Thursday, February 23, 2006

Two Ball in the Corner Pocket

“Hey, what’s all the yelling and screaming about? Somebody wreck on the downhill?”

“No, we’re watching curling and it’s really exciting!”

“Curling, huh?” I watched for a few minutes. Rocks sliding on ice. No cheerleaders.

“It would be better with cheerleaders,” I observed.

“It’s all tactics,” the resident Curling Expert declared.

“I dunno. It looks like rocks sliding on ice and no cheerleaders.”

“No, no, no you’ve got it all wrong! It’s fascinating! It’s all angles and spin and geometry and calculus and cosmology. It’s just like playing pool.”


“Yeah, just like playing pool. Same thing.”

“Oh, I get it. It’s just like pool but without cue sticks or balls or a table or pockets or chalk or racks, and with different rules.”

“Exactly,” declared the Resident Curling Expert, “only more exciting.”

Without cheerleaders, I thought? Nah!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Is That Your Monkey?

After the conference call I commented that it would be really cool to have a real crystal ball and flying monkeys to do your bidding.

It would probably lessen the number of phone calls like the one we just had.

"Too bad we can't get a crystal ball."

"Or flying monkeys," I said.

We sighed.

Suddenly, I had a thought. "eBay!"

Yeah, definitely eBay.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Wash the Buzzard

In the house from a distant room far, far away…

“Wash the buzzard, OK?”


I paused in thought. Wash the buzzard? I didn’t even know we had a buzzard, but often I’m the last one to find out about things around here.

“Sorry,” I shouted back, “what was that again about the buzzard?”

The sound waves traveled back from the distant room past the Arrr-arrrrrrr of the garage door opener, across the Runga-clink runga-clank of the dishwasher and the Whoos-slursh of the washing machine to my straining ears:

“Wash the buzzard and push the flier with a broom. Over and out!”

And before I could get up and trek across the house for a closer explanation, the garage door closed and the Voice was gone.

Silence descended.

I Googled “buzzard recipes.”

109,000 hits. Hmmm, must be popular.

Just as I was settling in to a good read on how to stuff a buzzard for that special dinner party, the washing machine buzzed.


Dutifully, I got up went into the utility room and put the wash in the drier. Then I took the basket of dry stuff from the previous load and took it into the bedroom for folding later.

I am becoming quite the laundry specialist if I do say so myself.

Now, back, to the recipes. “…no need to add garlic.” Well, that’s interesting.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Deal

I lurched awake, startled. My mouth was dry, I was in a sweat and my heart was racing like a maroon Ford Fairlane fleeing from a crime down a dark, rainy alley in Gotham City.

Mostly, though, I was disturbed that I would even have a thought like that. Fortunately it wasn’t totally purple prose, only maroon.

The dream was always the same. I’m in the alley. Ragged, grey rats on the prowl for something fresh eye me with interest. I throw my arms out suddenly: “Boo!” But, the rats don’t move. Instead they look at each other, break out in gleaming white rigor mortis grins and hunch their little rat shoulders up and down in gleeful mirth. Some rear up on their hind legs, throw out their forearms and go: “Squeek!”

“Ha, ha, ha,” I think, “and the horse you rode in on.”

At that point I become aware of a figure in the shadows.

“You’re late, Doc,” the shadow says, “that wasn’t the deal.”

“What deal?” I croak. I don’t remember a deal. “What deal?”

“The real deal, Doc,” the shadow says, “the real deal. Remember? You promised the real deal. So, let’s deal. You do remember, don’t you?”

Panic awakens in my feet and climbs my body like a thousand scorpions being chased by a flamethrower. I was losing control like a ’38 Packard careening down Highway 1 in California after a night at Rita’s all-you-can-drink Margarita Cantina. I had to get a grip on myself! I had to get a grip on my prose!

I’m running down the alley, past the rats, stumbling over old boxes and trash cans, fighting scorpions and flamethrowers and Packards, oh, my! And at the end of a blind alley I find myself pressed up against a chain link fence like a groupie at a Bay City Rollers concert, shaking. Fortunately, I’m not wearing much plaid.

I woke up a second time having not realized that I had transitioned from one dream into a second. Wowzer, a twofer. What a deal. The real deal.

Still shaking I swiveled around on the bed and willed myself to stand. Sandy looked up from the end of the bed. The light of a full moon reflected in his dark eyes as he watched me attentively, but with utter distain.

“Yeah, you miserable fleabag,” I whispered sweetly, “it’s yours.”

Sandy uncurled himself, arched his back, executed a much practiced yawn and proceeded to nonchalantly occupy my pillow where he groomed his tail with much licking and nibbling before he settled down into Curl Number Two for the remainder of the night.

Sandy knew that I wouldn’t return.

I padded into the kitchen on my way to the patio outside pausing briefly at the liquor cabinet to grab a bottle at random. I didn’t even look at the label. “Danger” is my middle name, soon to be replaced by “headache” as I held up a bottle of ouzo. Ah, Zorba, we meet again.

I took a deep pull of ouzo.

As the fiery, sweet liquor plummeted to my stomach like a cinder from Vesuvius and spread like lava through my veins I fought the urge to dance on a table.

I had a vision of a small boy standing in a corral. A cowboy is riding off into the distance. Tears streamed down the boy’s face as he cried, “Shane! Come back, Shane! We had a deal.”

I took another pull of ouzo as this scene replayed in my mind once again. How many times? How many times have I regretted what I did to Shane, a boy who trusted me as his friend and mentor.

It was a long time ago…

“Hey, Doc, what should I major in when I go to college? I was thinking of writing or theater or history. I kinda of like that stuff. You know arts and arty things. Maybe catering, I’m a pretty good cook you know.”

I puffed on my pipe and thought deep thoughts. A not so deep but infinitely humorous thought bubbled to the surface like a pocket of methane and hydrogen sulfide in a bathtub.

“Physical biochemistry,” I intoned.

“Say what, Doc?”

“Physical biochemistry,” I said, trying to look serious, “with a minor in calculus. That’s my recommendation. That’s the deal. A real deal, I might add.”

“Wow, Doc, I was thinking maybe I could build sets for plays and stuff, but, what was that again? Physical bio whatzit?”

…and many years later…

I wondered what kind of heartless monster would set an art major out on a course of physical biochemistry and calculus. It was a joke, a harmless jest. Not the real deal! Couldn’t he see that?

It was real enough to me, though, with the endless cycle of dreams, random booze and purple prose which oozed out of my fingertips like a rich, dark molasses on a hot summer’s day, sinking into the cracks between the keys on my keyboard like dark molasses would on a hot summer’s day if you spilled it on your keyboard.

As dawn arrived I heard a truck in the street out front, then a thump on the sidewalk as the morning paper was delivered. I staggered out, retrieved the paper and glanced at the headlines. Ah, Nobel prizes awarded for Chemistry. With a slow recognition I stared at the picture of the Nobel laureate in chemistry and saw a small boy. The article read in part…

…and I owe my success to my childhood mentor, who’s name escapes me at the moment, for suggesting that I major in physical biochemistry instead of theater. I owe my success to that probably long-deceased idiot savant who saw qualities in me others didn’t. But, you can’t take the theater out of the boy and I’ve written a play about a mentor who had faith and insight and who undoubtedly went into Science himself because he was such a bad writer cursed with Purple Prose Syndrome. I’m calling it “The Deal.

I put the morning paper on the counter, corked the ouzo, and headed back to the bedroom.

“Beat it,” I said to Sandy who hustled off the pillow and back to the foot of the bed, “I think I’ll catch up on some lost sleep.”

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sushi Hoe Down

The first 50 times we went to our now favorite Japanese restaurant for lunch it was like going to the ballet; a choreographed meal.

We seek sanctuary in our Japanese restaurant where our corporate care-worn souls will be refreshed as our corpulent bodies are, er, recharged.

Nourishment for soul and stomach.

A perfect lunch place
Nourishes bodies and soul
With today’s special

We are often guided to a place by the front window where sunlight plays a pattern on the wooden table. Everything is in its place, and a place for everything.

Chopsticks are centered and soon so are we.

We are regulars and green tea is brought to us, served with a slight bow. Unbidden, a portion of ikura, our favorite treat, arrives. The waitstaff glides around silently and nearly invisible. Food appears and we can’t remember it being placed in front of us.


Miso soup is next, followed, in time and discretely, by a small salad. Finally, our main course is delivered and oriented just so, as pleasing to the eye as to the palate.

Each course is staged to fit our conversation and to enhance the joy of our stay. Slow, but deliberate. Timed to perfection.

As each course arrives our table is reset artistically with spoons, bowls, dipping sauces and whatever is required. Simply contemplating the laid-out table can be a mind-expanding experience.

Finally, we are presented with our bill, almost apologetically. We pay, leave a generous gratuity and depart amongst many arigatos and good-byes, see you soon, have a nice day, ciao and thankyouverymuch.

We return to the Industrial Complex and, shielded by our renewed bodies and souls, we fend off the Morlock tendencies of our fellow workers until we are released from our shackles at 5.

Ah, so.

Thus was the story I related to my out-of-town guest who was to join me for lunch and I suggested Something A Little Different. It is not lunch, I intoned gravely, it is life renewed.

Word to the wise. Never tell anyone…ANYONE…about a special restaurant because it’s a jinx! A JINX I tell you!

Enter restaurant
Expecting peace and quiet
Unwelcome surprise

At first everything looked normal. The Special of the Day was laid out for us to contemplate, patrons were engaged in food and banter, the sushi chefs were busy behind the counter.

It looked normal.

Looked. Normal.

We were ushered to a table away from the window; to a corner of the restaurant. Although soul-nourishing tables were available, we were hustled to the back, into the gloom, into a corner. I laughed nervously.

“Howdy! I’m Ray. Y’all want something to drink?”

I nearly fainted. Speaking, someone is speaking? What are they saying and why? What is this the Spanish Inquisition? I looked up into the bovine brown eyes of our waiter, Ray. Not Ray-san or Rayamura. Just Ray.

“Green tea. Two,” I replied quickly.

“Greenteetoo? I’m sorry but I don’t know what that is? Can you point to it on the menu?”

I glared, “Green. Tea. For. Each. Of. Us. Green. Tea. “

“Oh, green tea! I’m so used to iced tea. I got it. I’ll be back to take your order.”

I was in shock. My guest was nonplussed. “What?” she asked.

“The waiter. Not the usual,” I fumbled.

“He looked like a waiter to me,” my friend offered charitably.

“Yeah, but not here. Not here.”

Ray returned with our tea and remained, pencil in hand, to take our order.

“Two lunch combinations with salmon, steamed rice there, fried rice here, spicy tuna rolls there and California rolls here.” I closed the menu and looked up.

Ray wasn’t writing. He was looking at the folded menu on the table.

Ray looked around. He was sweating a bit. “Uh,” he stammered, “it’s my first day here and the menu ain’t numbered. Bear with me but could you repeat that, real slow like?”

In fifty visits I had never heard uttered the phrase “real slow like” even in Japanese.

Cool moss. Cool moss! I unfolded the menu, pointed and repeated the order.

Ray, looking relieved, stomped back to the kitchen with all the grace of a water buffalo with a broken leg.

Shortly later amid lively conversation concerning a low slung sports car and a high slung fashion model our lunch arrived. All at once. Soup, salad and main course. No pause to enjoy. Just clunk it was slammed on the table as Ray “moved stuff out of the way” to make room.

“Looks like y’all got quite a feed!” Ray announced and clomped off.

I surveyed the wreckage. Bowls here and there, soup in the corner, salad on the edge. My guest had my California rolls, I had the steamed rice. We traded trays. We swapped rolls, half and half.

We ate. We talked. I stewed in silence. I was not centered. I was definitely becoming unbalanced.

After a while my guest looked up, satisfied from a great lunch and sparkling conversation and said, “When’s the ballet start?”

“Come again?” I was half in and half out of the conversation, thinking mostly about murder. I was not centered. No, not centered at all. I was very highly strung and “epped!” every time Ray passed the table.

“The ballet! You said this place had a ballet, so, where is it?”

I glanced at my watch, looked up and said, “Oh, that’s only on Monday. I lost track of the days and it’s Tuesday. How funny? No ballet today.”

“Awww,” my guest sighed in genuine disappointment, “we’ll have to come back here again ‘cause I’d really like to see Japanese ballet!”

“Whatever,” I thought.

Ray strolled by and pitched the check on the table without breaking stride. Uncharitably, I left him a tip less than my usual generosity, although his widow would understand, I'm sure.

As we made our way to the front door I turned and glanced at the sushi chef. He caught my eye, paused knowingly and gave me a respectful bow. I returned the bow with a wan smile and went out the door into the parking lot.

My guest was still going on about the ballet. “Yeah, my daughter took tap lessons, but I never heard of Japanese ballet. We got to come back for that, OK?”

I was lost in thought:

Ballet lunch for two
Trampled by Ray the cowboy
Soul under boot

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tag, You're it!

My first Meme which is not unlike my first root canal. Thanks Dooce I'll do my best.

Here’s the blueprint. A pal is given a bunch of questions to answer and at the end “tags” fellow pals to provide their answers and tag more fortunate victims. It’s the ultimate pyramid scheme.

So, to get into the mood I changed into my Pharoah outfit, demanded crocodile for supper and prepared to sally forth.

Where is Sally, by the way, does she have the day off?

Four jobs I’ve had

1. Busboy at Pepino’s Patio. Seventy-five cents an hour.
2. Construction laborer. Four dollars an hour.
3. Teaching assistant. Ten dollars an hour.
4. Programmer. Seventy dollars an hour.
5. Vendor Relationship Manager. Priceless.

Four movies I can watch over and over

1. Kill Bill 2
2. The Day the Earth Stood Still
3. Forbidden Planet
4. Predator

Four Places I have Lived

1. Shreveport, Louisiana
2. Scottsdale, Arizona
3. London, England
4. Houston, Texas

Four TV Shows I Love

Well, I don’t watch TV, but I once did. So, here are my all-time favorites:

1. Twilight Zone
2. Outer Limits
3. Star Trek (the original)
4. Leave It to Beaver

I guess I haven't watched TV for Quite A While! What's this color thing, anyway?

Four Places I’ve Vacationed

1. Bordeaux, France
2. St. Augustine, Florida
3. Leadville, Colorado
4. London, England

Four of My Favorite Dishes

1. Beef Stroganoff
2. Pho Tai
3. Smoked chicken enchiladas in chipotle cream sauce
4. Crème Brule

Four Sites I visit Daily

1. Dooce
2. The Queens Stories
3. Random Walk
4. Outside Voice

Four Places I’d Rather be Now

1. In the Spread Eagle Pub, London
2. Bottom of the Grand Canyon
3. South of France
4. McMurdo Station, Antarctica (Hey, Genvieve, chillin' babe!)

Five People I am Tagging

1. Beth
2. Bret
3. Pammer
4. Sarah
5. Foo