Thursday, June 28, 2007

Losing My Mind!

I must be losing my mind.

I read Southern boy non-ranting (after a Southern boy ranting) and pull out the credit card and book a trip to New York. I’ll be in the big city a whole 18 hours from arrival to departure.

And why would I whip out the credit card?

To attend a weenie roast!

I really must be losing my mind.

I don’t even eat weenies*.


Under any circumstance.

I could crash on a desert island with a fridge stocked with weenies and I would just have to starve.

Takeru "Tsunami" Kobayashi must be very sad for me. Almost as sad as he is about the arthritis in his jaw that is slowing his hot dog eating. Last year he at a whopping 53 ¾ hot dogs in 12 minutes only to have that record shattered earlier this year by someone who ate 59 ½ in the same time.

But the weenie roast will be more than just a chance to gag over processed meat, it will be a chance to meet some people in person after reading about them for months through their regular blog posts. I’m excited to put face, voice, and tone to the words I’ve been reading for months.

Now on to the next dilemma: what does one wear to a weenie roast in New York?

*weenie – processed meat product I would not wish to be no matter what the jingle says, not the slang for male genitalia, which I do eat.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Class Reunion

Literature, movies, and water-cooler chat often paint the picture of class reunions as being stodgy, show-offy affairs.

I’m proud to say my class reunion was anything but a stodgy affair. In fact, one of the biggest Baptists brought two kegs of beer! I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun with people from my hometown – it was certainly better than high school!

The vision of 20+ years is amazing.

One conversation I had with some of my classmates centered on the idea that almost all of us went to school together from first grade until graduation. I was looking back over the class list and realized that over 60 of the 93 graduates of my class had been in school together since the elementary years. We were not classmates and friends; we were brothers and sisters.

In the moment of growing up in that small community, I had never considered that idea.

Twenty-two years later it seemed very real. There were classmates I rarely talked to. I could talk to any of them at any time; I just didn’t. I liked everyone I went to school with; I just liked some more. I could hang out with any of them most any time; I just hung out with some more.

For all the times I bash growing up in a small town, the older I get, the more I see just how great it was. I could name every single classmate I had. In the schools I work with today, students couldn’t pick their classmates out of a photo lineup.

We on the other hand, knew what everyone did, or didn’t do on Saturday night.

I guess that was kind of like brothers and sisters.

Of course…I was mostly happy because I could still go in skinny-boy-low-rise jeans because I weigh 8 pounds less than I did when I graduated twenty-two years ago!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Office Food Thieves

Office food thieves are notorious in both water-cooler talk and situation comedy plot-lines.

And it’s even worse when they mess with such an anal person as me!

No, some greedy, thoughtless, hungry idiot did not take my food from the refrigerator.

Some greedy, thoughtless, mildly hungry, invasive idiot took a bite of a protein bar which was in my desk drawer.

That’s right: A BITE.


From my desk drawer!

And then the greedy, thoughtless, mildly hungry, invasive idiot PUT IT BACK!

I guess he thought I may have wanted the rest.

Imagine my horror and fury when I arrived at the office, hungry for a good ol’ protein bar for breakfast and I discover that my food source has a bite missing.

I was disturbed. Profoundly disturbed.

Almost as disturbed as I was when I woke the morning after hosting a holiday party to find that someone had opened my medicine cabinet and SQUEEZED my toothpaste. I’m compulsive about squeezing from the end and enough had been used so that the person could see how I follow directions!

So, the medicine cabinet peeper, squeezed it in the middle.

You can’t do that to AIM!

It mixes the colors.

What was the person thinking? That I like brown toothpaste?

If I wanted brown toothpaste, I would buy the all natural grit they sell in Whole Foods.

That occurred four years ago and I’m still obsessing over it. The food in my desk – going on two weeks.

But I’ll have my revenge. Sugar-free candy and dog cookies that look like people cookies.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Rosie's Price

Barker’s Beauties beware.

Bob Barker endorsed Rosie O’Donnell as his replacement on The Price is Right.

Hmmm…an 83 year old lecherous man replaced by a 40-something year old lesbian. The Beauties can’t catch a break.

And since the former “Queen of Nice” left her namesake talk show, she has worked hard to lose that sobriquet. She’s done battle with publishers, The Donald, Kelli, and her co-host. Can you imagine what she would be like with some of the contestants who make the show?

I can just see it now – the announcer invites someone to “Come on Down,” and the camera pans the audience to find the person cowering down in his seat.

“Do I have to?” he asks.

“You’re the next contestant on The Price is Right!” the announcer intones.

And he does come on down for fear that Rosie will come out and bring him on down. I imagine the ratings will stay about the same, but the demographics will change.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Country Music (not quite) To The Rescue

This week I have been pretty much on a non-stop Country Music kick. I’ve been a closet country music fan most of my life. Periods of Country Music have always had some of the voice of my life at different times.

A few days ago I wrote about modern country holding to traditional country with titles that only a country mama could love.

I pined about the lyrics that included “kissy kissy, smoochie smoochie, and mushy mushy.” I am admittedly good at kissy kissy and smoochie smoochie, but truly suck at mushy mushy.

Today I discovered a lyric from Brad Paisley that may be my way out: “I want to check you for tics.”

It gets directly to the point and there is NOTHING mushy mushy about it!

Somehow I don’t think the lyric refers to those with tourettes or those affected by fluorescent lights and video games either.

Hockey - again

For the third time, I’m attempting to watch a NHL Stanley Cup.

I have never been able to stay awake for an entire hockey game. For whatever reason, I the puck hits the ice and my head hits the pillow.

Years ago when Dallas was in the finals I made valiant attempts to stay awake for the games to see them hoist the large trophy, but I never made it.

I usually awoke sometime during Jay Leno’s monologue.

Since I’m a native of South Texas and only once in my youth had the chance to play on ice (Freeze of ’83) it would be understandable that I have limited knowledge of hockey. Tennis shoes, boots, and flip-flops don’t make good skates.

Football, I have always enjoyed. I get it: it makes sense to me.

Basketball has taken more time, but I get it and I enjoy the physicality of the sport. College basketball is without question my favorite sport to watch live in person. I have been passionate about college B-ball since the new gym was built at Navarro College while I was a student there. Professional B-ball is fun in the playoffs, but the regular season has become too much dominated by personality; college basketball remains one of the most team-oriented team sports today.

With the technology available today, hockey has grown as a sport from being one that is dominated by the north to one that exists even in the Texas/Mexico border region. Austin has a fairly successful minor league team – the Icebats.

I never could figure out the name since the bats for which Austin is famous LEAVE when the weather turns cold. We have FREETAIL bats, not ICE bats.

Maybe the Icebats have been successful because they really come from Superman’s secret North Pole Ice Palace and use the power of Kryptonite. Take that you mythical Jackalope!

But still, hockey has remained much like soccer in my sports brain.

That move stealing the puck is a penalty, but that move knocking out a few teeth is not?


Maybe someday I’ll understand it.

Barring a miracle with under four minutes remaining, the Anaheim Ducks ( I can’t help but think even Icebats has to be a better name) will bring the Stanley Cup to California for the first time in its 100+ years. I managed to stay awake for two of the three periods as the first period was just ending when I turned the television on and other than a few nods now and then, I have watched the last two periods in their entirety and that’s a record for me.

Maybe next winter I’ll get to an Icebats game live with a true hockey fan and he can let me know what the hell is going on play by play.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Enchanted Rock - Rocks

After mentioning "Enchanted Rock" several times in the posts after returning from the hike, I realized my pictures mostly focused on the flora which was unusually abundant this year rather than the rock we went to climb.

Above is the skyward view from inside one of the "caves" formed by large pieces of the rock which have fallen/slid partway down the side of the dome and become lodged together.

The view here looks across the gorge (there is a valley between the two domes of Enchanted Rock). You cannot tell the actual few hundred feet depth between the domes from this angel as it is looking down from the top of the higher dome to the top of the lower one, but there is a canyon (Echo Canyon) between the two. I'm not sure how it earned the name "Echo Canyon" with the abundant stand of Live Oak trees in it.

Over the years, the water has created paths to run down the side of the dome. In a few million years, these may become actual ravines, but as they are now, they are only an inch or less.

Rockslides over the millenia have created piles of boulders at various points down the side of Enchanted Rock with the majority of them all the way at the bottom. Still, it is somewhat amazing how they piled up in such seemingly precarious positions.

Country Music Strikes Again

Country music has a long and well earned reputation for titles and lyrics that state the obvious in a way only a country mama could love. The Roy Clark classic, “Thank God and Greyhound She’s Gone” managed to pay homage to the Good Lord and the cheapest form of mass transit at the time – and it even managed to get in a sideways reference to dogs.

One of the factors that makes country music so funny is that you can actually understand the lyrics. Rock protects itself by being unintelligible or we would have as many laughs there. Hip-hop just creates new slang with every song so the filler between gratuitous profanity makes absolutely no sense to anyone without the current day’s version of the Urban Dictionary.

A contemporary Joe Nichols song comes close to matching the standard of the greats like Roy Clark. His song, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” leaves little to the imagination and takes all the work from the rest of the lyrics. Still, by the time he is done describing all the clothes she loses, before she takes her first shot she would have been ready for a stroll along the lakefront in Chicago during January.

Nichols also has the song “She Only Smokes When She Drinks.” With him as a boyfriend, she’s going to have lung cancer soon or spontaneously combust depending on which angle he was taking with the smoking reference.

If she’s the same girl whose clothes fall off, then she probably has no tan line, but terrible smoker’s mouth.

Meanwhile Steve Holy demonstrates that he is anything but with his song, “Brand New Girlfriend.” He enjoys the beach with her while wearing nothing but smiles and playing “kissy kissy smoochie smoochie” while talking “mushy mushy about nothing.”

Maybe that’s why I don’t have a boyfriend: I’m good at “kissy kissy smoochie smoochie,” but I just don’t do “mushy mushy nothing” well.

Holy’s ex-girlfriend didn’t do the mushy well either. She got serious a bit and that’s why she’s his ex.

I need to learn to do mushy, but I don’t even know where to begin since those who do it to me instantly get on my last nerve – not that they have to go through to many to get there. I don’t have the vocabulary for sweet nothings. Is there any kind of Urban Dictionary for nothings?

I’ll just listen to politicians – that will get me started on nothing.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

More Enchanted Rock

I took almost fifty pictures of our little walk up a granite dome of Enchanted Rock today, so here are some more of the flora.

The bull nettles above are some of the most viscous stinging plants in Texas. They are covered in glass-like spikes that cause severe itching and large red welts if they come in contact with skin. While the bright green leaves and perky white flowers are attractive, the translucent spikes give a clear stay-away warning after you made the mistake once to try to pick a shoot for a display.

The yucca sends up a the long shoot with white flowers above. This one was almost done with it's bloom, so there are only a few flowers at the top of the spike. The leaves are more obviously painful than the bull nettle's, but they are much less harmful and were useful to Native Americans in many ways.

At several points, recesses in the rock have collected enough soil to be fertile grounds in a wet season like we have recently had. And as with many fairly arid regions, the plants take advantage of the moisture to quickly sprout, bloom, and seed. Although surround by solid granite, the oasis above was remarkably lush with grasses, flowers and cacti.

It is well past cactus-blooming-time, but there were still several breaking out in to bud following the rain. Prickly pear often bloom with a beautiful sunshine yellow, but the ones on Enchanted Rock seem to have absorbed some of the red granite and display the orange hue above.

Up close with some of the lushness. No centimeter of fertile ground goes uncovered by some plant.

Enchanted Rock

Sunday afternoon, my friends Clint and Chex invited me to join them on a hike up Enchanted Rock about an hour and a half outside of Austin in the Texas hill country. It is outside a "crafty" town called Fredericksburg. If you ever want tons of German food, good locally brewed beer, or some of the best wine made in Texas, visit Fredericksburg - there are always bed and breakfast places to sleep.

Above is Clint heading up the trail with Enchanted Rock in the background. The hike up the granite slab is a climb of about 325 feet in a remarkably short distance. Because is is dome shaped, it can be rather deceiving - just when you think you are at the top, you take a couple steps and realize there is much farther to go.

We have had an unusually wet May in the hill country, so there are plants one doe not normally expect to see, like ferns growing in every spot a spore could get a grip of some soil. The lichens on the rocks made them some fantastic colors as can be seen in the picture above. Everywhere one turned, there were more little surprises of color and combinations of plants as is seen in the picture below. In it you see a mix of daisies, prickly pear cactus, and fern, as well as some hardy grasses which have sprung up.