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Monday, December 2, 2013

The Nature of Goodbye

I have to say goodbye to an old friend tomorrow. 

Our dog, Oberon, a German Shepherd of proud bearing and dazzling intellect, has been suffering from a degenerative spinal column issue.  His back legs just don’t work anymore, and he’s lost control of when he poops. 

He was selected from a litter by dint of gnawing, oh so adorably, on Wifefish’s shoe lace.  “I’m picking the crazy one,” she said.  Yep. 

He and I had a rocky relationship at first.  His puppyhood was a sloppy affair, and the source of a few heated discussions between Wifefish and I.  It was a poopyhood, really.  The sentence “You don’t have poop in your bloodstream, so you don’t get an opinion” was once, perhaps foolishly, uttered by me, back in the days when his puppyness had not allowed him the understanding that his poo was not for dancing in, nor eating, nor for dancing in and eating and then scratching his daddy to hell and back with tiny puppy claws.

Still, he was adorable, and thus he survived.  Wifefish is patient, and thus I survived.

Once he learned not to scratch me, frolic in his own excrement, or bite the hand that feeds, he became a damn fine dog.  I maintain this despite his never learning not to use my nether regions as a springboard for leaving the couch.

I have a veritable plethora of fond memories of him.  My wife’s dog, he became mine as well.  The love of a dog is a wonderful thing, a pleasure to receive.

I remember his first trip with us, no bigger than a football.  I remember as he topped 70 lbs and still thought he was football sized, trying to ride in my lap in the car.  It doesn’t work so well, it turns out.

I remember how he would look at me, and then just do exactly what I expected of him.  My favorite example was when we brought Little Danger home, and Oberon whuffled and sniffed him, looked at Wifefish and I, and accepted him as part of the family.  He would place himself between Little Danger and any doorway, keeping him corralled and any possible threats to the baby on the wrong side of his teeth.

There’s so much more to say about him…about his time in our family, his fierce love and vicious cuddling.  I could write for days just about the way he would always take treats gently, so as not to put too much teeth on your hand as he gobbled up whatever edible awesomeness one might offer him. 

Last night, I pulled Little Danger aside for a serious talk.  I asked if he remembered saying goodbye to our cat Kelton, when he passed.  He nodded yes.  I told him “Time’s coming, this week, when we’re going to have to say goodbye to Oberon too.  He’s not going to come home, son.”
“Why not?”

“Well, we’re going to take him to the vet, and because his legs can’t be fixed, and his insides aren’t working, we’re going to let him go.  He’s going to be put to sleep so he doesn’t have to wait for the rest of his body to quit.  It hurts him.”

“I have idea”, he said.  “Maybe Oberon go sleep, and wake up, and not be old anymore.” 

“Son,” I said, through fresh tears (manly fresh fucking tears, mind you), “you’ve just seized upon the heart of the matter.  That’s the belief system of just about every worldly religion summed up right there.”

“Where he go?”  And thus, I got to describe Heaven, and the Summerland, and a brief overview of reincarnation before booping him on his nose and letting him know we’d discuss it in more detail as he got older, but I was just broad brushing it for now.

“OK,” he said.  And you know what?  It will be.  Yes, I’m going to miss the old man, and there’ll be a dog-shaped hole in Wifefish’s heart as well as my own for a while, but it’s truly time to say goodbye.  And yes, there will be more manly tears this week.  But I will shed them with no shame, knowing they are a tribute to a member of the family both furry and awesome.

Tonight, we're helping out a friend by testing her edits to Hamlet, which she's directing at a local theatre.  I think it fitting that Oberon gets to listen to Shakespeare on his last night with us, and I may take a moment to read from Midsummer as well, because I'm a goddamn sap and the goodbye is more for us than him.  He will know that his pack will be OK, and that his pain is over, and he will know that he is loved, in whatever canine way he comprehends it. 

Through the house give gathering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire:
Every elf and fairy sprite
Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty, after me,
Sing, and dance it trippingly. 

Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of Nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
And the owner of it blest
Ever shall in safety rest.
Trip away; make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Five Things I Think, Oct 7th

1) I think I’m sore in places that I didn’t even know I had places.  Last week was a freakish sprint to get the Haunted Trail up and running, which was made more difficult by some rain that decided to scratch one of my build days.

Thus did I spend Friday in a mad dash with a 7pm deadline to light, build, and dress 9 scenes.  I managed, but the toll on my body was palpable.  I had sweat so much that I ended up suffering a salt-crust induced acne episode worthy of adolescence.  Dropping that much moisture and salt also left me in terrible need of hydration, and thus did I find myself chain chugging Gatorade and water that night, then finally capping the night with an IPA and a shower.

Saturday I dragged and trudged through, and then wore myself out again in the night’s scaring.  Sunday was equally tough, as we Cleaned All The Things at the house, and I realized that I had a head cold attempting to conquer my sinus cavity in the name of  East Snotmucusstan. 

Suffice to say my Monday feels like a hangover, and I expect Ken Jeong to show up any minute. 

2) I think that despite the challenges, I had fun putting the Haunt up, as I always do.  It’s fun to scare the bejeezus out of people, and I get to hang out with the usual crew of disturbed individuals.

This year, I already have a new favorite scare.  I asked the mom of a group of tween girls if it was OK that I hide by the SUV in which she awaited them.  She beamed at me and asked, “Do you want to hide in the back?”  Oh, hell yes.

And so, when the girls climbed in to their waiting ride, I popped up from the back and got one final, and very enjoyable, screech of terror.  Safe in the parking lot?  Nope. 

3) I think, and I never get tired of saying it, that I really love this kid.  Last weekend was an autumn festival at the farm for which Wifefish works.  I took Little Danger to said festival, and got him into line for his mommy to facepaint him.  He of course chose Cap’n ‘Merica.  I resisted the urge to say “Fuck Yeah.”  

 Captain America, Recursive.
During Operation: Clean All The Things, he spent his afternoon with me on the bathroom floor, cleaning grout off the new-lain tile that Wifefish had placed.  He’s a great helper, that one. 

And the heart-melting kicker…driving him home from a friend’s birthday party Saturday night (post-haunt), a slowed up version of “Jump Around” came on the radio. 

  I wish I had not been driving, because I could then show you the video of him raising the roof in the back seat, singing “I get down and jumping around!  Jumping around!  Jumping jump jump jump jump around!”  He continued singing it during Sunday’s cleaning spree.  EFFING ADORABLE.

4)  I think We The People should just fire everyone in DC.  Congress, President, all of ‘em.  This shutdown-Obamacare-too much war for too long-I could keep going but I won’t crap is just…old.  I’m tired of it to a point of physical fatigue at times.  Someone mentions a political item and I just sigh, because I know the conversation is a lost cause.  Only half of us think one half of them are doing their jobs, so get rid of ‘em all, and start over. 

5) I think I really only had four things to think today.  #1 up there took its toll on me, therefore I am going to have another sports drink or three while I watch Monday Night Football.  (Speaking of which, what a weird game day yesterday!  Rams did well, Dallas-Denver game was ridiculous, Bengals beat the Patriots…lots of WTF!)  So there. 

So, gang…what do YOU think?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Five Things I Think, Aug 15

1) I think I’m no fan of the effects of stress on the human body.  The tail end of last week was a metaphorical shit sandwich served with a side of fuckyou fries and an extra large cup of “go broke motherfucker.” 

Our washing machine kicked the bucket, or at least became nonfunctional enough that we can’t use it.  Wifefish and I, both stressed to the gills, had one of our incredibly rare but always fiery Heated Discussions ™, and once the smoke cleared we realized we’d not gotten one inch closer to paying all the people that need paid. 

Thus do I feel like a truck hit me.  I could use a massage of the therapeutic kind, one of those that really digs the knots out, as opposed to those available at certain truck stops around the country.  Not that I know anything about those. 

On the plus side, I was able to work out some aggression by destroying the massive concrete sink that was doing nothing but taking up space in the laundry room via 10 pound sledgehammer.  I refer to it as “percussive therapy.”  It is hooked to nothing, and can be hooked to nothing in the foreseeable future, but was just sitting, canceling approximately 18 cubic feet of space in said laundry area.  It won’t do that again. 

2) I think it’s important never to take yourself so seriously that you’re not willing to hide behind ottomans with your 3 year old son portraying Iron Man to his Captain America.  He kept yelling at me to “Get the bad guys!” and throwing his shield to me so I could take my turn hiding from their bullets.  I guess he forgot that as Iron Man, I’m armored to the hilt and thus bulletproof.  Or maybe he just wants to protect me as much as I do him. 

 This is an artist's rendering of how cool Little Danger and I are in real life.  That's him on the left.

Either way, it was an absolute blast catching that foam shield tossed my way, beating down imaginary bad guys, and tossing it back to him so he could get the bad guys on his side of the room.  Take that, Hydra. 

3) I think it’s fun to send lead downrange.  Wifefish and I hooked up with a good friend on Saturday and shot a few guns.  Little Danger thus got his first instructions on the difference between toy and real, and why real guns are never to be used as toys, and always to be used safely.  And not by him until he’s old enough, just like driving a car. 

He was quite impressed with the gravity of the situation, staying with mommy or daddy while the other went to the firing line, and not complaining even one little bit.  He did take a few shots at the target from said safety position with a bright green water gun, though. 

For Wifefish’s part, she did pretty well as a first time shooter, putting some .22 rifle shots dead center…by which I mean 5 in the red center ring out of 13, and all 13 on the target. Not bad at all. 

For my part, I managed to put in a good showing despite some time away from the range.    

4)  I think I’m building up to some true rants.  I’m waffling between fatigue from the news and a desire for activism of late.  I just get sickened by all the idiotic BS we the people put up with, and maybe it’s time for me to start getting it off my chest, instead of sticking my head in the sand.  I know that may turn some folk off, so if I go that route I’ll try to keep it entertaining.  If I do choose to engage in activism, I will not be supporting side A or side B, that’s for sure.  I’m a 3rd party guy, through and through, and I yearn for a party strong enough to challenge the status quo…because, as Dr Horrible once said, the status isn’t quo. 

Man, if only I had a freeze ray. 

5) I think you should read this article.  I find this reporter to be diligent and credible; what appears as occasional bias is in fact well-researched and documented.  It’s not hard to see his personal feelings on the subject, but I’m going to give him a pass on this one, because cops killing innocents by accident (and dogs on purpose) is bound to piss someone off.

Now that you’ve read that, I’m going to let you know that I agree with every common sense proposal he makes in that article.  I’ve met both kinds of cops: the protect-and-serve community cops and the tough-as-nails us vs them jackholes.  I prefer the former, in nearly every situation. 

It is inexcusable that we incarcerate such a high number of people for non-violent, and in some cases non-victim, crimes.  Hell, I don’t mind tossing a thief in jail, but the fact that you and I have to pay for three hots and a cot for a guy who likes to doob it up a bit is kind of ridiculous.  The fact that SWAT teams are busting in doors for recreational users, not even dealers but just pot smokers, is patently reprehensible.

Maybe it’s time for a change or two.    

So, gang…what do YOU think?  Oh, look, there's a comment button for you to share your it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beer, Beer, Beer vol 4

Good day to you!  It is time, my friends, to take another stroll through the alcoholic haze together.  Today, we’re going to be taking a trip over the pond to jolly old England.  We’re also going to depart from the grain and hop, and move solidly into Johnny Appleseed’s territory.  Today’s offering is Strongbow hard cider.

Let me start with a one word description: yummy.  I know that’s got all the sophistication of an episode of Honey Boo Boo, but bear with me here. 

For me, a glass of Strongbow takes me into a nostalgic trip in the avenues of my mind to Headington, and the Royal Standard Pub.  This is the first place I ever had Strongbow, unchilled and on draught. 

We visited the Royal Standard, just a short jaunt from a house with a fucking shark sticking out of its roof, on the first day of our trip.  A good dry cider, it turns out, is a fantastic way to tell your jetlag to “buggar off”. 

  No, really, a fucking SHARK.

The cutest little bartender greeted me when I sidled up to the bar, a lovely brunette who schooled me on the methods of tipping at British pubs…one doesn’t tip money, one offers to buy the barman or barmaid a half-pint of their own.  When I asked for her suggestion for a warm summer day, she pointed to the Strongbow tap.  She poured my cider and with an overly bright smile said “Here you go, guvnah!” 

Despite Wifefish’s presence not 11 feet from me, I fell in love for a moment.  Then I sipped my cider, and it happened again.  I bought the barmaid a half-pint in lieu of a dozen roses.

Fortunately for me, Wifefish has a forgiving soul, so she forgave me my trespasses and chalked it up to jetlag, and jokingly told me I was free to date the dispenser of my drunk-nectar.  The family laughed it up at my expense, which really was just fine by me…I had a full pint of crisp apple goodness in a glass.

It may well be nostalgia that gives my taste buds so much to say about Strongbow; the fine folks at Beer Advocate score this one with a paltry 14, due to the use of artificial flavors.  I was surprised to discover this, actually.  For my part, I find the flavor crisp, a bit dry, and just sweet enough.  It’s my favorite cider thus far, and let me tell you I’m a samplin’ sumbitch.  Toss something new and boozy in front of me, and I will try it, within reason.  (If you serve me something called a “sweaty crotchfruit”, I will push it back to you unsipped.)

Here in the States, the ‘Bow is available both in pint cans and lower capacity bottles.  Why anyone wouldn’t opt for the full pint is beyond me, but some cretins prefer bottles just because they’re bottles, and whereas they are far better for hand to hand combat once you’re deep in your cups, I’ll take the can every single time. I urge you to do the same!

Strongbow Cider:  give it a try, and Bottoms Up! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Five Things I Think, Aug 8

1) I think I never tire of singing Little Danger’s praises.  It’s kind of amazing how little kids level up like intrepid adventurers sometimes, how one day something may be beyond them and the next they are masters in the making.

We had another Lake Therapy session this weekend, and a more eventful than most at that.  On Saturday, we anchored the pontoon boat in a cove that has a lovely little waterfall on the left bank. It’s truly a pretty spot.

My brother in law and I set out from the boat to said waterfall, a good 70 yard swim.  As we made it to the trickling water, we noticed his kids, Lizardbelly and the General, behind us.  What surprised us most, though, was Little Danger and his Memaw swimming toward us as well. He was in the lead by a good 6 feet or so.   

Little Danger made the entire 70 yards (we were all wearing lifejackets, but he still had a good strong stroke going) and insisted on swimming up under the waterfall on his own, giggling the while.  He didn’t want to leave the waterfall, but as there was a good deal of drift and trash under there, we didn’t linger.  He then insisted on the return trip with no assistance as well.

 Little Man loves the lake

He further spent the next 40 minutes jumping off the boat into the lake with his cousins, an endless cycle of jump to Memaw, swim to the ladder, climb the ladder, run to the bow, jump to Memaw…

This from the kid that 2 days earlier didn’t want to get his face wet in the lake.  They grow up so fast. 

2) I think I didn’t want another dog.  Alas, sometimes we are chosen.

We spent part of our Lake Therapy tied up in a cove, houseboat beached in the wayback with little to no traffic.  On our second day, we were visited by two strays, skinny little things with no collars. 

Try as we might, they never left.  We did that thing you aren’t supposed to do, and fed them.  They inhaled the food, much as we suspected they would. They slept on the bow of the boat, and when Little Danger woke up he said “Where my Lake Dog?”

Our third day on the lake was interrupted by a trip to the vet for the strays.

One came home to us, the other to the General and Lizardbelly’s house.  SUCKERS.  That’s us.  

But how can you say “go away” to this face?  They have a semi-clean bill of health, now that the ticks have been killed.  They have just about every worm that a dog can host, so we have to keep her semi-segregated from Oberon the mighty for a while, especially her poop. 

She might be at the office with me right now.  I might be a pushover.  I didn’t want another dog. 

Whereas my son loves the Avengers, and insists that he is Captain America and I am Ironman (and Wifefish is Hulk…evidently you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry), and whereas I am a giant geek, we have decided to call this girl Pepper, as in Pepper Potts.  Extra added geek cool factor:  We rescued Pepper, and Pepper Potts got an armor suit in the comics, which was called Rescue.  Recursive fun for the win.  

3) I think things are about to be tighter than I like again.  Like whoa.  I get to deal with the end of a foreclosure on the rental house, which marks the endcap of my failure as a landlord.  I’m not thrilled about it, but it is what it is.  2014 will be the year of trying to repair fucked up credit, amongst other things. 

Getting to 2014 is going to be a challenge.  Whereas things have been looking up, the loss of the rent income is definitely something we’re going to feel.  There’s too much long term opportunity and not enough make shit happen right now, and I need to move some of column A into column B here.  To that end, I’ll be testing for one of the licenses I need at the end of the month.  Hopefully I can keep the upward trend going, even with the current challenges. 

4)  I think I like lunches at the office now.  I was gifted a new grill, so I brought my old one in to the office.  Now, I can go to the local market and buy about 4 pounds of chicken drumsticks or thighs for $7, a few veggie packs for $1, and make dinner for a week on the same amount of money it would cost me to get a chicken sandwich value meal for one day.  And it’s grilled.  Bonus. 
Downside?  It feels absolutely fucking unnatural to grill meat with no beer in hand, to eat said seared flesh with no beer near.  A nice tall glass of water suffices, but only barely.  If hashtags were a thing in blogs, this would be the next entry: #firstworldproblems.  But they’re not, so that should be the last hashtag you see here.  If not, feel free to shoot me in the big toe with a paintball gun. 

5) I think you should brush up on your civil rights.  You can read many sources and discover some disturbing trends.  Many of you are familiar with my feelings about the TSA, but did you know their VIPR teams are now at sporting events and highway rest stops?  You should, and you should know your rights.

You should know your rights when speaking to the police, regarding anything.  You should know each and every one of the Ten Amendments, and even if you don’t like some of them, you should think about why they are important.  You should get to know a defense attorney, even if you think you’ll never need one.  I know three, and they are the only lawyers I’ve ever met that are actual warm human beings. 

This last thought isn’t really about anything specific, just a reminder to my readers…look at the civil liberties you are supposed to have, and then please reflect on the liberties you give up every day.  It’s a bit frightening, really. 

So, gang…what do YOU think?

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Streisand Effect

Good day, gang!  We are going to have an absolute BLAST today.  Some of you may know that I follow a great legal blog,  If you didn’t, you do now.  And really, you should read up over there. Ken is a champion of the little guy when, in his words, “censorious douchebags” threaten, or even file, lawsuits to chill free speech. 

Some of you may also know that I enjoy LARP, that is, Live Action Role Play.  It’s the geekiest of geek, more fun than grownups should be allowed to have playing dress up, and also, when done right, a kind of awesome interactive theatre/gaming experience. 

Today, these two interests of mine have a Venn diagram overlap, and that makes for a happy Dangerboy.

There is a man who owns a large LARP franchise, the McDonald’s of LARP if you will.  Although there are many, many things we could call him, we’ll call him Joseph Valenti, because that’s his name.  This giant among businessmen has a habit of doubling down on bad ideas.  Look, if you run/own/participate in a game in which you dress like elves, barbarians, dwarves and orcs and smack each other with foam weapons while casting pretend magic at each other (and I do), you need to grow a thick skin for criticism from other human beings. 

When people call you an idiot, a nerd, a dork, or a dumbass, you have to let it roll off.   (Fortunately most of our events, when seen by the public, get the “this is kind of cool!!” reaction instead.) 

Poor Joe, well, he hasn’t learned this lesson as I have.  When somebody slights his name or NERO (the game he owns) he goes a bit off the deep end sometimes.  I present here, in its entirety, the latest and best example of said jumping.  This was posted on a group on Facebook. 

From the Desk of Joseph Valenti - NERO Live Adventure Games, LLC.

June 25, 2013

To All the Internet Bullies Who are Harassing and Bullying Joseph Valenti.

You must Cease and Desist.

You all must stop your internet bullying and harassment of me and the Nero organization.

You must stop stating lies about how Joseph Valenti interacts with NERO Chapter Owners, and how decisions are made – they are not correct and you are harming the NERO Organization by making incorrect statements.

You are depicting the NERO organization and its leadership – not just me but the 35 chapter owners too – using lies, and those lies are harming not only my reputation but the reputation of every NERO chapter owner and the NERO chapter staff.

I am willing to meet with any individual, or group of individuals, to review any statements or topics that anyone would like to review, to insure that you and I both get our say on any given topic, but it must be with the understanding that you will not return to the internet and continue to make derogatory statements, and that you will stop your internet based bullying of me, my staff, my friends and of NERO Chapter Owners.

We all know that nothing good will come from your constant and repeated bullying of me on the internet.

Nothing good has ever come from internet bullying, and in fact, internet bullying has been found to be responsible for multiple suicides.

You must stop your internet based bullying, you must stop stating lies to the public LARP marketplace, and you must no longer make false statements depicting myself or anyone associated with NERO, or you will force me to make a complaint with the courts.

Thank You
Joseph Valenti

I think we can all agree that this is a fucking CANNONBALL into the deep end, splashing butthurt on everyone at the pool.  For a guy who keeps trying to bring our hobby into the mainstream, he sure manages to make himself a caricature of silliness.  I picture Joe in this instance as Ken Jeong’s character in Role Models, desperately holding on to his crown.  

 How darest thou insult mine sacred honor?  I shall sue thee!

Look, it is fine n’ dandy to feel a bit of outrage when somebody says you’re an asshole, but you can’t file a lawsuit over it.  If someone says “It’s an indisputable fact that you’re an asshole”, you’re still in the world of opinion, and that, my friends, is protected speech.  You're on shaky ground if you threaten legal action against one person's opinion.  Trying to serve the entire Internet with a Cease And Desist?  Well, that’s just dumbfuckery on the scale of plucking a troll's nosehair.  

I’ll be honest.  As a fellow owner of a LARP myself and Big Damn Geek, I’ve refrained from commenting about Joe, his business, his methods, or anydamnthing else about him.  Hell, once upon a time I made some of the same mistakes, trying too hard to “control the message”, as they say it in corporatespeak. But once he tried to use legal threats to quiet his detractors, he crossed the line with me, and I feel it’s time to spread his words far and wide to receive the ridicule they so richly deserve.  

You see, the answer to speech you don’t like isn’t lawsuit (unless in those cases where true, actual libel/slander occur), it’s more speech.  That’s the whole point of our First Amendment rights and the “marketplace of ideas.”   

Besides, there’s no way to quiet the whole internet…wait, wait a minute  

OK, there’s no easy way to quiet the whole internet.  Joe, I introduce you to the Streisand Effect.  Enjoy it. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Five Things I Think, July 23

1) I think it can be hilarious having a toddler.  What’d he do this time, you ask?  Well, it’s that whole being a copy-monkey thing.  He will occasionally parrot the last thing he hears, a phenomenon that has caused me to curtail the use of my very favorite word.

Recently, at his second 3rd birthday party (the one with our friends), Wifefish tossed an epithet at one of the attendees who, as he was leaving, made an off-hand joke about going home for a ménage a mois.  “Masturbator!” she called him.  Fortunately, Little Danger wasn’t paying much attention.  “See you later!” he yelled.  We all lost it.   My boy is a comedian. 

2) I think it was an absolute blast watching my boy’s first T-ball practice.  He hit the ball with authority, then ran after it to throw it to first base.  Not quite getting the structure of the game just yet, that one.  It was also somewhat adorable how he would get to each base and stop, jumping on it with both feet.  I’m looking forward to seeing how he likes the game as the rules are processed and understood.  

Little Danger the adventurer!

3) I think I’m a bit tired of the whole Zimmerman trial thing.  Look, here’s my quick take on it.  Yes, it sucks balls that a kid died.  No, it wasn’t “murder”, because that’s kind of specific, and the prosecutor really should have damn well known it.  No, it wasn’t a “proper response by a gun owner”, because a responsible gun owner should have, knowing the police were on the way, surveilled the “suspect” from a safe distance, and not been in a position for anyone to be beating their head against pavement in the first damn place. 

My strongest condemnation, though, goes to the fucking media for turning this thing into a racist circus, calling Zimmerman a “white Hispanic”, editing tapes to make it sound as damning as possible, and creating a hue and cry where truly it shouldn’t have existed.  Responsible reporting is dead, people.  As a fucking doornail.  It’s become hard work to read any story, because you have to dig through all the fluff and bullshit to find any facts, and then go look for the rest of the facts across 18 news sources.  This condemnation may in fact lead to a Things I Hate sometime soon, because it really grinds my gears.

4)  I think that occasionally, one must make a silly decision, that is, a decision to be silly.  Today I made such a choice.  Wifefish has an alarm on her cellphone that is a string quartet, beginning with a nice cello line that is supposed to gently entice you to the land of wakefulness from out your blissful slumber.  Whereas it fails to do so quite as gently as one might wish, I have decided to pretend that it is not a cellphone at all, but the girls of Bond playing for us.  Wearing bowties.  That’s all.  (Yes, I’m going to the lecher’s hell, but I’m comfortable with my labels.) 

5) I think I may end up in the special Hell.  I had some lamb shoulder chops last night for dinner, broiled with a roasted peach whiskey sauce.  They were absofuckinglutely delicious.  This is not, however, the reason that I’m going to hell. 

Little Danger watches a show on Netflix sometimes called “Timmy Time”, a claymation show about a group of barnyard animals in preschool…Timmy is “A little lamb with a lot to learn”, according to the theme song.
That is, according to the theme song which I was gleefully humming while eating my dinner.  According to Wifefish, “You’re just not right.”  I agree with her.  

So what do you think, gang?  Let me know right there with the comment button...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Beer, Beer, Beer, vol 3

Greetings!  It’s time to tantalize our taste buds once again, beer fans!  Today, I’ll be taking a look at the remaining brews available from Finch’s: the Golden Wing blonde ale and the Secret Stache Stout. 

These two beers were, just as the other Finch’s offerings, enjoyed while floating upon the Lake.  There’s just something about the fresh air and sunlight that makes beertasting a better experience.  Granted, this time my first tastes were had while corralling Little Danger in the Relaxation Station, but fortunately I am nothing if not a faithful reporter. 

Let’s start with the Golden Wing.  First, a little pro tip…if you’re saving a can for display, and you decide to drill a hole in the bottom to avoid wrinkling the can with the churchkey, be prepared for a bit of a beer bath.   Just…just trust me on this one, gang.  (On the plus side, oh, that can looks so nice and unwrinkled.) 

I found the taste pleasant, like many blondes I’ve known.  Wait, that sentence is guaranteed to get me in trouble with Wifefish.  Let me say “like many blonde ALES I’ve known”.  It’s a very refreshing beer, not in love with the hops but using them to say “hello”, and bringing in an almost lemony fruitiness on the backside that works well.  Note the word “almost;” this is not a shandy by any means. 

It’s not aggressive at all, but still light years better than mass marketed muck.  It is, perhaps, a perfect floating-in-the-lake-in-a-lifejacket-with-your-beer-in-a-coozie beer.  While I recommend pairing it with any pork or poultry, I do not recommend swimming 65 yards to that really neat waterfall with the full pint can in hand.  It will be the slowest swim you’ve done in a while.  (No safety lectures, folks…this blog isn’t called Safe Leanings, or Smart Leanings, or This Guy Never Did Anything Stupid Leanings.)

Now, on to the Secret Stache Stout.  First, I just love the name.  It’s mindful of the monocle and moustache crowd, and thus inspires a certain manliness before ever popping the top, a desire to sound one’s barbaric yawp.

Upon opening, a bit of this brew splashed on my hands (I believe a jet ski had zoomed by just then).  I immediately observed that I had opened a very stout Stout indeed, something a bit thinner than motor oil, but infinitely more appetizing.  There was about zero head on this beer, and not a lot of carbonation at all, but a whole lot of bold flavor.  

The typical chocolatey coffee stout flavor is bolstered in this beer by a definite vanilla taste.  I wouldn’t really pair this with any entrees; I would prefer this as a dessert beer, best for after-dinner or as a mid-afternoon snack in itself. 

Well, as that exhausts the current Finch’s list, it’ll be time to move on to new brews next time.  But for now remember Golden Wing and Secret Stache from Finch’s…give ‘em a try and Bottoms Up!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Five Things I Think, July 8

1) I think the garden is faring far better this year.  I know the Southwest is hurting, but the Midwest has been enjoying enough rain to really support the crops.  Last year’s drought made our garden an anemic exercise in futility, whereas this season we’ve been dragging zucchini the size of your head out of this bad boy. 

It’s kind of awesome to dice up Squashzilla, throw it in the grill basket with some Roasted Peach Whiskey Sauce and some onion, and enjoy the fruits…well, the veggies of our labor.

2) I think it’s a good day.  For many reasons do I think this, not least of which is that today, Little Danger turns 3.  It’s amazing to think that 3 years have gone by so quickly, and that we will now have known him for longer than we looked for him.  

It was a long road, but it was more than worth it.  I do not get tired of people telling me I have a cool kid.  I do not get tired of his ability to charm, to make friends, to share, and to care.  I hope he doesn’t, either.

3) I think one of my favorite things to watch Little Danger do is dance.  He abandons all pretense at civilization, and jumps, runs, wiggles, and even rolls around on the ground in his appreciation of both music and attention.  

We went to a local club to watch a friend throw down some good oldies tunes with his band, and Little Danger ate it up.  He owned the dance floor like a lobbyist owns a Senator. 

At one point, he just lay down and logrolled across the floor, and repeated the action when the onlookers giggled.  His wild gyrations inspired the sound guy to come join him, both of them logrolling in a toddler-inspired joie de vivre that left a wide smile on my face for the night. 

4) I think I’m tired of working too hard for my fun.  I’ve been running a project for almost 10 years now that is like a second full time job at times.  Whereas it’s been fun and rewarding, I’m ready to pass the torch to someone who has the fire to keep it going.  I have a new career to focus on, licensures to gain, and a book of business to build, and this requires a tighter beam of attention than I’ve had for quite some time. 
As an example, I opened my email to more than a dozen requests that add up to an aggregate 6 or so hours of work, all preparing for a weekend long event.  Sadly, the simple math is that those who need the most are getting the least, as I triage the hours of effort into more important endeavours.  I’m letting people down, but in the thing that only pays me in fun.  It’s a strange dichotomy of “right choice” versus “feels like failure” that never sits right with me.  

I’m really not sure how this one gets fixed, and it’s giving me some stress.  But on the bright side, it’s totally a fucking first world problem. 

5)  I think it’s getting close to the time when public opinion crosses the tipping point on government overreach.  The liberties we’re losing are looking more and more like the days of McCarthy, a time when people went through the Red Scare and tiptoed everywhere in fear of the fucking commies.  

Now our boogeyman is the terrorist, and to this boogeyman we have sacrificed a great many things.  From the recent FISA court issues, to the NSA metadata overreach, to my favorite jackbooted thugs the TSA, we keep giving and giving more liberty for an illusion of safety.  When, I wonder, do we finally look up and say “Enough?”  Soon, I hope.  

Given that we have just celebrated Independence Day, a day that saw us throwing off the chains of unreasonable searches and overreaching government, this has been on my mind of late.   

So, gang...what do YOU think today?

Friday, June 28, 2013

An Open Letter to the Person Texting Behind the Wheel Yesterday

An Open Letter to the Person Texting Behind the Wheel.

I noticed you.  I realized you slowed down suddenly, and weaved ever so slightly.  We all know now what that means.  Sure enough, as I pulled next to you, you were texting.  I watched you, and stayed next to you.  For 10 seconds.  The entire way down that hill, you had your face lowered, eyes off the road, counting on your peripheral vision and youthful confidence that you would be OK.

I honked my horn, and you looked up, startled.  I shook my head at you in reproach, and you looked at me like I was an absolute asshole. 

No, young man, I just wanted to remind you of something.  The road is more important than whatever is happening on that phone, unless your significant other just gave birth…and then I still want you to cheer but lay your fucking phone down and wait to text her back until you can pull over.  Safely.

I wanted you to stop at the gas station, or at the supermarket, so I could tell you something.  You didn’t, so here is what I wanted to say.

You don’t know me, but I’m going to tell you something important, something lifechanging, because if you were my son, I’d want someone to do this for me.  Look, I know I’m a stranger, but I’m going to start with this sentence:  “I love you.”

Now don't go all weird, there’s more than one reason for me to say that.  First, you’re a person, like me, and I honor your place in this world and the potential you bear for awesomeness.  Second, I’m saying it for your parents, siblings, significant other, and future children.  They love you, or did, or will.  I’m old enough to be your father, so please, let me give you a wee bit of fatherly advice.

It takes just one moment of inattention to die. 

All it takes is someone running a light, swerving to avoid a deer, slamming the brakes because a wine bottle exploded, having a blowout, crossing the median toward you, or any of a million other crazy things that require us to keep our eyes on the road at 50mph.  At 50, if you hit a stationary object, you could fucking die.  Like that semi truck 3 cars ahead?  In 10 seconds, if he’d come to a dead stop…you would have too.

I don’t care if you’re Mario Andretti…what do you mean "who is that"?  Never mind, I get that I’m old to you.  OK, I don’t care if you’re Danica Patrick, a race car driver is good because they pay attention.  They're engaged in the act of driving.    

But whatever was on that phone was more important to you than your safety, and the safety of everyone around you.  Look, son, driving is a privilege, and a contract among all of us that we will watch out for each other.  A lot of people break that contract, and we call them assholes.  Please, son, don’t be an asshole.   

You might accept the responsibility for your own life and death, and even for the hole your loss would leave in the rest of us.  That’s brave of you.  But let me ask you this:  if a pedestrian had started across the road in front of you, perhaps paying more attention to their phone, would you have seen them?  Or would you have just become an accidental killer?  That’s a pain you don’t want, and one that takes only an instant to arrive.  You are young, and likely have great reflexes…but those reflexes require you to look out the windshield, not at your smartphone screen. 

And did I mention that it’s illegal here?  If I’d been a cop, you’d have been saving up the dollar bills for your court costs, my boy. 

Please, son, put the goddamn thing down.  Leave it there.  If you absolutely must look at it, please…wait for the red light.  You were 26 or so seconds away from a minute wait at that light.  Kid, I hate that light.  Were those 10 seconds of distraction so important that they couldn’t wait that long?  No, son, of course they weren’t. 


I’ve gotten angry plenty of times at people texting on the road.  Today, my boy, you didn’t piss me off.  You scared the everloving shit out of me.  We could have lost you today.  I can’t tell you how happy I am we didn’t.  Now please, please, don’t text behind the wheel.  It’s truly every bit as dangerous as Russian Roulette. 

Remember, young man, that we love you.  Oh, and clean your room, OK?  It builds character. 


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Five Things I Think, June 27

Let’s put on our thinking caps again, shall we?  It’s been a good week…

1) I think I regret accidentally shooting my wife in the back of the head.  And now that the FBI is reading the blog, allow me to explain.

            We were on the road, heading to The Lake.  The Vibe had been packed with clothes and Little Danger’s life jacket and tasty treats aplenty, including a wine bag.  In that bag was a bottle of Moscato, a lovely, but somewhat fizzy, wine that Wifefish adores.

            The road got a bit rough, and the bottles slid from vertical to slightly horizontal.  Pro tip:  one should not store fizzy wines horizontally.

            Suddenly, a scream issued from the rear seat and wine splattered throughout the car.  Now, when I say throughout, I mean that it was like the blood spatters in a Quentin Tarantino flick.  There was Moscato on the windshield.  Think Pulp Fiction.

            The pressure in the bottle had built to the point where it had fired the cork at point-blank range into the back of Wifefish’s cranium, further ricocheting somewhere in the car to some nook or cranny that will render it an archeological artifact. 

            I added insult to injury when we pulled off the interstate, as I brought us to a stop somewhat quickly…and the still-sideways bottle sloshed from o’er Wifefish’s shoulder and all over her dress.  This led to a massive cleanup effort and parking lot wardrobe change for her, as we tried to keep her modesty intact.  It also led to a single, solitary tear rolling down my cheek as I dropped the near-empty bottle into the trash can.  Like the Indian in the litter commercial, I was moved by the loss of something beautiful…a bottle of Moscato.

We spent the rest of the road trip making absolutely sure we didn’t get pulled over, lest an officer think we were a rolling wino tour de force.   

2)  I think whoever created the “Relaxation Station” knew exactly what they were doing. We tied up the houseboat in a cove, and then most of us jumped in the raft to chill out.  Granted, for Little Danger, the thing serves as a giant trampoline jumping pool thing, as he launches himself from the seats into the netting in the middle like a crazed lemming in a temporal moebius loop. 

Note to designers:  design flaw exists.  Cupholders will not hold a wine bottle. 
Note to self:  you could have had the Moscato in this thing, you moron.
Note to Wifefish:  I’m really sorry about the Moscato.

3)  I think Little Danger has become obsessed.  Wifefish has revealed unto him that his upcoming 3rd birthday will be celebrated with a Star Wars bedroom, complete with custom built AT-AT bed and wall murals, and a handmade R2-D2 trash can.
            Not a day goes by that he doesn’t ask “Where my Shtarwarsbed?”  Obsession, thy name is toddler.
             Needless to say, this very blog will feature a pic-heavy post with a preponderance of images when the project is perfected.  I may be every bit as excited as he is. 

4)  I think I’m glad I got to run a game this calendar year.  I’m trying to get another one in quickly, though.  A 4 hour Deathwatch session just wasn’t enough to do more than whet my appetite for some good RPG sittin’ around the table with junk food and beer and good friends fun.  I feel the need for a breakfast-lunch-dinner gameathon comin’ on. 

5) I think it was an exciting 48 hours on the political front.  Between an amazing filibuster in Texas (google that shit) and a sweet SCOTUS decision, it seems there’s still some life left in liberty after all.  And forgive me if I seem overly victory dance on this, but of late our dear government machine had started looking less like the Great American Melting Pot and more like Mordor meets eleventy billion levels of bureaucracy.
I’m happy that DOMA was struck down.  It was, at its core, a law designed to deny rights to a group of Americans.  In that sense, it had to go, as it was in fact unconstitutional.  That’s going to be logically true no matter which side of the “gay issues” you stand on, dear reader, so if you wish to rebut, make certain you have some ironclad logic or I will gleefully make a fool of you in my comments section.

 I’m also happy because I think it’s OK to be Takei, and if somewhere down the line Little Danger decided (or discovered) he was into boys instead of girls, I want him to be able to live that life with as much normalcy as it deserves, instead of all the hoopla that currently surrounds it.  I have gay friends that are married already, just not in the eyes of the state.  It’s time for that to change.  (The eyes, not the married.) 

As for the Texas filibuster, I just couldn’t help but get involved.  I may have called a Texas Senator “nimblenuts” directly.  Look, I’m sick to death of wild hyperbole in politics.  Here’s his incredibly stupid, irresponsible, and completely false tweet, and my reply.  

Really?  TERRORIST?  So what you’re saying is that in addition to standing and talking, Wendy Davis threatened to poison the water supply unless you dropped it?  No?
Then surely she said she would detonate a bomb if the bill passed.  No?
Then perhaps she intimated that an Emu Death Squad would systematically raid the family homesteads of each Senator in opposition?  What, NO?  
All she did was speak?  Then that doesn’t equal a terrorist, you dimwitted shitsack.  Handy rule of thumb:  if Batman wouldn’t punch the person out, they’re not engaged in terrorist activity.  With the noted exception of Robin, of course.  Sometimes you just have to knock a ward around.  

So, gang…what do you think?  Tell me right here in the comments!

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