Did you see Ms. Alloway today?” Mark asked, his voice a theatrical whisper that I’m suprised to this day that Ms. Alloway didn’t hear all the way from her organist’s position.

“No,” I said, vaguely aware that I’d just lied like a dog in church.

“Her panty hose are awesome,” Mark said again, with all the eloquence a ten-year-old from rural Tennesse can muster, and a touch more discreetly, though I felt like Floyd Reece, all of 969 years of him, was listening intently.

“My Mom has panty hose like that,” Lance said, and all the air went out of the conversation. Lance’s mom was roughly the same size as the hippos I’d seen at the Knoxville zoo, with much the same temperament. At 30, I can now say that I’m truly surprised to see Lance turn out to have been the family man he became given the fact that his Mom was more the type to fight Godzilla in one of those movies than a nurturing female roll model.

Well, I was putting Lance’s disquieting admission away deep into the “gonna need therapy” recesses of my brain, I shifted uncomfortably in the pew. I tried hard to look like I was intent on the reading of the scripture lesson, when the gurgling started again. Insistently. Somewhere below where my heart was, and somewhere above my bladder.

And with it came a bolt of pressure.

I must have jumped, or clutched my belly, because Lance asked “You okay?”

“I think.” I sat in the pew, leaning forward slightly, with my arms clenched around my gut. I must have looked, well, exactly like what I had to do...I probably looked like a kid with the most horrible impending case of the beer shits that anybody’s ever had.

Only I didn’t know it was that.

One: I never claimed to be the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree.

And two: the previous night’s foray into a lifetime of operational alcoholism was my first.

I’d had the talk with my Dad. More than a couple of them, actually. The whole “birds and bees” talk. The whole “Men don’t hit women, and you especially don’t hit your little sister” speech. I’d even gotten the “don’t pee on the electric fence” speech, for all the good it did.

But I’d never gotten the “beer and eggs mix and turn into a horrible death gas inside your intestines” speech.

If I had, I might never have done what I did next.

I knew I had to fart. I mean, there may not be much that a 10-year-old know about life, but he knows when he has to fart. Looking back, I might be a little ashamed that it took me just that long to figure it out, but there it was, nonetheless. I had to fart.

A brief interlude, for a joke I’ve known nearly all my life:

Did you hear about the guy who farted in church?

He had to sit in his own pew

Well. I may be in love with the sound of my own voice, but I don’t know exactly how to spell this one out, except to just come out and say it: I thought I’d relieve a little of the pressure in my gut. Squeeze just a bit of that out, see if I could alleviate a bit of the strain in my gut.

I was the guy who farted in church.

We had padded pew cushions. I should mention that. I had a muffler. Were I sitting on an oak or pine bench, even I would have had the good sense to reconsider my course of action. But I knew that the couple inches of cushion to silence the muzzle, as it were.

I considered my action. I shifted my weight again, straightening up a touch, and I let loose.

It was a small one. I looked slowly at my pew-mates. For several second, nobody seemed to note my emission. Lance was looking ahead. I couldn’t tell if he was listening to the scripture lesson, or studying Ms. Alloway, or simply devising another Voltron battle plan (Lance was famous in our circles for his Voltron battles) in his head. I looked farther down, and saw that Mark was busying himself, drawing some manner of robot-monster on his church bulletin. I was quietly impressed with how he’d managed to merge the rose/vine pattern running up the side of the page into his portrait, with the roses becoming “battle damage” on his robocreature. Floyd and Elmira Reece were staring intently ahead....I’d bet Elmira was listening to Preacher MacDougal, but would bet a testicle or two that Floyd wasn’t just studying Ms. Alloway, rather he was memorizing the girl for later examination.

Only Lyndon Waverly gave the slightest notion that something was amiss. At the precise moment I turned my attention from Floyd to Lyndon, Lyndon turned his attention from Preacher MacDougal to me. Our eyes met. I instantly looked away.

“Now rise and turn in your hymnals to number 292,” I heard Preacher MacDougal say. We rose, and I grabbed a hymnal and looked forward. As I turned to number 292 (He Walks With Me), I decided that it was just a coincidence that Mr. Waverly had turned in my direction, and decided that I’d gotten away with my one cheek sneak scott free.

The congregation sang the hymn, a pretty song despite the domination of the tuneless bass sounds that any man over 30 who isn’t use to singing seems to give, in combination with the number of stunningly tone-deaf vibratos put forth by folks who are too enamoured with the sound of their own singing voices to realize that they aren’t even in the same state as the key of the song, let alone the same ballpark.

The hymn finished, and we were invited to sit for the sermon–something I always thought funny. Preacher MacDougal invited us to sit for the sermon, and I always wondered what would happen if I’d declared in front of God and everybody that I figured I’d stand for the sermon. Or perhaps lie down on the floor in the aisle. Lounge on the altar? Lean in the door way?

Perhaps this day, I should have declared that I’d take this sermon on my throne in the shitter.

Preacher MacDougal wasn’t eight words into his testimony when the gurgling renewed itself in my gut.

“‘Sin is a private matter,’ we tell ourselves,” Preacher MacDougal began.

And my sin was just about to make itself a public record.

I clenched down again. There’s a joke somewhere about making a diamond in somebody’s ass. Well, I had images in my head of my butthole being something akin to the Hoover Dam, straining against the flood inside.

My first attempt at relieving the stress had worked without much cause...Lyndon staring in my direction was surely a coincidence, right?

I tried again. Shifted my weight to the left, snuck a bit out, and felt immediately better.

I took a deep breath, checked my pewmates, and saw that none seemed to notice, until I caught Lyndon’s eye, yet again. This time, we locked eyes. And in that moment, I noticed that Lyndon was trying hard to communicate something to me. With his eyes, he looked from me, and then to his right, toward the back aisle, which ran behind our pew.

My eyes followed his gaze, until they rested upon a picture of Jesus. A nice painting, as paintings of Jesus go, it’s the one where Jesus is resting beatifically on a rock, as if he’s posing for the cover of next month’s Vanity Fair, with the Lion and the Lamb resting peacefully beside him.

I looked at the painting, and back at Lyndon. His stoic, tired eyes were resting on me. Once again, his gaze went to the back of the aisle, and back to me. I looked again a the picture. Studied it. There were three lambs and one lion, who seemed mostly asleep. I wondered for a moment if perhaps Jesus had some manner of sleeping dart, or maybe powers like Crocodile Dundee to make the Lion sleep, so that he wouldn’t eat the lambs.

I looked back at Lyndon. Again, his eyes went to the back aisle, then to the front of the church, where Preacher MacDougal was speaking, and where my parents sat in the choir pit, both of them fanning themselves with their bulletins. At this point, my mind was reeling for an answer. What was this old coot trying to tell me? My brain worked for a moment. After a brief consideration of the powers of Jesus possibly taking away my horrible gas pains, I finally settled on the idea that Lyndon was trying to tell me to be peaceful, like the lamb, while the preacher was speaking, or he’d deliver me to the lions (my folks).

That, or he’d go lion himself, and slaughter me.

My grasp of the holy powers has never been that tight.

I looked at him, and nodded.

He seemed satisfied, and leaned back in the pew. I leaned back in my seat, entertaining and horrifying myself with the picture of the old man Lyndon Waverly, in his dress overalls, running a 10-year-old down in the parking lot, catching him with his teeth, and shaking him until his neck snapped.

It wasn’t until several minutes later that my original problem resurfaced. Only this time, it wasn’t so insistent. I figured I might be able to squeak out one more sneaker, and make it until I reached the relatively free air of the church parking lot.

I made myself an opportunity. Quietly, nonchalantly, I leaned forward to pull my hymnal out of his place on the pew in front of me, and made like I was looking to see what the day’s final hymn would be, and I tried to squeak one last one fart out. This one surprised me. More than a little escaped out. Actually, quite a lot escaped out. I think you might have been able to inflate a tire on what escaped.

This one was different from the first ones in timbre. The previous two had been relatively quiet, easily mistaken for the rub of skin across polished wood pew. This last one was deathly silent. For a heartbeat, I figured I’d managed to sneak this one by, too. The first hadn’t had much smell to them. This one was whole different breed of beast.

Lance smelled it before I did. I wasn’t far behind him, but Lance smelled it and reacted before anybody else in the church. His face instantly became one of surprise and indignation, and morphed almost as quickly into one of horror and disgust.

Mark perked up next to him, and I found out why next.

Now, I knew polite circles don’t go around discussing their own flatulence, but I need you to bear with me for a few more paragraphs.

The smell was horrible. It’s like somebody took a pillowcase full of rotting, dead skunks, dowsed it was kerosene and used it to light a tire fire. It was doubly horrifying to me. Its stench was oppressive, and this from a kid who’d come around to the revelation that his own farts didn’t bother him as much as they did other people. This one was bad enough to make me gag, and it was stupefying to me that such a thing had emerged from my own ass.

First, I realized that I had made this smell, and then I realized that if I thought it smelled this bad, other people must think even worse of it!

Lance’s initial horror hadn’t diminished, and he was regarding me with wide, questioning eyes that asked “Why would you do that to me, do it here?”

Down the pew, Mark couldn’t stop the reaction to cover his nose with this shirt. He looked left, first, perhaps thinking that such a smell could have come only from the rotting innards of Floyd or Elmira Reece, and then he looked back in the direction of Lance and me. Seeing Lance’s initial reaction, Mark knew the answer. It wasn’t even a question of “He who smelt it, dealt it.” Both knew where that bugger had come from.

I hoped, quickly, that only these two would smell the monster. This beast, I was thinking, was not one to even make fun of. This is the type of fart that signifies incipient death. Cancer patients and dead animals are the only things to make this kind of smell.

And to do such a thing in church!

My hopes were dashed when I saw Sam and Esther Black perk up in the pew in front of us. Esther, who had the week before scolded us for kicking the back of the pew, and Sam, who had given us a secretive thumbs up after the scolding, both perked up, looked at each other, and then turned toward.

From there it was a domino effect. Like one of those massive displays of tumbling blocks that you see every now and then on the news, when they have 30 seconds to fill with human interest stories. Pew by pew, I saw people perking up. The Blacks were followed by the Samsons. The Samsons by the McGills, more Reece’s, the Davidsons and on up to the front of the church. Really, really, impossibly quickly, this horrid, paint-peeling stench that should have come from the bowels of hell rather than the bowels of a ten-year-old boy wandered and wound its way up to the front of the church.

First, the smell overtook the 12 person choir (where my parents, Mark’s parents and Lance’s Mom) all were overtaken.

It wasn’t until then that I figured a small lesson out.

Without even further noting the people who were now turned and looming over me like I’d, well, like I’d farted in church, I turned over my right shoulder.

See, this was 1987 in the rural south. Keystone Baptist Church was the smaller of two Baptist churches, and we didn’t quite have the funds to air condition our church, just yet. We had an envelope you could deposit money into for the collection plate marked specifically “Air Conditioner Fund.” But in that summer of 1987, Keystone Baptist Church was still relying on an open window or two.

And a box fan.

I turned over my right shoulder, and I noted on the stand the whirring machine that I’d managed to block out of my consciousness. There on a pedestal was a square box fan, turned on high, circulating a little air in the small country church.

And I’d just put the worst possible ingredient into the airstream that the entire church was now smelling.

Looking back, I think it’s testament to the truly awful nature of mixing eggs and beer. For that kind of smell to wander the length of an 800 square foot room, sticking low enough to the floor so that it might reach people’s nostrils, and not lose any of its horrid intensity, I’m thinking it’s something of an accomplishment.

At this point, Preacher MacDougal had stopped his sermon. His eyes, the eyes of the choir, the eyes of Ms. Alloway, whom I’d declared in my mind to be the prettiest woman in the world, just about all the church, in fact, had turned in my direction.

There was a pregnant silence. I didn’t know if I was supposed to apologize, or what.

“Dude,” Lance said. “Are you sick?”

I looked at Lance, at Mark. Down at the Reeces, up to my folks (my Mom had stood up, hands on her hips in the choirpit). Before looking back at Lance to answer, I caught Lyndon’s eye.

There were a lot of emotions in that church, that day. There was a bit of anger, not much of it justified, to my mind, even to this day. There was disgust, which probably was justified. There was questioning. There was wonderment.

I then looked back at Lance and Mark, who should have at least been supportive, especially Mark, who’d been eating and drinking the same mess I had for the past 36 hours.

“It’s so bad I can taste it,” Mark said.

“I’m going to the bathroom,” I said. I did my best to act as if nothing was wrong, but for a kid who absolutely hated all eyes being on him, for any reason, a kid who intentionally misspelled “dollar” to get out of a spelling bee, who tried (and nearly succeeded in) breaking his own leg so that he wouldn’t have to sing solo “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” at a Christmas pageant....I’d managed to breach the first level of Hell, and I’d done so in the sanctuary of Keystone Baptist Church.

It wasn’t until I rounded the pew and headed for the rear exit, for the toilet, when I caught the eye of Lyndon Waverly. Of all the emotions in that church that day, which ran the gamut from righteous anger to wonderment and disgust, Lyndon’s was unique among the congregation.

Lyndon Waverly was laughing his ass off. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t breath. The old man was crying, hitching for breath, he was laughing so hard.

As I made my way to the toilet, to make sure that I hadn’t, indeed, crapped in my pants, I started to laugh as well.


I got grounded. For a week. Nothing bad. My parents were punishing me not for farting, because we all fart.

“Even Mom?” I asked.

“Even Mom,” she answered.

“Especially Mom,” Dad had chimed in.

“Not helping,” she said, before turning to me, and grounding me for a week for not having the good sense and taste to go outside and do that sort of thing.

I should mention that I’ve spend a great deal of my life wondering, since then, if people are leaving the room for the sole intention of letting a little wind go in private.


Anyway. I’ve said all that to say this.

I was woken the other day by a knock on the door. It was my day off, and I was sleeping off a few too many I’d had the night before.

The man at the door was about my age, and he introduced himself: “Mr. Wells, I’m John Waverly. I believe you know my Uncle Lyndon.”

It took me a second, but I did realize and respond that I did know Lyndon.

“Well, Uncle Lyndon passed away the other night.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said. After a moment of silence, I added: “Is there anything I can do for you guys?”.

“I apologize for not calling in advance,” John said, his accent one I’d taken for upper midwest–Chicago, or maybe Minnesota/Wisconsin, but now becoming a little less placeable. “But Uncle Lyndon has requested in his last moments that you serve as a pallbearer.”

“Me?” My mind raced to think of the last time I’d even seen Lyndon, let alone spoken with him. It had to have been nearly ten months ago, just before Christmas.

“He specifically requestion Michael Edwin Wells. That is you, or have I made mistake?”

“’s just that...”

“Services are tomorrow at Uncle Lyndon’s homestead on County Road 452. Do you know it?”

“Yeah, just off the frontage road.”

“That is the one. We will proceed at 2 P.M.”


“Thank you,” the man who introduced himself as John Waverly said. He turned on his heel, and almost marched from my front doorstep. He hit the sidewalk, performed another marchstep heel-turn, and continued down the sidewalk.

“Homestead?” I asked myself, as I closed the door.

I pondered that word. As far as I knew, Lyndon lived in a little old but well kept farmhouse, the kind my Dad had always called a crackerbox, just off the frontage road on the otherside of Trainersville. Definitely not something I thought of as a homestead, which brought to mind great sweeping areas of land, covered with fields of cotton or livestock. As I flipped the switch of the Mr. Coffee to “On,” I pondered two things: Whether my funeral suit still fit, and whether it’d be too uppity of me to start referring to my little brick shithouse as “The Wells Homestead.”

A few minutes later, I sat on the porch, taking in the Saturday paper and my cup of coffee. I was looking for Lyndon’s obituary, and not finding it. I looked up and saw Jesse Cochrane wandering by on foot.

“Gremlin down again?” I hollered toward the street.

“No,” Jesse said, shoulders rounded and hands in his pockets. “I think she’s gone for good this time.”

He hitched up his pants, and continued shuffling his way past the Wells Homestead.

Stuff, and things....

Stuff, and things....

"Real Life" tends to get in the way sometimes, keeping you from taking time to ponder the little things.

The State of Tennessee took a moment to drop me a note, telling me to take the time to stop and smell the roses, using the direct, forthright and precise language that a government agency might to inform and direct.

Essentially, your old pal Tommy's picked up a couple citations for exceeding the "speed limit" over the past six months, and if I pick up another four points to go with the eight that I have, I'll be pulled in to have my record reviewed and possibly have my driving priveleges reviewed.....

So. I'll be a little more conscious of the speed limit.

And be grateful that the letter wasn't a summons to Jury Duty.

Anyway. Life passes quickly, and yesterday while I was decompressing from a torturous run where I worked 42 out of 72 hours, after watching the last four innings of the Cubs' 14 inning loss to the Padres, I learned that the Cubs are going to be in Atlanta the next couple of days.

How the blue fuck did I miss that, the fact that the Cubs are making Two trips to Atlanta this year, including this one that very nearly steamrolled me without even first announcing its presence?


So. I'm putting myself into the truck, and making my way toward Turner Field to catch the Cubs this evening.....

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Links, and whatnot

Links, and whatnot

Holy crap. Percy Pringle, aka Paul Bearer, has a blog.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

In which he comments....

In which he comments...

No posting, eh?

Just a few thoughts on world events:

  • Kurt Vonnegut was a Giant. To my mind, one of the three or four most important writers of the last half of the 20th century. He is one of the those guys who did, has and will continue to inspire me to write. The humor is a big part of it. The skepticism juxtaposed with a quiet optimism. The simply yet wonderfully rendered language--something that is so maddeningly, paradoxically difficult for me, as a guy who spits words out like he's gonna get Sundays off for filling the most bushels. My favorite is probably Slapstick, but you can't go wrong with Bluebeard or Slaughterhouse Five.
  • I haven't ever listened to Don Imus' radio show, and I've maybe caught 15 minutes in my life of the MSNBC simulcast. He never did much for me, but I feel like his firing was just about the biggest railroad job I've seen in years. It was a contrived, invented issue that doesn't engender any real dialogue. It was a vindictive effort from the lunatic fringe, one that ultimately took us a step backward as a society, not because of some "Widening Gulf of race relations," but because it just goes to show that if you bitch and moan loud enough and long enough in this country, you'll get your way. (Chris had a nice post on the matter, by the way....)
  • This is a few days late, but I was disquieted at the fact that Allan H. "Bud" Selig, the car salesman ostensibly in charge of the game of baseball made upwards of $15 mil. I mean, the guy's gotta get paid, I reckon, but he gets to go to baseball games all the time for free, gets to throw abhorrences like interleague play into my life, and gets to be a gutless no-account excuse for a Commissioner and get $15 million? Dang. There's absolutely no justice in the world.
  • Speaking of baseball, my first comment having to do with a certain team was followed by a three game losing-streak. I will not comment on them further. Because there is some small chance that my actions somehow butterfly-effect into negative results on the North Side. So. Radio silence on such matters.
  • Really, really want to see Grindhouse. May go tomorrow.....

Sunday, April 08, 2007

An Age Old Question

An Age Old Question

Last week, at Wrestlemania's Fan Fest, we answered a question that has plagued me most of my life.

How would my hands compare in size to those of Andre the Giant?

Now we know.

Fingers like polish sausages

All of which reminds me of a joke:

Why did Andre the Giant have such big nostrils?

Because he had such big fingers.

In Which Big Z Makes Bulletin Board Material....

In Which Big Z Makes Bulletin Board Material...

"I don't say that the Milwaukee Brewers are nothing, but I think the offense of the Cincinnati Reds (is) better," Zambrano said. "There's no making mistakes when pitching against Cincinnati. When you make a mistake against them, you pay for it. When you make a mistake against Milwaukee, sometimes they miss it and that's good."

On the one hand, I like Big Z's confidence and honesty. Always have.

On the other hand, don't the Cubs play the Brewers 93 times this season?

And we ask the padre for a prayer....

And we ask the padre for a prayer...

To my good friend Jesus,

Thank you for punching certain people in my life in the nuts, getting them to get their acts together, thusly making my life and job a little easier to deal with. I honestly appreciate it, and I will buy you one (1) beer when I get to heaven.

You might make it to full six-pack status if you could now find a way to get me a couple hours spare time a day. That would be sweet.

Also, thank you for that five dollar bill you put into my pants pocket this morning. As the great Homey G. Cornrow says about finding money in the pocket: "Tommy 1, World 0."

But Jesus, I wonder if you could do one more thing for me. Just for me.

I know we got a lot of strife going on in the world. War. Famine. Genocide. And I gotta be honest, it takes several minutes to get my ass to unclench after reading a story about this or that drug resistant strain of bacteria or influenza--I really don't want to have to make that trip to Boulder, Colorado just yet.

But I got one problem that's really on my nerves.

What I want to ask you is this: Could You do something about a disturbing trend I've noticed at work this week? I'd like it, sir, if you'd make it so that people don't call me on the intercom while I'm taking a dump.

It's like You've given everybody in my workplace some manner of extrasensory perception, where they all have some harmonic, instinctive knowledge that "Tommy's dropping a deuce."

Jesus, I know you're wanting to make some joke about "Everybody knows because of the smell," and whatnot. You're a funny guy, but we both know that I've been working very hard on it for years, and we both know that I can say without fear of contradiction that my shit doesn't stink.

But seriously. Could you get them to stop calling me while I'm in the middle of a shit? I had a little bout with the squirts tonight (not that I blame you), and it happened Twice tonight.

Jesus, this is why I usually don't crap at work. And it's why I don't take my phone in with me to the bathroom. Because that's "Tommy Time" and it's where I get my best thinking done. I don't like getting disturbed during it.

Also: I'm afraid that I'm rushing through the paperwork, Jesus. I haven't ruined any clothing lately, so maybe I'm a little overzealous in my reasoning here. But I don't think so.

Anyway. Thanks a lot Jeesus.


Thursday, April 05, 2007



Dear Online Nerd Diary,

Today, the fifth day of the fourth month of the year 2007, the Internal Revenue Service sent me a letter. After taking a second to let my testicles drop back out of my torso, I opened the envelope to find that my initial pants-shitting at getting mail marked "Internal Revenue Service" these two months after I've filed my tax return were unwarranted. The friendly folks at the Eye Arr Ess were reminding me, in this letter post marked March 30, that it is terribly quick and efficient to file your tax return via e-file, and that only a fool would choose to file any other way.

Only a fool, indeed!

Also, I do not end enough of the phrases I speak on a day-to-day basis with the word "indeed."

My goal for this week is to win the war on wordlessness, and work that wayward, wily word into a more promising and prominent position in my lacking, laggard, lazy lexicon.


Monday, April 02, 2007

In which I bother people at the airport

In Which I Bother People at the Airport

...And then, while grabbing something to eat at the airport, we saw Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. It was the first time I've bothered a celebrity at the airport.

He was cool about it. I would say the fact that he was downing Jack and Coke at 10 in the morning might have something to do with his mellow outlook on life....

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