Monday, February 28, 2005

Bad habits

OK, it's 5 a.m., and I still haven't been to bed yet. I just finished doing a little homework that needed to be finished by today, that I put off earlier Sunday. Over that last week or so, it's become pretty common for me to be up at 5 a.m. I blame Brat for most of that, who has the weirdest sleeping schedule on the planet. I'm not sure she ever actually sleeps at all.

Me, I usually need sleep, and lots of it, like 8-10 hours whenever possible. It's just that my body never wants to sleep when the rest of the world is sleeping. I am regularly up until 2 or 3 a.m. But I'm in a bad pattern of staying up until 5 or 6 now for some reason.

Waiting until late to research and write my column last night didn't help. But there is an interesting little side note to an earlier post that came out of this all-nighter. "Purple Rain" is on TV on Bravo.

I few days earlier I wrote a post about one of the songs on that movie's soundtrack, "Darling Nikki." It seems for whatever reason, this song seems to keep popping into my head and my life the last 7 or 9 days.

Maybe someone is trying to tell me something. I may know what it is.

Masturbate more.

Oops, got to run... the refrain from "Darling Nikki" has just started.



Sunday, February 27, 2005

Been there, done that

Yes, I really should be doing something more productive with my time, but instead I was doing this.

I found this on SunGrooveTheory's blog.



bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.



Saturday, February 26, 2005

Winner and still champion

Brat challenged me to a few more online games tonight. We playing a bowling and pool game.

I am too humble to say how well I did. So, I'll let Brat's words speak for themselves.

Brat said: "I thought I had a chance at coming out ahead tonight. Show you two games I had played once before and you kick my ass. ... I think I just cannot compete with you."

Friday, February 25, 2005

Here comes the sun

It's Friday. The sun is shining. It's 70 degrees.

Yea, the clouds may return this afternoon and there is a chance of a shower later. But I choose to live in this beautiful, solar-heated moment.

The sun has returned to the desert again and all is right with the world.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Just how do you masturbate with a magazine?

It said thank u 4 a funky time
Call me up whenever u want 2 grind
"Darling Nikki" by Prince off the album and movie soundtrack Purple Rain.

When I was in high school and my early days of college I was a headbanger. My record collection (yes, this was before the days of compact disks or MP3 players) was filled with bands like AC/DC, Van Halen, Cinderella, Ratt, etc.

I had heard Prince songs on the radio and at dances, but wasn't a fan by any stretch. Us headbangers made fun of Prince, long before he changed his name to a symbol and back again, which provided plenty of fodder for fun-poking. And I certainly didn't buy any of his music. My money went to things I found much more important, like Bo Derek posters, Old Milwaukee beer and Swisher Sweet cigars.

Somehow, in the summer of 1984, the endless summer that ended far too soon after graduating from high school, I got talked into going to see the movie "Purple Rain," against my will. I was with my best friend, a fellow headbanger, and, if memory serves, his family. Although the more I think about it, I may be hazy on all the facts, but I'm pretty sure his stepsisters where in on this humiliation. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Anyway, the girls outnumbered and outvoted us. They wanted to see the Purple One in all his tight outfitted splendor. I'm sure we pouted all the way into the theater. Well, maybe we could sit way in the back so no one would see us walking in to see that particular movie.

But no, that didn't work, because the place was packed. We had to walk past all those filled seats. Fortunately we had perfected the disinterested teen slink in the preceding years, so as to make it obvious to everyone there that we were far too cool to see this movie (despite the fact that we were not cool enough to avoid being pussy whipped into seeing "Purple Rain.") The only seats we could find to fit our throng were right in the front row.

There's nothing like having to lay down to watch a movie, but that's what it took to see the screen from about 6 feet away. Trying to follow the action on screen was like trying to watch a tennis match played on the ceiling, rolling our heads back and forth. Of course, from that distance, Apollonia's tits were HUGE. And I was a goner from that moment on in the movie. I was 18 for fuck's sake! I got a hard-on when the wind blew! Seeing tits? Oh my God, I'm surprised I didn't make a huge wet spot in my Levi's 501s. Between scenes featuring Apollonia's bare breasts or gratuitous cleavage shots, I was spellbound. Well, that and the not so subtle lesbian vibe from Revolution musicians Wendy and Lisa.

Lisa: "Wendy?"
Wendy: "Yes, Lisa."
Lisa: "Is the water warm enough?"
Wendy: "Yes, Lisa."
Lisa: "Shall we begin?"
Wendy: "Yes, Lisa."
From "Computer Blue" off the Purple Rain soundtrack

Hell yes! Begin already. We want to watch! OK, I want to watch.

But it wasn't Apollonia or Wendy&Lisa that led to the moment that forever changed me during that movie. Prince rode a motorcycle, and I rode a motorcycle, so maybe the little fucker wasn't such a pussy after all. But that wasn't it either. It was the music that got me. I ended up buying the soundtrack, and one song in particular blew me away.

The song was "Darling Nikki." I had never heard a song like that before. Prince actually wrote about and sang about masturbation in that song. It was the most blatantly sexual song I had ever heard. I recorded the album onto a cassette tape so I could listen to it at high volume in my car. I couldn't listen to it in my parents' house, but the car, now that was freedom.

And a song about sex and masturbation? I mean, OK, I knew about masturbation. Been there, done that. But I never ever talked about masturbation. Not my masturbation anyway. Never confessed to doing THAT! OK, there were the cruel jokes and taunts about other guys pounding their pud, but I never admitted I would do what is probably the most natural act for a teenage boy to do besides breathing! And here Prince was singing about it.

Over the years, the Purple Rain album collected dust in a record crate that became useless with the advent of CDs and the death of my turntable. And the song faded from memory.

Until one day I had the radio on and I heard it. "Darling Nikki." ON THE FUCKING RADIO! But it was different somehow. Good, but different. I later learned it was the Foo Fighters' cover of the song, and 20 years after it was first recorded, the frank sexuality of "Darling Nikki" was passe enough for broadcast radio.

Times certainly have changed. And I suppose I have too. But spotting a girl in a hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine would still get my attention. I might even pop wood like a teenager all over again.

Yea, I know even the Foo Fighters' version was all over the airwaves a year ago or more, and this is old news. But I got to thinking about this song and the movie the other day. I heard a radio show dedicated to cover songs on the radio, and they played the Foo Fighters' version of "Darling Nikki" and told the story of the song and why the band recorded it (they also played Foo's cover of "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty).

So, I got to thinking about the song, and the summer of '84 and the people I spent it with. And the fact that one of my old best friend's "evil" stepsisters and I had dinner Saturday night also had me in a nostalgic frame of mind. The song and the friend all took me back to a wonderful time when Purple Reigned and music could still shock and surprised without saying a single dirty word.



Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Fear and loathing in the blogosphere

Hunter S. Thompson broke the traditional rules of journalism. He wrote himself into the story. Sometimes he was more the story than the people and events he was supposedly writing about.

I can't say I was a huge fan or anything, so I don't try to write a eulogy for him now that he has stamped a -30- onto his life. But he sure wrote the final chapter his way, didn't he?

I got to thinking that what Thompson helped get started is now being played out on computer screens across the globe all day every day. Aren't blogs just the modern extension of Gonzo journalism?

Gonzo journalism has a point of view, a perspective. It is subjective and personal and raw. If you follow the link you will read that Thompson was well known for missing deadlines, sending materials too late for editors to read, but with just enough time to be printed.

Aren't those all things that bloggers are doing? Bloggers show us the world through their own eyes, through their biases and opinions. Things are important on a blog because someone says it is important. No pretense of objectivity. One of the biggest news in newspapers this week has been President Bush's trip to Europe. Here in California, it's how Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is polling. But in the blogosphere? It's probably that
Paris Hilton's Sidekick got hacked, spreading celebrity phone numbers and photos of her bare-boobed and kissing another woman.

Carry on you new Gonzo journalists. But mix booze, drugs and weapons at your own peril.



Maybe I've just got the song wrong

A change is coming.

I can feel it.

Like an arthritic knee can forecast a coming storm long before the clouds appear on the horizon. The question is, is this a benevolent storm or a the kind that gets you to tied in knots you'd swear your testicles were on backwards?

I can't tell. But I'm looking forward to it. Chasing it even. Maybe I'm like those crazy fuckers that look for tornadoes to watch them, measure them. Tempt the fury. Tempt fate.

Is there such a thing as fate? I've always sort of thought there is, but I've never found a map to mine. I just sort of stumble into things. The grand plan never seems to work. Or maybe I can't see it for the seemingly randomness of the moment. The patterns only emerge with some time and distance and perspective.

I never had a plan to become a writer or an editor. I never planned to become a father (or perhaps failed to plan in that case). I never planned to move to California, or Palm Springs for that matter. I had never even been to Palm Springs before I came here to visit a friend who was trying to convince me to apply for a job. And it was hot as fuck the first time I came here in August 1999, the streets were all torn up in downtown Palm Springs. There were no outward signs this valley would worm its way into my soul and become my home.

No plan, just seizing an opportunity. What the fuck, I had nothing better to do than take that first job as a temporary reporter. Nothing else was on the agenda when an editing job opened up and I thought "I can do that." I had no better place to be (and no condoms) that Fourth of July I ended up in the bed of the woman who would become my daughter's mother. I had no reason to stay on the cold, damp Oregon Coast when I got a call from a paper in California about I job I had forgotten I had even applied for months before. I had no compelling reason to stay in the little farming town when a friend called from Palm Springs.

And I have no regrets about any of it. It has all shaped and changed and molded my life and made me who I am and radically altered the things and people and places who have become important in my life.

But I feel another life-altering change coming on the wind. I don't know what it is or why or how it will manifest itself. But I'm drawn to stand, chin into the gale and walk toward it. Whether I am seeking it or it is seeking me, I know not. But I crave it, with a hunger known only to those who have been starved of their addiction (which reminds me, my tobacco stash is dangerously thin).

I recently applied for a job some distance from here. I may, or may not, still be in the running. But just the process of applying has changed me. It's made me less complacent. Less willing to accept the unacceptable in my daily life. It's helped me to realize I'm no longer content to watch life pass by, I want to race it to the finish. Oh sure, I know I'll probably coast for some stretches along the way, but I'm peddling now. Feeling the burn. It's time for some new challenges, whether I change jobs or addresses or toothpaste matters less than the fact that things need to be shaken up a bit.

It reminds me of an episode of the short-lived ABC series "Sports Night" by writer/producer Aaron Sorkin. The series starred Felicity Huffman (now of "Desperate Housewives" fame. One of the characters, Dan, played by Josh Charles, has this feeling that something is about to happen. In his case, unlike mine, he senses something ominous. He shares his feeling with his co-sports anchor, Casey, played by Peter Krause, now on HBO's "Six Feet Under."

The exchange goes like this:

Dan: There's a strangeness about this day.

Dan: "Eli's coming."

Casey: "Eli?"

Dan: "From the Three Dog Night song.

Case: "Yes."

Dan: "Eli's something bad. A darkness."

Casey: "'Eli's coming, hide your heart girl.' Eli's an inveterate womanizer. I think you're getting the song wrong."

Dan: "I know I'm getting the song wrong, but when I first heard it, that's what I always thought it meant. Things stick with you that way."

-- From Sports Night, Season 1, Episode 19: "Eli's Coming"

Eli's coming, ladies and gentlemen. It's either going to be major crash, or maybe someone will get laid. I'm hoping it's me.

Getting laid that is.

Not the crashing.

That would be bad.



Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Rain, rain, go the fuck away

It rained again Monday in the Coachella Valley. Not just rain, but a full-on torrential downpour. It's fucking ridiculous. In and area that is lucky if it gets nine inches of rain a year, we got nine-tenths of and inch just Monday. We've had more than an inch of rain since about 2 p.m. Sunday.

Crazy.

There are rivers of brown water flowing everywhere, the streets themselves looked like rivers. I had a lunch appointment today during the heart of the deluge. We got .61 of rain between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. today.

Enough already. Bring on the sun.

But what's the forecast? Rain or a chance of rain through Wednesday. I hope the fucking wildflowers are happy, because desert dwellers are starting to get a bit cranky.


Monday, February 21, 2005

Dinner with a friend

I had dinner Saturday night with an old friend from home. M and I were a couple of years apart in high school. Her step-brother was my best friend from second grade through college, so after M's mom and A's dad got married, A and M and their siblings and I ended up spending a lot of time together.

But I had forgotten most of the details of those days until a few months ago, when M and I got back in touch after many years without any contact. In fact the last time I saw her was probably at her wedding. Now M and I live far from the little town where we grew up, but we find ourselves only about 60 miles apart here. Thanks to her twin sister, we got back in touch over the summer, and have tried to make a point of getting together every couple of months or so, as our schedules permit.

M's husband is an officer in the Marine Corps and currently deployed in Iraq. But he is due to come home soon, which is great. He is being promoted to a higher rank and being reassigned to another base after his return. So our opportunities to get together may be nearing an end in a few months.

We had a nice dinner and listened to a Latin jazz quintet at this little place in downtown Palm Springs called The Deck.

The band leader, Bob DeSena, was a trip. DeSena is an accomplished and talented musician, playing the vibes, trumpet and flugelhorn. Watching him perform was also part of the show. He would sing and dance around the room, flashing his diamond-encrusted pinky ring, when he wasn't pounding away on the vibraphone or blowing one of his horns. It was like a parody of a Vegas lounge act. His flamboyant antics were contrasted by the other 4 musicians he played with, who were inexpressive, like they had all taken a dip in the Quaalude pool before the show.

Our dinner table was right in front of the left edge of the little stage, so DeSena made several trips to our table. I thought a couple of times DeSena would trip during his dance spin and sprawl out over our table. Either that or DeSena would take M by the hand and try to get her to dance with him. She had a similar fear, plotting an escape route if DeSena got too friendly.

But the music and the food were good. The Deck is one of my favorite restaurant/bars in the area, with lots of charm. Although the waiter seemed to want to make sure we didn't have too much to drink, because once we finished our meal, we never saw him at our table again. I guess that's one way to keep patrons from being too drunk to drive.

In between the music sets, M and I got lots of opportunities to talk and had a very nice chat on the way back to our respective cars. It's very special to rediscover a friendship suspended for 15 years. I haven't laughed so much in a long time, and I've been reminded of things and people long lost to the cluttered cobwebs of time.




Sunday, February 20, 2005

Could it be true?

OK, I took this quiz. It's supposed to tell you what you love about making love. I'm not sure if this is quite on the mark or not, but here's what the quiz said about me:

Take the quiz: "What do you love about making love?"

Thrill
You're in it for the thrill, the excitement, the adrenaline rush, you do it anywhere and everywhere. You love the danger of getting caught.... but be carefull..... you might scar some children for life!

I didn't realize I was so daring. Look out world! And those of you not involved in the fun better close your eyes. Who knows what you might see!




Saturday, February 19, 2005

Boasting

I just kicked Brat's ass in a card game on MSN, so I've feeling pretty good! And don't tell her, but I was drinking beer at the time, and I still beat her 9 games to 4.

Victory is indeed sweet!!!

I'm sorry I don't have a web cam on here to you are missing out on my victory dance!

*An update. I spanked Brat's butt again at our little game on Saturday night/Sunday morning. It was really humiliating for her. So don't rub it in. But I have started a whole new happy dance!!!

PPS: Don't believe her if she comments that she was sick and under the weather, or posts some other lame excuse! I opened up a can of whoop ass on her but good!




Friday, February 18, 2005

Finally Friday

It's Friday, and that should be a good thing. But it feels more like a Monday. It's raining again. And all things considered, I'd rather crawl back into bed and just wait for the day to be over.

Because it's raining, the roof has started leaking again. But I did report the leak to the apartment manager. She said the roofer won't be able to come out until next week. But it's in their hands now.

No, it hasn't been a good week. Fortunately there's only one more work day of it left, but unfortunately even that feels like a bit much.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Irony

Q: Who is the voice of AIG auto insurance on the company's TV commercials?

A: Stockard Channing.

I wonder if AIG is her insurance company and if they will stick by her if she is convicted of driving under the influence.

By the way, Channing celebrated her 61st birthday this week. She was born Feb. 13, 1944.

Dear God, she's almost my mom's age. She's too hot to be nearly my mother's age.



Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Talk about a love story

Love. It's one of those words that we have heard all our lives. We think we know what it means, but some people just don't understand the depth to which love can go between two people.

This is what I call a true love story. Make sure you read the whole story.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentine's Day

I don't claim to be the most romantic man. I have my moments, and I can shed a tear during a sappy movie with the best of them. Hell, even a heart-wrenching TV commercial can result in water works if I'm in a vulnerable state of mind. But I am not good at grandiose romantic gestures. I made a few over the last year or so and got them eventually tossed back in my face.

But, I'm not bitter on this holiday for love and lovers. Quite the opposite. I still believe in love and all the happiness we are told it brings in silly love songs and Hollywood happy endings.

Well, there is someone I consider my Valentine this Feb. 14, and I certainly hope she feels the same way. She has been a friend and so much more for a long time now, but over the last 7 months or so, she has been my salvation. My lifeline to being willing to entrust my heart to another. We have talked online or on the phone for hours, often to the detriment of her, or my, sleep patterns. And it has been invigorating, uplifting and exciting.

I never quite know how to describe our relationship to others, because while we have known each other about 7 years now, we have never met face to face. Is she a friend? Confidante? Lover? Yes, and more, and yet not someone I've been able to take home to meet mom or who's hand I can hold. The Internet is a wonderful, and cruel, thing sometimes. We have each explored dating and romance with others during this time, but we always seem to somehow find our way back to each other. I've called her D on here. Readers of this blog (all 5 of you) probably would recognize her moniker of "Brat."

I don't know what the future hold for us, but she has been here for me through a broken, and healed, heart. Frustrations about family and job and life. Our on-again, off-again correspondence has endured, even flourished, after we both thought the end had come and gone a few times due to circumstances one or the other of us found ourselves in. She is indeed a special, wonderful person who has helped make me a better person as well.

This time we have made a pact to not let time and distance successfully conspire to keep us forever as disembodied voices through a phone or computer. And I fully intend to seal that pact with a kiss.

No, there are no flowers or Vermont Teddy Bears, or lingerie, or even KY Warming Liquid packages en route to her door. Just my thanks, my appreciation and my deepest affection this day, and for everyday of the last 7 years and for untold years to come.

Happy Valentine's Day D. You've helped me find my heart again. It was a bit battered and bruise, but essentially right where I left it -- resting comfortably in your hands.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Nothing says I love you like...

Valentine's Day is just two days away, and corporate America is going it's best to help men and women, but mostly men I think, come up with that perfect romantic gift.

Of course there are ads on TV for diamonds, but not everyone has that kind of budget. I've heard radio and seen TV commercials for Vermont Teddy Bears as a romantic gift idea "for about the price of a dozen roses." Adam Carolla (of The Man Show and Crank Yankers) is pitching the cute and cuddly critters on TV. And on radio, George Noory, host of Coast to Coast AM is hawking the bears.

Based on those two pitchmen, I'm guessing the guys who will be sending those betters to their betrothed are guys who like pull-my-finger jokes or believe they've been visited by space aliens.

There as another interesting Valentine gift pitch on late night TV for pajamas from a company called PajamaGram. They were pitching comfy or sexy pajamas delivered in a nice little hat box.

Perhaps it is no surprise that PajamaGram is a sister company of the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. The marketing pitches, for very different products, were surprisingly similar, pitching a "unique" Valentine gift idea that if you order now can still be shipped in time for Monday delivery.

But the most unique gift idea comes from a division of McNeil-PPC, or the Personal Products Company. This is indeed a gift to be shared, but could also be enjoyed alone. Yes, that's right, it's KY Warming Liquid. And if you go to the Web site, you can get a free sample in time to melt your love's heart (or genitalia) for the holiday. You can also test your Valentine dating skills with a link to a Warm Up Date.

Nothing says I love you like a personal lubricant that gets hot when applied to intimate areas.

Is it getting warm in here, or did I just over do it with the free samples?


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Liquid guilt

It's raining.

Again.

In Palm Springs.

This is definitely the wettest winter I've spent here, and this is the sixth one in the Coachella Valley for me. Although it does remind me of another wet El NiƱo year I spent up in the high desert.


But I'm tired of the rain this year, in spite of how green the hills and mountains are and the explosion of wildflowers that is beginning here.

The rain makes me feel guilty.

My roof leaks when it rains. Right near one of the fire sprinkler outlets in the hall outside my bedroom. I need to tell the landlord about the leak, but (and here is where the guilt comes in) my apartment is, um, well, it's a mess. And I would be embarrassed for the manager or maintenance guy or whomever to see that. So I need to clean before I call the manager.

I'm a terrible housekeeper. I have a high tolerance for clutter and a lack of skills, and interest, in household chores. Every time I start to clean I get distracted. I stop part way through. My attention wanes. I find something else to occupy my time and my mind. I procrastinate.

It might explain why I'm still single. Can't invite hot chicks over to the swinging bachelor pad with piles of newspapers scattered about. Stacks of mail cluttering the counters.

Yuck.

OK, maybe I'll tidy up a bit before bed. But I feel a cold coming on. Maybe it's best to rest now and clean in the morning. Yea, that's the ticket. And I'll have more energy too.

Unless I'm sicker tomorrow.



The price of free speech

Blog sites are buzzing about one of the latest victims to lose a job, i.e. be Dooced, over writing about work on a blog site.

The latest high-profile victim is Mark Jen, who was working at Google and writing about the experience, which was apparently not too popular. His blog site is apparently high on traffic, but short on posts these days.

The source of the term, dooced, which has become slang shorthand for being fired for your blog, is Heather B. Armstrong, who is also getting lots of media attention these days. She writes a mighty fine post, particularly if you are interested in following the early childhood development of her daughter or the life of a former Mormon from the South who now lives in Utah. I'm sure the Church of Latter-day Saints would like to fire her too, except that she tossed herself out of the merry band some time back.

So, be careful out there in the blogosphere ladies and gents. Remember that the First Amendment protects you from the government limiting your speech, but that doesn't necessarily mean your employer has to put up with you shooting off your mouth -- or your blog, as the case may be.

For those of you who slept through the civics lesson, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Nowhere in there does it say the people who sign your paycheck have to let you give away proprietary information, bitch about your work life or otherwise spout off about the ineptitude of your supervisors or colleagues, particularly not in a forum available worldwide. But if you are interested in learning more about your rights under this article, check out the First Amendment Center.



Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Planting season on the funny farm

OK, so I've confessed my criminal past in two god-awful long posts, and managed to talk about my teenage daughter and porn in the same breath in another post.

How ever do I follow that up, except to admit that it now appears inevitable that the men in the white coats are coming for me at any moment?

That won't be good. I doubt they let you blog in a padded cell.



Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Go to your room

I was in Oregon over the weekend. It was a quick trip, but I got to see my daughter while I was there.

Well, sort of.

Mostly I got to see the outside of her closed bedroom door.

She has definitely become a teenager. And I'm not too fond of it.

Oh, I understand. I spent 1978 through the summer of 1984 either in my bedroom, or anywhere my motorcycle -- or later a car -- would take me that was were my parents or brothers weren't. I had a lock on my door, austensibly to keep my younger brothers out. But it offered a little valuable warning if a parent was at the door so I could stash the Robin Williams tape (of which mom would never have approved) or the Playboy and Penthouse magazines I liberated from the dump down by the creek (over which mom would have had a heart attack).

God forbid my daughter has a porn stash. I definitely would have a heart attack, especially if it's better than mine.

I just wanted to spend a little quality time, ya know? Damn it, I came all the way from California to see her! Spend time with her! I hadn't seen her since December. I may not see her again until March.

She was not touched or impressed.

Just when kids start to get interesting and you can actually have a conversation with them, they quit talking. Well, not really. They talk to seemingly everyone else -- on the phone, online -- but not to a parental unit WHO TRAVELED ALL THE WAY FROM CALIFORNIA!

I think I owe my parents an apology. And no one should have a porn stash until they are at least 18.

Check that. My daughter will be 18 in just over 4 years.

Let's make that 21. And let's hope I'm in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's by then. And if she ever bring up cock rings, regardless of her age, I will have a stroke.

Lord have mercy.

I think I'm going to go to my room now.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Silver bracelets: Part II

I had been inside jails before, and since. I'd even been inside a prison once, all as part of my job. But it's a very different feeling walking into a jail as a visitor than it is being escorted inside in handcuffs.

The deputy administered a breathalizer test. Once I figured that number on that reading would be forever etched in my memory. But the etching has warn away. I don't remember what number I blew on that confounded machine, but let's just say I was well over the .08, which is the legal limit for intoxication. Which was pretty shocking at the time, because I had just felt like I was starting to catch a good buzz when I left the bar. I was obviously well past buzzed and more in the neighborhood of technically shitfaced.

After the deputy asked me questions and filled out some paperwork I was escorted into a holding cell. It was about a 10-foot, by 15-foot concrete and steel cage, with hard wood benches along two of the walls and a basic metal toilet and wash basin in the back. To use one of those things, your dignity would have to surrender to your bladder or bowels.

On one wall was a pay-type telephone, but there was no coin slot. You either had to have a credit card number memorized or call collect. And would you really want to say your credit card number in a jail cell? I guessed it was for the so-called one phone call. But I had no one to call. I didn't know how long I was going to be there, so I didn't know who to call in the middle of the night to tell them where I was. So I sat on the bench and waited.

After some period of time, and I'd not sure how long -- it seemed like hours -- I hear someone calling my name over a loudspeaker. The cell door opens and I'd directed out into the hallway. I'm directed down to a guard station where a couple of deputies are working in a large glass control-type booth.

At that time I'd directed to empty my pockets. And I had a lot of crap in my pockets. I was wearing a leather coat that had a big inside pocket where I tended to stick things I might need later, like gum, chewing tobacco, lip balm, scraps of paper, etc. The woman in the glass booth was not amused by all the crap in my pockets. I can't tell is she was more pissed at me or the deputy for the stuff still being in there, but I got to pay the price. Normally when you are cited for driving under the influence, in California anyway, it is what police call a cite and release. You get processed, and then sent home. They hold you for maybe a couple of hours. My jail stay was going to end up being more like 8 or 9 hours.

After getting fingerprinted and photographed, I was sent back to the holding cell, this time without my jacket or watch or much else. And over the course of the night a couple of other people joined me in the cell. No one seemed too chatty though, which was a relief. I tried to stay awake, not wanting to sleep in a cell with people who were IN JAIL, but I was exhausted. So, I tried to get some rest on one hard, extremely uncomfortable bench. I dozed off and on, but true sleep was elusive. Jails are not exactly quiet places, even in the middle of the night. Sound echoes through corridors, and there are no draperies or carpeting to absorb any of the sound or make the place warm and welcoming either.

At some point someone came around to deliver breakfast. The meal, if you can call it that, was serve in one of those Swanson's TV dinner-type trays. There was a greasy, nearly inedible sausage, something that resembled scrambled eggs, and disks that looked like hotcakes but tasted like rubber. Nothing to drink. It wasn't IHOP, that's for sure.

Soon thereafter, there was a lot of clamor outside in the hallway. There was the sound of cell doors opening and slamming closed, footfalls on the concrete floor, and a lot of chatter. Something was obviously happening. Soon I would find out what it was. A large mass of guys ended up outside the holding cell door, and the cell door was opening. Then all these people started being herded into the holding cell, The cell, which had seemed roomy, if stark before, was now filled to overflowing with people. Fortunately, I had a spot on the bench already, because in short order, every inch of the benches was filled and guys were picking out spots on the floor. Guys leaned with their backs to the wall, other guys were camping out on the floor, sprawling out wherever they could find room. You could not have walked across the cell without stepping on someone, and these looked like guys you didn't want to step on. They would probably step back. They didn't have that frightened lamb look that I just knew was written all over my face.

These guys had tattoos, less than a full set of teeth and life experiences I hope to never know. And some of these guys were chatty.

Thug1: "Man, I hope they don't send me back to Chino. I hate the fucking place."

Thug2: "Chino's not so bad. It's better than Corcoran."

Yea, well the Victorville city jail is never going to make the Top 10 list of tourist dream destinations either, but I wasn't going to the say that. I wasn't saying anything. No sure. I'm keeping my mouth shut.

Thug1, on the other hand, was quite the talker. He went on to describe how he got arrested this time. Apparently one of the cops was out to get him and just giving him a hard time. He also had some very useful tips on how to hide drugs or a gun in the engine compartment of a car so that drug-sniffing dogs would never know they were there. But, given the fact that he was now in jail, and not for the first time, it was difficult to tell just how reliable the tips were.

In the meantime, I'm getting very claustrophobic. Not that I'd paced the floor before, but I was now extremely aware of the fact that I had no room to move. And I had to pee. And the hangover was kicking in pretty good, so my head was pounding. Toto, we aren't in Kansas anymore, and clicking my heals together three times didn't work for shit.

One of my new cell mates picks up the phone and realizes it has been turned off. But he keeps trying it every few minutes. Finally, one of our veteran cell mates says: "Yea, the turn off the phones before the bus arrives to take us down the hill. I guess they're afraid we might be calling for a jail break or something."

Some of the people laugh. I don't find it funny. Nothing seems very amusing right now, thank you very much.

After what seems like forever, there is some chain rattling in some unseen location outside the cell.

Thug1: "The bus must be here, I hear them getting the waist cuffs ready. They'll be moving us soon."

Not soon enough. It seems like another eternity before the deputies come to escort these characters out. I'm just glad I didn't somehow get mistaken for the bus trip. Welcome to West Valley Detention Center. For those of you joining us for the first time, bend over and kiss your virgin ass goodbye. After the guard get through checking your anal cavity for contraband, your new bunkmates will be using that cavity for their own amusement.

Finally they leave and eventually, I can breath again. But it is still a long while before anyone comes for me. But after another arduous wait, my name is called and I go back to the little cage to sign some forms and pick up my belongings. Then I'm ushered out a back door and out into the retina-searing sunshine. It's now about 10 a.m., the time I usually go to work. Even though the jail is only about a mile from my office, it's obvious I'm going to be late for work.

The question is, how do I get home? My roommate has already left for work. So, I call my boss to tell him I'm going to be late. And I end up confessing my plight as well. At the moment, I didn't really care if I had a job or not, I just wanted to go home and die in peace. Fortunately, my boss was a friend and offered to come pick me up and get me home.

I learned a lot from that experience. Mostly I learned I don't ever want to go through anything like it again. I don't want to know the jail routine from the inside, like Thug1 does.

But I also learned that other people don't learn from our experiences. I shared my jail horror story with close friends, but that didn't stop them from drinking and driving. Hell, covering fatal crashes involving alcohol didn't stop me. I lost count of how many broken bodies I'd seen splattered on asphalt and covered with tarps at crash scenes. And seeing the effects did first hand didn't stop the cop who got popped for DUI and ended up in my court-ordered alcohol awareness class. It is just too ingrained in people's lives in modern culture. Our booze and our cars are part of us. It's the weekend ritual. It's the after work routine. Would you like wine with your dinner? Happy hour anyone? Hell, in Texas they have drive through liquor stores, or they used to anyway.

We hear the don't-drink-and-drive messages, but the way people interpret them is "don't get drunk and drive." But what I now know is that once we start drinking, we no longer have the capacity to judge whether we are "OK to drive" after consuming alcohol. The California Highway Patrol and DMV send out a handy little chart in DMV documents that allows you to calculate how alcohol may affect your blood alcohol content for various body weights. But people just don't use math to calculate their level of intoxication. People don't say things like, "No, I'm not OK to drive, I've had more than 1 drink per hour and thus I am probably impaired."

Some lessons people just seem bound and determined to learn things the hard way,like the fact that handcuffs aren't built for comfort or that jail food is less than appetizing, or that it will cost you thousand of dollars if you are pulled over for driving under the influence, and that's if no one gets hurt or killed in a crash. It's a pretty heavy price to pay for that one last drink for the road. Can I get that in a to-go cup? I'm in a hurry to fuck up my life or someone else's.

But it's OK, because everyone does it. Right?

Yea, let's drink to that. Last one to the pokey is a rotten egg.

Been there, done that. Where's my T-shirt?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Some silver bracelets are not a fashion accessory

I mentioned The West Wing in my last post, confessing that it's my favorite TV show. Of course the only way I get to see it is in the Bravo channel reruns of the show, because I work nights and I'm never home to see the first run episodes. Yea, I could set the VCR, which I never do. Or I could get TiVo, which I don't have. TV just isn't that important to me. It's mostly just background noise when I'm home. But I like The West Wing.

The news broke last week about Stockard Channing's arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence. Channing plays the first lady on the show, and, in case you didn't know, has had an impressive acting career. She may also be one of the sexiest 60-year-old women on the planet.

One of the things I love about the show, it that it has a great ensemble cast of fine actors. Of course, the first few seasons also had episodes largely penned by the show's creator, Aaron Sorkin, who has a fine ear for dialogue and pacing. His scripts were smart without being superior. They were clever and worked on many levels. If you ever caught any episodes of his show Sports Night, you would recognize the rapid fire dialogue transformed from a half-hour comedy to an hour-long drama.

But I digress.

Channing's arrest got me to thinking about my own brush with the law several years go. I too was once arrested for driving under the influence. So I empathize with her. Of course, I didn't have her bankroll, and am still dealing with some debts incurred during that period when the court, and a lawyer and a court-ordered alcohol awareness class, wracked up some major bills.


It started out simply enough.

I had a date. And at that time in my life, I hadn't had a date in, well, a while, and a date sounded like just what the doctor ordered. A coworker introduced me to a friend at a bar, and the coworker proceeded to play matchmaker. The coworker's lady friend was also having trouble meeting someone. It seems that a lot of guys our age weren't too interested in getting involved with a woman who had kids. Well, I had a daughter, so the kids issue didn't put me off. And she was cute. And, well, I hadn't had a date in a long time. And the coworker was flittering back and forth between the two of us sharing information and messages, which felt a little like junior high, but I was shy and afraid of rejection, so I went with it. It was a sure thing. A sure date. She wasn't going to say no. I was still nervous as hell when I called, but sure enough, she said yes.

So far so good.

So, we decided to do the "normal" date thing, and go to a movie. I don't remember if we went to dinner or not, but the movie, now that was truly memorable.

Me: "So, what movie do you want to see?"

Her: "I don't know, what movie do you want to see?"

Me: "How about 'Leaving Las Vegas'? I don't know anything about it, but I've heard it's good. And Nicholas Case is in it. He's good. What do you think?

Her: "I don't know what it's about either, but I've heard good things too. Sounds great."

So, we go to the movie, and settle in. So, I'm setting next to this woman I hardly know, and there is Nick Cage on screen playing this character who is doing his damnedest to self destruct. He hooks up with a prostitute (played by the lovely Elizabeth Shue) who fucks his brains out when he is sober enough to get it up, and otherwise keeps him company while he drinks himself to death.

And I'm watching this. With a woman. A young mother. A woman I hardly know and am trying to impress. I wonder how I'm doing so far.

I find myself sinking lower and lower into the theater seat, willing myself to just disappear. Praying for the movie to end. Thinking all the time, that my date must think I took her to this movie with all the sex as a hint or something.

It was the most miserable and awkward couple of hours in my life. Nick, pass me a bottle, man. I'll race ya to hell!

Fortunately, mercifully, the movie ended, but the date was not yet over.

I apologized profusely for the movie choice.

"I didn't know that's what that movie was about," I say.

"Well, it was.... interesting," she says.

Yea, interesting. And then I said what may have been the biggest understatement of my life.

"But it probably wasn't the best choice of movies for a first date."

No shit, Sherlock.

But my stupidity knew no bounds that night. It was like all my social skills and judgment were left hanging in my closet. My next bright idea, after watching a man drink himself to death on screen? Hey, want to go to a bar?

Brilliant!

Why she said yes, I'll never know. We stopped at a bar, and the place was packed. We had a tough time finding a table, and an even tougher time trying to talk over the live band.

We had maybe one drink, danced a couple of songs, but it felt like the earth was crumbling underneath me. I had to end this night before my head imploded.

So, I took my date home. We fumbled through the world's most awkward goodnight kiss and I raced home to hide under my covers.

The next day, a Sunday, I was beating myself up pretty severely over what I was sure qualified as one of the Top 10 worst first dates of all time. I couldn't imagine anything worse, unless someone got maimed or killed.

I needed something to take my mind off the embarrassment I kept re-living. So, what did I come up with? Go back to the crime scene, namely the bar where the dates final death spiral took hold.

I started pounding 7&Sevens and had myself convinced I could actually go to work the next day and face the coworker who had set me up with her friend. I felt the buzz kicking in, when an acquaintance bought me another drink. Now, I couldn't be rude, so I accepted his drink, and sure enough, the buzz was getting a little more pronounced. Now, being the responsible person I (thought I) was, I decided, I better not drink anymore, I've got to drive home. So, I said my goodbyes and headed for the door.

I was approaching my apartment complex, and decided, a little too late, to turn down the side street and go in a side entrance rather than the front entrance. I took the corner a little too fast and squealed around the corner. And, as luck would have it, an occupied police car was sitting right across from the corner. I saw him a little too late too. And moments later I saw his flashing lights.

Busted.

Big time.

Needless to say, I failed the field sobriety test. Apparently failed it pretty badly, because the sheriff's deputy told me:

"At this time I'm going to stop the test because I'm afraid you may hurt yourself if we go any further."

How sweet. He really was looking out for my safety.

And that's when I got to try on his nice silver bracelets. Oh, look how shiny they are. Hey, wait a minute, my arms don't really move in that direction. Ouch! OK, so they aren't comfortable, but do they look good?

Is this really necessary? I wasn't resisting. I wasn't fighting. I was willing to take my punishment. I wasn't going to try to run.

We all know from TV and movies that we have the right to remain silent. What we don't really realize is that once we have a run-in with the police, and end up in police custody, most of the rights we take for granted get left on the curb while we go for a little ride with our hand in an extremely uncomfortable positions behind our backs.

Stockard and me, we know.

(To be continued)


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Good night nursing

I should be in bed, but here I sit watching Celebrity Poker Showdown on Bravo -- an addiction that predates blogging, for me anyway.

Allison Janney, that beautiful amazon from The West Wing, is on there. Unfortunately, she lost early, so she isn't getting much camera time. I would pout, except for one thing.

Mary McCormack is looking absolutely devastating in this low cut blouse that shows cleavages that is nearly criminal. Mary is now on The West Wing too (or was the last time I was able to watch it). But she first got on my radar playing Howard Stern's wife on whatever the name of that frickin' Howard Stern movie was called. Yea, I know I could look it up, but I don't really care what it was called. And it's even listed on the link above, but it's not like that radio retard needs more publicity. Mary was hot, that's all that matters.

Apparently, McCormack has recently had a child and keeps making references to needing a break to breast feed her child.

Is it wrong to covet a new mother?

If I'm wrong, I don't want to be right!


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Who do I kill?

My phone rang at 3:30 a.m. this morning. Since I was in bed at the time, I did what seemed perfectly natural at the time -- I freaked out.

I have 2 phones in the house, one in the front room on my desk, and one in the bedroom. I leave the ringer off on the one in the bedroom. No one ever calls me in the morning, at least not anyone I know. So I figure I don't need to hear the phone ring when telemarketers are calling. Anyone else who might call, if it's for me, I figure they'll leave a message.

The caller ID is on the phone out in the front room too. The bedroom phone is an old fashioned corded phone. I think it's important to have at least one phone that will work if the power goes out. So, the bedroom phone is sort of the emergency phone. I don't use it. I don't even answer it when I'm in the bedroom and the phone rings. I go to the other phone, which is cordless.

Anyway, the phone rings, and I spring out of bed, stumbling toward the front room. I find a light switch and manage to see the caller ID, which says "out of area." That's no help, but it gives me pause and I don't answer the phone. I wait an agonizing few minutes before picking up the phone to see if there is a message on the voice mail, and there is.

Shit.

Maybe it's an emergency. Maybe someone is hurt. My dad is in the hospital. He just had knee replacement surgery yesterday, maybe something went wrong with him.

So, I anxiously check the voicemail, trying to remember to breath slowly before my heart races through the wall of my chest and platters against the kitchen wall.

I steady my hand and dial in the pass code. And then, after a short pause, I hear it.

Beep!

Beep!

It's a fax machine. A fucking fax machine! Calling my house. At 3:30 a.m. I can't yell at a fax machine! I can't even trace back where the fax machine is calling from, because no number shows up on the caller ID.

So I stomp back to bed (I bed my downstairs neighbor loved that). And just as I get settled into bed, the phone rings again! Just to be safe, I get up and check the caller ID again. Yep, another out of area call.

Bastards!

I go back to bed, and, realizing the damn machine must be on some automatic redial, I close my bedroom door to block out the sound of a ringing phone. And it did ring again. Two more times.

Why do people even use fax machines anymore? In 1989 it was pretty remarkable technology. Today, they are just, well, annoying. Junk mail via telephone. Even at work, where we do use faxes, we probably only use about 10-20 percent of the material that comes in. And I just love the people who send us 4 or 5 copies of things to 4 or 5 different people, all using the same fax number.

Idiots.

It's time to start a campaign to make fax machines that dial non-fax numbers illegal. A felony. Punishable by death!

Think that's too harsh?



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