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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bucket List Thoughts



 Welcome back!

I have mentioned recently that I’m working on my “bucket list”.  When I first started said list, it was merely called 100 goals, and it was a “key to success” that coach Lou Holtz spoke about.  I haven’t quite gotten the list to 100 yet, having 8 slots open at current. 

In addition to that list, I now keep a second.  It’s my “reverse bucket list”, and I encourage you to keep one as well.  This is a list of things that I probably wouldn’t have put on the first list, either for not having thought of it or having done it already when I started “list prime”, but after having done, would not trade the experience for love of gold. 

You may, in fact, already have a 100 item list completed (or more!), if you’ll just think and reflect.  What awesome things have you done? 

Let me give you an example.  I would likely have never put on my list “Watch someone get married by Elvis”.  I just wouldn’t have thought of that, maybe wouldn’t have gone out of my way to do it.  My wife’s uncle got hitched in Vegas some time ago, and I just happened to be in town at a convention.  It was not to be missed, period. 

From the limo ride with the in-laws to the 20 minute ceremony performed by His Kingness (two songs!), to the names-in-lights at the chapel, to the reception at the Haufbrauhaus, it was a day full of awesome memories.  I even enjoyed walking in the desert heat from the reception to the convention at MGM Grand, stepping onto the floor with 2 minutes to spare from start time.  The day had a glow about it, an epicness that makes smiling easy.

That is entry 38 on my Reverse Bucket List.

It bears mentioning that my RBL is not in any order beyond the crazy order in which I remembered things, and I have no desire to organize it.  You might wish to list chronologically, perhaps.  Me, I’ll take scattered, just like my mind on any given day without coffee. 

As for my initial list, it’s been tweaked a few times.  Pro Tip:  You’re going to change and develop as you get older, and it’s perfectly OK to look at the list and replace something you just don’t see as important anymore. 

I’ll give you an example.  #1 on my list, written over 16 years ago, is “Degree”.  I intended at the time to get a 4 year degree.  Now that I’m 40, have Little Danger, and tuition has skyrocketed, this one is just nowhere near important to me anymore.  At some point in the near future (right after I fill the 8 empty slots), I’ll evaluate that goal and replace it with something else. 

It’s important to note that such a change isn’t a disappointment; the goal simply doesn’t fit me anymore.  I’ve read and studied and learned a great many disparate topics, and will continue to do so.  Do I need a 6 digit sheet of paper to think myself intelligent?  Nope.  Now that I own a business, do I need that sheet of paper to advance?  Nope.  Due to the expense and other negatives, it becomes something in the way of the other 99.  So, it gets scrapped. 

Here’s a second example.  #6 on the list is “have children”, which if you’ve paid attention here you know was a big effing deal for Wifefish and I.  For numerous reasons, not least of which is that Little Danger is like the perfect kid ever, we’ve stopped at 1.  So this one gets checked off, but with a caveat following. 

In complete rambling news, I’ve been productive as I’ve been writing…there are now only 7 slots open.  I promise to post the 100 list once completed, and start telling some stories.    




Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Buckets!!!



I am currently putting the finishing touches on my list of 100 goals, aka the bucket list.  I’m also keeping a “reverse bucket list”, or a list of things that would have gone on the list had I thought of them before doing them, because they have a cool factor of “oh, yes.” 

Where appropriate, I intend to share the stories here.  There are one or two that just aren’t going to be committed to posterity.  Suffice to say they were fun. 

In hearing or reading the word “bucket” more times than a Kardashian checks make up, I was reminded of a story from my youth.

It bears mentioning that I was a geek in my youth.  Big surprise, I know.  I was gangly, had little physical prowess, was constantly nose-in-a-book or eyes-agape-at-a-pretty-girl, and had been in more fights than Mike Tyson.  My win/loss record was, however, roughly the opposite of his.  At zero and all, unfortunately, with 1 draw, my pre-senior year fight stats were pathetic at best.

My dad, wonderful man that he is and was, made many an attempt to put some muscle on my frame, but unsuccessfully.  I have to admit in retrospect that he lectured me in rants that left my butt sore from sitting in the chair through the entire monologues.  He could go on for hours on the topic of my failings, a perhaps universal danger of fatherhood.

Granted, Dad has some room to talk on this topic.  He’d been a first class ass-kicker since his teen years, having been fed the same bully soup I’d been eating regularly at school.  He decided to take the path of most resistance, bulking up and going apeshit on all comers.  At the age of 50, he was still able to bend a 16 penny nail in half with bare hands, and tricep pull an entire 350 pound stack on a universal machine.  Dad’s a fucking gorilla. 

Still, he just didn’t get the fact that I’d far rather swim through eight chapters on paleontology than squeeze out 3 sets of benchpress reps.  Sadly, I’m still in that same boat, though I’ve found some discipline to keep a bit of exercise in my daily routine.

Thus it was that, fresh from an undeserved ass-whomping after school, I found myself at the kitchen table enduring a vociferous, decibel and profanity laden soliloquy on the finer points of making a bully sorry via fisticuffs and dirty fighting techniques.  At what would likely have been the midpoint of the speech, the following was said.

“Son, you just have to have a pair of balls when a motherfucker wants to fight, and I’ve got balls as big as buckets!”  He continued to assail my eardrums.

Mom hid her mouth, eyes alight, got up from the table, and walked into the basement.

Dad continued an f-bomb delivery worthy of a Stratofortress.

Mom came back upstairs, silently, and placed a 5 gallon bucket in front of Dad on the table, and pointedly looked at his crotch.  She shook her head in mock sadness and walked away.

 With an authoritative *clunk*

The lecture came to a screeching halt. 

To this day, mom and I can reduce each other to laughter ending in tears with just one word:  “buckets.” 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Unlucky 13





It’s been 13 years.  Yes, I still remember.  No, I won’t forget. 

More than that, though, I won’t forgive.  But the people I’m not forgiving may surprise you.  At the time, I supported, and still do, a military reprisal.  It was inevitable, and it was necessary.  It was the other ominous shit that, even then, gave me the fucking willies.

I will not forgive those who knee jerked, and made disproportionate war effective for our enemies.  In a blind fear, we threw billions of dollars down a hole, and we’re still doing it.  We walk around, cocky, knowing that ‘merica! is number one…but we danced to their tune, and we’re still doing it.

I do not forgive the creation of the exceptionally ominous Department of Homeland Security.  Words like “Homeland”, “Fatherland”, and “Motherland” are rhetorically charged devices that smolder in the minds and hearts of the masses, and I worried about it then.  I see no reason today to stop worrying. 

I do not forgive the creation of the TSA, a ridiculous adventure in security theatre that has kept exactly zero travelers safer in the past 13 years.  They confiscate belt buckles and knives and jars of jam, and tell themselves they're effective.  Kudos, boys, you’re doing a bang up job. 

I do not forgive the creation of the snoop state that Snowden exposed, nor those in power who wished to silence and now wish to punish.  We shredded the 4th amendment looking for the needles in the haystack. 

I do not forgive the furtive movement to arm police with ever increasing military hardware in fear of terrorists.  Those toys are getting used against citizens, not foreign, nor even domestic, terrorists.  Mission creep is a very, very real thing. 

The thing I hate most about those vile men that poked the eagle with a stick is quite simple, really.  They won.  

In Remembrance,
Dangerboy

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Five Things I Think, Sep 9



It’s time again…let’s put on our thinking caps and enjoy, shall we?

1) I think I never get enough time at the lake.  I had waaaaay too much fun this trip, made more enjoyable by good friends, my awesome Little Danger and Wifefish, good food, and good booze. 

I also picked up a pair of these bad boys:  http://www.darkfingloves.com/  For those who are too lazy to click, let suffice the description of a pair of webbed gloves.  Coupled with a short pair of foot fins, I zipped around the lake like an otter on meth. The gloves are slender enough that you can still open a can of Samuel Adams with ease, put it in a coozie, and slurp away to your heart’s content.  You can even do it 12 times in a row.  If, by chance, you felt the need to do so. 


2) I think I’m pleased as punch about the new career.  It’s official now, Wifefish and I bought out the business.  We are officially business owners.  That’s both exhilarating and a bit frightening, but mostly the first one. 

I’ve been involved in the tax industry for years and years and years, but now I get to put all that knowledge and all my curiosity to work for clients of my very own.  I’ll be transitioning to a full time be-my-own-boss in January, and I’m looking forward to it like a beaver on the way to a tree farm. 

3) I think I’m enjoying the living history aspect of Pioneer Village.  Yes, we’ve made more progress on the cabin from 1797, but beyond that I’ve been learning some new skills. 

I got to work in the Smithy last time around, as did Little Danger.  I just worked the bellows for the blacksmith as he made some nails and such, but still, I got to learn something I didn’t know.  I’ll be making a point to get in there and learn every chance I get, because let’s face it…hot steel is awesome. 



Granted, our last foray out there for a museum event was as muggy as Satan’s jock strap, and a wasp used my neck as a bull’s eye for a loaded butt bombing run.  I may have made a noise akin to a mule having a surprise prostate exam.  Ah, the life of a pioneer has hardships, my friends.

4)  I think I truly understand the nature of ambivalence.  I’m at a point again with the Game where I am tired of it.  Events are awesome, I see great things, participate in wonderful theatre, get exercise, and just generally have fun.

Between events, though, I get to deal with crap.  Complaints.  Bitching.  Requests for special attention that would require me taking time away from career and family to sit down with players and mediate whatever dispute may be on their minds.  At least one person just stirring the shit pot trying to get a rise out of someone else, using me to do it. 

I’m not amused.  I find myself again looking at the calendar and wondering if running this thing is worth all the crap I put up with.  Game day, the answer is yes.  Today, the answer is no. 

5) I think it’s time for another kid brag.  Little Danger got bumped out of his swim class…not for being bad, but because they wanted him to swim in the next age bracket.  Good swimmer, that one, and he’s just done the width of the pool with no flotation device. 

I am truly in love with the way parenthood makes little milestones extraordinary.  You may recall my thoughts on bad dads some time ago, wherein I said my job is to lift him up, to raise him above me.  This is one such milestone…I didn’t learn to swim until high school.  He’s already able to tow me around in a rescue swim.

You see, last lake trip, I noticed he was moving around pretty darn well, so I decided about 5 boat lengths away from the pontoon to just stop and ask him to take me back to the boat.  We were both wearing jackets, because lake=85 feet deep, but he managed to haul me back in toot de suite in a nearly perfect rescue swim. 

Wifefish and I make it a habit not to tell him he can’t do things.  

Well, those are my thoughts for today...some good, some bad, all mine.  What do YOU think?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Be SEATED!




I’m going in the wayback machine for today’s post.  As many of you know, I’m a fan of live theatre.  Huge fan, in fact.  And willing participant.

I’m proud to be able to share that joy with Little Danger, who, at the age of 3, has managed to watch Hamlet in its entirety.  He was well behaved and quiet, asking in a whisper occasionally “Why he sad?” or things like that.  He’s also enjoyed 4 viewings of Jesus Christ Superstar, because Wifefish is AWESOME and kicked ass as Mary Magdelene.  He was similarly spectacular at each show, saving his singing for the car ride home.  (He does a fairly good rendition of “What’s the Buzz.”)

Today, I read an interesting and somewhat frightful article regarding the decline of the American Audience in theatre.  Between Shia Lebouf getting booted for being a butthead and various cellphone infractions galore on Broadway, it appears that audiences just can’t be bothered to politely pay attention.  It’s like theatre has caught a bad case of the assholes, which is a rash that can inhabit the house.

I was part of such an audience once, and it was not fun.  But oh, was it memorable.

In 1990, (I know, way back machine) I was a junior in high school.  Our English class would occasionally take trips to the Repertory Theatre of St Louis, aka “The Rep”, to take in a play.  Thus it was that we went to see Fences, a fairly impressive production.

As luck would have it, this production had a guest star.  I (and my classmates, of course) had a front row seat for a hell of a performance by none other than Avery Brooks, who had been playing Hawk on television, and would of course go on to play Captain Sisko on Deep Space Nine. 

If you’ve seen the interview he did with Shatner, and you’ve wondered what made Avery Brooks go insane, wonder no more.  It was the audience that day that cracked his sanity; I’m sure of it.  The experience lay in his mind like ticking time bomb, triggering an aneurism in later years as I imagine he recalled the scene over and over until only the piano could save him. 

The play itself was good, the actors quite talented.  The set was AMAZEBALLS, including a kitchen just inside the door of the house fa├žade that had running water.  Talk about your practicals!  A working kitchen faucet! 

I’ll assume you’re not familiar with the play itself, so here’s your synopsis.   I’ll wait for you to come back.

Back?  Awesome.  As you can see, that was some heavy subject matter for a high school class, but really, just a great show.  Unfortunately, the day we attended was also a day in which the hosting college had sent many of their own students for extra credit.  To say they misbehaved would be an understatement of epic proportions.  It’s like saying Hulk has anger issues.

I was largely focused on the stage, and missed a great deal of the inappropriate stuff.  In discussions on the bus ride home, others recalled a plethora of audience problems.  Candy wrapper opening, mumbling, discussing, snoring.  (Granted, that last one I’d nearly been guilty of my own self in a production of Henry IV in that very house.  My teacher forgave me for it, saying it bored her, too.)   

But I remember clearly the fight between father and son, Avery’s character Troy going after Cory with a baseball bat in some very convincing combat choreagraphy, and how the audience wasn’t, as I was, horrified at the prospect.  Instead they howled with glee.  Someone in the back yelled “get that motherfucker.”  Candy was thrown on the stage.  Reflect on that for a moment.  Someone attending an institute of higher learning decided that part of their extra credit included throwing candy at a live cast in one of the premier theatres of the city.  Acute case of the assholes.   

At show’s end, it was obvious that the cast was as happy as a seal at a polar bear reunion.    The curtain call was terse, short, and perfunctory.  Each actor wore a frown, scowl, or other dour demeanor, clearly pissed off at having wasted a damn good performance on such an unappreciative bunch.  (It bears mentioning that not one single member of our class had participated in any of these shenanigans.)

"Who raised these kids?"


Most of the cast left the stage, whilst most of the audience started to get up and go their merry way.  Avery stood center stage and just watched.  After what could only be called a dramatic pause, he spoke.  He used what was then the “Hawk voice” and would become the “Sisko’s pissed basso profundi.”  Two words, bouncing off the sound clouds as if spoken through a loudspeaker. 

“BE.  SEATED.” 

It garnered an amazing response.  Everyone sat their ass down, responding to the commanding tone as if he’d been holding the nickel-plated .357 he held every week on our TVs.  Playing a hitman can command a bit of respect. 

After a scant few moments to let everyone sit, he began his lecture.  Worthy of a professor of theatre, he launched on a diatribe that had even those of us who’d done nothing wrong slinking down in our seats.  He wielded shame like a bludgeon, at one point walking stage right, plucking a twizzler off the floor, and bellowing “THIS has no PLACE in the THEATRE.”  It sounded something like this:

  

The audience that left was a vastly different audience than had arrived.  The lecture seemed to penetrate most, and there was precious little shit talking as the students filed out.  There was a great deal of silence. 

It was a performance every bit as memorable as the production he’d just participated in, if not more so.  It was a message most in the room absolutely needed to hear.  And maybe, just maybe, it’s one I’d like to see him deliver anytime an audience gets a case of the assholes.




Thursday, June 19, 2014

Five Things I Think, June 19



1) I think the progress we’re making on the 1797 cabin is fantastic.  A base log has been replaced, a sill log pulled and replaced with stone (to protect the overall structure), and most of the roofing supports sourced.  It was hard and heavy work, and I was still pretty sore at bedtime Monday night.  We might get this job done by our goal time frame of 1 year from start, which, for a guy as good at home improvement as Congress is at customer satisfaction, is one heck of an accomplishment.  


2)  I think I had a pretty cool Father’s Day.  Little Danger got to see many DeLoreans, including a Back To The Future repro that was quite amazing, and they even set the time machine to his birthday.  Too awesome, even though I didn’t get to take part in that adventure due to point #1 there…I was working with a crew of fantastic people while Wifefish possibly shouted “Great Scott!” 


There was a surprise encounter with a B-17 on my way home from cabin work, and I collected Wifefish and Little Danger to tour said Fortress.  It reminded me of a similar trip my Dad arranged for me, to the local municipal airport way back when, some 33 years ago.  Recursive parenting awesomeness for the win.




We finished the day with a trip to a local brewhouse for some fantastic food at a reasonable price, some really good beer, and a complimentary pint glass inscribed with the date, which was another surprise.  Suffice to say, the day did its level best to outdo my expectations in just about every way.  It succeeded. 

3)  I think I’m tired of the news.  Seriously, soul-suckingly tired.  I remember when the news was given to us with a bit of gravity, a bit of respect, and a care for the facts.  Now it’s all sensational. 
A radio station I am not going to listen to anymore tipped me over the edge this morning, dropping a tag of a sentence fragment just before discussing the “Iraq situation”. 

A deepened male voice, echoed up just like a monster truck commercial, announced “Turmoil in the Middle East!” as if I was supposed to buy a ticket for a seat, but only need the edge, this Sunday Sunday Sunday.  I put in a CD.  I’m tired of being shouted at, cajoled, marketed to, and annoyed.  I just want to know what’s going on.  Journalism may, in fact, be wheezing like a smoker on the stairs. 

4) I think it’s ironic that my most productive day this week was a vacation day from The Job.  I handled two clients in the morning for the new career, then went to the house and fixed a ceiling fan, vacuumed the floors, put away laundry, trimmed the fenceline, and even played a little pitch n’ catch with Little Danger in the front room.  I was like some sort of goddamned superdomesticman.  Behold, my feather duster of power, and the pruning shears of justice!
Then I went forth with the men-in-law and visited two taprooms at local craft breweries, and sampled many, many beers.  I’m in love with the craft beer revolution. This, too, proved productive, as we managed to make some great connections with fellow beer enthusiasts, and we settled on a creative and awesome way for me to display the growlers I’m collecting in the Pyrate Pub. 


5) I think I’m cautiously optimistic about the quality of JJ’s new Star Wars movie, but that ultimately I don’t care if it’s good or not.  Bottom line is this:  I will be able to take my son to an opening night of Star Wars in the theatre, something I never thought would happen.  It could be a steaming pile of monkey shit, and I’d sit diligently through two hours of solid lens-flare to experience it with Little Danger.

But if Jar Jar shows up, I’m going after JJ with a vintage 1977 Millenium Falcon and bludgeoning him with it until he looks like he’s gone 3 rounds with a rancor.  I’ll show up at his doorstep like a Gamorrean with a grudge.  It’d be all Darth Danger up in his mansion.  Just sayin’.  

So, gang...what do you Think today?

 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Five Things I Think, June 13



1) I think it’s nuts that June has arrived already.  This year is attempting to zip past like it’s trying to prevent bad things happening to Marty McFly.  It seems just yesterday that I was at the end of tax season, and now here I am looking at Midsummer.  

Hey, calendar, knock off these shenanigans!  I have things to do! (Things.  Like the mountain of laundry, the mountain of LARP laundry, the cleaning of the bar, the fixing of the ceiling fan light, the bathroom grout, the...well, you get the picture.) 

2)  I think I’m having fun with writing, even though you haven’t seen it here.  I’ve been picked up by a local publication, writing humorous beer articles.  The Venn diagram is one perfect circle between their needs and my interests.  It’s a happy thing.

It’s also a paid gig, which is pretty cool as well.  I’m trading words for shiny rocks, and whereas I will not be getting rich on this project, it will pay for the beer I research and, in turn, write about.    

3)  I think Little Danger is a fucking rock star.  He’s about to turn 4, and it’s been a great ride so far.  I am in awe of how often he smiles, how much he cares, and the way we share the world together.  Rock.  Star.  



I had the fun and awesome experience of drumming with him again recently, and this time he strapped on his little drum and stood next to me for a good half hour as we pounded out some rhythms.  Watching him dance around with a ton of friends was also especially endearing, and a level of magical silliness I’ve not witnessed in 21 years of drumming at that location.  Of course, I’m biased.  And I feel not one ounce of shame about it.  (Though that sentence fragment did get a twitch out of my inner grammar police.  As did that one.) 

4) I think hitting 40 has not been in any way as “bad” as some had led me to expect.  I feel like I’m hitting my stride.  I work out more than I ever have before; I still lead the pack on hikes and battles (when fighting with foam).  I just don’t feel the need for a mid-life crisis at all.  I’m thinking about penciling it in for my 52nd birthday. 

Given that this year Wifefish, the Kushies, and I have started restoring a cabin built in 1797, I have a completely different perspective on age than once I did.  When you’re working on lumber that was stacked together almost 220 years ago, 40 seems downright juvenile.  Although it is refreshing to realize that modern life expectancy makes me quite likely to hit a century.  I have a goal, people.  Now get off my lawn!

It's a fixer upper.

5) I think, as I reflect further on point 4 there, that history can be completely awesome.  In researching the time period of the cabin’s construction, I found some amazing provenance, a journal written by a man who traveled with the cabin’s original owner.  I know the exact date the first log was laid, the experiences they had getting to that point, and even what they hunted for that first morning.  (Bear.  Motherfucking black bears hunted by chopping down their tree and shooting them when they hit the ground, hopefully before they mauled your face off.  Pioneer living was not for the weak.)

I also discovered some roots in my family that I hadn’t been able to find previously, and traced my line back to those same gentlemen.  It turns out I have direct ties to the battle of Point Pleasant, and to the American Revolution.  I’ve a long ago cousin who was a bona fide, grade A badass.  It’s made me look at my skill set and think about adding some of those primitive living skills I’ve always thought about, but never bothered to work on.  It’s started with cabin-building, now I’m going to look at some true woodscraft to enjoy with Little Danger as he grows.  Why not? 


I hope you, dear reader, have a great day.  So…what do you think?
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