Friday, April 30, 2010

Revenge Of The Lawn

I was having a beer at the pub the other day, minding my own business (as always), but as so often happens in these situations, I found myself in a heated discussion concerning lawn care.

As a general rule of thumb, I try to keep my opinions to myself in such surroundings, preferring instead to slowly sip my ale whilst reading one of the classics, or relishing a handful of the far-too-few moments of quiet introspection that seem so hard to come by in this madcap world. I try to speak not of politics, nor of religion, nor of sports, with friends or acquaintances, for it is not my place to argue with them, nor attempt to alter their beliefs; beliefs that, no matter how repugnant or wrong-headed, they most certainly hold with the utmost sincerity and came by honestly through their own experiences on this earth, of which I have no knowledge. Certainly, I would never broach such subjects with a stranger.

But lawn care? The gloves are off, darlin'.

Anyway, this blowhard a couple of stools down was blathering on to his buddy about the new mower he got:

Blowhard: So, yeah, Stan … 5 horsepower, tri-blade, electronic starter …

Stan: Nice!

Blowhard: The best thing, though, is that there are cutting height adjustments on all 4 wheels. A blade parallel to the surface gives a much more consistent cut, and a more aesthetically pleasing look, particularly in the early evening, as the angle of incidence of the sun’s rays grows shallower.

I’m normally a pretty even-keeled feller, but at this point, I lost any semblance of composure I may have had:

Dead Acorn: Shut. The. Fuck. UP!!!!! That’s such horseshit! Given a 2 foot wheelbase and a vertical front wheel adjustment range of 3” and a fixed height rear wheelset, the dynamic angular range is barely .12 radians! There’s no WAY that makes a difference, especially with Kentucky bluegrass, but even with any of the more popular indigenous high desert grasses that are becoming more en vogue in this area!

Well, the blowhard gets this smug look on his face, takes a draw off of his cheap-ass domestic light low-carb fruit-flavored wine cooler:

Blowhard: Well, mathboy … I take it you’re a front-wheel-adjustment-only man. You, uh … care to make it interesting?

Dead Acorn: Bring it, bitch.

Blowhard: We lay down pix, right now. We both live in the same climate, same amount of sun, same water ph-balance, so any difference between our turf must be due to the blade angle. Agreed?

Dead Acorn (hesitantly): ummm ... yeah, that makes sense.

Blowhard: Best looking lawn, bartender’s call is final. I need a new beer holder for my mower, so maybe we go … say, three grand?

Dead Acorn: Lay it down, clown.

Blowhard: Nice Replacements reference! They rock.

Dead Acorn: Well, thanks! Yeah, Westerberg is a gooder.

So we pulled our wallets out (with a little begrudging mutual respect as the accordian photo holders we each had, overstuffed with lawn pictures, cascaded to the floor) and slapped down our finest pictures on the bar.

Make no mistake; I’m pretty dang proud of my yard:

But I knew I’d been beaten:

So I’m down three large, and I have to buy a bunch of new wheels for my mower, each of a slightly different diameter, to maintain blade horizontality.

I am SO going astroturf.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Music Hath Charms ...

Well, I “played” some “music” at the pub Saturday night. And yes, those quotation marks are entirely appropriate. A friend and I alternated sets, each doing a couple, and I reminded myself once again why I rarely do shots. I guess lots of “musicians” have quirky habits; mine apparently include abrupt stops and restarts and plenty of forgetfulness lyric-wise.

An actual conversation with a friend after the first set, which ended with some song that has the subject drinking himself to death after his girlfriend killed herself and he didn’t notice any warning signs:
Friend Of Dead Acorn: Soooo ... did you write that last song?

Dead Acorn: Yeah.

(pause …)

Frend Of Dead Acorn: The fuck? You, uh, what … some kind of a tortured soul? Got some demons, do ya? Hmm?

Dead Acorn: It’s all puppies and lollipops with me … puppies and goddamned lollipops.
I’m pretty sure I write some cheery songs, too, but jeezo-peezo, that Love Gone Wrong stuff is some low-hanging fruit.

Anyway, all in all, it went okay. The other guy playing was outstanding as always, and another friend has asked that we learn “Happy Boy” by The Beat Farmers, so that he can do a guest appearance and play the kazoo and gargling parts. This world needs more songs with gargling, if you ask me.

With weekend nights like that, it's seems obvious that I must have done something pretty dang good in a previous life to have wound up where I am today.
The full title quote from William Congreve (circa 1700):

Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.

I don't know how he knew that someone called The Dead Acorn would be using that quote in a blog post 300+ years hence, but that part about a "knotted oak" seems like kind of a shot. Asshole.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's Up, Chuck?

Being the recipient of an unexpected and anonymous gift has to be one of the nicest and most heartwarming feelings one can ever have. From the initial “what’s all this, then?” as you notice the box propped up against your door, to the sheepish apologies to the bomb squad for making them get all geared up for no reason, to the full realization of what someone has done, purely out of kindness, it’s just one big ole bitchin-ass warm fuzzy. (And if the gift is a heated velvet back-pad, it’s literally a warm fuzzy.)

And so it was on Christmas a couple of years ago that I became the proud wearer of a pair of Chicago Bears Themed Converse Chuck Taylor Low Top tennis shoes. These were not some off-the-shelf item that could be picked up on a whim … one doesn’t just walk in to some Chuck Stop and say “yo, size 10 lows in the Bear themeway…”. No, these were honest-to-apricots custom special orders. And there they were, leaning against my door on a cold December morn, a cold morn suddenly made much warmer by the unfathomable kindness of a nameless Christmas angel.

The normal lifespan of a pair of Chucks subjected to protecting my feet is about a year, if even that. I’m a pronator, or supinator, or something. Maybe it’s the stupid way I dance. In any case, they generally don’t survive a long time.

The Chicago Bears Themed Converse Chuck Taylor Low Tops lasted almost 2 ½ years. That’s simply not possible given our current canvas technology … I’m not a religious person, but I really think I have a truer understanding of how the Jews feel about Passover now.

But alas, for even the noblest of lions, winter must one day come, and as hard as it was, I recently accepted that it was finally their time. We’d been through a lot together, some times rougher than others, as evidenced by their condition:

Above: Identical model worn by the Galloping Ghost (Harold “Red” Grange) when he played for the Bears in the 1920s.

I’ve since gone and bought some new black low tops, and there’s really no point of posting a picture of them. They’ll last a year, then I’ll get another pair, then another, and the cycle will continue. But I’ll always remember the Chicago Bears Themed Converse Chuck Taylor Low Tops, and in the Tennis Shoe Hall Of Fame that I curate in my heart, they’ll go right next to the red high tops I was wearing when Sally Mae Shinnemaker took me behind the wellhouse in junior high school.

A sincere Thank You to my anonymous friend.

[UPDATE:] My stupid dog has pointed out that she hasn’t been mentioned in this blog in a while, and hasn’t appeared in a picture for even longer, so here she is modeling one of the new shoes. There, hell-hound, are you happy?

Above: For the life of me, I really can’t figure out why she bites me so much.

She also wanted the family portrait posted:

Above: (Clockwise from right) The Live Acorn, The Dead Acorn, The Monster Of The Midway. It's believed that the non-standard lacing is genetic.

As Dead Acorns go, I'm among the luckier, I think.

[UPDATEx2:] I would be remiss in not mentioning that I received another anonymous gift this past Christmas; an hilarious book published by The Onion, which is some seriously funny stuff, and which is truly treasured. A very sincere Thank You to you as well.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring Has Sprung ...

Ah, spring.

Opening Day of baseball. Decreasingly clad wildlife in the parks. Moms and dads running behind kids on their first training wheel-free cruise down the sidewalk; kids screaming “don’t let go!”, parents assuring them that they won’t (while, of course, having let go 20 yards back).

But most of all, change. As we slough off the weight of the winter, as the grey skies and the chilling cold of February fade from memory, we start to sense a new opportunity, a fresh hope that things will be okay, that life will blossom anew as surely as the flowers, and that the colors exploding in the physical world will doubtless have their analog in our hearts and souls, inner colors so intense that we fear that we may explode, as the richness of our emotions is too great to contain and we long to cry out from the hilltops, though no words can describe the joy we feel at simply being alive. Oh god, so alive …

It’s all bullshit, of course, but it beats the hell out of those cold March rains.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Through The Posts, Darkly

I just realized that I recently posted my 200th randomly generated string of words and incorrectly used punctuation on this little blog-thingy. (This is using the yearly counts on the blog page; there are several drafts that have not, and will not, ever see the light of day pixels of your monitor, as well as at least one that was deleted post-posting.) It’s quite obvious that I put no special effort into that particular post (though I suppose that could be said about any of my posts), as I’m generally not one to celebrate one of a set of items or events more than others simply because its ordinal position ends in 0.*

On the other hand, I did leave a heartfelt comment on the crossword author’s blog (if you didn’t happen to click on the link, the post was about a crossword puzzle with a theme of “Love Gone Wrong Songs”), and he replied in a YouTube video, which I thought was very nice. He did seem to think I was a female, presumably because of my writing style, as I didn’t include the picture of the hottie that I use when I’m on ChatRoulette, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I hope you realize that I’m referring to being mistaken as a female writer, not using a female picture on ChatRoulette, which is bad in the sense that you’re misrepresenting yourself for perhaps nefarious purposes, and which is something I try not to do, except, you know, for the occasional “Wow, I love Merchant-Ivory films too! Hey … you seem really nice …”, which doesn’t work anyway, as it’s quickly followed by a sideways plunge off of my barstool. Anyway, my 200th post generated a YouTube video, which I guess is kind of bitchin’ in a milestoney kind of way.

So even though I have no celebratory gala planned in recognition of my bicentennic** rambling, I think I'll take on the task of going back and adding tags to each post. Tags, I’m told, are a way of indexing blog entries so that they may be searched/filtered by various topics. As my memory has been shot to hell by my religiously-dictated ingestion of peyote and mescaline (others familiar with my youth may point to the heavy drinking during my early teens as a cause, but I prefer to lay the blame with a deity of some sort), I have hopes that this will help me develop a timeline of sorts of just what the hell I’ve been doing and thinking for the last 2 years.

For some reason, I suspect that I may regret this.

* The exception to this is my joyous reaction to the Cleveland Indian’s 10th victory each baseball season, as each year I fear that they won’t reach that mark.
** Totally made up adjective.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I Need To Get Out More

The worst thing about writing a stupid little blog about the goofy little crap that happens that makes life sort of enjoyable is the moment when it occurs to you that you have nothing to write about.

Talk about a nasty little realization.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hey, Weight For Me!

I’ve always been a little confused when I hear people refer to various physical attributes in others that would preclude them from consideration romantically. There’s a certain arrogance to such an attitude, and in fact, the only thing that I really require in a girly-friend is that she have that peculiar lack of judgment that would make her think that it’s not unreasonable to be seen with me. I assume it’s some sort of chemical imbalance, but I haven’t really ruled out early childhood exposure to lead paint, either.

In any case, though I think it’s quite obvious to anyone that has seen any of the girls silly enough to go out with me that they’ve all been stunningly beautiful, I can honestly say that this fact was not among the primary reasons for my attraction to them. As I said, I could never dream of imposing, oh, say, some arbitrary weight limit, for example, on who I might try to trick into liking me.

Until now, that is.

As I mentioned a while back, I recently acquired a new ride … a sweet little ’93 Suzuki Sidekick, to which I affectionately refer as “The Zuke Of Earle.” It’s one of those sporty little mini-SUV kind of thingies and suits my needs pretty well (my needs don’t go much beyond having a stereo). It does, however, have a reputation of being predisposed to rolling over, and in fact, has a sticker on the driver’s door alerting one to that fact:

Above: Evidence of my inability to work a camera correctly.
Warning: This is a multipurpose vehicle which will handle and maneuver differently from an ordinary passenger car, in driving conditions which may occur on streets and highways and off-road. As with other vehicles of this type, if you make sharp turns or abrupt maneuvers, the vehicle may rollover or may go out of control and crash. You should read driving guidelines and instructions in the owners manual, and wear your safety belt at all times.
I’m not really all that much of an aggressive driver, and like 95% of all motor vehicle operators, I consider my skill level above average; nevertheless, I appreciate the heads-up.

A downside to the “little” part of “sweet little ’93 Suzuki Sidekick” is that there’s not a whole bunch of storage room, especially when the rear seats are in their upright position. As I occasionally have a need to carry camping equipment, bodies of dead hookers, and the like, I went out and found a nice used rooftop cargo carrier:

Above: Recommended maximum load: two (2) regulation-size prostitutes (three (3) if dismembered and drained).

It’s plenty roomy enough to haul everything I need for any type of extended adventure.

Unfortunately, it’s also a wing.

I discovered its aerodynamic lifting property last weekend while driving to Caldwell for the Live Acorn’s volleyball tournament. Finding one's self on only two wheels unexpectedly can certainly take one by surprise, and I very nearly spilled my cocktail coffee!

Dang ... as is often the case with my little bloggy ramblings, I’ve gone far past the point where I could make a long story short, so to get back to the point …

I mentioned this to an engineer friend of mine, figuring if anyone could provide a solution to this little problem, it was him (he also calculated how many studs I could safely cut out of the load-bearing wall in my house, and it hasn’t collapsed yet). Half a beer and two bar napkins later, he came up with this:

Above: I would have guessed 260-280 lbs, which is why I always get an expert's opinion.

His numbers are based on a speed of 65 mph/104 kph; his reasoning was that at higher speeds, while I would need more weight to hold the car down, the greater weight needed would prohibit the higher speeds. I’m telling you, this guy is sharp.

So roughly 1/6th of a ton at the minimum. All in all, I’m not particularly proud of suddenly having such a superficial standard for who I will and will not go out with. It makes me feel shallow and somewhat sleazy. But the numbers don’t lie, and as my friend said, "Stay alive with three-twenty-five!" And as I say with regard to every aspect of life … safety first.