Thursday, January 27, 2011

C'mon, Be A Good Sport

I watched a video the other day that made me very sad. It showed a young girl extremely upset about the outcome of the Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers National Football Conference Championship game, in which her beloved Bears were cheated out of a berth in this year’s NFL Super Bowl. Get a box of tissues and take a moment to view it:

Click here for video sadness ...

Being a Bears fan as well, I certainly agree with her sentiments (and, in fact, had a similar outburst after the game), but the reason the video brought me such sorrow was the complete dereliction of duty on the part of the "father" to instill rabid fanaticism in his child for the same sports franchises that he holds dear.

I know from whence I speak, for I too am blessed with a daughter. In sharp contrast to the “father” in the video, however, I realize that the primary responsibility of a parent is to imprint their beliefs and opinions onto a child, allowing no room for dissent or free thought. If you want to be questioned, ignored, shunned, and treated as if every word you say merits debate and discussion, if not outright ridicule and derision, you should get a dog.

As evidence I offer this photograph, showing The Live Acorn a number of years ago at a baseball game between my beloved World Series Champion (1948) Cleveland Indians and the Seattle Mariners:

Above: Differences in team allegiance are overcome by disdain for dorky parents who insist on taking dorky pictures. Note the exuberance on their faces, and … hey, why does that kid have the back of his hand turned toward me?

Despite an impenetrable language barrier, the boy’s father and I seemed to appreciate each other’s understanding of the parental role in instilling in a child blind devotion to a team, even if it means breaking said child’s sense of independence and perhaps damning any hope of real autonomy to the waste can of what-ifs, to be dealt with during countless future therapy sessions.

The language barrier was due, by the way, at least from what I’ve since been told, not to the other dad's lack of English proficiency, but rather to the fact that it was in the later innings of a game at which beer was sold, and I couldn’t form a sentence to save my life.

So parents, take heed: Dress your kids up properly, get them the right color of facepaint, teach them the fight songs – you’ll have no shot at Parent Of The Year unless you’re willing to go all the way. Except if you’re a Yankees fan. Then I’m calling Social Services.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Birthday (You Know, Whenever It Is ...)

I’m not good with dates.

“Well, duh …” you’re most assuredly saying, if you happen to be one of the unfortunate people with whom I’ve asked to spend time in a social setting or public place with romantic or other I-know-I’m-a-dork-but-I-like-you-more-than-just-as-a-friend-so-how-‘bout-dinner? intentions (Eileen - the Downtown Alliance dropped all charges, and I’m sure you would be able to go in to most establishments without too much embarrassment now).

“Well, duh …” you’re most assuredly saying, if you happen to be one of the unfortunate people who was asked to taste-test my attempt at making wine from dates (Sandy - my heartfelt condolences and best wishes on your continued recovery).

However, in this case, I’m referring to the fact that there’s a 50% chance that today is my brother’s birthday (it's either today or was three days ago). In my defense, I should say that I’m fairly certain no one in my family is positive, including him, whether it’s the 21st or the 24th, due in large part in toto, I’m sure, to the fact that our mother was often uncertain herself (this was most likely attributable to my brother being the firstborn and our mother having used a FOFF (first occurring, first forgotten) technique of memory management).

Prior to last Friday, I would have bet a buck on it being the 24th, but I logged in to the Facebook thingy that day, and saw an announcement that it was, in fact, the 21st. “Hunh.” I said to myself. My first thoughts were that it must be true, since 1) it’s on the internet, and 2) he himself would have been the one to have entered it. My certainty was almost immediately eroded, however, as 1) several sports sites on the googletubez claim that the Green Bay Packers were victorious in their battle against the Chicago Bears yesterday, which is, of course, utter bullshit (shut up shut up I can't hear you lalalalalala), and 2) my brother is well capable of, and inclined to, perpetrating pointless but ingenious hoaxes such as this with my further confusion as his only goal (he and my older and younger sisters are the smart ones in the family).

Anyway, I called him on the 21st, and I’ll call him again tonight, so I guess he gets his precious two Happy Birthdays. As for me, I guess being confused over a couple of days is better than not knowing what month it is, so I’ll take it as a plus. Who knows? Maybe five or ten years from now, I'll try making wine again.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Buck Stops Here

Oh deer ...

The first time I came across a deer on my ride to work, I was all atwitter about the encounter, thinking “gosh, I must be the only person, like, EVAH, to see a deer on my way to work!” After a couple of more sightings, my amazement shifted toward amusement (while still maintaining my appreciation for the environment in which I am fortunate enough to live, as evidenced, on those occasions, by utterances such as “whoa. That’s pretty fucking cool. I am fortunate to live in an environment such as this.”

But now I see them for what they really are: giant annoying squirrels. Rodent ruminants, if you will. They’re starting to get a bit sassy, too … why, just last week, I was cruising along the path early in the morning, marveling at the dense fog which had blanketed the landscape, and which reminded me of the movie An American Werewolf In London (keep to the roads … stay off the Moors …), which further led me to imagine how delicious a tasty pint down at The Slaughtered Lamb would be (they aren’t open at 6:30 am, but my tastebuds wear no watches) … when I was snapped back to reality as I came around a corner and nearly broadsided a doe. “D’oh!” I muttered.

She stood there and looked at me for a few seconds, from about 5 feet away, then slowly walked toward the grass and started nomming away. I rode past about another 15 feet, turned around, and saw that there were five of them having breakfast together in a little group. They didn’t seem all that interested in me, except for the one with the horn thingies (the boy deer, I’m pretty sure), so I took my backpack off and got my cellular phone out, as it’s equipped with a camera as well, thinking I’d snap a few photos.

A couple of minutes had gone by at that point, and the boy deer kept staring at me, which started to creep me out a little bit (what if he was a were-deer? AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ROAD?). Finally, I put my phone away and got my backpack on, and was getting ready to continue down the path, when he lifts up his front leg, puts his hoof up to his face, then points it at me. That threw me a little, and I wasn’t sure what it meant, until I realized that he was doing that eye-finger-point thingy that’s supposed to be some kind of intimidating gesture. (Even though deer have cloven hooves, he wasn’t really spreading them apart like you see in the movies, so I was a little slow on recognizing the threat.)

Having just gotten home from The Fireside Tavern four hours earlier, I was feeling a bit bold and feisty, so I sez to him, I sez “You wanna piece of me, Vinnie?” That was intended as short for “venison,” which I thought quite clever for that time of the day – I’m not sure if he caught it or not, and in truth, it mattered not, because my next remark, which suggested that Bambi’s mom died in a fire because she was a whore, as is prescribed in Leviticus, seemed to push all of the buttons he had to push.

Luckily, I was able to clip in to the pedals without falling over several times, as I normally do, and I only felt his hooves scrape my back once. I do feel bad about having escalated a situation in which we both should have been able to peacefully coexist. Not too bad, though … I mean, they’re merely oversized squirrels, right? I just hope his buddy Moose doesn’t show up anytime soon.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bad Poetry (Emo Valentine's Edition)

[UPDATE:] It's been pointed out to me that the current month is, in fact, not February, but January, which somewhat explains Niahm B's comment expressing surprise about how far ahead temporally the US is compared to Ireland. I blame a combination of the shift in zodiac signs and Absynthe.

the bed

i try to sleep, near the edge
as close as I can without falling
it was meant for two, not one
for us, not me
and lying there alone
i feel like a trespasser in my own house
it is not my place, and after fitful hours,
i fumble through the dark and find the couch
and settle for a tenuous sleep, my longings masked
by the noise of late night television

I could SO ace 10th grade poetry class. Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's The Big One, Elizabeth!

I almost had my first and second heart attacks of the young year this morning, both (almost) occurring within a 5-minute time span. I had decided to finally get off my lazy ass and ride my bike to work, disirregardless of the Weather Bunny’s admonition that even two minutes spent outside at these temperatures would result in the rapid formation of ice crystals in one’s alveoli, causing a quick but extremely painful death.

I assumed that the bike path would be empty, since, you know, what kind of idiot would be out at 6:00 am on a moonless night in -40 F (-40 C) weather? Einstein is often alleged to have said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results, on a moonless night in -40 F (-40 C) weather,” and he was right more often than not (or so I’ve been told). Anyway, I wasn’t too concerned with encountering others, instead focusing on not screaming out in pain with every breath as my lungs cycled between icing up and thawing out.

I sure as hell wasn’t expecting to come across a killer ninja and his deadly kimodo dragon, which was the cause of near-heart attack #1. You may be thinking to yourself “umm, Dead Acorn, are you sure it wasn’t just a guy wearing dark clothes walking his black lab, as is quite common in that area?” Look, I know what I saw, okay? It was a goddamned ninja and his dragon.

Near-heart attack #2 happened a bit further up the path, when a guy I didn’t see, sitting on a bench, said “good morning” an assassin leapt out of the bushes with a machete trying to behead me. I have really got to start being a little more aware of my surroundings. Given my past, I'm surprised that there aren't more attempts on my life.

Other than that, the ride was a success ... one of the reasons I elected to bike in was to test the shoe-cover/booty/foot-warmer thingies that I had purchased on Craigslist last year, and indeed, my little piggies were just as roasty-toasty as could be! The other reason is that the fan belt on my car makes a really loud banshee-esque screeching noise when it's this cold out, and my neighbors have made some surprisingly detailed threats about what will happen if I start it up at that hour one more time.

Mrs. Hamilton can be very intimidating for a nonagenarian.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Following Post Has Been Tape Delayed

Let me make this clear: I love duct tape. I always have and I always will. I’ve worn a duct tape sports jacket, I currently have a duct tape wallet, and I’ve read the stories of how duct tape saved the Apollo 13 astronauts and how it can remove warts. Why, just this Christmas, I used it to fashion an emergency oil cap on the drive back from Salt Lake City, after the original one was removed by vandals shortly after I checked the fluids (I clearly remember replacing it after adding a quart, so the only possibility is foul play). That led to this exchange at a gas station in Burley, Idaho:

The Live Acorn: Dad, why are you duct taping the engine?

Me: Well, it ain’t gonna duct tape itself!
Given my lifelong devotion, I’m sure you can understand how disturbed I felt upon my first encounter with Gorilla tape. It was just a chance occurrence – dear god, you have to believe me when I said I never meant for it to happen – I must have been preoccupied with other matters, and I simply grabbed what I thought was a roll of regular duct tape off the shelf. O cruel Fate … what treasure do you gain by your devious trickery?

It was several days before I realized what I had done. I had run out of duct tape mid-job (I can’t recall exactly what I was doing … wrapping presents? splinting a broken finger? no matter, I guess …) and peeled the plastic packaging off of the new roll. “Odd,” I thought. “This tape is black, whereas I was expecting the almost-universally-recognized classic grey.”

And then, using my thumbnail to pry a corner up, I peeled a strip back, and my world was changed. The sound of the adhesive being torn from the layer below was a lower, richer sound than to which I was accustomed – a bold cello, rather than a shrill viola – and the weight! The weight of the fabric was at least three times that of its ductal cousin, and the adhesive itself was tackier than a Garden City bride wearing white.

It felt as though I was taping for the first time again. For a week or two, all I wanted to do was tape things. I called in sick to work, and bought roll after roll, with wanton disregard for my credit card balance. Gorilla tape was strong and I felt alive and on fire and I loved it for that …

… and then came a project that snapped me out of it. I wanted to fashion a restrictive harness for the Hell Hound’s tail, so that she could still wag, but like a regular dog, so that she wouldn’t clear the coffee table as she walked by. Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a working design. The Gorilla tape was just too rigid; too unforgiving. After fitful days of fruitless attempts, I was struck with the realization that it was my first love, standard duct tape, that I needed, that it was just flexible enough to provide both strength when required and adaptability to the inevitable little changes that should be expected, rather than met with demands of everlasting fixedness. What could I have been thinking to cast it aside, to spurn it without a second thought as to our storied history together?

For those sensing some sort of metaphor here, well, sorry to disappoint, but I now keep a roll of each handy, and use either depending on the task and my mood, which I strongly discourage as a philosophy toward other human beings and your relationships with them. Unless you’re some kind of narcissistic asshole, I guess.

Monday, January 3, 2011

What We've Got Here Is A Failure To Communicate

There’s certainly more than enough that’s been written about communication issues between parents and their teenaged offspring, and far be it from me to waste both valuable googletubez space and your precious time by dwelling on the subject too long, so I’ll make this brief. The following is a text message exchange that occurred yesterday between me and The Live Acorn:

Live Acorn: Can you take of home today

Dead Acorn: I don’t know what that means.

LA: Will you take of from your house to my moms tonight

DA: That sentence still doesn’t make sense … What do you want me to do?
(a few minutes go by …)

DA: So what’s the story?

LA: Soon ish can you pick me up

DA: Live Acorn … I still don’t understand what you want me to do. Write a txt explaining exactly what you’re asking.

LA: Give me a ride

DA: Live Acorn … Write a long txt. When, from where, to where, and what’s going on later.

LA: Jeez to my moms from my friend jessicas

DA: I don’t know where she lives, and you haven’t said what time.

LA: Its on hill road.

DA: Address and time. Is this really that hard?

LA: No don’t pick me up then sorry

DA: Live Acorn … I will pick you up. I just need to know an address and time. Can it be like 5:30?
(some time later …)

DA: Where are you?

LA: Home

DA: I don’t understand how I can ask 5 times for a time and an address and you DON’T tell me.

I’m not really sure what else to say. The next time you see me looking frustrated and confused, though, there’s a good chance that I’ve been trying to talk to a teenaged girl.