Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dear Peru: We're Not ALL Like This, I Swear ...

I’m not a huge fan of Christmas – it seems to be fairly stress-inducing, what with all the shopping insanity starting Thanksgiving evening, the crazy drivers in their race to the malls, those damn Whos down in Whoville with their incessant singing – it just seems like it’s more headache than it’s worth.  Every once in a while, however, something happens that really makes me appreciate the season:  an unsigned gift left at my door (thank you, dear anonymous gift giving friend, for the delightful copy of “The 50 Funniest American Writers*: An Anthology Of Humor From Mark Twain To The Onion”!), selfless acts of kindness that I suspect may happen less frequently during other times of the year, the kidnapping of young Peruvian adults immediately upon their arrival in the United States … you know, that sort of thing.

The Live Acorn and I drove down to Salt Lake City on the 23rd to spend the weekend with my brother and his family.  Trips such as this are always fun, as pretty much everyone involved can legitimately be described as “on occasion, somewhat goofward-leaning.”  We were lounging about chatting that first evening, when my sister-in-law (I’ll call her Cindy because that’s her name) received a phone call.  After a brief conversation, she hung up and announced “Well, that’s good news!  My Peruvians are coming!”  My immediate thought was that she might be having a stroke or some other type of medical emergency that has “spouting gibberish” as a symptom, but The Live Acorn and I were quickly filled in on the details behind the pronouncement.

Apparently, Cindy had left her parents’ home the previous day, and had seen a foreign-looking couple walking down the street pulling luggage and looking quite lost.  Being the meddler good soul that she is, of course, she stopped and asked if she could provide any assistance.  Faster than you can say “didn’t the embassy say something about not getting into cars with crazy Americans?”, she had determined their destination, loaded them and their belongings into the vehicle, and proceeded to deliver them forthwith.

Had this happened to me in a foreign country, especially one as filled with oddballs and weirdoes as ours seems to be, you can bet your sweet bippy that I’d be homeward bound on the next flight out.  Perhaps still in a state of shock from being shanghaied, the couple did not hightail it home, but instead, had actually agreed to join us for Christmas Eve dinner!  I have never heard that Peruvians in general have a lack of common sense, so I must assume that this particular pair of travelers were simply more naïve than most.

Well, The Live Acorn and I were heading down to a friend’s house for a few hours on the 24th, so we didn’t get to meet them upon their arrival at my brother’s house.  That’s probably for the best, as the stark difference between leaving a relatively normal environment and returning that evening to what was happening made for extremely high comedy.

When we returned, the Peruvian guests were in the living room, Skyping with their relatives back home.  Meanwhile, my brother, who may or may not have familiarized himself with a glass of wine or three, was explaining his method of remembering their names (oddly, he had seemed to conflate being out-of-sight with being out-of-earshot, as he was quite enthusiastic and somewhat voluminous in describing his mnemonic devices, even though Paola (pronounced pa-WAH-la) and Moises (pronounced moy-SAYCE), both of whom's English was quite good, were just around the corner).

“You see there?” he said, gesturing wildly to a pie tin with a few slices left.  “Pie!  PIE!”  One of my nephews, who could see both the guests and his father, at this point placed his head in his hand and began massaging his temples.  “And we said ‘hello’ when they walked in, and Spanish for that is “Ola!  OLA!  You see?  PIE-OLA!  PIE-OLA!”  My nephew was, by that time, moaning audibly, and I had started to giggle uncontrollably.  That moment is now burned into my memory just as strongly as that night with Mary-Margret Schoonamanzer behind the Piggly-Wiggly so many years ago.

Other highlights from the weekend (they joined us Christmas afternoon as well, and even brought a few more of their country-mates … I believe they had come over to work at the ski resorts, who commonly hire internationally, for the season) include such questions as “Do you like to start fires, Moses?” and “Do people respect their mothers in Peru?”*  Granted, those may sound a bit odd, but taken in context, they … they … ok, they were just plain bizarre.

I haven’t seen any news about changes in the relationship status of our two nations, so I assume that the Peruvian Consulate is still in the “What the fuck?  He said what now?  Ok, ok … go through it one more time …” phase of figuring out what to do.

Now that I think about it, a few traffic jams aren't really all that much to endure, if it means getting to experience things like this.  Maybe Christmas isn’t so bad after all.

* I swear by the ghost of Bob Feller that I am not making those questions up.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Practicing Safe IPYPIASM

Oh dear.

As I realize that my contribution to the tally of the United States in IPYPIASM 2011 (International Put Your Poem In A Shop Month) has been woefully pathetic at best, I’ve attempted to enlist the aid of others in restoring our nation’s stature in the international community.  Sure, it won’t exactly offset the fact that our government is currently passing legislation that will allow our President to indefinitely detain American citizens without charges if they’re simply suspected of terrorist activities, but a good showing in the final IPYPIASM count wouldn’t just be chump change, either. 

Not that it’s a competition, mind you …

The usual reaction to my explanation of IPYPIASM to friends is something along the lines of “You do what now?  In a shop?  Have you been into the wood alcohol again, Dead Acorn?”  Fortunately, there are exceptions, and I’m pleased as punch to be able to present the brilliant work of one such person:

Above:  One does not cautiously dip a toe into the pool of IPYPIASM; one cannonballs off the high platform, screaming "COWABUNGA!".

A close-up of the text, which is far more helpful and realistic advice for the youth of the world than “just say no!”:

Above:  How can this not be in next year’s high school health textbooks?

It’s knowing people like her that makes life really scary interesting.  She is, as they say, “special.” (In that best of ways, course.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Just A Stranger Passing Through The Night

I was lounging around Casa de Acorn last night, cowering in fear of the Hell Hound enjoying a nice evening with my canine housemate, when she ran to the window, and then to the door, barking all the while, clearly indicating that there was someone outside.  “Indy,” I said.  “It’s 10:00 pm.  It's highly unlikely that we have a visitor at this late hour.  Besides (I stifled a sniffle at this point), no one ever visits me anyway.”  (It may have been more along the lines of screaming “SHUT UP!  SHUT THE FUCK UP!  THERE’S NO ONE THERE!  YOU’RE AN IDIOT!” but that’s neither here nor there.)

Imagine my surprise, then, when I heard a knock on the screen door!  “Why, that’s odd!” I said to her.  “You were correct!  I certainly hope it’s a cherished friend stopping by for a lager and some nice conversation, and not a Federal Agent investigating international Beanie-Baby-smuggling activities!”  I walked over and opened the door, all a-twitter with anticipation, and greeted …

A dog.  A goofy-looking block-headed pit bull/Labrador mix, I would guess.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do, as he appeared to be alone, so I let him in.  He and Indy introduced themselves (I don’t believe they’d met before, and I hadn’t seen him around the ’03), and she showed him around the house while I stepped outside to see if anyone was around looking for him.


They played for a bit, and after about 20 minutes, I let him back outside, assuming he knew where to go.  (He did have license tags, but nothing with a name or phone number.  Maybe he’s got those memorized and doesn’t see the need to have them written down.)  Fifteen minutes later, however, he knocked once more, and there I was again, sitting befuddled, not only at why there was a goofy-ass strange dog in my house, but also at the fact that Indy has more friends that come to visit than I do.  (Actually, that doesn’t really surprise me at all.)

It was, I decided, time to repair to the bedroom for the evening, and I asked them to turn off the TV when they were done and to try not to be too loud (it was extremely cold last night; fit for neither man nor beast, so I certainly couldn’t send him on his way at that point).  Doofus (his new Casa de Acorn name) apparently lives with very lenient people, as he felt quite comfortable hopping up on the bed and commandeering approximately 75% of it.  He’s a bit of a restless sleeper, as well, and not at all careful about where he steps.

So that’s it.  Our odd little evening.  I let Doofus out when I left for work this morning, and he meandered off after realizing he wasn’t getting to go for a car ride.  I saw nothing on the community lost & found listings, so maybe he’s already found his way home.  But Doofus, if you happen to stumble across this humble blog, please know that you’re welcome any time.

And yeah, humans, too (but a little heads-up call or text in advance is always appreciated ... you know, just to have time to clear the ole browser history and whatnot).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Under Where? (IPYPIASM Is HERE!)

Well, it’s that time of year again!  The time when both poets and non-poets alike venture forth from their studies and drawing rooms and take to the shops of the world to surreptitiously foist upon unsuspecting consumers their literary stylings:


International Put Your Poem In A Shop Month is the brainchild of an Irish poet who also blogs here, and you can find more detail about IPYPIASM here.  (It’s been rumored that the practice actually goes back to the days of Joyce, whose meandering five-hundred-stanza poems would so confuse Dublin shop-goers in the early 1900s that many shopkeepers would simply close down for the whole of December.)

All that’s required is that you write a poem, put it clandestinely in a shop for others to read, snap a picture of it (Joyce would do wood carvings, I’m told), and post it out on the googlytubez to share.  It’s loads of fun, a little heart-quickening, and ultimately the most life-enriching thing you’ll do that day.  Such is the emotional peak that the moment at which you take the photo is often referred to as IPYPIGASM.

As always, I’m late to the party, but here’s my initial effort:

Above:  No, I don’t normally spend time in the boy’s underwear section.

The text of the “poem” is as follows:
A child awake all through the night,
awaiting Christmas morn’s delight.
A choo-choo train?  A pogo stick?
An all-day sucker for him to lick?
There’s so much joy in Christmas toys,
such happiness for little boys!
But please, please THINK! Avoid a rift …
And don’t give undies as a gift.
So give it a try!  If you don’t, you'll be denying a stranger a good giggle or a warm moment, and that would make you some sort of holiday monster.  Nobody wants that.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Of All The Nerve!

I went to the neurologist the other day to have her check out my gams take a look at my left thigh, which has been numb for well nigh over a year now.  The worst part is that I used to be able to offer some semblance of a refutation upon being called an insensitive, unfeeling bastard, but now I just hang my head and say “Yeah, I know.”  Anyway, I haven’t really been able to feel anything there for quite a while, and while it causes no pain*, I want to make sure that it’s not symptomatic of something else.  People tell me that my uncontrollable shakes and night sweats are the delirium tremens, but fuck you, Occam ... it could be a horrible degenerative neurological disorder.

So she did her little testy stuff, hitting me with hammers and running a serrated pizza cutter all over my legs (she didn’t seem amused when I asked if we shouldn’t establish a safeword first), and then started explaining what she thinks is going on:
The condition is known as Meralgia Paresthetica, or Bernhardt-Roth syndrome, and is a mononeuropathy of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, caused by compression as it passes the inguinal ligament blah blah blah …
And that’s fine, you know - doctors go to school for like, an extra couple of years (and not the way that I was a sophomore for 3 years), so I’m glad they’re very knowledgeable and can use big words.  But then I got this:
You see, nerves are like electrical cords.  Some nerves are like the big orange extension cords, and some nerves are like little lamp cords.
The fuck? Did she take a semester off or something?  Do they have correspondence courses in medical school?

At the end of our little discussion of neurology/electricity, she informed me of the next steps:  firstly, I was to go to my regular physician, and have them fax over the results of the lab tests I had gone through during the summer (just a regular checkup – I hadn’t done anything stupid).  So I was chatting with the lovely receptionist, explaining what we needed to do, and she looked up my history.  “Well,” she said, “you didn’t have all the tests that are required, so go ahead and have a seat, and a nurse will be with you shortly.”  After picking myself up off the floor, I stammered “you … you mean … you’re going to take blood?  TODAY?  NOW?  But … but I’m not ready!”  “Yes.  Yes we are …” she replied, through a sadistic smile.  Her pupils briefly closed into slits, like those of a cat, and I swear the temperature dropped 10 degrees.

Secondly, I’m scheduled for an MRI, which means lying inside a tube that’s actually smaller than the width of my body for 17 hours while a giant donut shoots magnetic rays through my core.  I’m sure I’ll get stuck to my refrigerator for days after.

Thirdly, I have to have a nerve conduction test, in which the doctor duct tapes the two bared ends of an electrical cord (it’s like a nerve!) to my skin and plugs it in to the wall outlet.  I’ve had to go through this before, and it’s almost as bad as stepping on a Lego, or waking up in Nampa.  I mean, it hurts.

It all seems like a lot of trouble, but if it can perhaps help me to one day be just a little more sensitive and feeling, then by all that's sacred, it’ll have been worth it.

* I can still feel pain … like if I were to, oh, say, hypothetically jab a pin into my thigh to see if I could still feel pain, then yes, I would most assuredly feel pain.  Not that I did that, of course.  Why, that would be just plain stupid!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Close, But No Cigar

The list of things in my life that need serious attention and/or action is not short.  A sampling of items on my "To Do" list:
  • Scour the house in preparation for the Thanksgiving festivities
  • Participate in activities that will end the existing plutocracy and bring down the filthy rich and their despicable oligarchy
  • Finish building the master bathroom
  • Plant bulbs before the ground freezes
  • Introspect on possible causes of my continued self-destructive behavior and establish a concrete and workable plan for positive life changes
  • Fix the door handle on the Zuke Of Earle so that I don’t have to roll down the window all winter every time I need to get out
With so many matters needing addressing, it’s difficult to prioritize, which is why I’ve chosen to devote every spare moment in the near future to the construction of the one thing truly missing from my life:  a cigar-box guitar.

The cigar-box guitar is - not surprisingly, I suppose - a guitar made out of a cigar box.  As with every project I undertake, my first step was to fire up the googly-tubez for instructions painstakingly research the history of the subject and to discover what relevant knowledge has been gleaned to date.  Much like Ike Newton, after all, I stand on the shoulders of giants.

I’ve assembled the basic necessities, the sine qua nons, if you will - a cigar box, a stick, and tuning pegs:

Above:  Renowned Guitar Virtuoso Buck and Master Carpenter Indy are eager to help!

Sure, there are some additional things that I’ll eventually require – strings, a piezoelectric transducer to turn into an internal microphone and a ¼” jack (much like Dylan at Newport, I’m going electric.  Also much like Dylan, I’ll be booed upon playing, but for entirely different reasons),  some actual woodworking skills, extra cigar boxes and sticks for when I inevitably screw things up – but as for now, I have plenty of beer and lots of power tools, so I’m off to a good start.

I’ll eventually get to those other big projects, probably.  Maybe.  But in all honesty, if I can’t sit down at the end of the day and kick out the jams on my patio with a bottle of Jack and a cigar-box guitar, well, then they really just don’t matter all that much now, do they?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Food For Thought

Well, the local pub that I frequent is doing a seemingly nice thing for the local food bank – for every 16 oz. item of non-perishable food one brings in, (s)he is given a 16 oz. draught beer of any flavor served (limit one per person per day … damnit!).  I write “seemingly” because while, yes, it is providing nourishment for those so unfortunate as to need help during these troubled times, it throws a whole new confusing dimension into the time-honored (and hitherto fail proof) method of introducing one’s self to another: the suave and debonair utterance of the phrase “Howdy!  Can I gitcha a beer?”

It’s irresistible!

Prior to the onset of the food-for-beer program, such a query would have been met with a shy giggle, an acceptance, some light-hearted banter over one drink, then another, followed by a more intimate conversation about each others likes and dislikes, playfully arguing about bands and books, mocking disdain at the other’s appreciation of cats, both trying to hide the giddiness inside at having finally met The One, then a walk home through the beautiful fall foliage, hands nervously clasped (after several awkward brushes of one’s against the other’s), a promise to call the next day (“if that’s okay?”), a quick kiss on the cheek and a quicker turn to hide the redness creeping into one’s owns, and, eventually, a lifetime filled with love and happiness.

Well, no more.  Now it’s “Howdy! Can I gitcha a beer?” followed by immediate and excruciating internal dread and angst.  “Oh my god … oh my GOD!  I only have a can of Progresso soup … and it’s GUMBO!  What the fuck was I thinking?  She’s going to think I’m an asshole.  Why couldn’t I have some beluga caviar?  Or would she think that’s pretentious?  I am tolly SCREWED.  That guy down the bar has pasta!  Angel hair!  I can’t compete with that!  Stupid stupid stupid …”

So thanks, pub.  Thanks for eradicating my dreams of a joyful future.  Thanks for all the lonely tomorrows.  Thanks for feeding the hungry with food seasoned with the salt of my tears.

NOTE:  By the way, if you’re too nervous about approaching strangers and buying them beer with food, you can donate directly to the Idaho Food Bank.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You Can Limit My Words, But Not My Imagination!

Once again, the seasons have cycled, and, as autumn winds down, the much anticipated announcement of the Boise Weekly’s “Fiction 101” writing competition has appeared – a call for submissions of succinct stories, of truncated tales, of prose painstakingly pared to precisely one hundred and one words.  It is an exercise most vexing to the verbose; a bane to those bereft of brevity and curse for those clear of concision.

Choose carefully, one must, one’s adjectives and adverbs and other adjuncts, for the wisdom of words lies not in lavish loquaciousness, but rather in the raw rendering of phrases few but fiery.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Power To The People!

It’s Fun Friday Quiz Day!

Q:  When a driver approaches an intersection at which the power to the signal lights is out, the proper behavior is to:

A)  Act as if the signal lights never existed in the first place, and continue through without regard for other vehicles.
B)  Immediately stop and become frozen with fear, knuckles white from the crushing grip on the steering wheel.
C)  Treat the intersection as though it were a four-way stop.
A fairly large area around my place of employment lost power yesterday (that I was testing a theoretical multi-phasic step-up transformer at the time is purely coincidental, I’m quite sure ...), and as I looked out my window down at the busy intersection below, I saw far more of the first two behaviors than the third.  I was quite amazed that there were no accidents.  Disappointed, of course, morbid ghoul that I am, but amazed nonetheless.

That’s not to say that I don’t get thoroughly confused when something in the societal infrastructure in which we exist goes awry.  In fact, yesterday, as I stood observing the chaos below, I exclaimed quite loudly “Jesus fucking CHRIST!  Look at these fucking DOUCHEBAGS!” before realizing that the lack of electricity did not render the 10 or so coworkers/superiors within earshot deaf to my vocalizations.

I meet with Human Resources this afternoon.

The power was off for around 10 minutes when the Director came around saying that he’d heard from Idaho Power that we could expect up to a 2-hour outage, and that people should go ahead and leave for the day.  Having no real desire to experience anything resembling the insanity of Pamplona, nor even, for that matter, Ketchum, I calmly sat at my desk, removed my big-boy shoes and put on my Chucks, secured my vodka in the locking desk drawer, and ...

... let out a heavy “fffffuuuuuu ...” as the lights came back on just as I grabbed my jacket.

The other idiots (who, just minutes before, had shared my smug sense of superiority in allowing the masses to crush each other like Who fans upon the Director’s pronouncement) and I looked at each other with sad resignation and trudged back to our desks.  Damn it.

Maybe Monday I’ll experiment with the fire alarm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Of Mice And Men And Dogs

So I was sitting around the other morning, trying to emerge from my pre-dawn fog, when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a fire-breathing Komodo dragon Rodent Of Unusual Size cute little mouse shuffling down the hallway.  He must have seen me turn my head, for he glanced over at me, then scampered away to somewhere out of view.  (I’m sure my blood-curdling scream and subsequent leap onto the dining room table had nothing to do with him being startled.)

I really don’t have any huge problems with mice, or spiders, or whatever other demonic creatures inhabit the crawlspace beneath the house … as long as they recognize the floor as an impenetrable barrier between our worlds, not to be crossed.  A DMZ of sorts, if you will, necessary for the continuance of the uneasy peace that allows for our coexistence.  I reminded the mouse of our implicit agreement re: living arrangements by shrieking like a little schoolgirl “GET OUT!  GET THE FUCK DOWNSTAIRS! I WILL END YOU!  I WILL MURDER YOU!”, which I’m sure was very convincing, being delivered from atop a table by a quivering, sobbing guy wearing Sugar Daddy jammies.

Anyway, I knew I had to set some traps to send a message and to reestablish proper order in the world.  It was either that, or get a cat, and I’m not sure that I should be allowed to choose animals with whom to cohabitate, given the unfortunate results of my last attempt.  Traps it would be.

I loaded them up with peanut butter and several varieties of cheese, as I assume mice have varying palates, and wanted to provide a little something for everyone.  I’m a good host that way.  I knew that there was a potential issue with Indy, as she also enjoys peanut butter and cheese (with the exception of Muenster … she’s an odd one).  I explained the risks of attempting to treat herself to a little snack, and set a couple of traps and sprung them with a pencil in front of her, so that she would realize their destructive force and give them wide berth in her wanderings during my absence.  It seemed to work, as she wanted nothing to do with them after the brief demonstration.

Unfortunately, the learning didn’t really seem to take, because I came home after work that day to this:

Above:  She really should probably wear a helmet.

In any case, I haven’t seen another mouse for a few days – I’m sure they’re laughing too hard at my boneheaded dog to make the climb.  Whatever works, I guess.  Good dog.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Everything's A-Croquet

I went through my first interview in a number of years yesterday.

I’m not looking for alternative employment, of course … I really can’t imagine a more satisfying position in life than my current role as Vice Assistant to the Assistant Manager of Dreary Repetitiveness in a large governmental agency.  I believe that my situation is referred to by the youngsters these days as “livin’ the dream.”

No, this was far more than attempting to justify my 30+ year string of less-than-6-months-in-duration jobs; this was an assessment of my character, of my very moral fiber.

You may or may not believe this, but this is the honest truth: I am, on occasion, able to force myself to set aside my official duties while at “work” and peruse the googlytubez, lest my feverish and frenzied zeal for my job overwhelm me to the point of collapse.  And so it was, yesterday, that I stumbled across a posting on Craigslist for … a $10 croquet set.

That’s not quite right – it was for a croquet set being sold for $10.  There were accompanying photographs, and seeing what was being offered, I thought that surely the seller must have left off a zero or two on the price.  Either that, or he was simply mad.  It was a Spalding 6-player kit, and was housed in a heavy canvas carrying case.  The wickets appeared pristine, and the original documentation was intact.  “Sweet honey mustard!” I exclaimed aloud.  “I've no time to lose!”

I immediately telephoned Carl, the seller/madman, and nervously asked if the set was still available.  “Well, sure …” he replied.   “I just posted it a minute and a half ago.”  (It’s eerie that at the one time I happened to click on Craigslist, such a gem had so recently been posted.  It’s not like I’m surfing the site every 15 minutes or anything, you know.)  I told him I’d be over directly, and dashed out to my bicycle, leaving papers fluttering to the ground in the wake of my hasty departure.

Carl was standing out front when I arrived, and I could immediately sense that his was a tortured soul.  A certain sadness seemed to surround him, and I approached him with no small trepidation:
Carl:  “You the Dead Acorn?”

Dead Acorn:  “Y-y-yes sir.  Carl.  Sir.”

Carl:  “Well, let’s get on with this, I guess.”
He led me over to a picnic table upon which the case lay, and slowly, methodically, unzipped it and revealed the treasure within.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a gasp.
Carl:  “You can see it’s in pretty good shape.  None of the balls are chipped, and the rubber mallet head caps have been well taken care of.”

DA:  “It’s … it’s … beautiful.

Carl:  “Well, we’ve had it for a while, but haven’t had much opportunity to play.  As a boy, my grandfather and I would play from dawn ‘til dusk.  I remember squealing with laughter at his faux rage when I would send his ball scattering after a lucky roquet – I was never near the striker that he was, but he let me in the game.  O, those days … that I could live those days again.”

DA:  “It sounds wonderful, Carl.  Sir.”

Carl:  “You know, I bought these to play with my grandkids – they live across the state, but we see ‘em as much as we can, and I thought they’d enjoy it.  They tried, I guess, but kids today have their music things and their phones and whatnot, and they’d never seem to stick around for too long.  It’s sad, I guess, but things change, and there ain’t no changin’ that."
He paused for a few moments, looking wistfully off at the mountains to the north.  He then told me about how he and “the missus” were heading down to Mexico for a spell, and didn’t think it right to just leave the set gathering dust in the garage.
Carl:  “So you play the game?”

DA:  “Yes sir, but not for a while.  I played a lot as a child with my brother and sisters.  I don't get to see them too much anymore.  I’ve been playing bocce ball more recently – my daughter gave me a set of those a few years ago, and we’ve had some wonderful times throwing them around the lawn.  I thought that it would be nice teach her croquet as well.”
Carl looked at me, and I looked him back right in the eye.  I knew he was making a decision, and even though I didn’t feel worthy of the set, I hoped that he would see something that would convince him that my home would be a loving one - the right one.

He stood silently for well near three minutes, then finally spoke:  “Well, okay then.  You treat ‘em how they oughta be treated.”  I nodded, and handed him a ten dollar bill.  He smiled faintly, and put his hands in his pockets.  “It ain’t about the money,” he said.  “It ain’t about the money.”

We shook hands, then he turned and walked inside.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coasting Through Life ...

Back when I was a youngster, I could stay up for 2 days straight dancing with the devil, drive for 15 hours without a break to get home, and go straight to work without thinking twice about any of it.  Well, I’m sure I could have, had auto-mobiles been invented back then, and were I able to maintain gainful employment.  The point is that I’m not the tireless young rascal that I’d like to imagine, however erroneously, that I once was.

I drove over to the Oregon coast for the weekend, which, according to the googly map, is about a 9 hour journey.  That was fine for the trip westward, as I was stopping at a friend’s house about 2/3 of the way across, and crossing a time zone and all made it a merry li’l jaunt of about 45 minutes.  I even took time, in fact, to interact with some of the wildlife for which the U.S. Northwest is so famous (I’m the one on the left with the odd sunglasses):

Above: The fur of the North American Brown Bear is remarkably similar to indoor/outdoor carpet, and their noses have an oddly plastic texture.

The locals were quite impressed by my show of courage, though they must have been somewhat concerned for my safety and called the Bear Containment Authorities, or whomever one would call in a situation of such obvious danger, for as I was pulling back on to the highway, I saw several cars with lights a-flashing race past to where I had just departed.  Silly Oregonians ... I was just fine.

The rest of the drive to the coast was mostly uneventful; the number of times I got lost was not in the double digits, and I eventually reached the mighty Pacific Ocean:

Above:  I’m not sure if that’s Japan or Korea off in the distance.  That’s Oahu in the middle.  If you look closely, you can also see, just above the QEII, the arriving bubble that carried Glenda The Good Witch.  She gave me directions to the house in which we were staying.

Back to the part about being an oldster:  I was going to stay Saturday night and make the entire return trip on Sunday, but the thought of driving 39 hours in a single day (likely with a … umm … touch of … influenza, let’s say) made me a little sick inside, so I packed up my walker and took off early that evening.  I know ... what a pansy, right?  My friends in Washington were a little surprised at my late night arrival, and by “surprised,” I mean Sherry walked out of the bedroom and asked “Why in fucking hell are you here?”  She’s a sweetie.

The next evening, after several rest-stop naps, I finally made it home, where the dog immediately bit me and The Live Acorn didn’t return my call to say hi.  I can’t wait ‘til next year - I’m sure I'll be WAY younger by then.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Another Year ... And Another ...

This past weekend, I stumbled, gasping and wheezing, into the “late” segment of my current decade (I can’t remember exactly which decade I’m in right now, but I’m pretty sure it’s between my teens and my nineties).  Accordingly, I realized that it is high time that I began to heed the Good Book (the bible, not The Great Gatsby, though that, too, is a pretty dang good book, and far less fictioney), and put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).  No more Hawaiian shirts, no more cheesy jokes, no more slow dancing on the front lawn, sipping mimosas as the sun rises.  That south forty ain’t gonna till itself, you know.  It’s time to get behind the mule, damnit.

Ha ha!   Just kidding.  It was another great birthday (albeit another one on which no one rented a Bobcat backhoe so that I could play in the dirt … I’m just going to take care of that myself next year).  There was much revelry which shall not be detailed here, as I understand that the courts are generally quite successful at subpoenaing weblog transcripts and discovering the super-secret and closely guarded identities of pseudonymous web-loggers.  I will say, however, that the llama is doing just fine, and that I have a whole new respect for the peoples of North Dakota.

As if this past weekend weren’t enough, there’s another one of the three-day variety coming up.  I’m not really sure that Columbus Day is an occasion that should be celebrated, and, in fact, the public schools here are in session that day.  But hey, if the gubmint wants to pay me to stay away, I will not complain.  On the contrary, I will celebrate the day in the traditional fashion, by walking into a stranger’s house and announcing that I live there now, and introducing several new diseases to them.  As recompense, I will allow them to stay in a well-delineated section of the back yard.

In actuality, I’ll be heading westward to the coast of Oregon to save Pat from drowning again meet up with some friends who have long been scattered about the country.  We'll be staying in a house that has been rented legally, we will not be displacing any indigenous civilizations, and as far as I know, I don’t have any communicable diseases.

The Dead Acorn … classy-ing up America since 2008.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Flowers For The Dead Acorn

One of my favorite weekend rituals is sitting down at my breakfast counter, with spuds a-sizzling on the stove and a half-gone bottle of Old Overholt rye whiskey pot of fresh-brewed coffee on the counter, and taking a stab at the crossword puzzle that appears in the local newspaper.  I rarely complete them, especially the Sunday edition, as they become increasingly difficult as the week progresses, and in fact, the Sunday clues often seem to be written in a language entirely unbeknownst to me.  Still, rituals being what they are, I persistently write down squiggly little symbols in the little boxes, symbols which, for the most part, are indeed part of our commonly accepted English alphabet.

It’s well-established that doing (or attempting, in my case) crossword puzzles can be beneficial, at least as relating to certain mental aspects of our lives.  Crosswords have been linked to increased memory retention, reduced risk/delayed onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, and tolly knowing the name of Nick and Nora’s dog.  Of course, they’re of no benefit whatsoever, and in fact, can be quite harmful, in the context of getting things done around the house, but there are costs and benefits to all things in life, and I’ll leave it to the reader to ponder them as they relate to her own life.

Of course, I enjoy doing the crosswords during the week as well, and even though I am but a “weekends-only" subscriber to the paper, I am fortunate enough to have a coworker who does something called “exercise” before work, and who brings a gymnasium-supplied photocopied facsimile of the weekday version into the office each morning.  Thus, I am able to continue to stave off the onset of (further) idiocy the other five days of the week as well.

Or, rather, I was.

Friday was that coworker’s last day, and so, at the time of me typing this, it’s been almost 30 hours since I did a puzzle.  I think it’s like 30 hours, at least, but I can’t really remember when I did it on yesterday.  I’m pretty sure it was yesterday and not the day before, because it had the comics that I like with the colors and I know that happens on the Sundays accept that dumb doonsberry that don’t make since and its still in black and wite and my favrit one with pig iz gone.  Plus thers lots of extra pages that look like comics at first but then you go and look for the talking aminals and their arent any animals at all much less ones talking funny stuff.    But im gonna go to wendys after i go home from werk becuz i no they have the puzzle things and the mazes too i like the mazes and i try to stay in the lines but somtimz the crans brake and i never find wutz difrent in the too picherz either but i still lik the choklat frosty things but Im going rite after i say hi to my dog (i rilly say bark becuz she dont no peepel tok) cuz i dont want to turn into a stoopid hed so im gon do puzelz

With apologies to Daniel Keyes, of course.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Many Are Cold, Few Are Frozen

I took a glance at the Weather Bureau National Weather Service website last week, and saw that the projected low for Friday in Garden Valley, ID, was 32 F (273 K). Much like milk goes horribly, convulsion-inducingly bad when the clock strikes midnight on its expiration date, all fluids, including blood coarsing through one’s veins, instantly freeze when the temperature dips below this level, and I recognized that that night might be my last opportunity for a sleepless 8 hours of terror, clutching my axe and waiting for the wolves to attack peaceful slumber in the woods until next spring.

So I went and did a little shopping at lunch, took off from work around 2:00 pm, haphazardly threw a bunch of crap into my car, and headed north. After a stop at the grocery store on the way out of town (“Ding-dang it! I need ice! Oh, and probably some more beer. OOOOH! And pistachios!”), once more in Horseshoe Bend (“You know what would be a good snack? Fritos! Oh, and I probably should get some more beer.”), I neared my destination and saw this:

Above: Undoubtedly the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Mist.”

I’ve never know the NWS to be wrong before, so I was quite confused, as that, dear reader, is not simply a low-lying cloud, but a fog of razor-sharp ice crystals ready to shred one’s lungs with each breath, otherwise known around these parts as Rocky Mountain Liquid Nitrogen. After a few minutes of somber reflection, I decided that I’d lived an okay life, and pressed on, though surely death awaited.

I must have chosen a spot in a small high-pressure zone, because I was able to function well enough to get things set up in short order. I posted a while back about buying a new camp table, which has independently telescoping legs, allowing leveling of its surface on uneven ground. BEHOLD:

Above: The best $40 dollars I’ve spent outside of Reno.

Note the extreme slope of the ground (almost 70 degrees, I would guess, and akin to bivouacking on Halfdome); and yet, the stove is in no danger of sliding off. (I don’t suggest trying to adjust such a surface while the grill and a lantern atop it are both lit, and after several beers have been consumed. Seriously.) Also note the strategic placement of the camp chair, directly upslope from the fire pit. I really probably shouldn’t camp alone.

I did make my way down to the Dirty Shame to watch a quarter of a football game in which the local collegiate “team” was playing. This was an actual conversation I had with the comely, albeit surly, server after two beers:
Comely, Albeit Surly, Server: “Would you like another one?”

Dead Acorn: “No, I think I’ll square up and head up the road.”

Comely, Albeit Surly, Server: “No, you’ll have one more, then you can go.”

Dead Acorn: “ummm … yes, ma'am.”

Maybe I don’t really go up there for the camping.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I'm Sure Locusts Are Next ...

Every once in a while, in this otherwise bleak world in which we subsist, something happens that gives me hope, even if it’s just an ever-so-faint glimmer, that things might be improving just a bit, and that continuing on for another day just might be the thing to do. A smile from a blue-eyed baby, the sight of a tatted-up, body-pierced, mohawk-sportin’ teenaged punk holding the door for an elderly woman, the return of $1 draughts from 10 am – noon at the Parilla Grill – it’s really the little things that, while easily overlooked, make it fun to carry on.

What happened yesterday was nothing short of a miracle. I was laying about in the afternoon after a fairly exhausting weekend. The “rock and roll” ensemble in which I am fortunate enough to be a member had its initial public performance on Saturday (I think the kids nowadays say “we had our first gig,” or something like that. Whatevs ...), and there were subsequent celebratory activities long into the evening, as is the custom, I’m told. (The Live Acorn was there and didn’t die of embarrassment, which I’ll take as a compliment.)

Though I had what I’m fairly certain was a touch of the Bubonic Plague upon waking yesterday, I heroically arose from bed and began my traditional fall Sunday activities, which include baking the lasagna that I had assembled a couple of days prior and riding to the aforementioned Parilla Grill to watch some American Football as it cooled. Some rituals are sacred that way.

Upon returning home, and giving thanks that the Plague was merely of the 2-hour variety, I realized that I was both a) hungry, and 2) tired. Now I’m not one to believe in karma, or a higher being, or anything like that, but the fact that my house had both 1) a freshly-cooked lasagna, and b) a couch seemed a little too coincidental. Odd. I didn’t dwell on it too long, however, and soon my hunger was sated and I was fading into a light slumber.

Here comes the miracle part ... consider the situation within my four walls at the time: a sleeping Dead Acorn, the pan with the remaining 7 pieces of lasagna sitting out on the counter, and the iron-stomached food-inhaling Hell Hound eating machine roaming about unrestrained.

And why yes, she IS Italian.

I awoke a bit later, and immediately realized what I had done. I sat on the edge of the couch, my head in my hands, sobbing, and in between tearful gasps screaming “Why? WHY? Why would I not put it in the fridge? Was sleep so important and urgent that I couldn’t take two steps to my left, thereby avoiding this catastrophe? Dear god, WHY?” After a few minutes of soul searching, I got up and tried to prepare myself for the carnage that I knew awaited me in the kitchen. I trudged slowly around the corner ...

... and found nothing of the sort. I mean, the kitchen was a mess, of course, but it always is, as I’m somewhat ... less than tidy, let's say ... in my living habits. But the lasagna pan remained on the counter, and an inspection revealed only a half-layer of one piece missing. That damn dog had finally showed a bit of restraint and only ate half a piece! As difficult as it is to fathom, she must have, at some point, said to herself “You row whut? Ri’ve had eruff!” (I marvel at her ingenuity in realizing that she could take the top half only rather than try to use a knife to cut it. Brilliant!) And getting back to my original point, it’s a miracle such as this that truly encapsulates the wonderment of our world.

Perhaps this is actually a teaching moment. Perhaps this is a lesson meant for me. Perhaps I can learn just a bit from her lack of lasagnatious avarice and incorporate such an attitude of self-restraint toward the 10 am – noon draught special.

Or, you know, perhaps not.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Button It, Blog-Boy!

Damn, I’m in a tight spot here, clothing-wise, and I mean beyond my acknowledged and accepted utter lack of fashion sense. (By “acknowledged and accepted,” I mean that yes, I understand that the Whole Of Society condemns my assemblage of plaids and stripes. The Whole Of Society is wrong, of course, but I understand and accept that people are not going to change their ridiculous opinions.)

I’ve got a large and ever-growing cache of clothes which share a common attribute: the lack of at least one critical button. On pants, the critical button is, of course, the one that holds them up, and while I suppose I could wear them to work and rely on a belt to avoid any unpleasantness, belts do break, and the resultant trou-dropping and subsequent exposure of my lily-white ass would be both embarrassing and blinding. On the shirts, it’s really just the second-to-the-top button, as that's the one that keeps a person from looking like a disco-era refugee from Studio 54, and a missing lower one just gives quicker access to belly-scratchin’.

In any case, I’ve long promised myself that I would have Button Day, on which I would take a couple of hours, sit down with the entire pile, and sew the damn buttons back on. I’ve long broken, and continue to break, that promise; hence the large and ever-growing cache of clothes. Instead, I opt for a quick trip to Ross (a discount clothier) every once in a while, where the prices are lower than a sophomore’s standards at closing time at the Fireside.

Plus, they have a bitchin’ advertising jingle:

If you spend all your dough
On hookers and blow
And your gambling habit’s your boss

You can save oodles
With Top-Ramen noodles
And irregular rejects from Ross!

Anyway, I’m down to about three pairs of wearable work pants right now, one of which keeps getting shorter with each washing. I thought these types of things were only supposed to shrink up once, but these have gone from just right, to having to skootch them down a bit, to me having to make sure my socks match … they’re currently manpris, and I’m fairly certain that by October, I’ll have a new pair of shorts. Stupid cotton. I never have this problem with my rayon Hawaiian shirts that I get from the grocery store.

So I think that the Day of Reckoning Buttoning is quickly approaching, my epic run of procrastination at long last reaching its end. I could just continue my visits to Ross, I suppose, but I think that it’s time to finally stop taking the easy route, live up to my promise, and mend those things that I can.*

I’ll just need someone to volunteer to come over and supervise, as I am not allowed to be alone with sharp objects. Stupid court order.

* Just talking about clothes here ... this is not a metaphor or anything like that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Woods Have Eyes (And Stomachs, Too, Apparently ...)

This has not been the Summer Of Camping that I had hoped it would be. I think I’ve only made it out four times, and one of those ended with a late night return home, due to the fact that every site but ours was occupied by a large and extremely loud single party, with pit bulls roaming around, the threat of gunplay, and a blood-lusting Doberman pinscher who spent three hours straight staring at us, unblinking, as individual fibers in his ever-taut rope snapped every few seconds with an audible pop. Ah, sweet, sweet Idaho.

Last weekend, a friend and I ventured out for a little relaxation just up the road:

Above: Super Secret Campsite … somewhere in Idaho, but most definitely not 13 miles past The Dirty Shame up FSR 698.

I was especially excited for the jaunt, as I had just purchased a collapsible camp table, and this was to be its initial outdoor use (I did set it up in my living room when I first got it, where it somehow was, within minutes, covered in CDs, dog hair, and old issues of the New Yorker magazine). It performed beyond my wildest dreams (and believe me, my wildest dreams, with respect to flat surfaces that are merely required to support a fairly light camp stove, are pretty dang wild), and a delightful meal of steak (marinated overnight in teriyaki, and served with sautéed onions, of course … being in the woods doesn’t mean one need dine like a heathen) and baked potatoes was thoroughly enjoyed. Of course, being completely liquored up on cheap gin and cheaper beer somewhat exhausted from the exhilaration of collapsible camp table food preparation, all sorts of edible and aromatic items were left about the campsite.

Normally, I think that the forest creatures are asked to not bother the campers (at least through September), but the succulent smells of the remains of dinner must have overwhelmed them, for I was awakened as the person with whom I was camping crashed through the tent door from what I assume was a late moonlit stroll:


Dead Acorn: You know, I was thinking about that ... what would you rather encounter at night: a skunk or a porky-pine?


Dead Acorn: Neither would be pleasant, I imagine. With the skunk, there’d be no sharp barbed quills piercing your skin, of course, but on the other hand, it’d be kind of a long stinky drive down to the store to get the tomato sauce to get rid of the smell. Tough call.


Bear Outside Munching On Leftover Steak:
Could you guys keep it down, please? And did you bring any horseradish?

Both the skunk and the bear evidently grew bored with the discussion and waddled off their separate ways, but I’m definitely going speak to the Forest Service about their manners. If everyone can’t agree to some basic guidelines for a civil society, can we really say we’re any better than the Minnesota Vikings?

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Want You ... To Want ... ME!

The little hamlet in which I reside has innumerable qualities that make one pause from time to time and say to oneself “Jeepers! The little hamlet in which I reside sure has innumerable qualities! I’m fortunate to have found my way here!” To be sure, it has its negative aspects (not the least of which is that the house in which I live is attached to a foundation, rendering it immovable, and thereby enabling that damn dog to find her way back to it disirregardless of the section of desert in which she is left), but one gaze upon the full moon rising above the foothills renders them all but trivial.

One thing that I particularly enjoy is the broad spectrum of choices available with regards to live music. Boise has everything from large stadium (and quite costly) shows featuring geriatric rockers whose fans’ interest in anything new stopped a quarter-century ago and can now afford to pay $75 to hear Billy Joel sing “Piano Man” again long-established acts to hard-core punk venues in which the sound can barely cut through the haze of smoke from American Spirit cigarettes and the stench of stale PBR. There is a beautiful botanical garden that lends itself to the relaxing date-night sounds of such artists as Lyle Lovett, and an open space downtown where weekly free concerts by talented-but-as-of-yet-generally-unheard-of bands take place so that the masses can dance and rejoice unbound, albeit it temporarily, by life’s realities.

A place for all music, and all music in its place.

Every once in a while, however, there occurs such an odd matchup of music and location that one does a spit-take of the beer one is drinking upon hearing of it, and exclaims “Why, THAT’S an odd matchup of music and location! It’s almost as if there’s a rip in the genre-venue continuum!” Such is the situation tonight:

Cheap Trick is playing the Western Idaho State Fair.

Perhaps “genre-venue continuum” isn’t quite right, as The Fair certainly has had Teh Rock And Teh Roll groups before. Traditionally, however, these tend to be such acts as Loverboy, who had a two-album bright-but-brief moment of greatness but who have since been mid-week attractions in lounges in the border towns of Nevada, or LaToya Jackson*, whom I once saw perform what amounted to a medley of her brother's songs there mid-day to a crowd of about 15. They do not tend to be such acts as THE GREATEST BAND TO NOT BE IN THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME. A discussion I had yesterday with my boss’s boss’s boss:

Dead Acorn: I can’t believe Cheap Trick is playing The Fair tomorrow. Clearly the greatest band to not be in the hall of fame.

BBB: Yeah, they were pretty good … I suppose you could make an argument for that.


BBB: (moves slowly away)

In actuality, I’m not a rabid fan (no CT bumper stickers adorn the Zuke Of Earle), but I do have much respect for the fact that they’ve put out great music for so long, and sweet jeebus, I get to see them tonight, in between inhaling Pronto Pups and trying to keep them down while riding The Zipper.

I’m almost as excited for the music as I am to see the pygmy goats, and that's saying a lot.

* Yes, I know that's pop and not really R'n'R, but you get the point.

Monday, August 22, 2011

We Need The Funk ... We Gotta Have That Funk ...

I’m quite certain that my reader is fully aware of the meaning of “pre-funk,” but on the slim chance that I am mistaken, I’ll include the definition according to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Pre-funk (v): to imbibe alcohol or other mood-altering substances prior to an event, often a sporting event or social gathering.

As mentioned in the OED, pre-funking often takes place before a ball game or a party, but there are few occasions that are not amenable to pre-funking. Weddings, funerals, LSATs, bris’ (though not suggested for the mohel) ... all of these are perfectly fine times to "prime the pump" before the event proper. (The birth of your first child is NOT an acceptable pre-funking opportunity ... trust me on this.)

And so it was yesterday that a number of us showed up in the park an hour before the party celebrating the 5th birthday of Oliver, laden with the necessary trappings to hold the maiden instance of the Bacon & Mimosa Park Extravaganza (we commenced at 11:00 am, as pre-funking is only made better when occurring before noon).

Well, believe you me, missy, it was every bit as good as it sounds and more. I believe there were three pounds of bacon of varying flavors and thicknesses, and plenty of bubbly for all (being conscientious and law-abiding morning drinkers, the champagne was poured into plastic pitchers, as the local constables frown on glassware in the park. It also boosted our white-trashiosity, so it’s really a win-win). We did our best to make sure that the youngsters present only poured from the actual orange juice containers, but some of those kids are pretty dang goofy anyway, so it’s hard to say with certainty that we were 100% successful.

There was a bit of tension when it became known that I had brought both pancake mix and ... sausage. There was an audible gasp from several revelers. “What kind of man brings sausage to a bacon party?” asked a fellow attendee, clearly upset at what he perceived as an unforgivable breach of porkly protocol. Fortunately, I was able to explain my views on non-exclusion, that it was all part of the same pig and that we should embrace differences rather than propagate divisiveness, and convince him that the additional items would only add to the merriment. It didn’t hurt that, apparently, champagne tickles his nose, and he kept giggling.

One of the highlights came when the birthday boy showed up at noon with another pound of bacon, which neither his mother nor her husband had any idea from whence it may have come. That kid has promise.

All in all, it was a splendid Sunday, both pre-funk, funk, and post-funk (now that I think about it, I did have a beer whilst mixing the pancake batter at home … I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that’s a pre-pre-funk, or just a pathetic cry for help). There are calls to make it a monthly, or even weekly, event, rather than an annual one. I can’t say that I see a downside to that notion ... there certainly have to be other children with birthdays we can work with, even if nobody actually knows them.

Interested parents with kids they’d like to volunteer can contact me at thedeadacorn [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Different State Of Mind

I am of mixed emotions in this matter: on the one hand, I am thrilled to have had an enjoyable couple of days in Utah and to have returned relatively unscathed; on the other, I’m a bit upset that my tax dollars are paying the salaries of Federal Agents who are so inept that I was allowed to cross state lines despite having made absolutely no effort whatsoever to conceal my intentions of doing so. Maybe I’ll post a “Looking for flight instruction – Take-off Only” ad on Craigslist and see if they notice.

The purpose of the trip was manifold (though simply traveling with The Live Acorn is reward enough, of course): first, Bright Eyes was playing on Thursday night at the Twilight Concert Series, which is a weekly free music show in a downtown park. I would guess that there were about 30,000 people (22.6 kilopeople) there – my nephew Alex (The Big Alcorn?), who is about 8’4” and around 320 lbs (pretty good-sized in metric, too), said that he’s been up front a couple of times and won’t go again, due to the crushing nature of the frenzied mob. The Live Acorn, oddly enough, didn’t want to hang out with me and my brother, so I consented to let her wander around alone, after extracting a transparently insincere pledge of safety-mindedness and common sense. We met after the show at the exit:

Dead Acorn: So what did you do?

Live Acorn: I just went up toward the stage a little to listen.

Dead Acorn: Yeah? Where were you?

Live Acorn: About 4 people back from the stage, right in the middle.

Dead Acorn: Well alrighty then. (shakes head; gives up last bit of hope)

Friday evening, we attended a friend’s wedding – a thoroughly enjoyable affair all ‘round. It was a fairly short ceremony proper, with fellers in pink-vested tuxedos and bridesmaids in non-taffeta dresses – a lovely sight indeed. The Live Acorn was quite stunning with blue eyes a-sparkling and red hair a-flowing, and many were the occasions that the cautionary phrase “ROB THAT’S MY GODDAMNED DAUGHTER GET THE HELL AWAY FROM HER” left my lips.

Speaking of lips, I think that “drunken attempt at tango, rose in lips, with the mother of an ex-girlyfriend” is really all that needs to be said (and though it was only five steps out, a botched attempt at a turn as she laughed hysterically, and five steps back, she did wear the rose in the neckline of her dress for the rest of the evening).

On a completely different subject, I’ve written a 3-act, 1-person play:

Act 1: (Fade to light … a man, sitting in a Suzuki Sidekick in front of a pub, has just rolled the window up and suddenly realizes his door handle is broken, and he needs to roll the window down in order to let himself out. He sighs heavily and does a facepalm. Fade to black.)

Act 2: (Fade to light … the man has successfully opened the car door, and has rolled the window all the way up, only to have the car door shut upon the final turn of the handle. The man inhales deeply and slowly exhales while rubbing his temples with his thumb and middle finger, muttering “fffffuuuu …” as he tries to abate his frustration. Fade to black.)

Act 3: (Fade to light … the man is sobbing uncontrollably) Why? WHY? My desires are known well to me, and known no less the path to attain them. They are within my visions, the vision both of my eyes and of my heart, yet though it is with great clarity that I recognize the way to pure joy and true nirvana in this life, I find myself unable to render tame the obstacles I face and cross the portal to that happiness. From whence this vile demon, by whom I am kept from destiny?

Some may see this as an extremely poor metaphor for larger issues, but I assure you, it’s just a simple story based on actual events.

I’ll give your regards to Broadway.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I think that, in general, I’m a fairly level-headed individual, not usually prone to outbursts of anger. Oh, to be sure, there are the moments when I’m in my car and I’m red-faced, screaming “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” to the person in front of me, who had the nerve to sit at the light for more than a split second upon it turning green. And of course, I’ve been known to fly into an assaultive rage whenever I encounter someone who’s* opinion differs from mine. And yes, I’ll routinely throw dishes at my kitchen walls when I discover that I’ve only got one teaspoon of baking powder when the recipe calls for two. But who amongst us can truthfully claim otherwise?

There’s nothing that sets me off more, however, than an error in the daily Jumble. In the August 3rd puzzle, the words were simple enough to unscramble:

I’m sure that you, as cinematically astute readers, immediately recognize what drove me to hurl my bowl of Cheerios through the plate glass window and begin a violent assault on the dog upon reading the clue:

George Lazenby followed Sean Connery, not Roger Moore. George Fucking Lazenby.

I expect this type of sloppiness from the New York Times, but my god, this is the Jumble. I was able to stop shaking after about 20 minutes, at least enough to compose a scathing, violence-threatening, and profane email to the Jumble co-creators, David L. Hoyt and Jeff Knurek, whose internet biography has the temerity to state “Jumble is one of the most widely known and trusted word-game brands in the country …” [ed. - bolding is mine].

Trusted? TRUSTED? Perhaps that was once true, but no more. If we can’t depend on the Jumble to do even the slightest bit of fact-checking research, then how can we depend on anything in the newspaper? Indeed, such is the devastating blow to my faith that I don’t know who to trust or what to believe anymore. Just typing these words is enough to bring back the rage to the point where I am no longer able to maintain my composure.

You will feel my wrath, Jumble co-creators. You will FEEL. MY. WRATH.

* Used in error on purpose, as explained in comments. Ummm ... yeah, that's what happened.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Forecast, Fivecast ... Whatever It Takes

I find it amazing sometimes that I have a “job.” As I may have mentioned, I’m one of those “shiftless no-good gubmint workers” that suckles at the public teat and provides absolutely no value whatsoever, all the while spending your hard-earned tax dollars on hookers and blow. Alternatively, from a non-Republican/Tea Bagger point of view, I work in a department that houses dangerous criminals and attempts to provide them with needed programming and education so that upon their eventual return to society, they will remain there as law-abiding, employed, tax-paying citizens. Meh … al-KAY-da, al-KI-da, as they say.

One of my primary duties in my position as Principal Number Maker-Upper is the generation of the annual forecast, which, in reality, is about 15 minutes of work just adding a few percentage points to whatever happened last year, but of which I’ve created the impression of requiring several months of spreadsheet manipulation and being left alone. (There’s no way in hell that that sentence is grammatically correct, but I’m going with it.)

Part of the aforementioned forecast generation process is convening an Advisory Committee, comprising several judges (including a Supreme Court Justice), legislators, various members of the law enforcement community, and just a bunch of big-shots in general, in order to get their advice on various legal and policy changes that may influence the prediction of the number of “guests” we may be having over the next year. It’s one of the rare occasions that I shave, put on a tie, and wash my coffee cup.

Unfortunately, the meeting was scheduled on a Thursday (I did not do the scheduling), which, on our Gregorian calendar, follows Wednesday (and comes before Friday, Friday, according to Rebecca Black). I say unfortunately, because Wednesday is the afternoon of Alive After Five, a free weekly beer/music/scantily-clad-people-watching fest held downtown during the summer.

Needless to say, I attended the event, and had a wonderful time enjoying the beautiful weather, partaking of a dram or two of lager, and listening to a great band I’d never heard of (Hey Marseilles – link includes a song you can listen to/download). This led to me smuggling in a bunch of beer to work this morning, using only my bloodstream. Ten minutes into the meeting, this exchange took place between me and the county sheriff:

County Sheriff: You know, Dead Acorn, whatever numbers you come up with for your forecast, I think you can add one to the Male Commitments in the Alcohol crime group.

Dead Acorn: Wha … (hic) … whathafug you mean?

County Sheriff: Just trust me on this one.

I eventually got through it, and, having “nodded off” only once or twice, repaired to my car for a congratulatory “Natty & Vladdy” (Natural Ice beer and Vladimir Vodka). I mean, my god ... I had to tie a tie (it only took me two attempts - a new personal best!), find matching socks, shave, and actually talk to people. What more do they want from me? I mean, I give, and I give, and I give until it hurts ... and then I give a little more.

The fact that I wore my Pez dispenser tie has to count for something.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Go Ahead, Bite The Big Apple ... Don't Mind The Maggots ...

The Live Acorn has been in New York City for the last couple of weeks, and is finally returning home tomorrow. She stayed with a close friend of the EMDAMOTLA* in some place called Manhattan (apparently New York City is a bit larger than Boise, and is subdivided into a number of neighborhoods referred to as “burros.” I’m not sure if they’re all named after alcoholic beverages). I’m also not sure what kind of parents would let a 15 16-year-old doe-eyed innocent girl from Idaho ride around on the NYC subway by herself, but I AM sure that Social Services ought to be notified.

The primary reason she was there was to attend something called “Camp Broadway,” which I’ve been assured is an essential step in the process of her becoming a star of stage and screen, which presumably will result in great wealth, thereby allowing me an early retirement in which I do nothing but putter around in the garage turning nice pieces of wood into sawdust and watch baseball games (much like Mother Teresa, most of what I do and think is ultimately self-serving). Apparently, one of the workshops was with an actor named Daniel Radcliffe, who, I’m told, was in a series of documentaries about a ceramics fanatic whose love for clay was such that he wouldn’t even take time away from the wheel to shave … The Hairy Potter, or something like that.**

A major milestone for her also took place during the trip, in that she turned Sweet 16. It’s a bit shocking, I must admit, to suddenly realize that “my god, it’s been 16 years and nine months since I’ve had a physical relationship with a woman” “holy mackerel! I have a 16-year-old daughter! Why the hell doesn’t she have a job?” As nice as it would have been to be able to celebrate her birthday with her, though, it’s nice she got to have such a wonderful trip. You know where I spent my 16th birthday?


Anyway, she’ll be back tomorrow, regaling me with stories of lavish debutante balls, wild nights on the Great White Way, and the general sense of magic and mystery that courses through the Big Apple. She’s been gone too long for my comfort, and I can’t wait to see her at the airport.

If she’s become a Yankees fan, she’s dead to me.

* Ex Mrs. Dead Acorn, Mother Of The Live Acorn
**I’m really, really sorry for that.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bye! Bye! Cell! Cell!

For the third consecutive year, I’ve failed to remember my blogoversary (July 10). It’s less a day of celebration, of course, than it is a reminder of the freedom that the googletubez provides to self-publish all sorts of inanity and foist jibberish upon unsuspecting websurfers who find themselves having mistakenly clicked into my little corner of the interwebz. Still, it’s one of my three favorite July anniversaries.

I remembered this belatedly because it was also around that time that I gave up my old rotary telephone and land-line.

Above: Phone sex just seemed ... better somehow back then.

Unfortunately, the reason that this occurred to me is that my cellular telephone is currently not in working order. As soon as it boots up and updates the time, it shuts down and reboots, cycling through its startup routine over and over again, until the last electron in the battery has left the cathode and the anode is bursting with negativity.

In other words, shit doan work.

There have been brief periods where I was rendered phoneless in my relatively short time here in the 21st century, but those times, while stress-inducing, were easily remedied by a quick trip to the local cellular telephone store to get a new SIM card. My current situation, however, requires that a replacement telephone be sent via over-the-ground delivery. Hello? M.I.T.? CalTech? Is anyone even working on teleportation these day? Where the hell are my tax dollars going, anyway?

Anyway, my not-so-enjoyable-to-speak-to service technician (who had quite an odd accent for someone name “Jane”) informed me that the replacement phone would arrive within 6 days.


One hundred and forty four hours of brutal isolation, of relentless loneliness with no interaction save the nonsensical voices in my head. I don’t even have a soccer ball to anthropomorphize! I mean, yeah, the Jews were out in the desert for forty years, but at least they could chat with each other to pass the time. My god, my god … o, that I had just one more day with my phone. I would cherish every syllable spoken, letting the smooth vowels wash across my ears like a lover’s touch on a soft cheek, anticipating the shock of the hard consonants with the giddiness that one does the impending submersion into a cold mountain lake just before splashdown. Phone, o sweet, sweet phone, on my good dog’s ashes, I promise that never again will I take you or what joy you bring for granted.

*lonely sigh ...*

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Under Pressure

I made my second trip to see Dr. Quacky McQuackenstine in as many weeks yesterday, though this time just for a regular ole checkup (the voodoo antidepressants don’t seem to be resolving my Meralgia Paresthetica, by the way). When you get to be my age, and various vulture-esque great-great-grandchildren email you scary videos and then call to see if you’re still alive on a daily basis, you start thinking about taking care of yourself.

Prior to the examination proper, a nurse asked a few questions and took my blood pressure and pulse. “Yeah, baby … it’s milkshake time!” she exclaimed after the test. “Excuse me?” I replied. “Oh, nothing … it’s just that whenever someone here takes a blood pressure that beats the current highest recorded, the other nurses have to buy her a milkshake. Congratulations … you’re the new number 1!” I can’t remember the exact numbers … something like 560/375 or some such thing.

So finally, McQuackenstine comes in and starts mumbling about and tapping his computer screen like he knows what he’s doing, and asks about my BP.

Q McQ: Your blood pressure seems a bit high … do you eat a lot of salty foods?

Dead Acorn: No, in fact, I do my best to avoid them.

Q McQ: I see. (taps on his computer, no doubt looking up on the internet what else could cause hypertension.) Are you under any stress lately?

Dead Acorn: Well, let’s see … my sprinkler system is all messed up, and I’m going to have to dig up my lawn to repair it.

Q McQ: Well, that doesn’t seem too …

Dead Acorn: And we just finished the fiscal year at work and I’m essentially doing the jobs of four people, as my new boss and coworkers are somewhat clueless.

Q McQ: I can understa …

Dead Acorn: And a friend of mine has been staying with me since the beginning of June, and will be there through the end of July.

Q McQ: That cou ..

Dead Acorn: And his 16-year-old kid.

Q McQ: Yes, I …

Dead Acorn: And their 6-month-old puppy.

Q McQ: Very we …

Dead Acorn: And you’re about to stick your finger up my ass perform a rather invasive colon cancer screening.

Q McQ: I don’t think you nee …

Dead Acorn: And The Live Acorn is going to New York City for three weeks without either parent.

Q McQ: But …

Dead Acorn: And I think I’m out of beer at home. And …

At this point, he got up and shuffled slowly out of the examination room, head hanging low, like George Costanza walking out of Steinbrenner’s office. He returned a few minutes later, actually performed the exam, then informed me that the nurse would be in shortly to take a blood sample for some other tests, and that he’d have her retake my blood pressure afterward.

The nurse came in and got through all of the preparatory procedures (tourniqueting up my arm, pouring some whisky over the vein, wiping the needle on her pants to clean it) … then proceeded to stab at my arm like Tony Perkins in “Psycho.” She wiggled the needle around under my skin for at least a minute, and had the temerity to blame me for “jumping like a little school girl crybaby and making [her] miss” on her first attempt. Granted, there may have been a violent recoil in anticipation of searing pain slight twitch, but she’s supposed to be a professional phlebotomist, not some sadistic stabstress.

She finally gave up on my left arm, which at this point was shredded and bloody (“I can’t use blood that’s already on the outside, silly!” she explained), and at last was successful drawing from my right. At this point, she remembered that she was supposed to retake my blood pressure, and proceeded to take the measurement. “OH MY GAWD!” she squealed. “TWO MILKSHAKES IN ONE DAY!”

I figured that it was time to take this seriously and start addressing the stress-inducing issues in my life, so I bought a keg on the way home.

I’m already down to 120/80.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I've Lost My Nerve

Well, I went to see my “doctor,” Dr. Quacky McQuackenstine, today. My left thigh has been numb and tingly* for a few months, but, you know, that $20 copay is a 30-pack of Bud Light with enough left over for a bag of peanuts, so I’ve kind of been putting the visit off.

Anyway, he came into the examination room after the AMA-required 45 minute delay had expired, and asked what’s bothering me. I told him that I’m quite disturbed that, by all accounts, President Obama is in violation of the War Powers Resolution by continuing hostilities in Libya, and furthermore, the Minnesota Twins seem to be waking up in the AL Central. “I … I mean with your leg. Jesus Christ.” he said, after a few moments of apparent confusion.

So I explained my symptoms, and … get this … he fired up the googletubez and searched online. Seriously. He diagnosed me using the same interwebs that I use to find talking dogs and pygmy goat porn. After a few pokes and prods that were presumably to give the impression that he was serving some purpose, he gave me the bad news:

Meralgia Paresthetica.

“How … how long do I have, doc?” I managed to ask through the sobbing. He rolled his eyes, muttered something that sounded like “jesus fucking christ, I could have been an accountant ...” and explained that there’s likely something pressing on the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve that innervates that area, and though it could be an issue at the L2-L3 disc, it’s more probable that it’s simply some pressure.

After about 5 minutes of weeping with ecstatic joy over learning that by god, by GOD! I WAS GOING TO LIVE!, and imagining all of the things that I was going to do, all of the places I was going to go, all of the things I was going to say to people that I should have said years ago, he started to explain the treatment:

Q McQ: Well, you should stop riding your bike for a while.

Dead Acorn: HAHAHAHAHA okay. And no more beer or watching baseball, right? HAHA thassa gooder.

Q McQ: Really. (Shows me the web page that specifically lists cycling as a potential cause.) The pedaling motion can put pressure on the area through which the nerve travels.

Dead Acorn: Well, paint me blue and throw me in the ocean!


Dead Acorn: Anything else?

Q McQ: Yes – I’ll give you a prescription for Tryptamine, which is an antidepressant, but can be effective in low doses for your condition.

Dead Acorn: How is it effective for a nerve problem?

Q McQ: We're not really sure.

Dead Acorn: So to sum up - I come in here with a numb thigh, and you tell me I can’t ride a bike and put me on voodoo antidepressants?

Q McQ: That is correct.

Dead Acorn: Would you mind if I just took a quick look at your license?

I hopefully look forward to this going away without too much more than a few weeks of pill-popping. Some other possible causes, according to the never-wrong googlewebz, are pregnancy, age, diabetes, and tight clothes - I’m pretty sure I’m not pregnant, I’m pretty sure I AM old, I have no idea about my situation re: diabetes, but I’m damn sure that my “doctor” would agree that it’s permissible for me to continue riding my bicycle as long as I get some of those loose-ass gangsta jeans that will hang down around my ass, like the kids wear.

Tru dat, yo. Word. Acorn OUT, bitchez. (I’ll need to practice my hep-cat phraseology so as not to appear silly on the streets.)

* The saddest thing about this is that I carry my cellular telephone in my left front pocket, so every time I feel a tingle, my heart soars and I get all giddy over the idea that someone wants to interact with me. No one ever does. Dang.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Politics Of Insanity

Idaho politics can be a very entertaining thing. Our state has a long history of sending whack-jobs to the U.S. Congress, from George Hansen (who tried to independently negotiate the release of the American hostages in Iran, and who later served 15 months in prison for failing to file disclosure forms), to Helen Chenowith (who claimed that the Feds were landing black helicopters in Idaho to enforce the Endangered Species Act), to Bill Sali (who introduced legislation to reduce the Law Of Gravity by 10%).

State-level politicians can provide laughs as well, as documented in today’s Idaho Statesman. It seems that a state senator got all liquored up after a round of golf, stole a truck and trailer, wrecked them, and appeared to be seeking The Promised Land. He also claimed that the robed woman into whose yard he crashed was an angel (the Statesman did not report on her attractiveness, so that cannot currently be verified).

Anyway, we haven’t had any awful poetry on The Dead Acorn for a while, so without further ado:

We've all played golf like John McGee,
and had too much at the 19th tee.
But angels he did claim to see ...
Was it alcohol? Or LSD?

Seeking God, he stole a truck
But crashed it quickly, darn the luck
So crazily, he ran amok
as his wife (full facepalm) muttered "ffffffuuuuuuuuuuck ..."

I sense that I can delete the “Income From Poetry Sales” line in my cash flow statement.

Monday, June 13, 2011

If It Weren't For Those Pedalling Kids ...

The Live Acorn and I rode in the Bob Lebow Bike Tour on Saturday. It’s a fundraiser for a Health Clinic in a nearby town that provides care and services to all, disirregardless of a patient’s ability to pay or insurance situation, yeah, yeah, it’s all goody-goody stuff, blah blah blah ... none of that noble charity crap, however, excuses them from creating the situation in which I got my ass kicked by a 15-year-old girl. That’s just bullshit.

I believe that this is the 6th year we’ve ridden it. There are a number of distances from which to choose: 3 miles (mostly training-wheeled 4-year-olds, though I did notice a couple of guys suspiciously sans children), 10, 35, 62, and 100 miles. The 10-miler seems kind of pointless (that’s basically 5 trips to the pub, only without beer), and the 62-miler … well, I’m not the athlete I once never was. So we’ve always gone the 35 mile route, and it’s worked out well (by “worked out well,” of course, I mean “I haven’t thrown up or died…”). Most importantly, I’ve been able to take it fairly easy, avoiding actual strenuousosityishness.

O, that I could live those days again. As it turned out, I got my hat handed to me. She was flying. I tried to be cool about things and all … you know, not gasping or crying, trying to maintain a conversation, but it hurt. In my defense, she wasn’t drunk hungover tired from feeding the orphans at the shelter into the wee hours the night before, and she was on a fairly new sweet ride that a friend had loaned her, whereas my old Colnago is literally twice her age, so as I do so often in all aspects of life, I’ll construct some internal fiction wherein I’m the victim, but yeah, I know … I got smoked. Damn it.

It brought memories of “The Great Santini,” in which Robert Duvall is finally bested by his son in one-on-one basketball, and I would have reacted similarly, except that my house doesn’t have stairs, and bouncing a bicycle off of her head from behind as she walked away seemed like a little too much work anyway.

I think next year, I’ll suggest we do the 3-miler, then loosen up her front quick-release so that her wheel falls off early on. That just might give me enough time to sprint across the line ahead of her.

There’s no shame in drafting off a 4-year-old, right?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Delicious But Anger Inspiring Taste Treat

I went to a potluck on Sunday to celebrate the birthday of a friend of mine, and to my utter shock and disbelief, someone I didn’t know became upset with me! Those of you who know me are likely thinking “Dead Acorn, given your annoying mannerisms and social ineptitude, I’m surprised that this doesn’t happen more often.” Those of you who do not know me are likely thinking the very same thing. To be honest, the relative infrequency of occurrences during which strangers react toward me with rage does surprise me a bit, and I must say that I’m impressed with the self-control of the populace at large.

Anyway, the strange thing about the whole situation was not so much that a stranger was upset with me, but the reason for the ire:


Yes, Jell-O – that wonderfully jiggly treat. (To my reader in Pocatello: yes, Jell-O can be eaten as a dessert. It’s not just for wrestling.) I had made up some Jell-O cups the evening before – not just any Jell-O cups, either, mind you! These Jell-O cups had a layer of green on the bottom, a layer of crushed walnuts in the middle, and a layer of red on the top, all topped off with whipped cream! They were spectacular! (Again, to my reader in Pocatello: Yes, whipped cream can be used outside of the bedroom.)

I arrived fashionably late, and placed the Jell-O cups in the fridge as my fellow party-goers “oohed” and “ahhed” at the magnificence of my contribution. I know that it was really the spoon of Jeebus that had stirred the Jell-O during its preparation, for the creation of such beauty is surely beyond my capabilities, but I cannot deny feeling a bit of pride. I’ll surely burn in hell for such a transgression, I know.

So toward the end of the evening, this gentleman, who had, I sensed, done more than his part to make sure that there would be no beers left over, started getting all up in my grill about making Jell-O cups. I thought he was being facetious at first, as being attacked as less than manly* because I made layered, walnut-infused Jell-O cups hadn’t really ever occurred to me as being possible. But serious he was, and I was told later that he had been pissed off about it since I first unveiled them. Odd.

Eventually, he left in the cab that was there for him. (One funny aspect of the story is that the cab driver came inside and had some dinner and chatted while he waited for this guy for about a half an hour, meter running all the while. He was quite a pleasant fellow.) I have to believe that there exists, somewhere in this stranger’s past, a tragic Jell-O-related tale underlying the day’s happenings. Perhaps he had always wanted a pony as a child, but never got one, and he believes that it was because Kraft Foods used all of the pony hooves to grind up for their product. Or maybe he lost a beloved pet in the Great Jell-O Flood of ought-two. In any case, I hope that someday he is able to face his demons.

I wonder if he listens to Dead Kennedys.

* Yes, that really seemed to be the issue. Seriously.