Friday, September 28, 2007

How I Roll: Ride, Sally, Ride

Excerpt from a recent conversation:

"I never knew you had a Mustang. When was this?"
"Early nineties."
"Why haven't you done a blog entry about it?"
"Well, that was when my cars stopped being so crappy, so it's harder to make them entertaining... although the roof did leak."
"Was it a convertible?"

And thus we have the return of the How I Roll series.

I don't remember if we sold the gold Cavalier or not. Some cars are like old underwear. They just sort of eventually disappear. But I do remember the day my parents asked, "Would you want a Mustang?"

The only other time I remember anything close to this happening in my life was when I was nine years old. I had been outside playing in the neighborhood. When I came home, my parents were standing beside the carport talking. They asked me, "Would you want an Atari?"

Of course I wanted an Atari! There wasn't even a question. That was like asking would you want to quit school, or would you want to visit the set of the Neighborhood Of Make Believe.

Likewise, there was no question I would want a Mustang. Especially considering my previous three cars had been a 1980 Monte Carlo, a baby blue Escort with louvers, and a gold four-door Cavalier.

Mind you, my parents asking would I want a Mustang did not equate to them buying me a Mustang. I made the payments. They just found it.

And so it came to pass that my fourth vehicle was a maroonish 1989 Ford Mustang. It was not a convertible. And it was not a 5.0. I was reminded of this when I got into a race with a Toyota Corolla one Friday night and only outran it by half a car-length. ("Oh yeah! Eat some of that 2.3 liter dust!")

However, the Mustang was my first car equipped with power windows. At last, I didn't have to feign power windows by inconspicuously cranking down the window without ever moving my shoulder.

More importantly, it was my first car with both fast forward and rewind buttons for the cassette player. Did it get any better in 1992? Not for me, it didn't.

Then there was the day when Dana Scarborough turned to me in Fundamentals Of Public Speaking and said, "I thought you might like to see these." Her perfect lips, dark sensuous eyes, long spiral-permed brown hair. It took me a few seconds to see the Mustang-related magazines in her hand. It was the first time I had ever been noticed for my car, in a positive light anyway.

I drove it for about two and a half years. Rumor had it that at the three-year mark, you were required to get a mullet, and I didn't want any part of that. Besides, by that time, I had started craving a Jeep Wrangler.

I don't remember a whole lot else about the Mustang. I remember the AC went out at some point. The handle on the glove compartment broke. Oh, and I ran over something coming home from work one night which dented up the plastic underneath the bumper pretty good. And of course, the roof leaked.

But only on the passenger side.

And only when it rained.

"I got a fuel injected engine sittin' under my hood. Shut it off, shut it off, buddy, now I shut you down..."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

3WW #54

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:

Perfume hint caught
Memory sparked
That year I was in love

Eager heart leapt
Lesson relearned
Forever is but a word

Freely falling fast
Feeling remembered
And missed

Past replaces present
Eyes now tightly closed
Smile grazes lips

Midnight phone calls
Sultry afternoons
Slinky black dress

Past recedes to past
I'll always believe
I loved you best

"Most of what I remember makes me sure, I should've stopped you from walking out the door..."

Friday, September 21, 2007

I wiki, therefore I am

I love wikipedia. To those who know me well, this comes as no surprise. Sometime during the past year, Wikipedia surpassed SportsCenter, Seinfeld, and John Tesh to become my number one source for information.

Terms spawned by Wikipedia have already become part of our daily vernacular. To wiki means to research or look up a topic on Wikipedia. Past tense, wiki'd. Present participle, wikiing. Plural form, wikies or wiki's.

Then, of course, there are other less known terms still waiting to make their way into common dialect. Terms like wikilicious, which is used to describe a fascinating, surprising, or otherwise extraordinary fact unearthed within the pages of Wikipedia.

"Did you know that Tom Wopat appeared in the Broadway revival of David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross?"
"Wow! That's wikilicious!."

I wiki most everything. Some days I spend indiscriminate amounts of time wikiing just for fun. Like last week, I wiki'd Jordache, you know, hoping for some sign that they may be coming back in style.

Here is what I learned about Jordache: "The brand is known for its designer jeans that were popular in the late 1970s."

Late seventies? I was wearing Jordache jeans in 1986 like they were going out of style! Which apparently, they were.

I'm not sure from whence my Wikipedia fascination comes. Perhaps it stems from the fact that we never had a complete and current set of encyclopedias when I was growing up. Dad's World Books were the 1959 edition.

Then I remember sometime in the 80's, Winn Dixie began selling encyclopedias. Ah yes, could there be a better plan? There's no place like your local supermarket to get your reference materials from.

You could buy a different volume every week or two. So Mom would buy them when she went grocery shopping. Then one week, she forgot, so we missed a volume. Then another. Long story short, in the end I could do a report on any topic as long as it didn't begin with a D, G, J-K, M, S, or W,X,Y,Z.

On top of that, they weren't World Books. Or even Encyclopedia Brittanicas. They were Funk & Wagnalls. Sounds more like a bad 70's band than an encyclopedia.

Or perhaps my fascination with Wikipedia and seemingly useless information is inherited. After all, I remember Dad spending countless hours every day in the bathroom reading his World Books. So in a way, when I'm wikiing, I'm only carrying on a family tradition.

Here's to Dad, the sanctity of a man's bathroom, and those who spend twenty hours a day editing Wikipedia. Oh, and also to John Tesh. You had a good run, but it's over, man.

Happy wikiing!

"My ergonomic keyboard never leaves me bored. Shopping online for deals on some writable media. I edit Wikipedia..."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

3 Word Wednesday LIII

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:

I've always felt awkward and out of place shopping alone, like there was a big flashing sign over my head that said, "Clueless!" Like I stuck out worse than a clothed person in a nudist colony.

I was always afraid I was going to be looking at something completely out of style, or worse, that I would be looking at clothes or shoes for women, without realizing it of course.

Some stores do not have different departments labeled clearly, some not at all. This particular establishment was one such place. There were several racks and tables of clothes not clearly labeled men's or women's. I figured maybe they were good for either sex, sort of like that CK1 scent back in the day.

I had just picked up a pair of pants when a salesgirl approached and asked if she could help.

"Well I'm... kind of looking for some workout pants." Figured I'd run it up the flagpole and see if it would fly.

"For yourself or..." she paused, awaiting my response.

At this point, I was no longer sure. If I said for myself and these were women's pants, I would look... well, odd. But if I said for my girlfriend and they were men's pants, I would just look stupid.

"Um, no, for someone else." I was quite pleased with my quick and carefully crafted ambiguous reply.

"Well, what size is she?" Aha! I had my answer. These were women's clothes. But now what? I knew my girlfriend was a nine, but I really did like these pants.

"Umm, actually, she's about my size." Suddenly, it felt like I was committing a crime.

"Oh," she seemed momentarily surprised, but quickly recovered. "Well, she's probably going to need an extra large then."

I wound up buying two pairs of women's workout pants that day. My paranoia eventually prevented me from ever wearing them out anywhere, but they were comfortable so I slept in them.

"I waited for an hour last Friday night, she never came around. She took almost everything from me. I'm going through my closets, trying on her clothes, almost everyday..."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Eight seconds

Author's note: The title of this post does not refer to the 1994 movie about rodeo legend Lane Frost. Although in my opinion that was Luke Perry's best, and come to think of it, only decent acting performance.

Well, my weekend involved golf and football. Hmm, I think I'm beginning to notice a trend here. Not that I'm complaining. It's much better than that Gilmore Girls phase I went thru.

Saturday I was in my happy place, as Renee refers to it, Tuscaloosa. That really is my happy place. I look forward to football season from January to August. And even during the season, I'm looking forward to watching the next game either in person or on TV.

This weekend, my beloved Crimson Tide took on their first ranked opponent of the young season, the highly touted Hogs of Arkansas. The game got off to a rousing start for those clad in Crimson, as Bama jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the 1st quarter.

But as the sun set on Tuscaloosa and the first touches of autumn coolness spread across the night, the tide turned. Thanks in part to three turnovers, a 31-10 lead quickly evaporated and then became a 38-31 deficit.

The once jubliant crowd was stunned and growing more concerned by the second as the clock ticked under 5 minutes to play. Then, the Tide turned.

A field goal cut the lead to 38-34. That was followed by a defensive stand which gave Bama the ball back with only 2:13 to play, 73 yards from the end zone, and with no timeouts remaining.

The final drive was tense, exciting, and a thing of beauty. When the final touchdown catch was secured, only eight seconds remained on the clock. And I guess the old stadium was as loud as I've ever heard her.

I assume the band played the fight song like they do after every score. But I couldn't say for sure.

Final score: Alabama 41, Arkansas 38.

We stopped off at a convenience store after the game to load up on junk food for the two hour drive home. The cashier was helping an older man in front of us. As she completed the transaction she told him to have a good night.

In a friendly Southern drawl, he replied dryly and sincerely, "I've already had one."

I could tell he'd been in his happy place, too.

"From Carolina down to Georgia, smell the jasmine and magnolia. Sleepy sweet home Alabama, Roll Tide Roll..."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

To caulk or ford?

Remember how it felt? Holding the reins. In control. Cruising cross country in the ol' Conestoga. Fording rivers. Repairing wagon tongues. Living off the land. Knowing everyone was depending on you.

I can only be referring to the Oregon Trail. No, not the major migration route used by pioneers traveling westward across North America over 150 years ago. Rather, I'm talking about the computer game based on that route.

I believe I was in middle school the first time I was introduced to the game. Who knew so much fun could be contained on a simple five-and-a-quarter inch floppy disk.

To me, the best part about Oregon Trail was the primitive navigation system on the Conestoga. It gave the date, weather, total distance traveled, distance remaining, distance to the next landmark, as well as how much food you had remaining. It even had that little map you could click on to see exactly where you were. The Conestoga was the Tahoe of the 19th Century.

Oregon Trail was educational as well as entertaining. It forced me to make choices, real life decisions. At least, they would have been real life decisions had I lived in 1840.

I learned that all farmers are poor, four oxen can pull a wagon faster than two, and squirrels are harder to shoot than buffalo, though buffalo provide more pure poundage of food.

On my way to the Willamette Valley, I also learned about death. Few things up to that point in my life were as heartbreaking as reading "Jimmy has died of dysentery" across the screen.

Best I could tell, dysentery and cholera were likely the two leading causes of death for Americans in the 1840's, with drowning a close third. Heck, I wouldn't even know what dysentery was if it weren't for the Oregon Trail. And I'm confident that knowledge played an integral role in my upbringing and development.

As with most things I ponder, certain questions eventually arise. And Oregon Trail is no different. For instance, what was the deal with this message: "You shot 1958 pounds of food, but were only able to carry 200 pounds back to the wagon."

If I'm in need of food, I'm bringing Annie, Mary, Little Susie, and Jimmy all off the wagon to help carry it. Well not Jimmy, bless his heart, may he rest in peace.

Either that, or I'll pull the wagon right up to the carcass. And if it won't hold all the food, we'll just camp there a few days and eat. We've got to rest anyway. Mary has a broken leg, and one of the oxen got lost.

"We lost a lot of steers that day, and four or five good mounts. But when all the boys rode into camp, we knew that's what counts..."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

3WW #52

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:

The original plan had been to pick up Marsha and bring her back to his house to listen to his new Manfred Mann album on the Hi-Fi. But things began to go awry when Woody put on the record and the needle skipped right to the end.

He tried again. Same thing.

Woody glanced nervously over at the blonde girl sitting on the sofa. There she was, the head cheerleader and bank president's daughter, looking like something out of a magazine he'd looked thru for the pictures but had never read. This date was a huge deal. At least that's what his friends kept saying.

Woody fished around in his pocket, retrieving a penny, which he put on the turntable arm. It was still skipping.

Darn that Clarence, Woody thought to himself, certain his little brother had been using his records as frisbees again.

"I'm sorry, Marsha. I guess the record got scratched. Do you want to listen to something else?"

"No. I really had my heart set on Manfred Mann."

"Oh, uh, I see. Well, would you like a soda or anything?"

"No. Could you just take me home?" She seemed put off by the whole episode. "If we leave now, I can still make it to Marcy McRae's party."

"Sure, I... guess so. Just let me tell Dad I'll be back in a few minutes."

Halfway across town, his parents' twelve-year-old Studebaker began making an awful racket.

"What's that noise?!" Marsha asked, covering her ears, a pained expression on her face.

"Uh, I'm not sure."

Woody stopped the car. He got out and opened the hood but had no idea what he was looking for. He walked around to Marsha's window.

"I guess we'd better walk the rest of the way to your house."

"That's eight blocks from here! It'll mess up my brand new shoes. I'm not walking that far. Besides it looks like rain."

Woody looked to the sky. She was right. About that time, Archie Wilson happened by in his new Mustang.

"Hey Marsha, need a ride?"

"Oh, I sure do," Marsha responded. "Thank heavens." As she got out of the Studebaker, she turned to Woody. "Thanks for the worst date ever."

She got in the car with Archie and they sped away. Woody rolled up the car windows and locked the doors. Then he began walking slowly towards home, disheartened. He barely noticed the soaking rain that had begun to fall.

It would take him three weeks to save up enough allowance to buy another Manfred Mann album.

"I could've been a good man, mmm yeah, a good man and not a jerk. If things could've been different, we coulda had some changes made. But you went away child. Lord knows you should've stay-ay-ayed..."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mulligans for everyone!

This makes me very happy. October 2nd!!!

Well, I finally did it. After a seven year hiatus, I have resumed my golfing career. Sunday afternoon, Little Joe and I "hit the links." That's slang for played golf... on a course, like with sand traps, trees, pitching wedges, golf carts, and stuff. Oh and mulligans. Lots of mulligans.

We "rode nine." That's slang for played nine holes with a golf cart. I don't think it truly hit me that I was back on the golf course until around the third hole. That's when I sailed consecutive tee shots into the same tree.

We're not talking up in the branches, either. We're talking into the trunk, maybe 18 inches across. And I hit it from fifty yards away. Twice. It's good to know all that time and money spent at the driving range was finally paying off.

Little Joe was a blast, as well. It was his first time to ever be on a golf course. Well, legally anyway.

I would stop the cart near his ball then walk to mine, expecting that by the time I got ready to hit, he would've already taken his shot. Yet everytime I got to my ball and turned around, he was either still taking one of his umpteen practice swings, or looking at me like he was waiting for the go ahead or something. I felt like a flagman on a carrier ship trying to give him the signal to "Hit your shot."

Not counting the four mulligans I took off the tee--because by definition, mulligans do not count--I shot a 51. Par was 36. Most importantly, I only lost three balls, which was really only two, because I could see one, I just didn't feel like getting my shoes all muddy to retrieve it.

One question did arise Sunday. I guess it would be a question of golf course etiquette. My cell phone rang three times and I received two text messages during my nine holes. I don't think I had a cell phone the last time I played. So what is proper golf etiquette? Are cell phones allowed on the course?

I kinda hope they are, because I found out yet another thing I like about golf Sunday. When someone calls and asks what I'm doing, I like the coolness factor of being able to say, "I'm on the golf course."

"I think it turned ten o'clock but I don't really know. Then I can't remember caring for an hour or so..."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Opening up the AT40 Vault

(The setting: A football game. During a break in the action, cheerleaders began throwing t-shirts into the stands. None of them are quite reaching our seats on the eighth row...)
Axl: "Aw man. This sucks! What they need is one of those slingshots to get the shirts up here."
Bone: "Yeah. Or a cannon."
Axl: "No, they don't need a cannon, just one of those big slingshots. Two girls hold the ends and one pulls back in the middle-"
Bone (interrupting): "I'm aware of how a slingshot works."
Random guy in front of us who has apparently been eavesdropping laughs heartily.

Driving home Friday night, I was scanning the radio when I came across a station playing "Everybody Wants To Rule The World." Obviously, I stopped scanning. When the song was over, a familiar voice came on, a voice I hadn't heard in many years. It was the voice of Casey Kasem.

It seems I'd found the American Top Forty Countdown. Yes! I thought. No more Ryan Seacrest. Casey's back! But why is he playing Tears For Fears? I hadn't really been listening closely, so I figured it was probably a countdown flashback, like the number one song twenty years ago this week or something. A commercial came on next, but I couldn't turn away from that voice.

Casey Kasem was as much a part of my formative years as Bob Barker, General Hospital, and riding around in the car everytime there was a tornado warning. He's the main reason I keep my feet firmly planted on the ground, my inspiration to keep reaching for the stars.

In ninth grade, I would lie in bed every Sunday night listening to the countdown on my Sony Walkman. OK, so I didn't really have a Sony Walkman. I had an off brand imitation Walkman, but do we really have to get into that here?

The countdown would go off around midnight and I would drift off to sleep shortly thereafter. The next day at school, I would ask my friends if they heard something Casey had said on the countdown, or if they heard what the number one song was that week. Time and again, their answer was no.

Anyway, back to Friday night. When the commercials were over, the countdown came back on at number twenty-three. Casey said, "Here's Englishman Howard Jones with Things Can Only Get Better."

Whoa-oh, oh oh oh, whoa-oh oh oh, I was blown away! In addition to Tears For Fears and Howard Jones, I heard Donna Summer, Depeche Mode, and DeBarge. And not even a real popular DeBarge song, but "Who's Holding Donna Now!" I was in Frequency Modulation Heaven.

Casey came on saying it was the top forty countdown from July 13, 1985! What was going on? Had I hit 88 miles per hour and gone back in time while driving down the interstate? I looked around. Lots of SUV's, no Chevettes. No, this was still 2007.

Finally, a promo came on the station. They were having a Casey Kasem marathon weekend! When one countdown went off, another would come on. When I was a little boy listening with my headphones--of which the foam pads had come off, so the hard plastic hurt my ears--everytime the countdown would go off, I would wish it wasn't over. And now, those dreams were finally coming true, albeit twenty years later and only for one weekend.

I didn't want to go home. I just wanted to ride around in my car and listen to Casey all night long. But then I calculated that at 60 miles per hour and 28 miles per gallon, assuming the average song was four minutes long, and with gas at $2.59 a gallon, each song was costing me about thirty-seven cents. So I said good night to Casey.

When I got home, I wiki'd a few things and discovered some radio stations are airing Casey's countdowns from the 70's and 80's once a week! American Top Forty: Eighties can be heard on great radio stations around the land like Magic 97.9, WMGA, Huntington, West Virginia; Classic hits 94.3 The Fox, in Traverse City, Michigan; and 106.1, KQLL, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Now on with the countdown...

"People are people, so why should it be, that you and I should get along so awfully..."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

3 Word Wednesday LI

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:

Needless to say, I was perplexed when Roger came in lugging a twenty pound potato sack filled with sunglasses. There was no need for me to say anything, the look on my face said it all, and elicited an immediate response.

"No, look! I've got Wayfarers, Ray Bans. I've even got those fold-up Ferraris we used to love."

He spoke as if his words would somehow convince me that this was the plan that was finally going to make money.

Well, what did I care. It was his money. I knew they'd eventually wind up in the storage room alongside his other wild ideas: the ant farm start-up-kits, the boxes of cassettes and cassette singles, and the stockpile of "slightly irregular" Members Only jackets he was so certain were going to make a comeback.

"I'll be right back. I've got two more sacks out in the car."

When he left the room, I picked up one of the fold up Ferrari cases, examined it for a few seconds, then shoved it in my coat pocket.

After all, you never know.

"I can see you, your brown skin shining in the sun. You got that hair slicked back and those Wayfarers on..."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Grillmaster B

"And so, in honor of the laborer, we do hereby create Labor Day. It shall be a day of rest, upon which the laborer may eat, watch TV, and nap liberally and unashamedly." ~ An unknown 21st Century blogger

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day. My day began at the crack of 11:45 AM, with the first order of business being grill assembly. Well, actually the first order of the day was eating a toaster strudel, followed by the second order of the day, showering. But you get the idea.

Once I unpacked the grill and unfolded the instructions, I saw that there were no words, just pictures. Tiny diagrams filled with numbers, dotted lines, and arrows. It looked like a cross between a blueprint and a rebus.

Assaying the situation, I knew that what I had hoped to be a late lunch was most likely going to turn into supper. Or at the very least, lupper. It was an accurate assumption on my part.

The grill was completed around 2:00. It felt good to have assembled something and for once in my life not have any parts or pieces left over. I feel things like this prepare me for when I begin to replenish the Earth with my seed and have to assemble things like cribs, swingsets, and diapers.

Now that the grill was standing on four legs and did not appear as if it was going to fall, it was time to put on my proverbial chef's hat and begin my transformation to Grillmaster B (not to be confused with Grandmaster B, Thighmaster B, or Bed Wetter B).

Every man believes he has an innate and extraordinary talent for grilling, that within each of us lies an ability to achieve pyro-culinary greatness. And I am no different.

There seem to be fewer opportunities in this day and age for a man to find his inner caveman, but grilling is one of those. There is something inherently manly about cooking over an open fire. Something very primitive about providing food for the entire cave.

Standing there yesterday donning my khaki Gilligan hat, wielding a set of tongs in one hand and wearing a decorative pot holder on the other, I can honestly say that I've rarely felt more like a man.

For yesterday, I grilled.

Then I napped.

I am man. Hear me snore.

"And as I think back, makes me wonder how the smell from a grill could spark up nostalgia..."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

September Saturdays

Football season starts today! In celebration--and also thanks to Labor Day--I'm in the midst of a four-day weekend. By the way, how long does a weekend have to be before it stops becoming a weekend? I mean, if I took Tuesday off as well, would that be a five-day weekend? At some point, don't you just have to say you took a week off?

Football doesn't signal the beginning of Fall, but serves more as a harbinger of it. Summer is slowly tiring. The weather is still hot, but the days are growing shorter. Today, we'll be in shorts and short sleeves. But soon, we'll be in jeans and long sleeves, the familiar autumn chill evoking thoughts and memories and feelings as only it can.

Today the population of Tuscaloosa will swell from 80,000 to 180,000 or more. People will arrive hours before kickoff. Some arrived days in advance. The streets will be buzzing with activity, the campus redolent with the smell of barbecue and burgers.

The stadium will be packed in anticipation not just of a new season, but of a new coach and a new era, hopefully one that awakens feelings and memories of an earlier time.

They'll strike up the band and the players will run onto the field, a sea of crimson spreading across the lush green. Both occurrences will elicit cheers from the crowd while at the same time bringing chill bumps to many in attendance.

There will be sons and daughters attending their very first game, and others who haven't missed a game in years. They'll sit next to each other, young and young at heart, decked out in their crimson, gray, and white, donning their houndstooth caps.

But all will share the same burning hope and desire. To watch the Tide roll on a Saturday evening in Tuscaloosa.

"Well, there's a football in the air, across a leaf blown field. Yeah, and there's your first car on the road, and the girl you'd steal..."