Friday, July 31, 2009

Take Me Out To The Ballga ... Oh Jeez, Just Take Me Back Home ...

It being July and all, the Live Acorn and I had a hankering to see some professional baseball being played. In lieu of that, we went out to see the Boise Hawks.

Technically speaking, I concede that these “baseball players” are paid to “play baseball” for a “baseball team” in an allegedly professional “baseball league.” They got uniforms and everything! But sweet Rocky Colavito’s ghost*, what happened last night was a little closer to t-ball than the bigs, to be sure.

It started off with promise … the Hawk’s starter (Su-Min Jung) walked 1 in the first, but didn’t give up any hits. No perfect game, but the no-hitter was intact, with only 8 more innings to go! The tension at the park was as heavy as an acid-fueled conversation on the meaning of the universe at a '60s hippie reunion.** No one in the crowd dared speak for fear of jinxing it, and Jung sat alone at the end of the dugout, his teammates showing the proper reverence by avoiding any risk of disrupting the transcendent state he was surely occupying. Unfortunately, he gave up 4 runs on 4 hits in the 2nd, while only recording 1 out, so there went the no-no.

The Vancouver starter fared a bit better in terms of innings pitched (3), but worse in runs allowed (7). All in all, the Hawks used 5 pitchers, none lasting more than 2.1 innings. They were sloppy on the offensive side as well, with a couple of runners getting thrown out at 3rd (including a nice 8-6-2-5 double play – those whacky Canadians with their solid fundamentals and all that). In the bonehead play of the night, a Hawks batter reached 1st on an overthrown ball, rounded the base but lollygagged it back, during which time the Vancouver 1st baseman had retrieved the ball and winged it to the catcher, who was alertly covering 1st, for the put-out.

Final score: Hawks 12, Vancouver 9, thanks to 4 unearned runs on 3 Vancouver errors. Way to earn it, fellas.

Unfortunately (I guess that’s somewhat debatable), I had to pick up a friend’s dogs around 10 pm, so we had to leave in the 5th (2 ½ hours for 5 innings? WTF?). There … I admitted it, damnit. I left a game early. On half-price beer night. My god, what’s happened to me? I'm just a shell of my former self ...

In big league news, Cleveland starts a critical series against Detroit tonight. Not so critical in terms of Cleveland’s long-dashed hopes of post-season play, but critical in the Tribe/Tiger season series, upon which a keg of beer rests. The Indians are down 7-2, and therefore need to win 7 of the remaining 9 just to throw it to the tiebreaker. I’m not optimistic. I’m also not happy with ever uttering the words “ok, I’m not changing underwear until they climb back up to .500.”

Next April is a long time away.

* Rocky Colavito, being alive, doesn't have a ghost in the traditional sense. However, The Curse Of Rocky Colavito, born after Frank Lane traded him to Detroit in 1960, certainly haunts the team to this day. It should be noted that Detroit "fans" never gave Colavito the sweet love he so richly deserved.

** I really, REALLY need to work on my metaphors. Or similes. Whatever, you fucking language nazis.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I've Been Framed!

I’ve been trying to get started back up on some projects that I’ve sort of set aside over time.

To those of you who are familiar with my approach to projects: I apologize for the state of your computer screen and keyboard, which, I would assume, are now drenched with the bourbon you undoubtedly sprayed from your mouth and nose upon reading that.

I tend to get harebrained inspired ideas for things that I could spend time on rather than, oh, say, actually doing something productive with my life. These ideas vary quite widely in terms of scope and ambition – on the grand end, there are such activities as turning an oversized closet into a master bathroom. At the other end of the spectrum, there are smaller-scale things like tying my shoes.

Disirregardless of scale, however, most of these projects share a common attribute: they rarely get finished. Take a look down the next time you see me … there’s a fair chance that one shoelace will be flopping around like a French soccer player. It’s one reason I avoid escalators. In the rare instance I do finish a project, the start-to-finish time is usually best described in units of years, rather than days or weeks.

The current project of interest is the construction of a pair of picture frames. I bought a couple of Will Bullas prints at Art In The Park last year, which have since been kept in a somewhat underviewed location on a desktop beneath a bunch of matte board in my dining room. Now THAT’S a hundred and thirty dollars well-spent! The tragedy of them not being on the wall is all the worse when you consider the brilliance of the art itself:

Above: Baby needs a new pair of shoes!

One of the problems with living alone is that there is often a complete absence of compulsion to maintain a presentable environment. Obviously, this means that I sweep up dog hair and wash dishes with FAR less regularity than common sense (and county health codes, I would think) dictates. Less obvious is that things like hanging art on the wall in an effort to class up the joint rarely happen. But every once in a while, like right after the longest solar eclipse that will occur this millennium, I get a little itch to try to actually make Casa de Acorn a bit more refined.

Hence the frames.

Rather than doing something as sensible as taking the prints to a frame shop and letting the experts do their thing, I stopped in at the Depot* and picked up about 11’ of 1"x2" poplar. It being a Sunday morning, I naturally wasn’t in a state to actually do the math to calculate how much I would need, but that seemed like plenty. That certainly won’t be the last time I’ve been wrong in such matters.

Here, then, is a brief synopsis of the events that transpired over the next two days:

1) Cut the groove for the print/glass on the back side.

2) Realized that I should have rounded the inner edge before cutting the groove, making the router work somewhat freehand and substantially more dangerous (though this fits my general 3B approach to woodworking: Beer, Blades, ‘n’ Blood).

3) Cut a decorative groove on the front side.

4) Measured the pieces using the ruler on the router table, placing one edge of the wood at inch 1, so that all of the pieces were 1” too short.

5) Realized my error after cutting; swore; giggled a bit at my incompetence.

(next day)

6) Went back to the Depot, bought 16’ of 1"x2" poplar, having actually done some math.

7) Did the router part first (yay me!), cut both the backside and frontside grooves.

8) Did the exact same fucking thing with the measuring and cutting, though this time, there was enough wood to finish one frame.

Net result: 27’ of wood gone; 1 21”x15” picture frame finished; lots of kindling in the wood box for camping.

Norm Abram ain’t got nuthin’ on me.

* I know that Home Depot is a right-wing corporate cesspool of an organization, and I do try to go to local hardware stores and lumber yards. Sometimes, though, in my weaker moments, I submit to the foul temptress of convenience.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Goatheads Soup

I got a call yesterday while at work … it was the Live Acorn, wanting to tell me that she got a flat tire on her bicycle.

Deep in my heart, I knew that the day would come. I feared it. I dreaded it. I knew, of course, that she wouldn't be my little baby forever, but I hadn’t meant for it to be like this. Any parent wants their child to be prepared for emergencies and unexpected situations, and we all do our best to give them the tools they need to cope when they find themselves all alone out in this cruel, harsh world. I had shown her, once, I believe, how to fix a flat, but we most certainly hadn't yet reached the stage where she was solo patching (under my watchful eye, of course). I’m sure you understand, then, that my heart leapt into my throat upon hearing the gut-wrenching words “Dad, I got a flat ...”.*

Live Acorn: Dad, I got a flat ...


LA: Dad ... dad ...


LA (under her breath): Jesus H. Christ.

DA: I’m sorry, what?

LA: Umm, nothing. Dad, it’s okay, I patched it.

DA: You ... you ... you what?

LA: Yeah. I’m down in Hyde Park, and I bought a patch kit at the bike shop.

DA (slowing down on the hyperventilating a bit): oh ... okay ... how’d you get the tire off?

LA: Well, I didn’t have any of those plastic thingies, so I used a screwdriver.

(DA goes back in full hyperventilation mode)

LA: Easy there, dad ... I was really careful not to pinch the tube.

(DA’s respiration rate slows back down under 200)

LA: I listened for the leak, but couldn’t find it, so I took it into the pub restroom, filled the sink with water, and found it.

DA (to himself): yeah ... YEAH!

LA: I marked it with a sharpie, sanded the spot around it, and put the glue on.

DA (covering the phone and shouting at work): OH YEAH!

LA: After it dried, I put the patch on, put the tire back on, pumped it up, and put the wheel back on.

(long pause before DA speaks)

DA: Was it ... was it ... the front or the back?

At this point, sweat was pouring down my face, and I was shaking with anticipation. I guess I assumed it was the front, as wrestling with the rear derailleur can be frustrating even for the most grizzled veteran.

LA: It was ... the back.

DA: OH HELLZ YEAH! That's MY girl!

(strutting around the office, doing that "raise the roof" thingy in that lily-white way that he does those things)

Whose daughter? MY daughter!

DA’s boss: What in the fucking name of Elmore J. Goodwin is going on in here? Are you drunk again?

So she did this old bike mechanic’s soul some good and filled his heart with pride. And I guess I learned a little something, too, about realizing that kids are a lot more independent and self-sufficient than you think. It’s bittersweet, to be sure, realizing that she's growing up so fast, but way less bitter than sweet.

Wait, who the fuck am I? Aesop, telling one of his goddamned Fables? Crap on a coaster, Dead Acorn, it doesn’t always have to have some moral, or a lesson, or some cheezy-ass ending.

Next week, we’re building wheels; after that comes cold-setting steel frames and overhauling old-school freewheels.

[UPDATE] I forgot to mention that the guy in the bike shop told her it was still a little low, so he pumped it up some more. Shortly thereafter, the sidewall blew out from overinflation. I swear ... other people's kids, you know?

* If an ellipsis is the last thing inside quotation marks, and is at the end of a sentence, do I put a period there? Normally, the period would go inside the quotation marks**, but then it would just be a four-period ellipsis, which is the elliptical*** bastard second cousin of multiple exclamation points. A little help here from my more pedantically inclined readers, please.
** I think.
*** I don't think "elliptical" is the adjective form**** of "ellipsis" ... is it "ellipsistical"?
**** Does "adjective" have an adjectivical form?

Friday, July 17, 2009

My True Calling

I walked down the street at lunch today to Wireless Toyz to get a memory chip for my phone, and was treated to a little trip down memory lane as an unexpected bonus. I’ve previously mentioned the giant dancing cell phones (there are 2 now!) as things that make me smile when I really don’t feel like smiling. When I see them in a good mood, I often actually burst out laughing. Well, today, as I got close to the store, I noticed by the back door … TWO KIDS PUTTING THE PHONE SUITS ON!

This was something of a shock, but not in an unpleasant way. Discovering that there were actually people inside the suits is something akin to finding out how a magic trick works. For me, it adds to the enjoyment to realize the cleverness that underlies the illusion. (Finding out how they sawed a lady in half came as quite a relief, to be honest. One, it was a bit disturbing before I knew how it was done, and two, I could never understand how they kept finding new ladies every show.) On the other hand, I can certainly see how others may not like to know; I apologize to those readers for whom I’ve ruined the mystery and magic of the giant dancing cell phones.

Where was I? Right … memory lane.

As it happens, I’ve dabbled in the field of mascots/spokespersonas myself. I think my first foray into the wonderful world of constumitry was as Budman in the Idaho State University Homecoming parade. The costume essentially consisted of red long underwear, blue moon-boots (blue moon-boots, you saw me standing alone ...) , a cape, and a mask. The distributor paid me in beer – I believe it was a couple of cases of Budweiser and a couple of cases of Mickey’s quarts (this was back in the day before the 40 came along … when I went to college, they had barely invented beer, fergawdsake).
What’s the beer we drink and drink until we can not see?
M-I-C … K-E-Y … Q-U-A-R-T!
Mickey’s quarts (Schaefer Light!)
Mickey’s quarts! (Schaefer Light!)
Until we reach the point of ecstasy …

Above: Actual picture of me, after running through cartoonerizing software.

My second gig was as a giant yellow canary, which was the mascot for the restaurant for which I worked, named, oddly enough, Canary’s. That turned out to not be nearly as enjoyable as my Budman experience, for several reasons. Firstly, it was at a football game inside the Minidome Holt Arena (the first indoor collegiate football facility!), which they generally keep at a balmy 110 degrees. Being inside a giant fucking bird suit does not help. Secondly, the head on this thing was HUGE … the shape was not unlike that of Tweety Bird. So wherever I’d go, people were calling me names and telling me to get the hell out of there. Since I like to look at things in a positive light, I’ve always considered it an exercise in marriage preparation. Lastly, they insisted in paying me via my regular paycheck, so there was an extra step or two involved in turning it into a tangible and usable asset (i.e. beer).

The third time wasn’t actually anything official, though I still put it on my resumé as relevant experience. Somehow, we wound up with one of those giant Rainier beer bottles for a while (the ones in the old commercials, where they'd show a herd of grazing pounder bottles out in a field), and so from time to time, there would be drunken strolls through the streets of Pocatello. ‘Nuff said.

The only downside to my little jaunt through the past is that it forced me to wonder how I’d fallen from where I was then to where I am now. I had it all … youth, dreams, experience, and an opportunity to make it big. There was talk in the industry, I tell you. “You hear about this Acorn kid out of Idaho?” I’d overhear at industry trade shows. “They say he’s good … real good. Could be the best some day.” God, what’s become of me?

It’s too late, I know … at least for me. But not for those kids. After a little thought, I ran back down to Wireless Toyz, walked up to them, told them that they were doing great and to not ever lose the dream, and walked away. I think, to them, it must have been like Ted Williams showing up at your Little League game and saying “nice swing, kid.” (This assumes that you played in Little League when Ted Williams was alive. If he showed up after he died, that would just be freaky, especially if it was only his cryogenically frozen head.) They were obviously in awe, judging from their speechlessness. I feel a little better about myself.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Everyone's Ag'in Me!

There seems to be something of a conspiracy taking place as of late. Yesterday, the Live Acorn called and asked if I could take her to and pick her up from the Harry Potter movie tomorrow. “Well, sure!” I replied. I mean really … that’s what parents are for, isn’t it? I figured we’d get some dinner beforehand, depending on if she wanted to go the 5 pm, 7 pm, or 9 pm showing, but we’d work around that. So today, I called up the EMDAMOTLA, just to make sure I had the details right, because nights this week are getting switched around a bit*. She seemed a bit surprised that I had agreed to the plan, since “it starts at midnight and gets out around 3 am.” “Excuse me?” I asked, spraying my vodka across my desk, as there was no mention of this whatsoever in my original conversation with the LA. She started laughing, made some derogatory comments about my lack of intelligence, and insisted that she had heard the LA clearly state the time.

This is complete and utter bullshit, of course, and perhaps signals an unsettling shift in the family dynamic, where Dead Acorn becomes just pawn in game of life. As if that weren’t really the case already.

Above: The Dead Acorn's cousin Mongo.

Further evidence can be found in the fact that they’re insisting that I’ve consented to get a kitten. I’ve done some silly things in my life (the whole dog shock-collar incident comes to mind, as does the homemade smoke bomb), but a fucking kitten? I don’t think so. They’ve already enlisted other friends to corroborate my non-existent agreement, so I trust no one at this point. I fear the future.

* The nights themselves aren't getting switched around - it'll still be Sun-Mon-Tue-Wed-Thu-Fri-Sat. I just meant that our regular schedule re: the Live Acorn will be slightly different. I hope this didn't cause any confusion or panic.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The World Is Missing Its Sol

It seems like forever since I’ve seen a really beautiful sunset. I generally ride west about that time of night, so it’s not like I’ve been missing them, they just haven’t been there. Boise can put on a serious show at times ... I’m talking those ones so stunningly beautiful that they make you stop to watch and almost cry. The pinks, the yellows, all the pastels, the stormy ones that are all dark blue and almost black … sometimes nature can make you stand up on those four giant suitcases you’ve got strapped together floating around the Pacific ocean with a passed out Meg Ryan and cry “Thank you … for my life …”

Wait, that’s Joe Banks. And I’ll be damned if I’m jumping in some volcano.

Nevertheless, it's been too long since the skies have shown their overwhelming beauty. It’s about time for them to start showing up again.

Above: Meh ... I've seen prettier.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

It's All About Me

We had cake at work today to celebrate the birthday of a coworker, who was born on July 4th. She said it was kind of cool, because she would always think that all the fireworks were for her. I totally understand ... I was born on October 1st, and I've always assumed that all the New Year's Eve revelry was a celebration of my conception.

Above: Symbolic sperm and egg.

Thanks for drinking, mom and dad!

I've got a sister who was born on November 16th. I guess our parents must have enjoyed getting all liquored up and lacquered down on President's Day as well ... ain't nothin' wrong with that.