Friday, December 30, 2005

Someone else's line

From the mouths of babes... This is one of my favorite things I've read this week. It's from a blog I stop by once in a while.

"They walk around and are so happy and so cheerful and so giggly that you wonder if they ever experience sadness or even think deeply."

The thought appeals to me because I've wondered the same from time to time. I'm not sure why the way it's expressed appeals to me, but it does.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Life is only as short as you let it be...

"It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been give to us for the highest achievement if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death's final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it." - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (3 B.C.-65 A.D.)

Just a thought...but what have you done today?

My Christmas went something like this - ate sticky buns and opened presents with the nephews in the morning. They were sufficiently happy and energetic to make it a festive time even for my half-asleep self. Came home to do some more wrapping and then went to Mom and Dad's house for a second round of present gluttony and an afternoon Christmas dinner. It was nice. Came home again and thought about heading out for a drink, but stayed in and read started reading some Seneca.

Seneca was a Roman of no small influence. He's known for his plays and also for some of his other writings. Interestingly, his writing reveals quite a bit about Roman life at the time that is unchanged in ours. I also found it interesting that many of the ideas and ideals attributed to the rise of Christianity were already firmly in place at this time, perhaps showing that Christianity was more a result of already changing attitudes than the cause of them. But I digress...

The little ditty that I've been reading is called, "On the Shortness of Life." He argues rather well that in the shortness of life, only philosophers know how to live and spend their time wisely. It's not a lot different than similar Buddhist beliefs or early Christian writings that encourage introspection.

It's a bit chilling to grasp the similarities of Roman culture during this time and our own. It also lends some credence to the anti-evolution beliefs of many. He wrote 2,000 years ago, and it's obvious that most of society hasn't evolved at all since then. He wrote about corruption in the government, the vanity of aging men ridiculously thinking they could comb a few strands of hair over a bald spot and hide it, the competition to have a better house, throw a better party, or gain the most prestige. He talks of people wasting time learning useless trivia - something that struck me close to home - and working long hours in the employ of others while always talking of slowing down when they retire.

Seneca argues that we should take more time to not only question ourselves, but to take time to listen to our answers. Are we living our lives to the fullest or are we just chasing after the newest shiney thing or the loudest praise? It's often not until much of life is already wasted that we realize there are things we really wanted to do, but never did because we were too busy wasting our time with things that weren't fulfilling us.

So, that's it for today. No observations, no rants, no little illustrations...just a question to ask yourself. Are you making your life short, or long?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Rain Man's Christmas countdown...

Ten minutes till Santa. Cause Santa comes in ten minutes...

Ten minutes till Santa.

Friday, December 23, 2005

For the rest of us...

Tonight, I shall head downtown for a some sipping of spirits. I will raise a toast to the rest of us on this fine Festivus.

For the artists, thinkers, and dreamers...I will drink double. Society may push you to edges and seek to make you conform, but just remember that there have always been the few that sought to draw on the cave walls and they are the ones that still fire our imaginations today.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Where's the sense of obligation?

noblesse o·blige n. - Benevolent, honorable behavior considered to be the responsibility of persons of high birth or rank.

[French, nobility is an obligation : noblesse, nobility + oblige, third person sing. present tense of obliger, to obligate.]

What's wrong with people today? What's wrong with our society?

A couple of questions I both hear and ask a lot. It occurs to me that there are, of course, many answers to these questions, but two really stand out as the core reasons. First, the shrinking of the traditional middle class and second the increasing wealth of a large portion of the country. On the surface, it may sound like these are contradictory, but I don't think they really are.

The eroding of the middle class has been happening for quite some time. Over the last few decades, America has shifted from a manufacturing and producing nation to something different. With this shift, many of the jobs that supported small families in a comfortable, but not extravagant, way have disappeared.

This loss is most clearly seen in traditionally blue-collar areas.

Cities like Milwaukee have been manufacturing hubs since their formation. That's not the case anymore. There are still many manufacturing jobs to be had, but the number is considerably less than in past years. As more and more of these jobs go overseas, or just disappear, the tradition middle class will slowly fade away - at least in America.

The sense of community that builds up in these lower middle class areas has been an unmeasured victim of this trend. Less and less people are working shoulder to shoulder with their neighbors and communities have fewer and fewer common workplaces in which to build the relationships that were once common. Also, as jobs become scarce in an area, people are forced to move elsewhere to search for work.

Movement and job migration have become the death of tight-knit communities in recent decades. Not just in the lower middle class, but even more so in the upper middle class. It's not uncommon today to work at a job in one part of the country for two or three years, then move to another part of the country to take a different job. Roots to the community are becoming more and more shallow.

Then there's the second part of the equation. The increasing wealth of a large portion of society.

While it's easy to bemoan the loss of jobs and opportunities, the fact is that more people today are what in days past would have been considered wealthy. Sure, there is plenty of complaining about how tight money is and how hard it is to get by, but for a large portion of America, life is pretty good.

At the beginning of the last century, owning a car was a rare luxury. By the 40s, 50s, and 60s, most families had a car, but two was a bit of a luxury. Now, it's rare for a family that's not poor to have less than two vehicles.

Along with the cars, there are now many toys too. A house, a cabin up north, a couple of ATVs or a boat, maybe a motorcycle for hubby, a big screen television, nice stereo...the list goes on. Americans today are enjoying the trappings of wealth more than ever before.

These things were traditionally reserved for the wealthy members of society.

Being rich not only included having toys and diversions, but also the time to enjoy them. This is certainly the case for many people today and it's sometimes been called the culmination of the American dream. Most people in America harbor this dream - the wish to someday be wealthy, or at least well off.

Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. But there is something missing.

What's missing is a little thing that came as second nature to those ofprivilegee in days past - the concept of noblesse oblige. With wealth, there is an obligation to others. It comes from the days when the noble class enjoyed certain privileges, but was also bound to the people of their land.

We often talk about the ills of feudal society, or much later, of the exploitive robber barons getting rich on the sweat of others, but we seldom talk about the gifts they gave back to society. The museums, universities and hospitals of today are here because of the upper classes of yesterday. It's the concept of noblesse oblige that spurred these gifts.

What we have today is a sense of entitlement - a sense that we should have all the luxuries that were once the province of the wealthy and we should have them right now.

But it's a sense of entitlement without a sense of obligation. And without that sense of obligation, it's nothing but greed and gluttony.

We're becoming a society of greedy children, whining about how hard it is to get ahead and once we do get ahead, never looking back to see who we can help. We're only looking ahead, chasing the next shiny object and not caring who we trample or what we break to get it.

There's no nobility in that.

Friday, December 16, 2005

He's lied, he's he's spied on you...

No really...Bush is making this a better place. Is your laundry clean?

This is the breaking story that will be rocking the airwaves today and probably through the weekend... Bush authorized the NSA to spy on people in the U.S. and told them not to worry about those pesky warrants. This is the same guy who's been saying you can trust him not to abuse the ill-named Patriot Act. Why abuse that set of laws when you can just ignore them all?

Anyway, the New York Times story is here.

I'm just so excited to hear the spin. I'm sure it will be wildly creative.

BBC News
CBS News

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Further brilliance...

If you thought I was done harping on about the Retarded Woodpecker (aka the Insulation Guy), you were wrong.

In a moment that can only be described as transcendantly brilliant, I noticed today that the Insulation Guy weather stripped the storm door. Excellent you say? Why yes. Sealing up those pesky little gaps around the door would certainly help keep the cold air out and the warm air in...if the door stayed shut.

Yup, you guessed it - with the new weather stripping, the door doesn't close all the way and blows open a bit when the wind stirs it.

That's all I've got to say about that...

Hello Brothers and Sistos in Christos

This just in...

After closely studying several television interviews with Pat 'Hatemonger' Robertson, I was shocked...yea, discover that in his greetings to the hosts of the shows, he doesn't mention Haysus Christos at all.

It seems that he thinks it's okay to just say things like, "Hello", "How are you?", and "Glad to be here..."

Excuse me? Where's the nod to the late great JC?

If this doesn't call for a boycott, I don't know what does. I'm so tired of these media types just ignoring our lord and saviour in their greetings. They probably don't even give a nice, "Go with God" or "God be with you..." on the way out.

This is the kind of thing that is undermining our Christian values and we shouldn't put up with it any more. I encourage you to write your Congressmen immediately and call for legislation to be passed that requires everyone to mention Jesus in every greeting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I hated Woody too...

It was a good dream, but more importantly, it was wrapped in several hours of sleep. Nipping close on the heels of a three-hour sleep day, the sleep part was glorious - until the tapping seeped in.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap...

What? No, you've got to kidding me.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap...

Maybe if I ignore it?

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap...

The dream breaks up and blows away like thick smoke. Where once was restful repose, only annoyance remains. And still the insistant sound goes on.

Tap, tap, knock, pound, knock, knock...

Pulling on some jeans, I trudge to the door. The Levis feel like they have 501 buttons to do up. I don't bother with a shirt. Secretly, I hope the early morning sight of a shirtless me will burn this little bastard's eyes.

Knock, knock, tap, tap, tap...

I pull open the door to see a brown Carhartt-wearing insulation guy standing there like a giant, retarded woodpecker. If an unfunny Dana Carvey showed up your door in the morning to blow insulation in the attic and seal gaps in the attic, he would look like this.

I don't bother with a smile, just pull the door open.

"Come on in..."

I turn and trudge back towards my bedroom.

"Oh...I didn't wake you up did I?"

What the... this is despite the five-minute talk yesterday about how I would have gotten back from working at about 4 a.m.? This guy is as dumb as he looks.

"Yes, you did..." I reply.

I've been trying to refrain from using profanity and throwing the guy's ladder out in the snow. So far, I've succeeded, but now I feel a cold draft on my back that seems to tell me that despite the fact it's about 20 degrees outside, the retarded Dana Carvey woodpecker has left the front door wide open.

See you in jail...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Some things just aint right...

Here's a little silly Christmas cheer from me to you... Pretend it's a card and you just got it in the mail.

I'm guessing there's not a lot of kids sitting on this fella's lap. Oh well, he's having fun... Don't ask, don't tell.

I've been a busy little beaver, trying to learn Flash. All I can say is it's not that hard, but it's not very easy. Next up...adding some music to the loop. I told you the fun never stops here.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Holy Crap...

I was reading a post on Slade's blog referring to some religious whack jobs being bent about Bush's Xmas cards not saying Christmas on them. Whew doggie...what a bunch of nuts.

That's what I thought at first. Now, I'm beginning to think they might be on to something (instead of just being on something). Perhaps when I reveal the strange connections I discovered, you'll agree that the devil is behind this secularization of Christmas.

It became clear to me in a sudden revelation that Santa Claus is actually Beelzebub himself. There are far too many 'coincidences' for it to be otherwise.

Look at their names... SANTA = SATAN. Hmmm...hard to deny that one huh?

They both wear red suits.

They both have strangely deformed henchmen.

Coal and brimstone are mighty similar.

Satan doesn't love cute, fuzzy animals. Santa has a fur-lined coat and hat. It's probably baby seals...

Both try to woo us with shiney things and fancy gifts.

This Santa guy also doesn't seem to mind giving presents to godless heathens either. He gives presents to everybody. What kind of crap is that?

Baby Jesus enters our hearts through the front door. Santa sneaks in through the chimney.

And, let's not forget, Santa didn't join the coalition forces in Iraq. Surely, a few flying reindeer could have been spared for recon missions? Okay, maybe that doesn't make him the devil, but it proves he's probably French...

Hey, maybe I'm could just be the punch I drank at my Southren Baptist Evangelical Church of the Holier Than Thou Spirit. That stuff did seem a might strong.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Speaking of movies and hot actresses...

Okay, we weren't talking about hot actresses, but you had to know it was going to come back to that eventually, right? It happens all the time. 'Hey, I saw a had that one hot actress...' or 'Wow, we're low on milk, isn't she a totally hot actress?'

See what I mean? Almost unavoidable.

This one is actually tied to a movie. The other night I watched 'A Very Long Engagement.' It's French and it's very good. What made it work was the fine directing by Jean-Pierre Jeunet that included some interesting cuts and the acting of Audrey Tautou.

Tautou is best known for her character Amelie from the movie of the same name. It was also directed by Jeunet. That's where I first saw her. The best way to describe her in that role is fetching and adorable. I know, 'fetching' isn't your typical description of modern actresses, but believe me it fits perfectly.

She's been in several other movies including, 'He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not', 'Dirty Pretty Things', and 'L'Auberge Espagnole'...and she's great in all of them.

She does an excellent job in 'A Very Long Engagement' too. In it, she plays a young woman who refuses to believe her fiance was killed during WWI. The movie weaves a mystery together into an interesting love story that centers around a group of men condemned to death for injuring themselves to get sent home from the trenches.

This is the quick low down on Audrey. It comes from because I'm far too tired to write much myself...

Audrey Tautou was born on August 9th, 1978, in the tiny town of Beaumont. She grew up in nearby rural Montluason, where, as a teenage girl, she already aspired to be a comedian or artist of some sort. With a high school diploma in hand, she moved to the grand city of Paris. It was there that she attended acting school at the Cours Florent and got a BA in literature.

Shortly after graduation, she landed roles in films for the French television network TF1, as well as in two short feature films, a specialty of her homeland. One of those projects, called Casting: Archi-dÃgueulasse, was featured in the 1998 Cannes festival. The following year, Tautou won the Best Newcomer prize from Canal Plus, after appearing in a competition similar to Star Search.

She went on to land a role in 'Venus Beauty Academy' and her career really started building from there. She was already a well-known name in France when she earned the role of Amelie. That film went on became an international hit and earned her more than a handful of calls from Hollywood.

Tautou, to her credit, has preferred to stay in France and work there, perfecting her craft. She once said in an interview that she was more interested in good roles for less money than good money for lesser roles.

"I've had a few opportunities, but it takes a lot of guts to do something big in English. I also believe there has to be some kind of a correlation - a truth - between who I am and what I can play," she said in another interview.

She did do an English movie, in 2002, 'Dirty Pretty Things', where she played a Turkish immigrant trapped in the seedy world of undocumented workers. And she is starring in the upcoming 'Da Vinci Code', which is due out next summer.

Add the fact that she doesn't see herself as a beauty, and she really becomes quite hard to resist.

"I don't consider myself pretty. I consider Julia Roberts or Monica Bellucci or those kinds of women as beauties. But me, I'm cute," she told one interviewer.

And, anyone who knows me will tell you...I adore cute. So, that ought to explain why Audrey Tautou is high on my list.

If there is a benevolent intelligent designer - and the existance of Tautou seems to indicate there is - then she'll be making movies for a long, long time.

You have the right to remain silent...

No, this has nothing to do with arrests or incarceration. It's all about viewing pleasure...mine.

I decided a while back that my silent movie knowledge was sort of lacking. Now, I get to remedy that a bit. I bought a Chaplin DVD collection the other day and now I plan on watching some of it. It's multi-disk set of Chaplin shorts. Yup, I'm going to stare at Charlie's shorts for a while tonight.

This is all assuming I can stay awake. I've had a day full of an electrician climbing around, drilling stuff and making a mess. He's putting in some ventilation fans. Oh boy, the fun never ends. I had to be up at 7 this morning only to find he wouldn't be here till 8. He seems alright though and isn't too annoying.

His partner just showed up though and all I think is...doofus. He's already stepped on my surfboard and just seems to generally be in the way and awkward.

Will I be glad when they leave? Ummmm, yeah...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Happy Nicholaus Eve...don't let Ruprecht get you

Okay, one of my favorite German holiday traditions is the whole Nicholaus thing. He's definitely not Santa and he comes on St. Nicholaus Eve in much of Germany and Austria. That's tonight.

Nicholaus is a tall, skinny guy who dresses like a bishop. He's loosely based on a real person who actually lived in what is now Turkey. On St. Nicholaus Eve, Nicholaus goes around and leaves small treats for the children...and sometimes adults too. In most places, he leaves the treats in shoes left by the door.

He usually has a companion, Knecht Ruprecht, who's not as nice. Ruprecht is a short, dark, dwarflike guy who rattles chains and chases children. He used to be more of a boogeyman than he is today. He used to chase children with switches and whip them for being out... Parents still use him as a threat, even though he's been toned down quite a bit and in some places is just a friendly little helper.

So, in a few hours, little German kids will put their shoes outside the door and hope to awake to find nuts and candies in them tomorrow.

When I was there in Germany a few years ago, I was staying in a friend's apartment on Nicholaus Eve. We went to a holiday party at his athletic club (which is a whole 'nother thing and worthy of a post some time too...) where I learned the wonders of drinking Sekt (first from nice, fluted glasses and later from the bottle) and being a foreign guy in a room full of single girls. Ah ja, das war fantastich...but I digress.

Anyway, when we staggered home, many of the shoes in the hallway had been filled. It was kind of cool, because it was just little stuff. It wasn't about going on a spending spree, just making a nice effort.

Late at night, I heard footsteps outside. One of the neighbors went around and left stuff by the doors of places that didn't have anything.

In the morning, there was a knock on the door. The neighbor downstairs wanted to make sure that 'the American friend' got some fresh baked Stollen because 'it wouldn't be St. Nicholaus without some Stollen.'

Anyway, put your shoes out and lock the doors so Ruprecht doesn't get you...


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Is it okay?

First, some quick background to set the stage.

About a month ago, the Washington Post ran a story alleging that the U.S. has been transferring detainees to secret torture facilities in various parts of the world, including Afganistan, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The story details that the transports are done by the CIA who uses privately contracted planes to make the transports.

It's also alleged that many of these flights planes have made use of airports across Europe to stop and refuel or perform maintainence.

About three weeks ago, several governments in Europe started to raise concerns that the U.S. had used facilities in their countries and may have skirted laws to cover what they were doing. Spain, in particular, has been very concerned. They began to investigate whether there was enough evidence to start official inquiries.

Also, around this time, reports have come out that allege that at least two Eastern European countries - Romania and Poland - have hosted "black sites" or CIA torture and interrogation facilities.

About two weeks ago, more countries had joined in the chorus calling for answers to the allegations. During all this time the U.S. government response was that they would look into responding in a timely manner.

Around this time the Spanish court officially began an investigation. There system is a bit different than ours, but what that means is the government of Spain has begun to investigate the allegations that Spanish airports were used to transport people to secret facilities in another country. It's the first step in criminal proceedings in Spain.

One week ago, the calls for a response had not yet been answered. Daily questions to the State Department spokesman Sean McCormack have been sidestepped with rhetoric and "well, I can't comment on something that could be an intelligence matter..." Meanwhile, the flipside of the responses has been that the U.S. will look into responding in a timely manner.

During this time, the questioning has gotten more pointed and is beginning to boil down to - So, you're unwilling to say whether there are torture facilities overseas or not? You are saying that taking a month to repond to these allegations is responding in a timely manner? Are you admitting, then, that the Administration believes torture is an acceptable action?

In the last week, the questioning has heated up at the State Department briefings where there are still journalists working and not PR writers, like many accuse the White House correspondents of being.

The EU has sent an official letter asking for information on the allegations. They can expect to get a response - yes, you guessed it - in a timely manner. Also, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of a man 'detained' by the U.S., sent to a torture facility in Afghanistan.

Tomorrow, Condee Rice will be in Germany and then other countries. She is going to be meeting with the new government in Germany and is likely to issue a statement there that will set the tone for the Administration's stand on the allegations.

The hints dropped by others in their recent statements seem to indicate that the stand will be that this is a different kind of war, we most all work in a concerted way to fight this war on terror and that extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. No further mention of torture facilities will be responded to. It's also expected that Rice will be telling the governments of several European countries to stop pushing the issue.

Anyway...this is all just a long-winded prologue to my questions.

Is it okay for the U.S. to torture prisoners?

Is it okay for the U.S. to detain people for long periods of time without any legal recourse?

And finally, if it is okay to use torture or detain people in prisons for years, what is the obligation of the U.S. if it turns out that any of these people had no "terrorist" connections at all?

Please don't sit on the sidelines on this one. What do you think?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Why does my head sweat when I eat spicey food? Mind you, I like it pretty hot...but why does it make my head sweat? Hmmm....

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Torture Inc., part two

There is an interesting little read from the BBC...lord knows you can't trust them...

It's an interview with a top aide to Colin Powell. He flat out accuses Cheney of breaking U.S. laws and stops inches short of accusing him of war crimes. Read it, or don''s a free country...for now...

Torture Inc.

So, this comment is from a State Department spokesman concerning the use of not so secret anymore torture centers the U.S. set up in Eastern Europe.

This is a struggle that all free countries, including the countries of Europe, share with us: How to deal with groups of people, individuals, that respect no law, that wear no uniform, that follow no regulations, and how do we as a country and how do we as countries that abide by the rule of law that follow -- that abide by our international obligations and abide by our constitutions? How do we deal with that?
It just makes me wonder how we're supposed to deal with it when it's the President of the United States signing off on torture... Is there a hell hot enough for such a person?

Once again, that was..."groups of people, individuals, that respect no law, that wear no uniform, that follow no regulations..." Sound like anyone familiar?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Current favorites spots you're reading this at...

I'm still amazed by the concept that I can write some inane thought here and, within seconds, some bored sole in Kuala Lampur can read it and think, 'Well, at least my life isn't that dull...' What a miraculous world we live in.

That current favorite spots that have appeared in my logs lately are:

  • Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan

  • Mauritus

  • Richmond, Tasmania

  • Delhi, India

  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates

That's right, I'm international. International and proud. In the past I've had visits from Germany, France, England, Italy, and Brazil.

I should also give a nod to my friends up North who hail from such cool places as Moose Jaw, Whitehorse, and Ontario.

It really is an amazing world.

Je deteste...

I went out on Friday morning, rolling into the shopping melee that pretty much passes for a cultural event in America these days. This was not because I'm a masochist, or an Uber-shopper, but because I needed to try and find a computer part and I was going to my parent's in the afternoon. So, morning trip it was.

I didn't find the part, so I wandered over to Kohl's (a midwest store that used to be all about groceries, but is now all about clothes and other department store odd transformation if ever there was one...) to see if I could grap a new pair of Levis. I actually need the Levis, it wasn't entirely because I didn't want to do laundry.

I got into the store, put my head down and blasted over to the men's department. Grabbing the jeans, I turned and for the first time saw the utter ridiculosity (I was a sports writer...I'm allowed to make up words...) of the situation.

The line snaked to the back of the store. Fatties as far as the eye could see...clutching their doorbuster deals tight to their corpulent selves. Not an ounce of joy slipped from any of those porky lips. (At this point, I should tell you that I'm really not playing up the extra pounds for a laugh. The majority of the people in line - mainly surly looking women, I might add - were obese.)

The jeans were left somewhere between the men's department and the door. I fled...

I would further describe the horror, but this guy does a much better job of it. I refer you to him.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

0 for 3

I've gone 0-3 on my holiday plans...didn't do drinks with Gregg, Thanksgiving dinner was postponed a day, and last night it was snowing a bunch, so I didn't see Eileen. Go figure.

Despite that, it wasn't all bad. Still went out on Thanksgiving Eve. I suppose it could be called Tanksgiving, since that's what everyone was busy doing...getting tanked. Ran into some people I haven't seen in a while. Thanksgiving was postponed a day, so Thursday turned into a Shawn's gonna start learning to use Flash kind of day. My favorite pub open that night, so out I went and had a great time...again running into some friends. Friday, went to the folks house and did the dinner thing. Then it started snowing and it was getting late, so no drive through the backroads of Wisconsin to see my friend visiting her folks.

So, now it's Saturday...who knows what's gonna happen...I just know that I'm not going to try and plan ahead...not with my recent record...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving and Stuff(ing)

Hope everyone has a great holiday. I'm going to go out to buy expensive drinks for my friend Gregg tonight, see my folks and family tomorrow, and likely see my friend Eileen on Friday.

I leave you with my kind of your backs or he'll kick your ass.


If you came by earlier, your eyes are not betraying you...the gun toting turkey is indeed now moving. My day wouldn't be complete without some tinkering around.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Nice day, but...

The shadows are long and it's only 3:15. I'm not a big fan of this time of year. I like long days too much.

But, since it is Thanksgiving coming up, I should toss out a couple of thankful fors...

I'm glad I have pretty good friends and family. It's a nice thing to have people you care about and that care about you. I'm glad that I've got my health and I'm mostly in pretty okay shape. I'm thankful that there are still people who choose love over hate, even in trying times. And I'm thankful that the world is more good than bad.

Got anything to add?


Monday, November 21, 2005

Please don't be offended if I don't call...your number's in my fridge

It was one of those weekends...

Why they happen when I drag myself out to the pub looking like ass is beyond me, although it does fit into the philosophy of 'The Tao of Steve.' Anyway, it's all too sordid and risque to repeat here, so I'll just leave you with the knowledge that the title of this post really does say it all...

Sometimes single is a good way to be.

p.s. - For those of you who may know of my Moment of Godlike Clarity and the followup on New Year's Eve...consider this the next installment.

Friday, November 18, 2005

America's Sweetheart was Canadian...

This is a special nod to the North...apparently, there are some Canucks who wanted to see some Canadian representation in the smart and beautiful listings.

That said, today I bring you 'America's Sweetheart.'

Ummm...Shawn...didn't you just say you were taking us up North? Yeah, I did. That's why I have to tell you that America's Sweetheart was Canadian.

Gladys Marie Smith was not only adored by the masses, she was also a keen business woman. Born on April 9, 1893, in Toronto, Ontario, young Gladys was destined to prove that child actors don't all grow up to be Danny Bonaduce.

She started acting in a Toronto stock company and from there went on to some leading roles in New York. She began her film career in 'Her First Biscuits' in 1907. She was directed by D.W. Griffith (who went on to direct the seminal, 'Birth of a Nation'). By 1909, she had starred in 'Mrs. Jones Entertains,' under the name Dorothy Nicholson. She appeared in 51 films that year. She was working under Griffith at Biograph Company. In 1910, she appeared in 49 films. In 1911, she left Biograph and went to work with Carl Laemmle (the father of Universal Studios). She returned to Biograph after a year and went on to work with other companies, directors and producers, including the legendary Adolf Zukor.

Anyone who didn't see young Gladys' drive and ambition, must not have been looking. She clearly had plenty of both. If you count backward from 1919 to her birth in 1893, you'll come up with the age she was when she joined two of the biggest names in Hollywood and founded what would become one of the big studios. Who was this plucky 26 year old actress?

Gladys Marie Smith was better known to millions as Mary Pickford, or simply, America's Sweetheart. She was one of the biggest names in silent movies. Her place at the top of the Hollywood heap was challenged by only a few. Two of those fellow actors - Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks - became her partners in the founding of United Artists. Fairbanks was, later, her husband for 16 years.

Her silent movie work made her a star. She starred in many silents, including: 'The New York Hat,' 'Tess of Stormy Country,' Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,' 'Poor Little Rich Girl,' and 'Daddy Long Legs.'

By the year 1916. Pickford was making nearly $150,000 a year - the average family income was about $2,000 a year. She earned $2,000 a week and then received a $10,000 bonus at the completion of each film.

It was also, during this time that Pickford began working with a young female screenwriter, Frances Marion (*stay tuned for more on Frances Marion), who would become one of Pickford's closest friends and one of the most highly regarded writers in Hollywood history. This is just an example of Pickford's near obsession with surrounding herself with the best talent in the industry.

Her performance in the sound film, 'Coquette' cemented her position in the pantheon of Hollywood deities. She won an Academy Award for that performance - the first one given for an actress in a talkie. Pickford was one of 36 founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She and her husband, Fairbanks, were the first two stars to officially put their hand and footprints in the cement in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater in 1927.

In addition to founding United Artists and helping start the Academy, Pickford and Fairbanks built a lavish mansion, known as Pickfair, which became a center of the Hollywood social scene and the scene of many raucous parties.

Pickford retired from acting in 1934, after making 'Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove.' After divorcing Fairbanks, Pickford went on to marry Charles 'Buddy' Rogers ('Wings,' 'My Best Girl'). Although she is widely remembered for her sweet, and often Pollyanaish, portrayals of heroines, Mary Pickford was also the most powerful and influential woman in Hollywood history.

She received a Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 1976. She died in Santa Monica on May 29, 1979. For more information about Pickford's life and charitable works, go to Mary

First off...

Thanks for all the nice comments. They all mean a lot.

For anyone worried that I'm planning on giving all my belongings away and joining up with the shaved-head Hari Krishnas...worry no more.

Mostly, I've just been trying to look at myself and figure out what it is I want. Sure, money is part of it...but a small part. Prestige is a small, tiny part of it. Basically, I have all the desires we all have, but it's just time to put them into line. Instead of pursuing them all, or none of them...I just want to figure out the important ones and not waste time chasing shiney objects.

The first step is, of course, figuring out what those priorities are. After that, the biggest step is leaving where I'm at...jumping back in the stream, as it were. Anyway, some will say to figure out the destination, jump in and start paddling - others will say, jump in and start paddling and then figure the destination. Both are valid...though, I think I'll be doing the jump in and figure it out later thing myself.

Anyway, thanks for taking time to read my confessions and for coming back to see what else is in store...just know that your presence makes the journey easier...cheers...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My parents expected a lot from me. Not in a harsh way, but in a way that was always hanging in the air. They sacrificed a lot to make my life better. And I let them down.I don't know exactly what they wanted for me, but I know it's not what I've accomplished so far.

I had a girlfriend in high school, Becky, and I know she thought I could achieve some great things. I let her down.

Later, I had a girlfriend, Coleen, who believed in me. She was ready to share her life with me. I let her down. She moved on and made a life for herself. I saw her a while back and I was embarrassed because I could feel her disappointment. It wasn't expressed, but it hung thick in the air. That still haunts me.

I went a long time, never getting close enough to let someone else down. I didn't really know that's what I was doing, but it was. For a long time I didn't let anyone close enough to be let down. Even when I lived with a woman for nearly three years, that wall was there. I lowered my expectations to create a safe little world for myself.

It was a long time before I met someone who challenged me. Someone who expected more of me than I did. I loved her more than words could express. I still do, and I think she knows it in her soul. In some strange way, I know she really doesn't want to hear from me until I've lived up to my potential. Rebecca, I know you're out there and I love you for believing in me. And, remarkably, I know you still believe in me.

I had a boss at the same time who expected more from me too.

Kevin and I worked together in his frame shop for five years. One day, he fired me. It wasn't because I wasn't doing the job, but rather because he knew I was hiding in that job. He told me to take some time off, collect unemployment and figure out what I needed to do. He gave me a gift of love, and eight years later, I still haven't repayed it.

One night, sitting outside the paper I worked at, my friend Josh told me I was wasting my time doing what I was doing. He probably doesn't even remember it, but he was right. It's been several years since then.

Tonight I was told to get the fuck out by my friend Gregg. I've never cried at a bar, but I did tonight. But he was right. This isn't my town. This isn't my life. I need to move on and stop hiding here. I started to promise to do something big, something great, and he stopped me.

'I don't care about that shit,' he said. 'Just stop. Just fucking stop. Stop fucking doing what you're doing and be something. It fucking breaks my heart that you're cleaning carpets, working for your brother. I belong here, I know my place here. You don't belong here. I should be living my life vicariously through you. Just stop. Don't let me down, just don't let me down.'

I don't know. He's right. All my friends throughout my life have been right. I need to think a bit. Maybe I'll be back tomorrow, or the next day, or never...but I want to share a small piece of friendship with you all before I take some time out.

Thank you all for just being yourselves. We all have a special spark in us and we should cherish it. No one is here for long, a few years, a few decades, whatever...when we go there will only be some memories, and then those will be gone too.

Have you done everything you could today? Probably not. Neither have I. What are we waiting for? Just do it. Hug your kid. Call your Mom. Call a friend. Mend a fence.

Embarrassed? Who gives a shit...just do it. Just do what something you know you want to do, but you're scared of.

Do it.

You'll probably look the fool, but who really cares? Just fucking do it...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Recent reading...

I like to read. It makes me feel good when I learn new things. I also have a bit of a fear of saying something wrong. Along with an pretty strong sense of curiousity, I also have a high degree of skepticism built into my system.

Reading fills some of my needs, so I guess I'll be reading for life - literally and figuratively.

I wish there was rhyme or reason to my reading habits, but there's not. Generally speaking, I find something that interests me and become nearly obsessed with it. Then, once I reach a certain level of knowledge on the subject, I usually lose interest and move on. Sometimes I return, but often I'm left with a sophomore level knowledge of many things.

Some of my latest reads have been:

Our Endangered Values - Jimmy Carter
SUSE Linux 9 Bible - Several authors
The Pleasure Of My Company - Steve Martin
Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk
Mind Of Clear Light (Advice on Living Well and Dying Conciously) - His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Anyway, I guess I don't understand people who don't want to know. They're out there and they are many...these people who would just rather not know. They don't want anything to pierce the bubble which they live in. To them, truth can be a dangerous thing and knowledge is to be feared. All I can say is that I don't get it.

Anyway, back to the book pile for me. I'm in the middle of a book called 'Over the Edge' by Greg Child. It's about the four American climbers that were kidnapped by rebel fighters in Kyrgystan in 2000.

What might have been...

The Packers picked up win number two last Sunday. They did it against one of the better teams in the league...and they did it with a fourth-string running back and a bunch of backups. Maybe that's the thing that sets a team apart. The desire to try and win even when there shouldn't be a chance of winning. Who says that sports has no lessons to teach?

Out here in Wisconsin, our new hero is Samkon Gado. I mean, this kid too awesome, or what? He was born in Nigeria, played football at a small college (Liberty) and was let go by the Chiefs, where he was on the practice squad. The Packers sign him for their practice squad in the middle of October and less than two weeks later he taking handoffs from Brett Favre in an NFL game. And the thing is, he's actually pretty good. Top it all off with the fact that he's polite and he seems like a nice guy...and you've got a player that Packers' fans are starting to love.

Anyway, even with an abyssmal record, the Packers have been in pretty much every game, which makes fans of the Pack wonder just what might have been if there weren't so many injuries...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Something old, something new...

The Zombieslayer sort of got this topic rolling and I couldn't just let the chance pass to hand out some praise for two exceptional Spanish women. First, Margarita Carmen Cansino - who you perhaps know as Rita Hayworth.

Although she was born in New York and raised in Southern California, Rita remained a Spanish girl throughout life. Her father was Spanish and the family had strong roots back in the old country.

Rita, the queen of the pinups, was not only a lovely face, she could also hoof it with the best of them. Ginger Rogers might have been the partner, but for several Hollywood stars, Rita Hayworth was the better dancer. That's not just some studio spin either. Her father was perhaps the best known Spanish dancer in early Hollywood. He not only appeared in many movies after closing out his wildly successful show in New York and moving to Hollywood, he also became a well regarded choreographer and dance teacher.

Young Rita was brought up to dance and spent hours in the studio. She was actually 'discovered' by a studio bigwig when he saw her dance in a show with her father.

She did some small parts, did some more parts and then finally hit it big. And hit it big she did. Mostly known for playing steamy sirens, Hayworth was longed after by many men of the time. During the war, she was the armed forces' most popular pinup girl and she returned the compliment by performing in shows, working in the USO canteen and entertaining soldiers. She was also active in fund raising.

Like many actors and actresses of the time, Hayworth had a rocky romantic life. She had a handful of marriages and divorces and was, sadly, never able to find that careful balance of successful career and quiet lifestyle that she sought.

Two of her more famous marriages included a marriage to Orsen Welles and a marriage to Prince Aly Khan. Yup, she was a real princess, much like a certain starlet named Grace Kelly.

In later life, Rita developed Alzheimer's disease and was unable to work in movies. Her daughter, Princess Yasmin Agha Khan cared for her during her final years. She left behind a string of excellent movies and thousands of adoring fans. Not such a terrible legacy really.


And just so you don't think I'm stuck in the past, I present Paz Vega. Vega is already well known in Spain and around the world, but is still a bit of a unknown here in the States.

You might remember her for her charming, yet solid performance in 'Spanglish.' Somehow, Vega manages to convey a range of emotion with very little spoken...or, at least, very little English spoken. Her portrayal of a single mom trying to do the best for her daughter is really very good.

If you want to see another side of this excellent - and beautiful - actress, you should rent 'Sex and Lucia' or Pedro Almodovar's 'Talk To Her.' Come to think of it, I haven't had the chance to watch 'Talk To Her' straight through, so that might be on the plate this weekend.

Here's the quick low down on lovely Paz Vega:

She was born Paz Campos Trigo on January 2, 1976, in Seville, the Spanish town famous for Carmen and singing barbers. The slender and athletic Paz first dreamed of being a sports star and later aspired to politics. But at age 15, all it took was a day at the theater to cement her ambitions; a performance of La Casa de Bernarda Alba set her sights on acting for good.

And, sadly for us guys, Paz Vega lives in Madrid with husband Orson Salazar. The streets run wet with my tears...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My tete a tete with the former Prez...

Because most people don't get much of a chance to spend time with a president - former or current - I'm going to try and give you little glimpse at my glamourous life. Secrecy and tact precludes me from telling all, but rest assured I will be revealing the best parts to you guys.

I arrived early, as is my wont when I'm scheduled to meet with former presidents. It's just nice to get a lay of the land, so to speak, since it's already a bit intimidating to meet with a past leader of the free world. When I got to Wal-Mart - yes, I too wondered at his choice of meeting places, but who am I to argue? - I noted there was quite a long line of people clutching books, apparently hoping to catch a glimpse and maybe try to get an autograph. I'm not so hardened that I didn't feel for these people and decided to show my solidarity with the regular folk by standing in line with them.

What a lucky thing for me. I was able to meet Tom, the gay doctor, and his lovely friend, Whatshername. She really was lovely, but she was rather unfortunate in having a forgetable name. Anyway, Gay Tom, Whatshername and I had a wonderful time chatting in line. Tom even bought us all some waters and offered us some spud wedges, which he declared were fabulous. That's just how we are in Wisconsin, what can I say?

Anyway, we were having so much fun in the party aisle with the mini Magic 8 Balls, Sponge Bob party favors and Barbie balloons that the time got away from us. It hardly seemed like a minute more than two hours of standing in one place. Well, knowing that presidents are usually sticklers for punctuality, I was fixing to say my goodbyes to my new friends when the line started moving.

'What the heck,' I figured. 'Might as well just spend some more time with these folks. The former president can wait.'

We moved forward at a pretty good clip. Down the party aisle, around the front, and up the center aisle. It was a long line and it stretched back and forth around ten aisles. I was sorely tempted along the way by many wondrous items like dog biscuits and toilet scrubbers, but I had important people to meet, so I left the goodies behind for another trip.

Gay Tom and Whatshername walked with me. I think they were hoping to ride my coattails in for a little face time with the Prez.

An eager. young intern type took my books for me...clearly she recognized me and was doing a bit of sucking up. She passed my books to another aide and told her they belonged to me. The aide nodded knowingly...

I don't want to talk out of shop or anything, but since you guys are my blog pals...I'm going to include a complete transcript of my private conversation with the former President of the United States:

Aide: These are his.
Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter: (looks up) Oh thank you.
Me: Thank you sir.
Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter: Oh, well, thank you for coming out.
Me: Thanks for being here sir. Thanks very much.

Pundits will be reading what they want into that exchange, but I'm not going to stoop down there in the gutter with them.

Gay Tom, Whatshername, and I walked out together. We were, understandably, giddy from the heady experience.

'Wow...this line is still really long,' I said to my new friends.

'Well, thank god we weren't way back here,' said Gay Tom. 'These people are going to be here forever! Forever!'

I think a Sponge Bob flew by my head...

Forget degrees of Kevin far from porn are you?

Has anyone else noticed that the web has gotten sort of squeaky clean lately? What happened to the days of porn just popping up (or is that out?) while surfing? Are those days gone forever?

As an experiment, I will go forth and Goggle seemingly innocent words and phrases in an attempt to accidentally find some porn sites. Good god, the sacrifices I make...if you don't see me for a while...

Anyway, converse amongst yourselves...any funny porn popping up stories to share?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Okay...that's weird...but, I'll go anyway

In a bit of blog irony (would that be blogrony?) or some such thing, my plans for a quiet Thursday night sucking back a drink or two have just changed. Now, I'm going to try and shake hands with a real man.

A couple of days ago, Zombieslayer did a post on 'The Man' and I commented that no one in Bush Co. was likely to be shopping at Wal-Mart any time soon.

No...I'm not going to tell you Turdblossom was shopping for skivies in aisle six today. This is much better than that. Jimmy Carter is going to be signing his new book at the local Wal-Mart superstore. It's true...Secret Service has been through the place for the last week.

Whacked out...indeed...but I'm going to be there.

For some weird reason, the Milwaukee area has been a magnet for politicos of all stripes the last few years. During the campaign Bush stopped here twice and his wife came out once. Kerry made his stops here too. But this is the first time that a real President has been in the area since I've been here.

What? Didn't I just say Bush was here twice?

Yes, I did...and I stand by my statement that this will be the first real President stopping here during my time here. Bush might be your president, but he's not mine. In fact, I've decided to dismiss him as a spoiled, rich, bastard who's not even worthy of my scorn. You can keep that 'man of faith' and any god he worships.

Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, is someone that I can respect.

I might not think of him as the best President of my lifetime, but I believe he did a respectable job when in office and a more than respectable job when out of it. He has always been candid about his faith and he backs it up with actions. That quietly commands respect, if you ask me.

So, while Junior stands in front of carefully-orchestrated, mocked-up scenes of rebuilding after disasters, Jimmy Carter has been busy actually pounding nails in houses for the poor. Junior talks about his faith with a bull horn, and Carter quietly earns the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Anyway, you can call Carter a peanut farmer, say he's not a savvy politician, even say he seems a bit goofy...but in my book he'll always be a man for trying honestly. Bush...well, he'll never be a real man, no matter how many troops he commands or how loud he proclaims his hollow faith. A real man is honest and has character...and you can't buy those things.

So, I bought Jimmy Carter's new book.

I'll be standing there in line. And if I get to see the guy and have my book signed, I'll leave happy knowing that I've seen a real man...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

For your weekend pleasure...

Because there's no better time than the weekend to enjoy a little cigarette square dancing...

See, just another reason to love the Archive.There are some pretty cool things over there. Including old movies, concert recordings, cartoons, and lots more. Fun times and a great resource if you're into stuff like that.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Hedy and beautiful

"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid." - Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr photo
I love Hollywood... but I really love old Hollywood. So, since Zombieslayer has the hot women of today covered, I'm going to look back at the hot women of yesterday.

First up - Hedy Lamarr. I never knew just how hot she was until I read a biography on her. After that...I was enamoured.

Hedy Lamarr - or rather, Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler - was born in Vienna, Austria in 1913. She did some German and Czech movies and gained worldwide buzz after doing a now-famous nude scene in a movie called 'Extase.' Hollywood came calling soon after.

She played sultry roles in Algiers(1938), Lady of the Tropics (1939), Boom Town (1940), Tortilla Flat (1942), White Cargo (1942), and many others. She was known as 'The Most Beautiful Woman In Films.'

All that makes her plenty hot in my book, but she was also very smart which makes her downright smokin'.

During the war, Lamarr met an avant-garde musician, George Antheil, at a party and they started talking. Legend has it that she was so interested in their conversation that she left her phone number written in lipstick on his windshield. Perhaps that's true - perhaps not.

What is true, is that the two did continue to talk and came up with a system for alternating a radio signal over a series of 88 frequencies in order to prevent it being jammed. Known as frequency hopping, it was intended to be used for torpedo guidance. Lamarr received a patent for it in 1942. The navy didn't use it in that application, however, it was later used in military communication applications and was first applied in action during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It is the basis for cel phone technology today and is known as spread spectrum technology.

Also, despite being born in Austria, Lamarr was a strong supporter of the Allied war efforts. She has the distinction of raising the most money at a single event to sell war bonds. She raised $7 million dollars.

Anyway, she was beautiful and smart...a deadly combination.

"Perhaps my problem in marriage--and it is the problem of many women--was to want both intimacy and independence. It is a difficult line to walk, yet both needs are important to a marriage." - Hedy Lamarr

Why do we love to hate beautiful women?

First off, an open-ended question - why do we both exalt beauty and despise it at the same time? This is something I've wondered for a long time, but was reminded of when recently reading a biography of Rita Hayworth which reminded me of Hedy Lamarr. It got me thinking about our cult of beauty and the dark flip side that goes with it.

Let me narrow it down a bit though, because I'm already having trouble with rambling here. Why doesn't our society allow women to be intelligent, accomplished and beautiful? Or rather, since there have certainly been many women who have been all three, why does our society discourage women from being all three at the same time?

I'm actually most interested in why it is that women are particularly bad about this. There's often talk about men having all the control and setting unrealistic expectations for women, wanting to keep them in the kitchen, and so on, but I believe that it's other women who most actively fetter ambitious women, particularly if they are attractive and intelligent as well as ambitious.

I used to work in an office where there was a girl who was very attractive. Okay, she was beautiful. There was no arguing it either; she was beautiful. She was also young, wore mini-skirts and happened to be very intelligent. The first two things were held against her and the last was seldom acknowledged. Even now, I suspect that two of my friends from that office will be reading this over the weekend and smirking a bit. They know who I'm talking about and will likely relate my line of questioning to the line of the afore mentioned mini-skirts.

Anyway, what always struck me was that the people who had the most derogatory comments were always women. You didn't have to listen hard to hear the unspoken, 'I can't wait until you get married and have kids, we'll see how perky you are then...' in every exchange.

I can't count how many times I heard how slutty those mini-skirts were. Of course, they weren't called slutty, they were called inappropriate. (Inappropriate for your fat ass, was my usual unspoken thought.) But never once did any of those women take the 19-year-old girl at her first 'grown up' job aside and tell her this directly. It was just easier to be snide in the break room I guess.

Oddly, the people who had no problem acknowledging that she could be smart and beautiful were the men who worked in the same department as her and another girl - who also happened to be smart and beautiful - who spent most of her time in the same office area.

The story isn't a sad one though. She figured that she was being mocked and the length of her skirts increased and eventually turned into slacks, she mostly just ignored the other women, did her work and finished the college education that she was paying for herself, and is now the controller of the U.S. office of a German solar energy company. She's 25 years old.

So, why is it that we continue to believe that a woman can't be beautiful, smart and completely competent all at the same time when, clearly, they can be?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Proud to be an American?

Does this make anyone proud to be an American? Maybe it does and I missed the memo about how to be a true patriot.

So, just who are the terrorists? We're fighting a 'war on terror' - but guess what, we're the ones resorting to terror.

And does it seem just a bit disingenuous that an administration that will reveal the identity of a CIA operative for political gain in one breath, will refuse to comment on whether or not they're operating secret interrogation facilities around the world because they don't want to jeapordize CIA operations?

Oh yeah...makes me proud. Think I'll go roast some babies or something.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More fun with logs...

Since I compulsively check my logs for fun...

Seeing some of the places people are from is a bit like seeing an exotic stamp on an envelope in your mailbox. For those of you who have forgotten, stamps were twee little stickers that we affixed to envelopes back when people used to mail things and get letters in the mail.

Some of the fun places I've had show up in my logs lately are:

  • Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

  • Old Wives, Saskatchewan

  • Westfield, New Zealand

  • Eindhoven, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands

  • San Jose, Costa Rica

  • Pune, Maharasta, India

There are also the regulars who make my day complete. Joe from Columbus, Eileen from Cincinnati, Laura in Chicago...I just love to see Greendale, Detroit, Greenville, International Falls, New York, Sacramento, etc...all the places where my blog buddies reside. I'm always glad when people stop by and make the world a little less lonely.

And on an always festive note, here are some of my new favorite searches that got you here:
  • pictures of moldy fruit

  • green tea frap sucks

  • double suck

  • mall girls

  • thongtastic

  • why does the thong have a triangle

  • sawing a zip to a fabric

  • 80s mullet + photos

*If you're the mysterious person from Old Wives...leave a comment...the suspense is killing me!

**Any hot Russian girls...well, you know...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

All Hallows E'en...sort of

It was a bit odd to be out and about since I've been a recluse for a while, but it was nice to get a round warm 'welcome backs' and 'where the hell ya beens.'

I bailed on the costume thing this year. It was enough effort to go out be sociable. I'm sort of bummed though, since I like doing up a good costume. Had a good time nontheless.

Here's some shots of the fun, courtesy of my friend Nick and his camera. He's the leprechaun.

It was probably a 90% costume wearin' crowd at the Brazen Head Pub here in West Bend. Lots of fun was had by all. These are the things that can happen if you're single. And yeah - it really can be that kind of bar...and often is...

There you have it...just another night in the WB. Mmm hmm, that's right...West Bend, where people love Halloween and girls have just gotta flash. (That might become our new slogan.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Monday, October 24, 2005


From time to time, I'm moved to tears. This is one of those times. I'm both saddened and heartened at the same time. Saddened by a tragic loss, just one of many that happen every day. And heartened that someone I know - if even only by way of the computer and blog exchanges - is doing something about it. I'm moved by his compassion.

Please, just follow this link and decide for yourself whether or not to get a bit involved. For any who don't know him, Michael is legit. He's a caring man who is doing what he can to help this young Chinese woman out.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Here comes the calm...

There's through road about a block from me - it's a main road, but not a real busy road - and a few minutes ago there was a frantic burst of traffic. It's nearly died down. Anywhere else, I wouldn't have noticed. Or, if I did notice, I wouldn't have instantly understood.

See, it's quarter till and the Packers start playing at noon.

You may think I'm kidding when I talk about Packers' fans, but I'm not. They are a different breed indeed...

Whenever I say this, there's always someone who says something like, 'Yeah, Bears' fans are nuts too,' or 'The old Browns were like that...'

There's no comparison though. You don't hear much about Cheeseheads Gone Wild because fans here aren't like that. There's no rioting when the Packers win a Superbowl, there's no shootings when they lose... Heck, there aren't even big brawls when the occasional Detroit fan shows up at Lambeau Field - good-natured heckling, but even that is followed by a round of beers for all.

No, this goes way deeper than that.

Right before I started this post, I was counting about a car a second in short bursts followed by a lull that coincides with the traffic light two blocks away. Just now, there were three cars in five minutes. This is not poetic license either. For the next two hours, the streets will be empty. If you need to do any shopping, now is the time to go.

When I first moved here, I used to jokingly say that I was expecting to get pulled over for driving while the Packers are on. That might be an exaggeration, but there were more than a handful of people who asked why you would be driving while the Packers were on.

I figured out that I could probably get away with any driving infraction on the planet if the Packers were on the telly...

'Do you know why I pulled you over?'
At which point, I lean over and turn the radio up. It's tuned to AM...and the Packers.
'Oh...I'm sorry sir.'
'It's okay officer...we've got the ball back...and I'm headed home for some Fondu and the second half."
This is the spot in the game where Brett Favre inexplicably rifles the ball into oblivion and the eager arms of whatever Vikinglionsaintetc defender is farthest from any Green Bay receiver (you may laugh, but it happens nearly every game). The cop groans. I groan. He's about to cry, but manfully keeps it inside.
The cop doesn't finish, but I can hear what he means...
'You can go...If you want to run down some innocent pedestrians, I won't stop you... Hell, if they're wearing a Vikinglionsaintetc sweatshirt, I'll come out and pin a jaywalking ticket to their cold, dead bodies...'
He doesn't say this, of course, but you can tell he's thinking it.

Anyway, the streets are now as empty as... (I was going to insert something about Bush or the Republican party know...something about emptiness and Bush's brain...or empty like a Republican promise...or as empty as the Republican party is of unindicted leadership...but that would have been a cheap shot and, frankly, I've got a game to watch).

No, really...I've got to go...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Thought for the day...

In case you were wondering, adding chocolate ice cream to your coffee does not make it a mocha.*

* The preceding experiment was done at nearly sea level using African coffee beens and generic chocolate ice cream. I don't believe that using premium ice cream would have improved the results. Feel free to try it yourself, but I would recommend that you just take my word for it...

Friday, October 21, 2005

And this is for Eileen alone...she does nice things for people

Okay, here you go Eileen... The origins of your super awesome (and as yet undefined...) superpowers. I always knew weird shit was happening in that darkroom. This means, of course, that John Hart will also have superpowers. It remains to be seen whether he will realize it and then whether they will be used for good, or evil. That's certainly something to wonder about...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Just a little lovin' for my friends Eileen and Josh...

Everyone should be a comic book hero... Now, if we only had some actual super powers. Or at least interesting lives.

At least I'm aware that Eileen is alive. Numbed by endless album listening perhaps, but alive nontheless. I think I merely dreamed of a friend named was so vivid too, right down to his undying love for Taco Bell and U2...weird little details that made it all so real.

So, this is just a little comic book cover for my friends - real and imagined - just to let you guys know I still luvs ya...even if you've disappeared into the whirling vortex of big city livin'.

Guess I Like Movies Too Much...

Okay...I like movies, but this is ridiculous. I was rooting around the other day and came across AFI's Top 100 movies list again. People often use it as a base for those, 'I'm going to watch all these classics so I'll be a better person' kinds of resolutions.

Maybe I should make one of those resolutions? I want to be a better person. Can't hurt, right? Better people are good.

Heck, this could even be exciting. All these movies to see, I'm going to be an awesome film buff...and a super great person.

This is the American Film Institute's list of the 100
Greatest Movies, selected by AFI's blue-ribbon
panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American
movie community.

6.WIZARD OF OZ, THE (1939)
7.GRADUATE, THE (1967)
14.SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)
15.STAR WARS (1977)
16.ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
18.PSYCHO (1960)
19.CHINATOWN (1974)
22.2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
24.RAGING BULL (1980)
27.BONNIE & CLYDE (1967)
31.ANNIE HALL (1977)
33.HIGH NOON (1952)

42.REAR WINDOW (1954)
43.KING KONG (1933)

47.TAXI DRIVER (1976)
48.JAWS (1975)
53.AMADEUS (1984)
57.THIRD MAN, THE (1949)
58.FANTASIA (1940)
61.VERTIGO (1958)
62.TOOTSIE (1982)
63.STAGECOACH (1939)

66.NETWORK (1976)**
.69.SHANE (1953)
71.FORREST GUMP (1994)
72.BEN-HUR (1959)

74.GOLD RUSH, THE (1925)**
76.CITY LIGHTS (1931)
78.ROCKY (1976)
79.DEER HUNTER, THE (1978)

80.WILD BUNCH, THE (1969)**
81.MODERN TIMES (1936)
82.GIANT (1956)
83.PLATOON (1986)
84.FARGO (1996)
85.DUCK SOUP (1933)
88.EASY RIDER (1969)
89.PATTON (1970)
90.JAZZ SINGER, THE (1927)
91.MY FAIR LADY (1964)
92.PLACE IN THE SUN, A(1951)

93.APARTMENT, THE (1960)
94.GOODFELLAS (1990)
95.PULP FICTION (1994)

96.SEARCHERS, THE (1956)
98.UNFORGIVEN (1992)

I read though the top of the list. Holy crap! I've seen all of the top 15. I rock!

Then I read on, and didn't hit a bump until No. 35, It Happened One Night. I've actually seen that one...I just couldn't remember what it was about. At this point, I'm starting to hope I can find some unknown movies.

I came up with 12, but that's inflated with a bundch I've seen, but don't remember - like It Happened One Night. So, apparently I have six movies to see on the list. It looks like maybe I've been sorely limited in the viewing of 1930s movies and I'll have to slog through the 1915 classic Birth of a Nation. Other than that, I'm good.

I wish this made me a better person, but alas, it hasn't. Maybe it takes more than watching a few movies to become a better person. Is that possible? Can self improvement really require work?

Well, that's just a bunch of crap then...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Royal pain in the... (or, Shawn doesn't really have anything to say)

I wish I understood royalty a bit more. There are just so many things I don't get.

Like being King is top of the heap, right? Unless there's an Emperor, I guess. But there aren't any Emperors right now, so King is it...

Okay, say being King is tops. You're the head of a royal family in a small country called, for example Monaco. You're a Prince. Screw that, why not just be King? Isn't a prince just a baby King? Wouldn't you get sick of sitting at the kids' table at royal reunions? I mean, you're head of the country, who's going to say you aren't King?

What's the point of being a monarch if you don't get to do whatever you want?

Just wondering...

Monday, October 17, 2005

My new most favorite search results that got you here...

These were the last three search results that brought some lucky readers to my little slice of the blog pie.

10/17/05 19:25:37 cheerleaders (Google)
10/17/05 08:08:26 leif garrett + Lederhosen (MSN)
10/16/05 22:06:40 milwaukee U2 vertigo (Google)

U2...okay, that's cool. It was a sweet show. Cheerleaders...sorry, I've let you down dude. I love them too.

Um, Leif Garrett + Lederhosen? I can't even begin to address that one. I love the's so awesome that Al Gore invented it for us.

What to do?

Pi is the most famous ratio in mathematics, and is one of the most ancient numbers known to humanity. PI is approximately 3.14, by definition, the number of times that a circle's diameter will fit around the circle. PI goes on forever, and can't be calculated to perfect precision.


I've got the day off...what to do?

I thought about - once and for - solving the mystery of pi, but I'm kind of getting a late start. It's already 1 p.m. Also, what would I do if I actually did solve the mystery? Do I have time to be a mathematics superstar? I think not. I rather enjoy my anonymity in public.

Just think about it... I come up with the definitive answer to the pi question and suddenly I'm thrust into the spotlight. I probably win a Nobel Prize and then become filthy rich. I'll be expected to lecture, of course, but will I get to talk about cool stuff like who the best X-men character is? No, I'll be expected to talk about math. I don't even like math guys, I just solved the pi thing on a lark...

Then there's the money. What will I do with it all? I'll donate a bunch to the next hurrinadoquakeslidenami disaster that comes along...I won the Nobel Prize for chrissakes...I've got to be charitable.

Then I'll buy a sports franchise. What a hassle that will be. And then no one will like me if the team sucks, which it will because who ever sells an awesome, winning team? And I won't get to hit on the cheerleaders for fear of a lawsuit, so what's the point?

As you can see, I'm what you might call, a thinkin' man. Yup, I do it all the time... sometimes it even hurts. It's how I've somehow managed to avoid the pratfalls of sucess. Many less bright people have jumped right in and made contributions to the greater good. What has it got them? Acclaim, nice houses, and admiration from their fellow human beings, that's what. Well, not me. I'm too smart for that.

So, for now, the secret of pi will remain just that. I'm gonna jest go down by Starbucks and get me one of them fancy coffees or somethin'.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Some things I learned today...

I've only been up for a couple of hours and already my day has been jammed full of learning...most people would keep this stuff to themselves, but I'm not that kind of guy. I'm a sharer...well, at least online, I'm a sharer...

  • Sometimes it can look warm enough to sit out in the sun wearing shorts, but not actually be warm enough to sit out in the sun wearing shorts...

  • The Ethiopian Harar coffee from Alterra does indeed smell a bit like dried Zebra turds...or dried turds of some kind...and as terrible as that sounds, actually means it's going to taste pretty good. It's been at least a year since I last had a good cup of Ethiopian Harar. Also, the Alterra girl who sold it to me was really cute. Which leads to...

  • Girls with accents have a raised level of cuteness to them. If the Alterra girl, for example, had been a regular Midwest girl, she would still been cute - but would she have been super-cute without the Spanish accent? I think not. Which leads to...

  • Some accents are better than others. I like Russian girls and Russian names, but Rusian accents aren't as hot as Spanish. I also like a mild French accent. A vague European, I was taught the Queen's English but still get American slang accent is also pretty hot...

  • I used to work with a girl from Chile. She had a great accent and the most perfect, pink lips ever. Don't get rude here...the lips surrounding her Spanish accent speaking mouth were the most incredible shade of pink I've ever seen and just demanded to be gazed upon. Her parents weren't thrilled with her career choice that entailed having...well...a career. Women didn't do that.

Back to learning...
    the saint logo
  • This morning I found that Leslie Charteris, the author of The Saint books, was part English and part Chinese. He was born in Singapore and lived in England, where he went to Cambridge, and also lived in the U.S. for a long time.

  • There are fifty Saint books in English. He also wrote a bunch in French. French? What the hell?

  • There were a handful of Saint movies, a bunch of comic books and three major television series...or is that serieses...

  • I still like Val Kilmer as The Saint and although the movie kind of blew, it was still better than slogging through the writing style of Charteris which was similar to how I imagined Higgins memoirs to be...and we all know that Higgins memoirs always bored Thomas to tears...

  • If I had a bunch of money, and some damn good attorneys, I would be The Saint. I love that he isn't into defending the law, but is into justice.

Some other realizations I made while drinking Zebra crap coffee...
  • Back in high school I was told by a girl that I had cute toes. She was right. That's not so much true anymore... Why did my toes go to shit? This may never be fully understood. Which led to...

  • I'm not as hot as I used to be. Not that I was ever high on the hot scale, but I always felt pretty okay... Now, I realize there's likely no scale in existence that I would rank high on the hotness meter.

  • That's okay, because nobody is as hot as they used to be. Not even hot, young girls in the prime of hotness are as hot as they used to be. I'm pretty sure that's not true, but with a diminished level of hormones racing through my veins, they just just don't seem imbued with that supernatural hotness they once were imbued with...

  • I ramble a lot... And, apparently, I like the sound of my own voice...even if it's typed. Must work on that...

  • My little parrot - Joey - likes pie crust. That's not surprising, he likes most junk foods (he is, for example, a freak for sips of Mt. Dew). What is weird is that he likes the crunchy outside part.

I'm pretty sure that's enough learnin' for one least it is for me. Now, I guess I should go out and suck in as much of this sunshine as I can. It's only a couple of weeks from Wisconsin's traditional turn to crap for Halloween weather change...


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Homeless or Jesus...

It's in bad taste...and will likely offend my god buddies. I missed two. Play Homeless or Jesus.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Whoah...that was weird...

I just woke up from a series of lucid dreams wherein I was sailing and then was castaway, but found a hang glider that allowed me to fly back to the mainland only to go down on the remote Oregon coast near Haystack Rock (which wasn't really Haystack Rock, but was even cooler. Much like in 'The Goonies').

In a small aside here, I should note that my hangliding skills were very good and anyone else would have smacked into the old-growth trees instead of gracefully landing on the small, sandy beach... I am an excellent dream flyer and usually don't even need a hang glider - I must have been doing some lazy dreaming.

Anyway, there were, thankfully, some friends nearby that let me clean up at their place. That was nice and all, but it was pretty crappy of them to not offer me a lift back to civilization. You know who you are...don't expect a lift from me in any of your dreams.

Along the way, I also managed to sink a fleet of speed boats in Florida because they were ruining manatee living environment. That felt pretty good, but might have been the karma that led to being castaway in the first place. Who knows with this stuff?

I also, somewhat mysteriously didn't get fired from my dream job - whatever it was. That was a bit odd, since I apparently had my little adventures during a lunch break from which I - quite obviously - didn't return. Thanks again jerkwads...a lift would have been nice.

I blame this all on eating Punjabi Choley before nodding off. Damn Indian food. Now it's 2 a.m. and I'm wide awake. Grrrr...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Journals and blogs...

I realized the other day that I hadn't actually picked up a pen to write in a journal all year. Not once. This from a guy who journalled pretty regularly.

It bothered me to see that kind of gap.

So, I did the 'year in a nutshell' catchup and started writing. It felt good. Much different than posting thoughts online. Oh, I still self censor a bit, but not nearly as much.

There's something therapeutic about writing in a journal. It's nice to be able to look at old one's and try and remember the person I was back then. Sometimes the changes are pretty drastic, but mostly there's the same old me looking out of the pages.

Usually, to mark a new start like this, I buy or make a new journal. This time I kept the old journal since there was plenty of room still left. Instead, I bought a new pen. That's it right there. Nothing but a fountain pen will do for a journal. It just feels right to slow down, drink some coffee and scrawl out some thoughts with an fountain pen.

In my journals, I seldom do any editing and the writing isn't thought out much. There's no attempt to tell a story in any way other than the straight forward 'I did this today' style.

For any type of writing beyond that, I can't work with anything other than a computer. I tend to make a lot of typos that I backspace over as I'm going. Despite this, I can still pound out some verbage rather quickly. Facing daily deadlines for a few years will do that. It will also make you realize that your writer's block is something to work through. You can't have writer's block and get a 400-word piece out in fifteen minutes.

Blogging is a bit different for me. It's a lot like writing for a paper I suppose. Usually, I just sit down and start typing. A little while later I'm done and I don't do much editing...until I see the typos or bad grammar that I've already posted. Ah well, I was never much of a copy editor, I was more of a creative editor. My friend Josh has cleaned up enough of my 'edited' copy to know that's true.

So, I was wondering how other people write. Do you just quickly zip it out? Do you labor over the words? Where do you type your posts? Do you use a word processor and then paste into the Blogger form? Do you write at home, or work, or school? Should you be doing something else?

And then, once you've posted something, do you just sort of forget about it, or do you check back constantly to see if there are responses? I tend to check a lot, but I have odd work hours and I can do that kind of thing...

And what do you get from all this? I think we all take something different away from this great blog experiment. But, what is that something?

Just wondering...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Not much...

I ran into my friend Greg at the pub last night and this morning my head hurts. But I read this from The Waiter and pass it along for my theologically-minded blog buddies' reading pleasure.

For my godless blog buddies...revel in the fact that I'm hung over. And, that's right, it's Monday and I'm not working.