Thursday, May 25, 2006

Grindin' My Gears

"I'VE GOT A LOTTA PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE!" Well, not you my friends and readers, but with a few people out there. Now that my top 10 list is completed I have to actually come up with topics on my own, from scratch! There's been a few things that caught my attention the last few weeks and some passing ideas I thought might make for good discussion; beacause that's what this blog is all about: talking about issues. Ok, I know some of you are saying "What issues, Ichthy?....All you do is go on and on about your childhood memories, dreams, and curly fries." And you would be correct. That reminds me of one summer when I went to Orlando with my family....nevermind.

Alright, let's talk issues here. You know what really grinds my gears? The Dixie Chicks. They've recently come out with their new cd Taking the Long Way They've gone from being Country Music's bluegrass roots darlings to the black sheep of the patriotic country music family. Specifically, the lead singer, Natalie Maines. After making several anti-Bush/anti-Iraq war, etc comments during concerts and interviews, Fatalie, oops I mean Natalie, the Dixie Chunk, has a lot of her fans' gears ground into a fine metallic powder. Some of their new songs deal with how they're not ready to "make nice" and refuse to apologize for their political criticism. And you know what, Natalie? I don't want you to apologize. I strongly believe and support an American's right to free speech, freedom to protest, to speak out against OUR government...the people WE THE PEOPLE put in the office. They're only there because they work for us. Stand strong Natalie, speak your mind. But please just get over it and go back to entertaining us. The only time your pie hole should be open, as an entertainer, is when you're on the stage singing. You've got a great voice; just use it for singing about Wide Open Spaces and a fed up wife killing her abusive hubby, Earl.

Speaking of female singers who are pissing me off this week: Joan Baez is going out on a limb to protest the destruction of a 14 acre wooded area in South Central LA. Again, I have no problem with someone protesting. It's just agonizing to be constantly bombarded by celebrities these days who feel as if it is their obligation to champion a cause for this interest group or that Politically Correct mainstream ideal. They're entertainers and they're successful for much the same reason OUR government officials are in office, because WE put them there. WE buy tickets to their concerts and their movies, TV shows, etc. They entertain us....that's all I want from Hollywood....entertainment. And don't get me started on the LACK of entertainment at the box office the last 2 years! Wait, here's an idea. We need to convince more celebrities to climb trees...the tallest trees we can redwoods maybe. Tell them we won't cut the trees down as long as they stay up there protesting. And once they settle into their rich and famous arboreal lifestyle maybe we'll get some peace and quiet...but if they try to slip back down the tree trunk somone should be waiting with a chainsaw....just give it a quick "ruurr! ruuurrrr!" rev of the motor to help them scurry back up.

That's enough talking issues for me this week. Next time I think I'll discuss a related topic: American Idol. I hate the show. I'm glad it's over. But there's something...someONE who's been grindin' my gears a lot this year. Check your local listings for more to come.

Ichthyophile, OUT!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My Own Wonderland

Finally, my #1 most favorite post from the HypoMatt vault. And of course it has to do with 2 of my favorite icons from childhood and even today: Star Wars and THE St. Louis baseball Cardinals. It's about a dream I had about a year ago. I'm not sure what influenced it. I don't think anyone can be held accountable for the dreams they have and for my sake let's hope it was nothing more than nonsense.

Han Solo is a St. Louis Cardinals Fan
05.25.04 (2:34 pm)
The last few nights I have been having some strange dreams. They all seem to have the same theme, I am involved in a mission to save the planet from destruction. Each dream has contained some kind of alien species yet each species looks and acts differently. But the one I had last night was the most bizarre of all. It can best be described as a cross between Spaceballs and Gumby with a little Star Wars mixed in. The dream begins with me on the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo and some other characters who all seem to be made of clay who claim to be from the Claymation Nation. Aliens are chasing us and we decide to hide the ship inside a deep cave on a huge asteroid (Han Solo mumbles something about experiencing deja vu, I think he was referring to what he did in the very first Star wars movie). In order for us to exit the ship Han inflates a huge air mattress with the St. Louis Cardinals logo on it. It's even autographed by Albert Pujols. So we all slide down the mattress and hit the ground and skid across the slippery surface until we come to rest against the cave wall. As we come to the mouth of the cave we see an alien guard standing watch out in the middle of a large, empty, desert looking landscape. He stands there with an expressionless stare off into space. He is standing in between 2 windows which are suspended in mid air. They are about 4 feet above the ground, 10 feet apart, and each facing the same direction, parallel to each other. Now, according to one of our Claymation Nation sidekicks, who just so happens to be Patrick the starfish from Spongebob Squarepants, the only way to get by the alien guard is to climb in through the widow on the right then crawl over to the other window and crawl back out through it. "But we need a diversion" he says. That's when another interesting person steps forward with a genius idea. I'll call him, in my mind because I don't remember ever speaking to him directly, nor never hearing his name called out, Bread Dough Boy(BDB for short). Try to imagine what a soft pretzel would look like before it is twisted and baked. Now imagine that being 6 feet tall with doughy arms and legs, 2 fish eyes and a mouth. So BDB runs off in the direction of the guard carrying a jump rope. He begins to jump rope and jog erratically. Now friends, to you and I such a sight alone would be enough to divert our attention for at least 5 minutes( no offense Pillsbury dough boy), but BDB saw it fit to go the extra mile and steps it up a notch. He intentionally skips a jump and lets the rope come down and slice him in twain! At which point he crawls over to his bottom half, kneads himself back together, rolls himself out into his original form and continues to go through the motions. Needless to say, the trick worked well and the guard followed BDB away from the windows. So we climb through the first window, crawl over to the next and crawl back through it, expecting to logically end up back on the side we had just came from only 10 feet down. But instead we found ourselves in a wal mart, sitting at a table playing Bingo.

Now HERE is where it gets FREAKY. Today I had to go to wal mart to get an oil change. As I walked around the store I made my way back towards the Mcdonalds corner back near the dairy products. As I approached I noticed the tables were full of senior citizens playing....BINGO. And what was on the shelf across from there? Pillsbury dough in a can. I swear to you I cannot make this stuff up!

P.S. The elderly man calling out the bingo numbers was one of wal mart's elderly greeters. Decked out in full Greeter garb(neatly pressed blue vest attached to which were many welcoming pieces of flair). He even called out, and I quote, " in vitamin B12."

Boy, I can't wait to get to sleep tonight!

Monday, May 08, 2006

The House of my Dreams

#2 has to do with my paternal grandparents' house. I had a lot of fond memories there and occasionally I still have dreams of that place. It must have left quite an impression on me in my youth.

When I was growing up in rural Carroll county west TN I lived in a house right up the hill from my paternal grandparents. Down the road from us in one direction lived my dad’s 2nd oldest of 3 sisters, aunt Karen. Up on the other hill on the other side of the hollow from my grandparents lived at one time my oldest aunt, Sharon, and after her my youngest aunt, Sandra. So it was only natural for me to feel a closer connection to my dad’s family. We all were within a mile of each other and our properties connected for the most part. I would spend many Friday nights down at my grandparents’ house watching the dukes of hazard with my cousin Brian, fishing up at the big pond, playing kickball in the front yard, churning the homemade ice cream contraption in the summer, hunting for box turtles along the creek banks with my blue healer Shannon, and throwing dirt clods at anything that moved out in the field. But the one strongest memory I have overall is the house itself. A wood stove that rest on a brick foundation in the living room heated it. Christmas dinners and gift opening frenzies took place in the adjoining den. The main bathroom door could only be locked by pulling out the closest drawer so it would keep someone from opening it inward too much and give you time to say “hey occupied!” One of the extra bedrooms had red carpet and the other had blue. The couch in the den was almost exactly like the one Tony and Emily have in their apartment. Long, green and screaming of the 60’s or 70’s fashion…but comfy! One of my most vivid memories was watching the 86’ World Series game when Bill Buckner missed an easy ground ball at first base that let the Mets win the worlds series. Brian and I were just 3 feet from the TV screen jumping and high-fiving each other. I used to help my grandmother plant potatoes and green beans and corn in their garden. And I would be once again recruited for summertime black-eyed pea shelling, corn husking and green bean snapping when the time was right. My memory of that house is so strong even to this day. In May 1992, on a Sunday my aunt Sandra called to tell us that the house had burned down. We rushed out there just in time to see the volunteer firemen collapse the last standing wall into the huge pile of white ash. Suddenly that huge house didn’t seem so large. I could still tell where the living room used to be. I could still see the frame of the TV and couch, that ugly green but comfy couch. The only thing they could figure was that my grandma had left the stove on while preparing some food for the church’s fellowship lunch. She took it hardest of all. She sobbed sorrowfully into my dad’s shoulder as he comforted her. He told her, “Cheer up momma, that house was getting old. Now you can get a new house and make it just like you want this time…even better.” And he was right. That fall they finally moved into a bigger and better house. With a nice patio on the back where each summer about 50 hummingbirds swarm around all her flowers and feeders buzzing and squeaking and playing. Plenty of good times and good memories are being established in that new house. But there’s a reason I told you about the old house. Not because I am nostalgic at heart but for a more mysterious reason that will come in the next blog.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Want Curly Fries With That?

#3 is the conclusion of the Ethical Ellis story.
Ethical Ellis Part Deux
01.26.05 (11:51 am)
We last left our hero (or suspect if you will) on the wrong side of the Law. How was I going to break this to my parents? It's a small town and when things like this go down the gossip spreads quicker than Britney Spears's first marriage. By the time I had everything settled back at my dorm room I was already stressed more than ever before. I don't think I had ever been so stressed and frightened since that time I was about 5 years old and got stuck in the mud in my grandparents' garden. I was out there for an hour screaming for help but no one ever came to help me. Or maybe it was the time during my high school freshman year when some friends and I got busted in a test cheat sheet racket. But that's another story for another time. As I was reliving those past scary moments the phone rang. It was my dad. He was asking if I got back to school safely and making small talk. I had this deep down feeling in my gut that he already knew what happened and was just waiting for me to admit it. The longer we talked the more and more I felt like I was living The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe "TRUE! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why WILL you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story." "Dad, I got into a little trouble this morning before I left." (Yeah, I hadn't chopped up someone and buried them under the floor but for drama's sake just humor me).....turns out he hadn't heard about it yet so I spilled the beans. He said he was very disappointed in me and that I would have to get a job to pay the fine. J-J-J-JOB?!?!? So much for focusing on just my classes!

So I told you ALL of that to tell you THIS: I got a part time job at the local Dairy Queen
as a Culinary Artist. Ok, I flipped mini-burgers and burned french fries. I hated the job. HATED? No....Loathed...Resented....I got so sick of fast food that I went on a strict diet and lost nearly 20 pounds that spring. I managed most of my classes. I think I failed whatever math I was taking, but that was true for most math classes during my college career. But that one wrong decision I made that January morning had a much deeper and longer lasting effect on my life and who I am today. I promised myself I would never go back to THAT kind of job again. I was miserable everyday there. To this day Dairy Queen is still the topic of many jokes about me with a few of my old friends. During my short Christmas vacation this winter my brother and I drove by that place where it all happened. It was the first time I remember going by there in 10 years. I looked down into the woods and the creek and wondered if my decoys were still out there somewhere....waiting for me to return. I couldn't believe it had been 10 years but I could still feel how cold my feet were......I was wearing 2 left boots!!!!! It's funny now when I tell people about it, but I still regret being so stupid.

William O'Rourke once said "Regret is an odd emotion because it comes only upon reflection. Regret lacks immediacy, and so its power seldom influences events when it could do some good."

In other words; "Regret is always a day late and a dollar short"