Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve, 1985

Christmas has come too fast again. Not that I'm not ready for it to get here. I'm just not ready for it to be gone. I still remember when it didn't come very fast at all...

In 1985, I was twelve and time was slow. Thirty seemed light years away and forty had never crossed my mind. It was impossible to imagine myself as an adult. Though some might tell you it still is.

In 1985, both of my grandmothers were still alive. But oh, how I took that for granted back then. Dad would go and get his mother and bring her to the house on Christmas Eve day. She would have gifts for us -- and they would be really bad gifts like tube socks with big red stripes around them. But it shouldn't have mattered because she had picked them out for us when Dad took her shopping solely for that purpose. I hope I thanked her for whatever bad gifts she got me that year, and I hope I acted like I liked them, because that was the last Christmas we ever got to spend with her.

In 1985, Mom and Dad were still young, and still together. And if I could have picked one of those to never change, I'm not sure which I'd choose.

In 1985, my sister was five. She hadn't yet become the major annoyance she soon would be. Little did I know we would someday become actual friends. And the thought of her being a mother, well that was as far from my mind as a thing could be.

In 1985, fave cousin was seven. War was a game we played with toy guns or plastic soldiers. And Afghanistan was a place I had never even heard of, much less ever thought he would someday go.

In 1985, I was pretty sure no matter how good or bad I may have been that I was getting toys. But there was that tiny one-percent part of me that was still afraid I might wake up to a bag of switches beneath the tree.

In 1985, however fast or slow the rest of the year passed, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed like a year unto itself.

In 1985, tonight -- Christmas Eve -- would be the longest night of the year. I would toss and turn and do my best to keep my ears open for any sound of Santa and his reindeer. But of course, it's the first great catch-22 of life -- you want to stay awake until he comes but he won't come until he knows you're sleeping. And he always knew.

In 1985, I must have closed my eyes, and though I could swear it was only for an instant, twenty-five years came and went.

"If heaven was a town it would be my town, on a summer day in nineteen-eighty-five. And everything I wanted was out there waiting. And everyone I loved was still alive..."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

While visions of lap desks danced in his head...

Every year while Christmas shopping, I usually wind up buying a gift or two for myself. After all, isn't that what the holidays are all about? No? Well, forget I said that. Anyway, I'd done really well this year, not buying myself a single thing. Until last week.

That's when I discovered what is quite possibly the greatest invention since the automatic paper towel dispenser: the lap desk.

Have you heard of these things? Sounds a little like lap dance, but it's much more satisfying. It's like silk underwear for your laptop! Not that I wear or endorse silk underwear, but I imagine it would be a luxurious and quite delightful experience. There's even a place for a beverage! If I could somehow attach a mini-fridge, I'd have it all.

Remarkably, I did manage to leave the laptop for a little while this past weekend, though I'm not quite sure how. I think I must have reached the end of the internet or something. The weekend consisted of caroling, driving around looking at Christmas lights, and that most treasured of holiday tradition -- bowling.

Caroling was a bit of a different adventure this year than last. The main difference being we didn't get the van with the seats in it this year. Instead we took my cousin's company van. He owns a dry cleaning business, and the only thing in the back of the van were two rods for hanging clothes.

So there were seven of us piled on the floor in the back of a van. At least it was carpeted. It had a very nativity-esque feel to it, I thought. If the wise men were traveling today, I feel confident in saying this is how they'd roll.

Saturday night, I managed to get the Darryls together to go bowling. I nearly split my yule log when I saw the rates: $5.25 a game, plus $4 for shoe rentals! Evidently bowling has gone the way of Red Lobster and is now only for the upper class.

Everyone agreed this was an outrage, especially Wolfgang who was there with his new wife and newly acquired children in tow. So I called the ghetto bowling alley to check rates. It was a good bit cheaper and, not surprisingly, they had plenty of lanes available, so off we went. This place was a tad scary, but with my street cred at an all-time high I figured we'd be OK, and we were.

Finally, for any who might be wondering, I will be hosting my annual Festivus celebration Thursday night. Every year, I keep thinking this is the year I won't do it. After all, how long can one man celebrate a fake holiday from a TV show that went off the air 12 years ago? Well apparently, at least six years in a row.

Maybe this is my ticket into the Guinness Book -- most consecutive years hosting a Festivus party. Then perhaps "Silver Pole" will find its way into Wikipedia, thus ending both of the great quests of my life. Of course, then I'd have to come up with new life goals for myself, and that could take a while.

Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus to one and all. Here's hoping you don't have to fight your father in the feats of strength this year.

"There'll be meatloaf, maybe pizza, at the Festivus meal. After grievances aired, hearts are heavy. Then it's time for Feats of Strength, it's Frank Costanza's big scene. Festivus won't be o'er 'til someone's pinned..."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snow, patrol

I'm not sure wherefore to beginneth today. Dost I tellest thou about my latest run-in with the law (yes, I'm serious), or my real-life Christmas movie moment?

I'm guessing you want the deets on my most recent legal troubles first. So here goes. It was Friday night and we were putting up my Christmas tree. Or as they say on the streets, laying down evergreen on a vertical tip. I had TSO blasting at a moderate level of 7 on my Phillips 10-inch SFS's (street slang for Standard Factory Speakers).

Next thing I know, fuzz be ringin' my doorbell again. And by "again," I mean, "for the first time in ages". Apparently, the neighbors complained that the music was too loud and they were trying to sleep. On Friday night. At 10 PM. "I'll take care of this," I said to the popo. Then I promptly went straight over to the stereo and cut the volume down to an only-dogs-can-hear-it volume of 3.

If you're keeping score, or just entering data into my personal criminal record, that's two confrontations with police in the last three weeks -- one "following too closely" and one "disturbing the peace."

Basically, I'm the bad boy of the blogosphere. I just hope they have Wi-Fi in the hoosegow, because that's obviously where I'm headed.


Sunday afternoon, I attended the TSO concert in Nashville. It was another phenomenal show. TSO is one of those groups that, when you see them live, makes you want to become a musician. And they must have brought the weather with them from Siberia because Nashville wound up getting two to three inches of snow.

Two to three inches of snow in the South is like a foot or more anywhere else. Restaurants close early. Schools close at even the possibility of snow. And if it's snowing, then the stores have already long since run out of milk and bread. Not to mention the traffic. Cars are sliding everywhere. People are out pushing. We must have passed ten cars that had run off the road.

And all I can say is it was, in a word, gorgeous.

It's not often, if ever, that I've gotten to enjoy a white Christmas. But walking down the streets of Nashville -- with the snow-covered roof of the old Ryman towering over the bars of Lower Broadway, the stores all in their holiday trim and with Christmas music playing, and the snow falling fast and almost sideways -- for a moment it was like a scene out of virtually every Christmas movie I've ever seen. An image from any of a thousand Christmas cards.

No, it wasn't quite yet Christmas Day. But it was most definitely Christmas.

"And maybe down in Memphis, Graceland's all in lights. And in Atlanta, Georgia, there's peace on earth tonight. Christmas in Dixie. It's snowin' in the pines..."

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The day I met Larry David

I have an announcement to make. No, nobody's pregnant. Why does nobody ever guess that?

I have gathered you here today to announce that for the first time in my life, I have... wait for it... a laptop.

It's a hand-me-down, which was pretty much dead. So I guess that makes it more of a throwaway. Remember when you were young and you would cruise the city streets looking for an old couch someone had set out on the curb that you could pick up after dark and carry back to your place so that you would have an actual piece of furniture? Well, this laptop is my present-day couch on the curb.

I should start off by saying I'm no computer expert. Well, to some people I am: my family, most girlfriends, LJ, everyone at work. My knowledge of computers is similar to my knowledge of cars, in that I know enough to think I can fix what's wrong, and can usually at least attempt to fix it without making things even worse.

As I stated, this one was pretty much dead. The lights would come on, but the operating system would never load and the screen was blank.

A few weeks ago, skating right through that gray area of the - quote - "law," I was able to procure a Windows CD. After several hours over a couple of days, I managed to get something on the screen which resembled Windows, but seemed to only have about 10% of the familiar Windows components installed. For example, the Recycle Bin was the only icon on the entire screen, there was no wireless adapter showing in the control panel, and there was no sound. You know, minor things like that.

Well, what is the point of having a computer with no internet? So I set it aside and decided a new laptop was probably going to be my only option. Day after day I would see it just sitting there in the living room floor, calling to me. (Obviously not literally, as the sound still didn't work.)

Normally, I give up rather easily on anything I can't figure out within a couple of hours. Well, other than golf and girls. But once in a great long while, when the moon and Uranus are both aligned in the third quadrant of the red sun, my propensity for giving up easily is matched, yea, superseded by my stubbornness and unwillingness to admit defeat.

This normally only happens when I'm doing something I think a man should be able to do -- such as installing a car stereo or finding an intended destination without stopping to ask for directions. It happened again this past Monday night. I turned on the laptop to try it one more time.

And wonder of wonders, it worked! A more complete looking Windows came up, though there was still no sound or wireless adapter. So yesterday I consulted a friend who's a bit higher on the computer food chain than I. And through some website that seemed legal, if not entirely in English, I was able to download the necessary drivers.

After umpteen hours of mental sweat and only intermittently wavering dedication -- which is probably the most I've ever worked on any one thing in my life -- I had a working laptop, with Windows, and access to the internets!

Amazing laptop, how sweet the sound! It once was dead, but now is alive. Had no sound, but now can speak. Not that I'm some kind of computer messiah. Not even an apostle. Just one of the multitudes. Sittin' near the back, munching on some loaves and fishes, and spittin' 70 wpm on his slightly used Toshiba.

To say it has been a long and arduous process would be an understatement. Actually now that I look up the definition of "arduous" I guess it's not really that much of an understatement after all. Maybe even an overstatement. Let's call it a labor of love.

Now I can get online anywhere and everywhere! The bed, the couch... OK, so just the bed and the couch, but still! I can surf the 'net AND watch ESPN at the same time! I haven't been this excited about technology since I first played Oregon Trail. I mean, I'm blogging from bed, people!

Did I ever tell you about the day I met Larry David? Well, I always thought the day I finally meet Larry David would be the happiest day of my life. But I was wrong. It's this.

The only possible issue I can foresee is motivating myself to ever move from this position.

"Cause even on a slow day, I can have a three way, chat with two women at one time. I'm so much cooler online..."

Friday, December 03, 2010

The pilot

You guys really have me thinking about this reality show idea. I've been trying to figure out who I would get to narrate it. While Bill Curtis might seem like the obvious choice initially, I'm afraid he might be a bit too dramatic. You know, for a reali-com. (I just invented that term.)

I'm thinking maybe Mark-Paul Gosselaar. After all, he is the man who gave me the best nine minutes of my life. Also, just once I'd like for him to call me "Preppy." Of course, I'll need a backup plan in case he's unavailable. And if finding a narrator for my own reality show is anything like finding a date for senior prom, I'll need three or four backup plans.

While I continue to ponder this, as well as possible title ideas, I've decided to do a test run to see what an episode of the Bone reality show might include. Today I will be doing a written storyboard, if there is such a thing, of Bone's Thanksgiving Week. Consider this sort of a faux-pilot, purely for my benefit. As well as any TV execs who might be reading.

Today's episode of A Show With No Name begins with Bone on his way to pick up Nephew Bone for a trip to Chuck E. Cheese on Tuesday evening. The action quickly turns exciting as Bone sees blue lights in his rear-view!

As "Theme Song From The Dukes Of Hazzard" begins to play in the background, a low-speed chase ensues, lasting approximately fifteen seconds, until Bone is able to safely pull into the parking lot of a nearby bank. The officer approaches the car. What will the charge be? Another speeding ticket? Hit-and run? Texting while driving? (This is where we'd cut to commercial for added suspense.)

Turns out Bone was guilty, allegedly, of that most heinous of traffic offenses: following too closely. Are you kidding me? That doesn't even make a good story. It's embarrassing to even tell. In fact, just forget I said anything. We're gonna have to seriously edit this part to make it exciting.

Less than an hour after his latest run-in with the popo, Bone is spotted across town laughing it up at the aforementioned nightspot playing the football toss game. So adept is he at tossing mini-footballs through the little holes that he eventually runs the game out of tickets. At the prize counter, Nephew Bone chooses a lizard and some (temporary) gangsta tats, while Bone opts for some Pop Rocks.

Bone's athletic exploits continue to be on display in our next scene, as we see him at home -- alone -- playing Wii. After a couple of hours, he sets a new personal best by Wii bowling a 279! Then he remarks aloud, "If only Walter Way Williams could see me now!" Um, is Bone aware no one else is in the house? In other news, Bone's right shoulder is quite sore for about four days.

Next it's time for Thanksgiving with the Bones, a great opportunity for viewers to meet the Bone family. If you're wondering why everyone is shouting, it's because Daddy Bone doesn't have his hearing aid today. After breakfast at Daddy Bone's and before supper at Momma Bone's, Bone enjoys a Thanksgiving lunch of chips and salsa in his modern, yet practical bachelor pad. He dozes off and much like the rest of America, misses the second half of the Patriots/Lions game.

This week's episode ends on the highest of highs. It's Saturday night and Bone is home alone again, which is peculiar for sure. We see him at his computer, looking to spend the rest of the $25 iTunes gift card he received last Christmas. In the show's emotional climax, he discovers that iTunes has added "Hands To Heaven" by Breathe! At long last!

Bone is seen swaying back-and-forth in his office chair while singing along as the camera fades.

Executive Producer: Charles Rosin

"So raise your hands to heaven and pray, that we'll be back together someday. Tonight I need your sweet caress, hold me in the darkness. Tonight you calm my restlessness. You relieve my sadness..."