Monday, March 31, 2014

Ding Dong, the Bearyamon's Dead

When Ingmar Bergman died in 2007, it made me giggle. No, I’m not the heartless man I must seem right now, though when Osama died I’m pretty sure I giggled, but that wasn’t the same thing at all. Ingmar’s death brought to mind Ingmar, and my only memory of Ingmar outside the death chess game; my being schooled in the pronunciation complexities of Norwegian names.

My father and I were in Trondheim Norway, which at the time I pronounced near to its spelling... Trond'hime. (Since, I have learned it's Trone' yem and in case I forget I have an old neighbor that reminds me constantly with a really annoying judgmental giggle) We had made most of our trip without guides or tours, but there was a Trondheim visitor bus tour available that sported a handicap equipped vehicle so my wheelchair bound dad and I jumped aboard for a few kroner. During the run I happened to have seen a large statue, and could barely read the name on the placard below. "Oh, I see a statue of Ingmar Bergman!" (Ing'mar Berg' mun) I said as any easily excitable non Norwegian speaking tourist might.

An elder Norwegian on the bus who I now suspect was riding only hoping for an opportunity to use his inherent, codgerly crankiness on people who would not likely be his neighbors leapt to his feet and shouted a word I'd assume to be Norse for *&Y97y43; and then sneered "Why is it English speakers can never pronounce the poor man's name correctly! The greatest filmmaker in all the world! It's Bear' ya men! (with a slightly rolled r for effect; let's say a two tounging roll) Ing'a mar Bear' ya mun! Get it right! PLEASE!" Then with a look of desperation, as if a man whose wife was dying of starvation, who noticed I had the last slice of bread in the room and so felt it necessary to shame me into giving up my selfishness and general creepiness so as to allow him to be a hero and save his wife… he sat back down and mumbled to himself while turning his eyes away from what had so egregiously offended him; namely, me.

I'd never cared really, but still I was proud that I'd learned something important on my trip. "Tusen Takk" (thousand thanks) I said in gratitude. "I am properly chastised and will never make the same mistake again!" He snorted, loudly, powerfully, contemptuously. I felt a little sad that I'd obviously ruined his day, yet I cheered a bit when I noted that his snotty demonstration of anger had a literal component to its structure, as he’d deposited something on his jacket that needed a handkerchief to remove. It was a fair trade. He'd peed on my parade, then on himself. I love the Norse. They have such a sense of fairness.

Rest in peace Ingamar Bearyamun. I shall never again mispronounce your name. In fact, I’m guessin now that I’ve retold this story, I’ll never speak it, much less remember it once existed.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Norbert Solution

Billy Bidwell violently shook his gunny sack, and then twirled it about his head. “Git ta fightin kitties!” he shouted; “I wanna see blood!”

Inside the bag, two adult cats scrambled to keep their balance. Speaking in their native tongue so as to keep Billy unawares, the calico shouted to his counterpart.

“Herman! Is that you?”

“Norbert!” the other said; “How the hell did we get in this mess? Both of us know better than to accept anything from this foul creature!”

“Catnip my friend” Norbert answered; “The little creep had catnip! What was I supposed to do? You know I’m a recovering addict! And what about you chum?”

“Well, I hate to admit it; but the little weasel had one of those stuffed mousey toys that squeak. Damn! I hate it when I get sucker punched!”

“Speakin of punchin” Norbert said, “keep punchin the bag so he thinks were kickin the crap out of each other or he’ll spin us into pukin! And do me a favor will ya? Get your friggen tail outa my eye!”

Herman reeled in his appendage while slapping the sack with three of his four paws. “Whoops, sorry pal. It’s dark in here ya know? So, what do you think we should do? We can’t fool him forever.”

Norbert grinned, in spite of the fact that no one could see him.

“I have a plan” he said while scratching at the bag and yowling as if he were being turned inside out.

It was only a few minutes before both cats knew just what to do.

“I’m not sure it’ll work” shouted Herman, “but let’s give it a try. I’m a hatin this kid!”

Suddenly, all movement within the bag stopped, and two heavy sighs were heard by the young man holding his prize aloft.

“Well damn!" said Billy Bidwell, his eyes gleaming and a small blob of spittle flowing from the corner of his smirking lips. “I think they’z BOTH dead! I can’t wait t’ see this!”

He plopped the sack on the ground and hurriedly whipped open the loose end, dipping his face just inside the burlap so as to get a real close look. It wouldn’t have occurred to him that the next meow meant “GO!” in kitty catese, or perhaps he’d have run as fast as his chubby legs would have carried him.

In the next morning’s Backwoods Tribune, the headline story spoke of the coroner’s office needing to check dental records to find the identity of a young man found in Shupluck’s Creek; a young man (cue rising harp glissando) without a face!

That evening at the home of Molly McGrew, Norbert the kitty stood in the home’s kitchen doorway, mewing loudly.

“Are ya sure she’ll be ok with you having a guest for dinner?” Herman the kitty had a thing about worrying, particularly when it came to the fickle whims of human beings.

“Just do what I say” said Norbert, as Ms. McGrew answered her master’s call and trotted to the kitchen.

“Oh isn’t that so cute! My Norbie has brought a friend home for supper,” Molly said while holding her hands to her cheeks in the standard kitty adoration posture.

She quickly stepped into the pantry and pulled from it a large bag of liver flavored kibble, leaning to the floor so as to pour out a heaping helping that the two cats might share.

Norbert looked at Herman and grimaced. “Man I hate that crap” he mewed. “What say we demand something better” he winked.

“Oh... I get it” said Herman. “Sure, lets!”

“Act all cute and stuff then”, Norbie whispered; “you know… hard to get, like you aint hungry but you need a backrub.”

Herman smiled. He knew just the pose to strike.

As Molly bent to scratch the cute little kitty Norbert yowled “Tuna lady! We want tuna and right now or else!”

Of course, in spite of the fact that Norbert was convinced that he not only understood but could speak the human’s English, all that came out of his cute little furry mouth was “rawr, rih ruh reawrrr!” Assuming that he’d been heard and summarily ignored, there was only one response he could give to Molly McGrew’s refusing his demand!

“Go!” he shouted to his new combat buddy. And go they did.

(Cue staccato high frequency tri-tone ala “Psycho shower scene”)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dreams Can Be Dangerous

When Linda and I first got married, I owned a house in the city; a leftover from an ugly divorce. When my ex’s lawyer pressed me for half of the equity in the home, I showed him that if we sold it I could split what would be the remaining debt with his client so she'd owe me a few thousand dollars, and instead he sent me a signed quit claim deed. So, in fact I didn’t actually own the house, I just carried a mortgage on the building in which I slept and played computer games.

Linda owned a townhouse in the suburbs, a product of having had her last landlord break into her apartment numerous times, bent on playing with her underwear. As my home was larger and we both worked in town, we decided she would move in with me and we would sell her home. Of course, things never work out quite as planned.

It must have been nearly the exact moment we had gathered materials and found a reputable real estate agent that a local newspaper had discovered her townhouse “community” had been built on the edge of a landfill, and that garbage had been used as fill against the basements and foundations of the closest buildings. It wouldn’t have been a huge deal if not for her unit being within one street of the edge, and for the fact that radon was detected within the basements of her neighbors homes.

The expected sale price plummeted to well below what she owed on the mortgage, so selling was pointless. Linda has a hard time making decisions, particularly under duress, so I came up with the big idea of renting, until the breaking news storm quieted down. She wasn’t keen on the idea, but paying a large payment for a place she wasn’t using didn’t please her either, so she eventually saw things my way and we began to advertise.

Then I made the first of two of my finest blunders ever. A woman phoned who explained to me that she was homeless, living in a shelter for battered women with her children, and gosh darn it she’d sure like to see the place so long as I could meet her somewhere on a bus line, pick up and deliver her to the viewing. I got roped, hard. I so wanted to “do the right thing” for humanity and all that jazz, that over the suspicions of my new wife, the owner of said property, I created a lease for the poor woman and helped move her into her new, wonderful home. I couldn’t help it I suppose. She’d begun to weep when she saw the place, so overwhelmed with the idea that she and her poor suffering children might have such a beautiful, safe place to live that she just couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. A year and 6,000 dollars in damages later the animal moved out, leaving us in the same quandary. The market price hadn’t yet recovered, and the mortgage was cramping Linda’s style.

Mistake number two.

I had this friend you see, who just at that moment was estranging himself, if that’s actually a word, from his wife, and desperately needed a place to live. Well dang it all to heck, I’d known the guy for 10 years by then, we we’re the best of friends. He was the best man at my wedding for goodness sake, and although he nearly destroyed the marriage by driving my then fiancĂ© to begin walking home from our campground church rather than put up with his interference one more minute, I thought it would be simply grand if we could see fit to help the guy out in his time of need. He and I had nearly died together in a rafting incident, I couldn’t have been closer to anyone in my life, and could certainly vouch for his sense of responsibility.

Within a month he was late on the rent; within two months he was late on the utilities, within three months I was loaning him cash that he could pay to my wife so that she wouldn’t hate him for the rest of our lives. A few months and a broken relationship later, we put the thing on the market and sold at a small loss.

During this time, Linda’s family was constantly avoiding us, unless we came to their turf. Her father in fact would lecture me quite often about his daughter being a “country girl” accustomed to the slow and safe pace of the outer ring of suburbs. He and his sons silently refused to come into town to visit their sister/daughter, because it was not only out of the way, but just too damn scary. (More than once I offered to let them borrow my guns for the trip, so if any zombies were to attack them at a stoplight they could blow the offender’s heads off and save themselves from losing their brains. They didn’t think I was funny) The dad unit would say “for God’s sake, get her out of there; she doesn’t belong in the middle of no-man’s land.”

I ignored them in the main. I was a city boy, accustomed to the occasional gunshots and car crashes, the sirens and tire screeches, the drug dealers and whore houses that dotted our fair neighborhood. Linda saw it as an adventure. She once loved the new and different, the more challenging the better. And until she was accosted on the street by a road rage madman, I thought little of her safety being any more concerning than it might have been elsewhere. But then I started to notice, shootings were getting closer to our house, old men were being beaten nearly to death for pocket change within blocks of my doorstep. We were in what I still consider to be a middle class, middle of the road neighborhood, with plenty of diversity and very little if any poverty. Yet we were being pushed on by sources just outside our area. The more the cops pounded on the tight part of town, the more the dealers and punks fanned out onto our sidewalks and into our alleys. So I had to come to terms with the concept that I wasn’t alone anymore, and my lack of fear wouldn’t stop my wife from being hurt.

Sure, you might say the same thing could happen in the “burbs”, but the reality is for the most part the only place you’re likely to get stabbed out there is in the back, and even then only metaphorically. In town, it’s more likely that you’ll find violence graduated from metaphor, and your chance of being a victim is far more a crapshoot than a lottery.

Between us we had a little dough. I was just winding down the most profitable part of my life and what the ex didn’t steal from me was hanging around just waiting to be spent. Linda was fairly flush as well. So on a whim, shortly after a 12 year old boy had been gunned down in a park two blocks east of us by other children looking to steal his bicycle, we started combing newspapers for ads describing land for sale; the bigger the parcel the better.

It wasn’t totally off my beaten path to seek roots in the outback. When I was a teen I owned a horse and spent every minute I could riding and walking with my pal. Most of my days until I started working full time, and even then whenever I could, were spent outdoors. I was a hiker and sailor, a motorcycle rider and camper, a white water rafter and canoeist. I loved the big sky, and by the fact that I’m not dead yet I’d have to say it loved me back. I had always had this little dream in the back of my head, that one day, probably not but maybe, I would live in a place where counting the blades of grass would be a good day’s work; where neighbors didn’t look over your shoulder as you stood in your kitchen making ham and eggs on Sunday morning, and where, when you really, really wanted to, you could urinate in your bushes without setting off a flurry of 911 calls to the coppers complaining of indecent exposure.

I say “dream” with reservations; I never had a “dream/goal” I actually believed in. Oh I’d come up with them now and then, but it was more of the “my high school has been overrun by communist terrorists and I must rappel into the gymnasium where all those creeps that treated me like crap will have to witness me saving their lives, and then have to suffer the indignity of owing me their pitiful thanks forever and ever amen”. Anything else would only end in failure. I hated disappointment so I never thought too big, unless, as in the previous example, it was so big even a comic book writer couldn’t make it believable. But here I was, dreaming about a life in the countryside, building a house from a plan I developed, creating an arboretum where as many native trees and shrubs as I could round up would live together in peace and har-mo-ny. It made me a little giddy actually. Dreams are dangerous that way.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Made Up Definition of the Day



1. a: The linguistic discipline of spewing erudite insult.
b: One who intellectually deprecates.
c. An academic clique in which members taunt the perceived "lower classes" with vituperous verbiage, all the while assuming their targets have no idea what's being heaped upon them. (See also: Employer)

(slang) Smarty pants trash talk, or "SPTT"! {often said with a generous amount of salivary expectoration}

eg-a: "College seems to be paying dividends! She called me a sanctimonious prig! I have no idea what she means, but she's obviously become effluent."

eg-b: "She thinks of herself as quite clever, but we all know the girl is nothing but effluent."

eg-c: "Some people admire the effluent in our society, some emulate them. I for one, think they stink!"

2. The ability to speak the "f-bomb" in at least ten languages
(as relates to)
effluence: The globalization of "fuc*" as a noun, an adjective, an adverb and a conjunctive in multiple linguistic societies.

eg: "He could say the word in Icelandic, Finn, Croatian, Greek, Turk, Sri Lankan, Japanese, Kankana-ey, Chickasaw, Xhosa and of course, English. I was awestruck! How cool is that! The guy's a fuc*in' genius!"

Monday, March 24, 2014

Chief Toad

To be sung to 'Away in a Manger'

Alone in a bathtub in Hilton’s hotel
I’m feeling much lighter, my feet hardly smell
I’ve washed where my mom would, behind my big ears,
And finished the six pack of honor bar beers

Six months on the road with a rock and roll band
My head pounds like thunder, my brains shift like sand
The coke was amazing, the music so-so;
(But music can't suck if one has enough blow)

It’s two in the morning, at four we depart
Another great tour stop we picked with a dart
We’ll sing for our supper and dance for dessert
Then stake out our groupies and redefine “flirt”

My dad thinks I’m crazy, my mom, she just cries
They think I’d be better off serving up fries
But I have a title, “Chief Toad of the Crew”
A “first rate career” is in one’s point of view